Scholarly article on topic 'The Intellectual Pedigree of the Virtue of Magnanimity in the Jesuit Constitutions'

The Intellectual Pedigree of the Virtue of Magnanimity in the Jesuit Constitutions Academic research paper on "Philosophy, ethics and religion"

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Academic research paper on topic "The Intellectual Pedigree of the Virtue of Magnanimity in the Jesuit Constitutions"


The Intellectual Pedigree of the Virtue of Magnanimity in the Jesuit Constitutions

Kevin Spinale S.J.

Boston College


The article traces the development of the virtue of magnanimity in Aristotle, Cicero, and Thomas Aquinas in order to assess John O'Malley's claim that Section 728 of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus represents a paraphrase of section 1.66 of Cicero's On Duties. For Aristotle, the virtue represents individual's striving for greater virtue and honor. In Cicero, the virtue takes on Stoic characteristics and is tempered with justice and concern for the common good. Thomas Aquinas links the virtue to hope in initiating great enterprises and accomplishing great virtue in accord with God's will. Ignatius uses magnanimity to indicate a virtue that synthesizes Cicero's attention to the common good and Aquinas's notion of hope in God's providence. Ignatius combines this synthesis with his own inclination to take that which is excellent in others and generously incorporate it into the Society's work in magnifying God's glory.


magnanimity - Aristotle - Cicero - On Duties - Aquinas - Ignatius - John W. O'Malley -Jesuit Constitutions - superior general - virtue


During the course of his address to the students of Jesuit schools of Italy and Albania in June 2013, Pope Francis urged his audience to recognize the importance of the virtue of magnanimity, that is, "having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to

© SPINALE, 2015 | DOI 10.1163/22141332-00203004

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 Unported (CC-BY-NC 4.0) License.

respond to what God asks of us."1 Francis concluded his written remarks with the following blessing: "The Lord is always close to you, he picks you up when you fall and impels you to develop and to make ever loftier decisions, 'con grande ánimo y liberalidad', with magnanimity. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam."2 The Spanish phrase he employs comes from Annotation 5 of Ignatius of Loyola's (1491-1556) Spanish original of the Spiritual Exercises.3 Francis's spoken remarks that day included this definition of magnanimity: "[T]he key point in the education we Jesuits give - for our personal development - is magnanimity. We must be magnanimous, with a big heart, without fear; always betting on the great ideals."4

Magnanimity represents a complex concept at the heart of ancient and medieval accounts of virtue. It is, for the most part, a non-biblical concept that is modified by various thinkers throughout the Western tradition. Magnanimity appears in two rather significant parts of the two documents that establish and define the Jesuit charism—the Spiritual Exercises and the Constitutions. Francis quotes from Ann. 5 of the Exercises, which denotes the proper underlying disposition of the entire retreat—a disposition that carries through from the Principle and Foundation, to the elements of election, to the Suscipe in the Contemplatio ad obtinendum amorem.5 Magnanimity also appears in section 728 of the Constitutions. It is one of the core qualities of the ideal superior general of the Society of Jesus. In several places, John O'Malley has argued that section 728 represents a paraphrase of Cicero's account of magnanimity in section i .xx.66 of his De officiis6 Indeed, there are many points of correspondence

1 "Address of Pope Francis to the Students of the Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania," Paul vi Audience Hall, Friday, June 7, 2013 (available at

2 Ibid.

3 Annotation 5: "al que recibe los exercicios, mucho aprovecha entrar en ellos con grande ánimo y liberalidad con su Criador y Señor, ofreciéndole todo su querer y libertad, para que su divina majestad, así de su como todo lo que tiene se sirva conforme a su sanctísima voluntad." Ejercicios Espirituales, trans. Manuel Iglesias (Collegeville, mn: Liturgical Press, 2006), 10.

4 "Address of Pope Francis to the Students of the Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania."

5 Several scholars argue something to this effect, including Michael Ivens in his commentary on the Exercises (Herefordshire: Gracewing, 1998), 6; as well as Howard Gray's Alpha Sigma Nu Society address, "Ignatian Honor," (March 5, 2011).

6 John O'Malley, "Jesuit History: A New Hot Topic," in America 192, no. 16 (2005),; O'Malley, "Jesuit Spirituality: The Civic and Cultural Dimensions," Review of Ignatian Spirituality 35 no. 1 (2005): 37-44, here 40-42; O'Malley, "The Pastoral, Social, Ecclesiastical, Civic, and Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus," in O'Malley, Saints or Devils Incarnate? Studies inJesuit History (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 37-52, here 47; O'Malley, "Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the Society of


between Cicero's ideas presented in Book I of De officiis and the Ignatian orientation of magnanimity, that is, as Pope Francis defines it, a big heart open to great things. There are also points of correspondence between Cicero and wider elements of Ignatian spirituality. And, indeed, section 728 reads like a paraphrase of De officiis i.xx.66. However, to reduce the Ignatian concept of magnanimity evident in the Exercises and the Constitutions to a paraphrase of Cicero's presentation of the virtue is to ignore the rich synthesis of classical and medieval thought that underlies its Ignatian usage. Furthermore, such emphasis on the coherence of Renaissance ideas with the ideas of Juan Alfonso de Polanco (1517-1576), Jerónimo Nadal (1507-1580), and Ignatius, neglects the modifications or inflections built into magnanimity by Ignatius and his companions. In the founding documents that are attributed principally to Ignatius, magnanimity entails generous surrender of one's talents to service of God; an indifference that does not intimate Stoicism; accurate and reflective self knowledge so as to initiate grand undertakings; confidence in God's help; and a redirecting of honor and glory to God. Incorporating Cicero's ideas, Thomas Aquinas presents magnanimity as a part of fortitude that involves confidence and hope. Finally, magnanimity consists in readiness to recognize excellence evident in others. Magnanimity, because it orients Ignatius or the superior general or the rank and file Jesuit toward great things, encompasses the intellectual and cultural resources of secular culture in initiating the great enterprises that will ensure the greater glory of God. Therefore, beyond simply a restatement of Ciceronian concepts, Ignatian magnanimity both embodies a synthesis of ancient and medieval thought and names the very inclination toward such a synthesis—as Pope Francis declares—a big heart open to great ideals.

