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LOYOLA'S SPIRITUAL EXERCISES.
mize the representative of God on earth. Thus the young zealot makes no slavish sacrifice of intellect and will, — at least, so he is taught, — for he sacrifices them, not to man, but to his Maker. No limit is set to his submission: if the Superior pronounces black to be white, he is bound in conscience to acquiesce. 1
Loyola's book of Spiritual Exercises is well known. In these exercises lies the hard and narrow path which is the only entrance to the Society of Jesus. The book is, to all appearance, a dry and superstitious formulary; but in the hands of a skilful director of consciences it has proved of terrible efficacy. The novice, in solitude and darkness, day after day and night after night, ponders its images of perdition and despair. He is taught to hear in imagination the howlings of the damned, to see their convulsive agonies, to feel the flames that bum without consuming, to smell the corruption of the tomb and the fumes of the infernal pit. He must picture to himself an array of adverse armies, — one commanded by Satan on the plains of Babylon, one encamped under Christ about the walls of Jerusalem; and the perturbed mind, humbled by long contemplation of its own vileness, is ordered to enroll itself under one or the other banner. Then, the choice made, it is led to a region of serenity and celestial peace, and soothed
1 Those who wish to know the nature of the Jesuit virtue of obedience will find it set forth in the famous Letter on Obedience of Loyola.
with images of divine benignity and grace. These meditations last, without intermission, about a month ; and, under an astute and experienced directorship, they have been found of such power that the Manual of Spiritual Exercises boasts to have saved souls more in number than the letters it contains.
To this succeed two years of discipline and preparation, directed, above all things else, to perfecting the virtues of humility and obedience. The novice is obliged to perform the lowest menial offices and the most repulsive duties of the sick-room and the hospital; and he is sent forth, for weeks together, to beg his bread like a common mendicant. He is required to reveal to his confessor not only his sins, but all those hidden tendencies, instincts, and impulses which form the distinctive traits of character. He is set to watch his comrades, and his comrades are set to watch him. Each must report what he observes of the acts and dispositions of the others; and this mutual espionage does not end with the novitiate, but extends to the close of life. The characteristics of every member of the Order are minutely analyzed, and methodically put on record.
This horrible violence to the noblest qualities of manhood, joined to that equivocal system of morality which eminent casuists of the Order have inculcated, must, it may be thought, produce deplorable effects upon the characters of those under its influence. Whether this has been actually the case, the reader of history may determine. It is certain, however,
THE SOCIETY OF JESUS.
that the Society of Jesus has numbered among its members men whose fervent and exalted natures have been intensified, without being abased, by the pressure to which they have been subjected.
It is not for nothing that the Society studies the character of its members so intently, and by methods so startling. It not only uses its knowledge to thrust into obscurity or cast out altogether those whom it discovers to be dull, feeble, or unwilling instruments of its purposes, but it assigns to every one the task to which his talents or his disposition may best adapt him: to one, the care of a royal conscience, whereby, unseen, his whispered word may guide the destiny of nations; to another, the instruction of children; to another, a career of letters or science; and to the fervent and the self-sacrificing, sometimes also to the restless and uncompliant, the distant missions to the heathen.
The Jesuit was, and is, everywhere, – in the school-room, in the library, in the cabinets of princes and ministers, in the huts of savages, in the tropics, in the frozen North, in India, in China, in Japan, in Africa, in America; now as a Christian priest, now as a soldier, a mathematician, an astrologer, a Brahmin, a mandarin, — under countless disguises, by a thousand arts, luring, persuading, or compelling souls into the fold of Rome.
Of this vast mechanism for guiding and governing the minds of men, this mighty enginery for subduing the earth to the dominion of an idea, this harmony of contradictions, this moral Proteus, the faintest sketch must now suffice. A disquisition on the Society of Jesus would be without end. No religious Order has ever united in itself so much to be admired and so much to be detested. Unmixed praise has been poured on its Canadian members. It is not for me to eulogize them, but to portray them as they were.
PAUL LE JEUNE.
LE JEUNE's VOYAGE: His First Pupils; his STUDIES ; HIS INDIAN
TEACHER. — WINTER AT THE MISSION-HOUSE. — LE JEUNE's School. - REINFORCEMENTS.
In another narrative, we have seen how the Jesuits, supplanting the Récollet friars, their predecessors, had adopted as their own the rugged task of Christianizing New France. We have seen, too, how a descent of the English, or rather of Huguenots fighting under English colors, had overthrown for a time the miserable little colony, with the mission to which it was wedded; and how Quebec was at length restored to France, and the broken thread of the Jesuit enterprise resumed. 1
It was then that Le Jeune had embarked for the New World. He was in his convent at Dieppe when he received the order to depart; and he set forth in haste for Havre, filled, he assures us, with inexpressible joy at the prospect of a living or a dying martyrdom. At Rouen he was joined by De Nouë, with a lay brother named Gilbert; and the three
1“Pioneers of France in the New World.”