Why Become or Remain a Jesuit?

By Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.

Many will ask how a modern man can still remain or become a Jesuit. The reply to such a question can only be the very personal one of each Jesuit. I would like to give my own reply to that question in all simplicity even though it may sound somewhat pious.

I still see around me, living in many of my companions, a readiness for disinterested service carried out in silence, a readiness for prayer, for abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the calm acceptance of death in whatever form it may come, for total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.

And so for me, in the final analysis, it is no great matter what credit in the history of culture or of the Church goes to a line of men with a spirit like that, nor does it matter to me if a similar spirit is found in other groups, named or nameless.

The fact is that the spirit exists here. I think of brothers I myself have known – of my friend Alfred Delp, who with hands chained signed his declaration of final membership in the Society; of one who in a village in India that is unknown to Indian intellectuals helps poor people to dig their wells; of another who for long hours in the confessional listens to the pain and torment of ordinary people who are far more complex than they appear on the surface.

I think of one who in Barcelona is beaten by police along with his students without the satisfaction of actually being a revolutionary and savoring its glory; of one who assists daily in the hospital at the bedside of death until that unique event becomes for him a dull routine; of the one who in prison must proclaim over and over again the message of the Gospel with never a token of gratitude, who is more appreciated for the handout of cigarettes than for the words of the Good News he brings; of the one who with difficulty and without any clear evidence of success plods away at the task of awakening in just a few men and women a small spark of faith, of hope and of charity.

from “St Ignatius Loyola Speaks to a Modern Jesuit” (1978)