WADE ST. ONGE

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Part 6: Religious



VI. RELIGIOUS


A. Five Points for Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life.
- Religious life was to be “renewed” by a “constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes” and “adapted” as well, “to the changed conditions of our time”, via five principles outlined by the document. (PC1). This includes:
1. Constant Return to sources of Christian Life: “The highest rule of each institute must be the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels”(PC2a)
2. Constant Return to Original Spirit of Institutes: “The patrimony of each institute - their founders’ spirit and special aims as well as their sound traditions must be faithfully held in honor” (PC2b).
3. Sharing in the Life of the Church: “All institutes should share in the life of the Church, adapting as their own and implementing in accordance with their own characteristics the Church’s undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary and social” (PC2c).
4. Adaptation to Changed Conditions: “Institutes should promote among their members an adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times they live in and of the needs of the Church” (PC2d); “Adjustments made in accordance with the needs of our age must be animated by a renewal of spirit” (PC2e).


25. Christ as Model for Religious Life; Interior Renewal of Religious
- “The highest rule of each institute must be the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels” (PC2a). At the heart of this must be a true interior renewal, fueled by a rich prayer and spiritual life, leading religious to find their unity of life.

A. Religious: Conformity to Christ.

a. Showing the Face of Christ. “Religious should carefully keep before their minds the fact that the Church presents Christ to believers and non-believers alike in a striking manner daily through them” (LG46).

b. Imitation of Christ. Because of this fact, Religious must imitate Christ “in [His] contemplation on the mountain [or prayer], in His proclamation of the kingdom of God to the multitudes [in evangelism], in His healing of the sick and maimed [charitable works], in His work of converting sinners to a better life [spiritual healing and renewal], in His solicitude for youth [education and catechesis] and His goodness to all men [through holiness of life]” (LG46).

c. Interior Renewal. To achieve this imitation of Christ, religious life needs to be reformed through an “interior renewal” instead of a merely “external” or “superficial” or “legalistic/juridical” renewal. Thus, “everyone should keep in mind that the hope of renewal lies more in the faithful observance of the rules and constitutions than in multiplying laws” – (PC4) in other words, through devotion to an internal love for Christ and His spirit of faithful obedience rather than a “legalistic” following of a “laundry list” of rules and regulations. d. Virtues. This in turn “ought to inspire and foster in them the exercise of the virtues, especially humility, obedience, fortitude and chastity” (PC5), for they are “dedicated to the service [of the Church]” (PC5).

B. Unity of Life.

a. Explained. “The whole religious life [should] spring . . . from intimate union with [Christ]” (PC8), so that, by “seeking God solely and before everything else [religious] should join contemplation, by which they fix their minds and hearts on Him, with apostolic love, by which they strive to be associated with the work of redemption and to spread the kingdom of God” (PC5). It is thus that Religious should find their “unity of life” in Christ.

b. Prayer and Spirituality. First of all, however, they must be well grounded in their spiritual lives. Thus, “drawing upon the authentic sources of Christian spirituality, members of religious communities should resolutely cultivate both the spirit and practice of prayer, hav[ing] recourse daily to the Holy Scriptures and celebrat[ing] the sacred liturgy, especially the holy sacrifice of the Mass, with both lips and heart, so that they will love Christ's members as brothers, honor and love their pastors, and dedicate themselves wholly to the mission [of the Church]” (PC6). Thus, prayer, devotion to Scripture, and liturgical participation should lead to an increase in charity, honor and obedience to pastors, and dedication to the Church’s mission – and to the extent this is so, Religious know whether or not they have achieved this unity of life (and vice versa).


26. Return to Sources
- “The patrimony of each institute - their founders spirit and special aims as well as their sound traditions must be faithfully held in honor” (PC2b). This also includes the fidelity to the community’s special charism, as well as the practice of common life as was practiced in the early church, and the ever-more perfect observance of the evangelical counsels.

