IGNATIUS LOYOLA -- 25 MOST EVIL PEOPLE OF THE 16TH CENTURY C.E.
Other names: ═˝igo
O˝az Lˇpez de Loyola
Source of Facts: Self Confession and Revelation of Sainthood by the Deceased Spirit as condition of their confirmation as a true Saint.
═˝igo Lopez de Recalde was born to a wealthy noble family at Loyola Castle in the Kingdom of Navarre, in today's Basque province of Guip˙zcoa, Spain.
In 1511, (Giuliano della Rovere) Pope Julius II declared a reformed Holy League against France and ordered all Papal fiefs to supply troops. King John III of Navarre (1484-1516) refused to join and declared his kingdom neutral. As a result, several noble families (such as ═˝igo) sided with the Spanish against their own king and people.
In 1512, the forces of Ferdinand II of Aragon along with the Castilian militia and rebel Navarre nobles joined forces under the command of General Fadrique ┴lvarez de Toledo of Castile against King John III of Navarre, defeating him and annexing the southern regions of Navarre into the kingdom of Castile.
═˝igo de Loyola excelled himself in battle and was appointed a senior commander to Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nßjera and Castillian (Spanish) Viceroy of occupied Navarre, based at Pamplona--with the task of enforcing Spanish rule, especially the Inquisition upon the Navarre population.
While no accounts survive, the rule of Manrique de Lara as Castillian (Spanish) Viceroy must have been particularly cruel as in 1516 there was a general rebellion across occupied Navarre including Pamplona in which Manrique de Lara was killed. ═˝igo de Loyola and the Castillian troops under his command regrouped and routed the rebels, burning their towns and destroying their castles.
In 1516 at the age of 25, ═˝igo de Loyola was appointed the new Viceroy of occupied Navarre commanding several thousand troops. At the commencement of his appointment, he was especially bloody with hundreds of the rebels rounded up by his troops and secret inquisitors and executed. Upon his appointment, ═˝igo commissioned his military lieutenant Alfonso Salmeron from Toledo to begin his grand plan of a new Spanish citadel at Pamplona that would be impregnable to attack.
But it was Viceroy ═˝igo de Loyola's invention of the concept of a "professional police force", both in terms of hierarchy, strict code of conduct, law and order and counter espionage that would be one of his most historic and relatively unknown contributions to civilization.
In order to control a largely hostile population with limited resources, ═˝igo commissioned his most trusted head of the secret police Francisco Xavier- also originally of Navarre - to follow a strict instruction or "rule" by which secret police would pledge their total unquestionable devotion and even to sacrifice their "self" in order to assume the role of both secret soldier, protector and assassin of "enemies of the state" by living amongst the people, rather than in barracks.
The concept of small bands of well trained men living amongst the people and often dressing like them to control law and order, rather than living in barracks in larger groups was a radical idea for the times as it went against most "traditional" military theory of overwhelming force.
In a strict sense, Francisco Xavier cannot be technically considered the first "Police Chief" as the word "Police" (from Latin Polus = "lesser" and ice = "strike force" in other words "small strike force") was not invented until the time of King Francis I in 1527 with the merging of the ancient offices of Constable and Marshal Provost into a new force known as the Police.
So successful was the secret police force that ═˝igo de Loyola held Navarre with an iron fist for four years along with his loyal deputies Francisco Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez from the court at Castille.
In 1520, several important cities in the Kingdom of Castile rose in revolt against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the grandson of Ferdinand II--including the cities of Valladolid, Tordesillas and Toledo. While the principle duty of the Viceroy ═˝igo de Loyola was to use his thousands of troops to defend Spanish Navarre against French attack, Charles ordered the Viceroy to move the bulk of his troops south to help crush the internal Castillian rebellion known as the "Revolt of the Comuneros".
Henry II of Navarre sensing a unique opportunity managed to quickly raise a French army under the command of General Asparros of over 14,000 which invaded in 1521. Occupied Navarra suddenly erupted in revolt leaving Viceroy ═˝igo de Loyola exposed with only a few thousand of his troops beseiged in his citadel at Pamploma and his secret police force. Contrary to re-written history, the Citadel held at the Battle of Pamploma - in which Viceroy ═˝igo de Loyola was badly injured - which ended around May 1521 thanks in some part to the counter insurgency coordinated by head of the secret police force Francisco Xavier and the loyal members of his company "invisible" amongst the people.
However, the occupation of Pamploma by the French invasion force would not last long. By June 1521, a huge Castilian army overwhelmed the French General Asparros recapturing southern Navarre including Pamploma. Badly injured, was unable to continue his duties as Viceroy and he returned to his family fief to recover.
It is claimed ═˝igo de Loyola suddenly found religion sometime after 1522 during his recovery. Given his previous history as a brutal tyrant and sadist, it is more likely during this period of recovery he refined his theories on the use of secret forces, agents and assassins to maintain order, apart from brute military force.
