They are the priests who look like the Jesuits used to: the simple black buttonless habit is almost the same; except the waist sash that hangs from the other hip.
They are the priests who pledge and give allegiance to the pope, the “Holy Father”, just like the Jesuits of old with their special vow.
They are the priest who don’t smoke, do comb their hair to the right, have no beards or mustaches and always use their Roman collar shirt front with their black tailor-made suit.
Their spirituality is centered in Christ: over the door of the their novitiate the words of St. Paul, “Christus Vita Vestra”, Christ Your Life, is proudly emblazoned; there is a military style: lining up, standing to attention, raising their red and white flag after the yellow papal flag while saluting it singing “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat,” Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules! They are the Roman Catholic soldiers of Christ.
They use the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola –slightly altered- for their spiritual growth and that of the lay people under their pastoral care.
They are the priests who, like the Jesuits, believe in twice daily examination of conscience.
Their founder also insisted that each member spend an hour every Sunday morning responding to a detailed examination of a particular virtue; a “practical exam”, chosen by his spiritual director, focusing on obedience, simplicity, attention to detail, delicate fraternal charity, gossip, generosity…
The founder described their spirituality as “Contemplative and Conquering.”
From the 1950s to the 60s their seminarians used to study in Rome with the Jesuits (Gregorian Pontifical University) and the Dominicans (University of St. Thomas, Angelicum) but when these institutions became too liberal, under the influence of Vatican Council II, the order created its own college of higher studies, Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, to avoid contamination.
In his life time the founder wrote a treatise on how to train priests, Integral Formation of Catholic Priests and the order gained the admiration of popes and bishops who entrusted the training of seminarians to them; seminarians who are future bishops. The training of seminarians had always been a specialty of the Jesuits.
In fact the history of this order is closely entwined with the Jesuits whom they have now supplanted. The founder sent his first Mexican recruits to study at the Jesuit-run seminary in Comillas, Cantabria, Spain, in the 1940s. The founder even poached some senior seminarians, studying at that institution for the diocesan priesthood, to increase the maturity of his own too young community. These were soon ordained to the priesthood in the new order becoming the founder’s faithful followers and generous collaborators: Frs. Antonio Lagoa, Rafael Arumí Blancafort, Rafael Cuena, Faustino Pardo, the blond twins Gustavo and Guillermo (the pedophile) Izquierdo, José María Escribano and Gregorio López: all of whom are now deceased. R.I.P. This was another chapter in the founder’s relationship with the Society of Jesus.
Some critics hold that the founder even based his constitutions on the rules of Saint Ignatius which he purloined from the public library in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
Defenders maintain that this holy man, slandered by many, was prompted by the Holy Spirit and made better use of St. Ignatius’ rules than the order originally founded by the Basque. Only time and the holiness of the Real Jesuits will tell.
Long the darlings of Pope John Paul II, their constitutions were recently approved by Pope Francis. It is business as usual now for this much maligned order. But the founder had warned his members to expect and be ready to stave off calumny and detraction.