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For Jesuits
Chapter 3 - Consecrated to the Lord

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

+… to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place—their Lord as well as ours. Grace be to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:2-3


Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source. "Without Me," He says, "you can do nothing." If we grieve and do penance for our sins; if, with filial fear and hope, we turn again to God, it is because He is leading us. Grace and glory flow from His inexhaustible fullness. Our Savior is continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear, and piety, especially on the leading members of His body, so that the whole body may grow ever more and more in holiness and integrity of life.

When the sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls. He nourishes the redeemed with His own flesh and blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His mystical body, not merely because He, as the Eucharistic victim on earth and the glorified victim in heaven, through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the eternal Father, but because He selects, determines, and distributes every single grace to every single person "according to the measure of the giving of Christ."

Pius XII


Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments because it is the door of the spiritual life. By it we are made members of Christ and of His body, the Church. And since through the first man death has come to all men, unless we are reborn of water and of the Holy Spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven as the Truth Himself informs us.

Council of Florence

God hates nothing in the regenerated because there is no condemnation for those truly buried with Christ by means of baptism unto death; who do not walk according to the flesh, but putting off the old man and putting on the new man which was created according to God, are made innocent, without stain, pure, no longer hateful but beloved sons of God, heirs, indeed, of God and joint heirs with Christ, so that absolutely nothing delays their entrance into heaven.

Concupiscence or the tendency to sin remains in the baptized. But since it is left to provide a trial, it has no power to injure those who do not consent and who, by the grace of Christ Jesus, manfully resist. Moreover, those who compete according to the rules will be crowned.

Council of Trent

Definition of a Christian

He is a Christian who follows the way of Christ, who imitates Christ in all things, as is written: "He who says that he abides in Christ ought himself to walk just as He walked." He is a Christian who shows mercy to all, who is not disturbed by any injury, who does not permit the poor to be oppressed in his presence, who assists the needy and helps those in want, who sympathizes with the sorrowful and feels the grief of another as his own, whose goods all share and no one feels slighted, who serves God day and night, who reflects and meditates on His precepts at all times, who makes himself poor in this world to become rich in the eyes of God, who suffers himself to be despised among men that he may please God and the angels, who is seen to hold nothing concealed in his heart, whose soul is simple and spotless, whose conscience is faithful and pure, whose whole thought is directed to God, and whose whole hope is in Christ, who desires heavenly rather than earthly possessions, who contemns earthly goods in order to acquire divine. As for those who love this world and who are content and well pleased with this life, hear what the Scripture says to them: "Do you not know that the friendship of this world is enmity with God?" Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world becomes an enemy of God.

St. Augustine

Baptismal Dedication

The following prayers are first-person adaptations of select invocations offered by the priest in the administration of baptism.

I beseech You, O Lord, to hear my prayers and by Your eternal power guard me, Your chosen one, signed with the sign of our Lord's cross, so that serving the interests of Your great glory by the observance of Your commandments I may come to the glory of regeneration. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty and eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, graciously look upon Your chosen one whom You have deigned to call to the beginnings of faith. Expel all blindness from my heart, break all the bonds of Satan that have held me. Open, O Lord, the door of Your mercy, so that filled with the sign of wisdom, I may be freed from the evil of all unruly desires and serve You in Your Church, rejoicing in the attraction of Your precepts and growing in perfection from day to day. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, author of light and truth, I implore Your everlasting and most gracious mercy to enlighten me, Your chosen one, with the light of Your understanding. Cleanse and sanctify me. Grant me true wisdom, so that being made worthy by the grace of Your baptism, I may hold fast to strong hope, right counsel, and holy doctrine. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has regenerated me of water and the Holy Spirit, and who has given me remission of all my sins, anoint me with the chrism of salvation in the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, unto life everlasting. Amen.

For Perseverance

O God, the God of truth, Creator of all things and Lord of creation, bless this Your servant with Your blessing. Render him clean in rebirth and give him fellowship with Your angelic powers, that he may no longer be named flesh but spirit, by receiving Your divine gift to his profit. Preserve him until the end to Yourself the maker of the world, through Your only-begotten Jesus Christ. Amen.

Serapion Sacramentary, Prayer after Baptism

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Almighty and eternal God, I, in the presence of Your immaculate Mother and the whole heavenly court, in my own name, renew the solemn vows of my baptism.

I hereby promise, relying on Your grace, to renounce the devil, to renounce his works, to renounce his pomps, and to consecrate my life to the perfect service of Your Divine Majesty.

I beg of You, O almighty God, through the intercession of Mary Immaculate and the merits of Your divine Son, help me to be faithful to my promises unto death. Amen.

Bishop Louis Morrow

Spiritual Seal

Remember that you have received a spiritual seal: the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of prudence and strength, the spirit of knowledge and piety, the spirit of holy fear. Therefore preserve what you have received. God the Father has sealed you, Christ the Lord has confirmed you, and has given a foretaste of the Spirit in your heart, as you have learned from the teaching of the apostle.

St. Ambrose


The second sacrament is confirmation. Its matter is chrism blessed by a bishop and made from oil, signifying the purity of a good conscience, and balsam, signifying the sweet odor of a good reputation. The form is: "I sign you with the sign of the cross and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The ordinary minister is the bishop. … Reading the Acts of the Apostles makes this clear: "Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. On their arrival they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had not come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." In place of that imposition of hands, confirmation is given in the Church.

