The Jesuits, Humanism, and History
In memoriam Gerald M. Quinn
MY TITLE IS BROADLY DESCRIPTIVE of the three topics I intend to discuss. The terms need clarification, and this and the thoughts that spring therefrom will be the burden of practically all I have to say. A subtitle I had originally appended, "Quincentennial Reflections," indicates the occasion and character of my remarks. We celebrated in 1991 the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Ignatius Loyola. It was indeed a time to reflect on his legacy or on a significant aspect of it, on its historical actuality as well as on its relevance and meaning today. I felt entitled to do so. I was a student of the Jesuits in my youth and college years. I taught in Jesuit schools nearly all my adult life. I have been an historian of Ignatius and his times. I am not a Jesuit, but I have certainly been influenced by them, and over the course of the years many of my friends have belonged to the Society Saint Ignatius founded. I am not a stranger to the subject at hand.
My three topics are interrelated. I am interested in knowing how the early Jesuits fit into the picture of Renaissance humanism and then more specifically what part, if any, history played in the Jesuit culture I shall discuss. Finally, I want to relate these matters of historic interest to our own scene today. But first, the triad. The notion of the Jesuits is unambiguous, but the concept of humanism and the meaning of history in this context have to be explained. Let me take up this triad in orderly sequence.