By 1523, ═˝igo de Loyola was recovered enough from his injuries to return to service and in May/June of the same year was appointed emmissary of Charles V to Venice to conclude a treaty with the ever tricky Venetians upon the appointment of distinguished Venetian diplomat and general Andrea Gritti as Doge the same year.
Contrary to the fables of Loyola merely stopping in Venice for a brief moment, before heading to the Holy Land, it is almost certain that upon concluding the treaty, Loyola found the climate and hospitality of the Venetians agreeable to his continued recovery and remained almost certainly an honored guest of Doge Andrea Gritti until early 1524.
Upon being recalled to Spain by Charles V by 1524, there is no credible evidence of Loyola encountering any religious "conversion" other than a growing frustration and hatred towards Charles after being appointed to rule Salamanca in Spain and the lack of interest of the Emperor in the refined techniques of ═˝igo de Loyola to establish and run a complete secret police force capable of subjugating any enemy.
The final straw probably came after Loyola was sidelined during the successful campaign against King Francis I of France at the Battle of Pavia in February 1525 only to be appointed the one to accompany the defeated King back to France upon his eventual release in March 1526.
Contrary to the complete lack of interest of Charles concerning the "company rule" of Loyola in conducting secret police forces and armies of assassins hidden within the population, King Francis like the Venetians almost certainly considered such knowledge to be extremely powerful in the art of "statecraft".
Whatever transpired between Loyola and Francis I will probably never be known. However, it is clear from this point on, that Loyola no longer considered himself a loyal soldier to the Emperor, instead he was now an agent and teacher to his former enemies, the French, Venetians and English.
The growing wealth and arrogance of Spain under Charles aligned with the Genoese/Florentine Medici's continued to upset the remaining powers in Europe particular former ancient allies of Rome in England and Venice. Sensing a new found opportunity through new military tactics employed by Loyola, Francis I of France then called a council of ambassadors at Cognac and the League of Cognac was formed in 1526 between France, Venice and England was formed against the growing wealth and might of Spain and the Medici and Lombard Vatican families. At the same time, the Peasants Revolt started in Germany, forcing Charles to commit his main troops to halting the loss of valuable fiefs.
Whilst, Charles was distracted in Germany, in 1527 the League of Cognac landed a substantial force in Italy and proceeded to attack Rome, corresponding with an uprising in several Italian cities such as Milan and Florence led by the Colonna against Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII). The several thousand troops led by Lorenzo dell'Anguillara including the Papal Swiss Guard were no match for the united French, English and Venetian militia.
The ensuing guerilla tactics of the Papal militia hiding amongst the civilians in 1527, cost the population of Rome dearly, and it is alleged the population of Rome was reduced from 98,000 to 32,000 in eight days. However, Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII) managed to escape.
The League forces then focused their attention further south on Naples. However, the siege did not go well and both French and English troops suffered substantial deaths from the plague, bringing the hope of a swift campaign in Italy to an end.
The whole history of these events has been deliberately corrupted and reversed, so that Charles of Spain is blamed for the sack of Rome in 1527, not the League of Cognac. In any event, Charles used these events to his advantage, keeping an even greater proportion of his loot stolen from the New World by "legal" Papal Charter.
Contrary to the mythology of ═˝igo de Loyola being an "intinerant injured soldier" some how "magically" gaining an education at the University of Paris in the midst of his former enemies, Loyola was directly responsible for the formation of the first official Police Force in history when King Francis I in 1527 merged the ancient offices of Constable and Marshal Provost into a new force known as MarÚchaussÚe or, formally, the Constabulary and Marshalcy of France (connÚtablie et marÚchaussÚe de France) - commonly known as the Police.
To ensure the effectiveness and self-regulation of this new concept of a professional "police force", ═˝igo de Loyola commissioned them their own "Constitution" to which every member of the MarÚchaussÚe were sworn to uphold under the concept "E Spiritus De Corpus" - meaning "For the spirit of the corp/company", commonly known as Espirit De Corps.
Finally, in 1529, Charles V offered the League of Cognac a truce, if they withdrew their troops from Italy. This became known as the Treaty of Cambrai, signed in Northern France.
The Treaty gave Charles even more power, restoring Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII) to the Vatican in Rome in exchange for the participants of the League being absolved for the sacking of Rome.
However, Charles and Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII) were unable to help themselves and Pope Clement VII launched an offensive in revenge against the treachery of Venice, while Charles renewed his demands upon Henry VIII for North America.
Despite his frustration at the limits placed upon his vision, ═˝igo de Loyola remained in the employ of Francis I at least up to 1534. However, it appears Loyola did finally receive a "higher calling" in the form of some kind of proposition through emissaries of Alessandro Farnese and Venetian Doge Andrea Gritti in early 1534, namely if the Emperor and the Medici Pope could be "dispatched", then the dream of Loyola would be implemented.
It was the arrival of these secret plans that first brought Loyola into contact with Francis Borja, the paternal great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI. Using the experience under King Francis I, Loyola modified the Constitutions for a new Order - an Order of "Soldiers for Christ" under an Espirit De Corp of absolute obedience and loyalty to their Superior, willing to die without hestitation for the "greater glory of God" or AMDG "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam".