The effect of this sacrament is that a Christian may courageously confess the name of Christ, because in this sacrament the Holy Spirit is given for strength just as He was given to the apostles on Pentecost. Therefore the one to be confirmed is anointed on the forehead, where shame shows itself, lest he be ashamed to confess the name of Christ and especially His cross which, according to the apostle, was certainly a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles. For this reason the recipient is signed with the sign of the cross.

Council of Florence

Rite of Confirmation

Almighty and everlasting God, You have deigned to regenerate these Your servants by water and the Holy Spirit and have forgiven them all their sins. Send forth upon them Your sevenfold Spirit, the Holy Paraclete from heaven. Amen.

The spirit of wisdom and understanding. Amen.

The spirit of counsel and fortitude. Amen.

The spirit of knowledge and godliness. Amen.

Fill them with the spirit of Your fear and sign them with the sign of the cross in mercy unto life eternal, through Christ our Lord.

Roman Pontifical

Blessed are You, O Lord almighty, source of good and sun of justice. You have caused the light of salvation to shine on those who were in darkness by the appearance of Your only Son and our God. In spite of our unworthiness, You have purified us in the blessing of sacred water and divinely sanctified us in the life-giving unction.

Once again You have deigned to regenerate Your servant, who has just been enlightened by water and the Spirit, and have granted him the remission of his sins, both voluntary and involuntary. O Lord, universal and all-merciful King, grant him also the seal of the gift of Your holy, all-powerful, and adorable Spirit, and the communion of the holy body and precious blood of Your Christ. Preserve him in Your sanctification, strengthen him in the true faith, deliver him from the Evil One and all his works. Keep his soul in purity and justice by a holy fear, that, pleasing You in every word and action, he may become a son and heir of Your kingdom.

Byzantine Euchologium

O God, You gave to Your apostles the Holy Spirit, and through them and their successors have willed to be given to the rest of the faithful. Look mercifully upon our humble service and grant to those whose foreheads we have anointed with holy chrism and signed with the sign of the holy cross, that the same Holy Spirit may come down upon them, and by His gracious indwelling fashion their hearts into a temple of His glory, who with the Father and the same Spirit, live and reign, God, world without end.

May the Lord give you blessing out of Sion, that you may see the blessing of Jerusalem all the days of your life and may inherit life eternal. Amen.

Roman Pontifical

Soldiers of Christ

The perfection of spiritual strength consists properly in a man's daring to confess the faith of Christ in the presence of anyone at all, and in a man's not failing to do so from fear or confusion, for strength drives out inordinate fear. Therefore, the sacrament by which spiritual strength is conferred on the one born again makes him in some sense a frontline fighter for the faith of Christ.

Since those who do battle under a leader carry his insignia, they who receive the sacrament of confirmation are signed with the sign of Christ. This is the sign of the cross by which He fought and conquered. They receive this sign on the forehead as a sign to profess the faith of Christ publicly without shame.

The signing takes place with a mixture of oil and balsam which is called chrism, and not without reason. For by the oil is symbolized the power of the Holy Spirit, from whom Christ, too, is called "anointed." Consequently from Christ we are called Christians, as, in a sense, fighting under Him. By its fragrance, the balsam symbolizes the good reputation which is necessary for the public confession of faith in Christ, by those who live among men of this world and come out, as it were, from the recesses of the Church onto the field of battle.

St. Thomas Aquinas

§  By the shedding of Your precious blood, Lord Jesus Christ, and by the merits of Your Passion wash me from every stain and cleanse me from all sin, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Strength for the Church

Holy Spirit, Creator, mercifully assist Your Catholic Church, and by Your heavenly power strengthen and establish her against the assaults of all her enemies. By Your love and grace renew the spirit of Your servants whom You have anointed, that in You they may glorify the Father and His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Religious Life

The only-begotten Son of God, entering the world to redeem mankind, was not content with teaching those spiritual precepts which all men must observe to reach their appointed end. He also declared that those who wish to follow His footsteps more closely should embrace and practice the evangelical counsels.

Whoever pledges himself by vow to follow the counsels strips himself not only of those burdens which retard our progress on the road to ordinary sanctity—riches, family cares, and immoderate liberty in the use of material things—but moves so directly and freely toward a life of perfection as to seem almost to have attained the haven of eternal salvation.

From earliest Christian times there have not been wanting souls who listened to the whisper of God. Nobly and generously denying themselves in all things, they entered on the road of perfection and courageously persevered in the same until death. History continues witnessing to the sacred army of men and women who have consecrated and pledged themselves to God in various religious orders and congregations which, through the centuries, the Church has solemnly approved and ratified.

These communities do not bear the same spiritual character. While unchangeable in essence, their life of perfection shows itself in a variety of fruitful forms. In separate and distinctive ways, the different orders of religious souls according to their Institute promote the glory of God and the salvation of their neighbor, with characteristic expressions of charity and zeal.

Pius XI

Freedom of Spirit

I believe a member of the Society enjoys greater privileges and opportunities for happiness than any sovereign or earthly lord. He should therefore realize that he owes God more gratitude than do other people, and that he may ask for greater blessings from the Lord. This obliges him to be not only holy, but very holy. Otherwise he will be severely punished.

