The Jesuits…God’s Soldiers and Defenders of the Faith Essay

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The scene that would forever change the world took place on October 31, 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany. An Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, in an act of fury toward the corruptions of the Catholic Church, nailed his famous Ninety-five theses on a cathedral door. (1) The Catholic Church was caught off guard and never imagined the force of what was to become the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church realized that in order to combat and prevent the spread of Protestantism, they not only needed major reform from within but also needed its influence to extend out onto the world. This period of retaliation was called the Counter or Catholic Reformation. The soldiers selected to carry out this mission were the Jesuits, affectionately …show more content…
Ignatius Loyola, a former Basque soldier. His creation, Spiritual Exercises, provided the foundation from which all Jesuits were to build on, and set the tone for Jesuit training and piety. Historian David Mitchell puts it this way, “Probably the most famous and effective of all Christian training manuals.” (3) The manual was a program that consisted of prayer exercises, thought experiments, meditations, and contemplative practices all designed to rejuvenate the Catholic faith. The Spiritual Exercises are broken down into “movements” or “stages” each with accompanying prayers, visualizations, reflections, and spiritual exercises designed to bring students through progressive levels of training. (4) These exercises were designed to build the spirit, and next, Loyola went on to build the mind. The most effective tool at the Jesuit’s disposal for promoting Catholicism to the world was education. In order to be effective, Loyola realized Jesuit recruits needed to be exposed to the highest levels of learning, and so the fourth part of his draft, Constitutions, became the standard for all Jesuits to follow. For the first time an educational theory was created, which provided the framework for all Jesuits to follow. (5) Similar to the military structure, the Constitutions provided a clear chain of command for governing schools throughout the world. At the top, order started from a superior

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