Common Rules

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

VINCENT DE PAUL SUPERIOR GENERAL of the

CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION

to my dear brothers in Christ

THE PRIESTS, STUDENTS, AND LAY BROTHERS OF THE CONGREGATION

Introduction

Greetings in the Lord,

Here at long last, my dear brothers, are the Rules, or Common Constitutions, of our Congregation. You have been very anxious to have them and have had to wait a long time for them. It is now about thirty-three years since our Congregation was founded, but I have not had our Rules printed for you before now. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I wanted to take our Savior as a model. He put things into practice before he made them part of his teaching. Secondly, delaying their printing has avoided many problems which almost certainly would have arisen if these Rules or Constitutions had been published too soon. There could have been problems about living up to them later on, as they might have seemed too difficult or not so relevant. With the help of God's grace, delaying like this has saved us from such a risk. It has also made it possible for the Congregation gradually and smoothly to get used to living the Rules before having them in print. You will not find anything in them which you have not been doing for a long time, and I must say how pleased I am that you do live by them and that they have enabled you all to help one another. So, my dear brothers, take these Rules with the same affection which I have in giving them to you. Think of them, not as the product of human ingenuity, but as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Everything good comes from him, and we are not qualified of ourselves to claim anything as our own achievement. After all, can you find one single thing in them which will not be a help to you in avoiding evil, in growing in virtue, and in putting into practice the teachings of the gospels? And, as you can see, I have tried to base all the Rules, where possible, on the spirit and actions of Jesus Christ. My idea was that men who are called to continue Christ's mission, which is mainly preaching the good news to the poor, should see things from his point of view and want what he wanted. They should have the same spirit that he had and follow in his footsteps. That is why, my dear brothers, I ask you very sincerely, in the Lord Jesus, to make a genuine commitment to basing your lives firmly on these Rules. You can take it as absolutely certain that if you do this you will find them sound guidelines which in the long term will lead you safely to the goal you long for, happiness in heaven. Amen.


JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH

COMMON RULES of the CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION

Common Rules - Chapters I - VI

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Common Rules - Chapters VI - XII

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