THE "CHRIST INTOXICATED" IGNATIUS AND HIS TEAM OF PARIS M.A.s WON THE WORLD
The Origin of the Jesuits. By James Brodrick, S.J. Longmans, I0s. 6d.
THIS masterly example of multum in Part'n might be variously described as a series of vignettes of Ignatius and his team of Paris M.A.s or as a study of the method by which he welded them into the Chureh's most powerful Counter-Reformation wentxm; or one might take it as an apologia of the Saint himself, for it is his personality that dominates the others without swamping them, it Was his genius that regimented without crushing his group of intense individualists.
Anticipating by a century the StraffordLaud motto of " Thorough," Ignatius began with himself. taking three days to write his general confession and then man-handling his hidalgo pride by begging his bread in the streets. His immense will-power in suffering, that has remained the hall-mark of Jesuit asceticism, gave its only real originality to the Spiritual Exercises which, wholly traditional in teaching. took Ignatius eighteen years to reduce to their final form and are the fruit of his own progressive knowledge of God and understanding of human nature. He "could aever
own unaided powers have achieved the little divinelY simple masterpiece, It is a manual, and the best ever written. of Christian prudence, whereas he had in the beginning no prudence; it concentrates, codifies, systematises the entire ascetical tradition of Christianity with a marvellous taut energy and utter kenosis of literary embellishment, whereas he was ever one for the appearances, a deviser of high-flown gallantries. who had to have his leg blown to bits in order to discover that there existed such a thing as Christian asceticsm."
HIMSELF already " Christ-intoxicated," 1.1 Ignatius set out to work. suffer and, if need be, die for souls. The linty Places were visited, Falcate and Salamanca evangelised, and then came perhaps the most momentous decision of his Life—to seek in Paris, the womb of Chriatendom's University learning, the best available preparation for his apostolate. Forced by dire poverty to miss lectures before dawn and after dark and to beg alms for hie course (thank God, the schismatic English were his most generous benefactors !), he was (blown by Providence into the company of Peter Faber, the Savoyard ex-shepherd. his first Jesuit. " a quiet soul. all of whose drama was wIthiri." and with Xavier, hidalgo. athlete and rising don, whom he took three years to net.
Soon there followed two hays he had known in Alcalh, Alphonso Salmeron and the half-Jew, Laynee. Then came Nicholas. the wandering scholar from Bobadilla and the headstion Portuguese noble, Rodriguez, cause of sad anxiety to Ignatius as he was the object ot his tenderest love. Such were the seven idealists who vowed their lives to a common cause during Mass at Montmartre on the Feast of the Assumption, 1534.
There were ten of them, all Masters of Paris, when they met in Venice in January, 1537. to work for the poor, the sick and the ignorant, till their first patron, Paul III, persuaded them that their Promised Land might well be Italy in the stead of Palestine.
'MOW for the first time, these "Pilgrim Priests " began seriously to consider taking the vow of obedience that would make theni an Order. They deliberated on their aims—to teach Christian doctrine especially to children, to place themselves by vow at the disposal of the Pope, to practice poverty also under vow, to abandon the age-old tradition of Choir-Office " lest they be withdrawn from those works of charity to which we have wholly dedieated ourselves." Pope Paul's approval was soon won, but a year of anxious waiting passed before the Bull Regimini
Eerlesiae--grand words for them I— established the Society of Jesus in September. 1540.
Ignatius States in his Constitutions. the result of three years concentrated thought and study of the classic Rules of the Church, that the intention of the fourth
vovi-(to the Pope) is that we repair to whatever part of the world he shall determine to send us for the greeter glory of God and the stay-nue of souls." When Ignatius died in 1556, his men had crossed every ocean and landed in Britain, Ireland, India. Japan, Brazil, Abyssinia and China, While the early, abortive mission to these Isles is interesting for the sound sense and spiritual wisdom of Ignatius' instruction on deportment, the story of these first 'Jesuit journcyings is, of course, dominated by that of Xavier. Hie wide, tender affection, his heroic labours, his sparkling joyousness (" he always seemed happy, even when overwhelmed with work . . . he was always as though he had his mouth full of laughter —these traits of the most lovable saint since that other Francis are sadly overshadowed by the sordid background against which he worked, the rascally rapacity of his own race. "Experience has taught me." he wrote in a white heat of indignation to King John HI. " that your Highness has no power in India to spread the faith of Christ, while you have power in take away and enjoy the country's temporal riches," THE spirit that penned these burning words was unconquerable Ringing his little bell under the shade of his old umbrella, reciting the Commandments and Creed in his halting Tamil, baptising till his arms dropped with fatigue, Xavier hurried across India, a pathfinder, an opener of
doors, an intanable optimist, ready to conquer China to complete his work in Japan. No wonder he died worn out, his black hair turned completely white, at the age of 46.
Meanwhile in Europe Ignatius was making sure of the Universities: Paris, Coimbra, Padua, Louvain, Valencia. Alcala, all within six years received their Trojan Horse packed with Jesuits. In 1550 the Roman (Ignatius wanted to call it the FInrgia) College was founded, later to become the Gregorian University. Two years later, also in Rome, he set up the German College, " the most cherished of his life's works." A little earlier he had humoured his greatest convert, Duke Francis of Gandia. with 11 10y university in his ducal city and " though that foundation had little significance from a cultural point of view, it yet made scholastic history by directing the activities of the young Jesuit order info educational
channels. Hitherto all Jesuit houses had been exclusively for men of the order : now little Gandia provided a precedent for the Stonyhursts of the future.
FFR. Brodrick tells with genuine insight how Ignallua marshalled his men; restraining Duke Francis. the secret of whose bloody austerity was that " it was Borgia blood. tainted blood, that cried out to be shed in expiation"; watching over the cautious conversion of Nadal, his alter ego. with that " kind of X-ray eye for the core of spiritual genius that lay hidden under such external infirmities "; gently coaxing Rodriguee with unending patience and love: wisely counselling his Tridentine theologians (" I should he slow to speak and would do so in a thoughtful. friendly fashion _ the greater gloss' of God is the purpose of our Fathers at Trent' . ."): fiercely lashing with his pen poor. bewildered Laynez.
These are facets of the character of a master of men. on qui s'impo,se, as the French say. He seems aImnst too tender at times, at others unnatural yet always it is the omernatural that rides the Saint himself —all must be A.M.D.G.
In the coming instalments of the full history that he promises us. Fr. Brodrick will find many a fellow-Jesuit worthy of his brilliant pen, but never a one to match his master.