The Constitutions in the Life of the Society Today

Location: General Curia of the Society of Jesus in Rome
Dates: 23-25 June 2025
Working languages: English, Spanish (the live interpretation will be provided)

Registration form

The Constitutions are foundational for the life and mission of the Society of Jesus. They constitute a unique document in the genre of foundational documents or “The Rule” that was common for religious orders, even up to today.

The writing of the Constitutions was already commissioned in the Formula of the Institute (1540) and entrusted to Ignatius. A reasonably complete version was available in 1553 and entrusted to Nadal for promulgation but Ignatius with the help of Polanco continued to make changes up to his death in 1556. The First General Congregation (1558) approved he text. As one of the first companions (Bobadilla) remarked on the complexity of the text that emerged. In part this is due to its organic and narrative structure: beginning with a discernment for entering the Society, encompassing formation, the life and mission of the Jesuit, from entrance into the Society until his death (Pt VI §595-601), on maintaining the unity of the Society, its Governance and its preservation and increase. In part it is also due to the different ‘voices’ of the text and the resonances it creates with the Spiritual Exercises. The fact that even in its relatively final form, Ignatius still felt the need to revise it in the light of experience, also indicates that the Constitutions reflect the nature of the Society as always in process, ‘in fieri’ , reflecting the changing nature of ‘persons, places, times.’ The present text that we work with today carries on this dynamic through the ‘complimentary norms’ drawn from the deliberations of successive General Congregations.

The principal aim of the conference is to explore The Constitutions and Complimentary Norms in the light of the Society’s life and mission today. Do they still speak to us, inspire, and shape the Society. Does it need to be better known and appropriated as a resource for the challenges that the Society faces in the renewal of its own life and the direction of its mission? Even a cursory reading shows that The Constitutions are more than a series of instructions for Jesuit life and apostolic works. They embed and work from within the horizon of the Exercises and although they can address in detail organisational structures, they always do so with an orientation to God and God’s action in lives and history.

To explore the nature of the text and their significance for contemporary Jesuit life and mission, the CIS conference with be devoted to three broad themes: Part X, ‘Contemplatio ad Spem’ as the hermeneutical key, Mission (Part VII) read in the light of the formulation of the Society’s mission in recent General Congregations after Vatican II, Apostolic Body (Part VIII) in the light of collaboration and ‘partners-in-mission’. Other significant themes will also be addressed: the relation of the Spiritual Exercises to The Constitutions; The vision of formation in The Constitution and the needs of formation today.

The Conference will be of particular interest to those involved in Jesuit formation and missioning. It will also be of use for collaborators and partners -in-mission and those studying the charism of the Society.

Workshop on Discernment ‘in common’

Location: General Curia of the Society of Jesus in Rome
Dates: 25 (evening) – 27 June 2025
Working languages: English, Spanish (the live interpretation will be provided)

Registration form

‘Discernment in common’ was originally practised in several forms by the first companions of the Society. In the form of the General Congregation, the highest instance of the Society’s government, it continues to be part of the Society’s way of proceeding.

The practice of discernment in common (communal discernment) as part of ordinary Jesuit life has increasingly come into focus since Fr. Arrupe’s letter 1971 and the General Congregation XXXII. Since then it has been the subject of a number of letters from the Society’s Generals. In 2018 Fr. General, Arturo Sosa, in applying the decrees of General Congregation XXXVI, linked ‘spiritual conversation’ and ‘discernment in common’ ‘as the ordinary way of reaching decisions in the life-mission of the Society.’

Communal discernment has increasingly entered into the Church’s own life through the development of synodal practices under the impetuous of Pope Francis. This workshop will explore the theology, theory and practice of discernment in common.

It will be of value and use to anyone involved in Jesuit community and apostolic life. It continues the reflection of the preceding Conference on The Constitutions although it can also be taken separately. Given the nature of the workshop it will be limited to 30 participants.

The presenters for the workshop will be Fr. Franck Janin and Fr. José de Pablo.