RULE OF THE MISSIONARY PRIESTS
OF THE COMPANY OF MARY
St. Louis de Montfort

INDEX:

The Special Aim of the Company
Detachment or Evangelical Poverty
Obedience
Prayers and Spiritual Exercises
Contempt of the World
Their Charity towards their Neighbour
Directives to be followed during their Missions
Their Timetable during Missions
Rules for Catechetical Instruction


THE SPECIAL AIM OF THE COMPANY

1. Only priests who have already completed their seminary training are to be admitted to the Company. Therefore clerics in minor orders are excluded until such time as they have been ordained priests. However, there is a seminary in Paris where young clerical students who are called to the missions in the Company receive academic and spiritual training to prepare them to become members.

2. The priests who enter must be called by God to preach missions in the steps of the Apostles who were poor, and not be curates, parish priests, teachers in colleges or seminaries, as so many other good priests are, God having called them to this good work. The members of the Company, therefore, avoid such work as being contrary to their missionary vocation so as to feel free at all times to repeat after Jesus Christ: "The Lord has sent me to preach good news to the poor" (Lk. 4:18), or, as the Apostle said: "Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel" (I Cor. 1:17). They look upon the occasions which occur of helping people in these various other ways as a very subtle temptation. Unfortunately, this is the change or deviation which has occurred in several good communities which were established in recent times by the holy inspiration of their founders for the purpose of preaching missions. The pretext given was that they could thus do more good. Some turned to educational work, others to the training of priests and clerics. If they still give a few missions, these are only incidental and unplanned. In these communities, the majority of the members live a sedentary or even solitary life in their town or country residences. Their motto is: hahitatores quietis (lovers of the quiet life) whereas the motto of the true missionary is one which enables him to say in all truth like St. Paul: instabiles sumus (we have no permanent home of our own) (I Cor. 4:11).

3. Priests in poor health or old priests, that is, men over sixty years of age are not admitted since they are not equal to the struggles which missionaries, as valiant champions of Jesus Christ, must wage increasingly against the enemies of our salvation. If, however, a priest of the Company becomes incapable, through age or infirmity, of continuing missionary work, he can retire to a house which the Company has set aside for such cases.

4. Lay Brothers are admitted into the Company to take care of temporal affairs provided they are detached, robust and obedient and ready to do all they are told to do.

5. Priests and Brothers alike must be without benefices, even simple ones, and without temporal possessions, even those they may inherit. If they did have any before entering the Company, they must return the benefices to those who presented them. What they inherited must be given to their relatives or to the poor, having first taken the advice of a good counselor. They thus exchange their paternal inheritance for one which God himself gives them, namely, the inexhaustible inheritance of his divine Providence.

6. So, free from every other occupation and unimpeded by the administration of any temporal possessions which might hold them back, they stand ready, like St. Paul, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Francis Xavier and other apostles, to run wherever God may call them. Whether the call be to the city or the country, to a market-town or village, to one diocese or another, near or far, they will always be ready to answer, when obedience calls: "My heart is ready, O God" (Ps. 107:2), "Here am l" (Gen. 46:2), "Behold I come" (Ps. 39:8). Never will they have the heart to say what is being said daily, typically by all those worldly priests, those well-fed beneficed clerics, those pleasure-seeking ecclesiastics and those lovers of ease: "I have bought a field . . . I have bought five yoke of oxen . . . have me excused . . . I cannot come" (Lk. 14:18).

7. Although they do not confine the grace of God or their own zeal to rural areas alone, as do M. Vincent's missionaries, but go to preach missions regardless of whether they are in the town or country, according to the will of God as manifested through their Superior, they will nevertheless share in the most tender inclinations of the heart of Jesus, their model who said: "The Lord sent me to preach the good news to the poor" (Lk. 4:18). Consequently, they will, in general, prefer rural areas to the towns and the poor to the rich.

