TESTED FOOTINGS FROM GENERAL HOUSE and DRIFTWOOD FROM
Material That Might Be Helpful For Australian MSC Chapter Reflections 2010
BACKGROUND MATERIAL, ESPECIALLY ON COMMUNITIES TODAY
Restoring the image of God in the human person
Is The Spirituality Of Reparation Still Relevant Today ?
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
The Heart of
Jesus, infinitely holy, perfectly pure, wants an irreproachable chastity in
his priests. The virginity of Mary
gave this adorable Heart to the world; the purity of
The vow of Chastity (1)
The Missionaries of our Society, by the vow of chastity, strive to keep their body and mind in angelic purity. Those who glory in the wonderful name of Missionaries of the most sacred and pure Heart of Jesus must neglect nothing in order to preserve this excellent virtue in its integrity before God and the world. Let them therefore carefully flee idleness, cultivate temperance in food and sobriety in drink, chastise their body and bring it into subjection, control their senses, especially their eyes. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 2, n. 11; Formula Instituti Par. W, II, n. 11)
The vow of chastity (2)
All and sundry are earnestly requested and begged in the Lord, whose most sacred Heart shone with a divine purity, to make every effort that no one incur not only any stain of the contrary vice, but even the slightest suspicion of a stain. For such a suspicion, even if unjust, is more an obstacle to the Society and to its holy ministries . than any other crimes falsely imputed to us. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 2, n. 4; Formula Instituti Par IV, II, n. 4)
CHAPTER VII. THE VOW AND VIRTUE OF CHASTITY.
64. By the vow of chastity a professed member binds himself to observe celibacy, and also, by a new obligation, namely, that of the vow itself, to abstain from every act contrary to chastity.
65. Those who rejoice in the glorious name of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should leave nothing undone in order to keep this excellent virtue in its integrity before God and men.
66. In order to attain this more easily, let
them contemplate the most pure Heart of Jesus, have constant recourse to prayer,
and humbly beg the aid, especially of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and of
67. Let them be careful to avoid idleness, practise temperance in food and drink, chastise their body and bring it into subjection, and curb all their senses, particularly their eyes.
68. Ever diffident of their own strength, let them avoid the company of women, abstain from all familiarity with them, guard against their useless visits, and frivolous conversations, taking account especially of the circumstances of place and time. To receive them, there should be, outside the cloister, a common parlour which can be seen into from without.
69. The members are absolutely forbidden to employ women in their workrooms, gardens, or domestic service of any kind, or to receive them within the house.
70. Each and all are entreated in the Lord, Whose Most Sacred Heart shines with Divine Purity, to avoid, with all their strength, contracting not only any blemish of the contrary vice, but even the slightest suspicion of such a blemish.
71. In order that such an evil may be
absolutely warded off, the members must strive by every means, even
extraordinary ones if necessary. Therefore, if anything, no matter how good
and holy it may be, is likely, according to the judgment of the
42. To build up the body of Christ, the Spirit enriches the Church with different charisms. Through a gift of the Spirit, we are called to follow Jesus in his mission and to live that form of love which is consecrated celibacy.
43. By professing celibacy, we consecrate ourselves to God in order to love him with a free and undivided heart, and to love our brothers and sisters as Jesus did. By this vow, we bind ourselves, for the sake of the Kingdom, to forgo marriage and to observe perfect chastity.
44. Our consecrated celibacy is a commitment to grow in emotional maturity towards the perfection of love found in the Heart of Christ. Mindful that celibacy touches the depths of the human person, each member will recognize that he needs prudence and self-discipline, a deepening faith and prayer life, if he is to remain faithful to the commitment he has made.
45. The community will strive to create an atmosphere in which each member can give himself more generously to the Lord in celibate love, for the building up of his Kingdom both within the community and among the people he serves. Community life, commitment to mission and a healthy asceticism will help us to live celibacy fruitfully and honestly.
Convinced of the love of Jesus, we will not be afraid to live this form of solitude which God alone can fill.
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
The vow of obedience (2)
In honour of the obedience that Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us when he willed to be subject to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and to dignitaries and authorities, whomsoever they might be, both the good and the difficult, we will obey exactly each and everyone placed over us, seeing them in the Lord and the Lord in them. By this vow each promises full submission of himself to his superiors for the sake of God. whose representative they are. In order that obedience be perfect: in our heart, it should be humble and without reserve; in our intellect, simple and in a certain sense blind; in execution, prompt, joyful, thorough. Perfect obedience should always be ready to obey not only in things that oblige in conscience but in everything, even the smallest things, especially those that distress nature and oppose one's own judgement and self-will, provided no sin is apparent in them. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 3, n. 4; Formula Instituti Par. W, III, n. 1)
The vow of obedience (3)
Those who enter our Society may perhaps suffer others to surpass them in learning, in mortification, in poverty, however they will not allow themselves to be outdone by anybody in obedience and mutual charity. In that way they will show themselves to be genuine sons of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who submitted himself with remarkable humility to all with whom he lived and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, although he was God and King of Kings. He is no way possesses this genuine obedience who far from seeking to conform his will to his Superior's tries, on the contrary, either directly or indirectly, to bring the Superior to will what he wills; this is to invert the order of divine Wisdom and to delude oneself. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. 3, nn. 71; Formula Instituti Par. IV, III, n. 4fJ
The vow of obedience (4)
When a subject
judges before God that the command of a
CHAPTER VIII. THE VOW AND THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE.
72. By the vow of obedience the members take
upon themselves the obligation of obeying their lawful
73. They are obliged to obey by virtue of
their vow when a lawful
74. Rarely, cautiously, and prudently, and
only for a grave reason, with a view to the particular or general good,
should Superiors command in virtue of holy obedience. It is expedient at
times to communicate this formal precept in writing or in the presence of two
witnesses. Moreover, this is necessary in order that the command may be
enforced judicially, and retain its force even when the
75. Bearing in mind the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who became obedient unto to death for us, let all, heartily and willingly, commit themselves to the will of Superiors who have dominative power over their subjects, and let them obey as Christ, Our Lord, not only Superiors, but also officials of every rank in all things pertaining to their office,
76. In order that this obedience may be perfect, it should be humble and simple; prompt in carrying out orders; cheerful and complete; and ever intent on obeying, not only in those matters which oblige in conscience, but also in other matters, especially those which are burdensome and contrary to one's own judgment and self will, provided they contain nothing sinful.
77. All should be convinced that one cannot be said to be .truly obedient, if, in order to suit his own convenience, he endeavours either directly or indirectly to conform the Superior's will to his own, for by this way of acting, order is entirely upset, and man is wont to deceive himself.
78. If, however, a subject should judge before God, that the command of his Superior rests upon a false supposition, and should prudently fear that the carrying out of the command would prove harmful, let him humbly and with a pure intention inform his Superior, being disposed at the same time to abide by his decision, leaving all to God, Whose place the Superiors hold.
79. When anyone is refused a request by his
80. In order that the Society may advance more easily and more rapidly in perfection, let each member be content with his office and place; let him be slow to ask,' and ever ready to serve; shunning all complaint, let him, if he thinks anything necessary, inform the Superiors with simplicity.
