To better understand the vision behind the Society of Ignatians you may find it helpful to read Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests built – and can rebuild – Western Civilization.
For several reasons.
Firstly, because all the chapters seek to portray the spiritual characteristics of the priests who laid the foundations for transforming the Western world during the Dark Ages, a period of history remarkably similar to our own.
Secondly, because the chapter “Fathers of Chivalry” presents the spiritual heritage in which St. Ignatius Loyola was reared and nourished and which is an important dimension of the Ignatian spirituality.
The main argument of Heroism and Genius could be presented in a nutshell as follows:
“..Every chancellery in Europe, every court in Europe, was ruled by these learned, trained and accomplished men – the priesthood of that great and dominant body.” – President Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom
Historians have handed in their verdict: from the genius of the Jews, the Greeks and the Romans the Catholic Church built a new and original civilization embodying within its structures the Christian vision of God and man, time and eternity.
In that thousand-year task, the Catholic priests, not only because they numbered so many men of genius and heroism in their ranks, but above all because of their triple mission within the Church to teach, to sanctify and to govern, came to be the central and irreplaceable builders of Western civilization.
Yet the purpose of this book is not self-adulation and lionizing. Rather it is a shout to priests – “Remember!” – as they stand at a cross-roads of history and confront the Western Civilization of the past and the “Dictatorship of Relativism” of the present. Remember who you are and what you once achieved; recall the crucially important social consequences of your priesthood; remember that the priest by being truly priest changes society and builds Christian civilization: that he simply cannot fail to change the world by being a genuine priest of Jesus Christ!
For it is time to rebuild civilization because every man and woman – Christian and non-Christian – should be surrounded by a society supporting their human dignity in the highest form known to the intellect: with institutions and virtues that form the moral and cultural patrimony of every person; a civilization that defends every individual of every race; treasuring all that is true, good and beautiful in every culture, religion and epoch of history. Western Civilization – in spite of so many morally bent citizens – was the first instance of a Christian civilization: the future millennium may see another Christian civilization flourish in the East, the South, the West, or globally.
For, just as the first Christian civilization was built so a second can be rebuilt: if, that is, the priests of the Church rise to their supernatural and historic calling. For, in this herculean endeavor, just as the priests played a central role the first time, so it is necessary that they step forward into the breach once again.
Heroism and Genius thus uses the lens of history to empower the priest to see that by the very fact of his triple mission he is at the heart of civilization-building and makes an irreplaceable difference to society. It goads and impels him to raise his eyes to the heights of priestly achievements of the past so as to emulate them in the future.It creates a proactive outlook spurring him onward to the peaks of priestly preparedness.
“A truly new and truly original book,” said Vauvenargues “would be one which made people love old truths” : that is what Heroism and Genius aspires to achieve.
Heroism and Genius aspires to be a fresh wind blowing strongly from the mountains of the “Ancient Faith” redolent with the fragrance of the saints and the purity of Catholic identity – hopefully, with a wind force to bring about a paradigm change.
And the most important lesson it teaches the man discerning his vocation is that so awesome a mission merits so great a sacrifice.