Life in Community
Life in Community
Abstract and Keywords
Assessments of Jesuit community life vary enormously, and so do the expectations brought to it. Bonding is powerful among men undergoing the rigors of training, and it slackens as men move on to communities that are sometimes little more than holding areas for busy professionals engaged in disparate activities in scattered venues. The community of memory—of youthful solidarity, irretrievable energy, and promising vistas—exerts a powerful appeal as men get older. Religious life establishes a context for the development of powerful bonds. Community as an exercise in civility is the backup option in Jesuit life. What it lacks in vibrancy it makes up for in pragmatic acceptance and polite evasion of emotional entanglements, allowing men to get on with their work. Community can be both a support and a burden.
The Lone Ranger mentality is still all too prevalent among Ours. So for me the most difficult aspect of working within the Society is that I can sometimes feel like we're all working alone—together.
Clearly today's Jesuits have and are supported in having more outside relationships and engaging friendships, with women as well as men. There are few today whose life is identical to and exhausted by the life “in the house.”
Just as happens with the spiritual experience of Jesuits and former Jesuits, it is easier to depict a shared beginning—the citadel-like, us-versus-them, subcultural redoubt of 1940s and 1950s Catholicism—than it is to chart the variations in communal arrangements that have taken shape since that time.1 The men have fanned out in different directions.
Assessments of Jesuit community life vary enormously, and so do the expectations brought to it. In one instance, however, accounting for positive and negative evaluations of religious community is easy. Both Jesuits and former Jesuits regularly give higher marks to the experience of living together during their years of formation than to their life together in ministry.2 Bonding is powerful among men undergoing the rigors of training, and it slackens as men move on to communities that are sometimes little more than holding areas for busy professionals engaged in disparate activities in scattered venues. “In the novitiate, community life was intense and intentional,” a thirty-eight-year-old Jesuit mathematician in university teaching observes:
After formation it is more chaotic and less organized. My best current description is that it is a fabric that allows and encourages friendship and fidelity to a mission. I don't know if it can be expected to be more. We are all busy people, and we expect community to be a base from which we go out to do our work. It is not to be our preoccupation.
(p.161) Religious training is a collective enterprise—a heady mix of introspection, ritual, and sharing.3 Later, as many Jesuits go their separate ways, the collective cadence grows fainter. The community of memory—of youthful solidarity, irretrievable energy, and promising vistas—exerts a powerful appeal as men get older. They long for a world that preceded the diaspora of adulthood.4
Another pattern is more complicated. Former Jesuits are likely to report that since leaving the Society they have rarely developed friendships of the intensity and depth they had while they were Jesuits. Yet men who remain Jesuits often claim that many of their closest friendships have been formed outside the Society.
One clue to solving the puzzle can be found in the differences between community and friendship. In religious life, communities are like the weather. However much they complain, Jesuits can do little about the communities, or at least about the composition of the communities, they are thrust into. Their main buffer consists of friendships, some of which may be formed on the inside, others outside the Society. In either case, friendships are chosen, not arranged.
Religious life establishes a context for the development of powerful bonds. At the same time, traditional religious communities are inherited constructions that require upkeep over the long haul, and they have a more institutional flavor than the one-on-one relationships that constitute friendship. On balance, religious communities tend to be more unwieldy and less satisfying than the extraordinary friendships they breed.
How, then, do Jesuits deal with the challenges of life in community that have emerged since Vatican II? In addition to making friends on the outside, they have challenged the “given” nature of religious community and have forged customized networks defined in terms of age, mission, or sexual orientation. These subgroups might not stay within the Society at all, however, were it not for two other variations on togetherness, one practical and the other ideal: the persistence of a neutral community, a common ground, that serves as a logistical backup to everyday ministry, and attachment to a vision of Jesuit brotherhood as a worldwide companionship. These are the key permutations of Jesuit communal life.
We are interested in perceptions about Jesuit communities that separate one generation from another rather than in shifts over the life cycle, such as those reflected in the perennial difference between evaluations of formation (p.162) and apostolic communities, that occur regardless of historical period. A pair of these historical, intergenerational transformations runs broad and deep. One is the movement toward looser, open communities. To take a concrete example: Laypeople, women as well as men, are much more frequently guests at lunch or dinner in Jesuit houses than would have been the case before Vatican II.5
The other change is a not altogether consistent combination of heightened expectations about the significance of the community ideal in Jesuit life and a realistic sophistication about what religious community can actually deliver in the way of intimacy and personal fulfillment. Quips to the effect that “he shows up for breakfast, doesn't he?” no longer suffice as guides to the common life among male religious. Jesuits are freer to admit their need for intimacy and are more alert to the body language of maladjustment in groups. But they are also less convinced that community as lived in a physical locale can be either useful or emotionally sustaining, and they are apt to look for life's satisfactions elsewhere.
The origins of the change from closed to porous communities lie in the abandonment, sanctioned by Vatican II, of the monastic solemnities that came to encumber the mobile, extroverted Jesuits of the order's creative days. Many of the old formalisms—the ringing of bells calling to prayer, the reciting of litanies in unison after the evening meal, the slow psalmic rhythm of burnished liturgies, the smell of melting candles, the “long black line” wending its solemn way through an ordered, mysterious world—have gone.
Reforms in community life have been especially visible in the training of Jesuits. The new approach, developed to form Jesuits in a less sheltered environment, not only gives them greater contact with the outside world but also is supposed to foster psychosexual maturity.6 Despite the prohibition against “particular friendships,” the traditional regimen did not often impede deep bonding among Jesuits. What it did block, and what has changed massively with the reform of Jesuit training, was access to the world outside, as this comment by a fifty-nine-year-old former Jesuit makes clear:
Community life in the ′50s and ′60s encouraged many close friendships, though very few of us had formed significant friendships outside the order. “Externs” were still received in parlors, and only rarely did a secular guest show up at dinner. “Visitors Days” were part of an annual calendar and were a disruption of normal routine.
(p.163) While men destined for the diocesan clergy have reverted to being trained in relatively cloistered seminaries, their contact with women severely restricted, the openness of Jesuit communities follows the spirit of Vatican II and the rules for contemporary religious orders.7 Still, remnants of the claustral mode linger, for example, in reservations expressed by some of the older fathers about possible laxness in dealing with women. “What did he think I was going to do?” said one middle-aged Jesuit miffed at the success of an elderly colleague, renowned for his prayer life and love for the Society, in having women barred from the dinner table. “What did he think I was going to do with her? Throw her down on the floor and have my way with her?”
