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Herewith I commend you all to the grace of God. May he soften your hearts, and kindle therein a deep interest in behalf of the poor, wretched, and neglected youth; and through the blessing of God may you so counsel and aid them as to attain to a happy Christian social order in respect to both body and soul, with all fullness and abounding plenty, to the praise and honor of God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
XIII. THE JESUITS.
The order of the Jesuits, or the Society of Jesus, was founded in 1534 by the celebrated Ignatius of Loyola. Its members have always been characterized by a spirit of utter self-abnegation, which has given the order great influence and success in missionary and educational work. Though at various times it has encountered strong secular and ecclesiastical opposition, it still survives as a potent organization within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Constitutions of the order were begun by Ignatius himself in 1541. They consist of ten parts, of which the fourth part is devoted to education. It is divided into seventeen chapters, the subjects of which are as follows: (1) Founders and Benefactors of the Colleges; (2) Temporal Affairs of the Colleges; (3) Admission of Students to the Colleges; (4) Maintenance of Students; (5) Studies to be Pursued; (6) Means of Promoting the Progress of Students; (7) Schools of the Colleges; (8) Instruction Preparing Students to be Spiritually Helpful to Others (9) Dismission of Stúdents; (10) Government of the Colleges; (11) Establishment of Universities; (12) Sciences to be Taught at the Universities; (13) Method and Order of the Faculties; (14) Books to be Read; (15) Courses and Degrees; (16) Moral Regulations; (17) Officials of the University.
This fourth part of the Constitutions is the foundation, upon which the famous Ratio Studiorum, or the pedagogical
system of the Jesuits, has been built. The Ratio Studiorum, after fifteen years of careful elaboration, was first published in 1599; and though it underwent some slight modification in 1832, it has remained without material change for more than three centuries, and determined the administration and instruction of hundreds of colleges. It covers something more than a hundred pages, and in place of pedagogical principles, which are rarely introduced, it prescribes, in great detail, the duties of the several officers, and the subjects and methods of the various teachers.
The following translation, which is sufficiently extended, it is hoped, to give a general insight into the pedagogy of the Jesuits, has been made from Pachtler's “ Monumenta Germaniæ Pedagogica," which contains the Ratio Studiorum both in Latin and German.
SELECTION FROM THE “RATIO STUDIORUM.”
SYSTEM AND PLAN OF STUDIES OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS.
1. Since it is one of the weightiest duties of our society to teach men all the branches of knowledge in keeping with our organization in such a manner, that they may be moved thereby to a knowledge and love of our Creator and Redeemer, let the Provincial hold it as his duty, to provide with all zeal, that the results, which the grace of our vocation demands, abundantly answer to our manifold labors in education.
2. Long before let him [the Provincial] consider whom he can take as professors in each department, and take heed to those who seem to be best fitted for the place, who are learned, diligent, and assiduous, and are zealous for the progress of their students in their lectures as well as in their other literary exercises.
3. Let him promote with great care the study of the Holy Scriptures; in which he will succeed, if he selects for this office men who are not only proficient in the languages (for that is especially necessary), but also well versed in theology and the other sciences, in history and in general learning, and also, as far as possible, in eloquence.
4. But he must especially remember that only men who are well disposed to St. Thomas are to be promoted to theological chairs. Whoever is indifferent to him or is not studious of him shall be removed from the office of teaching
5. The professors of philosophy, except when the gravest necessity calls for an exception, must not simply complete the course in theology, but also repeat it for two years, in order that their teaching may be the safer and more serviceable to theology. Should any, however, be inclined to innoyating opinions or exhibit too liberal a spirit, they must undoubtedly be removed from the office of teaching.
6. When students have entered upon the philosophical course, they must undergo a rigid examination at the end of the year given by the appointed examiners in the presence of the rector, and if possible, of the Provincial himself. No one may pass from the first to the second year of philosophy, unless he has reached mediocrity, that is, so that he understands well what he hears and can give an account of it. But no one shall be admitted to scholastic theology wlio has not risen above mediocrity in the philosophical course, so that he can defend and maintain philosophical theses with applause; except in the case that such mediocre displays a distinguished talent for administration or preaching, on which account the Provincial may dispose of his case otherwise, though in other things he has no power to grant dispensations.
7. These examinations, in which it is decided whether
the students of philosophy or theology shall pass to the following years, shall take place by secret ballot; and the decision arrived at, together with the judgment of the examiners, shall be entered in a book designed for that purpose; and all who were present at the examination shall maintain silence about it.
8. Schools for lower studies must not exceed five in number, namely, one for rhetoric, the second for humanity, and three for grammar. For these are five grades so intimately connected that they must not be confused or increased in number.
9. Furthermore, care must be exercised that where there are too few schools, always the higher classes, so far as possible, must be retained, and the lower classes given up.
10. In order to preserve a knowledge of classical literature and to establish a sort of nursery for gymnasium teachers, let him [the Provincial] endeavor to have in his province at least two or three men distinguished in these services and in eloquence. To this end, from the number of those who are capable and inclined to these studies, he shall set apart for that work alone a few who are sufficiently instructed in the other departments, in order that through their efforts and activity a body of good teachers may be maintained and provided for the future.
II. Let him procure as many life-long teachers of grammar and rhetoric as possible. This he will be able to do, if at the close of their ethical or even theological studies he earnestly directs and exhorts to the teacher's vocation some, from whose help he can expect in the Lord greater results in this office than in any other, that they may wholly dedicate themselves to so salutary a work for the greater service of God.
12. With all diligence let him watch and esteem it a matter of the highest importance that all books of the poets