Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/281

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students. Then he went to Paris and there attended the university. The zeal with which his soul was filled made him so bothersome to many that he barely escaped being whipped out publicly; but he steadfastly put up with venomous remarks and even hid the fact that he was of noble ancestry when he could have mastered difficult situations by assuming an aristocratic air. Quietly, after many failures, he won friends and assistants: the shy, dour peasant's son, Peter Faber of Savoy; the brilliantly unrestrained Francis Xavier, of a noble Spanish family; the learned, intellectually agile Spanish Jew Lianez; the sanguine and noble Salmeron; the busy and boisterous Boabdilla; and the contemplatively phlegmatic, amiably vain Rodriguez. All of them he attached to himself, the leader, for life. When he banded them together on the 15th of August, 1534, in a Church on Montmartre, the germ of the Jesuit Order had been embedded. The handbook of this association of students was the little volume of Exercitia Spiritualia—a well planned offensive on an ego ever threatened by itself, a compendium of the ordinances of a dictator of order in human inner life.

This book has gripped the souls of millions. In the hand of one reader it is nothing. But in the hand, in the mind, of a master of spiritual exercises it is an incomparable instrument of metamorphosis, a method of dying in order to live. Nobody who has not personally experienced its meaning knows what it is. Its objective, to be attained during four weeks, is made visible at the very beginning: the Divine itself is stressed as the purpose and end of all existence. In images of both mercy and terror, God's work of salvation for mankind is made to pass before the deeply moved imagination of the listener. When he has been filled to the brim with awareness of the gentle but stern majesty of the Eternal One, he is led to reflect upon his own existence, his nothingness, his misery. He is then confronted with the ghosts of guilt that rise out of his own past, and is shown the way toward that new life in and with the Church that is his sole salvation. The greatest possible indifference to every-day joys and sorrows, to health or sickness, to riches or poverty, to honour or contempt, to a long life or a short life, is to produce the highest possible eagerness to lead energetically a life devoted to the honour of God. If you free yourself from the ego and from the world, you will conquer both as you