By the summer of 1534, Loyola had summonsed his old allies to Paris to help establish the new "Soldiers of Christ" including Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmerons, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, all Spanish; Peter Faber, a Frenchman; and SimŃo Rodrigues of Portugal.
On "Assumption Day" August 15, 1534, ═˝igo and the other six met in the crypt of the Chapel of St. Denis, at Montmartre in Paris and founded the Company of Jesus - "to attack the enemies of the church by any and all means, or to go without questioning wherever the General of the Order might direct".
But this was not the only oath, nor ritual. For in this first most secret ceremony of the founding the Jesuits, is the origin of the same secret ceremony of the Freemasons, dating back to the days of the Osiris cult. Here, in the crypt, each initiate "died" to their old selves, pledging absolute and unquestioning loyalty to the Espirit De Corps, their absolute undying loyalty to Ignatius as the "illuminated one". Thus was born the strongest morale code of any organization in the history of civilization - an Espirit De Corps rarely broken during its many hundreds of years of existence.
After the ceremony, one group including Loyola headed north to the Netherlands to plan their attempted assassination of the Emperor, while another group with poison provided from the infamous book of Borja headed to Rome and the destiny of Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII).
Loyola and the group in the Netherlands failed in their attempt to kill the Emperor, but forty days later September 25, 1534 (aged 41) Pope Clement VII was dead and Alessandro Farnese was elected the new Pope.
Evading capture, ═˝igo de Loyola did not return to Paris, but instead travelled straight to Venice where he was warmly received by his old friend Doge Andrea Gritti. But before Venice would help sponsor with the new Pope Paul III the creation of Loyola's international "Police Force", Loyola would need to demonstrate his talents once again and help Venice create a new professional "sea bound" military force.
Until this time, the Venetians had generally used the military skills of others and their brilliance at banking and finance to broker some deal, or payment for the necessary militia skills, known historically as the "lagunari". But the Ottoman Empire and the professional standing armies of Europe meant such kind of "rent-a-war" was no longer viable- especially as Venice continued to face increasing attack.
The solution by ═˝igo de Loyola for the Venetians was the formation of the first permanent professional military units of Venice known officially as the Marine Corps - a smaller army of a few thousand highly trained, highly motivated soldiers, sworn by sacred oath to unquestionable and absolute allegiance and honor. The word marine meaning "sea" and the word corps meaning in this context "bank of knights" therefore the first Marine Corps in history meaning literally "band of sea knights" - the name Fanti da Mar (infantry of the sea) a deliberate distraction to hide their official name.
Meanwhile in Venice, in 1537 at the age of 46, ═˝igo de Loyola and his most loyal companions took their vows and were ordained as Franciscan Priests at the Frari Basilica, swearing their allegience to the "Gray Pope" the Minister General and therefore to Venice and to its partnership with Rome as the Holy See.
In 1537 the new members of the Orders Friar Minor then traveled to Rome to see Pope Paul III, with Loyola fully expecting to honor his promise and grant the new Police force the "Company of Gesu" for the Venetians and Roman Cult controlling the Catholic Church. However, he was to be immediately frustrated. Simply, such an entity represented far too much power and the Cardinals were threatening an all out revolt.
Loyola was forced to remain in Rome and play diplomat and politician, offering concessions and conditions such as the new order being based in Rome and not Venice, in ensuring a strict rule to ensure compliance and clear limits on the power of this soon to be unleashed "power". In the end after three long and difficult years, the concessions were sufficient for Pope Paul to feel safe in issuing his Papal Bull.
Pope Paul III confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis (September 27, 1540), but limited the number of its members to sixty. This limit severely hampered the role of the Jesuits and made their purpose as the most powerful Police force ever conceived, in theory only. However, thanks to patience and further negotiation, this limitation on numbers was removed through the bull Injunctum nobis on March 14, 1543.
In another significant victory for the early formation of the Jesuits, Pope Paul III issued a bull in 1545 permitting them to preach, hear confession, dispense the sacraments and say mass without having to refer to a bishop- effectively placing them outside the control of the regional clergy.
Furthermore, while technically monks, the Constitution of Loyola was unique in that it exempted priests from the cloistered rule (i.e. living in monasteries). Instead, Jesuit monks were to live "in the world".
In 1546, Pope Paul III appointed the Jesuits to their first political mission, appointing Lainez and Salmeron as his official representatives at the Council of Trent as Pontifical Theologians. Lainez with the assistance of Cardinal Monroe successfully defeated all but one minor agenda item for reform of the Catholic Church and ensured the power of the Pope remained unchallenged.
He died in Rome on July 31, 1556.