The religious has no cause for anxiety about the present or future. Instead of being anxious, he should be humiliated at the care that God and superiors have for his welfare, and consider himself unworthy of the great blessing which frees him from the trouble that people in the world have to provide food, clothing, and bodily necessities. How their lives are filled with restlessness and worry in acquiring riches and honors to cater to these wants.

Delivered from all such cares, the good religious is concerned only how better to please God, whom he tries to keep present in his thoughts, words, and actions, and whom he frequently thanks for drawing him from the deceitful world. "He has done me a greater kindness than to many others, by placing me in a safe harbor where I can serve God with perfection and reach my heavenly home."

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Spirit of the Exercises

Stir up, O Lord, and foster in us the spirit of the Exercises which blessed Ignatius labored to spread abroad, that we too may be filled with it and be zealous to love what he loved and do what he taught, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Vows of Religion

Our vows are the most necessary means we have for attaining the end of our vocation, which is to seek and desire with all diligence our own and the neighbor's salvation and sanctification.

They are the arms against the three greatest enemies in the way of our reaching that perfect charity which unites us to God: love of temporal goods, the flesh, and self-will or the spirit of pride. Through the vow of poverty we fight against the first enemy, concupiscence of the eyes; through chastity against the flesh; and through the vow of obedience we subdue the spirit of arrogance and the risings of pride.

By these three vows we offer to God the most complete oblation of external possessions, of our body and soul. They are the three gifts we make to the poor, virginal, and obedient Christ, after the example of the Magi who gave the Infant Jesus their royal gifts, pleasing to Christ, which make those who offer them kings, conquerors, priests, and wise men, freeing them from the treachery of Herod, making them comfortable to Christ, and giving them the perfection of love.

The vows of religion are beautifully symbolized in the three nails of the cross, because those who take them become like to the crucified Christ. A religious by his vows nails himself to the cross with Christ; and as He paid no attention to the taunts of the Pharisees who said to Him: "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross. If this be the king of Israel, let Him come down from the cross and we shall believe Him," so a religious must ignore the temptations which urge him to leave his cross, and with Christ should persevere on the same until death.

St. Peter Canisius

§  O God, You are all-powerful, make me a saint.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Free Oblation

I have made a free oblation of myself to His Divine Majesty, both of life and of death, and I hope that He will give me grace and force to perform. This is all I desire. Amen.

Bl. Edmund Campion

For the Society

I commend to You, Lord Jesus, the entire body of our Society, that it may be properly governed in its superiors and subjects, in the healthy and the sick, in those advancing and those who are lagging behind, in things spiritual and temporal, for the glory of Your name and the good of the whole Church. Through You may we increase in number and excellence all over the world, understand aright our vocation, and, understanding, love it and perfectly fulfill its requirements, so that all classes of the Society may worthily and faithfully serve Your Divine Majesty, carefully walk the way of the evangelical precepts and counsels, and, united by the bond of brotherly love, experience Your efficacious blessing in their provinces, schools, missions, and in the performance of their duties and ministries. May they be sober-minded and simple, prudent, quiet, and intent on the practice of solid virtue, so that their life be in accord with their name, and their profession be renowned by their works.

Confirm, Lord Jesus, what You have begun in Your Society, that, as we made the holy promises of religious obedience, poverty, and chastity under Your inspiration, we may with Your assistance keep them until death.

And not only the living but the deceased brethren also of this Society, its founders and benefactors, we commend to Your Divine Majesty. Amen.

St. Peter Canisius

Formula of the First Vows

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, ego N.N., licet undecumque divino tuo conspectu indignissimus, fretus tamen pietate ac misericordia tua infinita, et impulsus tibi serviendi desiderio, voveo coram sacratissima Virgine Maria, et curia tua caelesti universa, divinae Majestati tuae, paupertatem, castitatem. et obedientiam perpetuam, in Societate Jesu; et promitto eandem Societatem me ingressurum, ut vitam in ea perpetuo degam; omnia intellegendo juxta ipsius Societatis Constitutiones. A tua ergo immensa bonitate et dementia per Jesu Christi sanguinem peto suppliciter, ut hoc holocaustum in odorem- suavitatis admittere digneris; et ut largitus es ad hoc desiderandum et offerendum, sic etiam ad explendum gratiam uberem largiaris.

Almighty, everlasting God, I, (NAME), though altogether most unworthy of Your divine sight, yet trusting in Your goodness and infinite mercy, and moved with a desire of serving You, vow before the most sacred Virgin Mary, and the whole court of heaven, to Your Divine Majesty, perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the Society of Jesus, and promise that I will enter into the same Society, forever to lead my life therein, understanding all things according to the Constitutions of the same Society. Therefore I most humbly beseech You, by Your infinite goodness and mercy, by the blood of Jesus Christ, that You will vouchsafe to admit this holocaust in an odor of sweetness, and that as You have already given me grace to desire and offer it, so You will also bestow plentiful grace on me to fulfill it.

