What Becomes a General Most?

What are the delegates at the General Congregation looking for when it comes to electing a new General? Actually, that’s an easy question to answer (even if it’s not as easy to find someone with all of the necessary qualities). In Part Nine of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola offers his notion of the ideal General. After he had written it, many Jesuits of the time noted that it was unintentionally an accurate description of the saint himself. It’s also a model for what makes the ideal Jesuit. This summary is from a talk by John Padberg, S.J., director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources, from Creighton University’s website. Father Padberg writes... First, "he should be closely united with God our Lord and intimate with him in prayer and all his actions. . . ." Secondly, he should "be a person whose example in the practice of all virtues is a help to the other members of the Society." Then Ignatius goes on to detail such virtues. As a third quality "he ought to be endowed with great understanding and judgment. . ." with ability at discernment and the giving of advice. Fourth, he should "have a care to undertake enterprises and carry them to successful completion." Fifth, as Ignatius says, "has reference to the body, in regard to health, appearance and age along with the physical energies needed to fulfill his office." Sixth, "he ought to have extrinsic endowments . . . such as reputation, high esteem and whatever else aids toward prestige with those within and without the Society." And then, after all of these Ignatius ends up by saying "finally he ought to be one of those most outstanding in every virtue, most deserving in the Society, and known as such for a considerable time. If any of the previously mentioned qualities should be wanting, there should at least be no lack of great probity and of love for the Society nor of good judgment accompanied by sound learning." Father Padberg’s full talk is here: " Padberg lecture" James Martin, SJ
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Father Michael Nixon and parishioner work a volunteer table at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Much like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, the low-income neighborhoods east of Panama City, where St. Dominic is located, were especially hard-hit by the storm. Now residents here are desperate for help.
Atena SherryOctober 18, 2018
“I believe there are adequate, alternative options for true women’s health care out there, and Planned Parenthood is not needed,” said Alisha Fox, a health and wellness coach at a Catholic fertility center in Chicago.
Colleen ZeweOctober 18, 2018
 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018