I remember the summer my father received his personalized “AMDG” license plates. He was so excited. A second-generation Jesuit grad, my dad is all about living Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
My high school friends saw the new plates and asked, “What does ‘AMDG’ mean?” Not knowing exactly how to define it at the time, I would just reply with the literal translation. “It means, all for the greater glory of God.”
It wasn’t until I embarked on my own journey through St. Ignatius’s writings in college that I was more able to comprehend what Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam means. I have learned even more about what it means from my co-workers in refugee resettlements over the past decade and a half. Amidst the greatest of atrocities, this family of Ignatian Volunteers, Jesuit Volunteer Corps members, and brothers and sisters of varied religions, cultures, and ethnicities works together daily to realize the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Today, when I’m asked what “AMDG” means, my answer is a little longer.
To live Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam is a way of being that permeates every thought, every deed, every action and inaction—all is contemplated and weighed, all for the greater glory of God. To live Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam is to lay claim to a legacy of “other-ness” that sets us apart and puts us at ease with any culture or people, A completely integrated other-ness that seeks to make all things whole, That approaches the liminal without hesitation, Finds God in all things, finds the Good in all things, and seeks to proclaim His glory in all that we do. It is a heritage of service However, whenever, and wherever needed, Of leadership in service To those impoverished in mind, body, and spirit. It is a call to respect the dignity of each human, The splendor of all creation, unencumbered by societal constructs. It is a complete inability to be unaware of injustice or impervious to inequality, A Spirit-driven determination to find a way to right the wrongs, To lift the downtrodden, To bind the wounds, To welcome the stranger, the nationless, the outcast, To see the humanity in all those discarded by economies and policies. To rise to this challenge—for the glory of God alone. To offer one’s heart and one’s hands, One’s whole self, a Suscipe, In desolation and in consolation. To give up even liberty for the sake of the love of the other. To be held to a higher standard, To see through a lens that sees the good and the possible in every impossible situation. To be aware of our place as privileged children of a living God who demands only that we abandon all status and privilege. To be the voice for the voiceless Responding to the call of the Spirit One with the harmonious resonance of all creation praising God. To seek Him and to find Him in all things, people, circumstances, and places, Unafraid to speak Truth to injustice To embrace the contradiction of Love Clothed in the power of the One who died naked and penniless. To be unattached to any outcome except that which God wills, Leaving behind comfort zones, Releasing the ego into the bosom of the Creator. Rooted in the confident security and the joy of knowing Love beyond words. Unattached to and surrendered to none but that Love. Called together at one table, unity in diversity, One family, working together to realize heaven on earth. Answering the call to serve and to glorify, in all ways, The Love that always finds a way.
This is to live Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.