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A Living Tradition​​Part 3: Global Identifiers of Jesuit Schools, Section 10

10. Jesuit schools are committed to life-long learning

  1. We return once more to the core of Ignatian Spirituality. Our major source of hope and animation: Finding God in all things. What does this mean?
  2. It means experiencing the generative expansive core of wonder, hope, joy, delight, compassion, connection, everywhere, with all, in all. There, we find God. Many have experienced such wonder when they were very young, as an awakening to creation for the first time.
  3. Our task, as educators, is to refresh and deepen our own spirituality, so that we are able, as Jesus said, to enter the kingdom “as little children.” It is essential that we engage in spiritual practices that confirm the belief that this expansive experience, this core of wonder, is a way to find God. This can have a remarkable effect on teaching. It can encourage our students and graduates, who model themselves after us, to intensely engage in the world, to never lose their curiosity, their creativity, their delight in discovery, their confidence, their connection, their compassion for all that exists.
  4. We know the famous quote attributed to Father Pedro Arrupe that expresses what it means to “Find God”:
  5. Nothing is more practical than finding God. It is falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
  6. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
  7. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
  8. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything
  9. Our schools must offer opportunities, in and out of the classroom, for our students to experience the world like this: to fall in love with it.
  10. Our schools must offer opportunities that develop the reflective spirituality that continually seeks to find God. It is a spirituality that has the strength to grow as our students grow: To become more complex as they become more complex; such maturing spiritually can accompany them for the rest of their lives.
  11. From the beginning a task of Jesuit schooling has been guiding students to this deeper spirituality, and in their daily lives, to using the process of discernment. Learning to listen to and accept the unique gifts and talents, questions and anxieties, great joys and deep desires is the ultimate gift of education rooted in an incarnational worldview. How will I spend my life? To whom do I belong? Where is God calling me?
  12. Contemplating the regard of the Holy Trinity on our world, do our graduates ask: How can I make use of my God-given gifts and talents to respond to the needs of people in my family, my locality, my region of the world, and the global community? These have always been the questions beneath the questions in Jesuit classrooms.
  13. Thus, the ultimate success of our educational endeavor cannot be measured by who the graduate is at the moment of graduation. Instead, the gift of Jesuit schooling is best measured by how graduates engage life in the decades after graduation. Did the partly answered questions that were sparked in the classroom continue to be asked and re-asked throughout one’s life? Did the possibilities fostered by networking and authentic encounter bear fruit in future decisions in business, personal life, and the religious quest?
  14. Did an encounter with Christ through the Spirit make a difference in how the graduate discerned questions of career, lifestyle, values, measures of success or failure? The extent to which our schools prepare students to engage this task is the measure by which we deem them worthy of the name Jesuit.

Exercise 28. For discernment:

  1. How do you assess this challenge?
  2. What are the most significant obstacles?
  3. How can we adapt this challenge for all Jesuit schools so that it reflects the greater good?
  4. In this context, what has your educational apostolate done?
  5. What should your educational apostolate be doing?