Jesuits in the Low Countries
The Society of Jesus in the region of the European Low Countries
Companions of Jesus
The Jesuits are a religious Order within the Roman Catholic Church, founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1540. An ‘Order’ is a community of priests and brothers (i.e. men who are not ordained priests), who live and work according to their own rule and with their own spirituality. The Society of Jesus currently consists of about 17.000 Jesuits, spread over 127 countries. They work as teachers, physicians, journalists, parish priests, astronomers, spiritual directors, student pastors …
The vows are the central focus in the religious life. The evangelic councils, as they are also called, not only externally shape the life of the Jesuit. Above all, they are a continuous call to graft our apostolic life (i.e. our mission in the world) on the person of Jesus Christ, to the smallest detail. Repeatedly and increasingly. The great texts from our tradition indicate a common direction. Although in the experience of every individual Jesuit there is a variety of emphasis in the search for this continuous fragile balance, in the always unpredictable road to rejoicing.
Sent to serve
From the beginning saint Ignatius never had a doubt. The order founded by him has no other goal than “serving of the souls”. Responding to the needs of Church and society, that has been the purpose of the Jesuits throughout the centuries. Work was and is often done in areas where others are absent or at the borders of society. The privileged bond with him who Ignatius liked to call “the vicar of Christ on earth”, makes the Pope regularly assign special missions to the Society, still today.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Ignatius’ motto that everything has to be done ‘for the greater glory of God’, indicates his preference to growth, to process-oriented action: more is always possible, greater depth, more intense love, more complete surrender to God. You will never reach the highest, however you can improve and become an increasingly better servant to God. It is not about achievements by great willpower, yet about a way of life that expresses the desire and will to be open to the influence of God’s spirit on human action. Prayer and daily life will then interact and nourish each other continuously. The Spiritual Exercises are the heart of the spirituality of the Jesuits and of the broader Ignatian family. To seek, find and serve God in all things and people, amid a beautiful, yet broken world. Together with and in service of many different people.