As many know, the great mother church of the Society of Jesus in Rome is called “Il Gesù,” literally, “the Jesus.”
Fewer know that the article is there because the full name of the church is “Il Santissimo Nome di Gesù,” “The Most Holy Name of Jesus.”
The recent General Congregation of the Jesuits, in thoroughly Ignatian spirit, spoke of themselves as follows:
What unites us as Jesuits is Christ and the desire to serve him: not to be deaf to the call of the Lord, but prompt and ready to do his most holy will. He is the unique image of the unseen God, capable of revealing himself everywhere; and in a tantalizing culture of images, he is the single image that unites us. Jesuits know who they are by looking at him.
Two hundred years after Ignatius, the catholic Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach, shared a similar Christ-centered spirituality, indeed a “Jesus mysticism.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the Christmas Oratorio’s “Cantata for New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord.”
The narrative of the Cantata focuses on the Evangelist’s words: “and they named him ‘Jesus’.” And its concluding chorale joyfully resounds:
Jesus richte mein Beginnen, Jesus bleibe stets bei mir/ Jesus zaeume mir die Sinnen, Jesus sei nur mein’ Begier.
Jesus sei mir in Gedanken, Jesus lasse mich nicht wanken!
Jesus rule my beginning, Jesus be always at my side. Jesus direct my desire, Jesus be my only longing.
Jesus be in my thoughts, Jesus let me not be confounded.