8. To be accepted as permanent members of the Company, they must first, in the presence of the Superior, make simple vows of poverty and obedience for one year. These vows are renewable annually. Then, if, at the end of an unbroken five-year period spent in the Company, they themselves feel they are truly called by God to belong to the Company and are judged to be so called, they take the two vows of poverty and obedience in perpetuity. These being only simple vows, a dispensation from them in order to leave the Company for legitimate reasons can be obtained from the bishop. On its part, the Company in accordance with the right it reserves to itself can dismiss one of its members, even after final vows, should his behaviour become an occasion of scandal rather than edification in spite of the steps taken to correct him. These two conditions are implicitly contained in this second profession, as is the case with the vows of many other communities.

9. The Company never undertakes responsibility for students or boarders, clerical or lay, not even if one of them wishes to make over all his worldly goods to it.

 

DETACHMENT OR EVANGELICAL POVERTY

10. (1) As already stated, they are to have neither inherited possessions nor income from a benefice as this is contrary to apostolic detachment. Their sole resource must be God's providence. God will decide who will provide for them and the manner in which this provision will be made.

11. (2) The members of the Company are to have no money or possessions of their own either openly or in secret. The Community will supply all that is necessary in the way of food and clothing, depending on what Providence supplies to the community.

12. (3) Within the realm of France, the Company will own two houses and never more than two. The first will be in Paris for the training of clerics in the apostolate. The second will be situated outside Paris, in one of the provinces of the realm. There, the members of the Company who have retired from the fray may rest and end their days in retirement and solitude after having spent the best years of their lives in the conquest of souls. The Company may accept, as coming from the hands of divine Providence, any other houses which may be donated to them in the various dioceses where God calls them. It will, however, accept only the use of these premises and the missionaries will consider themselves as tenants who have rented a house or as travelers who lodge at an inn. If no one donates a house, the Company will not ask for one but will be content to lease one, preferably in the country. If, however, some kind person makes over a house to the Company, the latter will by deed convey the ownership of these premises to the bishop of the place, and his successors, and preserve only the use. Consequently, the said bishop and his successors will have every right and all authority to take this house away from the missionaries if, in the course of time, the latter adopt a sedentary way of life and do not fulfill their duties. The bishop and his successors may divert the use of the house to other charitable purposes more beneficial to the people but they may not appropriate the revenues accruing from it. In this way, the missionaries will not become settled in any one place as communities, even the most regular, normally do. In place of this undesirable stability they will be more solidly founded on God alone provided they always yield themselves without reserve to the care of his Providence. They will not be distracted from their apostolic work by questions of rates and rents and the disputes that seem to follow inevitably on the ownership of houses and land. They then become more aware that they are to consider themselves as strangers and pilgrims and to look upon the houses where they are received simply as hostels which they have to leave when their work is done so as to be always on the move. "I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit . . ." (Jn. 15:16).

13. (4) When they are giving a mission, they may not, as long as it lasts, receive any money as alms from those to whom they are preaching. However, when the mission is ended, they may accept through their Superior whatever has been given out of pure charity or gratitude.

14. (5) It is strictly forbidden, either during the mission or afterwards, to ask anyone, directly or indirectly for money, food or anything else whatsoever. They must rely entirely on divine Providence for all things. God would sooner work a miracle than fail to supply the needs of those who trust in him. They are not, however, forbidden to mention in public or in private their state of dependence on Providence and the rules they follow in this matter.

15. (6) They will say all their masses gratis for all who ask them to do so, following in this the practice of the members of the Society of Jesus; they may undertake to say up to thirty such masses but no more. If, however, anyone wishes to give them a sum to money as a token of thanks or as a stipend, they will arrange for it to be handed to the director or bursar. The Director of the mission must, as a general rule, offer his masses only for the benefactors of the missionaries and of the poor. He must not fail to inform the people of this.

16. (7) When they go to give a mission, the Director or Bursar will, if possible, bring along a sum of money for alms-giving, to help repair the churches and feed the poor of the localities where they are going. In the case where people, because of their lack of charity or their poverty, fail to provide for the needs of the missionaries, the latter may use part of this money for their upkeep. This self-supporting thrift of theirs, far from contradicting their dependence on Providence, will on the contrary, turn to the advantage of the missionaries and incite the people to contribute towards the repairing of churches and the maintenance of the poor. Moreover, having one common purse "to provide for their own needs and those of the poor," is an example given to us by Jesus Christ himself.