Aristotle on megalopsychia (^syaXo^uxia)

Aristotle's account of megalopsychia or greatness of soul centers upon extraordinary virtue. Aristotle situates megalopsychia in the category of virtues of character, that is, those virtues which arise out of habituation. For Aristotle, human happiness "is equivalent to living well and acting well" (ne i, 4; 1095a).7

Jesus," in O'Malley, Saints or Devils Incarnate?, 257-97, here 255; Robert Maryks, Saint Cicero and the Jesuits. The Influence of the Liberal Arts on the Adoption of Moral Probabilism (Burlington, vt: Ashgate, 2008), 77.

7 In an effort to be precise, I include the book, section citation, and the Bekker numbers. I use Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Roger Crisp (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000);


The human good entails, precisely, activity of the soul in accordance with virtue (ne i, 7; 1098a). Aristotle's ethics combine a universal standard (virtue consists in the mean between excess and deficiency) with the relative aspect of the circumstances of each moral agent. Aristotle summarizes his basic structure of virtues in this way: "Virtue, then, is a state involving rational choice, consisting in a mean relative to us, and determined by reason - the reason, that is, by reference to which the practically wise person would determine it" (ne ii, 6; 1107a). Any human being can become angry or spend money, but doing such things "in relation to the right person, in the right amount, at the right time, with the right aim in view, and in the right way - that is not something anyone can do, nor is it easy...[t]his is why excellence in these things is rare, praiseworthy, and noble (xaXov)" (ne ii, 9; 1109a). The magnanimous or great-souled individual, who excels in all virtue, is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.

For Aristotle, greatness of soul or magnanimity (megalopsychia) implies virtue on a grand scale (ne iv, 3; 1123a32). He writes, "A person is thought to be great-souled, if he thinks himself worthy of great things - and is indeed worthy of them" (ne iv, 3; 1123^). The great-souled person is extreme as virtue itself is an extreme. However, magnanimity is a mean between the excess of vanity— claiming honor when one is not worthy of it—and the deficiency of smallness of soul (micropsychia), that is, not claiming the honor one is due (ne iv, 3; 1123b12-15). Aristotle then moves quickly through the syllogisms of his portrait of the magnanimous person. Since worth (axios) is concerned with external goods and honor is the greatest external good because it is rendered upon the gods, the great-souled person is concerned with honor and dishonor in the right way (ne iv, 3; 1123b23). Then Aristotle makes a remarkable statement, as grand as the concept that he is presenting: "The great-souled person, since he is worthy of the greatest things [honor], must be the best person of all" (ne iv, 3; 1123b27-29). The magnanimous person demonstrates greatness in every virtue, and so, magnanimity represents a sort of crown or ornament of the virtues (kosmos tis einai ton areton).

Aristotle completes his portrait by delineating various attributes of the magnanimous person. In all things, the great-souled person is superior, dignified, calm, self aware (ne iv, 3; 112^5), courageous, does not complain, and is slow to act but for matters involving great honor or significance (ne iv, 3; 112^24-25). The magnanimous person is isolated from his fellow men and women by his bearing. The excellence of his virtue is so extraordinary that it prevents him from interacting on equal terms with anyone but his peers in virtue—who are

for the Greek, I employ Ingram Bywater's critical text Ethica Nicomachea, ed. Ingram Bywater (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1890).

few. The magnanimous person is motivated by great honor and dismissive of unimportant honors conferred by inconsequential people (ne iv, 3; ii24aio-ii). Lastly, though a person of wealth and noble bearing, the great-souled individual is not excessively distressed or moved by loss of wealth, power, and good or bad fortune (ne iv, 3; ii24ai4-i5). Virtue, honor, and self-awareness insulate the magnanimous person from most of what individuals of lesser virtue endure in their daily lives.

Many modern scholars criticize Aristotle's virtue of magnanimity—the supersized instance of virtue in an individual—for two reasons. First, the magnanimous man seems to present a problem for Aristotle's system in which agents act in accord with virtue for the sake of the summum bonum itself: human activity in accord with virtue.8 Second, in Aristotle's portrait, though he has a legitimate claim on great honor, the great-souled man appears to be eminently aristocratic, aloof, and self-absorbed because of his concern for the greatest honors. The great-souled person seems to disdain or ignore anything or anyone beneath his concern (Eudemian Ethics iii, 5; i232b4-7).9 Yet, there are other instances in the Aristotelian corpus where megalopsychia is related to offices within the polis because great offices represent opportunities for great honor (ee iii, 5; i232b22-24). At times, civic positions of great power are worthy of pursuit because they offer the opportunity to engage in greater works that garner even greater honor.

For the scope of the current study of magnanimity, five basic aspects of Aristotle's presentation of the virtue of magnanimity perdure through to the Thomistic tradition and the time of Ignatius. They include, first, the notion that magnanimity involves virtue on a grand scale and concerns great actions and honors. Second, the magnanimous person attains genuine understanding of him or herself and legitimately claims great honor. Third, the great-souled person remains calm and mostly unaffected by ill or good fortune, by the opinions of others, and by honor that originates in people inferior to him or her. There is also, fourthly, the notion that a distinction exists between honor that arises from the masses and true honor which, in turn, allows for the possibility that the great-souled person may be disdained falsely by the masses. Fifth, the

8 Because the ancient authors portray the magnanimous individual in masculine terms, I use the masculine pronouns and distinctions in order to cohere with the original texts. I try to be inclusive in my use of pronouns when it will not confuse the original sense of the text.

