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Forever Jesuit

This is a time of some uncertainity and much challenge for the Society of Jesus, itself a microcosm of the turbulence afflicting the universal church. The loss in clerical numbers, the empowerment of the laity, the emergence of an articulate and restive body of Catholic theologians, the postmodern critique of authority, the intense struggles between the local and central powers of religious leadership--these and many other contemporary issues cut to the heart of Jesuit conflict. In addition, liberationist and pastoral strategies have calaled into question the log and venerable tradition of Jesuit commitment to structure, system and sodality. The contemporary Jesuit is more inclined to rugged independence, grassroots networking, and conscientizing than to the maintenance of dying institutional enterprises>In my view, Jesuits survive because they do not conform to that homogeneous block of rigid soldierly virtue that history and polemcics have made them. Surely the spirituality of the Exercises of Ignatius Loyola as well as the persistent appeal of the founder himself continue to define the Jesuit essence. All else is moot and malleable.The election of the new General and the charting of new directions--all in the shadow of a wary Roman Pontiff--beqar close watching if for not oher reason because the Company of Jesus is the perfect bellwether for an imperfect ecclesia.

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On the one hand, Jesuits are characterized by their vow of obedience (and that's to God, by the way, as well as to the Church.) On the other, Jesuit priests and brothers have always been encouraged to discern God's voice in their own lives, to use their talents "ad majorem Dei gloriam," and to encourage the People of God always to respond to the "signs of the times." As the Italian Jesuits say, "Three Jesuits, four opinions," or, alternately, "Show me three Jesuits, and I'll show you three Jesuits!"

Do members of other religious orders make their vows to someone other than God? Just wondering, since you've twice made a point of it.

If the Pontiff is wary then good for the Jesuits. We are in historic times when the liberty of the children of God is seen as more crucial than the papacy which instead of being a Sea of Service is a bastion of dominance. Benedict seems to realize that he is not going to be that welcome when he comes to the US, especially since he is not going to Boston which really jump-started the reform of clergy sex abuse. So he is calling forhttp://votfwny.blogspot.com/

Yes, Fr. Komonchak ... The Society of Mary, Marianists, make a fourth vow of Stability to Mary, in addition to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.

What of the other three vows, are they also to Mary?

Dominican vow formula:I, brother N.N., make profession and promise obedience to God, and to Blessed Mary, and to Blessed Dominic, and to you brother N.N. Prior Provincial of the province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus; in place of brother N.N. Master of the Order of Friars Preachers and his successors, according to the Rule of Blessed Augustine and the Constitutions of the Friars Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and your successors until death.Jesuit:Almighty and eternal God, I, (Name), though altogether most unworthy in your divine sight, yet relying on your infinite goodness and mercy and moved with a desire of serving you, in the presence of the most Holy Virgin Mary and your whole heavenly court, vow to Your Divine Majesty perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus; and I promise that I shall enter the same Society in order to lead my entire life in it, understanding all things according to its Constitutions.Therefore I suppliantly beg Your Immense Goodness and Clemency, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to deign to receive this holocaust in an odor of sweetness; and that just as you gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so you will also bestow on me abundant grace to fulfill it.

Sorry, that is apparently the Jesuit formula for First Profession.This is final profession: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJMztyWqChU

To Fr. Komonchak. The other three vows are the basic vows of religious life ... Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. The Marianist were founded by Fr. William Chaminade in France in 1817 and reflect the equality dimension of the French Revolution as either a priest or lay brother may be superior of a community. I think this is unique among all Catholic Religious Orders/Societies. The Marianists primary mission is education of Universities (for ex. U of Dayton) or high schools (in your area Chaminade H.S on Long Island). the fourth Vow of Stability to Mary is to remain forever in her service.

The January 12 America website offers a piece by Fr. O"Malley of Georgetown on a historical perspective of Jesuit congregations as he looks forward to the current one.He notes that the "genius of Catholicism" down through the ages has been to foster diversity.The problem of the deply centralized Roman/European view beauracracy is evident here.How the mission of the Jesuits may shift will be interesting to see (pace the questions of what vows and to whom.)

I think Jim Martins comments are a bit jesuitical.There are about seven SJs on the magazine, America, but from them all, we hear only the sounds of silence.Here is another more pointed voice on this kind of escapism, that of Leo Baeck:And a spirit is characterized not only by what it does but, no less, by what it permits. . . . The Christian religion, very much including Protestantism, has been able to maintain silence about so much that it is difficult to say what has been more pernicious in the course of time, the intolerance which committed the wrongs or the indifference which beheld them unperturbed. The editors on the Jesuit magazine, America, heed not from the Middle East the cries from the Slaughter of the Innocent.