Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
As men, we experience a desire to do great things. Starting when we’re young, we daydream about travelling to the moon, or rushing into a burning building, or playing professional baseball. The pursuit of greatness is written on our hearts.
But, we’re also called to be humble. And, sometimes, our desire to be great seems incompatible with our desire to be humble. This is where magnanimity comes in.
Magnanimity is the virtue that inclines the soul to render great service to God, embracing what is arduous and difficult.
Many of us have probably seen the Latin motto of the Jesuits: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG), which translates to “for the greater glory of God.” It’s a great one to write down and keep in your back pocket.
We’re called to take our desire for greatness, our drive and ambition, and aim it toward God. We’re called to do great things in His name...not our own.
The apostles Peter and John gave us great insight into what magnanimity looks like in action.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John heal a crippled man, and not surprisingly, the surrounding people are amazed at the miracle. As they gather around the apostles praising them, Peter responds,
“Why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?…By faith in (Jesus’) name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.” Acts 3:12-16
We witness this blend of humility and greatness. The apostles truly had the power to amaze, but they were incredulous — they refused to let anyone see that power as belonging to them. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam was the only way, the only explanation.
Let it be for us as well. Let’s answer our heart’s desire to do great things, but let’s do them ‘for the greater glory of God.’