81. Let no one leave or hand over to another
the care of anything or any office entrusted to him, nor interfere with the
duties of others, nor presume to enter a place reserved for the work of
another without the permission of the
82. The letters which the members either
write or receive must be given to the
83. The Superiors may not permit their subjects to live outside a house of the Society except for a grave and just reason, and then only for the time that is necessary. If absence is extended beyond six months, except in the case of studies, permission of the Holy See is required.
84. Travelling should be regulated in accordance with both poverty and obedience as regards time, conveyance and route. When travelling, members should avoid, as far as possible, staying with lay people.
85. Let no one leave the house without
permission of the
86. The members are to have nothing printed without the permission of Major Superiors. Those who write or translate books may not publish them without the express approbation and permission of the Ordinary and Provincial Superior.
38. Jesus became obedient out of love; he even gave his life to accomplish his Father's will. We profess obedience to share in his spirit of obedience, that we may serve better our brothers and share more deeply in the mission of our Society and the Church.
39. By professing
obedience, we commit ourselves to seek and accept the will of God in the life
and mission of the Society. By this vow, we bind ourselves to obey the orders
of our lawful Superiors in all that concerns the Constitutions. We are bound
in a special way when a
40. It is in communion with our brothers that we seek to discover the will of God. We bind ourselves to live and act always within that communion and to practice obedience in mutual charity. We bring into the community whatever gifts nature and grace have given us, and put them at the service of Christ and the People of God.
41. The community will endeavour, to the best of its ability, to strengthen each member in his response to God's will for him, both in what he should personally become and in what he should do for God and for his brothers.
98. The Society needs clear norms of government to accomplish its mission and to help each member grow in his vocation. These norms should enable all members to exercise their responsibility for promoting the life and mission of the Society.
99. Authority in the Society should be understood in the light of our charism and spirit. Consequently government and structures should promote unity and a sense of belonging to the Society. Superiors and all who share in authority should support the spiritual and human growth of the members so that the Society can carry out its mission effectively. Each member, imitating him who came to serve and not to be served, should be mindful of his responsibility as an individual and as a member of community. Finally, all should be convinced of the need for open and fraternal dialogue, putting into practice the principles of subsidarity and co-responsibility.
100. S. Authority in our communities recognizes that each member brings his particular talents and gifts to be placed at the service of others and of the mission of the Society. Hence, authority will be exercised in the light of the following general principles.
101. S. Subsidiarity: A higher authority allows subordinate authorities to act freely within the sphere of their competence. This ensures that decisions are taken on the level where they can be made in a responsible fashion. This also creates an atmosphere in which the members are enabled to accept and affirm the exercise of authority more readily. While always having an active, advisory and supporting function, a higher authority will intervene only when necessary. The higher authority, with the consent of his Council, has the right and the duty of judging when intervention is necessary and how it is to be done in an effective and supportive manner.
102. S. Co-responsibility: A genuine acceptance of subsidarity challenges members to assume responsibility for fostering the life and mission of the Society and for promoting common goals. This presumes that adequate means of communication exist to ensure a free flow of information concerning goals and objectives between authority and the members and vice versa. Authority should be exercised in such a way that this sense of co-responsibility is promoted. Superiors will foster dialogue and encourage members to be part of the decision making process, especially those directly affected by the decision. For their part, the members will enter into dialogue with sincerity, accepting responsibility for their contributions to the decisions. They will faithfully support and carry out the decisions taken,
103. S. Accountability: The notion of accountability is implied in the principles of subsidiarity and co-responsibility. In various ways, we are accountable to each other for the decisions and apostolic choices we make, for our use of material and community goods and for our fidelity to prayer and the spiritual life. Government too is accountable in various ways and degrees to those whom it serves. It will open itself to periodic review in order to ensure as great a unanimity of mind and heart as possible. Structures for such reviews will be established by Provincial Chapters.
104. S. To govern
means above all to give life and unity to a community. A close communion of
the various levels of government is necessary in order to animate and coordinate
our common life and mission, and to provide necessary administration and
services. An important aspect of the
General Structures of Authority
105. §1. All members share the same religious life and are dedicated to the same mission according to the gifts each has received from the Spirit. The Church has approved our evangelical lifestyle and our mission as an authentic expression of religious life. It has recognized us as a clerical Institute of pontifical right with true autonomy of life, especially of government.
Since we are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the universal Church, in the spirit of our Founder we accept the authority of the Holy Father, even in virtue of our vow of obedience.
Since the life and mission proper to the Society needs to be inserted into the local Church, we need when making decisions to take into account the proper authority of Bishops, in keeping with our Constitutions.
106. Superiors possess authority in the Society in accordance with Canon Law and the laws of the Society.
107. Superiors exercise their authority in three areas: the direction of our mission and apostolic works, the government of persons, and the administration of temporal goods.
108. Before taking
up his task, a
109. In order that a formal command of a Superior may be enforced juridically and retain its force even when the Superior who gave the command is no longer in office, it is to be communicated through letter by registered post or in the presence of two witnesses.
110. When a
Fr Chevalier Constitutions
1923 Constitutions if
The vow of poverty
Obliged by this vow not to use things as his private property, but only as things on loan, the use of which can be taken away from him at any moment by the Superior, the Missionary will detach his heart from all these possessions, and his delight will be in holy poverty, after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, his leader and model. With regard to clothing, let him avoid anything that gives an impression of expense, affectation and worldliness. (Regles 1855, p. 45)
The vow of poverty (1)
Let all love
poverty as a mother; use nothing as their own; and suffer willingly to be
given the worst things in the house. They shall not give away or receive,
loan or borrow anything, or make requests from outside, unless the
The vow of poverty (2)
That poverty might flourish in our Society let each diligently and attentively take care lest the least ambition enter his heart, and let him seek no church benefice or honour under whatever pretext. In the name of Jesus Christ, the King of the poor, let all practise poverty, as understood in our Society, sincerely and with utmost diligence. They will achieve this effectively if they keep in mind the great and innumerable benefits to be found in it, and how severely God will punish those who mitigate by legislation this bulwark of religious discipline without an Apostolic Indult, and open the way for every abuse and vice to invade the Society. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. V, art. I, n. 9f; Formula Instituti Par. IV, I, n. 9f)
Concerning temporal goods (1)
Although it would be desirable that the Society, devoid of temporal goods, should trust in divine Providence alone, nevertheless for several reasons, it has seemed in God that it should be allowed to have some possessions or certain fixed revenues for the upkeep of its members. But the members of the Institute must keep in mind that from a too great abundance of temporal goods and from a corrupt use of them, very often many of those evils arise which throughout history have plunged religious Societies, little by little, to their ruin. It is therefore supremely necessary that these goods be administered as they should be, wisely and in a religious spirit, according to the norms of charity and poverty. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Chap. XI, n. 1f)
Concerning temporal goods (2)
In the administration of temporal goods the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart should always be mindful of what Society they belong to and be careful to edify, in word and deed, those with whom they do business. They should keep them on good terms with themselves and with the Society, for the greater glory of God and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If in business matters some difficulty should arise, either from relatives of some Missionary of the Sacred Heart or from others, whoever they may be, let them cede their rights rather than charity; for peace and a good reputation are worth more than gold. (Constitutiones MSC 1877, Ch. XI, n. 3)
51. By the simple vow of poverty, the members renounce the right to dispose lawfully of any temporal thing without the permission of legitimate Superiors.
