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"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

On Speaking the Language of the Country: To All Superiors Of The Society


Ignatius insisted that Jesuits speak the language of the country where they reside, and he saw this as an indispensable means of promoting unity in the community. At the beginning of each year this instruction was renewed and sent to all superiors, and eventually was incorporated into the Common Rules (#10). To help the non-Italian Jesuits in Rome, Ignatius arranged for Italian classes three times a week, but then in 1555 he changed it to daily classes. This instruction exists in an Italian version [Ep. 10:451-452].

Jhus

The Peace of Christ.

It seems fitting for the benefit and edification of the peoples among whom our Society is living, and for the increase of union, charity, and good will among Ours, that in places where we have a college or a house all who do not know the language which is in common use should learn it and as a rule speak it. If each one were to speak his mother tongue, there would be much confusion and lack of union, seeing that we are of different nations.

For this reason our Father has given orders that in all places where the Society exists, all of Ours should speak the language of that country. In Spain, Spanish; in France, French; in Germany, German; in Italy, Italian; and so on. He has given orders that here in Rome all should speak Italian, and every day there are lessons in Italian grammar to help those learn it who are unable to use it. No one is allowed to speak to another except in Italian, unless it be to make clear the meaning of some words and thus be better understood. Once a week in the refectory, either at dinner or supper, there is an Italian sermon in addition to the tones which is regularly held. Care is taken that some of those who are skilled in Italian help the others, so that they can compose their sermons with greater ease. A good penance is given to those who fail in their observance of this regulation.

Likewise our Father has given orders that this same rule be written out and kept everywhere in the Society as carefully as possible, due consideration being had for differences of places and persons. For this reason we are writing to your reverence to see that the regulation is observed. Please advise us when you receive this.

May Jesus Christ be with us all.

From Rome, January 1, 1556.
I. In July 1521, a 30-year-old Basque knight, named Iñigo was brought home to recuperate after his cannonball experience in the battle of Pamplona—his watershed moment. The wounds on his lower limbs led to the first long lockdown in his life, about nine months, during which he read a life of Christ and a book on the lives of the saints, the only reading matter the Loyola castle afforded. He also killed time by recalling tales of martial valor and by day-dreaming about a great lady who captured his heart. Later when he was out of mortal danger, his attention was centered on the saints. This profoundly moved and attracted him that soon after he had barely recovered he resolved to do something about his many sins. To fulfill this he must embark on a journey towards conversion. He followed the holy austerities of the saints, e.g. Francis of Assisi and Dominic, that God sent as his first spiritual guides in his lifelong task towards holiness.
II. "That mission has its fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him. At its core, holiness is experiencing in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life… The contemplation of these mysteries, as St Ignatius of Loyola pointed out, leads us to incarnate them in our choices and attitudes" (Gaudete et Exsultate— Rejoice and Be Glad, 20).

St Ignatius of Loyola by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1622
III. "This spiritual poverty is closely linked to what St Ignatius of Loyola calls 'holy indifference', which brings us to a radiant interior freedom: 'We need to train ourselves to be indifferent to our attitude to all created things, in all that is permitted to our free will and not forbidden’ so that on our part, we do not set our hearts on good health rather than bad, riches rather than poverty, honour rather than dishonour, a long life rather than a short one, and so in all the rest" (Gaudete et Exsultate— Rejoice and Be Glad, 69).