Letter to Father Giovanni Battista Viola: On Obedience, by Ignatius Loyola, Rome, August 1542
Librarian's Comment: Father Viola  was among the first Italians to
enter the Society. In 1541 Ignatius sent him to Paris for further
studies and to be, at the same time, superior of the young Jesuits
attending the university. Before Viola left for Paris on October 14,
1541, Ignatius advised him that, since he would be arriving several
months after the school year had begun, it would be good for him to
spend his first months brushing up on his Latin and studying the S˙mulas
(the Summulae logicales of Peter of Spain), to be ready to begin his
studies the following year. But Viola, hoping to save time and thinking
that he was sufficiently prepared, immediately began his work at the
university. In the end he found that it was too much for him and that he
had wasted his time. During the summer of 1542 he wrote to Ignatius.
Though his letter is not extant, its contents are clear from Ignatius'
response. Viola complained that he had wasted eight months with his
teacher and now he was asking Ignatius what he should do. Ignatius
approached the question from the viewpoint of blind obedience. Viola
lost time because he had not followed the instructions he received
before leaving Rome. The letter's date is probably August 1542, and was
written in Spanish [Ep. 1:228-229].
May the sovereign grace and love of Christ our Lord be our never-failing help and support.
I received your letter but I fail to understand it. In two different places you speak of obedience. In the first you say that you are ready to obey me, and in the second you say: "Because I would rather die than fail in obedience, I submit to the judgment of your reverence." Now, it seems to me that obedience seeks to be blind, and is blind in two ways: in the first it belongs to the inferior to submit his understanding, when there is no question of sin, and to do what is commanded of him; in the second it is also the inferior's duty, once the superior commands or has commanded something, to represent to the superior whatever considerations or disadvantages may occur to him, and to do so humbly and simply, without any attempt to draw the superior to either side, so that afterwards he can follow, with peace of mind, the way pointed out to him or commanded.
Now, applying this to your obedience, I am unable to understand it. For after you have given me many good arguments to persuade me to approve another teacher, you tell me elsewhere in your letter: "It has seemed good to me to write your reverence to ask you kindly to let me know whether I should change teachers or go on wasting my time."
You yourself can judge whether you are seeking to obey, or whether you are submitting your judgment to whatever decision I make. If you so abound in judgment of your own and are convinced that you are wasting your time, where is the submission of your judgment? Indeed, do you think that I am going to tell you to waste your time? May God our Lord never let me harm anyone when I cannot help him!
In another place you say: "I am truly sorry to have wasted these last eight months under this teacher but, nevertheless, if you think I should go on wasting it, I will continue with him." I recall that I told you, when you left here, that by the time you reached Paris the course in the S˙mulas would have been in progress for two or three months, and that you should start by studying Latin for four or five months and then take the elements of the S˙mulas for three or four months so that with this preparation you could begin the regular course the following year. But following your own ideas rather than mine, you saw fit to enter a course already two or three months in session. Judge for yourself who is the cause of your wasting time!
I close asking our Lord in His infinite goodness to give us the fullness of His perfect grace, so that we may know His most holy will and perfectly fulfill it.
LETTER TO THE
JESUITS IN THE ROMAN HOUSES: On Prompt and Blind Obedience, by St.
Ignatius of Loyola, Rome, August 24, 1550
LETTER TO FATHER DIEGO MIRË: On Dismissing the Disobedient, by St. Ignatius Loyola, Rome, December 17, 1552
Librarian's Comment: Diego Mirˇ  became provincial in Portugal
at the very end of 1551, after Ignatius had removed SimŃo Rodrigues from
that position. This change caused further tension in the province since
Rodrigues was mild and easy-going in his governing, while Mirˇ was
somewhat strict and demanding. The unfortunate result was that some
members of the province, siding with Rodrigues, refused to show
obedience to the new provincial. Miguel de Torres had been sent by
Ignatius to Portugal to see that Rodrigues accepted Ignatius' decision,
and to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming Mirˇ. During his
several months in Portugal, Torres periodically reported to Rome about
the lamentable state of affairs in that province. Ignatius would not
tolerate disobedience and thus he wrote to Mirˇ instructing him to
dismiss from the Society those who refuse to obey, or to send them to
Rome if there is hope the change might bring about amendment. He
likewise asked him to notify John III, King of Portugal, of this
instruction. This letter was written in Spanish [Ep. 4:559-563].
You can realize, from what you have heard, how I should and do desire this virtue in my brothers, and what satisfaction must be mine when I hear that some among you disrespectfully say to their superior, "You should not order me to do this," or "it is not good for me to do this," or, as I am told, that some are unwilling to do what they are told, or that the actions of some show so little reverence and interior submission to the one whom they ought to reverence as the representative of Christ our Lord and, accordingly, humble themselves in all things before His Divine Majesty. This matter seems to have gone so far because of the fault of one whose duty it was to correct it, but who failed to do so. May God our Lord forgive him! How much better it would have been to remove a diseased member from the body of the Society in order to protect the healthy members, than to allow it to remain and infect with so serious a disease many others by example and association. On another occasion I have written how gratified I was that Master Leonard  in Cologne had dismissed nine or ten together who had gone wrong. Later he did the same again, which I approved, though if measures had been taken when the trouble began, it might possibly have been enough to dismiss one or two. Now, though late, the remedy is being applied in Portugal. Better late than never!
