Consecrated for Service
Ignatius imagined religious life in nonconventional terms. For Ignatius, his monastery was the world; his prayer, to find God in all things; his work, whatever helped people. In this setting, the vows become instruments to enable Jesuits to do the work of the Kingdom.
By the vow of chastity, a Jesuit consecrates his life entirely to the Lord, promising to live his life in a state of celibate chastity for the Kingdom of God. By this vow, the Jesuit brother or priest becomes available to love and to serve all people, not attached to one person or to one family.
“This life of chastity consecrated to God offers a living witness that Christ can engage human beings in so comprehensive a love and a prophetic reminder that we were created finally for that future life with God in which the children of the resurrection will “neither marry nor give in marriage” (Luke 20:34-36). In this way living unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of heaven preaches the Gospel in deed rather than words..
The vow of poverty helps a Jesuit to live more simply, renouncing personal ownership of material possessions, seeking greater solidarity with the poor, and sharing things in common in imitation of the early disciples of Jesus.
“Our poverty is apostolic because it witnesses to God as the one Lord of our lives and the only Absolute; it distances us from material goods and frees us from all attachment so that we can be fully available to serve the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to the most needy. In this way, poverty is itself a mission and a proclamation of the Beatitudes of the Kingdom.”
The vow of obedience is the touchstone of Jesuit life. St. Ignatius wanted his companions to be ready at any time to respond to the greatest needs of the Church. Jesuits seek to follow the will of God as it is revealed in the mission given to each Jesuit by his religious Superior in the Society of Jesus. Solemnly professed Jesuits take a special vow of obedience to the Holy Father, the Pope, to be available for special missions.
“Impelled by the love of Christ, we embrace obedience as a distinctive grace conferred by God on the Society through its founder, whereby we may be united the more surely and constantly with God’s salvific will, and at the same time be made one in Christ among ourselves…”