23. Do Jesuits Pray?

This question came from a mother of a Jesuit aspirant who was worried about her son's spirituality once he got accepted to the Society of Jesus. The mother cautioned her son, trying desperately to dissuade him from entering the religious life, "But the Jesuits-- they do not pray!"

Unlike most religious orders and diocesan communities, the members of the Society of Jesus do not pray the Liturgy of the Hours (or Common Office) as a community. At the time of its founding, the Society was envisioned by St. Ignatius of Loyola as a community of missionaries on the move. He did not want to hold back his men from doing missions by summoning them at the end of the day to a common and organized prayer. Jesuits at that time were assigned to diffirent communities all over Europe, sometimes they were in pairs but many times, all alone as in the case of St. Francis Xavier. The Spiritual Exercises that the Jesuits have taken before their vows ought to have inculcated in them the interiority of the desire to pray, alone and many times while on journey. And this tradition has been carried on until today.

So you won't see for example, Jesuits gathering together everyday to pray together like the Trappist monks whose main charism is prayer and work (Ora et Labora) and whose vow of stability makes it possible to gather six times a day to pray as a community. The Jesuits, however, do pray in groups in selected occasions like noon time prayers, benediction, common penitential rites, everyday masses, etc., and in communities where structures for common prayers are possible (like the Novitiate, Houses of Study, Parishes. etc.).

Anyway, the desperate mother's son I have mentioned above has just been ordained to diaconate and he lovingly and proudly told his mom, "But Ma, they do really pray!"


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