9 Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes, vol. 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ig84), i952. This notion in expanded in Carson Holloway's chapter, "Aristotle's Magnanimous Man," in Magnanimity and Statesmanship, ed. Carson Holloway (Lanham, md: Lexington Books, 2008), i3-28, here i9.

deficiency of magnanimity—pusillanimity—involves timidity that shrinks from noble actions and projects because the small-souled person, though worthy of such undertakings, feels inappropriately unworthy of them (ne iv, 3; 1125a30). Such principles remain part of the concept of magnanimity through to Ignatius and Polanco's collaboration in the composition of the Constitutions.

Cicero on magnanimitas or animi magnitudo

During the last few, turbulent years of his life, 46-43BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero produced several works on moral philosophy including De finibus bonorum et malorum and De officiis.10 Throughout these works, Cicero is enthralled by the Latin term honestus denoting that which is moral, decent, honorable. Honestum is a rather complicated concept that becomes the core of Cicero's ethics.n In a world threatened by political violence, Cicero understands honestas as the principal motivation for any human action. Honestas entails conformity to nature. The notion of conformity to nature has its origin in the Stoic tradition, including Chrysippus's own De finibus and Diogenes Laertius's portrait of Zeno.12 The Stoics place the orientating point of their morality outside the soul. Happiness is not the soul's activity in accordance with reason, but the individual's harmonizing him or herself with the will or order of the universe. The center of ethical activity is not the soul of the agent but the wider universe and its divine order. The agent is a part of the order and endeavors to act in accord with it.

In Book iii of his On Moral Ends, Cicero presents a summary of Stoic moral philosophy. It is the most complete account of Stoicism extant from the ancient world. Sections 21-26 of Book iii, spoken by Cato the Elder, are an expansion of Diogenes's portrait of Zeno: "the final aim, then, is to live consistently and harmoniously with nature [...] what is moral (honestum) is the only good" (On Moral Ends iii, 26).i3 The Stoic system prizes that which is honestus over ordinary objects of affection (iii, 21). Wisdom ensures one's orientation toward the moral over and against the mind's desire and more basic affections (iii, 23). Furthermore, as Cicero writes, "Wisdom embraces magnanimity

10 Henceforth, I refer to these works as On Moral Ends and On Duties.

11 I retain the neuter form in discussing honestus-a-um (an adjective used as a substantive to denote a concept) as a philosophical concept akin to "to kalon" or "to de ti".

12 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, ed. and trans. Robert Drew Hicks (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 1935), vol. 2, book vii, sections 87-88.

13 Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Moral Ends, ed. Julia Annas, trans. Raphael Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 73.

(animi magnitudo) and justice, and judges itself superior to anything that might befall a person" (iii, 25). According to Cicero speaking through Cato, the Stoic differs from the Peripatetic in that external goods do not affect one's happiness or the actuation of one's virtue (iii, 43). Nor do bodily goods contribute to one's overall happiness (iii, 45). Magnanimity, at least for Cicero's Stoic character Cato, is an aspect of wisdom that recognizes and clings to that which is hones-tus as superior to anything that might come about, good or bad, in one's life.

Cicero offers a detailed account of magnanimity in the first book of On Duties, a work of philosophy addressed to his son Marcus.14 In it, he states that he writes on moral philosophy because he sees it as having the widest practical application (i, 4). Cicero draws "chiefly" (potissimum) from Stoicism in his presentation of practical philosophy (i, 6). Some sections later, he addresses his son directly and claims that all that is morally right (quod est honestum) flows from one of four sources: theoretical consideration of truth; the conservation of organized society in which every individual is rendered his or her due and obligations are carried out faithfully; the greatness and strength of a noble and invincible spirit; or, finally, the orderliness that consists in temperance and self control (i, i5). In expanding on the third of four sources of the good, Cicero argues that the largeness and nobility of soul (animi excellentia magnitudoque) is revealed not in the accumulation of resources and expansion of personal advantage (i, 17), but in contributing to the common good (i, 22).i5 Furthermore, in Cicero's political thinking, one's country claims a share of one's being , and citizens have a responsibility to contribute "to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents to cement human society more closely together, man to man" (i, 22).

Like the Aristotelian sense of magnanimity, Cicero understands the virtue as an extraordinary manifestation of virtue in an individual that elevates him or her above concern for wealth, good fortune, and, as Cicero has it, the vicissitudes of life. Cicero acknowledges the honor of great-souled individuals; however, he warns that exaltation of spirit (animi elatio) can devolve into lust for power and injustice (i, 62). Justice and concern for the common good (pro salute communi) must be integral to magnanimity or greatness of soul becomes vicious (in vitio est) (i, 62). Justice and concern for the common good displace the Aristotelian notion that the great-souled person acts on a grand scale to

14 Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Duties, eds. Miriam Tamara Griffin and E. Margaret Atkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, i99i).

15 O'Malley makes an interesting point about this section in his article, "Jesuit Spirituality: The Civic and Cultural Dimensions," 4i. He compares On Duties i, vii, 22 with Annotation 23 of the Spiritual Exercises.

attain great honor. As the Stoics have oriented their ethical system to a static, unchanging, universal notion outside the moral agent (but, at the same time, encompassing the agent), Cicero fuses magnanimity with justice and outward concern—the common good. Magnanimous individuals cultivate an ambition tempered by a spirit of fairness and equality essential to justice (i, 64).