I command you in virtue of holy obedience to take the following step with regard to the safeguarding of that virtue. If there is anyone who is unwilling to obey youŚand I say this, not to you alone but to all superiors or local rectors in PortugalŚdo one of two things: either dismiss him from the Society, or send him here to Rome if you think that a particular individual can, by such a change, be helped to become a true servant of Christ our Lord. If necessary, keep their highnesses informed, who I doubt will make any objections, in keeping with the spirit and holy good will which God our Lord has bestowed upon them. To retain one who is not a true son of obedience does no good for the kingdom. Nor is there any reason for thinking that such a person, his own soul being so destitute, can help other souls, or that God our Lord would wish to accept him as an instrument for His service and glory.
We see from experience that men, not only with average talents but even less than average, can often be the instruments of uncommon supernatural fruit, because they are completely obedient and through this virtue allow themselves to be affected and moved by the powerful hand of the author of all good. On the other hand, great talent may be seen exerting great labor with less than ordinary fruit, because being themselves the source of their activity, that is, their own self-love, or at least not allowing themselves to be moved by God our Lord through obedience to their superiors, they do not produce results proportionate to the almighty hand of God our Lord, who does not accept them as His instruments. They achieve results proportioned to their own weak and feeble hands. Their highnesses understand this, and I am sure that they will make no difficulty. And while we have enough to do here without burdening ourselves with this additional task from Portugal, we will not decline the added burden because of the special charity which God our Lord causes us to feel toward Portugal.
This is all for the present, except to beg the Divine and Supreme Goodness to give us all His abundant grace to know His most holy will and perfectly to fulfill it.
From Rome, December 17, 1552.
This precept of obedience which I am sending you, requiring you to dismiss those who are disobedient, or to send them here to Rome, is to be published in all the colleges and houses throughout the province. See that the king is informed of it, so that those who are sent beyond the borders of the kingdom, because they have need of help, do not appear as being withdrawn from Portugal because we here are looking for workers who would otherwise be useful within the territory of his highness. Rather, let it appear that they are being sent elsewhere to prepare them to be such when they return, as his highness desires, as are all the others in the service of God and of souls in his kingdom.
Yours in our Lord,
LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY IN PORTUGAL: On Perfect Obedience, by St. Ignatius Loyola, Rome, March 26, 1553
[Woodstock.georgetown.edu Librarian's Comment: This letter on obedience is Ignatius' most celebrated and most widely-read letter. As early as 1545 Ignatius heard of certain shortcomings among the Jesuits in the Portuguese province with regard to obedience; the news that his sons were acting in a manner entirely foreign to the spirit of the Society brought him great distress. The sad condition in Portugal was largely due to the easy-going style of government of its provincial, SimŃo Rodrigues. So popular was he among some that the province developed into factions, and the group favoring Rodrigues was attached to him with an affection that was far from spiritual. The problem became so acute that Ignatius found it necessary to remove Rodrigues and appoint a new provincial, Diego Mirˇ. But as long as Rodrigues remained among his followers, the new provincial could do nothing to turn the province around. Disobedience was still rampant and Ignatius wrote to Mirˇ in December 1551  instructing him to dismiss from the Society any and all who disobeyed his orders.
In January 1553
Luis Gonšalves da CamÔra wrote to Ignatius from Lisbon  and described
the sorrowful state of the province where the subjects have become
the real superiors, and urgently requested Ignatius to write to his
sons in Portugal and share with them his thoughts on obedience. Two
months later Ignatius acceded to this request. Ignatius' letter studies
the question of obedience in depth. He first states that obedience is to
be the characteristic virtue of the Society and then goes on to speak of
its fundamental principle, its three degrees, suggests practical ways of
acquiring it, and ends by exhorting his sons to strive to attain it.
Ignatius intended his letter to remedy the disorders in Portugal and
within months after its arrival Rodrigues decided to leave Portugal and
by the end of 1553 peace was again restored to the province. This
letter [Ep. 4:669-68] was drafted by Polanco and was written in Spanish
with the several patristic citations given in Latin. 
May the perfect grace and everlasting love of Christ our Lord greet and visit you with His most holy gifts and spiritual graces.
It gives me great consolation, my dear brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ, when I learn of the lively and earnest desires for perfection in His divine service and glory which He gives you, who by His mercy has called you to this Society and preserves you in it and directs you to the blessed end at which His chosen ones arrive.
And though I wish you all perfection in every virtue and spiritual gift, it is true (as you have heard from me on other occasions), that it is in obedience, more than in any other virtue, that God our Lord gives me the desire to see you signalize yourselves. And that, not only because of the singular good there is in it, so much emphasized by word and example in Holy Scripture in both Old and New Testaments, but because, as Saint Gregory says: "obedience is the only virtue which plants all the other virtues in the mind, and preserves them once they are planted." And insofar as this virtue flourishes, all the other virtues will flourish and bring forth the fruit which I desire in your souls, and which He claims who, by His obedience, redeemed the world after it had been destroyed by the lack of it, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross [Phil. 2:8].
