Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Chapter XIII:
Selection of Youth for Admission

Of the selection of youths for admission into the society, and the way to retain them.

I. The utmost prudence must be exercised, that the youths selected, may be distinguished for the excellence of their understanding, agreeableness of form, or dignity of birth, or at the very least for one of these.

II. As a means of drawing them more readily into our order, the prefects and masters of schools must guide them with extraordinary assiduity, whilst they study, and in time of recess instil into them, how acceptable it is to God, for any one to consecrate himself, with all he has, to him, especially in this society of his son.

III. They may be led, on proper occasions, through the colleges and gardens, indeed occasionally even to our villas, and admitted to our recreations, becoming gradually intimate, care, however, being taken that familiarity does not breed contempt.

IV. The preceptors must not be permitted to chastise, and reduce them to the level of other pupils.

V. They must be overcome by little gifts and various privileges suitable to their age; but above all let them be excited by spiritual discourses.

VI. Let them be impressed with the divine interposition manifested in their election to the society, in preference to all their school-mates.

VII. At other times, especially in exhortations, they must be terrified with threats of eternal damnation, if they refuse to comply with the divine call.

VIII. If they continue firmly in the desire to enter the society, their admission can be deferred as long as they remain constant; but if they seem to waver, use every method, immediately, to establish them.

IX. Let them be effectually taught, not to mention their vocation to any friend, nor even to their parents, before their admission; so that if subsequently any temptation should cause their relapse, neither the youth nor the society shall be exposed; but if the temptation be overcome, its recollection will always afford an opportunity of stimulating them, if it occurred during their noviciate, or after the taking of their first vows.

X. As the greatest difficulty exists, in alluring the children of the great, noble, and powerful, whilst they are with their parents, who are training them to succeed to the situations they themselves occupy,—they should be persuaded by our friends, rather than our members, to place them in other provinces, at remote universities, in which we teach, previous instructions being given to the professors of the quality and condition of the youths,—and so, we may readily and certainly conciliate their good will towards the society.

XI. As they arrive at an age somewhat mature, lead them to the performance of certain spiritual exercises which have often ended well,—as in Germany and Poland.

XII. When they are in affliction and distress, is the time to urge and admonish them, according to their rank and circumstances, of the vanity of riches, and the blessedness of yielding to their vocation, rather than to suffer eternal torment.

XIII. To obtain more readily, the assent of parents, to the desire of their sons to join the society, we must exhibit the superiority of this, above all other religious societies, on account of the sanctity and wisdom of its fathers, its pure reputation with all, and the universal honor and applause, which it receives, from the very highest to the lowest; let us also enumerate the princes and nobles, who with infinite comfort to their own souls, have lived and died, or do still live in this society of JESUS: let us show how acceptable it is to God for the young to give themselves to him, particularly in this society of his Son, and how excellent for a man to have served God, from his youth; but if there should be some hesitation, on account of tenderness and immaturity of age, we can clearly display the gentleness of our institute, which contains nothing very irksome, except the observance of the three vows; indeed it ought to be specially noted, that we have no system, whose violation would incur even venal sin.