Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (A.M.D.G.)

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Often taken to be the sign manual of the Society of Jesus from its frequent use in the writings of St. ignatius of loyola, the founder. Father Brou says: "The haunting idea which summons a formula to the tip of a writer's pen reveals the dominant thought of his soul: in the Constitutions alone, St. Ignatius makes mention of the greater glory of God 259 times, almost once for every page." Another writer, Father Lawlor, says: "I have made the count twice over, and the truth is that Ignatius uses the formula about 135 times locutions such as 'ad majus servitium Dei,' 'ad majus Dei obsequium,' etc., are repeated about 157 times in the Constitutions. " Probably the most dramatic presentation of the formula is seen in the silver statue, modeled in Rome by Francisco de Vergara

and erected in 1741 as an ex voto over the high altar in the Basilica of St. Ignatius at Loyola. The saint is represented bearing a large open book on his left forearm, and pointing with his right hand to the formula inscribed across both pages. It can be safely assumed that in St. Ignatius's vocabulary, the words obsequium, servitium, and gloria Dei are practically synonymous, and that consequently the idea occurs 1,000 times or more, if to the Constitutions we add the occurrences in the 12 volumes of his letters. Most interpreters agree that the dynamic word is the qualifier Majorem.

Bibliography: a. brou, The Ignatian Way to God, tr. w. j. young (Milwaukee 1952). f. x. lawlor, "The Doctrine of Grace in the Spiritual Exercises," Theological Studies 3 (1942) 513532. h. rahner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:149.

[w. j. young]