Accounting for the growth of seemingly contradictory expectations surrounding Jesuit community— the heightened importance assigned to it, together with a certain realism about its capacity to satisfy longings for personal fulfillment—is more complicated. Religious communities are subject to competing pulls. One factor placing strains on religious communities is the importance accorded to the search for intimacy. Another is the professionalization and market-driven nature of the work that Jesuits do.
If religious communities are not very good at nurturing close personal relationships without requiring men to put up with boring and annoying peers, Jesuits are apt to search elsewhere rather than question the ideal of intimacy itself. The religious community is liable to become a looking glass reminding its members of unresolved longings.
In addition, the more that Jesuits—especially but not exclusively those in higher education—get caught up in national job markets, the stronger their professional loyalties may be than their ties to local institutions. Even those in secondary education and other, less high-powered fields are busier than ever because of the scarcity of Jesuits and the demands on the time of those who remain. A thirty-six-year-old Jesuit finishing his theological studies, about to go on the market, catches some of the effects of professional specialization on the solidarity associated with the vanishing traditional communities:
For me, the challenges of work within the Society usually have to do with community—or lack of it. Most of us are pretty good at our fields of specialization. The difficulty we too often have is genuinely collaborating with one another, planning things we want to do together as Jesuits. The Lone Ranger mentality is still all too prevalent among Ours.
(p.164) So for me, the most difficult aspect of working within the Society is that I can sometimes feel like we're all working alone—together.
All this affects how Jesuits define community: whether in local, brick-and-mortar terms or metaphorically, as the communitas ad dispersionem, the far-flung ideational union of men who are supposed to maketheir home anywhere. The latter construction—more like a reference group with which Jesuits identify, a “union of hearts and minds,” than a community as physical habitat—is usually thought to be closer to what Jesuits were originally about. But the ideal leaves open the question of the operative model for Jesuit communities here and now, in everyday life.8
“I entered in 1953.” The speaker is a Jesuit theologian in his sixties. He is talking about his days in the splendid, Spartan novitiate of the New England province:
Shadowbrook [in the Massachusetts countryside] was a world that continued the adolescence that I had been living already. People lived very close to each other in Shadowbrook, a big Carnegie mansion, and that meant that it was close for the sixty of us. We slept dormitory style, so we were only two or three feet from each other, and we had classroom space, which was your desk in a room with twenty other desks. There was cold water and individual sinks. It was a very regulated life. I was used to it actually, having six siblings, so the issue of privacy was not a problem. The regimented life made sense. It tended to organize your life for you rather than allow you or invite you to organize your life.
For men who entered the Jesuits before Vatican II, religious life was both an adventure and an extension of the “urban villages” they came from. Formation communities—the novitiates, the philosophates, and so on up the line, to the theologates—were large, and at least in the early years of training the setting was Arcadian and manorial. In a single province—Maryland, say, or California or New York—from thirty to forty young men (across the country, over 300), most of them fresh out of Jesuit prep schools, would enter toward the summer and early fall of each year, and they would be housed in the countryside with an equivalent number who had entered the year before.9 They were close in age (p.165) and background, but because there were so many of them, the groups were fairly diverse in talent and temperament.
The pulse of the traditional formation communities carried over from the celebratory density of Catholic neighborhoods; scarcely a beat was lost in the move from prep school to seminary. The semimonastic model of Jesuit formation enjoyed the support of the Catholic immigrant and early postimmigrant enclaves. The seminaries were peaceful islands in the riptide of tradition and social mobility.10 The recollections of a fifty-year-old accountant, who entered the Society at eighteen in 1964 and left five years later, swept up in the massive exodus of the time, focus on the enveloping subculture of his youth, and he cherishes his memories of that vanished community:
I recall growing up in a very Catholic world which included parochial grammar school almost completely staffed by nuns, being an altar boy, faithful Mass attendance, often daily, all boys' Catholic high school with a significant number of Christian Brothers, parents who sang in the choir as I also did eventually. Most of the neighborhood was also Catholic, and that culture was assumed. …
Certainly the best aspect of my years in the Society was community life. Perhaps it resulted from the compatibility, at a very basic level, of the types of people who chose to enter or a sense of a common goal, akin to teamwork. Perhaps it is the shared experience of formation. Perhaps it is the shared sense of values and ideals, but I have never since shared friendships like those I made in the Society.
The sense of excitement and of being part of a collective venture so vast and so certain of itself that it made space for individual differences also comes through in the reflections of Jesuits, especially older Jesuits, who stayed the course. These remarks by a sixty-seven-year-old theologian capture the communal exuberance of the old days, affirming that camaraderie reached its peak during formation and hinting that collegiality has worn thinner in his professional milieu, as the academic scene has segmented and factionalized:
I was basically happy all along. The workload was very heavy, and not everyone shared my ideas or values, but there were always kindred souls. My companions were very patient with me. I truly enjoyed celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, visiting the sick, counseling, teaching, writing. Being a Jesuit is fundamental to my identity.
I have had good friendships all through the Society, more so perhaps (p.166) in formation, men whose companionship I enjoyed, with whom I could talk about prayer and work, despite many restrictions in the early years of formation. Classes were very large throughout formation, which provided opportunities to find people with similar tastes. The teaching communities were also large. I have always felt enriched and challenged by diversity.
In regency we learned to rely on one another, building on strengths, compensating for weaknesses. This has remained true on the university level, making the theology department an apostolic team—until the last five years.
The old days were not halcyon. A major factor propelling men out of the Society was the clockwork rigidity of Jesuit life. Some of these tensions surface in the reminiscences of a fifty-four-year-old high school English teacher who left the Society after thirteen years in the early 1970s. He tells of his experience over a tumultuous decade, when conventions came to seem robotic, revealing cross-purposes in the traditional mores, while new standards struggled to emerge. “As I look back on it now,” he begins, setting the stage for the great transformation,
I feel I was poised on the border between the old, almost monastic tradition and the new (though certainly firmly rooted in the basic Ignatian tradition), more apostolic approach adapted to the people and culture of the twentieth century. I began my life in the Society when there was strength in numbers; by the time I left, the numbers were drastically reduced.
