Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus

HERE IS A LINK about the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, from the U.S. Jesuit Conference. The Congregation is meeting in Rome to elect a new Superior General of the order.

The Society needs our prayers.

This once-great religious order — still the Church's largest male order, but declining sharply — has suffered a severe crisis of identity since the Second Vatican Council. This was the premier order of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, the world missions, and widespread university education, and much of what we now consider to be traditional Catholicism was implemented by this active order. Since the Council, the order has become increasingly secular; and if the ways of the world are considered to be correct, then why bother with the religious life?

Historically, the Jesuits were sometimes hated, usually loved, but always respected. Sadly these days, the Society earns far less respect. But this is something that can be corrected in a mere moment by a change of will with God's grace, which is why this General Congregation is of great importance.

Societas Iesu perhaps could be better translated as the Company of Jesus, with 'company' meaning a military unit. This historically was quite accurate. Founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a former knight, the Jesuits were known for their bravery and physical endurance, with their missionary history — even just in the Saint Louis area — equaling the danger and hardship of the life of the soldier. The fact that these Jesuits were also studious academics seems incongruous today, but we must recall that the Ivory Tower is constructed only with much difficulty.

Gone are the days when large numbers of young men would consider the military or religious life to be equally appealing, and as equally dangerous. However, our fallen world is again proving to be no friend of either God or man, which is why the Church always needs new soldiers of Christ.

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