Following the example of St. Ignatius, Jesuit life centers on the imitation of Christ — focusing on those priorities which constitute the mind, heart, values, priorities and loves of Jesus. What are those values, priorities and loves? Ignatius would encourage us to consider what Jesus said and did. At the foundation of Jesus’ life was prayer, a continuous search for how best to love as an authentic human being before a loving God. Jesus preached forgiveness of sins, healed the sick and possessed, and gave hope to the poor, to those socially and economically outcast. Jesus spoke of joy, peace, justice and love; he summoned men and women from all classes of society to continue to follow his way to God, and his commitment to helping people become whole and holy.
The Society of Jesus attempts to incorporate these same gospel values into all its works. Jesuits stress the need to take time to reflect and to pray, in order to find out how God wants us to serve in all our ministries. This active commitment to seeking God’s leadership is called discernment. As Jesuits, the overriding characteristic we see in Jesus is loving obedience, an open-hearted desire to find and to pursue how God wants other men and women to be forgiven, to be free, to utilize all their talents and opportunities in ways which build up this world as a place where faith, justice, peace and love can flourish. This kind of spirituality is incarnational. It views the world as a place where Christ walked, talked and embraced people. It views the world, therefore, as a place of grace, a place of being able to give life to others. At the same time, Ignatian spirituality is realistic. The world Christ faced was also a world full of cruelty, injustice and the abuse of power and authority. Consequently, Jesuit spirituality affirms our human potential but also is dedicated to the ongoing struggle between good and evil. No one apostolic work exhausts how good can be done; therefore, Jesuits do all kinds of work. The Jesuit norm is: to find where God will best be served and where people will best be helped.