Experience lies at the beginning of the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola, together with a group of companions founded the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits), in 1540.
His charism, his spirituality and especially the Spiritual Exercises all helped to shape a strong identity of the Society of Jesus.
A recent definition given by the last General Congregation of the Jesuits states clearly: “The Jesuit is a fire that kindles other fires”.
The Jesuit is a friend of Jesus. More important than ideas or ideals, lies the intimate relationship the Jesuit has with Jesus. This is discovered and experienced gradually. The Jesuit finds that Jesus is a trustworthy friend who entrusts his friends. It’s a relationship that sets hearts on fire.
The Jesuit is a friend of others. As a companion of Jesus, the Jesuit is a friend of others, particularly the neediest.
The Jesuit is a free man. Thanks to his friendship with Jesus, the Jesuit forgets himself in order to reach to others, radically free to love as Jesus loves. In this way, the companion of Jesus kindles the hearts of others just like his heart is enkindled by the love of Jesus.
The Jesuits is always searching. Empowered by the love of Jesus, the Jesuit is always seeking to love more. Continually searching to transmit faith in an authentic way. This way the people receiving the love encounter the Life-Giver. The Jesuit is always ready to change his clothes, his language, his way of interaction and his work.
The Jesuit is seeking creatively. This search includes many human aspects: cultural, intellectual, social and spiritual. He carries fire everywhere he goes.
The Jesuit is a man of discernment. Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises, he is able to be in touch with his interior life. The Jesuit is called to attentively sift the good from the evil voices in order to open himself for God’s love and the love of others. The discernment is an important element in the Spiritual Exercises that seeks light in order to illuminate others.
The Jesuit is a part of a body. He works together with others with one objective in mind. Different people who work together in harmonious way seeking to be efficient. Just like other religious orders, in this body the vows of obedience, poverty of chastity and a special fourth vow to the Pope are pronounced by the Jesuits. This way the life in the body is completely dedicated to the mission of enkindling fire.
The Jesuit serves in the Church. Man of the Church and in the Church for the world. He offers his availability in order to live the universal mission of Christ. He walks with the Church and he always questions himself how he can set ablaze others fire through Ignatian Spirituality.
The Jesuit lies on the frontiers. He is available to go in places where others don’t go or never have been. The man who sets on fire is always “beyond frontiers”. These frontiers are countries, places, difficult social situations that require specific treatment. The frontiers can be also situations where man asks important questions and where answers are not found: internet, the ever-changing world of the young people, the world of poverty and injustice, the world of culture and science…every place can be set alight by the love of God.