52. Before the profession of temporary vows, the novices must cede, for the whole period during which they will be bound by their vows, the administration of their property to whomsoever they wish, and dispose freely of its use and usufruct, even if they wish, in favour of the Society.
53. In the same manner the members can, and must, notwithstanding their profession, hand over the administration, and freely dispose of the use and usufruct of those goods which come to them by any lawful title after profession.
54. These acts cannot be revoked, or even changed, whilst the vows last, without the permission of the Superior General.
55. The transfer of administration and the disposal of the use and usufruct loses its force by departure from the Society.
56. The Professed retain radical ownership of their property and the capacity to acquire other property. They may not abdicate gratuitously the dominion over their property by a voluntary deed of conveyance (per actum inter vivos).
57. Before the first profession the Members shall freely dispose by will of all the property they actually possess or may subsequently possess. They may not change this will without the permission of the Holy See, or if the case be urgent and time does not admit of recourse to the Holy See, without the permission of the higher Superior, or if recourse cannot be had to him either, without the permission of the Local Superior.
58. After profession, whatever the religious, whether subjects or Superiors, receive by way of gift, or acquire by their own work, or on account of the Society, by virtue of, or on the occasion of, their ministry, they may not take or keep as a personal gift, but must add to the goods of the community for the benefit of the house or Society.
59. As regards furniture, food, and clothing, let all things in the Society be in common. It is fitting, however, that clothing of a strictly personal nature should be reserved for the use of each one.
60. As to those goods which are owned by the
Society, and which are destined for the use of the members, let them take
nothing as their own, use nothing as their own, injure or destroy nothing.
Let no one receive anything for himself from others, or give anything to
others, or transfer anything with him from one house to another without the
permission of the
61. Whatever the members use should be in keeping with poverty; hence they should have nothing superfluous, nothing that savours of luxury as regards dwelling, food, clothing, travelling and such like.
62. In order to strive after more perfect poverty, let the members sincerely love this virtue, keep their hearts free from all inordinate desire of earthly things, be quite satisfied with what is necessary, refrain from seeking their own comfort, and bear at least patiently with whatever inconveniences poverty may entail.
63. In the name of Jesus Christ, Who, being rich, became poor for our sakes, let all practise most faithfully this great virtue, and often ponder upon the great benefits it affords, and how severely the Lord will punish those who pull down this bulwark of religious discipline and make a breach through which every abuse and vice can invade the Society.
6. With our Founder, we contemplate Jesus Christ, united to his Father with bonds of love and trust. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave thanks to his Father for having revealed himself to little ones; for he was his Servant, deeply involved with the poor and with sinners. In the words of Father Chevalier, "He was happy to pour out the tenderness of his Heart on little ones and on the poor, on those who suffer and on sinners, on all the miseries of humanity. The sight of any misfortune moved his Heart with compassion."
7. In Jesus we see the Good Shepherd who goes in search of those who are lost, who knows his own and gives his life to save them. He shows us the Father's deep concern for those who are considered unimportant and whose rights are disregarded.
We learn from him who is gentle and humble of heart, who eases our burdens and gives us rest. He also makes demands and speaks with authority. To those who come to him, he gives his own strength and courage to help them live and work for justice and peace.
Jesus obeyed his Father's will and became the servant of his brothers and sisters, even dying for them; but his death was his victory. Through it, God made him Lord, the first-born of a new People. He is the Risen One, who casts out fear in order to deepen our faith and love.
9. When he laid down his life, when his side was opened, he gave us his Spirit, who pours love into our hearts and gives us the will to serve. Looking on him who was pierced, we see the new Heart that God has given us, an inexhaustible source of life.
10. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, we live our faith in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ.
We want to be like Jesus who loved with a human heart; we want to love through him and with him, and to proclaim his love to the world.
11. Jesus is the perfect model of our consecrated life; his love is our inspiration and driving force. Therefore, our life and apostolate will be marked by a sincere and fervent love of the Incarnate Word. This love will urge us constantly to share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ.
12. Following the example of Jesus, we will strive to lead others to God with kindness and gentleness, to unite them to him by love and to free them from fear. Trusting in God's grace, we will be ready, if necessary, to lay down our lives for them.
13. The spirit of our Society is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity; it is, above all, one of love for justice and concern for all, especially the very poor.
14. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, we must be convinced of the necessity of a deep interior life that is open to the Holy Spirit, so that we may grow in faith and knowledge of the mystery revealed in the Heart of Christ. This will give us the strength to remain faithful to the mission and spirit of the Society.
15. The pierced Heart of Christ is the sign of the incarnate love of God. For this reason, devotion to the Sacred Heart, as understood by the Church, is devotion to the love with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ. At the same time, it expresses our love for God and for our neighbour. Faithful to the spirit of our Founder, we will give this devotion a special place in our spirituality and in Our apostolate.
16. We believe in God's love offered to the world but so often rejected by sin. By offering our lives with Jesus, we share in his redemptive work and we complete in ourselves what is lacking in his sufferings on behalf of his body, the Church.
17. In and through the Eucharist, God renews his Covenant with us and we renew the gift of ourselves to him. Faithful to our tradition, we acknowledge that this sacrament is central to our life of faith. It is the source of fraternal love and of apostolic life.
18. Because Mary is intimately united to the mystery of her Son's Heart, we pray to her, as our Founder did, using the title, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She has known the unfathomable riches of Christ; her whole being was filled with his love; she leads us to him, pointing to his Heart, the source of boundless love that gives birth to a new world.
19. We also honour
same vocation and same mission
an expression of Church's own communion
of faith, love and worship,
where all are children of God, brothers/sisters in Christ.
way we live our community life should give witness to this. (28)
Ours is a spirit
of family and
formed by kindness and understanding,
by compassion and mutual forgiveness,
by gentleness, humility and simplicity,
by hospitality and a sense of humour. (32)
Must take Seriously the need
to devote time to community life
and to promote it
by celebrating special occasions together.
Those who live under the same roof, and,
more importantly, those whose ministry obliges them to live apart
All of us will strive to remain united in spirit
and dedicated to the same goals. (30)
We are all brothers
given to one another
to live and work together for the sake of the Kingdom
• where justice and love will unite all people.
therefore fraternal charity will be
of basic importance in community life. (31)
and knows that he is
• and challenged
We will seek to discover the will og God
in communion with our brothers
We bind ourselves
to live and act always within that communion
and to practice obedience
• in mutual charity.
We bring into the community
whatever gifts nature and grace have given us,
and put them at the service
and the People of God. (40)
The community will foster the spirit of fraternity
not only among its members,
but also in its relations towards others.
It will strive to strengthen the bonds
and other apostolic groups of the laity.
will value highly the practice of hospitality,
especially towards those in need,
and towards friends and benefactors.
