Common section


affections/attachments (afecciones) Key terms in the psychological vocabulary of the Spiritual Exercises (Exx.); they refer to all the feelings of liking and disliking that well up in the heart and can impede objective judgement; they operate on many levels of the self, but those called in question in the Exx. are the profound influences that alter perceptions of reality; in English this sense of ‘affection’ has been almost lost (but cp. ‘well affected’ or ‘disaffected’).

application of the senses (traer los sentidos) Translated here as ‘bringing the senses to bear’ (Exx. 121–26), or ‘prayer of the senses’ (it was the Latin version that led to the now traditional title ‘application of the senses’); this is a method in prayer by which one deliberately tries to imagine particular sensual details (sounds, colours, etc.) of a Gospel or other scene in order to feel part of it in a reflective, contemplative way. Ignatius seems to have been temperamentally of unusual aesthetic sensitivity, and this ‘prayer of the senses’ enabled him to practise a deep prayer, somewhat belied by its title, and really the culmination of a day of prayer.

coadjutors Members of the Society who are not ‘professed’, and therefore originally expected to be less mobile; they could be ‘spiritual’ coadjutors if they were priests, and ‘temporal’ coadjutors if they were laymen; these grades were instituted in 1546 and still exist, if in a modified form.

collateral A counsellor appointed to help certain superiors; although Ignatius was partial to the use of such officials, the post was later found to be impractical and abandoned. See síndico (below).

colloquy (coloquio) A quasi-technical term invented by Ignatius to indicate the prayer of familiar conversation that he encourages as the culmination of an exercise, and which calls for special reverence (Exx. 3); its ‘normal’ place comes towards the end (following the overall movement of prayer from mind to the heart), but it may occur spontaneously at any time (Exx. 53–54, 109, 199).

composition (composición) A preliminary to prayer, as one ‘composes’ oneself, by ‘composing’ (= recalling to mind) the locale of the scene being contemplated or by imagining a suitable setting for a topic, e.g. a happy, or a shameful, or an awesome situation (Exx. 47, 151, 232).

consolations (consolaciones) Exx. 316, 329–36; the complete gratuitousness of God-given consolation (consolation ‘without cause’) strongly impressed Ignatius and steered him clear of the Pelagian leanings that some critics have suspected in his teaching, but left him open to attack as an ‘illuminist’ heretic.

Constitutions Written by Ignatius (with some reluctance as he would have preferred the members to be guided by an unwritten esprit de corps) between his appointment as Superior General (1541) and 1550, the Holy Year proclaimed by the Pope, when they were submitted to the judgement of as many of the original group as could come to Rome. They were gradually publicized by close associates deputed by him and had not been officially promulgated at Ignatius’s death.

contemplation A traditional term used by Ignatius (along with the term ‘meditation’) in a personal way. For him, whereas one ‘contemplates’ when praying about the person of Christ, one ‘meditates’ when praying about certain truths (mainly First Week subjects and the fourth day exercises of the Second Week). While for ‘contemplation’ the imagination unlocks the door, and leads to intimate, receptive prayer of the heart, for ‘meditation’ thought is initially required (as one ponders), even if ideally the latter will also merge into the former. But this is a far cry from the technical use of ‘contemplation’ to mean a form of infused mystical prayer.

desolations Exx. 317–24.

discernment (discreción) The Ignatian quality par excellence, and the key to the whole process of the Exercises, which are designed to facilitate a just appraisal, before God, of the movements felt in the heart and weighed by the mind (the consolations and desolations that figure so prominently, Exx. 6 and 328); Ignatius’s discovery of this ability triggered his conversion, and guided him throughout his life.

examens The practice of self-correction recommended in the Exercises, Exx. 24f.

Exercises The term is explained in Annotation 1 (Exx. 1); Ignatius clearly intended his Spiritual Exercises, at least in their full form, for a restricted number of individuals, but the emphasis from the beginning is on openness and generosity (Exx. 5) rather than will-power.

feel The Spanish word sentir is a favourite of Ignatius, and to accentuate this it is usually translated here by ‘feel’, even if it has a wider gamut of meanings (e.g. ‘to be aware’).

First Companions Pierre Favre (the only priest in the group), Nicolás Bobadilla, Diego Laínez, Simão Rodrigues, Alfonso Salmerón, Francis Xavier, along with Ignatius made an initial vow at Montmartre, Paris, on 15 August 1534; the vow was repeated in 1535 and 1536, and although Ignatius was absent, the others were joined by new ‘companions’, viz. Jean Codure, Claude Le Jay and Paschase Broët. These men later came to a mutual decision to found the Society of Jesus as a religious order (1539).

General The overall superior of the Society in Rome.

indifference (ser indiferente) One of the key concepts in the Exx. (see 23, 157, 179), yet easily misunderstood if taken in a philosophical rather than a religious sense; one may ‘feel’ far from indifferent, but be prepared to wish to relinquish something out of love of God.

Institute The whole ethos (spirit, moral body, Constitutions) of a religious order.

meditation Cf. contemplation.

mortal sins In the Exx. ‘mortal sins’ can be either particular grave, deliberate actions (the traditional examples being homicide, adultery and apostasy), or – and in this case the translation ‘capital sins’ is given – the seven ‘vices’, habitual tendencies to evil (like pride, gluttony, avarice, etc.). But the two senses are often intertwined, and further confused by a sixteenth-century moral teaching which tended to blunt the spiritual sense of sin as the profound rejection of (and death to) God.

narrative Literally the ‘history’ (historia), a regular preamble to prayer; usually the recall of a particular Gospel passage or story, but in a wider sense any form of preliminary review of the subject-matter, with a characteristic preference for the concrete over the abstract (Exx. 2,102, 111, 137 etc.).

ours Shorthand in the Letters for ‘members of the Society of Jesus’.

professed (profesos) Priest members of the Society with final vows (included among these being a formal commitment to go to any country to which the Pope might wish to send them); initially (1540) the number was limited to sixty, but the restriction was soon lifted (1544).

Provincial The Superior with responsibility for a particular geographical area.

repetition A favourite technique of Ignatius, and easily misunderstood: an exercise is not to be simply ‘repeated’, but a selection is made from the material previously used, attention focusing on those insights and feelings that stand out, allowing prayer to well up, without haste or strain as the rhythm of the day moves from the head to the heart (Exx. 62, 118).

scholastics Members of the Society who are in training, either for the priesthood or for further studies; this period ends with final vows.

senses See application of the senses.

síndico From the Greek word meaning something like ‘public prosecutor’, but applied to an office customary in medieval universities; the post is mentioned several times in the Constitutions. Although similar to the collateral (Const. 505), he is expected to be more critical.

soul Either, in a more precise sense, the spiritual component in the body–soul dichotomy, or more in general, a human person.

spirits (espíritus) A classical term, dating back to the Desert Fathers at least, to refer to various psychological phenomena, roughly good and bad ‘feelings’ that are pictured as personified; see Exx. 8, 9, 313–36.

vows Formal promises to God to observe certain obligations. The usual religious vows cover poverty (renunciation of all rights to private possession), chastity (the practice of sexual purity), and obedience (willingness to accept orders from a legitimate superior); vows in the Society of Jesus can be ‘first vows’ at the end of the novitiate or ‘final vows’ at the end of training. On the danger of rushing (or pushing) into vows, see Exx. 15.

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