Monotony does not seem to have been the chief failing of pre-Vatican II religious community. The life conveyed a reassuring sense of stability and the quirks unavoidable with large numbers lightened the atmosphere. The high school teacher points instead to a couple of traits that were latent in the manorial communities and that were released with a vengeance as the 1960s spilled over into the 1970s. One was a jockeying for individual distinction among males, or simply the ambition to make a difference:
In my day, many of my contemporaries looked upon the spiritual formation of the novitiate and tertianship merely as something to be endured; the work itself was all important. On the whole, we were a very gifted lot, fairly intellectual and usually successful at whatever we attempted. Self-confidence was a given. A subtle form of competitiveness crept in, and there was an unwritten law that each of us was destined to put his (p.167) individual mark on the apostolate of the Society and the destiny of the church.
As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s and 1990s, job-focused Jesuits became more keenly attuned to the promptings of the market. For some, choosing professional advancement meant cutting back on commitment to community. Simultaneously, a desire for intimacy took hold as the traditional communities decayed and were dismissed as gloomy bachelor clubs. The scramble for jobs and affection pushed and pulled at the traditional boundaries of community:
In the course of my stay in the Jesuits, friendships were very important. In the earlier years, it seemed we were more reluctant to share our deepest thoughts and feelings, part of which was due to certain formational emphases; but in the course of my training, sensitivity groups of one sort or another came into vogue, and perhaps thanks to the charismatic movement and a new emphasis on the way of giving the Exercises, a greater depth of sharing deepened friendships a great deal. Unfortunately many of my closest friends left before I did, and contact afterward was somewhat limited. When I left, I felt community life in the Society was on the wane, and much more emphasis was placed on becoming a very strong individual and making it on your own with a very strong personal relationship with the Lord or on developing deep friendships, support groups of a sort, outside the Society.
Jesuits could see what was going on, complained about it, and struggled to correct it. The substance of what one Jesuit, a fifty-nine-year-old spiritual director, has to say about the ups and downs of community life is the same as the diagnosis made by many of his comrades, but he expresses his views with exceptional poignancy. Instead of concentrated pain, there is a diffuse fondness and melancholy. Jesuits have learned to put up with and support one another, and if this falls short of intimacy, civility is nonetheless an improvement over incessant feuding:
I have had wonderful communities, and awful ones, and have lived alone or with 150 people. Personally the loss of most of my best friends found me without close Jesuit friends, at least historical ones for many years, and not easily letting others in. … It hurt too much to say goodbye. I have had lots of very good but superficial relationships with those with whom I worked. A few have crashed through; a couple have stayed constant, though they (two) live in other provinces. I think Jesuits, in (p.168) general, really try to support, nurture, share with each other. We do it awkwardly, but honestly. … We try to share our faith, to pray together, to challenge and support each other. We are better at it than most men I know. Strangely I find people forty-five to sixty-five better at it than some younger men, perhaps because we know how much we need it. I have lots of friends outside the Society, few intimate ones; sadly, many more people who would call me their friend, than vice versa.
Community as an exercise in civility is the backup option in Jesuit life. What it lacks in vibrancy it makes up for in pragmatic acceptance and polite evasion of emotional entanglements. It allows men to get on with their work. “By and large, I find community life to be enjoyable and nourishing,” a thirty-two-year-old finishing his graduate degree observes:
In ten full years in the Society, I have had only one year where community life was unpleasant. My family was close as I grew up, and we remain so to this day (although I am the one who is most absent). I never looked to the Society to be a surrogate family. Some Jesuits do, and I think they never fail to be disappointed. I seek a community where I can pray with others, support others and be supported in what we are doing, have some fun together, as well as some serious conversation. By and large, I have found this in community. If you were to ask others, I think people would say I enjoy community life.
Then the reservations set in. The experience of community is far from bleak, but it is not exactly fulfilling either:
Having said all this, I also have to admit that there is a certain men's club atmosphere that can permeate our houses. In regency, I lived in a community where the school and sports were the two main topics of conversation and recreation. I fit well into this and enjoyed it. There was a lot of mutual liking and respect, we had liturgy together, we laughed together, but there was not a lot of personal sharing. We related to one another on a safe level, and given the age differences and differences in training and experience among Ours, that was not all bad. In our scholastic communities in theology, we do a better job of faith sharing and getting beyond box scores and politics. Yet there is a certain sophomoric atmosphere that we (at least I) can fall into, and we can be insensitive (p.169) in our remarks to and about others. We tend to fear and avoid those issues that we know can be divisive.
The neutral-to-lukewarm version of community rarely stands alone. More often it exists as a logistic convenience at the edges of which men go about devising solutions to their own needs in the form of subgroups. The community as minimalist encounter coexists with several network-like adaptations to the challenges of religious life.
These variants—there are four main ones—are not mutually exclusive. One option covers subcommunities shaped around work or the closely associated division between faith-and-justice versus humanistic approaches to ministry. Shared mission provides the social fixative. Another variation involves subcommunities built up around identities, principally those shaped by age differences or sexual orientation, that have little relation with the type of work that members perform. Their apostolic function tends to be less important than the sensibility and lifestyle their members share.
Communities formed around mission as well as communities based on identity usually have addresses and phone numbers, a tangible locale. By contrast, the borders of two other adaptations are diffuse. One is made up of networks of friends, typically non-Jesuits but also sometimes Jesuits, outside the place where men collect their mail and occasionally take their meals. Another is the imagined community of Jesuits worldwide, the ambulant fraternity that is a metaphor for the Ignatian ideal. “It is clear that there is a widespread shift taking place,” one Jesuit observes, touching on both understandings of community:
The quality of relationships is becoming the defining characteristic of good community, and the fact of living under the same roof with one's fellow religious—or not—is quite secondary. The old identification of community, with common life, that is, a regular horarium with daily presence at common exercises, is rarely invoked today.
My sense, gained from times of visiting a local Jesuit community or participating in province gatherings, is that the prayer of these [new] communities is much more intense, personal, and genuinely shared; less simply the recitation of formulae than might have been the case in the past. Our men seem also to be gentler with one another, more sensitive to each other. Clearly today's Jesuits have and are supported in having more outside relationships and engaging friendships, with women as well as men. There are few today whose life is identical to and exhausted by the life “in the house.”
(p.170) Floating clusters of friends are not only less grounded than traditional religious communities; they are also composed of acquaintances who are chosen by rather than thrust on Jesuits. They are consistent with the fluidity of individualism.
For its part, the metaphorical community evokes the cosmopolitanism and venturesomeness of the original “companions in the Lord” who traveled far and wide. In theory, this peripatetic communion circumvents the problem of the decline in solidarity as Jesuits move from training to work. Properly formed Jesuits, so the idea goes, carry the image and ideals of the Society of Jesus with them wherever they venture.