A. Spirit, Special Aims, and Sound Traditions Honoured.

a. Active Religious. Regarding the preservation of religious traditions, we read that “Religious engaged in the active apostolate must always be imbued with the spirit of their Religious community, and remain faithful to the observance of their rule and spirit of submissiveness due to their own superiors” (CD35.2). Thus, they must be obedient to their charism and their raison d’etre, follow their rule, and of course preserve the spirit of obedience.

b. Monasteries. “Those in monastic life”, on the other hand, “retaining the characteristics of the way of life proper to them, should revive their ancient traditions of service . . . so that monasteries will become institutions dedicated to the edification of the Christian people” (PC9). Thus, monasteries should revive their tradition of being centers of learning and spirituality, rather than remaining rather remote and distant from the faithful.

B. Retention of and Fidelity to Charism. Each religious community was founded to meet a certain need, with certain principles, and a certain “charism” that colours what they do and how they serve. This must always be retained: “Religious communities should continue to maintain and fulfill the ministries proper to them” (PC20).

C. Community Life. “Common life, fashioned on the model of the early Church where the body of believers was united in heart and soul, and given new force by the teaching of the Gospel, the sacred liturgy and especially the Eucharist, should continue to be lived in prayer and the communion of the same spirit, living as a true family gathered together in the name of the Lord by God's love flooding the hearts of its members” (PC15).

D. Evangelical Counsels. Religious must return to the profound reason and meaning behind their way of life – a living out of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

a. Poverty.
i. Interior Spirit of Poverty. Thus, regarding poverty first of all, “religious should [use] goods not just in a way subject to the superior's will, but be poor both in fact and in spirit, their treasures in heaven” (PC13). Thus, they must embrace this poverty in their hearts, so that it is not “just another rule”.
ii. Expression of Voluntary Poverty. Communities must be responsible in making sure “religious . . . diligently practice and if need be express also in new forms voluntary poverty” (PC13) – by, for instance, “readily offer[ing] a quasi-collective witness to poverty and gladly us[ing] their own goods for other needs of the Church and the support of the poor” (PC13).
iii. Caution against Accumulation of Wealth. Finally, the call to poverty demands that “religious communities . . . avoid every appearance of luxury, excessive wealth and the accumulation of goods” (PC13), which will lead to scandal and attachment to goods.

b. Chastity.
i. Preparation for and Education in the State. Secondly, regarding chastity, religious must “possess the required psychological and emotional maturity . . . [be aware of] the dangers to chastity [and] be able to undertake . . . celibacy . . . in a way which will benefit their entire personality” (PC12).
ii. Means to Chastity. To this end, “religious . . . must have trust in God's help and not overestimate their own strength but practice mortification and custody of the senses; they should not neglect the natural means which promote health of mind and body; and under the direction of superiors, guard chastity more securely with the flourishing of true brotherly love in the common life of the community” (PC12).

c. Obedience. Finally, regarding obedience, “in the spirit of faith and love [religious] should humbly obey their superiors according to their rules and constitutions, using both the forces of their intellect and will and the gifts of nature and grace to execute the commands and fulfill the[ir] duties” (PC14). 


27. Share in the Life of the Church
- “All institutes should share in the life of the Church, adapting as their own and implementing in accordance with their own characteristics the Church’s undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary and social” (PC2c); “Institutes should promote among their members an adequate knowledge of the . . . needs of the Church” (PC2d). This universal outreach includes in a special way working with the local bishop and his clergy, and most especially the missions.

A. Universal Outreach. “All Religious have the duty, each according to his proper vocation, of cooperating zealously and diligently in building up and increasing the whole Mystical Body of Christ” (CD33). For - “The whole religious life . . . should be inspired by an apostolic spirit” (PC8).

a. Ways and Means. This building up and increasing is accomplished “by prayer, works of penance, the example of their own life, and by participating vigorously in the external works of the apostolate” (CD33).

b. Spiritual Life. It is the first of these –  prayer and works of penance – which provides the foundation for the rest. For “the . . . spiritual life of [religious] should [ultimately] be devoted to the welfare of the whole Church”, for it is “from this [that] their duty of working to implant and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ in souls [arises]” (LG44).