17. (8) Should any priest who enters the Company be in possession of money, he must deposit the entire sum into this 'purse of Providence.' If, after he enters, his relatives or friends give him an unsolicited donation or Mass stipend, he must deposit this also in the common purse so that it may be used for the needs of the whole community. This contribution does not entitle him to claim any particular advantage or personal privilege any more than if he had brought nothing with him and had not been asked to contribute anything.

18. (9) If, either before or after making his vows, one of the missionaries becomes headstrong and leaves the Company without permission or through formal disobedience, he has no right to ask for even a partial refund or for any compensation for what he may have donated as alms to the Company which is committed to voluntary poverty. On the other hand, if he did not leave of his own accord but was dismissed for some serious fault other than formal disobedience, account will be taken, at least pro rata, of what he brought with him, expenditure on his upkeep having been deducted.

 

OBEDIENCE

19. (1) They will obey their superiors in a wholehearted and undiscriminating manner, readily and without delay, joyfully and without showing any vexation, blindly without raising any objection, with holiness in mind and for God alone. This is easier said than done, especially when we see how the world, not excluding the world of ecclesiastics, is bent on doing its own will and when we see the disorders brought about by those whose self-will insists on doing only what suits them because such is their good pleasure. Nevertheless, in this Company, as in the Society of Jesus, it is obedience as we have described it which is the foundation and unshakable support of all its holiness and of all the blessings which God confers or will confer through its ministry.

20. (2) Their Spiritual Director must always be a member of the Company and they will obey him in matters pertaining to the guidance of their conscience and open their hearts to him in all simplicity and confidence. They should neither undertake nor omit anything important without informing him and obtaining his approval and permission.

21. (3) They will obey the Superior of the Company in all things, great and small, whether prescribed by the Rule or not, both in matters concerning the allocation of work and the good order of the Company.

22. (4) They will obey the bishop of the diocese in which they happen to be, the Vicars-General and other ecclesiastical superiors who represent the bishop, and the parish priest of the locality where they are giving the mission. They will obey them in all things which concern the external organization of the mission such as the place, the time and other such circumstances. These matters, of no great consequence in themselves, take on a very beneficial and important aspect when regulated by obedience. Should any ecclesiastical superior command something which runs counter to their most important rules or to their vows, they would not be obliged to obey him. If, however, he commands or forbids or even strongly advises them to do things which in themselves are not very important, they will follow his decision without hesitation even though they are not in the habit of either omitting or doing such things. Their obedience in such circumstances will make the action more sanctifying and of greater consequence.

23. (5) Each member must faithfully discharge the duties entrusted to him and will not, unless directed to do so by holy obedience, pry into the work of another in order to find out what he is doing and how he is doing it.

24. (6) They will obey the least important of the community's rules with perfect fidelity and consider them all as being as dear to Jesus Christ as the apple of his eye. It is fidelity of this kind which shows that they are led by the Holy Spirit and not by the spirit of the world which, even where virtue is concerned, has no use for anything unless it is showy and has a high-sounding name.

25. (7) They will look upon formal or obdurate disobedience to a superior, even in unimportant things, as the greatest offence that can be committed in the Company and as perhaps the only one which merits exclusion from the community, no matter how old or holy the offender may otherwise be.

26 (8) They must be so penetrated with love and respect for this divine virtue that they will be ready to sacrifice their bodies, their health, their lives and all else when obedience commands them to do something both good and feasible, however difficult and distasteful it may appear to human nature. Therefore, when they happen to discover any faults, public or private, which they may have committed by surprise or temptation, against this heavenly virtue, they will punish themselves immediately and ask their superior to impose a penance on them.