Book i, Section xx.66 and following, represents Cicero's definition of magnanimity. Section (i, 66) is clearly a text used by Polanco in the composition of Part ix, section 728 of the Constitutions. A detailed comparison of the two texts follows below. In section (i, 66), Cicero delineates two essential characteristics of magnanimity. First, the great-souled man disdains everything but that which is moral and noble (honestum decorumque) (i, 66). He is free from subjugation to any man, any passion, or any good or bad fortune. Second, Cicero writes that the great-souled man does "deeds not only great and in the highest degree useful, but extremely arduous and laborious and fraught with danger both to life and the things pertinent to living" (i, 66). Cicero's magnanimous man is orientated solely to moral goodness and propriety the highest human goods. Such an orientation elevates the great-souled man to a plane of moral grandeur that is concerned solely with that which is honestus}6 Indeed, activity on a grand scale is integral to Cicero's magnanimity, but it is not directed toward the attainment of honor, which is essential to the Aristotelian concept. In fact, Cicero shuns honor for honestum. Cicero's magnanimity also includes the performance of things laborious and arduous. This too is a departure from Aristotle's megalopsychia. The Ciceronian concept acknowledges that not only will the great-souled man face serious danger, but he will also have to face tedium, struggle, and labor.

For the next several sections of On Duties, Cicero connects magnanimity with the holding of political office and makes an appeal to a life of civic activity over and against the contemplative life of a philosopher. This is a clear innovation over the Aristotelian concept of magnanimity. Cicero explicitly links magnanimity to justice, the common good, Stoic indifference, political office, and, above all, to dedication to that which is honestus. First, indifference does not mean withdrawal or retirement from civic duty (i, 69), for political activity can benefit more people and increases one's own greatness and renown (i, 70). Cicero states quite clearly that greatness of soul, indifference, and constancy cannot be made manifest other than through participation in political life

16 The Peripatetics clearly take issue with the truth of this claim. Aristotle makes a strong case in ne i, 9 (1100a) that such a view of the summum bonum is quite flawed. After all, would anyone call Priam happy at the end of his life seeing his son's corpse disgraced and his city conquered?

(i, 72-73). He advocates for public life over the life of philosophy because magnanimity emerges in and through the rigors of political struggle (i, 73). Magnanimity is magnified in the politician because he is vulnerable to so many worries and intense emotions (i, 72-73). It is not only in war that one can distinguish oneself through magnanimous action (i, 74-75). Those who serve the state garner the same honor - including Cicero himself (i, 76-78), for it is moral, not physical strength that denotes greatness of spirit (i, 79). Magnanimity, as Cicero writes, "requires strength of character and great singleness of purpose to bear what seems painful, as it comes to pass in many and various forms in human life, and to bear it so unflinchingly as not to be shaken in the least from one's natural state of the dignity of a philosopher" (i, 67). Magnanimity bears all ills for honestum. Lastly, justice is integral to magnanimity: "It is our duty, then, to be more ready to endanger our own rather than the public welfare and to hazard honor and glory more readily than other advantages." (i, 84) Service in political office makes one vulnerable to the stress of public life, but it also affords one the opportunity to demonstrate and grow in one's magnanimity.

Five basic Aristotelian elements of megalopsychia remain a part of Cicero's virtue of magnanimity. Greatness of soul concerns extraordinary virtue and activity on a grand scale. Second, the magnanimous man, indeed, is self-aware, but he is also cognizant of a greater, more comprehensive natural order of which he is apart. Third, the magnanimous individual is indifferent to the many realities or vicissitudes of life. In fact, perhaps by dint of his own experiences at the end of the Roman republic, Cicero insists on the inclusion of indifference at the core of magnanimity. Fourth, the magnanimous man knows the distinction between what is truly virtuous and that which the masses identify to be virtuous and honorable. The great-souled man is ready to suffer the consequences that stem from the ability to discern more adeptly what is actually honorable and to cling to it. Fifth, Cicero's small-souled man is one who avoids political life for the safety of a life insulated from the turbulence of public service. Cicero also adds to the concept. He fuses magnanimity to justice, concern for the common good, and political life, while shedding Aristotle's emphasis on honor and the necessary aloofness of the magnanimous man. Cicero's modifications of the virtue of magnanimity certainly stem from his own political experience and his exposure to Stoicism.

Aquinas on Magnanimity

Within his account of fortitude - its components and contraries - in Questions i23 to i29 of the Secunda Secundae of the Summa theologica, Thomas Aquinas

refers to or quotes Marcus Tullius Cicero ("Tully" in the Blackfriars' English translation) no less than sixteen times. Thomas draws explicitly from Cicero's early work on rhetoric (De inventione rhetorica) and On Duties, which he quotes extensively in Q. 123, Art. 1 and in his respondeo in Q. 129, Art. 7. However, Aquinas's principal authority for this section is Aristotle. He anchors his moral speculation in the Peripatetic tradition in which virtue in accordance with reason represents humanity's ultimate excellence (Q. 123, Art. 1). At the summit of the moral life, just below the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude govern the virtues of character. Fortitude, of which magnanimity is a subset, shapes and strengthens reason and the will to overcome appetitive obstacles or perceived difficulties that hinder human beings in cooperating with God's grace to bring about a good end or some perfection (ibid.). Fortitude helps the moral agent conform to reason when acting (ibid.). It belongs to fortitude to face dangers and bear toils (Q. 123, Art. 3). Fortitude is chiefly about resisting fear and sustaining faith in extremely difficult circumstances (ibid.). Fortitude most immediately concerns danger of death, for, as Thomas writes, "fortitude of soul must be that which binds the will to reason in the face of the greatest evils" (Q. 123, Art. 4). Thomas cites Cicero in the second objection of (Q. 123, Art. 5) essentially agreeing with Cicero that though fortitude concerns danger of death, the virtue is relevant beyond the battlefield because the realm of politics could also involve threat of death.17 Thomas follows his question on fortitude with an account of martyrdom (Q. 124), which he declares to be the paradigmatic act of fortitude.

