“Nuestro modo de proceder” (in English “Our Way of Proceeding”) is Jesuit terminology for a uniquely Ignatian approach to our mission. Unlike many other more “democratic” religious orders, the Society of Jesus has a different approach to participative governance and leadership. It involves fidelity to the ongoing practice of communal apostolic discernment rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and fleshed out in the Jesuit Constitutions which St. Ignatius labored over for the last decades of his life.
This way of proceeding calls for ongoing regular review of all of our ministries, and this review is itself distinctly Ignatian. Most successful organizations have some ongoing planning processes to “read the signs of the times” and adapt their mission in response. For example, educational institutions have evaluation processes mandated by secular agencies for this purpose. Jesuit schools all participate in such processes mandated by secular accrediting agencies. And we also have our own unique agencies in U.S. Jesuit education, the Jesuit Secondary Education Association and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
Jesuit pastoral ministries such as retreat houses do not have such formal associations, but are also called upon to regular “examen” of our ministries to plan for the future in this uniquely Jesuit methodology involving certain attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior joined together to become what has been called the Jesuit “way of proceeding.”
This involves prayerful, discerning communal reflection for “transformation of our habitual patterns of thought through a constant interplay of experience, reflection, and action.”[i] The characteristics of ‘our way of proceeding’ were born in the life of St. Ignatius and shared by his first companions.
The following characteristics are included in our way of proceeding:
· Deep personal love for Jesus Christ
· Contemplation in action
· An apostolic body in the Church
· In solidarity with those most in need
· Partnership with others
· Called to learned ministry
· Ever searching for the magis (AMDG) God’s Greater Glory.
The magis is not simply one among others in a list of Jesuit characteristics. It permeates them all. The entire life of Ignatius was a pilgrim search for the magis, the ever greater glory of God, the ever fuller service of our neighbor, the more universal good, the more effective apostolic means. ‘Mediocrity has no place in Ignatius’s worldview.’
As partners in mission, Jesuits and our colleagues are never content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to discover, redefine, and reach out for the magis. For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed. Indeed, ours is a holy boldness, “a certain apostolic aggressivity,” typical of our way of proceeding.”[ii]
As we at White House continue on with our own communal apostolic discernment in “Our Way of Proceeding,” we invite you to pray along with us in this prayer composed by Jesuit Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991):
“Lord, meditating on ‘our way of proceeding’, I have discovered that the ideal way of our way of acting is your way of acting.
Give me that sensus Christi that I may feel with your feelings, with the sentiments of your heart, which basically are love for your Father and love for all men and women.
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame and the lepers.
Teach us your way so that it becomes our way today, so that we may come closer to the great ideal of Saint Ignatius: to be companions of Jesus, collaborators in the work of redemption.”[iii]
By Fr. Ted Arroyo, S.J.
[i] Jesuit General Congregation 33, Decree 1
[ii] Jesuit General Congregation 34, Decree 26
[iii] Fr. Arrupe. Our Way of Proceeding