Eleventh Rule

My Lord, may I abhor wholly and not in part what the world loves and embraces, and accept and desire with my whole strength whatsoever You loved and embraced. Worldly men who follow the things of the world love and, with great diligence, seek honor, reputation, and the credit of a great name upon earth, as the world teaches them. So may I loyally follow You my King, and love and earnestly desire things altogether contrary to these. I wish to be clothed with Your garments and raiment out of love and reverence for You. And, if it can be done without offense to Your Divine Majesty and without sin on the part of my neighbor, may I suffer contempt, calumny, and injuries and be held and accounted a fool to become more like to You, my Creator and Lord, and follow more closely in Your footsteps, for You are the true way which leads men to life. If the world can make its devotees love riches, pleasure, and honor, surely You can make Your children love poverty, contempt, and the cross!

Triple Grace

Most holy and undivided Trinity, my creator and ruler, by the infinite merits of the life, passion, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the most powerful intercession of the blessed Mary ever virgin, of our holy father St. Ignatius, of Sts. Aloysius and Stanislaus, and of all the saints, constantly grant me and my brethren the triple grace of angelic chastity, perseverance in the Society of Jesus until death, and a docile aptitude for carrying out its ministries and duties.

Sum and Aim of the Constitutions

Men crucified to the world, and to whom the world itself is crucified, such would the rule of our life have us to be. New men, I say, who have put off their affections to put on Christ; dead to themselves to live to justice; who with St. Paul in labors, in sleepless nights, in fastings, in innocence, in knowledge, in long-sufferings, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love, in the word of truth, show themselves ministers of God; and by the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report, by good success finally and ill

success, press forward with great strides to their heavenly country, and by all means possible and with all zeal urge on others also, ever looking to God's greater glory. This is the sum and aim of our Institute.

Spirit of the Society

Grant, most bountiful Jesus, by this Your most holy name, to be to me a Jesus and grant me the spirit of the Society of Jesus. Imprint, I beseech You, in my heart this most holy name, that I may feed on its sweetness and so burn with the love of it that I may die in You, my most dear Jesus, my most sweet Jesus, my most loving Jesus; and that I may always invoke this most blessed, this most salutary name of You, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Amen.

Gratitude for Vocation

O Jesus, through the love of Your adorable Heart and the intercession of Your virgin mother, Mary, and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, we humbly ask You to make us truly grateful for all Your blessings, especially for calling us to Your own Society, and we ask as the crowning mercy of Your love that each of us may persevere in that vocation to the end. Remember, dear Lord, that the harvest to be gathered for eternity is great, but the laborers are few, and that You told us to pray that laborers be sent to the harvest. We pray, therefore, that through the intercession of Mary and Joseph You may send a large number of fervent novices to our novitiates, who in time will become zealous workers in Your field for the greater glory of Your name, the advancement of devotion to Your Sacred Heart and the salvation of the souls You redeemed with Your precious blood. Amen.

Grace of Vocation

O God, You have prepared habitations in heaven for those who renounce the world. Dilate the hearts of our brethren with Your holy gifts, that they may be united by the bonds of fraternal charity and may unanimously observe Your commandments. Being simple, sober, and quiet, may they know that the grace of their vocation has been freely bestowed upon them. May their life agree with their name, and their profession be renowned by their works, who with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ live and reign one God, world without end. Amen.

Brothers' Vocations

St. Alphonsus, our beloved brother in Christ, we ask you to obtain from almighty God an increase of Brothers' vocations to our Society. Intercede with God to instill in the hearts of young men a love and desire for this life of imitation of Christ and His foster father, St. Joseph, which you lived so perfectly as a Coadjutor Brother. Help to bring them and all men to an appreciation of the dignity of a consecrated life of hidden labor, with its apostolic worth and supernatural value in the eyes of God.

Obtain for all, especially for those of us who follow in your steps as Brothers, your own spirit of devotedness to Christ and tender love of the Blessed Mother, so that by our example others may be drawn to embrace the Brothers' life and share with you the eternal reward you merited as a Coadjutor Brother. Amen.

St. Alphonsus, St. James, St. Rene, and you other holy Brothers of the Society of Jesus whom the Church has placed among the blessed, beg of almighty God to grant an increase of Jesuit Brothers in our country, that Jesus our king may be glorified by yet more souls consecrated to His service, and that the apostolic works of the Society in America may be blessed and may flourish through the prayers and labors of its Brothers. Amen.

A Brother's Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank You for my vocation to the Society of Jesus as a Coadjutor Brother. Teach me to realize that in the Catholic Church, the mystical body of Christ, there are different members yet one body, and a variety of graces and forms of service but the same Spirit who reveals Himself to each in the manner most expedient, and the same Lord who accomplishes everything in all the members.

Assist me ever to aim at my own greater progress in the religious life, and to regard zeal for spiritual things as a matter of the highest importance and the very soul of all my occupations. May I seriously apply myself to the cultivation of those virtues which adorn the life of Coadjutor Brothers in the Society, and without which I can scarcely correspond to the ideal of my vocation in a worthy manner. Grant that I may grow daily in purity of intention, love of God and my neighbor, genuine humility and piety, serenity and self-control, love of work, zeal for poverty, and loyal obedience. I ask You ever to deepen my affection for the Society and, following its guiding principles, advance in perfection for the greater glory of God.

Enlighten me, dear Lord, to see that the whole Society proposes for its immediate end that not only its own members but as many others as possible may reach the destiny which You have set before them. May I live up to this apostolic purpose of my vocation: by the holy desires and prayers I offer for the universal Church, by discretely giving encouragement in spiritual conversation and in counsel and exhortation, by the example of a life of hard work completely dedicated to God, by the luster of my charity, and by my interior peace of soul.