The neutral community grew out of the ferocious confrontations of the 1960s and 1970s. The truce it embodies also preserves continuity with the bachelor habits many Jesuits feel comfortable with. Some older Jesuits are so accustomed to clubby banter and the rituals—the preprandial drinks, the respect for privacy—that there is no question of disliking the arrangement. They would no more pry into the lives of their peers than they would violate the norm of male reluctance to ask for directions when they get lost. Middle-distance pleasantries and masculine joshing are part of the fiber of their lives. Many practice unobserved kindnesses, and some will drop everything to pick a colleague up from the airport, flying from one emergency, large or small, to another. But they rarely talk about this side of their world.11
Not all these men are lonely geezers, curmudgeons, or tipplers. Some have found the life that suits them, one in which optimism, exercise, a blaze of mysticism, and contentment in work overcome flaws in their sociability and misgivings—after all, they are Jesuits and therefore selfcritical—about what they might be missing. Beneath the affability and the problem-solving temper and the ingrained restraint against talking about their feelings, there is passion and bluntness. Here is a plainspoken sixty-seven-year-old college professor and part-time preacher, fifty years in the Society, coolly reviewing his life:
I have always liked the communities I have been in and have always made a special effort to keep community life rich and attractive. Yet I would have to say that I have not made many deep personal friendships. I seem to spend too much time thinking and working. My relationships with other Jesuits tend to be happy but not profound. For instance, I seldom invite a fellow Jesuit to go out to dinner with me although I note that other Jesuits do this. Maybe I should try it. At the same time, I have no tendency to avoid community meals.
(p.171) Then, as if out of nowhere, fast-forwarding from storms to a radiant sky, comes the terse, traditional affirmation of the joys of the consecrated life. “I really believe,” he says, “with moments of anguish, that there is a God, that God is wonderful, that to know and serve Him is splendid.” The pivot of religious life, for this Jesuit, is a flickering premonition of the divine, the oceanic feeling that passes and returns.12 Temperament, talent, and circumstance count; so does work and so does community, more or less. But all these are matters of degree, and none inspires awe.13
Other Jesuits accept the neutral community as a realistic compromise, but their acceptance is touched with sadness and buffered by a very pragmatic coping mechanism: the cultivation of friends outside the Society. The following story, related by a fifty-one-year-old Jesuit charged with fund-raising for his province, reinforces the idea that the neutral community is not tenable on its own. His initial observations about “decent human affective exchange” accord with numerous descriptions of the equable, supportive but reserved climate of religious groups:
The quality of community life is changing dramatically because the Society is changing. We are mostly old men now and with diminished numbers, tend to live in groups of a dozen or so. I find that the rituals we follow ground us in a routine which is intended to attend to the quality and decent affective human exchange. Early on I experienced much more quality in terms of community, but then I was not apostolically focused as ultimately we are all expected to be.
He next recalls a turning point, an encounter toward the end of his formation, that convinced him to seek out more warmth and close contact than he knew he would be able to find in traditional Jesuit communities:
I remember one community meeting as a theologian when a Jesuit from another country finally spoke up regarding the intense introspective nature of those formative years.14 He spoke about who would miss him were he to die and who would really mourn his passing. No one in the room that day would likely be there and so his investment in us would remain, accordingly, cordial and friendly, but certainly not the intense relationship expected by the group. I have always remembered that meeting, and to some extent I think he is correct. So, I have maintained a strong relationship to those outside of the Society, especially a couple of women friends, with whom, and like Bobby McGee, I share the secrets of my soul.
Since Jesuits have come to do so many different things, since their work has become more specialized, and since so many Jesuits have settled into retirement, only a handful of large communities built around an encompassing corporate mission—secondary education, for example—remain.15 There are a few sizable, apostolically heterogeneous communities assembled partly out of budgetary considerations. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the expense of maintaining them, growth in the number of small communities has subsided.
Nevertheless, de facto subcommunities or satellite communities of the like-minded are the norm. Task-specific clusters proliferated in the wake of the 1960s. A forty-one-year-old Jesuit, still in graduate school, speaks glowingly of his intermittent experience with a community dedicated to helping city kids prepare for high school:
This kind of inner-city apostolic approach is a very hopeful model, smaller groups of guys who have high levels of responsibility within their particular area of activity, and who perhaps live together in a house and have dialogue about their projects at that level. … My own experience in a Jesuit community, some of the most intimate times, have been those occasions on which I was working with another Jesuit, in care of someone in one of our apostolates, like a kid who was in trouble, or something like that. There's an incredible sense of bonding I've experienced at times, when all of a sudden there is a concern about someone in need, and it's shared by more than one Jesuit, and more than one Jesuit is working to try and help this person through a difficult experience. That's a great feeling of camaraderie.
The Jesuit sets the intensity of his life in small, job-focused groups against the ho-hum atmosphere that he fears enshrouds the larger communities. His agenda, however, is not simply a matter of searching for intimacy among those who think like him or who do the same work. He is on the lookout for intensity by way of diversity, something that restricting himself to any single minicommunity cannot supply. Like many of his peers, he gets around the limitations on close relationships within the Society by making friends on the outside:
The majority of my social and personal life is outside the Society, which I'm sure would raise questions for folks inside, but my experience has been that in lots of ways Jesuits are just terrible at intimacy. … We're not very capable of real intimate interaction.
(p.173) This said, the Jesuit cuts against the grain by extolling the bonds forged with those who are different, by reason of age or because of their marginality. A hint of dilettantism hovers over his cosmopolitanism.
“We're men, in a masculine world, and we're insecure,” he observes, launching into a criticism of generational cliques and the individualism they express. He contrasts the jockeying for advantage that ambition and competitive anxiety foster among the younger men, for all their sensitivity to the silent language of community, with the tranquility of older Jesuits who are out of the race:
And ego is the big thing. We're worried about all this posturing sometimes. It really kind of gets in the way of any kind of exchange or any vulnerability that would allow us the freedom to care for one another at any kind of intimate level.
I've had successful experiences, of gratifying friendship and intimacy with older Jesuits, because they're not being driven by issues of career and production and status in the Society. They're not interested in becoming a rector. They're not interested in doing the right thing to be noticed or not noticed. They've published whatever they're going to publish, and now all they want to do is live in the Jesuit life before they die. Those guys are fabulous. But in my own age cohort, I've found it difficult at times. I do have some Jesuit friends. I couldn't stay in the Society otherwise.
