THE MYSTIQUE, DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER, OF THE SOCIETY OF IGNATIANS
- is to live and proclaim the utterly unique, supernatural, and salvific nature of the Catholic identity
- as the initiation into the divinely revealed mysteries (Mt. 13:11; Col 1:26), the mysterium salutis (the mystery of salvation)
- within the Mystical Body of Christ, the Catholic Church,
- through participation in the life-giving, transforming sacraments and sacramentals as enacted in the sacred traditional liturgy according to the classical Roman rite
- living and teaching others to live the Christian life in the light of the mystical significance of sanctifying grace and deification,
- thus empowering the transformation of their souls by the salvific mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called ‘mystical’ because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments – ‘the holy mysteries’ – and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2014.)
- opening themselves to the transforming influence of the supernatural by asceticism in order to ready their hearts for the graces of the mystical state (the unitive stage of Christian transformation)
- an asceticism whose ideal is that of the militant who consecrates his heart, mind, and body to God in the footsteps of the supreme hero of history, the Lord Jesus Christ
- resolving to achieve mystical union with the Most Holy Trinity by forming a chivalric heart, taking chivalry, as rooted in Catholic Tradition, as the matrix for Ignatian asceticism since it has shown itself to be a superb pedagogy for the refinement of virile virtue
- and thereby entering more deeply into the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola thanks to understanding the chivalric spirit, ethos and code that shaped the heart of their knight-author. The meditations of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises breathes the chivalric fragrance: the noblesse oblige of enlisting in the army of Jesus Christ to whom one promises undying loyalty, moved by admiration and love for so sublime a leader whose virtues are the pre-eminent expression of all that is true, good, beautiful and noble in the heart of man.
- thus forming a chivalric character characteristic of so many of our Catholic forefathers from Louis IX to Bernard of Clairvaux, from Godfrey of Bouillon to Dominic, Francis of Assisi, and the first Ignatians such as Francis Xavier
- according to the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas who masterfully synthesized the ascetical-mystical doctrine of the New Testament and the Fathers of the Church
In synthesis, the Chivalric Mystique channels the tri-fold ethos of the Society of Ignatians (Traditional, Ignatian, Thomistic) into daily living because it is a quintessentially Catholic spirituality for men that was born from Catholic Tradition, expressed itself as an ascetic program in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and is intellectually explained both as regards its source and its content by the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.
SOCIETY OF IGNATIANS MYSTIQUE – BORN FROM CATHOLICISM FOR CATHOLICISM
- Every Catholic religious order must exist for the same ultimate purpose: to live and spread the Catholic Faith, whether on the battlefield of cloistered prayer or in society.
- Yet, since the Church lives amid the ever changing storms of history, each new order is born in order to defend and build up the Mystical Body of Christ in a way that is new and effective according to the new challenges.
- In the Third Millennium, under the assaults of the “Dictatorship of Relativism” (Benedict XVI) and its theological version of Modernism, the Society of Ignatians has been born in order to defend, alongside all true Christians, the very foundations of the Catholic Faith ‒ its supernatural identity as the way of eternal salvation.
- Thus, it is crucial to proclaim that Catholicism is no mere religion but the Mysterium, the “Mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4), the eternal action of God in history, uncovering the mysterious plan of “God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7).
- Accordingly, to become Catholic is to enter into the Mysterium, participating in, and cooperating with, God’s ceaseless action for the fulfillment of His plan over the cosmos, history and mankind.
- The gateway is through mystical union with God by the power of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace in the strength of which the soul can progress to ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called ‘mystical’ not because of vague, occult spiritualism but because “it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments – ‘the holy mysteries’ – and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2014)
- Thus, in synthesis, “mystique”, derived etymologically from the same root as the Greek adjective mystikos and the noun mysterion, besides referring to the distinctiveness of the Society of Ignatians, also points to the sources of the Society’s characteristic spirit:
- Firstly, to the fact that the Society lives from, and for, the core Catholic truths of the “mysteries of salvation”, in their integral grandeur and beauty in the light of Tradition, particularly through the Traditional Latin Mass and Divinum Officium.
- Secondly, it refers to our determination to shape lifestyle and mission by the mystical dimension of Christian life, as interpreted above all by Catholic Tradition, notably through the Fathers of the Church, St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Letters, St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, and, especially, by the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.