How ever the right to privacy of the members is to be respected,
and some part of the house should be reserved for their use. (123)
Hospitality towards our own member
a clear sign of our common spirit,
should be a concern of all our members.
The Community will organize itsef in such a way
within the group the basic dignity of the person is respected
and his true development favoured.
will endeavour, to the best of its ability, to strengthen each member
in his response to God's will for him,
• both in what he should personally become
• and in what he should do
s for God
s and his brothers. (120)
Our sense of Poverty will lead us to place
all our talents,
at the service of the community
and its mission. (47)
Community Works are to Create an Attitude
Each member give himself more generously
to the Lord in celibate love
for the building up of His Kingdom
• within the Community
• and among the people he serves
Community Works are to Create an Attitude where we are
helped to live celibacy by
commitment to mission
helped to live celibacy
Community Works are to Create an Atmosphere
convinced of the love of Jesus
not afraid to live
• this form of solitude
• which God alone can fill
It is in communion with our brothers
we seek to discover the will of God.
¬35. Our religious consecration
–is a gift of the Spirit;
–it deepens our baptismal initiation
•into the mystery of Christ,
–and increases our freedom
•to place ourselves
–totally at the service of the Kingdom
¬36. Consecrated life
–gives an effective witness
•To the values of the Gospel.
¬It is a privileged means
–and transforming the world
•in the spirit of the Beatitudes.
¬It is a living protest
–against the abuse of God's gifts to humanity
¬and a joyful witness
–to our eternal life with Christ.
¬37. Knowing that we are weak,
–we rely on
•the faithfulness and mercy of God
•and on the support of our brothers
–to enable us
•to live our consecration
–and to make
•the constant efforts
•and sacrifices it involves.
¬46. Jesus lived
–in total dependence on his Father,
–completely into his hands.
¬He calls us
–to live in the same way
–in union with him
•by choosing evangelical poverty
–in answer to his call.
¬Since he identified himself with the poor,
–we want to detach ourselves
•from created things
–so as to be poor
•and with him.
¬47. By professing poverty,
–we determine to put
–and our material possessions.
–completely at the service
•and his Kingdom
–as Jesus did
¬By this vow,
–we renounce the right
•and dispose of
•without the permission of our Superior.
¬48. In order to grow in our commitment,
–according to the spirit of our Society,
–a preferential option for the poor,
¬our life-style should always reflect
–a great simplicity
•both as individuals
–taking into account circumstances
¬We submit ourselves
–to the common law of work
–3do not look for privileges.
¬49 Trusting in God,
–and even insecurity
•which is the lot of many people.
¬Faithful to Christ,
–who loves the poor
–and the little ones
¬we show our solidarity
–by sharing our goods with them.
¬We commit ourselves as communities
–to the defence of justice,
•or envy in our hearts.
¬127. S. Each community,
–through regular revision of life,
–will examine before God
•the manner in which the vow of poverty is lived,
•especially with regard to the following points:
–responsibility concerning goods of the community;
–simplicity of life;
–a sense of work;
–the quality of their sharing
•with the poor
•as well as with other communities
•and the missions;
•their sense of social justice.
¬In order that our detachment may be real,
–it must be
•as well as individual.
A CHARISM 42
lto enrich the Church
lis a gift of the Spirit
–to follow Jesus in His Mission
–to that form of love
lwhich is consecrated celibacy
CONSECRATE SELVES TO GOD 43
lto love God
–with a free heart
–with undivided heart
to love own brothers and sisters
–as Jesus did
FOR SAKE OF KINGDOM 43a
–to forego marriage
–to observe perfect chastity
MINDFUL OF DEPTHS OF HUMAN PERSON 44
CONTINUE TO GROW 44
lThrough emotional maturity
–to perfection of love
–as found in Heart of Christ
COMMUNITY WORKS TO CREATE ATMOSPHERE 45
lEach member give himself more generously
–to the Lord in celibate love
–for the building up of His Kingdom
lwithin the Community
land among the people he serves
COMMUNITY WORKS TO CREATE ATMOSPHERE 45b
lhelped to live celibacy by
–commitment to mission
lhelped to live celibacy
COMMUNITY WORKS TO CREATE ATMOSPHERE 45c
lconvinced of the love of Jesus
–not afraid to live
lthis form of solitude
lwhich God alone can fill
•20. Religious profession consecrates us
–and his mission.
•Like him, we are sent into the world
–to proclaim the Good News
•that God is a Father
•who shows his concern
–for the poor and suffering,
and who gives meaning to life
–by giving us his love.
•2 Through (our) consecration to the Lord,
–we commit ourselves
•to live the spirit of the Society,
•to take part in its mission
•and to share our lives together in it as brothers,
–faithful to these Constitutions.
•21.We will be attentive, as our Founder was,
–to those who suffer and are in need.
•We will seek
–to identify the causes of their suffering,
–and to discern what our response will be
•by following the light of the Gospel
•and by listening to the world and to the Church.
•3 Father Jules Chevalier
–was deeply moved
•by the evils that afflicted the people of his time.
–As he contemplated the Heart of Christ,
•in whom is revealed the compassionate love of the Father,
–he discovered there the ills of the world.
–Inspired by that love and guided by the Holy Spirit,
–he founded within the Church
•the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
–We too are inspired
•by the same gift our Founder received.
–In our communion as brothers,
•we live our faith in the compassionate love of the Lord;
•at the same time, we are sent into the world
–to proclaim the Good News
–of the love and kindness of God our Saviour
–and to bear witness to it
-in the whole of our lives.
•Our Founder wanted to express all this
–in the motto he gave us:
–May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere.
•10 As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart,
–we live our faith
•in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ.
–We want to be like Jesus
•who loved with a human heart;
–we want to love
•through him and with him,
–and to proclaim his love
•to the world.
11. Jesus is the perfect model
–of our consecrated life;
–his love is our inspiration and driving force.
Therefore, our life and apostolate will be marked
–by a sincere and fervent love of the Incarnate Word.
–This love will urge us constantly
•to share the sentiments of the Heart of Christ.
•12. Following the example of Jesus,
–we will strive to lead others to God
•with kindness and gentleness,
–to unite them to him by love
–and to free them from fear.
•Trusting in God's grace,
–we will be ready, if necessary,
to lay down our lives for them.
•13. The spirit of our Society is one
–of love and kindness,
–humility and simplicity;
–it is, above all, one of love for justice and concern for all,
•especially the very poor.
14As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, we must be convinced
–of the necessity of a deep interior life
•that is open to the Holy Spirit,
–so that we may grow in faith and knowledge
•of the mystery revealed in the Heart of Christ.
-This will give us the strength
.to remain faithful
•to the mission
•and spirit of the Society.
•15. The pierced Heart of Christ
–is the sign of the incarnate love of God.
•For this reason, devotion to the Sacred Heart,
–as understood by the Church,
–to the love with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ.
•At the same time, it expresses
–our love for God
–and for our neighbour.
•Faithful to the spirit of our Founder,
–we will give this devotion a special place
•in our spirituality
•and in our apostolate
•16. We believe in God's love
–offered to the world
–but so often rejected by sin.