Thomas's presentation of fortitude corresponds well with the concepts of justice, courage, and magnanimity as discussed by Cicero in Book i of On Duties. It also accords with Ignatius and Polanco's brief mention of the virtues of fortitude and magnanimity in Part ix, Section 728 of the Constitutions. Cicero, Thomas, and Ignatius understand fortitude to be concerned with enduring danger of death in order to remain committed to that which is the ultimate good (honestum for Cicero in his Stoic writings and the Christian God for Thomas and Ignatius). It is evident then, that the final lines of both Section (i, 66) of On Duties and Section 728 of the Constitutions pertain to the virtue of fortitude. Both texts envision the possibility of death and call forth fortitude in response to such a circumstance. Furthermore, all three thinkers understand fortitude to be necessary outside the realm of war. For Ignatius, such fortitude is even necessary in the governance of a religious order. Fortitude is relevant for political affairs and, for Thomas and

17 Craig Titus, Resilience and the Virtue of Fortitude (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2006), 174, argues that Thomas is quoting On Duties i, 22, but it could well be from section i, 78.

Ignatius, for the public witness of one's faith that may also result in death or tremendous personal loss. In Thomas's schema, magnanimity is a potential part of fortitude, that is, a virtue limited in scope. Magnanimity coheres with fortitude in that it aligns the parts of the soul to reason and virtue in some great and difficult circumstance. Yet, magnanimity "falls short" of fortitude because it burgeons the soul in some circumstance less trying than imminent death (Q. i29, Art. 5). Ultimately, magnanimity concerns human initiative and resolve in an enterprise that proclaims God's goodness and indicates the work of God's grace. In addition to Thomas's distinction of the virtue of magnanimity from fortitude, one begins to see a departure from Cicero's presentation of magnanimity when Thomas introduces the notion of hope as the passion perfecting and elevating magnanimity, as I will show below, Ignatius seems to incorporate this Christian departure from classical magnanimity in a key phrase of Section 728 of the Constitutions.

Aquinas offers a general account of magnanimity in Q. i29 of the Secunda Secundae. Like Aristotle and Cicero, magnanimity entails the inclination to and desire for undertaking great things, as Thomas writes: "Magnanimity by its very name denotes stretching forth of the mind to great things" (Q. i29, Art. i). The magnanimous individual tends to great things that are deserving of honor (Q. i29, Art. 3), and, thus, magnanimity is oriented toward great honor. Here, in his discussion of honor, Thomas does not show the same concern regarding ambition and injustice that Cicero expresses throughout On Duties. Thomas simply offers the following: "magnanimity, which observes the mode of reason in great honors, is a virtue" (Q. i29, Art. 3). Honor denotes virtue; virtue denotes excellence. Great honors denote magnanimity, which manifests great virtue. If one is presumptuous (inordinately confident in divine mercy), overly ambitious, or vainglorious, one is not magnanimous. Pusillanimity represents the privation of magnanimity. Though the pusillanimous person is capable of great things, he or she shrinks from great things and great honor out of littleness of soul (Q. i33, Art. 2). Human honor that recognizes God as the ultimate source of virtue is good and beneficial to others in that such honor can draw others to God.

In Aquinas's account of the virtues, a Christian justly anticipates honor as concomitant with great virtue. Thomas clarifies this in regard to magnanimity: "Magnanimity is about honors in the sense that a man strives to do what is deserving of honor, yet not so as to think much of the honor accorded by man" (Q. i29, Art. i ad. 4). Magnanimity orients the individual to proper self-awareness (an element in Aristotle and Cicero) and shapes him or her to be appropriately disposed to such honor, as Thomas writes, "The magnanimous man looks upon great honors as a thing of which he is worthy." (Q. i29, Art. 2, ad obj. 3) Furthermore, for Thomas, the saving work of Christ in the incarnation, death, and resurrection opens humanity to a flood of God's

grace which elevates and expands human virtue: "magnanimity makes a man deem himself worthy of great things in consideration of the gifts he holds from God: thus if his soul is endowed with great virtue, magnanimity makes him tend to perfect works of virtue; and the same is to be said of any other good such as science or external fortune" (Q. 129, Art. 3, ad 4). It is interesting here that Thomas expands magnanimity to include excellence in the pursuit of knowledge and good fortune. Honor in such human pursuits reflects the creator's goodness and magnifies it (Q. 131, Art. 1). Magnanimity orients one toward perfection in light of one's gifts endowed by God.

Magnanimity also concerns Christian hope (Prima Secundae Q. 60, Art. 5). Hope regards a future good or end that is arduous and difficult, but possible, to obtain (Q. 40, Art. 1). Magnanimity stretches the soul toward ends difficult to attain, and, in concert with humility, strengthens the soul against despair and urges it on toward great things in accord to right reason (Secunda Secundae Q. 161, Art. 2). Despair is hope's contrary. It denotes a lack of magnanimity.18 Regarding the relationship between hope and magnanimity, Aquinas writes, "magnanimity is chiefly about the hope of something difficult. Wherefore, since confidence denotes a certain strength of hope arising from some observation which gives one a strong opinion that one will obtain a certain good, it follows that confidence belongs to magnanimity" (Q. 129, Art. 6). The Christian's confidence arises from his or her knowledge and love of God's goodness.

