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THE SCHOLASTICS AT ALCALÁ
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These general directives for scholastics have been preserved by Pedro de
Ribadeneira1 in his still unpublished Historia de la Assistencia
de España (Book 1, chap. 6). Writing in his final years in Spain,
Ribadeneira notes that the scholastics at Alcalá "did not have the
Constitutions or the rules as we in the Society have them, since our blessed
Father Ignatius had not yet written them; but they did have some of his
instructions and counsels which they often read, and which they strove to keep
with the greatest of care. Because these are the counsels of so excellent a
Father, and the first that our scholastics ever had, it seemed good to include
them here so that they may always be remembered." Since the first
scholastics to study at the famous University of Alcalá de Henares went there
in April 1543, the usual date given to these paternal counsels is 1543.
However, it is very probable that they had already been prepared (as early as
1541?) for the scholastics studying in Paris or in Padua, and on the occasion
of the scholastics going to Spain, a copy was given them. The scholastics are
here reminded that during their years of study they are to retain purity of
heart, live always in the presence of God, see Christ in their superior,
behave humbly and charitably, reject anything that would keep them from loving
their brethren, etc. In a word, these counsels are meant to shape a youthful
scholastic into the mature Jesuit; they will eventually evolve into
"Rules for Scholastics." These counsels, written in Spanish, may be
found in Ep. 12:674-676.
1. We should be
careful to preserve great purity of heart in the love of God, loving nothing
but Him, and desiring to converse with Him alone, and with the neighbor for
love of Him and not for our own pleasure and delight.
2. We should speak
only with necessity, and for the edification of ourselves or others, and leave
aside those things which do not profit the soul, such as the desire for news
and worldly affairs. We should try always to treat of matters connected with
humility and mortification of the will, and not of things that give occasion
for laughter or murmuring.
3. Let no one seek
to be considered a wit, or to affect elegance or prudence or eloquence, but
look upon Christ, who made nothing at all of these things and chose to be
humbled and despised by men for our sake rather than to be honored and
4. We should not
wish to see or do anything which could not be done in the presence of God and
His creatures, and we shall thus imagine that we are always in His presence.
5. We should not
dispute stubbornly with anyone; rather we should patiently give our reasons
with the purpose of declaring the truth lest our neighbor remain in error, and
not that we should have the upper hand.
6. One of the things
which we must be very firm about, if we are to please our Lord, is to cast far
from us everything that could remove us from the love of our brethren. We
should make every effort to love them with a tender charity, for Supreme Truth
has said: This is how all will know you are my disciples, etc. [John
7. Should anyone do
anything that is disedifying, and it seems that as a result he should be held
in less esteem than he was held before, let him not be so discouraged as to
wish to give up, but let him humble himself and ask forgiveness of those who
might have been scandalized by his bad example and a penance from his
superior. He should thank God, who has permitted him to be humbled, so that he
can be known by all for what he is. He should not wish to appear better in the
eyes of men than he is in the eyes of God. The brethren who behold him should
think that they could fall into even greater weakness, and should ask God to
8. In our superiors
we should always behold the person of Christ, whom they represent, and have
recourse to them in our doubts and hold it as certain that our Lord will
direct us through them.
9. We should not
conceal our temptations, nor even our good thoughts, but make them known to
our confessor or superior, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of
light [2 Cor. 11:14]. We should always act according to the judgment and
counsel of our spiritual father rather than our own, which we should always
regard rather with suspicion.
10. In dealing with
others we should bear ourselves modestly, and try not to appear sad or too
serious, nor, on the other hand, overcheerful and gay, but as the Apostle
says: Everyone should see how modest you are [Phil. 4:5].
11. We should never
postpone a good work, no matter how small it may be, with the thought of later
doing something greater. It is a very common temptation of the enemy to be
always placing before us the perfection of things to come and bring us to make
little of the present.
12. Let us all
persevere in the vocation to which God calls us, and not make our first
loyalty an empty word. For the enemy is wont to tempt those in the desert with
thoughts of dealing with the neighbor and improving him, and to those who are
helping the neighbor he will propose the great perfection of the desert and
solitary life. Thus he lays hold of what is far off to prevent us from taking
advantage of what is at hand.
||Ribadeneira was born in
Toledo, Spain, on November 1, 1526. He went to Rome in 1539 as a page
in the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, and entered the
Society on September 18, 1540. He first studied in Paris and Louvain,
but in 1546 went to Padua. In 1549 he was assigned to teach in Palermo
and remained in Sicily until 1552, when Ignatius called him to Rome to
assist at the German College. He was ordained in 1553, and in 1555
went to Flanders to establish houses of the Society. He was provincial
of Tuscany (1560-1561) and of Sicily (1561-1565), and visitor for
Lombardy (1569-1570). In 1567 Father General Francisco de Borja
commissioned him to write Ignatius’ biography, which appeared in
1572. He then went to Spain and remained there until his death in
Madrid on September 22, 1611.