• By offering our lives with Jesus,
–we share in his redemptive work
–and we complete in ourselves
•what is lacking in his sufferings
–on behalf of his body, the Church.
•17. In and through the Eucharist,
•his Covenant with us
–and we renew
•the gift of ourselves to him.
•Faithful to our tradition,
–we acknowledge that
•this sacrament is central to our life of faith.
•It is the source
–of fraternal love
–and of apostolic life.
•18. Because Mary is
–intimately united to the mystery of her Son's Heart,
we pray to her,
–as our Founder did,
–using the title, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
She has known
–the unfathomable riches of Christ;
her whole being was filled with his love;
she leads us to him, pointing to his Heart,
–the source of boundless love
that gives birth to a new world.
•22. In the poor and the little ones,
–in all the victims of injustice and violence,
•we will discover the face of Christ.
•He asks us
–to bring his love into their lives.
•In answer to his call,
–we will show our compassion towards them
•by working courageously
–to guarantee their human rights
–and to change the hearts of their oppressors.
•23. Our mission finds expression
–in specific commitments
–carried out by individuals and communities.
–will be chosen and continually evaluated
•in the light of our spirit,
•the needs and mission of the Church
•and our own missionary tradition.
•We are sent into the world
–to establish new churches
•and to be at their service;
–to help churches in need
–and bring those who are far from the Lord
•into the community of believers.
•24. In a constant effort
–to share in the sentiments of the Heart of Christ,
•we will be attentive
–to all human needs and aspirations,
•such as, the need to be respected as persons,
•the need for love and peace,
–for freedom, justice and truth,
–and the search for meaning in life.
•We will become all things to all people,
–by respecting different cultures,
–and by being ready to undertake
•whatever apostolic services people may need.
•25. Elderly or sick members, no longer able to work,
–continue to take part in the mission of their religious family.
•By sharing in the life of the community
•and by offering to God
–their prayers, sufferings and infirmities,
•they unite themselves to the Paschal Mystery,
–proclaiming the love in the Heart of Christ.
•26. We receive our missionary mandate through the Society.
•This mandate is determined
–by the needs of the people,
–the mission of the Church,
–the traditions of the Society
–and the talents and dispositions of each.
•27. Our mission
–to work for the coming of God's Kingdom
–as Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
•comes to us in and through the Church.
Accepting this mission
–as a grace and a responsibility,
•we wish to be united to the Church
–by a loyal and faithful love.
•We express this love
•and our openness to the Holy Spirit,
–in our communion with the Pope
–and in our readiness to serve God's People
•according to the spirit and scope of our Society.
•28. The same vocation and the same mission
–gather us in community,
•of the Church's own communion of faith, love and worship,
•where all are children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ.
•The way we live our community life
–should give witness to this.
•29. Inspired by the Spirit,
–the Church continues Christ's mission
•through a variety of ministries, both lay and ordained.
•Our Founder wanted
–the same fulness of mission to be realized in the Society.
•Thus the ministry of Brothers and Priests is integral to our life,
–providing a variety of services in our communities
–and in our mission to the world.
•39. By professing obedience,
–we commit ourselves to seek and accept the will of God
•in the life and mission of the Society.
•By this vow,
–we bind ourselves to obey the orders of our lawful Superiors
•in all that concerns the Constitutions.
•105. §1. All members
–share the same religious life
–and are dedicated to the same mission
•according to the gifts each has received from the Spirit.
•The Church has approved
•our evangelical lifestyle and our mission
–as an authentic expression of religious life.
•It has recognized us as a
•clerical Institute of pontifical right
•with true autonomy of life, especially of government.
120. S. Each member of the community
–will assume full responsibility
•in carrying out the mission and objectives of the group,
–willingly placing himself at the service of the common good.
•The community will organize itself in such a way
•that within the group the basic dignity of the person is respected
•and his true development favoured.
•It will endeavour, to the best of its ability,
–to strengthen each member in his response to God's will for him,
•both in what he should personally become
•and in what he should do for God and his brothers.
•145. §1. Our prayer life will foster that religious spirit
–which enables our consecrated life to be a truly apostolic witness.
•Apostolic action pertains to our very nature
–as a Society dedicated to works of the apostolate.
•For this reason,
–our whole life is to be imbued with an apostolic spirit,
–just as all our apostolic actions
•are to be animated by a religious spirit.
•This apostolic and religious spirit requires that each community,
–in the light of the gospel and of our charism,
•constantly evaluate the apostolic works in which its members are engaged
•and make discerning choices concerning new forms of the apostolate.
•146. S. In each case of new apostolic work,
–the individual member
–or community, as the case may be,
–by the appropriate Superior
–and his community to engage in the new work,
»after appropriate discernment.
–When an individual member takes on a new apostolic work,
•care must be taken to ensure that he receive adequate community support.
•For his part, the individual member
–is accountable, in a practical way,
•to the community
•and the Provincial Superior.
(Nico Tromp, msc)
Our New Constitutions and the Return to Scripture (Jan G. Bovenmars, msc)
Ubique Terrarum: The New Heart in Every Place (Frank Fletcher, msc)
THE SPIRIT OF THE MSC
A comparison of the Constitution of 1923 with those of 1984 Nico Tromp, msc.
The Spirit of the Congregation.
"Spirit" in this context refers to the mentality which is the source of our efforts,
the inspiration that urges us on,
the motor that keeps us moving.
"The love of Christ does not leave us in peace",
or more actively: "The love of Christ urges us" (2Cor 5:14).
A comparison of this chapter about the spirit of the congregation in the Constitutions of 1923 (=I)
and those of 1984 (=II)
may help us discover how the legislative body of that time
and the recent one understood that spirit.
Both in I and II the first chapter treats the Name and Purpose of the congregation;
the second chapter treats its Spirit.
The place remains the same;
the opinions about the function of the spirit remain the same:
there is a close connection between the purpose
and the spirit in which we strive after that purpose.
The activities are carried by the spirit;
the spirit is incarnated in the activities.
Size and presentation
The first striking difference between the two chapters is their size.
In 1923 the second chapter covers numbers 6-11 in two pages;
in 1984 it covers numbers 6-19 in almost five pages.
This is not fully explained by the difference in the way the text is presented:
the lines of the 1923 text cover the whole space between the two margins,
while those of 1984 are presented as short units of thought or breath.
Actually II does this only in Part One:
Spirit, Life and
not in Part Two, called "Members".
It is difficult to describe the difference between these two parts.
Part One clearly belongs in the first place
and is more fundamental.
It presents statements of principle,
which are the basis of the whole institution.
Part II is more practical.
We could say that the first part is somewhat poetical:
it presents deep thoughts and should be read out in a stately manner,
in short phrases.
Each word counts and has its full significance.
The 1923 version does not have that difference;
its Part II is not called "Members" as in 1984,
but "About the Government of the Society",
and from the beginning to the end it is prose.
In version II the graphic form of Part One suggests a quiet balance;
its presentation in short units leaves more white in the printing area of each page
and hence suggests that there is space, space to breathe, space to rest,
space to contemplate, space for personal thoughts.