We may allow ourselves to be surpassed by other religious orders in fasts, watchings, and other austerities, which each one following its institute holily observes. But in the purity and perfection of obedience together with the true resignation of our wills and the abnegation of our understanding, I am very desirous, my dear brothers, that they who serve God in this Society should be conspicuous, so that by this virtue its true sons may be recognized as men who regard not the person whom they obey, but in him Christ our Lord, for whose sake they obey.
The superior is to be obeyed not because he is prudent, or good, or qualified by any other gift of God, but because he holds the place and the authority of God, as Eternal Truth has said: He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me [Luke 10:16]. Nor on the contrary, should he lack prudence, is he to be the less obeyed in that in which he is superior, since he represents Him who is infallible wisdom, and who will supply what is wanting in His minister, nor, should he lack goodness or other desirable qualities, since Christ our Lord, having said, the scribes and the Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses, adds, therefore, whatever they shall tell you, observe and do: but do not act according to their works [Matt. 23:2-3].
Therefore I should wish that all of you would train yourselves to recognize Christ our Lord in any superior, and with all devotion, reverence and obey His Divine Majesty in him. This will appear less strange to you if you keep in mind that Saint Paul, writing to the Ephesians, bids us obey even temporal and pagan superiors as Christ, from whom all well-ordered authority descends: Slaves, obey those who are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ, not serving to the eye as pleasers of men, but as the slaves of Christ doing the will of God from your heart, giving your service with good will as to the Lord and not to men [Eph. 6:5-7]. From this you can judge, when a religious is taken not only as superior and guide in the divine service, what rank he ought to hold in the mind of the inferior, and whether he ought to be looked upon as man or rather as the vicar of Christ our Lord.
I also desire that this be firmly fixed in your minds, that the first degree of obedience is very low, which consists in the execution of what is commanded, and that it does not deserve the name of obedience, since it does not attain to the worth of this virtue unless it rises to the second degree, which is to make the superior's will one's own in such a way that there is not merely the effectual execution of the command, but an interior conformity, whether willing or not willing the same. Hence it is said in Scripture, obedience is better than sacrifice [1 Sam. 15:22], for, according to Saint Gregory: "In victims the flesh of another is slain, but in obedience our own will is sacrificed."
Now because this disposition of will in man is of so great worth, so also is the offering of it, when by obedience it is offered to his Creator and Lord. How great a deception it is, and how dangerous for those who think it lawful to withdraw from the will of their superior, I do not say only in those things pertaining to flesh and blood, but even in those which of their nature are spiritual and holy, such as fasts, prayers, and other pious works! Let them hear Cassian's comment in the Conference of David the Abbot: "It is one and the selfsame kind of disobedience, whether in earnestness of labor, or the desire of ease, one breaks the command of the superior, and as harmful to go against the statutes of the monastery out of sloth as out of watchfulness; and finally, it is as bad to transgress the precept of the abbot to read as to contemn it to sleep." Holy was the activity of Martha, holy the contemplation of Magdalene, and holy the penitence and tears with which she bathed the feet of Christ our Lord; but all this was to be done in Bethany, which is interpreted to mean, the house of obedience. It would seem, therefore, that Christ our Lord would give us to understand, as Saint Bernard remarks, "that neither the activity of good works, nor the leisure of contemplation, nor the tears of the penitent would have pleased Him out of Bethany."
And thus my dear brothers, try to make the surrender of your wills entire. Offer freely to God through His ministers the liberty He has bestowed on you. Do not think it a slight advantage of your free will that you are able to restore it wholly in obedience to Him who gave it to you. In this you do not lose it, but rather perfect it in conforming your will wholly with the most certain rule of all rectitude, which is the divine will, the interpreter of which is the superior who governs you in place of God.
For this reason you must never try to draw the will of the superior (which you should consider the will of God) to your own will. This would not be making the divine will the rule of your own, but your own the rule of the divine, and so distorting the order of His wisdom. It is a great delusion in those whose understanding has been darkened by self-love, to think that there is any obedience in the subject who tries to draw the superior to what he wishes. Listen to Saint Bernard, who had much experience in this matter: "Whoever endeavors either openly or covertly to have his spiritual father enjoin him what he himself desires, deceives himself if he flatters himself as a true follower of obedience. For in that he does not obey his superior, but rather the superior obeys him." And so he concludes that he who wishes to rise to the virtue of obedience must rise to the second degree, which, over and above the execution, consists in making the superior's will one's own, or rather putting off his own will to clothe himself with the divine will interpreted by the superior.
But he who aims at making an entire and perfect oblation of himself, in addition to his will, must offer his understanding, which is a further and the highest degree of obedience. He must not only will, but he must think the same as the superior, submitting his own judgment to that of the superior, so far as a devout will can bend the understanding.