27. (9) They are, however, permitted to state openly and straightforwardly the reasons they may have for omitting or for not undertaking what is commanded. Once they have done so, they must, if their reasons have not prevailed, obey blindly and promptly without asking the why or wherefore. Their obedience must involve not only their will but also their mind and their understanding and they must believe, in spite of their own personal views, that what the superior has commended or forbidden is absolutely what is best in the eyes of God.

 

PRAYERS AND SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

28. (1) All the year round, they will make every morning a meditation lasting at least half-an-hour.

29. (2) Every day they will say all fifteen decades of the Rosary and also the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin at times best suited to their convenience. The purpose of this heaven-sent devotion is to call down the blessing of God on themselves and on their ministry. They will become aware of this from their own daily experience.

30. (3) Normally, they will celebrate Holy Mass daily, having first suitably prepared themselves. After Mass, they will spend at least half-an-hour in thanksgiving. They will consider as a subtle and common temptation anything which might prevent them from devoting this time to thanksgiving. As the saying has it: "How can a man who does no good to himself do any good to others?" (Sir. 14:5).

31. (4) They will use the Roman Breviary and say it together as far as their work permits. If they have to say it in private, they should do so with exemplary modesty, attention and devotion.

32. (5) Every day before their midday meal, they will make their particular examen together. It should last about a quarter of an hour.

33. (6) After they have returned from their missions, they will hold at least one day of recollection every month, spending the whole day in prayer and penance.

34. (7) Their meals will be taken in silence and will be marked by charity, reserve and sobriety. If they have to speak during meals, it must be quietly and briefly.

35. (8) When they have completed their mission schedule and return to enjoy the rest which Divine Wisdom provides for them and counsels them to take, "Come aside and rest a little" (Mark 6:31), they will apply themselves to study in order to perfect themselves more and more in the art of preaching and hearing confessions.

36. (9) The Rule does not prescribe any corporal penances. This is left to their own fervour controlled by obedience. They will, however, abstain from meat on Wednesdays and fast on Fridays or Saturdays and, on the evenings of these two days only a light meal is to be served.

 

CONTEMPT OF THE WORLD

37. (1) They will have neither the sentiments of the world in their minds, nor its maxims in their hearts nor its ways in their behaviour.

38. (2) Their motto will be: "Do not follow the ways of the world" (Rom. 12:2). Consequently, they will avoid, as far as is consistent with charity and obedience, whatever might savour of worldliness such as wearing wigs and skullcaps, muffs and gloves, long-flowing sashes, fancy shoes, expensive materials, glossy hats, or using tobacco in the form of snuff or in any other way, etc.

39. (3) They must not condemn out of hand those who, for reasons of propriety or necessity make use of these things but to those who try to persuade them to do the same they will reply: "Such is not our custom" (I Cor. 11:16). Since by their ministry they profess publicly opposition to the world of antichrist, they keep as tar away from it as possible, even in matters, indifferent in themselves, but which could lead them little by little to conform to it. "The man who despises little things will gradually be brought to his ruin" (Sir. 19:1).

40. (4) Nevertheless, they must not affect any singularity in their appearance but try, in so far as divine Providence with motherly care makes provision for them, to dress like ordinary ecclesiastics of good standing, especially those of the seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris, and their collar, hat, cape and other articles of clothing will be of the same style as theirs.

41. (5) During their missions, they never go out to dine in private houses except once or twice at the local parish priest's house. When they are not engaged in mission work, they may do so only very rarely and with special permission from the Superior.

42. (6) They are not to send or receive letters without first handing them to the Superior who will read them if he thinks it opportune.

43. (7) Whenever possible, they travel to their missions on foot, following the example given by Jesus Christ and apostolic men. If, however, their health is poor or the roads are bad, they may have no qualms about accepting any help which God's providence may provide.

 

THEIR CHARITY TOWARDS THEIR NEIGHBOUR

44. (1) Their charity to one another will be full of attention and good will, and they will look for opportunities to do one another a good turn. It will be marked by mutual respect which brings them to give precedence to others and by patience which will enable them to bear with one another's faults.

