The Vows of the Jesuit Order A Tract Book Essay By Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq.

, Coif © Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar When I was in the Jesuit Novitiate, a long time ago, we studied the vow formula in the Jesuit Constitutions, basically it went like this: “I vow poverty, chastity, and obedience to my superior in the Society of Jesus.” outdated, and argue instead for a new vow formula. First of all let us consider the vow of poverty. I have argued that Jesus had a middle class upbringing and lifestyle, thus it makes no sense to me that a Jesuit should take a vow of poverty to emulate Christ, instead, a Jesuit should take a vow of “Simple Living” where one can own property but not in a manner suggesting conspicuous consumption. For example, as a general rule, I don’t think that Jesuits should own or drive sportscars or own or wear $5,000 custom made suits. Maybe a particular Jesuit will have to have a custom made suit because it is impossible to find his size “off the rack” at the men’s store. This would be an exception to the rule. Next, let us consider the vow of chastity. Chastity basically means that the Jesuit vows not to have sex. I, on the other hand, argue that Jesuits should take a Celibacy vow not to get married in the future. I a Jesuit has an occasional affair with a woman he loves or occasionally masturbates, I really don’t see this as that big a deal. The real problem is when one get’s married and devotes a majority of his energy to his wife and then I would like to argue that this vow is

children. If a Jesuit in his early 30’s needed to get married, his Celibacy vow could be temporarily dispensed and then reinstated after he has reached age 40. Finally, there is the notorious obedience vow. Taking a vow to a superior seems absurd. For example, a Jesuit might have a liberal superior for ten years who tells him to do one thing, and then a conservative superior for the next ten years who tells him to do the opposite. This really isn’t rational. Additionally, after the debacle of Nazi Germany, the idea of unquestioned obedience to authority is suspect. What if a superior ordered a Jesuit to murder another person, or to commit suicide? There seems to be no exception in the vow formula for refusing an illegal order. Moreover, with Vatican II, it is generally understood that the Holy Spirit not only works from the top down in the church and society, but also from the bottom up. A particular Jesuit might be better qualified to make decisions for himself than his superior. Finally, if one follows the philosophy and theology of Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan, it is clear that if a Jesuit is to be authentic he must follow, or be obedient to the Transcendental Precepts, not an religious superior. The new vow formula should state, “I vow obedience to the Transcendental Precepts of; Be Attentive, Be Intelligent, Be Reasonable, Be Responsible, Be Loving, in the Society of Jesus.” So, I propose a new vow formula for Jesuits which is: “I vow Simple Living, Celibacy, and Obedience to the Transcendental Precepts of ; Be Attentive, Be Intelligent, Be Reasonable, Be Responsible, Be Loving, in the Society of Jesus.”