07 The Jesuit Ethos - Fr. Errol Fernandes SJ

posted Jul 25, 2018, 11:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 25, 2018, 11:09 AM ]
The Greek word 'ethos' has been defined as "the characteristic spirit of a culture, community or institution as manifested in its attitude, aspirations and way of proceeding." In other words, Ethos means the guiding spirit and beliefs or what an institution stands for. Of the many guiding beliefs that make up the Jesuit Ethos, I will choose four, which I think are fundamental for any Jesuit, Jesuit institution and any one associated with the Jesuits.

The overarching characteristic which encompasses all others is the MAGIS. The word Magis has often been rendered "More". It is, in fact, the adverbial form of the adjective "maior," and can be translated "to a greater extent" or "more nearly" in addition to "the more."

In the life of Ignatius (and so in the life of any Jesuit and those associated with the Jesuits), however, the Magis was more than a word or a term; it was an attitude. Ignatius possessed this attitude, even before his conversion from knight for king to knight for God. He always desired to do better; to do more. He was never content with the status quo, with the tried and tested. For him, mediocrity was never an option. This attitude showed itself in his bravery, daring and courage, both in battle and at other times. In the initial years after his "conversion", the Magis was about DOING MORE. After his "conversion", however, it was not merely "doing more," but "doing more for God the heavenly king." He believed that if the saints before him could do so much for God, he too could do it and even better. Thus, he was constantly searching for newer, better and more challenging ways of doing things. This desire to do more sometimes led to extremes, in the hope that he would be considered as one who had gone beyond, who had done more.

Soon, the Magis became not so much a quality, but an attitude. It became an attitude that permeates all that an individual is, and therefore does. The man or woman of the Magis is constantly driven to rediscover, redefine and reach out for the more, the newer, the better, only because that is what God wants for him or her. Then, the good becomes better, the better become better still, and the better still becomes still better. The man or woman of the Magis is one who is bold, with a holy boldness which has its roots in Jesus and in Jesus' relationship with the Father. Everything that such a person does flows from this relationship.

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