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THE JESUITS IN THE ROMAN HOUSES
|On Prompt and Blind Obedience
Rome, August 24, 1550
summary | text
of letter | footnotes
Ignatius personally ordered that this directive on obedience be sent to all
the Jesuit houses in Rome. The obedience that he expected from his sons was to
be prompt and blind. The basic idea expressed in this instruction is likewise
enshrined in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Part VI, chap. 1. The
original directive was written in Italian [Ep. 3:156-157].
Our reverend Father
Master Ignatius wishes for God's greater glory and the greater spiritual
progress of all of Ours (as he has already partly declared in other
ordinances), that in the future, when his reverence or father minister summons
anyone, whether he be a priest or not, or the subminister calls one who is not
a priest, they should all answer the call at once, as though it was the voice
of Christ our Lord, and practice this obedience in the name of His Divine
Majesty. In this way obedience should be blind and prompt. If one is at
prayer, he should leave his prayer. If he hears the voice of his superior, or
rather the voice of Christ our Lord, when he is writing and has begun a
letter, say A or B, he should not wait to finish it.
In like manner, if
he happens to be with anyone at all, even a prelate (supposing he owes him no
obedience), he should come if he is called by any of his superiors. Should one
be called who happens to be taking some bodily refreshments of any kind,
whether he be at table or in bed, or busy with an invalid, serving a drink or
a medicine, or engaged in a service which could not be interrupted without
harm to the patient, such as helping to bleed him, or should he be going to
confession or about to receive Communion, or hearing the confessions of
others, if a priest, in all such cases he should send word to the superior and
ask whether he wishes him to leave his meal, or his bed, or whatever else it
may happen to be.
Given at Rome,
August 24, 1550.
||Such unhesitating obedience does not originate with
Ignatius; it is part of the monastic tradition. In the fifth chapter
of his Rule, Saint Benedict exhorts his monks to "lay down
whatever they had in hand, leaving it unfinished."