Magis (Pronounced “mah-gis”) is Latin for “more,” and asks individuals to question: what more can I do for God? What more can I do for others? St. Ignatius of Loyola used the word to urge others to live more generously and in doing so give greater glory to God. In this way, the term is related to but not taken from, the Latin phrase Ad majorem Dei gloriam which means “For the greater glory of God.”
Magis is best understood as a lifestyle rather than an act or series of acts which demonstrate a person's commitment to the “more.” Magis is an Ignatian term, and for Ignatius it is a relationship word, meaning that it applies in personal relationships, both with God and with others, in terms of love. It is through this love that the proper meaning to “more” is found, love given freely, in generosity, and always in reverence to God. Through discernment of spirits, as described in Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, one must order his or her desires so that they are in line with what God desires – both in what is desired and in the way that is desired. With an emphasis on aligning our desires with God's, pursuit of magis can be for the greater glory of God rather than being driven by pride or selfishness. Aristotle's virtue of the mean can be applied to Ignatius’ view of magis in which virtuous action is always an intermediate state between extremes. To embody magis, an individual should not seek to be God nor be driven by the desire for more like we see in consumer society-- "have to do more, want to be more," pride and upward mobility, but should try to love in the image of God and conform to the will of God in the way that it is possible for each individual. Magis is concerned that what we choose in our everyday lives will contribute to our life of love and service to God and others. In this sense magis is a “continuous quality improvement … suggesting the spirit of generous excellence in which ministry should be carried on.”
Origin in the Spiritual Exercises
The concept of magis is derived from the First Principle and Foundation from Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This principle states: “The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by so doing to save his or her soul… We should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.” Though magis is never specifically mentioned in the Spiritual Exercises, it is seen through St. Ignatius’ diction when using words such as more or greater. Throughout the rest of his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius encourages people to examine: "What have I done for God? What am I doing for God? and What MORE can I do for God?"
Magis is a common title for service based programs at many Jesuit institutions. Below are some links to some of these organizations, but please note this is not a complete list.
- Creighton University Teaching Corps
- Loyola Chicago JVC Magis Program
- Seattle University Magis: Alumni Committed for Mission Program
- Santa Clara University Leadership Retreat
- MAGiS World Youth Day 2008
- Loyola Marymount Magis Program: Male Organization
- Georgetown University International Trips
- Boston College Magis Program
- St. Ignatius of Loyola
- Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
- First Principle and Foundation
- Ad majorem Dei gloriam
- Seattle University. http://www.seattleu.edu/magis/index.asp
- Fleming, David, S.J. Ignatian Invitation: Remember and Imagine. St. Louis University, 2002.
- Daly, Fran. S.J. St. Xavier High School Magazine.
- Traub, George W., S.J. Do you Speak Ignatian?. Xavier University, 2002.
- St. Ignatius of Loyola. Personal Writings. (London: Penguin Books, 2004). p. 289.