For although this faculty has not the freedom of the will, and naturally gives its assent to what is presented to it as true, there are, however, many instances where the evidence of the known truth is not coercive and it can, with the help of the will, favor one side or the other. When this happens every truly obedient man should conform his thought to the thought of the superior.
And this is certain, since obedience is a holocaust in which the whole man without the slightest reserve is offered in the fire of charity to his Creator and Lord through the hands of His ministers. And since it is a complete surrender of himself by which a man dispossesses himself to be possessed and governed by Divine Providence through his superiors, it cannot be held that obedience consists merely in the execution, by carrying the command into effect and in the will's acquiescence, but also in the judgment, which must approve the superior's command, insofar, as has been said, as it can, through the energy of the will bring itself to this.
Would to God that this obedience of the understanding were as much understood and practiced as it is necessary to anyone living in religion, and acceptable to God our Lord. I say necessary, for as in the celestial bodies, if the lower is to receive movement and influence from the higher it must be subject and subordinate, the one body being ordered and adjusted to the other, so when one rational creature is moved by another, as takes place in obedience, the one that is moved must be subject and subordinated to the one by which he is moved, if he is to receive influence and energy from him. And, this subjection and subordination cannot be had unless the understanding and the will of the inferior is in conformity with that of the superior.
Now, if we regard the end of obedience, as our will so our understanding may be mistaken as to what is good for us. Therefore, we think it expedient to conform our will with that of the superior to keep it from going astray, so also the understanding ought to be conformed with his to keep it from going astray. Rely not on your own prudence [Prov. 3:5]. says Scripture.
Thus, they who are wise judge it to be true prudence not to rely on their own judgment even in other affairs of life, and especially when personal interests are at stake, in which men, as a rule, because of their lack of self-control, are not good judges.
This being so, we ought to follow the judgment of another (even when he is not our superior) rather than our own in matters concerning ourselves. How much more, then, the judgment of the superior whom we have taken as a guide to stand in the place of God and to interpret the divine will for us?
And it is certain that this guidance is all the more necessary in men and matters spiritual, as the danger in the spiritual life is great when one advances rapidly in it without the bridle of discretion. Hence Cassian says in the Conference of the Abbot Moses: "By no other vice does the devil draw a monk headlong, and bring him to death sooner, than by persuading him to neglect the counsel of the elders, and trust to his own judgment and determination."
On the other hand, without this obedience of the understanding it is impossible that the obedience of will and execution be what they should be. For the appetitive powers of the soul naturally follow the apprehensive and, in the long run, the will cannot obey without violence against one's judgment. When for some time it does obey, misled by the common apprehension that it must obey, even when commanded amiss, it cannot do so for any length of time. And so perseverance fails, or if not this, at least the perfection of obedience which consists in obeying with love and cheerfulness. But when one acts in opposition to one's judgment, one cannot obey lovingly and cheerfully as long as such repugnance remains. Promptitude fails, and readiness, which are impossible without agreement of judgment, such as when one doubts whether it is good or not to do what is commanded. That renowned simplicity of blind obedience fails, when we call into question the justice of the command, or even condemn the superior because he bids us to do something that is not pleasing. Humility fails, for although on the one hand we submit, on the other we prefer ourselves to the superior. Fortitude in difficult tasks fails, and in a word, all the perfections of this virtue.
On the other hand, when one obeys without submitting one's judgment, there arise dissatisfaction, pain, reluctance, slackness, murmurings, excuses, and other imperfections and obstacles of no small moment which strip obedience of its value and merit. Wherefore Saint Bernard, speaking of those who take it ill when commanded to do things that are unpleasant, says, with reason: "If you begin to grieve at this, to judge your superior, to murmur in your heart, although outwardly you fulfill what is commanded, this is not the true virtue of patience, but a cloak of your malice."
Indeed, if we look to the peace and quiet of mind of him who obeys, it is certain that he will never achieve it who has within himself the cause of his disquiet and unrest, that is, a judgment of his own opposed to what obedience lays upon him.
Therefore, to maintain that union which is the body of every society, Saint Paul earnestly exhorts all to think and say the same thing [1 Cor. 1:10], because it is by the union of judgment and will that they shall be preserved. Now, if the head and members must think the selfsame, it is easy to see whether the head should agree with the members, or the members with the head. Thus, from what has been said, we can see how necessary is obedience of the understanding.
But how perfect it is in itself, and how pleasing to God, can be seen from the value of this most noble offering which is made of the most worthy part of man; in this way the obedient man becomes a living holocaust most pleasing to His Divine Majesty, keeping nothing whatever to himself, and also because of the difficulty overcome for love of Him in going against the natural inclination which all men have of following their own judgment. It follows that obedience, though it is a perfection proper to the will (which it makes ready to fulfill the will of the superior), yet, it must also, as has been said, extend to the understanding, inclining it to agree with the thought of the superior, for it is thus that we proceed with the full strength of the soulŚof will and understandingŚto a prompt and perfect execution.
