At Rome, Loyola, by his personal exertions, effected great reforms in liturgical services and restored to Romanism much of its vitality.
Continuing Founding of the Jesuits,
our selection from Loyola, and Jesuitism in Its Rediments by Isaac Taylor published in 1849. The selection is presented in five easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Founding of the Jesuits.
Place: Church of the Gesu, Rome
Loyola, although thus warranted, as he thought, in assuming for his order so peculiar and exclusive a designation, used a discreet reserve at the first in bringing it forward, lest he should wound the self-love of rival bodies, or seem to be challenging for his company a superiority over other religious orders. So much caution as this his experience would naturally suggest to him; and that he felt the need of it is indicated by what he is reported to have said as he entered Rome. Although the words so recently pronounced still sounded in his ear, “Ego vobis Romæ propitius ero,” yet as he set foot within the city he turned to his companions and said, with a solemn significance of tone, “I see the windows shut!” — meaning that they should there meet much opposition, and find occasion for the exercise of prudence and of patient endurance of sufferings; of prudence, not less than of patience.
But while care was to be taken not to draw toward themselves the envious or suspicious regards of the religious orders or of ecclesiastical potentates, there was even a more urgent need of discretion in avoiding those occasions of scandal which might spring from their undertaking the cure of the souls of the other sex. Into what jeopardy of their saintly reputation had certain eminent men fallen in this very manner; and how narrowly had they escaped the heaviest imputations! The fathers were not to take upon themselves the office of confessors to women — “nisi essent admodum illustres.” That the risk must necessarily be less, or that there would be none in the instance of ladies of high rank, is not conspicuously certain; but if not, what were those special motives which should warrant the fathers in incurring this peril in such cases? Mere Christian charity would undoubtedly impel a man to meet danger for the welfare of the soul of a poor sempstress as readily as for that of a duchess or the mistress of a monarch. If, therefore, the peril is to be braved in the one case which ought to be evaded in the other, there must be present some motive of which Christian charity knows nothing. So acutely alive was Loyola to the evils that might spring to his order from this source that we find him at a later period not merely rejecting ladies, “admodum illustres,” but bearding the Pope and the cardinals, and glaringly contravening his own vow of unconditional obedience to the Vicar of Christ, rather than give way to the solicitations of fair and noble penitents.
Soon after the arrival of the three — i.e., Loyola, Faber, and Lainez — at Rome, in the year 1537, they obtained an audience of the Pope, who welcomed their return, and gave anew his sanction to their endeavors. Faber and Lainez received appointments as theological professors in the gymnasium; while Loyola addressed himself wholly to the care of souls and to the reform of abuses. To several persons of distinction and to some dignitaries of the Church he administered the discipline of the Spiritual Exercises, they, for this purpose, withdrawing to solitudes in the neighborhood of Rome, where they were daily conversed with and instructed by himself. At the same time he labored in hospitals, schools, and private houses to induce repentance and to cherish the languishing piety of those who would listen to him. Among such, who fully surrendered their souls to his guidance, were the Spanish procurator Peter Ortiz and Cardinal Gaspar Contarini, both of whom were led by him into a course of fervent devotion in which they persisted, and they, moreover, continued to use their powerful influence in favor of the infant society.
The pulpits of many of the churches in the several cities where the fathers had stationed themselves, and some in Rome, had been opened to their use, and the energy and the freshness of their eloquence affected the popular mind in an extraordinary manner; sometimes, indeed, they brought upon themselves violent opposition, but in more frequent instances, their zeal and patient assiduity triumphing over prejudice, jealousy, ecclesiastical inertness, and voluptuousness, the tide of feeling set in with this new impulse, and a commencement was effectively made of that Catholic revival which spread itself throughout Southern Europe, turned back the Reformation wave, saved the papacy, and secured for Christendom the still needed antagonist influence of the Romish and of the reformed systems of doctrine, worship, and polity.
At Rome, Loyola, by his personal exertions, effected great reforms in liturgical services — induced a more frequent and devout attention to the sacraments of confession and the eucharist; established and promoted the catechetical instruction of youth; and, in a word, restored to Romanism much of its vitality.
The author and mover of so much healthful change did not escape the persecutions that are the lot of reformers. Such trials Loyola encountered, and passed through triumphantly — so we are assured; but in listening to the Jesuit writers, when telling their own story, where the credit of the order and the reputation of its founder are deeply implicated, it is with reservation that we follow them.
So fearful a storm — yet a storm long before descried, it is said, by Loyola — fell suddenly upon him and his colleagues that it seemed as if the infant society could by no means resist the impetuous torrent that assailed it. The populace, as well as persons in authority, suddenly gave heed to rumors most startling which came in at once from Spain, from France, and from the North of Italy, and the purport of which was to throw upon the fathers the most grievous imputations affecting their personal character as well as their doctrine. These men were reported to be heretics, Lutherans in disguise, seducers of youth, and men of flagitious life.
The author or secret mover of this assault is said to have been a Piedmontese monk of the Augustinian order, himself a secret favorer of the Lutheran heresy and “a tool of Satan,” and who at last, throwing off the mask, avowed himself a Lutheran. This man, for the purpose of diverting from himself the suspicions of which his mode of preaching had made him the object at Rome, raised this outcry against Loyola and his companions, affirming of them slanderously and falsely what was quite true as to himself.
|Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Society of Jesus|
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history