Friday, July 31, 2009

Matters Jesuitical

Poor St Ignatius - with honourable exceptions, he can't be too pleased with his sons the Jesuits these last forty years... I think Jesuits are like the proverbial little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead: when they're good, they're very, very good, but when they're bad they're horrid!

I recall the Dominican joke: The Dominicans were established to defeat the Albigensian heresy, while the Jesuits were established to defeat the heresy of Protestantism - now, when was the last time you saw an Albigensian? (Dominicans speak of dealing with Jesuits under the heading of inter-faith relations.)

And of course, again with sterling exceptions (Fr Fessio over in the U.S., Fr Jordan in Brisbane, etc.), the Jesuit love-hate relationship with the sacred liturgy can best be expressed thus: "I'm as confused as a Jesuit in Holy Week" and "To Jesuits, if at the end of Holy Week no one has died, they've got through it well". While St Ignatius esteemed the Divine Office, and orders it be praised as one of his rules for thinking with the Church, famously he innovated by not requiring it of his new Society. One of the Popes commanded the Jesuits to observe the choral Office - the Jesuits thereupon offered many thousand Masses that this order be rescinded. It was: the Pope died. Do you see why I say the S.J.'s have a strange view of liturgy?

(Another rather cynical Pope candidly remarked, I hate the Society of Jesus - every time I name them, I am forced to bow my head.)

As Fr Faber wrote, in the spiritual life there is the method of obedience and the method of liberty - and, like St Philip Neri, whom St Ignatius compared to the church-bell, never entering himself but calling all others inside (into the religious life, especially in the Society of Jesus, to which order St Philip directed many aspirants), I am glad there are divers religious orders, each suited to certain persons, but feel I could never stand the Jesuit way: I prefer being led by the Spirit into the freedom for which Christ delivered us - as St Augustine said, Ama, et fac quod vis. (Of course, one must beware letting freedom degenerate into an excuse for licence.)

Back in 1999, I made the Thirty Days' Retreat in Melbourne, and I must say it did rather disrupt my prayer life.

But truly, what has abetted Hell has been the defection of too many Jesuits to the Enemy of the human race. Such blind guides belong not to the Society of Jesus, but to the Society of Judas! Among them are all those who have striven to ease consciences, especially of the powerful, by (for instance) helping persons avoid adhesion to the teachings of the Church on moral matters - some misused Aquinas to argue that abortion in the first weeks was licit, since the soul hadn't yet entered the body: I speak of Jesuits advising wealthy Bostonian Catholics in the 1950's. Others, again before the Council, performed sacrilegious experiments, weighing and examining Hosts before and after Consecration to see if the accidents really remained unchanged or not! And as for that pseudoscientist and artful dodger, Teilhard de Charlatan...

Still, just as a preacher once said on St Ignatius' feast, "Down with the Jesuits, down with the Jesuits, down with the Jesuits - cries Satan." Abusus non tollit usus - serving the Lord as they rightly should, as shock troops of the Pope, they are a mighty sword in the hand of the Church Militant.

St Ignatius, obtain that the spirit and fire thou didst bequeath thy sons be stirred up anew, to the greater glory of God, and the salvation of souls.

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