The graduate student concludes with a panegyric to “casual interaction” with people who are not one's own as a way to overcome the limits of religious community. His serendipitous journeying is an alternative lifestyle, providing glimpses of meaning amid the useful interventions, rather than reconstituted community itself. The ideal is not in fact community or commitment but the energizing promiscuity of chance connections and fugitive epiphanies that the bustle of the city and its drama permit:
I think there's something about the structure [of the Society] which can be detrimental. There's a kind of something to the casual interaction with children and women and older people that you don't get on a day-today basis in a Jesuit community, like you might get if you were a family person. But a lot of people don't have that. I think it's an issue of taking responsibility for getting it. It's like the kind of opening experience of being with the poor, someone who's suffering. Any kind of contact with human suffering has a profound influence on people, changes their values, makes us look at the world in a different point of view.
(p.174) And I think the same could be said in maintaining regular contact with women, with children, people outside of our age cohort.
A younger (thirty-three-year-old) Jesuit, finishing his theological studies, offers a different but equally intricate assessment of community. He too laments the gulf between younger and older Jesuits. Subcommunities tend to choose up on different sides of the generational gap. Yet he finds delight in the bonds forged among Jesuits, and he joins with former Jesuits in confirming the claim that his most abiding friendships have been those that originated within the Society:
In many communities, the lack of peer support for the younger men is a serious problem. I've heard many a Jesuit complain about the lack of peer support. Many of the older men have had a formation radically different from the formation the younger men have. This has caused a lack of understanding in communities among the different generations. This situation has and does cause problems in communities.
As for friendships, I can honestly say that I have wonderful Jesuit friends. I can't imagine finding friends like these outside the Society. I am far closer to Jesuits than I am to my friends outside the Society. This is true because I spend more time with my Jesuit friends. We share a common life and many experiences. It would be hard to leave the group of friends I have in the Society of Jesus.
The story also emphasizes the distinction between quasi-familial community and friends. The former is an institutional arrangement. The latter is a relatively amorphous network of men who may or may not be in the same place. Such ties are likely to be intense but occasional. The off-again, on-again quality of dispersed friendships lends them some of the unexpected magic that the Jesuit quoted earlier hunted for in casual encounters at work. Communities bear the onus of long-term commitment without the selective advantages of friendship. The cultivation of enduring friendship engenders a feeling of personal, willed success that the security of insertion in community cannot provide.
Friendship is not enough, however. The intimacy of love remains out of reach:
Loneliness has frequently been an issue in my formation. In an extreme way this was true when I was [overseas], but it is also true on a daily experience. I have been blessed with many good friends, but there is no one person who loves me and whom I love. I feel this most when I am with my siblings or with married college friends.
(p.175) In the end, this young Jesuit believes that there is no optimal solution to the flaws and limitations of community life. Religious life is a path, often tortuous, to be followed, and companionship is not redemption after all. In the words of another Jesuit, he is on his way to “ultimacy,” not intimacy: communion with the divine rather than union with another human being.16
Community can be both a support and a burden; nothing new here. It is when the discussion of community spills over into a consideration of the reasons for staying the course that the assessment of benefits and drawbacks generates consequences. Talk spans the pragmatic (the good that Jesuits do is “more significant than the difficulties they experience”), a mystical understanding of intimacy (“being a companion of Jesus”), and commitment to an ever-expanding cause (“the greater glory of God”):
The men who leave no longer believe in the magis. There is a desire among those who leave the Society to strive for the “glory of God,” but not the “greater glory of God.” As I see it the call to do “more” seems to be more difficult today than it was years ago. With that in mind, the primary reason men leave the Society has to do with celibacy and intimacy.
Why do men stay? For myself, the main reason why I stay is that I still feel called to be a companion of Jesus. I still think the Ignatian vision is not only valid but a truly efficacious way of being a companion of Jesus. I should not discount the fact that most of my Jesuit friends believe this too, so I feel accompanied by good friends in religious life. Without that I can honestly say that it would be tougher to stay.
Most stay because they feel called to the mission of the Society and they feel supported in what they do. They see the good of what they do as more significant than the difficulties they experience. They feel the Society has a relevant vision in the world, and they are excited by that vision. They feel the magis makes sense in their own life and it makes sense for the church today.
This is a spirituality of heroes, sustained by the bonhomie of heroes. Commitment to a cause, with a countercultural tinge, surpasses the costs of religious vows, including restrictions on intimacy. Community is expressed more through the grandeur of common purpose and a shared, sonorous language than in the daily routine of living together. Zeal of this intensity is not infrequent among small cohorts of younger, conservative Jesuits.
(p.176) Although they are less transcendent sounding, the following remarks by a slightly older (thirty-seven-year-old) high school administrator still resonate of gravitas. He captures what has by now become a standard maneuver to find both spiritual sustenance and friendship beyond the community at hand:
One of the most important things in my life is the faith-sharing group of Jesuits from around my time with whom I get together once a month. We call ourselves a “nongeographical community,” and the support from that group keeps me going for the rest of the month.
But community life, as usually understood, is in crisis. There is very little shared prayer or affective unity of any significance. All that is done in common is drinks and dinner—sometimes.
I have many close Jesuit friends, although I do not live in community with any of them. But that is typical for a Jesuit of my age. I also have very good friends who are former Jesuits. I value the time spent with them because they know what I am talking about so that I can be honest with them about my frustrations. They will hear me out and often finish with, “———, I don't how you do it,” “it” being stay in the Society. And for some reason that does me good.
I have other friends outside the Society whose friendships I value deeply.
“Happiness,” the comedian George Burns used to point out, “is having a warm, caring family—in a city nearby.” The arrangement just summarized follows the Burns model and is common among Jesuits. It sidesteps the heavy remnants of monastic enclosure. It takes advantage of the shrinking of distances that telecommunications has made possible. It promises the rewards of occasional contact with friends without having to live with them around the clock. It is a fluid, voluntary association rather than the close-knit stoic community of the religious ship at sea.
Aside from age, sexual orientation is the major demarcator setting subcommunities in the Society of Jesus apart on the basis of social identity rather than ministerial function or ideological agenda. The gay ethos offers a sense of belonging to men in transition from outcast status. The countercultural sensibility creates an atmosphere of kindred spirits, and of receptivity to feelings and the urge for intimacy, that raises the comfort (p.177) level of homosexual men. And the appeal of homosexuality seems to be greater among younger than older Jesuits. This is the challenge of “the gaying and the graying” of the Society.
The order is unwilling to accept the gay subculture as even a partial basis for community. Individually, homosexual Jesuits do not appear on the radar screen of religious superiors except perhaps as candidates for therapy. As a collective phenomenon, however, the gay network represents another cleavage that threatens to divide or distract the Society.
