Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've been reading a lot about magis lately. The word is Latin for "more, to a greater extent"--a simple word that names for the Jesuits a truly powerful way of looking at life.

Yeah, that's right--Jesuits. I've always been a bit enamored with the Jesuit order, as well as several other orders of monks in the Catholic realm. The extreme commitment of it all, the singular focus on the things of God, even the celibate lifestyle, have always held a certain appeal for me. My favorite has always been the Jesuits, though. If the Catholic church were an army, then the Jesuits would be the special ops forces. Definitely my kind of gig.

Anyway, about magis...or "more." The word defines for the Jesuits a core value of their order, a guiding principle that shapes their paradigm and every choice they make. It says simply this: In every situation of life, in every circumstance, in every job, in every moment, always be looking for a way to take it to a place of "more"--to make it richer, to do it better or grander, to take it to the next level of impact, depth or the experience of life. Always be looking for the "more"--and as you see it, let go of what is to reach for what could be with all you have.

The Jesuits refer to magis as their "way of proceeding"--the way they do things, approach things. You could call it a guiding value.

The idea has really grabbed me, because it shines such a stark light on the way I often own "way of proceeding" if you will. Rather than "more," my guiding word is more often something more like "easy" or "comfortable." Most days I'm not looking for magis; I'm looking for the path of least resistance. I'm looking to make it as easy for myself as possible.

But what if I started looking for the "more" in my own life? What if it wasn't about finding the easy or comfortable way...but rather, the way that leads to the greater glory to God?

It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the Love and the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risks of living with both arms. One has to embrace life.—Morris West

(By the way, the name of the book that tells all about the Jesuit magis is Heroic Leadership.)


lisa said...

I love that you're posting more often!! Lots to think about... Thanks!

Jesuit John said...

For more on Jesuit Spirituality, check out