By Doris Yu
October 9, 2014 — How many people are aware that a word deeply identified with Jesuit culture — magis — was never used by the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola? In a speech today before the Loyola Club of Washington, D.C., Jesuit Father Timothy P. Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference, spoke about the magis, Latin for more, and its significance in our daily lives.
The Loyola Club gathers Jesuit-educated alumni and friends three times a year for a lunch, networking and inspiration. Fr. Kesicki’s talk, “A Word St. Ignatius Did Not Use,” delved into the origins of the Ignatian concept of serving the greater glory of God and doing more. “What is the magis? Why should we care about it today? Why do we use it so much to describe so many things Jesuit?” asked Fr. Kesicki.
According to Fr. Kesicki, the word magis was first used by theologian Jesuit Father Karl Rahner and later popularized by modern Jesuits. Although it is not used in the Constitutions by St. Ignatius, the approach to transforming the world by doing more had its roots in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
“Ignatius was about the comparative, doing more,” said Fr. Kesicki. “Because when we do more, we’re always growing, always learning, always listening, always doing. We don’t roll the credits and declare victory. It never ends, there’s no pinnacle, no penultimate moment, no mark of perfection. The magis is about choosing more, for the greater glory of God, to transform society.”
Kesicki referred to three individuals “who give perfect witness to the magis, to making hard decisions”: Pope
Francis, Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor and Charles Geschke, alumnus of Saint
Ignatius High School in Cleveland and co-founder of Adobe, who was kidnapped in
1992 and used his faith to endure the harrowing experience.
“So often we lack the courage of a Pope Francis, the poetic inspiration of a Flannery O’Connor, and the courage of a Chuck Geschke. Are we really doing more to transform society?” Fr. Kesicki asked. “Are we, as alumni and friends of Jesuit institutions, living the magis? Are we still doing the same thing time and time again, not changing our approach at all?”
Fr. Kesicki closed his speech by encouraging the audience to emulate these three individuals and seek opportunities for living the magis in their own lives. “Let us do one thing this day and one thing tomorrow that is magis-driven, making a hard choice for the greater glory of God,” he said.
To learn more about the Loyola Club, visit www.loyolaclubdc.org.