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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

The novice on entering had all his acts


was the Constitution which was presented by Lainez to the assembly which elected him the successor of Loyola (July 2nd, 1558). The new General added a commentary or _Directorium_ of his own, which was also accepted. It received papal sanction under Pius IV.

In this Constitution the Society of Jesus was revealed as an elaborate hierarchy rising from Novices through Scholastics, Coadjutors, Professed of Four Vows, with the General at its head, an autocrat, controlling every part, even the minutest, of the great machine. Nominally, he was bound by the Constitution, but the inner principle of this elaborate system of laws was apparent fixity of type qualified by the utmost laxity in practice. The most stable principles of the Constitution were explained or explained away in the _Directorium_, and by such an elaborate labyrinth of exceptions that it proved no barrier to the will of the General. He stood with his hand on the lever, and could do as he pleased with the vast machine, which responded in all its parts to his slightest touch. He had almost unlimited power of "dispensing with formalities, freeing from obligations, shortening and lengthening the periods of initiation, retarding or advancing a member in his career." Every member of the Society was bound to obey his immediate superiors as if they stood for him in the place of Christ, and that to the extent of doing what he considered wrong, of believing that black was white if the General so

willed it. The General resided at Rome, holding all the threads of the complicated affairs of the Society in his hands, receiving minute reports of the secret and personal history of every one of its members, dealing as he pleased with the highest as well as the lowest of his subordinates.

"Yet the General of the Jesuits, like the Doge of Venice, had his hands tied by subtly powerful though almost invisible fetters. He was subjected at every hour of the day and night to the surveillance of five sworn spies, especially appointed to prevent him from altering the type or neglecting the concerns of the Order. The first of these functionaries, named the Administrator, who was frequently also the confessor of the General, exhorted him to obedience, and reminded him that he must do all things for the glory of God. Obedience and the glory of God, in Jesuit phraseology, meant the maintenance of the Company. The other four were styled Assistants. They had under their charge the affairs of the chief provinces; one overseeing the Indies, another Portugal and Spain, a third France and Germany, a fourth Italy and Sicily. Together with the Administrator, the Assistants were nominated by the General Congregation (an assembly of the Professed of the Four Vows), and could not be removed or replaced without its sanction. It was their duty to regulate the daily life of the General, to control his private expenditure on the scale which they determined, to prescribe what he should eat and drink, to appoint his hours for sleep, and religious exercises, and the transaction of public business.... The Company of Jesus was thus based upon a system of mutual and pervasive espionage. The novice on entering had all his acts, habits, and personal qualities registered. As he advanced in his career, he was surrounded by jealous brethren, who felt it their duty to report his slightest weakness to a superior. The superiors were watched by one another and by their inferiors. Masses of secret information poured into the secret cabinet of the General; and the General himself ate, slept, prayed, worked, and moved beneath the fixed gaze of ten vigilant eyes."[691]

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