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12. TO THE FATHERS DEPARTING FOR GERMANY

Practical Norms

 Rome, September 24, 1549

summary | text of letter  | footnotes


          In early 1549, Wilhelm IV, Duke of Bavaria, sent a request to Pope Paul III asking for three Jesuits to teach at the University of Ingolstadt. Ever since the death of Johann Eck1 in 1543, the university had declined in the quality of professors and in the number of students. Wilhelm intended to keep the university a bastion against the Reformation, as it had been during the days of Eck and, thus, he requested the Jesuits to help restore it to its former prestige. Since the duke had already been acquainted with Claude Jay, who had taught at Ingolstadt, the duke asked for him by name and desired two others. Pope Paul sent the duke's request on to Ignatius, who agreed to send Jay, Alfonso Salmerón, and Peter Canisius2 to Germany. Both Canisius and Salmerón were called from the college in Messina, and as the group was about to depart Rome, Ignatius drafted a list of instructions indicating how they were to act and what should be their goal. Their first task was to be of service to the university, but Ignatius also felt that they were to see to the spiritual needs of the citizenry suffering from the inroads made by Lutheranism, and to look ahead to the possibility of starting a college of the Society there. On their way north the three Jesuits stopped at Bologna to take their doctorate, which they successfully did on October 4, and arrived in Ingolstadt on November 13. What is given below is the first part of the instruction, which was originally written in Latin [Ep. 12:240-242].

Jhs

          1. Your first and greatest asset will be to distrust yourself and have a great and magnanimous trust in God. Join to this an ardent desire, enkindled and sustained by obedience and charity, to attain the end proposed. Such a desire will keep the end always before your mind, and make you also commend it to God in your sacrifices and prayers and to make diligent use of all other suitable means.

          2. The second means is a good life, and therefore an exemplary life. You should shun, not only evil but the very semblance of evil, and show yourselves as patterns of modesty, charity, and all other virtues. Since Germany is in great need of good example, she will derive much help from it; and even though this example be wordless, the affairs of the Society will prosper and God will do battle for us.

          3. You should cherish a genuine affection for everyone and show it to everyone, especially to those who have great influence over the common good, as the duke himself, to whom you should offer your excuses for arriving so late, and to whom you must show an affection which not only the Apostolic See but our Society cherishes for him as well. Courteously promise him that you will devote your every effort and endeavor to help his people.

          4. Show your love in truth and in action by bestowing favors on many, offering them spiritual assistance, and also in exterior works of charity, as will be explained later.

          5. Give proof that you are not seeking your own interests, but those of Jesus Christ [Phil. 2:21], that is, His glory and the good of souls. In keeping with this, accept no stipends for Masses or sermons or the administration of the sacraments. You must have no income of any kind.

          6. Make yourselves loved by your humility and charity, becoming all things to all men [1 Cor. 9:22]. Show that you conform, as far as the Institute of the Society permits, to the customs of the people, and whenever possible see to it that no one goes away from you sad, unless it be for the good of his soul. But do not gratify others at the expense of conscience, and let no excessive familiarity breed contempt.

          7. Do not take sides in faction and party strife, but follow a middle course and be friendly with both sides.

          8. It will be helpful if you are known to hold sound doctrine both as representatives of the Society and as individuals. This should be with everybody, but especially with the duke and men of influence. It will greatly enhance your reputation not only to cultivate interior composure, but also to manifest it exteriorly: namely, in manner of walking, gestures, appropriate clothing, and above all in circumspection of speech, the maturity of your advice on both practical matters and speculative questions as well. This maturity will keep you from giving your opinion too hastily if the matter is difficult. In such a case take your time to think the matter over, study the question, and even discuss it with others.

          9. You must try to be on good terms with those in governmental positions and be kindly disposed toward them. It will help to this if the duke and those members of his household, who have a wide influence, confess to Ours, and insofar as their duties permit, make the Spiritual Exercises. You should win over the professors at the university and other persons of authority by your humility, modesty, and obliging services.

          10. Consequently, if you should learn that you or the Society is in ill esteem, especially with persons in authority, you should prudently undertake a defense, and try to get them to understand the work of the Society and your own, to God's greater glory.

          11. It will help to have an exact knowledge of the disposition and character of the men involved, and to consider beforehand all possibilities, especially in matters of importance.

          12. It will help if all the companions not only think and speak alike, but even dress alike, and observe the same external manners and social customs.

          13. Each of the companions should be careful to reflect on what is adapted to the end proposed, and they should talk matters over among themselves. The superior, after having heard what the others think, shall decide what is to be done or left undone.

          14. They should write to Rome to ask advice, and to describe conditions. This should be done frequently, as it can be of no little help to all.

          15. From time to time they should read this instruction and what will be stated later, and other points which they think ought to be added, so that their memory may be refreshed should it begin to grow dim.

Footnotes

1 Eck was a renowned German theologian, born in 1486. He came to Ingolstadt in 1510, and after Martin Luther’s break with the Church, entered into controversy with him and Karlstadt. Eck wrote many anti-Lutheran treatises, but his most famous work, Enchiridion, was directed against Melanchthon’s Loci communes. Eck died at Ingolstadt on February 10, 1543.
2 Canisius, whose family name was Kanis, was born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, on May 8, 1521. While a student in Cologne he heard about the recently established Society of Jesus and went to Mainz to search out Pierre Favre and to learn more about it. Favre led him through the Exercises and accepted him into the Society on May 8, 1543. He was ordained on June 12, 1546, and served as Cardinal Truchsess’ peritus at the Council of Trent in 1547. His next assignment was teaching in Sicily, from which task he he was called to go to Germany. Canisius remained in Ingolstadt until March 1552, when he went to Vienna, and then in 1555 to Prague. He was appointed provincial of Germany in 1556 and held office until 1569, when he went to Innsbruck to devote his time writing. In 1580 he travelled to Fribourg, Switzerland, to found a new college and remained there until his death on December 21, 1597. He was beatified by pope Pius IX on August 2, 1864, and canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 21, 1925.