B. Relationship with and Attitude Toward Bishops and the Diocese and Parishes. This sharing in the life of the Church means that religious must cooperate with bishops and sometimes place themselves at his service.

a. Serving the Local Bishop. Thus, “[active] religious communities . . . can be called upon by the bishops to assist in various pastoral ministries” (CD35), and “should consider [it] an honor to respond . . . to [his] requests and desires”, “discharg[ing] their duties as active and obedient helpers” (CD35), but “with due respect for the character of their institute” (CD35). Thus, they must retain their spirituality and charism.

b. Relationship with Clergy and Support of Local Priests. This, of course, implies also “a well-ordered cooperation [with] the diocesan clergy” (CD35.5), in which “religious . . . strive to support, uphold, and fulfill priestly functions” (AA25).

c. Relationship with the Laity. “Religious . . . should [also] value the apostolic works of the laity and willingly devote themselves to promoting lay enterprises” (AA25).
i. Promoting and Supporting Religious Vocations. In all this work, “religious communities must exercise their right to make themselves known in order to foster vocations and seek candidates, doing so especially by their own example” (PC24).

C. The Missions.

a. Role in Working for and Supporting the Missions. “The missionary spirit must under all circumstances be preserved in religious communities” (PC20). It can never be neglected by any community – it must remain a top priority, for religious life “offers precious and absolutely necessary assistance to missionary activity” especially because it “clearly manifests and signifies the inner nature of the Christian calling” – unity to Christ through the Church (AG18).

b. Domestic Communities. Through Prayer and Works. Because of the domestic nature of some orders, though the “duty to . . . extend [the] Kingdom to every land” still applies, it must sometimes be catered according to the charism of the community, being done “to the extent of their capacities and in keeping with the proper type of their own vocation” (LG44). This can be “realized through prayer or active works of the apostolate” (LG44).

c. Active Communities. Regarding active communities, they should devote a portion of their work and members to the missions: “Institutes of the active life, whether they pursue a strictly mission ideal or not, should [consider] extend[ing] their activity for [missionary work] . . . leav[ing] certain ministries to others so that they themselves could expend their forces for the missions, . . . undertak[ing] activity in the missions” (AG40).
i. Adaptation. This may require “adapting their constitutions if necessary, but according to the spirit of their founder” (AG40), considering first “whether their members are involved as totally as possible in the mission effort” and secondly “whether their type of life is a witness to the Gospel accommodated to the character and condition of the people” (AG40). 

d. Religious Life in Mission Lands. Because of the importance and even necessity of religious life, in mission lands, “right from the planting stage of the Church, the religious life should be carefully fostered. This . . . offers precious and absolutely necessary assistance to missionary activity” (AG18).

D. Contemplative Communities. As for contemplative communities, . . .

a. Necessity. Conversion through Prayer and Penance. . . . they have a high and necessary call, and for that reason, they “must retain at all times, no matter how pressing the needs of the active apostolate may be, an honorable place in the [Church]” (PC7).

b. Prayer and Penance. This is essential because “by their prayers, sufferings, and works of penance [they] have a very great importance in the conversion of souls” (PC7).

c. Witness of Life. Contemplatives also “bear excellent witness among non - Christians to the majesty and love of God, as well as to our union in Christ” (AG40).

d. The Missions. For these reasons, contemplatives are necessary for the missions, and because of this, these institutes are asked to “found houses [especially] in mission areas” (AG40).

E. Education. “Religious and apostolic formation, joined with instruction in arts and science directed toward obtaining appropriate degrees, must be continued as needs require in houses established for those purposes” (PC18).


28. Adjustments in a Spirit of Renewal; Union and Consolidation
- “Adjustments [must be] made – in accordance with the needs of our age must be animated by a renewal of spirit” (PC2e); “Institutes should promote among their members an adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times they live in” (PC2d).

A. Adaptation.

a. The Rule. “Communities should adjust their rules and customs to fit the demands of the apostolate to which they are dedicated, with special provisions appropriate to each” (PC8).

b. According to Time and Place. “Religious communities should continue to maintain and fulfill the ministries proper to them [but] adapt them to the requirements of time and place [according to need]” (PC20), for “times change” and cultural differences exist.
i. Retention of Way of Life. However, they must always “retain . . . the characteristics of the way of life proper to them” (PC9),
ii. All Areas. . . . while “adapting . . . and implementing . . . undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary and social” (PC2c) – in other words, everything.

c. Ways and Means. Communities accomplish this by both “employing appropriate and even new programs and abandoning those works which today are less relevant to the spirit and authentic nature of the community” (PC20).

d. Contemplative Communities. With contemplative communities, the cloister should remain, though it should be “adjusted to conditions of time and place” (PC16), ensuring “obsolete practices [be] suppressed” (PC16).

e. The Habit. But in all communities, “the religious habit should be simple and modest, poor and at the same becoming, and meet the requirements of health and be suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the ministry involved” (PC17).

f. Federations and Assemblies. Regarding all adaptation, “federations” and “assemblies” should offer “suggestions and advice” on “adaptation and renewal” (PC4).

