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Journal > Volumes > 52 (2021) / 4 (Winter)
The Language of Consolation: The Spiritual Exercises and Jesuit Legibility in the Early Modern Mission Field
Molly Borowitz
Georgetown University

This article argues that Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises (1548) promoted the organizational cohesion of the Society of Jesus during a period of rapid expansion by creating a standard Jesuit language for spiritual experience. This linguistic standardization sought to overcome the hyperparticularity of Ignatian spirituality, which is rooted in the individual affect, in order to render each Jesuit’s narrative of his encounters with God comprehensible to all other Jesuits. In this way, the society preserved the unity of its mission and spiritual practice despite the constant incorporation of new and diverse members. Several sixteenth-century letters from Iberian Jesuits in Asia and America show that the society’s missionaries also used this standard language to describe their lives in the field. By rearticulating their encounters with the new and unfamiliar in Ignatian terms, these Jesuits worked to overcome the hyperparticularity of their experiences and render their accounts of mission life comprehensible to their confreres.

Pages: 833 - 856