Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Chapter IX:
Increasing Revenues

Of increasing the revenues of our colleges.

I. When it can be prevented, let no one be admitted to complete profession as long as he expects any inheritance, unless he has a younger brother in the society, or on account of other important reasons; but in all things, and above every thing, let the interest of the society be consulted in accordance with the known objects of the superiors; who agree at least in this, that the church should be restored to its former splendor, for the greater glory of God, and that all the clergy ought to be of one mind; wherefore let it be frequently suggested and every where promulgated, that the society consists partly of members who are so poor that but for the daily alms of the faithful they would totally want all things; that another part consists of fathers, poor indeed, but who possess a certain support, and are not like others, mendicants and burthensome to the people in their studies and functions; wherefore let the confessors of rulers, of noblemen, of widows and others from whom the society can hope much, seriously inculcate those things which concern this matter, that while they confer spiritual and divine things upon them, they should receive at least earthly and temporal things in return; and scarcely ever omit opportunities of receiving them when offered; and if any thing be promised and delayed, let it be prudently recalled to memory, when it can be done, so as to conceal all love of riches; but if any confessor of noblemen or others seem less industrious in attending practically to these things, let him be seasonably and cautiously removed; and let another be substituted; and should it be necessary for the greater satisfaction of his penitents, let him be sent to the more remote colleges, declaring that the society most needed his presence and talents there; for we have recently heard that some young widows, prevented by sudden death, did not make a legacy of tapestry very precious, which had been designed for temples of the society, through our negligence in not accepting it in right time; for it is not time, but the good will of our penitents which is to be looked at, in receiving such things.

II. Let prelates, canons, pastors, and other ecclesiastics who may be rich, be allured by great efforts to religious acts, and by degrees through the influence of the propensity to religious actions, conciliated to the society, which may finally see their liberality become gradually manifest.

III. Let confessors not neglect to interrogate their penitents, (but cautiously) about their name, family relations, parents, friends, estates, and then to examine their expectancies, state, intentions and resolutions, which ought to be moulded favorably to the society, if not so already. But if the hope of any advantage should be apparent, for it is not expedient to inquire about all things at once, let them be directed under pretence of greater clearing of conscience, or some salutary penance, to confess weekly; wherefore for the same reason let them be pressed to come freely to the confessional, so that what could not be inquired into on one occasion, may be ascertained on repeated opportunities; which if it shall succeed according to his wish, if it be a female, let her by every method be induced to persist in frequent confession and visitation; if a man to frequent companionship and familiarity with us.

IV. What has been said about widows may be understood to apply concerning merchants and rich citizens and married persons, without children, from whom the society may frequently acquire their whole estate, if these rules are prudently reduced to practice. But these things are to be chiefly observed towards rich female devotees, who adhere to us, about whom, if not descended from very distinguished parentage the common people can at most but murmur.

V. Let the rectors of colleges endeavor to obtain intelligence of the houses, gardens, farms, villages, and other estates which may be owned by the first nobility, merchants or citizens, and if it can be done, the taxes and rents by which they may be burthened; but cautiously, for it can be done most effectually by confession, companionship and private conversations, wherefore when a confessor obtains a rich penitent, let him immediately inform the rector, and try to cherish him by every method.

VI. But the sum of the matter consists in this, that all our members should know precisely how to conciliate their penitents, and others with whom they associate, and to accommodate themselves to the disposition of each; wherefore let the provincials provide, that many be sent to places, which are inhabited by the rich and noble; and that the provincials may do this the more prudently and completely, let the rectors remember to inform them accurately of the proper time to act.

VII. Let them also inquire whether by the reception of their children into the society, their contracts and possessions would pass to it; and if it can be done let them inquire whether any goods, by some agreement could be transferred or otherwise ceded to a college so as to come back after some time to the society; to which purpose let the poverty of the society and the greatness of its debts, be intimated to all, especially to the rich and great.

VIII. If it happen that widows, or rich married persons who are attached to us, have only daughters, let our members direct them kindly to the state of a devotee, or to religious seclusion; but if they have sons who may be fit for our society—let such be enticed to it, and let the others be encouraged by some small inducement to go to other orders. But if there should be an only son, by all means let him be drawn to the society, and all fear of his parents removed from his mind, and that the vocation is of Christ is to be shown by proving that the sacrifice would be acceptable to God although it required him to leave his parents without their knowledge and against their will; then let him be sent to some remote noviciate, having first given notice to the general: but if they have sons and daughters, let the daughters be first sent to a monastery or state of devotion, and then let the sons with the inheritance of the estates be drawn into the society.

IX. Let the superiors gently but firmly admonish the confessors of widows and married persons of this description that they may usefully employ themselves in behalf of the society according to these counsels: which if they do not, let them be removed and others substituted in their place, so that they cannot maintain any correspondence with the family.

X. The widows and other devout persons who appear to strive with great earnestness after perfection are to be induced as the most efficient method of rising to the pinnacle of excellence, to give all their possessions to the society, and to live upon the annuity which the society will regularly appoint them according to their need, so that without any care or solicitude, they may more freely serve God.

XI. To manifest more effectually the poverty of the society, let the superiors borrow money on bond from rich persons attached to the society of which the payment should be deferred; and then in time of dangerous disease especially, let such person be constantly visited, and by every method be prevailed on until he is persuaded to surrender the bond; for so we shall not be known in the will, and in the meantime will nevertheless obtain something without incurring the hatred of the heirs to the estate of the deceased person.

XII. It will also be proper to borrow money from some persons, at a yearly interest, and to dispose of it somewhere else at a higher rate, that the excess may cover the expense; for in the meantime it may happen, that the friends who have lent us the money, moved by compassion for us may give the society the interest, and at length even the principal, either by will or by donation during their life, when colleges are to be built or temples raised.

XIII. The society can also usefully trade, under the name of rich merchants attached to us; but certain and abundant gain is to be looked at, as in the Indies, which have furnished the society not only souls but thus far also much wealth through the favor of God.

XIV. Let our members take care to provide, in places where they reside, a physician who may be faithful to the society, whom they should especially commend to the sick, and extol above others; that in turn, he commending us in preference to other religious orders, may cause that every where we will be called to them that are sick and dying, and especially to such as are persons of great distinction.

XV. Let the confessors be attentive in visiting the sick, especially those who are in danger, and that they may decently exclude other ecclesiastics, and members of other orders, let the superiors take care that at any time when the confessor is obliged to leave the sick, others may succeed, and may encourage the sick man in good purposes; the horror of hell, etc. or at least of purgatory, in the meantime is prudently to be held forth, and it is to be shown, that as water extinguishes fire, so alms extinguishes sin; and that alms can never be better bestowed than for the nourishment and support of such persons as by their calling profess a desire for the salvation of their neighbors; and so too will the sick be benefited themselves, and make satisfaction for their own sins; for charity covers a multitude of sins. Charity can also be described as that wedding garment, without which no one can be admitted to the heavenly feast. Finally, let those things be produced from scripture and the holy fathers, which may be judged most efficacious to influence him, respect being had to the capacity of the sick person.

XVI. Let women complaining of the vices and unkindness of their husbands be instructed secretly to withdraw a sum of money and to offer it to God, for the expiation of the sins of their husbands and for obtaining forgiveness for them.