World Vision: History in the light of Eternity ‒ the “Mystery of Salvation”
- History, whose deep purpose is known only by God, is revealed in “the mystery” (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 5:32; Col. 1:26-27), “the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God” (Eph 3:9; Col. 1:26; Dan. 2:20-30), “according to the decision which he took in Him (Christ) for the design of fulfilling the ages, to sum up everything in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” (Eph. 1,9). It is the dynamism of the millennia progressing towards their ultimate God-ordained end within the dramatic struggle between “the City of God and the City of Man” (St. Augustine).
The Church Loved as the Mystical Body of Christ
- Ignatians love the Church in its triple dimension of Church Militant, Church Purgative and Church Triumphant as the natural extension of their love for their Lord Jesus Christ since they recognize it to be His Mystical Body, the organic prolongation through the millennia of the Incarnation. It is therefore the true homeland of the soul, the sole land in which man finds the gateways to the very life of the Blessed Trinity, eternal salvation, and the truths for a godly civilization (Eph. 5:32; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol. III, q. 8; Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi)
The Most Holy Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei: Gateway to Deification
- Ignatians strive for mystical participation in the “mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4) through the life-transforming and society-transforming sacramenta (mysteria) of the sacred liturgy (the sacraments, sacramentals, prayer), whose source and culmination is in the Mysterium Fidei of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Here is the gateway to participation in Christ’s Redemption since “what was visible in the Lord has passed over into the mysteries.” (Pope St. Leo the Great). According to the ancient form of the liturgy, the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite”, the fountain of inspiration for the Ignatian’s asceto-mystical lifestyle and mission.
The Priest’s Mystical Identity: Alter Christus
The Ignatian lives his priesthood as mystical union with the person of his Lord, Jesus Christ, Head of the Mystical Body, the one and only bridge between the Eternal God and man. He lives alert to his awesome responsibility whereby “he represents the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, in so far as the latter is the head of all members [of the Church] and sacrifices himself for them. He therefore approaches the altar as the servant of Christ, himself standing lower than Christ but higher than the people.” (Pius XII, Mediator Dei). Thus, he lives alert to the fact that “the most divine of all divine things is to cooperate with God in the salvation of souls” (Dionysius) and that as Christ’s ambassador, “in imitation of His Redeemer he gives himself, mind, heart, affections, strength, time, all for God. He is ever ready to sacrifice his very blood and even life itself to procure the salvation of souls” (Saint John Eudes, A Memorial of the Ecclesiastical Life)
Lifetime’s Purpose: Mystical Union with the Most Blessed Trinity
- As the Church in doctrine, and the saints in action, have taught, Christian life is the supernatural energy of sanctifying grace, enlightening and invigorating man unto the deification of the inner depths of his soul (2 Peter 1:4), mystical union with the Blessed Trinity and a supernatural existence with its higher powers for truth, goodness, beauty, and action.
- Thus, Ignatians view their lifetime as the glorious privilege of ascending, with chivalric heart, the ascetic trails of the “mountain of God” (Psalm 47). With a growing sense of wonder, gratitude, and holy pride in their Catholic identity that overflows with enthusiasm and urgency in energetic, pro-active, pro-convert dynamism for the honor of God, the eternal salvation of souls, and the christianization of society.
Mystical Attitude: Awe, Reverence,and Sense of the Holy in dealing with the “Things of God”
- All Ignatian thought and action in the light of the utter holiness and purity of the Eternal and Omnipotent God
- Ignatian priesthood, a vocation lived in contact with the holiness of God, demands uncompromisingly a lifelong thrust towards fulfillment of the divine command: “Be holy as I am holy” through an energetic asceto-mystical lifestyle.
- Shown in the sense of the holy when enacting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacred liturgy in general alert to the sublimely mysterious nature of the “Mystery of Christ” ( Rom 16:25-27, Col. 1:25-27) and the “mystery of the Kingdom of God” (Mk. 4:11; Lk. 8:10)
Mission as Pro-Active Pro-Convert Dynamism of the Mystical Dimension of Catholicism
“Go therefore baptize all nations”: In fulfilling the Lord’s command, the Society of Ignatians will ardently introduce men and women to the mystical dimension of Catholicism, grounded in the sacred scriptures, lived by the saints, and explained by the Fathers of the Church and St. Thomas Aquinas. With all its truth, beauty, and vitality, this is the most powerful, beautiful, and effective way to pro-actively engage in the conversion of the post-Christian masses and of non-Christians. Here men will find the way out of the labyrinth of post-modern crisis of civilization, with its emptiness and evil; they will arrive Him who is the “Truth and the Life” by journeying on the sublimely attractive way of Him who is “The Way” by discovering that Catholic identity is no mere set of obligations but a new supernatural way of being, of living, through the vitality of the deification in which man finds utter fulfillment (2 Peter 1:4).