Ignatian Insight: In the Constitutions Ignatius constantly draws our attention to the fact that for us Jesuits God direct us as individuals and as a group through our relationship with the superior. Sinners and imperfects as we are, our vow of obedience is at the heart of our pathway to God and the service of his people. Furthermore, writing to the Jesuits in Portugal he says: “We may allow ourselves to be surpassed by other religious orders in fast, watchings and other austerities, which each one following its institute holily observers. But in the purity and perfection obedience together with true resignation of our wills and the abnegation our judgement, I am very desirous, my dear brothers, that they who serve God in this Society should be conspicuous, so that by this virtue its true sons may recognized as men who regard not the person whom they obey, but in him Christ our Lord, for whose sake they obey.”
All should strongly dispose themselves to observe obedience and to distinguish themselves in it, not only in the matters of obligation but also in the others, even though nothing else be perceived except an indication of the superior’s will without an expressed command. They should keep in view God our Creator and Lord, for whom such obedience is practiced, and endeavor to proceed in a spirit of love and not as men troubled by fear. Hence all of us should be eager to miss no point of perfection which we can with God’s grace attain in to observance of all Constitution and of our manner of proceeding in our Lord, by applying all of our energies with very special care to the virtue of obedience shown first to the sovereign pontiff and then to the superiors of the Society. Consequently, in all things into which obedience can with charity be extended, we should be ready to receive its command just as if it is coming from the Christ our Saviour, since we are practicing the obedience (to one) in his place and because of love and reverence for him.
Points for Consideration
- Have do you found the above perspective of practicing obedience “to one in the place of Christ and because of love and reverence for Him” helpful in the novitiate? How?
- What attitudes and habits have helped you in developing and sustaining this perspective?
- Have you experienced obedience as a devoted means to progress in our pathway to God?
The Vision at La Storta
During this journey to Rome as supernatural even occurred which is of enormous and lasting importance both for the spirituality of Ignatius and for the foundation of the Society of Jesus. It is now commonly called the vision of La Storta, an area close to Isola Farnese, situated on the Via Cassia which leads from Siena to Rome and sixteen and half kilometers distant from the capital. What Ignatius experienced on that occasion we can piece together from a brief declaration made by him, complemented by further details given by Lainez, a witness present at the time, to whom Ignatius himself made reference. Ignatius tells us that after his priestly ordination he had decided to wait for a full year before celebrating his first mass, preparing himself and begging our Lady to deign “to place him with her Son.” In the chapel of La Storta “whilst in prayer, he experienced such a change in his soul and saw so clearly that the Father was placing him with Christ, His Son, that he couldn’t doubt that the Father was placing him with The Son.” Lainez, of whom Ignatius himself said that he remembered further details about what happened there, gives important additions. Jesus with the cross on His shoulders appeared to Ignatius, and by His side the Father, who said to Him: “I desire you to take this man for your servant.” Jesus then turned to Ignatius and said to him, “It is my will that you serve Us.” Lainez further adds that Ignatius heard the words, “I shall be propitious to you in Rome” it is no longer our Lady but the Father himself who was effecting the mystical union of Ignatius with Jesus, expressing His will that Ignatius should dedicate himself to their service.
Act 5:27-32 – Obedience to God
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, “We gave you to strict orders not to teach in this name, yen here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter the apostles answered, “We must obey God other than any human authority. The God of our ancestor raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at the right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are the witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Luke 1:38 – Mary’s obedience
Then Mary said,”Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Mark 14:36 – Jesus’ obedience
He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.”
The grace I desire : That I may grow in the practice of the vow of obedience in the Society of Jesus.
- Recall an occasion in the novitiate when you experienced genuine freedom by giving your obedience to the superior or somebody in his place.
- Notice how Jesus, Mary and the Apostles live obedience as a radical availability to do God’s will
Rewrite from : Schooled by the Spirit (Ramon Bautista, SJ)