The Jesuits and Spiritual Formation
Our Jesuit Foundation
For more than 450 years, Jesuit education has formed future leaders in service to others. From the Jesuits’ founding by St. Ignatius of Loyola, to the missionary work in North America by our school’s namesake Fr. Pierre De Smet, S.J, to Pope Francis I, the first Jesuit pope, Jesuits are known for academic excellence and the formation of the entire person. Their institutions of learning exist on almost every continent. Today in the U.S. there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, and 60 high schools.
Founded in 1967, De Smet Jesuit is a proud member of this global, corporate body of Catholic, Jesuit education. Not only do students receive a rigorous, customized academic experience, they also grow spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Ultimately our primary task is to develop “Men for Others”; men who become servant leaders in their communities.
De Smet Jesuit Campus Ministry is dedicated to building community and deepening faith. We are rooted in the mission of the Society of Jesus and seek ways to spread the Gospel in our daily lives. Campus Ministry is a student-run organization that uses a peer ministry approach to help plan, organize, and implement all school Liturgies, class Masses, service opportunities, prayer services, retreats, weekly Adoration, daily prayers, and leadership workshops. We are responsible for the spiritual formation of the school through these events and through daily prayer and reflections.
St. Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man Ignatius Loyola was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds.
But in 1521 Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius Loyola experienced a conversion. Reading the lives of Jesus and the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused desires to do great things. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.
Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his book the Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books on the spiritual life ever written. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as “contemplatives in action.” This also describes the many Christians who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality.
We see the letters A.M.D.G. around school and this means, "to the greater glory of God." St. Ignatius always thought we could live better and give more to God. He often spoke of the “Magis." This is a term that means "more" and asks us to give everything we can to God. With Ignatius, his zeal and faith led him to strive to not just live his life for God’s glory, but to give everything in a truly knightly fashion to the “greater” glory of God. Nothing should be spared with our energy and talents when following Christ and living the Gospel. Magis doesn’t mean taking on more work. It means finding a better way to do the things that we are already doing for God. The AMDG is a loving response to God, one that holds nothing back to express and live our love.
“The Magis means doing the more, the greater, for God. When you work, give your all. When you make plans, plan boldly. And when you dream, dream big. But, as David Fleming recently wrote to me, the Magis is comparative. The more, not the most. The greater, not the greatest. ‘Ignatius never works with superlatives,’ said Fleming. ‘When we want to do the best, we may get frozen. If we want to do what might be better, we are able to choose.’ Ultimately ‘eliciting great desires’ and inviting people to think big is the seed for accomplishing great things for God.”
James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
St. Ignatius believed in “Cura Personalis” which means care for the individual. Each and every person is important and should be treated with respect. Respect for each other and the sacredness of all human life is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. Cura Personalis is our responsibility to treat all of us with respect, indeed searching for God within everyone.
In All Things
Finding God in All Things is one of the most important keys to understanding and living Jesuit spirituality.
St Ignatius instructed the early Jesuits — to go out and "find God in all things." That is the signature spirituality of the Jesuits. Ignatian spirituality is grounded in the conviction that God is active in our world. As the great Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: "God is not remote from us. He is at the point of my pen, my pick, my paintbrush, my needle — and my heart and my thoughts." The spiritual path laid out by Ignatius is a way of discerning God's presence in our everyday lives. And doing something about it.
Ignatian spirituality is not merely an inward journey, much less a self-absorbed one. It aims to bring people closer to God and more deeply into the world — with gratitude, passion, and humility — not away from it. Ignatius called on the Jesuits to be "contemplatives in action." Today, Jesuits and their lay collaborators work with people in many walks of life, such as education and business. They help nurture "men and women for others."