“One big concern I have about contemporary community life is about gay men in the Society,” a fifty-one-year-old Jesuit in pastoral ministry argues:
There are a host of problems connected with this issue, not the least of which is a subtle division between gay and straight, networking that can undermine authority for missioning the men, and problems of credibility for mission that could erode the confidence of the people of God in the Society.
Several concerns are evident or just below the surface here: worry about sexual transgression, damage to corporate image, and the dissociation of this community of identity from a sense of apostolic direction. Sexual orientation is more a component of who Jesuits are than what Jesuits do. Trouble begins when the sexual orientation of individuals turns into a pivot of collective identity and of cultural allegiance that runs up against obligations to the corporate hierarchy and the larger community. Imprecise as the demographic proportions of the gay subculture may be, the ethos is conspicuous enough to affect lifestyles and values.17 The fear is that cultural metamorphosis is a precursor to more tangible repercussions. A senior theologian echoes these preoccupations:
My last year as rector, I went to every house and ran a company discussion; I asked what it was like to live with gays and straights in a community. … There's the whole issue of people's availability for assignment, whether or not you form a society within the Society, which I've seen happen right here in the houses, where a subculture develops. If you make it too much your identifying handle, it's problematic being in the Society.
The increasing legitimacy of a once-deviant sexual orientation coexists with the traditional belief that it remains aberrant (“intrinsically disordered”). Reluctant tolerance perpetuates the shadowy aura and (p.178) demimonde status that solidifies the gay community as a counterculture but that prevents it from being institutionalized.18 Because they cannot think of much to do about it, superiors give the impression of failing to acknowledge the phenomenon. Is it a trend? Is it a social movement? The transition from scattered, closeted individuals to a visible but not quite recognized collectivity lends the gay subculture the peculiar air of a beleaguered minority that does not risk extinction but that cannot quite move forward.
Most homosexual Jesuits have little incentive to push beyond their tacit niches. As long as they are not punished for their sexual orientation, many see nothing to gain by concerted action. Gays make up an elusive community of fellow-feeling that thrives on the refinement of marginality rather than mainstreaming. The consequences of what, in the eyes of some Jesuits, is a vaguely ominous or alien ethos, a kind of surreptitious hedonism, are hard to pin down. The fate of homosexuals in the Society of Jesus has been equivocal adaptation.19
So, the gay subculture hovers in the crannies of Jesuit life, as one among several emblems of community—those defined by age, for example, or ideological position. It has a distinctive edge in one respect, however. Many homosexual Jesuits stress the quality of community life itself, of sensitivity to ambience and the minutiae and nuance of daily interaction, and wind up provoking carping about “the flowers on the table crowd.”20
Once in a while, a gay Jesuit—this man is a thirty-five-year-old finishing his theological studies—challenges the assumption of a zero-sum trade-off between lifestyle and ministry:
Despite some of the hothouse craziness that reigned in the theologate … my community life was the most satisfying that I have ever experienced. We weren't necessarily “pals,” but we were clearly a community of people trying to live responsibly with one another. We prayed together, we shared our faith, we fought and argued and debated, we laughed through good times, we supported one another in difficult times. We were accountable to one another. We were hospitable—the mark, I think, of a group of people working at becoming a community.
After attempting to clear the air of the usual suspicions about predominantly gay communities as a cover for illicit sex, the Jesuit elaborates on the distinction not only between community and intimacy but also between community and friendship. The need, he argues, is to recognize (p.179) that ministerial obligations and investment in community can enrich and reinforce one another:
It strikes me that the distinguishing feature of religious life is the commitment to community. And I do not think we have yet understood how to begin revitalizing communities. Some measure of common work, some measure of shared prayer and community conversation, some measure of recreation, some measure of companionship … these things seem essential to me, yet there persists an ideology that preaches that any attention given to community life means attention taken away from the apostolate. Bullshit! This view labors under the faulty assumption that Jesuits possess X amount of energy that needs to be split among competing obligations. Closer to the truth, I think, is the notion that energy flows freely between community and apostolate, and both must be duly attended to. And this is about community, not about intimacy. I, and many Jesuits, have many intimate friends within and without the Society. Complaints that attention to community would seek to make the major apostolate of any local house a quest for intimacy are simply untrue.
This is about as far as discussions of trade-offs between community and ministry go. The pitfalls of the pursuit of intimacy as the basis of community are recognized. The search for a corrective turns outward, toward apostolic work. The hopefulness of the message depends on agreement about mission (“a measure of common work”). But in the job market that Jesuits are caught up in, such consensus is difficult to come by.
When it comes to the experience of community in the Society of Jesus, there are important exceptions to the tidiest of regularities. But even the exceptions—in this case, a sixty-year-old attorney, his life as a Jesuit nearly thirty years behind him, who looks back on the Society with analytical sangfroid rather than ostensible nostalgia—may prove the rule. Muted regret overtakes mere indifference. The cadence becomes elegiac:
The quality of community life in the Society was wonderfully supportive for me. I never lived in a small community. I never had the formation of friendships as part of my agenda. It is not surprising, I suppose, that I have had rather little contact with my Jesuit friends from the time I left the order.
(p.180) In retrospect, we may have been well served by some assistance that would help us recognize and express our feelings. I realize I am saying this as a rational statement. I do not feel any significant loss or sense of waste. I know it is true that I was together with men for seventeen years and hardly knew them. But I cannot tell you that I feel any strong sadness about that.
Almost any change from the nearly uniform strongholds of times past was bound to produce experimentation rather than a unique solution. If there is a common thread to these experiments, it is their rejection of the one-size-fits-all template of community life.
Whatever the diversity of outcomes, we know that at least two dynamics have undermined the insularity of Jesuit life: upheavals in the clerical job market, destabilizing the model of corporate ministry anchored in phalanxes of Jesuits, and the priority given to intimacy. A third change, the aging profile of the order, has also altered the texture of community life. One fifty-year-old Jesuit theologian, residing in a large community, underscores the last problem:
Community life is tough, sometimes, and I wish we were further along in our understandings of how to live in a healthier way. Except for two years, I have lived my life in the Society in institutional houses, and it sure would be nice to live in a home! The aging process of our “older fathers” is taking too great a toll on folks my age; the community conversation is defined by the past because there are just not enough younger folks to balance it out. I feel for our few scholastics who are living with their grandfathers (and maybe even a grandmother or two).
