One Year Later, Still a Jesuit in the Papacy

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 6:29am
One Year Later, Still a Jesuit in the Papacy

On the first anniversary of Pope Francis' election, James Martin explains how the pope's ministry has been shaped by his Jesuit identity — including the three degrees of humility.

Commentary by:
Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer for On Being
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James Martin — better known as Stephen Colbert’s resident priest — explains how Pope Francis’s Jesuit heritage has infused the first year of his papacy. Whether you’re interested in the Argentine or not, this is an excellent tutorial on what it means to follow the Ignatian rule.

Take, for instance, the virtue of humility. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, talks about the three degrees of humility:

"The first degree is the person who would never do anything immoral. The second degree is the person who, when faced with honor or dishonor, is indifferent or free. And the third degree is the person who actively chooses the humbler path because he or she wants to emulate Jesus Christ."

How Dante-esque. Rather than descent, these three degrees function more like a virtue intended to be an ascending escalator, elevating a man to his greater self. I had no idea, but the concept appeals to me in some strange way. Fr. Martin then continues on, explaining in greater and more specific detail how Pope Francis is living out this virtue humility this past year:

"One of the first things he did was to decide to move out at the Grand Apostolic Palace and live in a two- or three-room suite in a Vatican guesthouse, the Casa Santa Marta. He chooses the humbler path; he's trying to be a man of the third degree of humility."

Living in the Vatican guesthouse may be humbler, but a meager existence? It's not exactly an inn on the road. Nevertheless, one of many gestures that has endeared himself to fallen-away Catholics and the rest of the world.

(via America magazine)

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Trent Gilliss is the driving editorial and creative force behind On Being. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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