Through the merits of Your divine Son, our Redeemer, may I follow in the footsteps of the saints and blessed who served You on earth Coadjutor Brothers in our Society, that, as a companion of Jesus, a child of Mary, and colaborer of St. Joseph, I may one day enter the Society triumphant in heaven, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Vocations to the Religious Life

Lord Jesus Christ, sublime model of all perfection, You not only unceasingly urge privileged souls to strive toward this lofty goal, but also move them by the mighty power of Your example and the efficacious action of Your grace to follow You in this exalted path. Grant that many may hear and willingly obey Your loving inspiration and embrace the religious life, where they will enjoy Your special solicitude and tender care.

Grant there may never be lacking devoted servants of Your own charity to take Your place day and night at the side of the orphan, at the bed of the sick, near the old and infirm who otherwise might not find a helping hand stretched out to them.

Grant that in classrooms and universities the voice of those who teach may be the echo of Your own, pointing out the way to heaven and inculcating the duties incumbent on each and all.

Grant that no land, however distant or inhospitable, may be deprived of the gospel message that invites all men to enter Your kingdom.

Grant that the flames of that charity, which must one day spread over and consume the whole earth and in which shines forth in all its splendor the unblemished holiness of Your Church, may be multiplied and grow ever more ardent.

Grant that in every part of the world choice souls may flourish—souls that by contemplation and penance offer reparation for the crimes of mankind and draw down Your pity.

Grant that in the constant immolation of these hearts, in the spotless purity of these lives, in the heroism of their virtue may be ever present on the earth that perfect model of the children of God which You came to reveal to us.

Into the ranks of Your beloved and chosen ones send many good vocations: souls firmly resolved to make themselves worthy of the great grace offered them and of the holy Institute they aspire to join, through the exact observance of their religious duties, by assiduous prayer, constant mortification, and the perfect conformity of their will with all that is Your will.

Enlighten, O Lord Jesus, many generous hearts with the ardent rays of Your Holy Spirit, eternal and substantial love; and by the powerful intercession of Your most loving mother, Mary, enkindle and sustain the fervor of Your love in these hearts, for the glory of the Father and of the same Holy Spirit, who live and reign with You eternally. Amen.

Pius XII

§  O Lord, increase my faith.

Maxims of St. Ignatius

The following quotations from a number of authentic sources express the mind of St. Ignatius on a variety of subjects suitable for prayerful reflection. Collections of Ignatian maxims go back at least to the beginning of the eighteenth century when Hevenesi first published his Scintillae Ignatianae, or "Sayings of St. Ignatius Arranged for Every Day of the Year." More than once Pius XII urged the members of the Society to become "deeply imbued with the spirit of St. Ignatius," as a sure means of fidelity to their religious life. While the Constitutions and Spiritual Exercises are the main embodiment of this spirit, select statements from other writings, as given here, may offer useful material for meditation according to the second method of prayer.

Love of God

Nothing is more pleasant than to love God, provided this love moves you to undergo many tribulations.

There is only one worthy ambition, to love God, and as a reward of that love to grow in loving Him.

If you wish to advance in the love of God, speak of it. Spiritual conversations are to charity what the wind is to the flame.

God loves me, He loves me much more than I love myself.

It is an extreme punishment that obliges us to remain so long on earth, unless love causes us to live more in heaven and with God than on earth and with ourselves.

The only lawful ambition is to love God, and the price of this love is to love Him more.

"Lord, give me humility, but a humility which permits me to love You."

Have always, as far as possible, God in your mind and your mind in God. Think of nothing, love nothing apart from Him, and whether alone or in public, never turn your eyes away from His.

"Lord, what do I desire except You. What could I wish for besides You?"

Detachment and Self-conquest

We should make more account of renouncing self-will than of raising others from the dead.

Each person should convince himself that he will make progress in the spiritual life in proportion to his detachment from self and the desire for personal advantage.

The empty honors of earth cannot satisfy you. Your heart is not narrow enough for the whole world to suffice for it; nothing but God can fill it. I am not trying to extinguish your ardor for glory, nor inspire you with mean thoughts. Be ambitious, be high-minded, but let your ambition aim higher by despising all that is perishable. Decide yourself which is preferable, to say now to worldly joys: "What have I to do with you?" or to enjoy them at the risk of repeating throughout eternity with the wretched victims in hell, "What use have vanity and riches been to me?"

We should be more zealous to gain control of our interior acts than to chastise the flesh, to master the movements of our souls than to break the bones of our body.

We should not measure our spiritual progress by our deeds, our amiability, or our love of solitude, but by the violence we do ourselves.

Count as the acknowledged enemies of your soul sloth, negligence, and idleness, which cool and weaken the desire of advancing in piety and wisdom.

There are few persons, perhaps none, who thoroughly understand how much we obstruct God when He desires to work in us, and all that He would do for us if we did not hinder Him.

Life would be unbearable to me if I were to discover in the depths of my soul some remains of what is human and which did not belong entirely to God.

Spiritual Joy

No creature can bring the soul such joy as comes from the Holy Spirit.

The man who has God in his heart carries paradise within him.