The likelihood that a younger Jesuit will spend his career at the same place has dropped. A seventy-one-year-old Jesuit, retired from university teaching, provides graphic insight into the sea-change:
I think it's a valid observation that there is more confusion about the work, the ministry, among the younger generation. The work and the possibilities for my generation were clearly defined. We can look back and say that they were too narrow. I can see today where younger Jesuits have so many possibilities.
I remember a very young, astute Boston College student, a scholar, reminding me one day that he lived in a different world where he had about sixty choices, where I only had two, and that was true. There is so much choice compared to what it was thirty or forty years ago. Life (p.181) was more determined. Sometimes you look back and wonder about these movies, for instance. How could a British butler be so happy for years? His whole life is planned out for him, and if he took to it, he could be happy in it. I took to it, and I'm happy in it, I'm not an exploratory type. Some people are. Some people of my generation who were exploratory people probably didn't stay.
The decimation of the bridging generation of Jesuits—those men in their late forties and fifties during the 1990s among whom departures were very high and who left a gulf between the youngest and oldest cohorts—had made the ministerial payoff of investing in community problematic. Many Jesuits are retired or in infirmaries, handfuls are in training, and those in between are spread thin. The professionalization of work has made Jesuits more mobile and has arguably brought them closer to the foundational thrust of the Society. But the aging of the Society, temporary as it may be, pulls in the opposite direction, and the spirit of intimacy goes where it will, sometimes putting pressure on community, sometimes ignoring it.
If the not-so-bad community were a case of a political transition—away from dictatorship, for example, to some less nasty system—it would be deemed a success. It occupies a middle zone between the dictates of ambition and intimacy. The loose tethering of Jesuits to this commons constitutes a physical reminder of belonging. But it is not a place in which the men put much time or energy. This dissection by a thirty-one-year-old student of theology is representative:
I heard a Jesuit provincial say once that each Jesuit leads three lives: a public life, a semiprivate life, and a private life. The public life is that arena wherein he does his main work, the semiprivate life is the Jesuit community, and the private life is his friends. On the whole I live these three different lives. Community life is not bad, but it certainly will never fill my needs. I've long accepted that. I am fortunate to have about five or six wonderful friends (the majority of whom are Jesuits) who are my life blood. Without them I could not stay in this life. It is always a great blessing to live with one of these, but it is not necessary, so long as one goes out of his way to keep in contact (phone, e-mail, visits, vacations). I have a very good social life with people outside the Society, one or two of whom are extremely close friends. My concern with community life is that, if our private lives allow us to live fully, we can tend not to invest as much in our “semiprivate” lives. Sometimes I think this is reflected in a poverty of significant conversation in Jesuit communities.
(p.182) Besides the safety valve of friendships on the outside, subcommunities, shaped mostly around ideology or more or less specific missions or around age cohorts or psychosexual identity, are the main adaptations built up at the edges of the not-so-bad community. These are truly adaptations rather than definite alternatives or frontal challenges to the status quo. They are provisional coalitions no one of which dominates the others.
With the proviso that the parts can operate in combination, this mélange of arrangements forms a rough pattern. Friendships are designed to satisfy the need for intimacy or some approximation of it. The ideological or task-centered subcommunities tend to be apostolically anchored. The subcommunities of identity provide a sense of belonging. And the raison d'être of the not-so-bad community is primarily that of practical support, with vestiges of ceremonial continuity.
At their best, such measures reach for a balance between the monastic overgrowth of preconciliar times and the utter disintegration of boundaries. Ironically, it is “particular friendships,” once so vehemently discouraged, especially with non-Jesuits, that seem to have prevented Jesuit communities from turning in on themselves and imploding altogether.21 The fifty-three-year-old spiritual director quoted earlier summarizes the lesson:
I believe a Jesuit gets the community he deserves. It takes real effort to love all the different characters that may be given in a particular community. … Friendships inside and outside the Society are crucial for a Jesuit living a balanced, sane, and productive life.
A sixty-four-year-old Jesuit who has been in parish work for most of his life makes the same point more colorfully:
As anywhere else, friendships in the Society are much a matter of luck and chemistry, and there are a lot of ups and downs. I wish I could make new friends with younger Jesuits, but that's a rarity. Our relationships are inevitably male. They are not helped by the fact that our workplace and living place is mostly the same. I think a lifetime in an all-male community is a prescription for stultification or workaholism. Maybe that's the way it has to go, but I would advise Jesuits to break up the routine of their living settings, or they'll go under. Still, people are kind and sincere. I admire the gays who have struggled with integrity but I get annoyed with those gays who seem stuck on one note—anger. With some few exceptions and for all the camaraderie, I miss that different (p.183) kind of give-and-take that you get with women. I have a lot of women friends without whom I wouldn't have made it.
These adaptations—licit, illicit, and various shadings in between—prop up rather than replenish religious life. One indicator of the limits of such coping is the correlation between age and satisfaction with religious community. Older Jesuits tend to be somewhat happier with postformation communities, younger Jesuits more restless and less satisfied.22 Numerous small-and midrange reforms have not reversed the slide in the attraction of religious life among upcoming generations, for whom the costs of commitment are increasingly salient.
If there is an inkling of an alternative vision, the imagined community of the Society of Jesus as an itinerant, transnational brotherhood—an inspired cosmopolitanism on the move—qualifies. The progressively international makeup of the order lends substance to this vision. But the ideal of nation-spanning harmonies—the amalgam of purpose and belonging, together with adventurous mobility—is such that it makes almost any on-the-ground setup look deficient by comparison.23
One Jesuit, a sixty-eight-year-old academic living in a house with eight other men, six of them in formation, has positive words for the changes that have worked their way through community life:
Part of it is the kind of training that the younger people have had and the kind of transformation that the older people have gone through in terms of what they need and want from a community and what a community should do. The old training was a training in very privatized life with external formalities. Community was formed through litanies, through meals together, and so forth. What we'been struggling for is a deeper bond, and through a miracle, sometimes that is achieved. Some of the communities in my own province have moved very well in that direction.
The logic of group transformation on a small scale, however, does not reproduce itself readily beyond the local. The kinder, gentler communities are therapeutic productions that have enhanced interpersonal sensitivity.24 But, as in love, gentleness is not enough, no substitute for the rip of passion:
I don't think the Society has ever had a very sterling record as far as community is concerned. Many people of my generation, as well as the younger men, are looking for something else and have been able to find (p.184) some measure of it. I think one problem of the Society and institutional life is that it runs on ideals; therefore, there's so much room for disappointment and disillusionment because you're actually dealing with human beings in this situation.