In his direct consideration of magnanimity in Question 129, Thomas adds something in his reply that is quite relevant to the Ignatian presentation of the characteristics of the ideal superior general. Aquinas writes, "it belongs to a magnanimous man to have confidence in others, for it is also a point of excellence in a man that he should have at hand those who are able to be of service to him" (Q. 129, Art. 6). As fortitude properly strengthens a person to resist and combat some evil threat or negative eventuality, magnanimity strengthens one in the pursuit of obtaining a great good (ibid.). Part of such a pursuit involves confidence in God's aid and in the excellence of others as one works to bring about something honorable. Hope is the cause of daring; fear is the cause of despair (Q. 129, Art. 7). Despair or lack of hope impedes an individual's pursuit of excellence in virtue. Magnanimity guards against despair or, as Ignatius and Polanco express it in Part ix of the Constitutions, "animum despondendo."i9

Both the concept of hope in God and God's grace as well as the magnanimous person's proper disposition toward honor represent Thomas Aquinas's

18 Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, trans. Sr. Mary Francis McCarthy, snd (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1986), 119.

19 Sancti Ignatii de Loyola Constitutiones Societatis Jesu, vol. 3, Textus latinus, ed. Arturo Codina (Rome: Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, 1938), 245.

contributions to philosophical considerations of magnanimity. With Aristotle and Cicero, Thomas understands magnanimity to concern great things and great honors. The magnanimous man is genuinely self-aware and worthy of great honor. Magnanimity confirms the mind in the pursuit of difficult things, and, more directly, it guards against despair brought upon by a certain set of circumstances (Q. 161, Art. 1). Furthermore, magnanimity denotes a concern for honor consequent upon true virtue rather than honor that arises from the multitudes. Lastly, pusillanimity represents a great evil in which an individual shrinks from excelling in virtue out of fear. Therefore, Thomas appears firmly in the Aristotelian-Ciceronian tradition, though his ultimate reference point is neither human flourishing nor honestum but human virtue manifesting the grace of the Christian God.

The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Part IX, Section 728

In his essay, "Ignatius of Loyola (c.1491-1556)" in Saints or Devils Incarnate?, John O'Malley claims that though the Constitutions were principally inspired by Ignatius, the text's wording, structure, and many of its details come from the pen of Ignatius' secretary, Juan Alfonso de Polanco.20 Carlos Coupeau corroborates O'Malley's claims regarding the collaboration between Ignatius and Polanco in the composition of the Constitutions.21 Polanco studied in Paris and Padua. Though Ignatius received his master of arts degree from Paris when he was forty-three years old, he had begun his studies by attending Latin classes in Barcelona in 1524 and classes at Alcalá in 1526. In his initial attempts to educate himself, Ignatius was exposed to classical Latin as well as ancient works such as Aristotle's Physics.22 Later, as he continued to improve his Latin while studying at Paris, Ignatius encountered the work of Livy, Caesar, Pliny, Virgil, Ovid, and Horace in addition to Cicero.23 As he progressed in studies at Paris, he became immersed in the Aristotelian inspired theology of Thomas. Particularly influential was Thomas's moral theology of the pars secunda of the Summa. In fact, Ignatius and his fellow Jesuits referred to the Secunda Pars as a useful resource

20 John O'Malley, "Ignatius of Loyola (c. 1491-1556)" in O'Malley, Saints or Devils Incarnate?, 99-114, here 99.

21 Carlos Coupeau, From Inspiration to Invention: Rhetoric in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2010), 12-14.

22 John O'Malley, The FirstJesuits (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 1993), 27.

23 George Ganss, Saint Ignatius' Idea of aJesuit University (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1956), 13.

in consideration of moral matters.24 Nevertheless, Polanco was far better educated than Ignatius as he started his study of the humanities at age thirteen.25 It is through the influence of Polanco, and other early Jesuits such as Jerónimo Nadal, that Renaissance Humanism—its concern for language and style as well as its openness to classical and patristic authors—began, as O'Malley argues, to have "a profound and determinative impact on the Society by the time Ignatius died in 1556."26 O'Malley goes on to detail three ways in which Renaissance Humanism influenced the Society. First, in the early Society, there is a concern for effective preaching that arose not from Scholasticism but from exposure to the rhetorical mastery of classical authors such as Cicero. 27 Second, in addition to greater attention to the method of classical oratory, there is also concern for "to kalon" (to xaXov)—that which is beautiful or fine in oratory and in the wider culture.28 Third, there is greater concern for ministries of the word such as confessions.29 An obvious consequence of the openness both to Thomistic theology grounded in Aristotelian reasoning and Renaissance Humanism among the Society's more educated members was the network of schools which began to emerge rapidly after the foundation of its first school in Messina in 1548. Such schools drew Jesuits into a secular space in which secular ideas and Aristotelian logic were considered carefully.30 O'Malley and others write repeatedly that it is difficult to overstate the impact of the ministry of the schools on the early Society. Renaissance Humanism coupled with a Thomistic sense of nature and grace helped to form a Jesuit spirituality that was concerned with reconciling the world to the will of the Christian God. Such a synthesis of Thomistic thought and Renaissance Humanistic ideas seems to come rather naturally for the first generation of Jesuits.3i

24 O'Malley, First Jesuits, 249.

25 Coupeau, From Inspiration to Invention, 12. O'Malley also remarks that Polanco had a fine rearing in Thomistic ideas as well. O'Malley, "Ignatius of Loyola (c.1491-1556)," 104.

26 Annotation 363 of Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises seems to indicate such attention to patristic authors; John O'Malley, "Renaissance Humanism and the Religious Culture of the First Jesuits," in O'Malley, Saints or Devils Incarnate?, 181-98, here 181.

27 Ibid., 190.

28 Ibid., 191.

29 Ibid.

30 O'Malley, "The Pastoral, Social, Ecclesiastical, Civic, and Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus," 48; John O'Malley, "The Ministry to Outsiders: the Jesuits," in O'Malley, Saints or Devils Incarnate?, 89-97, here 93.

