The Catholic vs. Jesuit: How are they different?

I have served in ministry for over fifteen years and have had a great learning experience. As such, the leadership of my local church has entrusted me with leading faith formation classes for teenagers and adults.

In our last adult faith formation class, we began discussing the Jesuit order. I started by challenging the learners to explain how they thought Jesuits differed from regular Catholics.

The differing answers I received triggered me to write about the intriguing comparison of Catholic vs. the Jesuit order. How do they differ?

Catholicism is a religious order, while Jesuits are a religious order within Catholicism that is focused on spreading the gospel extensively. Therefore, Catholicism is a religious movement, while Jesuit is a function of Catholicism that applies Christianity by all means possible.

In this article, I will differentiate between Catholics and Jesuits. Also, I will discuss the relationship between Catholics and Jesuits. To learn this and more, read to the end.

Who are Catholics

Catholics follow the Catholic church, a religious organization led by the Pope. Catholic is the largest Christian denomination in the world. Catholics believe in the Bible’s teaching and follow the instructions of Jesus Christ.

Some key beliefs Catholics hold include the holy trinity, which includes God the Father, Son, and the holy spirit. They also believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the Virgin Mary.

Additionally, they believe in the Eucharist, water baptism. Another major belief is that there is life after death, and people will live eternally in heaven or hell.

Who are Jesuits?

The Catholic
Jesuits. Image source: Pixabay

Jesuits are an order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic church founded by Ignatius de Loyola to spread Christianity vigorously. It is the largest order in the Catholic church, comprising more than 16000 priests.

The group is composed of chaplains, teachers, and pastors. It has also incorporated various professionals such as astronomers, layers, and doctors, among others. As such, they focus on teaching to nurture the whole man physically, spiritually, and mentally.

To become a Jesuit, one must express interest through inquiry to the Jesuit vocation director. You can then make an application, and the selection process takes place. One is then taken through various studies and finally takes four vows.

What is the relationship between Catholics and Jesuits?

All Jesuits are Catholics because the group was formed from Catholics, especially priests and brothers. Also, the Jesuits follow catholic traditions and teachings. It means that Jesuits are part of the broader Catholic community.

Jesuits also have a relationship with Catholics in that they play a significant role within the catholic church. For instance, they serve in various ministries and apostolic work, including social services, education, research, pastoral care, and spiritual direction.

They fully collaborate with the Catholics in churches, institutions of higher learning, and retreat centers to spread Christianity according to Catholicism beliefs.

Finally, the Jesuit’s intellectual contribution and influence are well received by the Catholics, impacting the Catholic church and traditions. Jesuits form a significant part of the Catholic church that influences how the church engages in world matters such as social justice.

Difference between Catholics and Jesuits

The Catholic vs. Jesuit - How are they different?
Catholics and Jesuits. Image source: Pixabay

The main difference between Catholics and Jesuits is that Catholicism is a religious denomination, while Jesuits are an order within the catholic denomination. It means that while Catholicism is a large church organization, Jesuits are a group of people.

Another difference is that anyone who believes in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ can become a catholic. On the other side, although all Jesuits are Catholics, not every Catholic can become a Jesuit.

One becomes a catholic by believing and following catholic teachings, but one must apply, go through selection and evaluation, receive diverse training, and take oaths to become a Jesuit.

Finally, a catholic is only obligated to follow the belief, traditions, and teachings of the catholic church. In contrast, a Jesuit must receive extensive teaching and training on Catholicism and other crucial societal issues and teach and advocate for others.

Why does the Catholic church have different orders?

The catholic church has different orders to enable ministers to specialize in different ministries within the church to impact society in a wholesome manner. Other orders help the church define different roles and accomplish them effectively.

Additionally, the church has different orders for giving an opportunity to each individual to exercise their gifting and calling in specific areas.

For instance, individuals with a calling for missionary work can specialize in that, while those with a calling in health can specialize in it. Others can specialize in education, social justice, missions, and serving people experiencing poverty.

How many Jesuit priests are Roman Catholic priests?

The Catholic vs. Jesuit
Roman Catholic priests. Image source: Freepik

There are about 16000 catholic priests who are Jesuits. As such, the order prides itself as the largest within the Catholic church.

Most priests with other professionals such as scientists, educators, astronomers, and layers have joined the order, especially because of its commitment to shaping society and the catholic church.

All priests in the Jesuit order come from the catholic church because among the qualifications to join the order is that one needs to advance Christianity according to Catholicism.

Therefore, the catholic priest dominates the order but may change in the future if the Catholic church finds other partners who can fit in the mission of the Jesuits.

Do the Jesuits exist in more institutions than the Catholics

Jesuits exist in more institutions than Catholics because they are mostly found in higher learning institutions and missionaries.

Since most are educators and social justice advocates, they exist even in private institutions that believe in Catholicism. Also, they are found in non-governmental organizations.

Why are Jesuits considered bad?

Some protestants consider Jesuits bad because they were at the forefront during the counter-reformation. Counter-reformation involved stopping the protestant reformation.

They did so by raising opposition in colleges, universities, and schools, making it hard for the protestants to have an impact in such institutions.

Additionally, some people consider them bad because they are too liberal in that they teach and persuade women to take their rightful position in society.

Do you have to be Catholic to be a Jesuit?

The Catholic vs. Jesuit
Do you have to be Catholic to be a Jesuit? Image source: Freepik

You have to be a Catholic to be a Jesuit. Since Jesuits are an order of the Catholic church, one must be a Catholic to join the order.

Jesuits also advance the Catholic church’s beliefs, traditions, and teachings. One of their main functions is to spread Christianity, which must be based on Catholicism.

What are the requirements to join the Jesuits?

The first requirement is that you must be a catholic. You must believe in Catholicism, and you must be a practicing catholic.

This means they should have received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist per Catholic rites.

Other requirements include attaining the age of 18 years, being in good health, displaying personal and spiritual maturity, having achieved a high school level of education, having a genuine calling, and successfully passing the application and selection process.

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