Its presentation is not dictated by utility and businesslike functionalism
but rather by silence which is a form of openness and respectful gravity.
The text does not look like a coercive bodice
but like a space in which a person can unfold.
A new approach
A second difference is that the new Constitutions offer accompanying texts,
quotation from the gospel of
another from his first letter,
and four statements from the writings of Father Chevalier.
Without entering into the content of these texts we can say
that this fact is in line with what we just said.
Version II is more contemplative,
it is more an inspiring kind of text;
it invites to meditation and thus becomes a book of life;
it does not merely give information
but serves also as an inspiring guide.
Version I goes straight to the point:
the title of Chapter II announces that this is a chapter about the spirit of the Society
and so it speaks immediately about that theme.
This spirit is described as our own characteristic,
as a property which distinguishes the members of this community from others.
It determines the form of our life and is proper to it.
"Quasi propria nora distinguatur et informetur (vita sodalium)":
differentiation and determination of the form.
Version II is different.
It starts with four paragraphs in which Jesus is central.
It presents a kind of spiritual biography of our Lord,
thus clearly expressing after whom the spirit of our congregation
In this spirituality a living person is the beginning and the end.
"I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end" (Apoc 21:6).
This approach is lacking in version I
but is well developed in version II.
It runs from number 6 to 9, thus comprising four paragraphs.
Jesus is seen first of all in his relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
He is "united to his Father" to whom he "gave thanks",
and "filled with the Holy Spirit".
Both are mentioned again, respectively in number 8
where Jesus "obeyed his Father's will",
and 9, where it is said that Jesus "gave us his Spirit".
This trinitarian dimension is not found in the older version;
in version 11 it is treated in the context of the person of Jesus (n. 6)
and of his relationship to us (n. 8-9;
"We live our faith in the Father's love revealed in the Heart of Christ", n. 10).
In this way the central dogma of the holy triune God
is succinctly expressed.
The personality of Jesus himself is characterized by a few titles.
He is the "servant" of the Father,
a title which makes us think of the servant of whom second Isaiah speaks;
he is called the "servant of his brothers and sisters" (n. 8; cf. Mark 10:45)
in a context in which he is presented as "the good shepherd" (n. 7+8),
in line with Jn 10.
He is the "Risen One"
for whom we should not look among the dead (Luke 24:5).
From our side contact with him is made
by "contemplation" (n. 6),
by "learning from him" (n. 7)
and by "looking on him" (n. 9).
In the second part of this chapter
these cognitive activities result in imitation.
Imitation is expressed by the words
"We want to be like Jesus" (n. 10);
"Jesus is the perfect model (n. 11);
"Following the example of Jesus" (n. 12).
The theme of imitation is common to both version I and II.
The old Constitutions express the idea in n. 6 with the words:
love moves us "ad sensus... Sacratissimi Cordis induendos",
"to put on the sentiments of the Sacred Heart".
In that sense Jesus is called "perfectionis exemplar" in n. 7,
and we do our utmost to live as his "true disciples",
"boni Pastoris vestigia sequentes" (n. 8).
In our way of living the Sacred Heart devotion
the accent is clearly on imitation
rather than on adoration or reparation.
In that sense our Sacred Heart devotion has a practical-apostolic character.
By putting the same accent
the new Constitutions clearly remain faithful to the spirit of the earlier tradition;
we clearly find here an essential dimension of the existence of the Congregation.
The main difference is that version II
starts with a detailed image of the personality of Jesus as found in Matthew 11
and in the fourth gospel.
In version I, as we said,
we find practically nothing that corresponds to it.
Of the titles we mentioned we find here
only the "good shepherd" in whose track we should follow (n. 8),
and further the titles "Salvator" (n. 8)
and "Christus Dominus", "Christ the Lord" (n. 7; 8; 9).
Here we find an interesting point.
Text II calls Jesus once the servant of the Father
and once "servant of his brothers and sisters",
but never "Lord".
Thus we are reminded of what Jesus said after the washing of the feet:
"You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am.
If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet,
you should wash each other's feet." (Jn 13: 130.
Text I puts the accent on Jesus as Lord;
text II avoids this title and stresses Jesus' service.
This is, of course, a difference of accent.
In version I Jesus is "meek and humble of heart" (8),
the good Shepherd (8);
in version II
he occupies a unique place in the relationship
between the triune God and humankind.
That the new text,
more clearly than the old one,
shows Jesus in his humanity,
in his nearness to us,
should be clear by now.
Authority and obedience
The old text presents Jesus as the one who has divine authority
and this idea is then further applied to other human leaders:
"Omnibus, tum ecclesiasticis tum civilibus praepositis .... subditi erunt" (n. 9).
Number 10 develops this idea especially with regard to the Bishop of Rome.
To him we owe "the highest respect and obedience",
for he is "the Vicar of Christ the Lord on earth".
Number 11 prescribes the same attitude with regard to the bishops.
In this chapter of the new version
we do not find a word about obedience to authority figures;
our duty to obey the Pope and the bishops is treated
in Part III, "Organization", n. 105.
The bishops keep of course their place in the Church,
but we note two changes.
Firstly, authority is not treated any more in the chapter
about the spirit of the Congregation;
it is no longer treated as an aspect of the basic attitude
which characterizes the MSC
and distinguishes us from others;
it is not considered any more
as a source of inspiration and engagement.
Secondly, ecclesiastical authority is presented in more sober language,
This change must be seen in the context of the new view of the meaning
of authority in church and society;
it is a theme by itself.
The poor and justice
Maybe we could say that this new appreciation of authority
finds its counterpart in the new attention for the poor.
The poor are prominent in the text.
In n. 6 they are called "the little ones", "the poor and the sinners";
n. 7 speaks of "those who are considered unimportant and whose rights are disregarded";
n. 23:"the very poor".
This attention for the poor, also called "a preferential option",
became common in the church during the days after Vatican II
and is certainly a fruit of the theology of liberation.
In this context the Constitutions take up again the reference to Jn 10:15
where Jesus as good shepherd declares that he even gives his life for his flock.
Version I made a reference to the good shepherd
to underline the readiness to give one's life for the sheep (n. 8).
Version II refers to this theme in n. 7;
in n. 8 where Jesus is the servant, "dying for his brothers and sisters";
in n. 9 "when he laid down his life",
while n. 12 applies it to the MSC:
"We will be ready, if necessary, to lay down our lives for them".
At the time of the General Chapter during which this text was written
the authors were actually thinking of our confreres
literally gave their lives for the liberation of the poor in
Gaspar Garcia Laviana and others.
The connection with the theology of liberation is clear.
That is why the text does not merely speak of the traditional mercy (II:6),
but also of "justice".
First in II: 7 which must be quoted entirely:
"To those who come to him, he gives his own strength and courage
to help them live and work for justice and peace".
It is to be noted that here the poor
become the subjects of their own liberation.
They take themselves seriously
and thereby already stand for their own rights.
For that is what it is about;
about people '"whose rights are disregarded" (II:7).
A second time justice is mentioned where it is said:
"The spirit of our Society is one... of love for justice and concern for all,
especially the very poor" (II: 13).