45. (2) This queen of all the virtues is the queen and superior who governs the Company with her golden sceptre. She is its life-blood, the bond which holds it together and its guardian; pride, self-conceit and self-seeking being banished from it. "Cross the threshold, life-giving love reigns within."

46. (3) Their charity towards everyone, especially towards their enemies, will be joyful and sincere. They will return good for evil and, far from complaining about anyone who has done them a notable injury, or speaking ill of him or taking revenge, they will pray to God for him for a week.

47. (4) Be it during the time of their missions or not, the poor are to be the especial objects of their care. They must never refuse to help them, materially when possible, and spiritually, even if they say only one Hail Mary.

48. (5) After each catechetical instruction, they will provide a meal for all the poor of the parish who have attended the instruction and every morning and evening they will being one of them in to eat at their table.

49. (6) They will strive to implement faithfully the words which express so well the charity of the great Apostle: "omnibus omnia factus sum" (I Cor. 9:22), becoming out of love all things to all men, even in indifferent matters, without getting caught up in the ways of the world or in any way becoming slack in the observance of their duty.

 

DIRECTIVES TO BE FOLLOWED DURING THEIR MISSIONS

50. (1) They will give all their missions in complete dependence on Providence and must not accept any endowment, for future missions as do some communities of missionaries founded by the King or by private persons. There are four main reasons for this: (i) It is the example which Jesus Christ, the apostles and apostolic men have handed down to us. (ii) God repays a hundredfold even in this world those who show charity to the missionaries and often (as experience proves) gives them the grace of conversion as a reward for their alms-giving. "Give and it will be given to you" (Lk. 6:38). (iii) This mutual charity brings with it its own recompense in the form of a wonderful unanimity of heart between the faithful and the missionaries. who are preaching to them. Charity begets charity. (iv) The grace of a mission thus founded on Providence and on complete dependence on the people (a state of affairs most repugnant to proud nature) is, by far, the most effective and powerful means of converting sinners. In endowed missions, the missionaries are set up by their independence on a kind of pedestal and this, while flattering their pride and heaping honour on them, does not win for them the love of their neighbour or the grace of God. Only those who have tried both these ways of giving missions can appreciate how true this is.

51. (2) Should some kind person wish to defray alone all the expenses of the mission, they will thank him or her for this generous offer without, however, accepting it. They will simply ask this person to give what he pleases during the time of the mission when they are entirely dependent on the generosity of the faithful. They do this because it is not right that any one person should by a monopoly of giving deprive the missionaries of that total dependence on divine Providence which they have undertaken precisely for the good of the people themselves.

52. (3) About two weeks before the mission is due to begin, one or two of the missionaries should go, whenever possible, to give advance notice of it to the people of the locality. This announcement should take the form of an appeal to the people's feelings so that the missionaries may: (a) persuade them to give up their sinful ways; (b) prepare the way for Jesus Christ as did the disciples whom Jesus sent two by two to the places where he was to go; (c) devote themselves to prayer in order to be worthy of the grace of the mission. For this purpose, they urge the people to recite daily at least five of the fifteen decades of the Rosary. In this way, the missionaries on their arrival will find the ground well prepared.

53. (4) They must adjust the number of the people to whom they give the mission to the number of missionaries available and not 'bite off more than they can chew.' Consequently, they should take on only one parish if it is a big one, whereas, if there are several small adjoining parishes, they can preach the mission in all of them simultaneously. Unless the Superior gives special permission, the must not admit people from parishes which are not included in the mission programme. By this I do not mean such people should be prevented from attending the sermons since the church and the word of God are for everybody. Nevertheless, the missionaries must not hear the confessions of such people, so that the people of the parish which provides for their upkeep may have a stronger spiritual incentive for coming to confession without being able to complain, and rightly so, that people from other parishes are being heard before those to whom the mission is being preached.

54. (5) As a rule, they will preach in the morning and evening on weekdays at times best suited to the people they are striving to convert. Under ordinary circumstances, their sermons should not last more than three-quarters of an hour and never more than one hour. On feast days, in addition to the two sermons already mentioned, they will preach again at High Mass and, at about one o'clock, will give a conference for the people's instruction.

