Our Call to Holiness: Life in Community
You should all be of one mind, caring for one another,
kind, compassionate and humble; this you have been called to do
so that you may obtain a blessing as your inheritance.
(1 Peter 3:8-9)
Our Life in Common
We follow the rule of saint Augustine, which begins: “Above all, dearly beloved Brethren, let us love God and then our neighbor.” Life in our communities proceeds from this great commandment of our Lord. In a spirit of simplicity and joy we make every effort to realize an authentic life lived in common expressed through fraternal love, a life of charity and the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The grace of baptism, by incorporating us into Christ, has made us one with our brothers. Therefore we desire to take as our model the life of mutual love of the most Holy Trinity, and we want this authentic communion of life to be a prophetic sign of the life that will unite us all together in heaven.
It is our desire to cultivate the canonical life in the parish according to the apostolic tradition: “The community of believers were of one heart and mind. None of them claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common” (Acts 4:32). We are convinced that living in community provides for us as priests and brothers the mutual help needed for our daily trials. It reinforces our priestly dignity and the integrity of the ministry, it inspires zeal for the acquisition of religious learning and it keeps us steadfast in the holiness of our vocation. “It was in the Cenacle that Our Lord instituted the priesthood and established community life among His priests forever, and by it He made us one body, acting in unity, instead of having each one act as an individual following his own lights” (Dom Gréa).
It is from this combined effort that our plans and endeavors for the salvation of souls are more effective, as well as becoming the foundation of our spirituality: the Sacred Liturgy.
Love one another with brotherly affection;
out do one another in showing respect, and serve the Lord.
(Romans 12:10, 11)
Our Life of Prayer
Prayer, indeed, has many forms and expressions. Our love of liturgical prayer, the visible expression of the mystery of salvation coming to man, with which the Church surrounds the sacramental liturgy, is the foundation of our spirituality. Along with this, it is our personal prayer that brings the soul into close communication with God. The intimacy in personal prayer is an ever-deepening process that transforms us into the image of Christ.
Our personal prayer is a true dialogue between the Spirit who speaks and the soul that listens. It is precisely this vital link of contemplation and loving communion with God that enables us to accomplish the task given to us by the Church, not merely one of a human and worldly enterprise, but rather a task of sanctification and of salvation. We will only be true workers in the kingdom if we have a spirit deeply rooted in a life of personal prayer, one that is properly nourished, and a holiness that is always developing and advancing.
In our spiritual reading we give first place to the Holy Scriptures and to the Fathers of the Church who are its primary commentators. By giving ourselves to the reading of the Holy Scriptures we acquire the knowledge of Christ, which is evident in our celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and in our preaching. This requires of us an effort of silence and reflection after the example of Mary, the teacher of the interior life and of contemplation, who treasured and meditated upon the words spoken by her Son. This personal prayer brings us peace, strength, fidelity to grace and the ability to give ourselves.
Our Life of Penance
Our life of prayer and fidelity to the vows and their spirit also implies the need for asceticism. In order to walk in the footsteps of Christ we must deny ourselves and take up our cross every day, for the servant is not greater than the Master. Our asceticism does not seek to be other than that of the penitent Church unceasingly in communion with the death of her Lord. It is also an integral part of our religious state, by means of our poverty, chastity and our obedience, all authentically lived out.
Along with our personal and community acts of penance such as abstinence, fasting and other acts, which vary during the liturgical year, it is living in a spirit of penance that enables us to accept, with all the love that our religious state requires of us, those physical and moral sufferings, the uncertainties of all sorts that form part of our human condition, our real sharing in the sufferings of all mankind, even old age and death itself make us take a very active part in the mystery of our Lord’s Cross.
The presence of evil which spoils and destroys the world enables us to feel the anguish of the Lord: “I have pity on this multitude” (Mark 6:34), and experience his infinite mercy. We draw from it a new desire to offer our life, for the salvation of many.
“You will have to suffer only for a little while;
the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ
will see that all is well again;
He will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts forever and ever. Amen.”
(1 Peter 5:10 11)