31 O'Malley, First Jesuits, 249.

One text that demonstrates a particularly clear instance of the synthesis between Renaissance Humanism and Thomistic thought is Part ix, Section 728 of the Constitutions. In three different instance in his recent scholarship, O'Malley identifies this text as a paraphrase of Cicero's On Duties (i, 66). In "Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus," he claims that Section 728 is based on On Duties (i, 66).32 In an article for America Magazine, O'Malley identified Section 728 as "loose paraphrase" of On Duties (I, 66).33 He makes the same claim in an article for Review of Ignatian Spirituality (2004).34 In his 2004 article, O'Malley offers two reasons why the recognition of Section 728's origins in Cicero is important: it betrays the humanistically trained Polanco to be the author, and it hints at how much Renaissance Humanism influenced the document that formed the Society of Jesus as an institution.35 O'Malley (20i3) makes a further, remarkable claim, regarding the concept of magnanimity in Section 728: "It is significant for our topic that Ignatius found the best expression of this breadth of vision, which he wanted to be characteristic of every member of the Society, not in the Bible but in Cicero."36 This claim neglects the Thomistic account of magnanimity that is also quite clearly part of Section 728 of the Constitutions. Nor does such a claim seem to take into consideration the Thomistic tradition's inclination to incorporate truth from thinkers outside of Christianity. Thomas's Summa itself represents an instance of great magnanimity that considers the expanse of Western and Arabic philosophical and theological thought in order to present a coherent account of Christianity.

Analysis of the Texts

Drawing from the analyses of Aristotle, Cicero, and Aquinas above, I now consider On Duties (i, 66) with Section 728 of the Constitutions.

32 O'Malley, "Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus," 255.

33 O'Malley, "Jesuit History: A New Hot Topic."

34 O'Malley, "Jesuit Spirituality: The Civic and Cultural Dimensions," 40. Coupeau, From Inspiration to Invention, 207, cites this article in his own analysis of Part ix, 728 in no. 26. Robert Maryks, in his work, Saint Cicero and the Jesuits, 77 also cites this line of argument from O'Malley.

35 O'Malley, "Jesuit Spirituality: The Civic and Cultural Dimensions," 40.

36 O'Malley, "Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus," 255.

Cicero - Book i, xx.66

Omnino fortis animus et magnus duabus rebus maxime cernitur, quarum una in rerum externarum, despicientia ponitur, cum persuasum est nihil hominem, nisi quod honestum decorumque sit, aut admirari aut optare aut expetere oportere nullique neque homini neque perturbationi animi necfortunae succumbere. Altera est res geras magnas illas quidem et maxime utiles sed [ut] vehementur arduas plenasque laborum etpericulo-rum cum vitae, tum multarum rerum, quae ad vitam pertinent.

A brave and great spirit is in general seen in two things. One lies in disdain for things external, in the convictions

that a man should admire, should

choose, should pursue nothing except what is honorable and seemly, and should yield to no man, nor to agitation of the spirit, nor to fortune. The second thing is that you should, in the spirit I have described, do deeds which are great, certainly, but are above all beneficial, and you should vigorously undertake difficult and

Constitutiones, Part ix, Chap. 2 (728)37

Animi etiam magnitudo ac fortitudo {la magnanimadadyfortaleza de animo (both Text A and Text B - the Spanish Version of Monumenta)} est ei perneccessaria ad infrmitatem multorumferendam et res magnas in divino servitio aggrediendas, in eisque constanter, quando id convenit, perserverandum,38 non propter contradictions (licet a magnis et potentibus excitatas) animum despondendo, nec ab eo, quod ratio et divinum obsequium postulat, ullis eorum precibus aut minis separari se sinendo; ut omnibus demum casibus, qui incidere possunt sit superior, nec prosperis efferri, nec adversis deiici animo sese permittat; paratissimus, cum opus esset, ad mortem pro Societatis bono in obsequium Iesu Christi Dei ac Domini nostri subeundam.

Magnanimity and fortitude of soul are likewise highly necessary for him to bear the weaknesses of many, to initiate great undertakings in the service of God our Lord, and to persevere in them with constancy when it is called for, without losing courage in the face of contradictions, (even though they come from persons of high rank and power) and without allowing himself to be moved by their entreaties or threats from what reason and the divine service require. He should be superior to all eventualities, without letting himself be exalted by those

37 SanctiIgnatii de Loyola Constitutiones Societatis Jesu, 3:245.

38 Sancti Ignatii de Loyola Constitutiones Societatis Jesu, vol. 2, Textus hispanus, ed. Arturo Codina (Rome: Monumenta Histórica Societatis Iesu, 1936), 664.

Cicero - Book I, xx.66

laborious tasks which endanger both life itself and much that concerns life.39

Constitutiones, Part ix, Chap. 2 (728)

which succeed or depressed by those which go poorly, being altogether ready to receive death, if necessary, for the good of the Society in the service of Jesus Christ, God and our Lord.40

In the Part ix, Chapter 2 of the Constitutions, Ignatius offers an account of the kind of person the superior general should be. Sections 725-28 concern the character that the superior general should possess: excellence in all the virtues, charitable, humble, independent of all passions, patient in authority, magnanimous, and courageous.4i These are the virtues of a major religious superior. Magnanimity stands out among them as an Ignatian innovation.42 The superior general of the Society of Jesus—like the exercitant beginning the Spiritual Exercises—initiates great things (res magnas in divino servitio aggrediendas: approaching or going toward great things in the divine service), and he remains constant in his undertakings guarding against the despair of the soul in difficult circumstances (animum despondendo)4 Ignatius acknowledges the possibility

39 Cicero, On Duties, 2i.

40 Ignatius of Loyola, The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, i970), 3i0.

41 Antonio M. de Aldama, Part ix: The Superior General, trans. Ramon E. Delius and Ignacio Echaniz (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, i999), 28-45.

