Living Ignatian Spirituality & Dominican Theology with the Servi
Founded in 1988, the Servants of Jesus and Mary are an Order of Papal Right. They are based in Blindenmarkt, in the district of Melk in lower Austria. Today, the Order has 50 members, of which 30 are priests working closely with the Scouts in Europe, as well as in parishes in Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and Kazakhstan. Here, REGINA writer Christoph Pitsch interviews Fr Christoph Markus in the Austrian Alps.
REGINA: Why would a young man seek out your Seminary?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: Actually the main reason why anyone enters a seminary is (hopefully) the Lord who calls a young man into this or another seminary.
REGINA: How do young men find you?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: Many know our congregation from our youth movement, especially the Scout movement “Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas“ and spiritual guidance.
“THROUGH THE SCOUTS AND OVER THE YEARS ACQUAINTANCES DEVELOP and this results in the will to become a priest – one without a tight bond with a particular parish, free for youth work.”
“Others get to know us through spiritual exercises according to St Ignatius of Loyola. They are looking for a community where the spirit of St Ignatius (omnia ad maiorem Dei gloriam) is being lived.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“Still for others, our appreciation for both forms of the Roman Rite (ordinary and extraordinary form) is the reason for their entry. There are not many seminaries in the German speaking world which go the bi-ritual way.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“Finally, others wish to study in a seminary whose teachings are in conformity with the Magisterium.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
REGINA: Can you describe the seminary’s spirituality?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: Our spirituality is Ignatian. We live according to the rules of St Ignatius, which he developed for the Jesuit Order. Our routine is affected by this spirituality: daily one hour of contemplation, twice Examen conscientiae, dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Holy Mass, but no choral prayers. Additionally, rosary and dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
REGINA: What is the seminary’s theological approach?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: In theology we do not follow the tradition of the Jesuit order, but rather the Dominican way, also regarding the interpretation of St. Thomas Aquinas who plays an important role in our curriculum.
“The liturgy is culmen et fons not only of the ecclesiastical life but also for our spirituality. Daily Mass is the most important, most beautiful and most striking “task“ for our members. Therefore Mass has to be the center, with absolute priority. We attach importance to an accurate and reverent way of celebrating Holy Mass – in both forms.” – FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“Every member has to know and to celebrate both forms though of course personal preferences are allowed. In our seminary we celebrate both forms in a balanced way, the forma ordinaria also in Latin, but not solely.” – FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“In the parishes we choose each form according to the expected spiritual benefit for the faithful.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“Living daily life from Holy Mass is very important. We try to keep connected to the Eucharistic Lord, in our heart but also physically when visiting the Tabernacle.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
REGINA: Can you describe your community life?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: Our community should provide an atmosphere where one can grow in their relationship to the Lord. The community is (thinking from St Ignatius) not an end in itself.
“In the community is the environment which supports the growing in Christ in order to act for the salvation of the souls. Of course, for this an amicable spirit is necessary within the community, but – again – the community is not an end in itself.” – FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
“Maybe one thing is also important to say: our Order has its roots in the Scout movement; our first members were all Scouts. This no longer the case today. But I think that one characteristic of our community is a simple way of life; i.e. the willingness to live with less material goods and to do our own housework– the cooking, cleaning, etc.” FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS
REGINA: What would you suggest that a young man interested in your seminary do?
FR CHRISTOPH MARKUS: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Get to know our community, through religious exercises, living with us together for a short time or participating in activities in the parishes. Visit the SJM website