55. (6) This conference should be an informal instruction in question- and-answer form on the truths of our religion. The missionaries may choose a particular topic and, after a brief expository introduction, one of them may ask brief and serious questions of a practical nature on the topic under discussion. They may also allow the members of the congregation to bring up their own problems on this or any other subject, provided that the missionary who gives the conference is prepared to deal with any matter that may arise. This is the boldest method of all and the one which does the most good to the people.

56. (7) The purpose of these missions is to renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful. Therefore, the missionaries will see to it that, as the Pope has commanded, the baptismal vows are renewed with the greatest solemnity. They are not to give absolution or communion to any penitent who has not first renewed his baptismal promises with the rest of the parishioners. Only those who have seen the results of this practice can appreciate its value.

57. (8) During the whole of the mission, they must do all they can by the morning readings and by the conferences and sermons, to establish the great devotion of the daily Rosary and they will enroll (they have the faculties for this) as many as possible in the Rosary confraternity. They will explain the prayers and mysteries of the Rosary either by instruction or by pictures and statues which they have for this purpose. They will give the people the example by having the Rosary recited aloud every day of the mission, saying all fifteen decades in French with the offering of the mysteries at three different times of the day. The first five decades are to be said in the morning during Mass before the sermon, the second five decades before the catechism class while the children are assembling and the last five in the evening before the last sermon. This is one of the greatest secrets to have come down from heaven. Its heavenly dew refreshes men's hearts and makes God's word operative within them. Everyday experience brings this fact home to them.

58. (9) They should see to it that almost everyone makes a general confession. Even if the penitent's past confessions were not invalid, it is always extremely beneficial because of the humility it demands. It is not to be imposed on people who suffer from scruples. These, however, are rarely met with.

59. (10) They must not be either too strict or too lax in imposing penances or granting absolution but must hold to the golden mean of wisdom and truth as described in detail in the Methode uniforme que les missionnaires doivent garder dans l'administration du sacrament de penitence pour renouveler l'esprit du Christianisme (Uniform procedure to be followed by missionaries in administering the sacrament of Penance in order to bring about a renewal of the Christian spirit). There is also a little manuscript book of greater length entitled the Veni-mecum du bon missionnaire (The Good Missionary's Companion) which they should keep handy.

60. (11) The preaching of God's word is the most far-reaching, the most effective and also the most difficult ministry of all. The missionaries will, therefore, study and pray unceasingly that they may obtain from God the gift of wisdom so necessary to a true preacher for knowing and relishing the truth and getting others to relish it. It is the easiest thing in the world to be a fashionable preacher. It is a difficult but sublime thing to be able to preach with the inspiration of an apostle, to speak like the wise man, ex sententia (with true understanding) (Wisdom 7:15)or, as Jesus Christ says, ex abundantia cordis (from the fullness of one's heart) (Matt. 12:34), to have received from God as a reward for one's labours and prayers, a tongue, a mouth and a wisdom which the enemies of truth cannot withstand: "Your reward-a mouth, a tongue and a wisdom which none of your enemies will be able to withstand" (Lk. 21:15). Out of a thousand preachers - I could say ten thousand without telling a lie - there is scarcely one who has this great gift of the Holy Spirit. The majority have only the tongue, mouth and wisdom of men. That is why, even though these preachers quote Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, so few people are enlightened or moved and converted by their words. And this in spite of the fact that all they say is based on sound reasons, is clearly proved, well-arranged and beautifully delivered before a receptive and admiring audience. Their sermons are well-composed and their words most carefully chosen. Their ideas are expressed with great ingenuity, and quotations from Holy Scripture and the Fathers come readily to their lips. Their gestures are well-coordinated and their eloquence is stimulating. Unfortunately nothing of all this rises above the purely human and natural level and so, as a result, produces only what is human and natural. A well-dissimulated complacency on the part of the preacher in his beautifully composed and elaborate sermon provides the dart with which the proud and cunning Lucifer blinds him. All the preacher gets for his trouble and efforts is popular admiration which alone occupies the mind of worldly people during the sermon and provides them with a subject of conversation when they meet socially after church. Since such preachers only beat the air and titillate the ears, we must not be surprised if no one attacks them and if the Father of lies does not utter a word, in pace sunt quae possidet (all that he possesses remains undisturbed) (Lk. 11:21). Since the fashionable preacher does not strike at the heart, the citadel where the tyrant has locked himself in, the latter is not unduly alarmed by all the hubbub going on outside.