B. Goal.

a. Explanation. The goal of such adaptation is to build up the Church and to perfect the temporal sphere.

b. Knowledge of the Times and the Church. In order to accomplish this goal, however, all religious must, “depending on their intellectual capacity and personal talent [acquire knowledge of] the currents and attitudes of sentiment and thought prevalent in social life today [which should] blend together . . . harmoniously [leading to] an integrated life” (PC18). Religious must, remaining who they are, also be “with the times”, in order to remain relevant and relate to the modern world.

c. Renewal of the Temporal Order. Thus equipped with proper formation, “religious should strive during the whole course of their lives to perfect the culture they have received in matters spiritual and in arts and sciences” (PC18). Thus, they can achieve their goal of imbibing the temporal with the spiritual.

C. Union and Consolidation.  As part of the adaptation, religious orders must unite and sometimes be consolidated.

a. Union and Consolidation. “Communities [with similar] constitutions . . . and a common spirit should unite” (PC22), while “communities . . . which [do] not possess reasonable hope for further development should be combined with other more flourishing communities . . . whose scope and spirit is similar” (PC21).

b. Cooperation: Associations and Federations. Also, “associations [should be] formed between those [communities] who share . . . a very similar active apostolate” (PC22), as well as “federations (formed) if they belong to the same religious family” (PC22). Finally, “new religious communities” should be founded only if they prove “necessary” and “useful”. In some cases, “less is more”.

c. Collaboration: Conferences, Episcopal Conferences, Institutes.
i. General.  “There should also be a very close coordination of all apostolic works and activities which especially depend upon a supernatural attitude of hearts and minds, rooted in and founded upon charity” (CD35.5).
ii. Conferences and Institutes. “Conferences of Religious” should take part in this cooperation, by trying to “combine efforts”, and should communicate and work with “Episcopal conferences” and well as “institutes” (AG33).
iii. Promotion of Cooperation. Furthermore, “conferences or councils of major superiors” should meet and “encourage . . . cooperation” (PC23). 

D. Role of Contemplative Communities. “[Contemplative communities] must retain at all times, no matter how pressing the needs of the active apostolate may be, an honorable place in the [Church]” (PC7), for “by their prayers, sufferings, and works of penance [they] have a very great importance in the conversion of souls” (AG40). Furthermore, “they bear excellent witness . . . to the majesty and love of God, as well as to our union in Christ” (AG40).

Miscellaneous: Role of Religious Superiors

E. Religious Superiors.

a. Authority Exercised in a Spirit of Service and Openness. “Superiors should exercise their authority out of a spirit of service to the brethren, governing them as sons of God, respecting their human dignity [and] liberty . . . of conscience, and gladly listening to them and foster[ing] harmony among them for the good of the community and the Church” (PC14).

b. Listening to Members. Thus, Superiors should take counsel . . . and hear the members of the order in those things which concern the future well being of the whole institute” (PC4).

c. Providing for Education. They should also ensure that “religious and apostolic formation, joined with instruction in arts and science directed toward obtaining appropriate degrees . . . be continued as needs require” (PC 18).

d. Fostering Temporal Renewal. They must also ensure that “suitable instruction [begin] in [contemporary] sentiment and thought” in society (PC18), and give their religious “the opportunity, equipment and time” to “perfect the[ir] culture” (PC18).

e. Bishops and Religious. “Superiors should [also] accept . . . parishes” and “assist in various pastoral ministries” when “called upon by the bishop” (CD35.1).

f. Conferences of Superiors. In all of this, “conferences or councils of major superiors” should “encourage . . . cooperation . . . just distribution of ministers [and other] affairs” (PC23).

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