Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits
STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS is a series of monographs that began in 1969. Due to the efforts of the O'Neill Library staff, the entire archive, consisting now of 45 volumes, has recently become available through Boston College.
Scholars throughout the world can now access this unique record of developments in the Society of Jesus, especially in the United States, in the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). As its name suggests, the series offers a series of reflections on the interior life of the community rather than a chronicle of changing institutional commitments, personalities, and statistics. Its reach embraces the theological rationales, historical traditions, and lived experience of contemporary American Jesuits. STUDIES documents this unsettling postconciliar period, when the Society of Jesus, like the Church throughout the world, struggled to recalibrate its role in a rapidly changing world. The effort continues to this day, and so does the series.
Some historical background may be illuminating. In the late 1950's, Father George Ganss, S.J., began a project to translate many of the foundation documents of the Society of Jesus. Until the postwar period, it may be recalled, many Church documents were available only in Latin, since it was commonly believed at the time that translation inevitably risked distortion. Starting at Marquette University and then moving to St. Louis University, Father Ganss worked to translate the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, the Autobiography of St. Ignatius, and Joseph de Guibert's The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice. The work gradually coalesced into the Institute of Jesuit Sources, which under the direction of John Padberg, S.J. continues to translate and publish original works pertaining to Jesuit history and spirituality. The Institute (IJS) was the original parent organization for STUDIES.
IJS clearly antedated Vatican II, but the council gave it a new mission. Its decree on religious life, Perfectae Caritatis, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965, encouraged all religious communities to reassess their mission in the modern world by looking to their original charisms, as embodied in the lives and writings of their founders. This mandate fit perfectly into the work already undertaken by IJS. Immediately after the council, the ten American provincial superiors formed the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality. Each provincial appointed one member, under the chairmanship of Father Ganss. The group was charged with identifying and addressing some of the major challenges the American Jesuits faced in their work of renewal. Their findings were published in STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS, which first appeared in September 1969. In the early years, the journal reflected these concerns, dealing with topics like commitment, ministry, social justice, and celibacy, important topics not only for American Jesuits but for the entire Church.
Gradually, as the upheaval of the postconciliar period settled, the journal widened its scope to include a wide variety of issues of interest to Jesuits, from practical insights into counseling and preaching to academic analyses of Scripture texts and early Society documents. When John Padberg, S.J., succeeded Father Ganss in the mid-1980's as director of IJS and chair of the Seminar, the academic rigor continued, in keeping with Father Padberg's professional background as a historian. STUDIES continued to appear five times each year, in keeping with the 10-member composition of the Seminar. The group became deliberately more diversified. Members were selected from varied academic disciplines and ministries, and each was encouraged to address topics of Ignatian spirituality from his own personal expertise and experience.
In 2002, the Jesuit Conference in Washington, the official sponsor of the Seminar and publisher of STUDIES, appointed Richard Blake, S.J., to become chair and editor. With the editor remaining a full-time professor of film studies in the Fine Arts Department at Boston College, the journal severed its editorial relationship with IJS and St. Louis University and became an independent operation directly under the Jesuit Conference and based at Boston College. The business office at IJS continues to manage subscriptions, typesetting, printing and mailing. After the move, STUDIES became a quarterly, in keeping with the standard of other academic journals, but it maintains the monograph format. Each year three new members are appointed for three-year terms, while the chair serves indefinitely at the pleasure of the Conference. Although the Seminar members are all Jesuits, the STUDIES welcomes and solicits contributions from non-Jesuit scholars, men and women of all faiths, interested in furthering understanding of Ignatian spirituality, history, and practice.
Thanks to the efforts of the O'Neill Library, this archive has been opened without charge to seminarians in Jakarta, to scholars in Nairobi, to historians of religion at Harvard, to retreat directors in Havana, or catechists in Hong Kong. The skilled staff has made it user friendly. The archive can be searched by author, topic, or date, and it is directly accessible through Google. The initial response has been gratifying. The number of "hits" has exceeded the most optimistic expectations. This project represents a fitting scholarly contribution that Boston College has been able to make to the Church and to the academic community in keeping with its Catholic-Jesuit tradition and its Ignatian mission.