Saint Ignatius of Loyola and the Motto of the Jesuits

SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus, was born in 1491, into a noble Basque family in Northern Spain. His early upbringing was in a court. In 1517, he left his life at the court to enter the army to be a soldier in the service of the Spanish king, Ferdinand. While defending the fortress at Pamplona in 1521, his leg was shattered by a cannon ball. During a prolonged and painful convalescence, for want of ‘romantic books’ at castle, he seriously went through two books that would exert a powerful influence over his mind and heart: ‘The Life of Christ’, and the ‘Lives of Saints’. While reading these books, he experienced an interior transformation that changed his whole life. Inspired by the courageous surrender of the saints to the will of God and to a life of poverty, he decided to forsake his possessions and live the life of an ascetic in search of God.

He found a model in Jesus Christ, the inspiration of his life. He prayed, studied and worked for many hard years, so that he might lead others to live in a manner which was at once more fully human and more fully divine. He preserved a record of his spiritual experiences there, which evolved into a booklet, ‘Spiritual Exercises’, which was used by him and later by his fellow Jesuits, to lead others to God by meditation on the life of Jesus. It is basic to the formation of every Jesuit.

Ignatius gathered a group of young men who shared his vision, at the University of Paris. He eventually founded the society of Jesus, an influential and dynamic religious order. He was an organizational genius. He dedicated the last sixteen years of his life in governing, in finalizing the Constitutions of the Society, in enormous correspondence and in guiding the expending order. He died at the age of 66, on 31st July 1556.

THE MOTTO OF THE JESUITS

AMDG - Ad Majorem Dei Glorium (in Latin)

FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD

MAGIS is a Jesuit word in Latin means “more” and is equated with such feelings as generosity, magnanimity and selflessness. The concept of Magis is derived from the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, and focuses more on the way we make choices. When we choose, it should not be “What’ s in it for me”? but what more will it contribute towards making our lives one of love and services, A person needs to ask “Given my responsibilities, my gifts and talents, my weaknesses and limitations, how can I best embrace this desire to be a man or women for others”?

It is further explicated in the motto of the Jesuits “Ad Majorem Dei gloriam” [AMDG] Which means “for the greater glory of God”. Magis refers to the philosophy of doing more for God, and therefore others. It is an expression of an aspiration and inspiration. Ignatius Loyola would encourage people around his time by asking , “What have I done for God? What am I doing for God? And what MORE can I do for God?”

AS A STUDENT I NEED TO ASK MYSELF:

1. What MORE effort do I need to put into my studies, so that I could contribute MORE to God, life and humanity?

2. What MORE do I need to achieve MORE excellence in all things?