Another new phenomenon in version II
not merely related to the situation of
but also to the problems of the rich west:
In a time of division, uncertainty and threats
fear has taken hold of many of us
and this leads to seeking security and certainty.
Fear is the great theme of the work of a man like Eugen Drewermann.
In connection with Matthew 8:18-27 he wrote:
"When Soren Kierkegaard read this
(i.e. that notwithstanding the storm Jesus was asleep in the boat)
he wrote in his joumal with trembling fingers:
'Only children and animals can do that: sleep in their fear.
And the Son of God can do it too. What about us?'
We may add: 'And whom do we call Son of God?'
Exactly the one who can do this.
He forgets all fear, apparently he does not know any fear.
He sleeps, in a boat during a violent storm.
He is surrounded by the hands of God and by nothing else."
And in another place:
"What else does faith mean than to walk on the water of fear and death,
the eyes fixed on the Lord?"
The Constitutions refer to "the Risen One, who casts out fear" (n. 8)
and mention as our task, "to free them from fear" (n. 12).
This accent was inspired by words of John: "In love there can be no fear"(1Jn 4:18)
but those words were known also in 1923.
The fact that they were quoted in 1984
reflects something of the spiritual climate of those days,
both in the third world and in the rich west.
The key texts
The elements that express the continuity in the congregation
are clearly marked.
In the old text eight words are printed in italics; only eight, no more.
That marks them as the deepest core of what the MSC congregation wants to be.
These words are: sincera semperque ferventi dilectione erga Cor Verbi Incanati (6).
In 1984 this was expressed as follows:
"Our life and apostolate will be marked
by a sincere and fervent love of the Incarnate Word" (n. 11).
And both versions add
that this love will move us to share the sentiments of that Heart.
In the short text of version these words leap to the eye,
also because they are printed in italics,
more so than in the longer text of version II.
On the other hand the massive conformity of the two versions in this case
is all the more striking because in general
version II greatly differs from version I.
The second close resemblance is found in 1:8.
We read there that we want to live as disciples of him
who declared to be meek and humble of heart
and that "we should convince people
that the yoke of the loving Saviour is easy and his burden light."
The text continues saying that we will follow the example of the Good Shepherd
by attracting his sheep with goodness and draw them with bonds of love.
Number 7 of version II starts with the image of Jesus as the good shepherd
and continues as follows: "We leam from him who is gentle and humble of heart,
who eases our burdens and gives us rest".
To avoid any resemblance of softness and woolliness
the text adds that he "speaks with authority".
But here too we find subtle differences.
The new version not only avoids capitals,
both in the case of personal pronouns
and in the case of titles such as 'the good shepherd',
and omits titles like 'amantissimi Salvatoris';
but also as to its content it puts different accents.
One important difference of accent should be further investigated.
Though version II is quite long
it did not adopt much from n. 7 of the old text.
That number stresses renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory.
This attitude is not presented as conducive to apostolate,
almost to the contrary:
"Though they must always be ready for any ministry
they should wish to remain unknown and as it were hidden in the world".
This poverty, modesty, simplicity, this contempt of the world
are rather presented as a form of glorifying God:
"soli Deo placere studebunt".
It is difficult to make a statement
about something that is not said by the new Constitutions
but apparently the renunciation of the world has been replaced
by acceptance of the world.
This positive attitude,
a grateful acceptance of God's gifts,
can equally well be a form of giving glory to God.
In practice, the earlier attitude was lived sometimes
in a way which did not benefit the people
nor their engagement for the sake of the kingdom.
The idea that academic degrees detracted from the glory due to God
did certainly not influence the work of our confreres positively.
between the renunciation of the world and of one's own glory
and the social development of the Catholics.
Since the middle of this century studies at a university
are no longer seen as something exceptional,
and this is also a form of democratisation.
It is striking that the new version
does not have a counterpart of the old text about renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory.
Equally striking is the fact that when humility and simplicity are mentioned,
it is in a pastoral context (II: 13).
The importance of this number is clear from the opening words:
"The spirit of our Society". We read there:
"The spirit of our Society
is one of love and kindness, humility and simplicity;
it is, above all, one of love for justice
and concern for all, especially the poor."
The new text is clearly more inspired by the bible than the old one.
In version I that inspiration is most clear in n. 8
which alludes to Matthew 11 (gentle and humble; the easy yoke),
to Jn 10 (the good shepherd who gives his life)
and to Hosea 11 (the strings of love).
As to 1:7 we can state that the bible does not speak of renouncing the world;
it does refer to the dangers of worldly desires (Lk 8:14)
and the relativity of terrestrial values is mentioned
("But because of Christ, I have come to consider
all these advantages that I had as disadvantages", Phil 3:7).
On the other hand, from Psalm 104:15
we have leamed to accept bread and wine gratefully;
as I Tm 4:4 puts it:
"Everything God has created is good, and no food is to be rejected,
provided grace is said for it".
And we realize that the earth has been entrusted to us to cultivate it and take care of it (Gensis 2)
creation is to be taken seriously,
the world is to be christianized and humanized, society needs salt and light.
The bible certainly does not encourage us to seek our own glory
("wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting", Mt 6: 18;
"nor have we ever looked for any special flattery from men" 1Ths 2:6).
But massive statements as in 1:7 are not found in Scripture.
The text of 1984 contains more or less explicit quotations
from Isaiah 53 (the Servant),
from Hosea 11:4 (the strings of love, n. 12);
from Mt 11:25-30 (including the poor and the little ones),
Jn 7:39 and 19:34.37 (the pierced heart, source of living water, of the Spirit;
looking on the one they have pierced);
Jn 10:11 (the good shepherd who gives his life);
2Cor 5:14 ("The love of Christ is our driving force", II: 11;
Phil 2 ("In your minds you must be the same.."; "the condition of the servant";
"obedient unto death");
I Jn 4:16 ("We have put our faith in God's love", II:16)
I Jn 4:18 ("In love there can be no fear", II:8.12).
The fact that the central statements of the older version,
those about love and about imitation,
are quoted almost literally in the new version
proves that a comparison between the two texts is not only possible
but even necessary.
For this conformity shows that
the new text was consciously made similar to the old one;
the two versions are in dialogue with each other,
hence we can discover not only the similarities
but also the differences.
And via the differences
we can find out the meaning of the new text.
The comparison presented here has of course its limitations
and should not be considered as an exhaustive analysis.
Still some important lines became visible
which give us some insight into the meaning of the new text of 1984.
A striking difference is the fact that
in the new text the chapter about the spirit
opens with a detailed sketch of the life of Jesus Christ;
which has the character of a program.
It is significant that not our attitudes occupy the first place,
that not some abstract ideal is presented
but a living Person.
Jesus is seen in his relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
And he is shown in this chapter about the spirit of the institute.
In other words we are inspired by him,
he is the inspiring factor in our life as MSC.
How can we let ourselves be inspired by him?
The answer is:
by contemplation and imitation.
Imitation was mentioned also in version I, n. 6,
in the words about appropriating the sentiments of Jesus' heart,
and in n. 8:
"boni Pastoris vestigia sequentes",
but this aspect has been further elaborated in version II
and the personality of Jesus is presented in the first place
and in a more explicit way.