61. But let a preacher full of God's word and spirit merely open his mouth and all the powers of hell sound the alarm and do their utmost to defend themselves. A fierce battle ensues between the truth which issues from the mouth of the preacher and the lies which originate in hell; between those listeners whose faith has made them friends of the truth and those whose unbelief has made them the friends of the Father of lies. A preacher of this calibre can, by a simple, unpretentious statement of the truth, rouse a whole city or province by the conflict he stirs up there. This is a continuation of the tremendous battle which was fought out in heaven between truth, with St. Michael as its champion, and falsehood represented by Lucifer. It is a result of the enmities which God himself has established between the blessed children of his Mother and the accursed issue of the serpent. Do not then be surprised at the bogus peace which fashionable preachers enjoy nor at the extraordinary persecutions and calumnies directed against the preachers who have received the gift of proclaiming God's eternal word, for of such must one day be all the members of the Company of Mary. "Great is the host of those who bore the tidings" (Ps. 67:12).

62. (12) The apostolic missionary should, therefore, preach the simple truth, avoiding all pretentiousness and discarding all fables, false statements and dissembling. He must be bold and speak with authority, showing neither fear nor human respect. He must preach with all charity and give offence to none. His intention must be holy and centred on God alone. God's glory must be his sole preoccupation and he must first practise what he preaches. "Jesus began by doing and then teaching" (Acts 1:1).

63. (13) In the pulpit, they must avoid several snares which the devil, under the cloak of zeal, sets for inexperienced preachers and a few others. These are: (1) Self-complacency in what they have said or in the good results they have obtained. (2) Soliciting compliments, directly or indirectly, after they have delivered their sermon. (3) Being envious of others who have larger audiences or who preach with greater feeling, etc. (4) Criticizing another preacher whom they have heard or been told about . (5) Losing one's temper. This is natural enough and one can easily give way to it when the congregation give occasion for it during the sermon. (6) Referring directly or indirectly to an individual in the audience, either by looking straight at him or by pointing at him or by saying things which can refer only to him. (7) A barrage of affected or exaggerated condemnations of rich or important people, of public officials or of officers of the law. (8) Censuring and criticizing priests and giving detailed accounts of their sins. All these excesses are blameworthy because they shock people and can explain why a missionary, however holy or well-intentioned he may be, can nullify to a great extent, if not completely, the effect of the word of God.

64. (14) In the pulpit, a good preacher must look upon himself as an innocent man condemned to the pillory. Without any thought of getting his own back, he must suffer the false judgments of an entire congregation often ill-disposed towards him, the censures of proud scholars and the unfavourable interpretation they put on what he says, the jests, mockery and contempt of the ungodly and, lastly, the load of calumny which the entire population lays at his door. He must understand that the strength which underlies his zeal comes not only from the forcefulness of his preaching but also from the way he stands unshaken and undisturbed like a rock, weathering all the storms which rage around him. He must leave to the truth which he preaches and which of its nature provokes hatred, the care of delivering him from false accusations: "The truth will set me free" (Jn. 8:32). It will never fail to do so provided we let it take its course.

65. (15) Finally, let them remember that it is Jesus Christ who is sending the just as he sent the apostles, "like lambs among wolves" (Lk. 10:3). Consequently, they must imitate the lamb's gentleness, patience and charity so that, in this heavenly-inspired way, they may change the wolves into lambs.

 

THEIR TIMETABLE DURING MISSIONS

66. (1) Unless they are indisposed and holy obedience ordains otherwise, they will get up at 4 a.m. all the year round as do the missionaries of the Society of Jesus and the Society of Monsieur Vincent.