If Jesuit communities fail as often as they succeed, two things should be kept in mind in evaluating them.25 First, we have no matched comparison between religious communities and alternative networks set up by former Jesuits. Jesuits have moved toward a variety of provisional solutions to community living, and former Jesuits typically pass not from one community to another but from the rejection of religious community to the pursuit of intimacy. We have no systematic evidence about the affective happiness of former Jesuits, about their talent for making friends, or about their success in reconstituting forms of community and social solidarity.26 It is easier to show what does not work than to envision a model that does.
Second, as the scholar observed, the Society “runs on ideals.” Brotherhood—“companionship in the Lord”—is one of them. Clinging to this ideal perpetuates expectations that are bound to be tested severely. The lurch toward intimacy that characterized the 1960s and the 1970s demonstrated to some Jesuits that chasing after individual bliss often sapped collective spirit. Intimacy turned out to be only one dimension of community. Another—a sense of corporate mission and organizational activity—looks toward the wider world. It is to this realm of Jesuit life that we turn in the following chapters.
(1.) See Anne Klejment, “Rediscovering the Immigrant Catholic Experience,” Journal of American Catholic History 8 (1988): 56–62.
(2.) The men were presented with ten-point scales, with 1 representing “negative” and 10 representing “positive,” and asked, “On average, how would you characterize your experience with Jesuit community during your time in formation? And how would you characterize, on average, your experience with Jesuit community after formation?” The average response to the first question was 8.0 and to the second 7.3—a small but significant difference. It is of some interest to break the responses down between Jesuits and former Jesuits. Among Jesuits, the “before” and “after” averages are 8.1 and 7.9, respectively. Among former Jesuits, the corresponding scores are 7.9 and 6.6.
(3.) Compare Jackson W. Carroll et al., Being There: Culture and Formation in Two Theological Schools (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
(4.) Compare Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
(5.) See Gregory I. Carlson, S.J., “‘A Faith Lived Out of Doors’: Ongoing Formation of Jesuits Today,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 16 (September 1984).
(6.) See William A. Barry, S.J., “Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 20 (November 1988), and John W. Padberg, S.J., “How We Live Where We Live,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 20 (March 1988).
(7.) The exception for religious orders from the segregated regimen prescribed for the training of diocesan priests is recognized in the revised Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983.
(8.) Compare Clement J. Petrik, S.J., “Being Sent: A Personal Reflection on Jesuit Governance in Changing Times,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 30 (September 1998).
(9.) The customary dates were July 30, August 14, and September 7.
(10.) See the memoir by F. E. Peters, Ours: The Making and Unmaking of a Jesuit (New York: Penguin, 1982). Compare Robert E. Burns, Being Catholic, Being American: The Notre Dame Story, 1842–1934 (Notre Dame, Ind.: (p.349) university of Notre Dame Press, 1999); David Noel Doyle, “The Irish as Urban Pioneers in the United States, 1850–1870,” Journal of American Ethnic History 10 (1990–91), 36–59; Stephen P. Erie, Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840–1985 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988); and James M. O'Toole, Militant and Triumphant: William Henry O'Connell and the Catholic Church in Boston, 1859–1944 (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992).
(11.) See Edward W. Schmidt, S.J., “Portraits and Landscapes: Scenes from Our Common Life,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 27 (March 1995), and Gerald L. Stockhausen, S.J., “I'd Love To, But I Don't Have the Time: Jesuits and Leisure,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 27 (May 1995).
(12.) See Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1923).
(13.) Compare Elizabeth McDonough, O.P., “Come Follow Me: Reflections on Some Current Theories of Religious Life,” Review for Religious 54 (1995): –79, and Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M., New Wineskins: Re-Imagining Religious Life Today (New York: Paulist Press, 1986).
(14.) The reference is to the later years of the Jesuit's training, when he was a student of theology, not a professional theologian.
(15.) The communities at Georgetown and Santa Clara Universities come close.
(16.) See Michael Buckley, S.J., The Catholic University as Promise and Project (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1998), 17 ff.
(17.) See Edward J. Ingebretsen, S.J., “‘One of the Guys or One of the Gals?’ Gender Confusion and the Problem of Authority in the Roman Clergy,” Theology and Sexuality 10 (1999): 71–87.
(18.) See James K. Wellman, Jr., “The Debate over Homosexual Ordination: Subcultural Identity Theory in American Religious Organizations,” Review of Religious Research 41 (1999): 184 –206.
(19.) Compare Charles Shelton, S.J., “Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 24 (September 1992), and Shelton, “Friendship in Jesuit Life,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 27 (November 1995).
(20.) The phrase “quiche and wine crowd” is used by Fred Kammer, S.J., Salted with Fire: Spirituality for the Faithjustice Journey (New York: Paulist Press, 1995), 91–92. “They were those whose in-groups concealed a kind of effete narcissism divorced from social reality or personal struggle.”
(21.) On reading this sentence in manuscript, one Jesuit commented, “Was this historically the case regarding ‘particular friendships?’ In my understanding, the prohibition against ‘particular friendships’ applied only to Jesuits, and after our early years nobody thought much about it any more.” Our point is that “particular friendships” were discouraged among Jesuits—it was understood mostly as protection against homosexual liaisons between Jesuits in training—even if the operative norm relaxed with years of membership in the Society and that in the old days close relations with “externs” (the word is diagnostic) were rare. However, Jesuits have a tradition of collaboration with laypersons (p.350) that belies caricatures of clerical power. See the chatty compilation by Joseph F. MacDonnell, S.J., Companions of Jesuits: A Tradition of Collaboration (Fairfield, Conn.: Humanities Institute, Fairfield University, 1995).
(22.) Among Jesuits, the correlation between age and responses to the question “How would you characterize, on average, your experience with Jesuit community after formation?” is a modestly positive .21.
(23.) See John W. O'Malley, S.J., “The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation: Some Recent Studies and Their Implications for Today,” Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 14 (January 1982).
(24.) See Carlos G. Valles, S.J., Living Together in a Jesuit Community (St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1988).
(25.) For a brief but remarkably thorough overview of the problems of religious life in community, see Patricia Wittberg, S.C., “Community and Obedience: Musings on Two Ambiguities,” Review for Religious 59 (2000): 526 –36. See also David L. Fleming, S.J., “Individuals in Community Life,” Human Development 21 (2000): 5 –12.
(26.) Compare Loren Baritz, The Good Life: The Meaning of Success for the American Middle Class (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989); M. P. Baumgartner, The Moral Order of a Suburb (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Ray Oldenburg, The Great Good Place (New York: Paragon House, 1989).