Society of Saints Ignatius of Antioch and Ignatius of Loyola.
The Society of Ignatians desires first and foremost to play its part in a renaissance of holiness, truth, and beauty in the Church by itself being a group of men committed, body and soul, to this ideal.
Holiness! This has always been, and ever will be, the source of renewal of the Church’s vigor.
Within the Church’s tapestry of communities committed to seeking and spreading sanctity, each distinctive design and colored thread contributes to the grandeur of the whole ‒ the hidden prayer of hermits, the fervent chants of monks, and the tireless pastoral work of so many different groups of priests and consecrated souls. The Society of Ignatians aspires to be part of this long line of fraternities of consecrated souls, stretching back through two thousand years, whose only boast is “to know Christ and Him Crucified” (Gal 6:14).
We want to stand among those who, having caught a glimpse of the sublime reality of the truth and love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, steadfastly determine to radically pursue union with Him by passing through the archway of the three vows, the most effective means by which man can open his heart to the purifying action of grace in order to be truly Christlike.
Through the vow of poverty the lover of Christ can liberate himself from materialism; through obedience he can reject power-seeking; through chastity he can focus his heart in an ardent and exclusive love of God that makes it all-inclusive in its outreach to humanity. This is the ancient pathway to Christification, one that began corporatively in the ancient Church with the men who rallied around St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Pachomius. From the fourth to the sixth century it was developed by St. Basil and St. Benedict. St. Augustine adapted the principles for himself and the priests of his diocese who lived together in a community under a rule of life. The principles were adapted and re-adapted by so many others such as Saints Romuald, Benedict of Aniane, and the founders of Cluny. St. Francis and St. Dominic modified the monastic style to the increasingly urban-centered society of the late Middle Ages. Then, St. Ignatius Loyola carefully pondered the Rule of St. Basil and the Rule of St. Benedict as he wrote the statutes of his Compania de Jesus.
Ignatian charism: new order, ancient roots
Thus, the history of religious orders in the Church resembles the life of an immense oak tree from whose branches new shoots continually bourgeon. Frequently new orders are not radically new but rather are offshoots from existing orders or at least look to the founders of existing orders for their inspiration. Thus, in spite of the fact that they are juridically distinct from each other, communities are bonded by the same essential charism. From the visionary clarity of St. Benedict, St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Dominic, and St. Ignatius Loyola the Church has been enriched with the great commonwealth of Benedictine, Augustinian, Carmelite, Franciscan, Dominican and Ignatian religious orders.
The Society of Ignatians intends to be part of the Ignatian family of orders. We aspire to be part of the genealogical tree of Ignatius of Loyola, and through him, to his inspiration, St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose ardent love for Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Catholic Church, confirms the Basque soldier’s ideal. Just as from the visionary clarity of St. Benedict, St. Francis, and St. Dominic many religious communities in the Church have been started, so likewise Ignatians look to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s vision of a band of brothers who, giving all to follow Christ “ad majorem Dei gloriam” seek to spread the Truth of the Catholic Faith to the very ends of the earth by forming themselves integrally and ruggedly as missionaries of enterprise.
Thus, to these two saints we look for the pattern of Ignatian holiness on which we will strive to travel towards Christlikeness. Concretely, we will equip ourselves by taking as our reference point the ideal of St. Ignatius Loyola in its practical expression in the constitutions, methods of work, and customs of community lifestyle enacted by him and his immediate successors.
New intensity, new emphases, new method
Yet, although the Society of Ignatians intends to be a faithful and authentic offshoot of St. Ignatius Loyola’s ideal, it is nevertheless also a distinctively original one. For although it intends to live out the essentials of St. Ignatius’s vision it will do so with a new intensity, new emphases, and new methods in response to an urgent need of the Church that is, however, perennial.
The novel dimensions of the Society are in response to the Church’s urgent need of men who will defend the very inner bastions of the Truth of the Catholic Faith and the Natural Law in the face of the massive assaults by the “Dictatorship of Relativism” (Benedict XVI). This urgency calls on us to live out St. Ignatius Loyola’s charism of providing the Church with a corps of men who have thoroughly equipped themselves for an intelligent, dynamic and energetic defense of the Faith. It also calls us to intensify our awareness of his inspiration, the heroic St. Ignatius of Antioch who stood firm in the face of the Roman Empire’s call to surrender to syncretism.
The Society of Ignatians distinctively emphasizes:
- Tradition: Just as St. Ignatius Loyola emphasized dedication to the papacy, the Society of Ignatians will emphasize dedication to Tradition, the very foundation on which the papacy and all of Catholicism’s pillars, depends.
- Obedience: the Society of Ignatians follows the principles of obedience as laid out by St. Thomas Aquinas and does not accept St. Ignatius Loyola’s use of the term “blind” obedience.
- Liturgy: the Society of Ignatians will emphasize, following the Benedictine tradition, the tremendously important role of the sacred liturgy both for the sanctification of Ignatians and for evangelization – exclusively the ancient traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite.
- Creative Minorities: the Society of Ignatians will concentrate particularly on the formation of dynamic, missionary-minded groups of Catholic laity for convert-outreach and the creation of a civilization with a Catholic soul.
Thus the Society will fulfill the Church’s common sense requirement for approving any new foundation: an answer to a need that is felt at a particular moment of history, a need of “the day” that shouts for a remedy even though the need may be ongoing.