Nothing can be more desired or bring greater joy than dying for Christ and for the salvation of our neighbor.

Ineffable consolation! Whenever we come to the divine banquet, we are fed with the flesh of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from that of His mother Mary.

Do not put faith in constant happiness, and fear most when all smiles upon you.

We are all, without exception, bound in duty to rejoice at the gifts and success of our neighbor, created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, His only Son.

He lives happily who unceasingly, as far as he can, has his mind on God and God in his heart.

There is nothing sweeter than to love God. But the greatest sign of love is to suffer for what one loves. To suffer for God, therefore, is true joy. It is supreme felicity.

Religious Life

To see a religious sad, who no longer desires anything but God, would be as much a miracle as to see a person happy, who seeks everything except God.

When a superior gives you a command, you are not forbidden to use prudence.

There are three sure signs of a well-regulated religious house; namely, cleanliness, and the exact observance of cloister and silence.

Let whatever ready money is at hand be spent in caring for the sick. We who are well can easily live on hard bread, if nothing else is available.

In a well-conducted religious community, care should be taken for the old to live like young persons and the young like old, so that the former may show the activity of youth and the latter the maturity of those who are advanced in age.

A religious should be more afraid of the fear of poverty than of poverty itself.

Charity and Zeal

Of all evils and sins, ingratitude is in my judgment among the most deserving of abomination in the sight of our Creator and Lord and of creatures capable of His divine and eternal glory. On the other hand, to recognize and be grateful for benefits and gifts received is loved and rewarded by Him in heaven and on earth.

Among those who are united in our Lord Jesus Christ by the bonds of charity, and by the desire to procure the honor and glory of God, the most profitable words are those which the Holy Spirit engraves on their hearts by the prayers which they offer for one another.

To serve the servants of my Lord is my honor and my glory.

The true measure of the love which I can have for a soul in this life is the help I can afford it in serving and glorifying God.

If it were necessary to die a thousand times a day to save one soul, I should willingly agree to do so.

The more alert a man is to the defects of others, the more negligent he is in observing his own.

Do not be too communicative with everyone. Do not admit the first comer to your intimacy, but consult the Holy Spirit and ask Him to show you to whom He wishes you to give your confidence.

The greatest reward that a servant of God can receive for the good he has done for his neighbor is scorn and contempt, the only reward that the world gave for the labors of its divine Master.

When I serve the followers of my dear Master, I know it is my adorable Savior Himself whom I serve.

It is not enough for me to serve God. All hearts must love Him and all tongues bless Him.

If, as is human, faults occur in others, let them be a mirror in which you can see what defects you should correct in yourself.

The Apostolate

Take it for a principle to concede readily in the beginning of a conversation with those whose aspirations are only earthly. But reserve yourself for the end and try to cover with a layer of gold the metal of their conversation, whatever it may be.

If you fear men beyond measure, you will never do anything great for God.

I prefer the servants of God to stand out in virtue rather than in number, and to be distinguished more by deeds than by an honorable name.

Let the apostolic man not forget himself. He has not come to handle gold but mud. He cannot, therefore, watch himself too carefully that he may not contract the leprosy of which he seeks to cure others.

There is nothing of which apostolic men have more need than interior recollection.

Always keep your liberty of mind, and let no event and no person, however powerful, deprive you of it.

They who are engaged with the salvation of their neighbor will gain more by a humble modesty than by an authoritative manner, and will gain victory sooner in retreat than in combat.

In treating with men we must speak little and listen much. Even these few words we should speak as if the whole world were to hear them, though we are talking only to one person.

Innocence and holiness of life are of themselves more powerful and far preferable to all other gifts. But without prudence and the art of dealing with the world, they remain incomplete and incapable of guiding others.

Men of great virtue though of meager knowledge incite others more effectively to virtuous lives by their words and example than the greatest masters of eloquence.

Nothing is better calculated to win the hearts of men than a resemblance of manners and tastes.

The Cross

There is no wood more suitable for constructing an altar of divine love than the wood of the holy cross.

If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of the great holiness to which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of divine love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior uses to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ; that is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.

If one fears men much, he will never do anything great for God. All that one does for God arouses persecution.

Suffering endured for the love of Jesus Christ should be reckoned among God's greatest benefits.

Persecution is like a fan which excites our virtue. May God forbid that it should cease. For if it did, our virtue would languish and we should no longer fulfill our obligations as we ought.

Experience usually teaches that there will be greater profit where there are more contradictions.


The old man must not be so mortified in the first stages of virtue that the new man should die.

Put a limit to your prudence. It is not necessary to carry to excess a virtue which should serve to rule and guide the others.

Keep silence unless necessity requires you to speak, and then see that your tongue does not serve as an organ for pride which delights in words of arrogance, for curiosity which is ever in quest of trifling news, for envy ever ready to censure our neighbor, for idleness which spends its time in silly jokes to while away its weariness.

It is easier to listen than to speak, and we should listen much and speak little.

When it is impossible to carry on with success many works for the interest of our neighbor simultaneously, the preference should be given to those which benefit a greater number rather than a few, to those whose success is more certain than where the issue is doubtful, to those which may be undertaken without danger rather than such as do not offer the same security, to those whose fruit will be more durable rather than effect only a passing good. We should consider less the importance of the result than the well-founded hope of obtaining it.

