Report Task The Jesuit Movement Essay Research

Report Task: The Jesuit Movement Essay, Research Paper


the Counter-Reformation can only be understood as a diverse movement, it is

above all the Society of Jesus (better known as the Jesuits) which came to

dominate it, and in many ways personify it. The most prominent of the new

orders, the Jesuits stood by the motto ad majorem dei gloriam (?to the

greater glory of God?). There complete loyalty to the church and its leadership

were a feature throughout this time period, this is again shown, this time in

the Jesuit handbook ?we ought always be ready to believe that what seems to us

white is black, if the hierarchical church so defines it?. The Jesuits crossed

national and cultural boundaries at a time when there was a great deal of

turmoil and resentment against the papacy. Throughout, the society managed to

maintain a unified missionary endeavour, and endeavour to help others but also

campaign for the good of the papacy. The

Jesuit movement was founded by a Basque gentlemen soldier, Don Inigo Lopez de

Loyola (St Ignatius). His military life was put to a halt when he became lame

on the battlefield. From this point on he underwent a mystical religious

conversion. This was triggered when he read a book about the lives of saints

whilst recovering. He continued to fight, but this time for the Mother of

Christ and the salvation of souls. Loyola can be considered a second-generation

reformer like Calvin, albeit a Catholic one. Both men were educated in the same

college in 1528. Loyola was one of the most dramatic and important characters

in sixteenth century history. His starting point was through the lowest form

and perhaps purest form of religious salvation and education; he lived the life

of a hermit near Manresa, near Catalonia. After this he went of on a pilgrimage

to Jerusalem. Loyola was preoccupied through two major sources, through his own

spiritual education for example in Paris (1528-35) but also with the

composition of the works that were to become the handbook of the Jesuit

movement, ?Spiritual Exercises?. In Paris in 1534 Loyola formed the pious

fraternity that was soon to become the founder members of the Jesuits. The

group took vows of poverty and chastity as well as vows of absolute obedience

to the Pope. In 1535 the group left Paris for Italy and spent the appalling

winter of 1538-9 in Rome tending to the sick and looking after the poor. A

Papal Bull of 1540 by Pope Paul III formally established the society. With the

official recognition of the society brought about the naming of Loyola as

General. Loyola had a number of influences and clear beliefs. Thomas À Kempis

and leading Spanish mystics, e.g. Garcia de Cisnerol, influenced him. He

believed that man is a free agent and may ?find God where he will?. Loyola?s

military influences shone through, particularly with the regimental fashion

that things were carried out. The

founding members put together a number of clear aims. To begin with the

intention was to forsake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to convert the Muslims;

however all access to the Holy Land was barred by the outbreak of the war with

the Ottoman Turks. Missionary activity was at the heart of the Jesuit society,

this involved helping the needy but also in the process carrying the word to

non-believers ?fighting for God in faithful obedience?. Loyola believed that

his members should be able to adapt to local circumstances. But saying this

Loyola believed that the Jesuit members should not only preach Catholic ideas

but also some individual Jesuit ideas like ?persons of considerable

importance?; their primary task was to ?save the souls of other people?. This

accompanied with the fact that they had some sympathies for humanists like

Erasmus did not always make them one hundred percent in favour from the papal

leaders. The Jesuit movement is renound for its educational institutions; this

clearly made education one of its aims. People should be educated and informed.

Among the laity the Jesuits were concerned chiefly with the education of the

nobility and those of wealth and influence. But they did conduct trade schools

and in mission countries, schools for the poor. One of the aims instilled into

the Jesuits by the papacy was an important one, to combat the power of the

infidel Turks. For

150 years the Jesuits were leaders in European Education. The extent of this

success is shown by the fact that they even began to teach non-Jesuit pupils.

At first they set up training facilities in Bologna (1546), Messina (1548) and

Palermo (1549). Rapid growth of education institutions throughout Europe

followed. Later they carried the struggle into more hostile territory, at the

end of the sixteenth century 155 colleges in Habsberg. The educational system

applied by the Jesuit members had strong French influence. This is closely

linked to the cosmopolitan character of the founding Jesuits, but also linked

to Loyola?s educational experiences in Paris. In the missionary field growth

was equally great. At first things started liberally but Jesuits like St

Francis Xavier set the example with journeys around the East Africa to the Far

East. When he arrived in Japan in 1549 he commented, ?This land is full of

idolatries and enemies of Christ?. It was from these types of mission that

lessons were learnt. So increasingly the troubles in Europe were of major

concern. There work abroad could be considered as a diversion of effort: the

heretics nearer home posed more of a serious threat. St Peter Canisus was the

most successful Jesuit agent in the reconquest of Southern Germany and central

Europe for Catholicism. The Jesuits used a number of methods to consolidate and

reclaim ?lost souls?. They used methods of preaching, in the early years large

crowds often gathered to listen. Also more innovative methods were used such as

printing and visual arts to campaign for papal matters. But above all the

Jesuits were the educators of many and this was in turn their major weapon

against the spread of Protestantism. The Society of Jesus was not founded with the avowed

intention of opposing Protestantism. Neither the papal letters or approbation nor

the constitutions of the order mentioned this as an object of the new

foundation. There are a number of clear conclusions that can be drawn. The

Jesuits were a dynamic, and almost regimental force; they were the educators of

the aristocracy and confessors of princes. At a time when the Church was in

turmoil and distracted by a number of sources the Jesuits acted almost live a

cavalry force to consolidate the church in Southern Europe and reclaim these so

called ?lost souls? in Protestant North. People felt betrayed by the papacy,

The Jesuits used a number of techniques to cohere these people back to the

Roman Catholic way of thinking. Their missionary work outside of Europe

developed Christianity throughout the known world. I started by saying the

Jesuits dominated Europe, one can conclude that without the aid of the Jesuits

the situation in Europe for the papacy would have considerably worse.?????



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