How we live our vows
The foundation of the Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III through the bull ‘Regimini militantis ecclesiae’ on September 27, 1540. Canonically, it is a male religious institute of pontifical right. Each Jesuit, whether priest or brother, is called to honor the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Three fundamental keys to understanding our relationship with the world.
Ordering energies: obedience
The vow of obedience helps us to develop our abilities for the greater benefit of others, rather than for our own sake. It is a way of ordering our energy. Receiving a mission rather than choosing it ourselves deepens our sense of being one Body – one Body that functions in unison and works towards one goal. Through obedience we are free to offer ourselves entirely to the service of the Gospel. At times it is tiring, but it is a kind of fatigue that helps us grow in the desire to give our all.
Ordering affections: chastity
The vow of chastity is an invitation to keep ourselves vigilant over our disordered desire to seek affection for our own selfish ends. It is not easy to love others indifferently. And yet, our intimate relationship with God inspires us to love others as He loves us. By offering open and transparent friendships, we show our gratitude for all that we have received in grace. To conquer our affections in today’s world requires a lot of effort, but it also leads to a deep maturity. It is a very delicate aspect in which we invest much effort during our formation.
Ordering needs: poverty
The vow of poverty educates us to be very careful with the means at our disposal to achieve our apostolic work. We hold no property or monetary accounts in our personal name: in this way we avoid accumulating unnecessary wealth that could distract us from our mission. It is not poverty as an end in itself, but rather one that is oriented towards mission. Periodically we analyse and review how best to employ our resources. A simple way of life promotes an attitude of openness that welcomes all the challenges that come our way.
It was a woman religious who referred me to a Jesuit for the experience of spiritual direction. A time of discernment, an important adjustment in many aspects of my life.
The Society of Jesus
In 1540 Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus to help others find God in their life. From the first 10 companions, today there are more than 16,000 Jesuits in 100 countries. Each Jesuit is called to live the vows of obedience, for the greater good of others; chastity, as unselfish relationships; and poverty, by aiming for the essential.