It is hazardous to make everyone travel the same road to perfection. It is worse to make oneself a standard for others.

You should make no determination either in a transport of fervor or when under deep depression. Wait for the return of calmness and then act as sound reason and not impetuosity suggests.

Divine Providence

I find that both the health of good men and the afflictions of evil men bring me joy. While the former may employ all their strength for the glory of God, the latter may be driven to God by their infirmities.

It would be incredible that God should fail to help those who have left everything for love of Him.

Very few understand what God would do for them if only they relied entirely on His providence.

Nothing really grievous can happen to a man who possesses God, because his divine treasure cannot be snatched away from him against his will. All trouble of whatever kind proceeds from the loss of a beloved object or from fear of losing it.

He binds divine providence most strongly to direct and govern him diligently, who abandons himself most completely to Him by the obedience which he renders to his superior, who represents to him the person of our Lord, and in whom, whatever else the superior may be, he honors and reverences the person of the divine Master.

If only we could learn to see God in every circumstance of life and lift our minds to heaven not only in times of prayer.

Confidence in God

The more desperate things seem, the more we must hope in God. Where human efforts fail, there before us waits the divine assistance.

Few souls understand what God would effect in them if they should give themselves entirely into His hands and allow His grace to act.

We can do nothing that is pleasing to God without throwing the world into confusion and creating a turmoil in hell.

It is characteristic of the Divine Goodness to protect with greater wisdom whatever the devil assaults with greater violence.

Do not place your confidence in constant good fortune. Rather be apprehensive, for in this life everything changes at the slightest provocation.

It is the tactics of the devil to attack a man from without rather than from within. God, on the contrary, moves and forms him interiorly.


In conformity with God's decree, sacrifice and priesthood are so related that both exist in every law. Therefore, in the New Testament, since the Catholic Church has received the holy and visible sacrifice of the Eucharist according to the institution of the Lord, it is likewise necessary to acknowledge that there is in the Church a new, visible, and external priesthood, into which the old priesthood was changed. Moreover, Sacred Scripture makes it clear and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught that this priesthood was instituted by the same Lord our Savior, and that the power of consecrating, offering, and administering His body and blood, and likewise the power of remitting and of retaining sins, was given to the apostles and to their successors in the priesthood.

The ministry of so sacred a priesthood is a divine arrangement, and it was therefore fitting that in the perfectly ordered disposition of the Church there be several different grades of minister to insure that the ministry be exercised more worthily and with greater reverence. These orders are to assist the priesthood, and they are arranged in such a way that those who are already set apart by the clerical tonsure are to pass through minor to major orders. Sacred Scripture makes explicit mention not only of priests but of deacons as well, and teaches with most solemn words what is to be chiefly attended to when ordaining them. From the very beginning of the Church, the names of the following grades and the ministries proper to each one, namely: subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, lector, and porter are known to have been in use, although they were not of the same rank. For in the writings of the fathers and of the sacred councils, where we often read about the other lower orders, the subdiaconate is regarded as a major order.

Since it is clear from the testimony of Sacred Scripture, from apostolic tradition, and from the unanimous agreement of the fathers, that grace is conferred through holy ordination, which is effected by words and external signs, no one should doubt that orders is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy Church. For the apostle says: "I admonish you to stir up the grace of God which is in you by the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of prudence."

Council of Trent

Form of Ordination

It is truly right and just, fitting and profitable that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, the fountain of all honors and the bestower of every dignity: by whom all things make progress, by whom all things are strengthened, in accord with whose wise plan rational creatures are gradually drawn to a higher excellence. Thus the priestly grade and the office of the Levites, types of that which was to follow, were given a deeper meaning when to the high priests first chosen by You to rule over Your people, You gave men of lesser degree and of subordinate rank as their associates and helpers. Thus in the wilderness You infused the spirit of Moses into the minds of the seventy wise men, by whose help he was able to govern without difficulty the countless multitude of Your people. Thus, too, You poured into Eleazar and Ithamar, sons of Aaron, the superabundant graces bestowed on their father that the number of priests might be found sufficient for the more frequent celebration of the sacrifices and other sacred rites.

In the same manner, O Lord, You associated with the apostles of Your Son other teachers of the faith by whom their words were spread through the whole world. Wherefore we beseech You, O Lord, bestow the like help on our own weakness, who need it the more as our frailty is so much the greater. Grant, we implore You, almighty Father, to these Your servants the dignity of the priesthood, renew within them the spirit of holiness that they may keep the rank in Your service which they have received from You, and by their conduct may afford a pattern of holy living. May they be worthy fellow workers of our order, and may every kind of righteousness shine forth in them, so that hereafter, giving a good account of the stewardship committed to them they may obtain the reward of eternal happiness.

Roman Pontifical

Messengers of Christ

O Jesus, may Your priests be true messengers for Your people: messengers of purity, subordinating every human love, no matter how pleasant and holy, to Your divine love; messengers of charity, renouncing the joys of an earthly family to create a larger one, of which they will be the fathers and shepherds, in which the young, the unhappy, the burdened, the outcasts will have the first claim on their affections; messengers of light, to make faith in You shine like the morning star in the minds of men; messengers of sacrifice, consumed like the flames of the holocaust for the good of their brethren; messengers of counsel and comfort, to console them in sorrow, support them in their struggles, point out to them in the anxious hours of doubt the bright path of virtue and of duty; messengers of grace, cleansing and uplifting souls, uniting them to You by distributing to them the Bread of Life; messengers of peace, pouring into their hearts, as they breathe their last, the great blessing of a desire and love of You, and opening for them, rapt in the happiness of Your divine embrace, the gates of heaven, where You are eternal light and joy of hearts for ever and ever. Amen.

