It is universally known, that the Society of Jesus was founded by St. Ignatius, a descendant of a noble family in Spain. Having unreservedly dedicated himself to God, and spent many years in prayer and penance, he conceived the noble plan of establishing a religious order, or a perpetual succession of men, dedicated to God, who should be constantly and actively engaged in promoting his glory and the spiritual welfare of their neighbour: Part of them, to be employed in the education of youth, in piety and learning; part, in the general instruction of the faithful; part, in defending the catholic faith against error; and part, in propagating the faith of Christ among infidel nations.
" For this purpose," says Father Bouhours, his best biographer, " he placed before his eyes, the two different forms of active and contemplative life; the former of which, after the model of Martha, is wholly employed in the service of our neighbour, and the other, after that of Magdalen, is wholly absorbed in the repose of contemplation."
He easily discerned, that the function? of these two states, taken separately, and in their whole extent, did not agree with his design :
and that he ought to choose from both, that, which was best; and to mingle them so equally, that they should help, and not hinder one another: for, in the conclusion, however little may be the resemblance between Martha and Mary, they still are sisters, not enemies.
He took, therefore, from contemplative life, mental prayer, the examinations of conscience, the reading of the holy scriptures, the frequentation of the sacraments, spiritual retirement, the exercises of the presence of God, and other similar practices of devotion. He took, from active life, all that might contribute to save and bring to perfection the souls of our neighbours;