This suggests that all initiative comes from Him.
"Prior dilexit nos", "He loved us first" (IJn 4: 10.19);
"You did not choose me, no, I chose you" (Jn 15: 16).
The words of 1:6 about the sincere and always fervent love to Jesus' Heart
are adopted by II: 11,
but after the detailed portrait of Jesus in nn. 6-9
they appear in a different light;
now they sound more clear and concrete.
They are now more convincing.
So we see that the basic motives of version I are found again in version II
but they sound differently after the sketch of Jesus' life.
The ecclesiastical authorities as representatives of the Lord
withdraw into the background in the context of the spirit;
their place is taken by Jesus himself
and by those with whom he identifies himself in Mt 25,
the little ones and the poor whom he calls his brothers and sisters.
They were not mentioned in version I,
but in version II several times.
This means that Jesus is less seen at a distance;
he comes nearer to us.
The same is suggested by a more sober use of capitals
and by toning down the old, exuberant terms
('Sacratissimi Cordis sensus'; 'amantissimi Salvatoris iugum';
This difference of accent
could be connected with the theology of liberation
which makes itself felt in the attention for justice,
in the option for the poor
and in the readiness to defend them at the expense of one's own life.
Also the fact that fear/anxiety is mentioned
reveals sensitivity for the evils of our time.
That the apostolate plays another role than in the past
is shown by the way the content of I:7 has been translated in the new text;
humility and simplicity are mentioned
but in a way fitting in with the apostolic virtues,
while renunciation of the world
and of one's own glory for the sake of the glory of God
is simply not mentioned anymore.
The biblical inspiration,
which is of essential importance in the presentation of the image of Jesus,
is carried on in this positive approach towards terrestrial things,
which is typical especially of the Old Testament.
It shows also in a greater interest for the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is also characteristic for the ecclesial-sacramental thinking of our time
that the Holy Eucharist,
which was formerly one of the many "exercitia pietatis",
is now given a paragraph of its own in this second chapter.
Mary and Joseph, finally, moved from the first chapter
to that about the spirit.
They were formerly treated, together with the feast of the Sacred Heart, in a single paragraph;
now both Mary and Joseph receive a paragraph of their own.
The old text called for a special cult for both;
the new text stresses more their special link with Jesus and his Heart.
All in all the new version
proves to be obedient to the voice of tradition
but also to be sensitive to the voice of the time in which we live.
"Times are changing and we change with them."
Jan G. Bovenmars, msc
1. General exhortations to live and work with the Scriptures
2. Biblical references regarding our spirituality and mission
3. Following Christ: the evangelical counsels
a. Sharing Jesus' obedience
b. Consecrated celibacy
c. Sharing Jesus' poverty
4. The service of authority
5. The biblical quotations in italics
In this century we have witnessed a marvellous development of biblical studies in the Catholic Church,
so that we can speak of 'a biblical movement'.
This has contributed much to the renewal of the liturgy, of theology, of spirituality.
Vatican II has benefited from this movement,
and, at the same time, endorsed it vigorously,
especially in the "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation",
Dei Verbum, chapters III-VI.
The 'study of the sacred page' should be the very soul of sacred theology (ibid, 24).
"The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly
so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's Word"
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 51).
The chapter on Our Lady (Lumen Gentium, chapter VIII)
is a good example of a theology renewed by a closer contact with the Scriptures.
Also the renewal of religious life must be inspired by a return to the Scriptures.
The "Decree on the up-to-date renewal of religious life", Perfectae Caritatis,
indicates as its first principle of renewal in n. 2a:
"Since the final norm of religious life is the following of Christ
as it is put before us in the Gospel, this must be taken by all
institutes as the supreme rule."
Consequently, it is not surprising that the return to the Scriptures
can be felt also in the text of our Documents of Renewal (DR) of 1969,
and more clearly in the new Constitutions of 1984.
The new Constitutions not only add a list of 29 biblical quotations in italics,
but are themselves also written in a more biblical language,
and refer implicitly to many biblical texts.
In this article I would like to investigate this in greater detail.
By way of introduction I will quote a few texts of the DR;
in the rest of the article I will focus on the new Constitutions.
In the first chapter, on the nature, spirit and mission of the Society,
the DR 12 state: "To renew our spirit constantly
we meet Christ faithfully in his word, his Eucharist,
and in personal and community prayer."
DR 25: "As every christian is, we are called to follow Christ in faith and fidelity to the Gospel.
However, the particular form of life which we choose
has, in accord with the Gospel, its own demands."
DR 17: "If we want to renew our religious life according to the 'signs of the times'
we must take into account the demands of the gospel message."
And DR 17a: "Faith in the same Christ who invites us to follow him calls us together,
challenges us by his word, unites us in his Eucharist
and sends us towards our brothers."
We may hope to measure up to the expectations of those who may wish to join our ranks,
by creating community groups where, among other things,
"sincere reflection on the gospel message" is a living value (DR 67).
And DR 74,5 state: "It is by putting his own life and the Word of God face to face
that the religious discovers, little by little, the face of Christ."
Regarding our mission, DR 16 state: "Religious want their life to be an apostolic service
and an unequivocal witness to the Gospel."
To obtain this, religious life is a precious help,
for "it favours a total commitment to the service of the Gospel",
"it is a help to the whole Church to be faithful to the spirit of the Gospel.
To safeguard the renewal, the General Administration has the following role:
"They will assist the communities and provinces in evaluating their lives and apostolates
in the light of the Gospel." (DR 133,2).
Both the Decree of Vatican II and the DR refer to "the Gospel."
It may be useful to mention that "the Gospel" is not only found in the four gospels,
also in the letters of
The text of the new Constitutions, towards which we now tun,
embodies itself already a retum to the Scriptures,
but this does not dispense us
from "putting our own life and the Word of God face to face" (DR 74,5).
1. General exhortations to live and work with the Scriptures.
The result of a return to the Scriptures in our new Constitutions of 1984 is most obvious
by the fact that the language used is more biblical.
Before working this out in some detail
I would like to list a few general references to the Scriptures.
Our religious communities "need to be built up each day into a community of faith and love
by listening to and sharing the Word of God" (CS 33).
This is done, in the first place, in the Eucharist.
Maybe that part of the office is prayed together.
But there are also other possibilities of reflecting together on the Word of God,
in community meetings and in para-liturgical services.
To grow as MSC,
all members "will receive a solid spiritual and ascetical formation
according to the spirit of the Gospel and of our Society" (CS 74).
In the preparation of those who are to enter Sacred Orders,
"due importance will be attached to philosophical, theological,
scriptural and pastoral studies" CS 91,
in accordance with the directives of the Church.
Regarding our mission,
'"we are sent into the world to proclaim the Good News" (CS 4),
and we are to discern what our response to suffering in the world will be
"by following the light of the Gospel" (CS 21).
Our first contribution to the apostolate is our religious life itself,
for "consecrated life gives an effective witness to the values of the Gospel.
It is a privileged means of evangelizing and transforming the world
in the spirit of the Beatitudes" (CS 36).