I seem to hear some of you say, most dear brothers, that you see the importance of this virtue, but that you would like to see how you can attain to its perfection. To this I answer with Pope Saint Leo: "Nothing is difficult to the humble, and nothing hard to the meek." Be humble and meek, therefore, and God our Lord will bestow His grace which will enable you to maintain sweetly and lovingly the offering that you have made to Him.
In addition to these means, I will place before you three especially which will give you great assistance in attaining this perfection of obedience.
The first is that, as I said at the beginning, you do not behold in the person of your superior a man subject to errors and miseries, but rather Him whom you obey in man, Christ, the highest wisdom, immeasurable goodness, and infinite charity, who, you know, cannot be deceived and does not wish to deceive you. And because you are certain that you have set upon your own shoulders this yoke of obedience for the love of God, submitting yourself to the will of the superior in order to be more conformable to the divine will, be assured that His most faithful charity will ever direct you by the means you yourselves have chosen. Therefore, do not look upon the voice of the superior, as far as he commands you, otherwise than as the voice of Christ, in keeping with Saint Paul's advice to the Colossians, where he exhorts subjects to obey their superiors: Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as serving the Lord, and not men, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the inheritance as your reward. Serve the Lord Christ [3:23-24]. And Saint Bernard: "whether God or man, his substitute, commands anything, we must obey with equal diligence, and perform it with like reverence, when however man commands nothing that is contrary to God." Thus, if you do not look upon man with the eyes of the body, but upon God with those of the soul, you will find no difficulty in conforming your will and judgment with the rule of action which you yourselves have chosen.
The second means is that you be quick to look for reasons to defend what the superior commands, or to what he is inclined, rather than to disapprove of it. A help toward this will be to love whatever obedience shall enjoin. From this will come a cheerful obedience without any trouble, for as Saint Leo says: "It is not hard to serve when we love that which is commanded."
The third means to subject the understanding which is even easier and surer, and in use among the holy Fathers, is to presuppose and believe, very much as we are accustomed to do in matters of faith, that what the superior enjoins is the command of God our Lord and His holy will. Then to proceed blindly, without injury of any kind, to the carrying out of the command, with the prompt impulse of the will to obey. So we are to think Abraham did when commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac [Gen. 22:2-3]. Likewise, under the new covenant, some of the holy Fathers to whom Cassian refers, as the Abbot John, who did not question whether what he was commanded was profitable or not, as when with such great labor he watered a dry stick throughout a year. Or whether it was possible or not, when he tried so earnestly at the command of his superior to move a rock which a large number of men would not have been able to move.
We see that God our Lord sometimes confirmed this kind of obedience with miracles, as when Maurus, Saint Benedict's disciple, going into a lake at the command of his superior, did not sink. Or in the instance of another, who being told to bring back a lioness, took hold of her and brought her to his superior. And you are acquainted with others. What I mean is that this manner of subjecting one's own judgment, without further inquiry, supposing that the command is holy and in conformity with God's will, is in use among the saints and ought to be imitated by any one who wishes to obey perfectly in all things, where manifestly there appears no sin.
But this does not mean that you should not feel free to propose a difficulty, should something occur to you different from his opinion, provided you pray over it, and it seems to you in God's presence that you ought to make the representation to the superior. If you wish to proceed in this matter without suspicion of attachment to your own judgment, you must maintain indifference both before and after making this representation, not only as to undertaking or relinquishing the matter in question, but you must even go so far as to be better satisfied with, and to consider as better, whatever the superior shall ordain.
Now what I have said of obedience is not only to be understood of individuals with reference to their immediate superiors, but also of rectors and local superiors with reference to provincials, and of provincials with reference to the general, and of the general toward him whom God our Lord has given as superior, His vicar on earth. In this way complete subordination will be observed and, consequently, union and charity, without which the welfare and government of the Society or of any other congregation would be impossible.
It is by this means that Divine Providence gently disposes all things, bringing to their appointed end the lowest by the middlemost, and the middlemost by the highest. Even in the angels there is the subordination of one hierarchy to another, and in the heavens, and all the bodies that are moved, the lowest by the highest and the highest in their turn unto the Supreme Mover of all.
We see the same on earth in well-governed states, and in the hierarchy of the Church, the members of which render their obedience to the one universal vicar of Christ our Lord. And the better this subordination is kept, the better the government. But when it is lacking everyone can see what outstanding faults ensue. Therefore, in this congregation, in which our Lord has given me some charge, I desire that this virtue be as perfect as if the whole welfare of the Society depended on it.
Not wishing to go beyond the limits I set at the beginning of this letter, I will end by begging you for the love of Christ our Lord, who not only gave us the precept of obedience, but added His example, to make every effort to attain it by a glorious victory over yourselves, vanquishing the loftiest and most difficult part of yourselves, your will and understanding, because in this way the true knowledge and love of God our Lord will possess you wholly and direct your souls throughout the course of this pilgrimage, until at length He leads you and many others through you to the last and most happy end of bliss everlasting.
From Rome, March 26, 1553.
The servant of all in our Lord,