John Lilburne's journal about Saint Francis Xavier, Ignatius of Loyola, his Spiritual Exercises, and the United States Marine Corps.



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Instituted Lectors





1029 L Mon 3 Dec 2001

Today is the memorial of the Jesuite priest Saint Francis Xavier (1506 - 1551). He was a friend of the founder of the Jesuites (i.e. Society of Jesus), Ignatius of Loyola, who he met at the University of Paris. He did extraordinary missionary work including to India and Japan. The first reading that can be used for today's Mass reflects this. 1Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 is Paul writing to the Corinthians. The Pope in writing about evangelisation often uses the phrase "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel". The Jerusalem Bible translation is "I should be punished if I did not preach it."

Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier who was recovering from a canon ball wound to his leg when he underwent a conversion. He wrote the Spiritual Exercises, a program of about a month of prayer, meditation on the Bible and decision making. Francis Xavier did this in 1534, aged about 28. I did mine two years ago -- 14 November 1999 to 14 December 1999, aged 33.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Saints has in the entry on Ignatius:

the way of total obedience, made by the aspirant during the Spiritual Exercises, was insisted upon; is has often been compared to a military commitment and the Society of Jesus to an army.

The decision I was making was whether I should be instituted as a lector, which I was on 27 February 2000. I have been looking at the Spiritual Exercises again this morning. At the end it has "Rules for thinking, judging, and feeling with the Church to have the genuine attitude which we ought to maintain in the Church militant, we should observe the following rules". Here is the tenth:

We ought to be more inclined to approve and praise the decrees, recommendations, and conduct of our superiors than to speak against them. For although some of these acts are not or were not praiseworthy, to speak against them either by preaching in public or by conversing among the ordinary people would cause more murmuring and scandal than profit. And through this the people would become angry at their officials, whether civil or spiritual. However, just as it does harm to speak evil about officials among the ordinary people while they are absent, so it can be profitable to speak of the bad conduct to persons who can bring about a remedy. [Ignatius of Loyola, Paulist Press -Classics of Western Spirituality series, page 212].

It reflects a military approach: morale and the hierarchy must be maintained. He are similar (but different) ideas from Warfighting/the United States Marine Corps (Doubleday, 1994):

Relations among all leaders -- from corporal to general -- should be based on honesty and frankness, regardless of disparity between grades. Until a commander has reached and stated a decision, each subordinate should consider it his duty to provide his honest, professional opinion -- even though it may be in disagreement with his senior's. However, one the decision has been reached, the junior must support it as if it were his own. Seniors must encourage candor among subordinates and must not hide behind their rank insignia. Ready compliance for the purpose of personal advancement -- the behavior of "yes men" -- will not be tolerated.

There are difficult issues here. I see the Church as being damaged and its credibility undermined because ceremonies are not done properly and the ministry of instituted lector is not respected. By writing about it on there is a risk it will "cause more murmuring and scandal than profit". But there seems to be a need for more publicity, with me providing an "honest, professional opinion" about the problems, to bring about a remedy.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 3 December 2001.

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