Traditional ‒ Thomistic ‒ Ignatian: these qualities, pre-eminently Tradition, shape the mystique of the Society of Ignatians and guard our Catholic identity.
The Why of the Society of Ignatians Defines our Characteristic Spirit (Ethos)
“That utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:19-20)
The sublime but formidable mission of the Society of Ignatians ‒ to combat for the honor of God and the salvation of souls without compromise by creating creative Catholic minorities to build a society with a Catholic soul ‒ is bonded to an ethos, a characteristic spirit of attitudes and aspirations, that will empower its members to wisely, energetically, and resiliently pursue it over the course of centuries in the case of the Society itself and over the course of a lifetime in the case of the individual members.
To Conserve our Ignatian Ethos We Uphold an Ecosystem: Tradition, St. Thomas’s Theology, St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.(Ephesians 6:13)
Such an ethos must necessarily be made up of the natural and supernatural elements that will simultaneously clarify the intellect and steel the will of both the corporate reality of the Society and of individual Ignatians unto holiness of life and uncompromising pro-active mission.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17)
Thus we will fulfill God’s word: “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph 6: 10-11)
By its nature it must therefore be a network of mutually inter-acting components functioning together in order to define and invigorate lifestyle and action style ‒ so vitally inter-connected that they constitute an “ecosystem”.
For the Society of Ignatians this ecosystem is:
- the traditional liturgy, fountain of its ascetico-mystical spirit
- the philosophy-theology of St. Thomas Aquinas
- the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, inspiration for its chivalric spirit
Ethos that Impels the Ignatian to Urgency of Mission
Through all three dimensions, in their respective degrees, the Ignatian acquires memory of his Catholic identity through knowledge and existential living of Tradition.
The deep cultural, missionary, and socio-political consequences of the ancient liturgy and asceticism, the Angelic Doctor’s theology, and the Spanish soldier’s Spiritual Exercises all spontaneously thrust the Ignatian towards urgent holiness and action for the creation of creative Catholic minorities, the indispensable condition for the creation of a Catholic culture and a society with a Catholic soul.
- Veneration for Tradition, the “unchangeable rule of truth” (St. Irenaeus), conserves the mystique of the Society of Ignatians in loyalty to Catholic identity through obedience to Catholic doctrine and sensitivity for two millennia of the Holy Spirit’s action in the men and women of genius and heroism who are our spiritual ancestors. For Tradition guarantees Identity: “Through Tradition, ‘the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes’ (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 8,1)
- Through placing at the heart of our corporate ethos and lifestyle Tradition’s embodiment ‒ the magnificent classic Roman liturgy (the ancient Latin liturgical tradition).
- By venerating the liturgical, devotional, and disciplinary traditions that express and protect the core truths of the Faith (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 83).
- Tradition, the Educator par excellence, enlightens, invigorates, and dynamizes the Society of Ignatians because it is the gateway to two millennia of genius and heroism and thus empowers “historical imagination” by guiding us to the quarry from which to extract the rock for the building of the Church.
- Tradition thus frees Ignatians to be incisively ultra-modern and avant-garde since they are no longer chained to the contemporary.
- The Society of Ignatians finds in St. Thomas Aquinas’s theology the intellectual principles of the “Catholic intellect”:
- Harmonius unity of faith and reason
- Veneration for both the natural and the supernatural
- Rigorous intellectual method
- Intellectual excellence.
- The sure guide for the asceto-mystical ascent of the “mountains of God” (Ps. 35:7): “All of the theology of Saint Thomas tends towards this – to guide us to live a life of intimacy with God” (Pius XI)
- “Timeless truth is always timely, of course, but some aspects of truth are especially needed at some times, and it seems that our times badly need seven Thomistic syntheses: (1) of faith and reason, (2) of the biblical and the classical, the Judeo‒Christian and the Greco‒Roman heritages, (3) of the ideals of clarity and profundity, (4) of common sense and technical sophistication, (5) of theory and practice, (6) of an understanding, intuitive vision and a demanding and accurate logic, and (7) of the one and the many, a cosmic unity or ‘big picture’ and carefully sorted out distinctions. I think it a safe judgment that no one in the entire history of human thought has ever succeeded better than St. Thomas in making not just one but all seven of these marriages which are essential to mental health and happiness.” (Peter Kreeft, A Summa of the Summa)
- Ignatians follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Antioch who lived life as mystical union with the Blessed Trinity:
- Doing “everything with the knowledge that He dwells in us, in order that we may be His temples, and He may be in us as our God — as, in fact, He really is” (Ephesians 3)
- Thus finding the strength for their vocation: “I endure everything because He Himself, who is perfect man, empowers me” (Smyrneans 2).
- And as he stood firm in the face of the Roman Empire’s call to surrender to syncretism, Ignatians look to him as a role model as they defend and spread Catholic Truth.
- In St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises:
- We find the chivalric heart and mystical spirit that overflowed into action, with a sense of urgency, to build up the Church Militant ad majorem Dei gloriam
- A clear spirit of courageous combat against the “Axis of Evil” in the “Meditation of the Two Flags” of the Spiritual Exercises, to fortify resilience and a chivalric spirit.
- The inspiration for a corps of men equipped by in-depth, rugged, lengthy, high quality equipping, and a global vision of mission for an intelligent, enterprising, and energetic defense of the Faith.
- With the spirit of these Ignatian saints, the Society of Ignatians aims to answer the Church’s urgent need as she undergoes the onslaught of the “Dictatorship of Relativism” (Benedict XVI), for a body of men who will defend, alongside all loyal Catholics, the Church’s very foundations ‒ those truths that guarantee her identity as the one true religion in which man can find eternal salvation.