Pius XII

Exalted Life

To live in the midst of the world, without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings, to penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men and bring them His pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; always to teach and to forgive, to console and to bless. Merciful God, what an exalted life! And it is yours, O priest of Jesus Christ.

Jean Baptiste Lacordaire

For Priests

Almighty, eternal God, look upon the face of Your Christ, and for love of Him who is the eternal high priest, have pity on Your priests. Remember, most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the bishop's hands. Keep them close to You, lest the enemy prevail against them, so they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

Jesus, I pray to You for Your faithful and fervent priests; for the unfaithful and tepid; for those laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for tempted priests; for the lonely and desolate; for young priests; for the aged, sick, and dying; for the souls of Your priests in purgatory.

But above all I commend to You the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; those who absolved me from my sins; at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your body and blood in Holy Communion; who taught and instructed me or helped me and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly (NAME). Jesus, keep them all close to Your Heart and bless them abundantly in time and eternity. Amen.

Claretian Fathers

Other Christs

We exercise the priestly office not in our own name, but in that of Christ. "Let a man so account us," says the apostle, "as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. On behalf of Christ we are acting as ambassadors." It is for this reason that Christ Himself has enrolled us, not among His servants but His friends. "No longer do I call you servants. But I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. I have chosen you, and have appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit."

Therefore we are to act the part of Christ, and the ministry given by Him should be carried out in such a way that we do exactly what He intends. And since durable friendship consists in having the same will in all things, we are bound as friends to relish the things that Jesus Christ loved, who is "holy, innocent, and undefiled." As sent by Him, we must win the faith of men to His doctrine and laws by first observing them ourselves. As partakers of His power to relieve souls that are burdened with sin, we must make every effort not to be laden with the same sins as they.

This has particular bearing on that august Sacrifice which is renewed with perennial grace for the life of the world. There especially should we possess that conformity of spirit in which He offered Himself an immaculate victim of God on the altar of the cross. If formerly, when the sacrifice was only in shadow and figure, great sanctity was demanded of priests, what must be expected of us when the victim is Christ? "Who should be purer than the one offering such a sacrifice? Are the rays of the sun more glorious than the hand which divides this flesh, than the mouth that is filled with heavenly fire, or the tongue that is red with the terrible blood?"

St. Pius X

For Seminarians

O Jesus, eternal High Priest, I offer You, through Your immaculate mother Mary, Your own precious blood, in all the Masses throughout the world, as a petition for graces for all seminarians, Your future priests. Give them humility, meekness, prudence, and a burning zeal for souls. Fill their hearts with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to know and love the Church, that they may always and everywhere speak, act, and think with her, the glorious spouse of Christ. Teach them generosity and detachment from the miserable things of this world; but above all, teach them to know You and love You, the one and only eternal priest. Do You, Good Shepherd of souls, hear this my prayer for saintly priests. Amen.

Students for the Priesthood

"You are the light of the world," said Christ to the apostles. Light enlightens; the sun gives warmth. Behold your destiny, the purpose assigned to the Catholic priesthood: to be the supernatural sun to enlighten the minds of men with the truth of Christ, to inflame their hearts with the love of Christ. To this same destiny and assigned purpose the preparation and training for the priesthood must also correspond.

If you are to be the light of truth, which comes from Christ, you must yourselves be first illumined with that truth. It is for this that you are devoting yourselves to sacred studies. If you would enkindle men's souls with the charity of Christ, you must first glow with that same charity yourselves; this is the purpose of your religious and ascetical training.

As preachers of the gospel, you must fearlessly refute moral, juridical, and social modernism by presenting the perfect and absolute truths which come from God, which are the necessary source of the primary duties and rights of the individual, the family, and the state … And you will do it splendidly if these truths so take possession of your souls that you are ready, for them as for the mysteries of faith, to undertake any labor, to bear any hardship.

It is your divine calling to pave the way in men's souls for the love and grace of Jesus Christ. To do it you must yourselves first be enkindled with that love. And this you must do by union with Christ in prayer and sacrifice.

Pius XII

Prayer of a Priest

Most loving Jesus, in Your great goodness You have called me to be Your follower in preference to many others and raised me to the high dignity of Your priesthood. I ask You to grant me an abundance of Your divine help to fulfill my duties in a right spirit. Lord Jesus, I beg of You to enliven in me, today and always, that grace which is in me by the laying on of hands by the bishop. Physician of souls, heal me in such a way that I may never be entangled in sinful habits, but may renounce all sin and be able to please You even to the day of my death. Amen.

§  Lord, I am my own enemy when I seek my peace apart from You.

Cardinal Merry del Val

§  I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and actions to God the Father; my understanding and words to God the Son; my will and thoughts to God the Holy Spirit; my heart, body, tongue, senses, and all my sorrows to the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ: "who was willing to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and suffer the torment of the cross."

St. Francis de Sales

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