42 The first General Congregation of the Society of Jesus also emphasizes magnanimity as a virtue proper to the superior general: "What of his natural greatness of soul, his habitual initiative, the constancy of his perseverance?" For Matters of Greater Moment: The First Thirty Jesuit General Congregations, eds. John W. Padberg, Martin D. O'Keefe, and John L. McCarthy (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, i994), 68.

43 Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph, trans. Louis J. Puhl (Chicago: Loyola Press, i950), Annotation 5: "It would be very profitable for the one who is to go through the Exercise to enter upon them with magnanimity and generosity toward God his Creator and Lord [...]". Oddly enough Coupeau, in From Inspiration to Invention, argues that the only instance of magnanimity in the Ignatian corpus appears in Section 728. However, both the Spanish and the Latin version (magno animo) of Annotation 5 certainly represent instances of magnanimity outside 728. Furthermore, Ignatius seems to have magnanimity in mind when he writes Teresa Rejadell (June i8, i536) warning her of false humility that diminishes proper Christian hope and discourages deeds done for the glory of God; see Letters of St. Ignatius of Loyola, trans. William J. Young (Chicago: Loyola Press, i959), i8-24.

of despair in the administration of a religious order head-quartered in Rome. He also acknowledges authorities other than himself—persons who wield power more widely than a superior general. Furthermore, he urges patience (a part of fortitude) that bears the weakness of others. Ignatius then describes a certain equanimity of spirit that does not rise too high with victory nor sink into despair in moments of failure. Lastly, Ignatius urges fortitude even in the face of death for the good of the Society in the service of Christ.

Indeed, there are clear similarities between Cicero's text and Section 728, including the demarcation of the virtues of magnanimity and fortitude at the outset; the disposition of equanimity and constancy in all circumstances that underpins the middle elements of both texts; and the ultimate aspect of fortitude - not shrinking from the threat of death. Yet, there are also clear differences. In Section (I, 66) of On Duties, Cicero, quite differently urges disdain for (despicientia ponitur) external things: what men desire, admire, or pursue. Only that which is honestum and decorum is worthy of attention and desire. Cicero argues for disdain of, rather than indifference to, external goods and human passions. Because honestum and decorum exist apart from any difficulty or circumstance or feeling one may suffer, one should simply dismiss such elements of human experience as unimportant or circumstances that simply need to be endured. Cicero's embrace of Stoicism in this text distinguishes it from the more realistic attributes of a religious superior - the rather plausible circumstances that may cause a superior anguish. Rather than disdaining emotion and human experience, Ignatius and Polanco portray the superior general to be an individual who is not subject to despair (animum despondeo) in difficult circumstances. This particular element of magnanimity comes from Thomas Aquinas and not from Cicero. It is in Aquinas's Christian synthesis of the theological virtues and the virtues of character that magnanimity comes to involve hope. In fact, Thomas describes magnanimity as proper confidence or hope in God and others. Section 728 is much more complicated than a loose paraphrase of Cicero ornamented by a few Christian concepts. It is a synthesis that reflects both Ignatius and Polanco's education in Scholasticism and Humanism as well as Ignatius's own apostolic orientation that emerges from his experiences at Cardoner and La Storta.

John O'Malley is quite right to emphasize the early Society's openness to Renaissance Humanism and its attraction to the ideas of Cicero. He is also quite right to emphasize the concern evident in On Duties for the common good. Indeed, the Society incorporated concern for the common good in the initial chapter the Formula of i550. Such an orientation toward the common or civic good became concrete in the Society's massive investment in administering


schools.44 However, O'Malley seems to undermine the Thomistic influence on Section 728 of the Constitutions when he identifies the text solely in relation to Cicero's On Duties. Such neglect of Thomas truncates the expansive magnanimity at the heart of the Jesuit charism. Jesuit magnanimity is nothing less than a commitment to the great work—animated by Christian hope—of reconciling the Christian, classical, and secular traditions in its ministries to facilitate a richer, more concrete relationship between human culture and the God of Jesus Christ.


Jesuit magnanimity, as delineated in Section 728 of the Constitutions, is an expansive concept that incorporates Aristotelian, Ciceronian, and Thomistic concepts. Essentially, Jesuit magnanimity is the inclination to initiate great works in order to glorify God. In Cicero, magnanimity is moral courage in the service of the common good. In Thomas, the concept comes to mean proper confidence and fitting hope in initiating works on behalf of others and in magnifying God's glory. In Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas, and Ignatius and Polanco, magnanimity implies fortitude and constancy in difficult circumstances. Magnanimity counters pusillanimity, and it strengthens one in the pursuit of obtaining a great good. It requires self knowledge so as to inspire individuals to excellence that corresponds to their capabilities. From Cicero onward, the concept comes to have at its core an outward or, even, apostolic orientation for the greater good of a community. From Thomas onward, magnanimity also has hope at its core because it is the virtue that guards against despair and seeks great things like the salvation of souls. Finally, with Ignatius, magnanimity comes to define the disposition of a religious institute and its superiors. This disposition extends to the exercitant—he or she who commits him or herself to prayerful consideration of the interaction of the God with God's creation. Such an institute strives to reconcile men and women and their cultures with the God of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what Pope Francis conveyed when he spoke to the youth of Italian and Albanian schools—the fruit of the magnanimous dedication of the early Society to the ministry of education. Essentially, Jesuit magnanimity, communicated to the students in Jesuit schools, entails a big heart open to Christ and the human ideals that correspond to the Gospel.

44 O'Malley "Renaissance Humanism and the First Jesuits," 194.