67. (2) At 4:30 a.m. they will make half an hour's mental prayer unless the Director gives them something else to do such as celebrating Mass, teaching hymns to the people, reading to them, etc.

68. (3) At 6 a.m. or thereabouts, according to the season of the year, they will celebrate Holy Mass one after the other according to the order drawn up by the Director.

69. (4) They will take their places in the confessional as soon as they can before or after the sermon and remain there until 11 a.m. precisely.

70. (5) In winter, the time for the sermon is normally between seven and eight o'clock: in summer, between six and seven o'clock. The people's convenience must be taken into consideration in fixing these times.

71. (6) At 11 a.m. on a signal from the Director they leave their confessional promptly even though there are people waiting. They then make their examen together before their midday meal.

72. (7) They take all their meals together and in silence while listening to readings from Holy Scripture or from some sound book of moral cases For reasons of charity and propriety, the Director may stop the reading towards the end of the meal to enable them to indulge in edifying conversation.

73. (8) After grace, they take recreation together and no one must be absent without special permission. During recreation they may discuss cases of conscience which have come up in the place where they are giving the mission without, however, divulging the names of the people concerned.

74. (9) Recreation ends at one o'clock sharp and then they say Vespers and Compline together. After Vespers, they return to the confessional, unless the Director gives them other work to do, and they remain there until about five o'clock, depending on the season of the year. After that, they return to their residence and recite matins together.

75. (10) After Matins, they take their supper and a period of recreation as at midday .

76. (11) After one hour's recreation, they say their prayers together, listen to the reading of the subject for mental prayer and then go to bed.

77. (12) By about nine o'clock, they should have retired to bed quietly and modestly .

78. (13) Outside the times when they are giving missions, their timetable is about the same but with these exceptions: they do not get up until five o'clock and the time allotted during the mission for preaching and hearing confessions is devoted to study, prayer and retreat.

 

RULES FOR CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION

79 (1) The catechist has the most important function of the whole mission, and the one who is appointed catechist by obedience must do all he can to fulfill his function worthily. It is more difficult to find an accomplished catechist than it is to find a perfect preacher.

80. (2) He must endeavour to make himself both loved and feared at the same time but in such a way that the oil of love predominates over the vinegar of fear. Consequently, while he inspires a certain fear in the children, as an experienced teacher does, by warnings and punishments which humble them, he must also, like a kind father, encourage them by praising them, by promising and giving them rewards and by showing them affection. He must never strike them either with his hand or with the cane. If a child should prove incorrigible, the catechist should send him to his parents to be given ten or twelve strokes of the whip or cane.

81. (3) He must be very firm and not allow the children to talk or play during the catechism lesson. If he lets them off the first time they misbehave, he must warn them the second time; the third time, he gives them a penance and the fourth time he sends them away to receive suitable punishment.

82. (4) Children are naturally inclined to laugh a lot and so the catechist must always try to be very serious and not say anything which might incite them to laugh boisterously. He can, however, and indeed must, enliven the catechism lesson (of its nature a rather dry subject) by adopting a pleasant manner, making little jokes or telling interesting little stories which entertain the children and bring their attention back to the lesson.

83. (5) One great principle he should follow is to put a lot of questions to the children while saying very little himself. Afterwards, at the end of the lesson, he or another missionary can give a talk of about fifteen minutes. The topic of this talk will be one of the great truths of our faith so that, after the children's minds have been enlightened by the questions on the catechism, their hearts may be softened and touched by this exhortation. It is a fact of experience that this is the best of all methods for teaching catechism in a short time and for turning the children's hearts to God.

84. (6) As regards the time and circumstances of the catechism class, the following rules are to be observed: The catechist will take his dinner at 11 a.m. prompt. After the midday Angelus, he will go to the church and say the Rosary aloud together with the children as they assemble. When this is done, he will sing two or three verses of a hymn.

85. (7) At the first or second instruction, he will get the children to sit side by side in a set order according to age and in a manner symbolizing the nine choirs of angels in heaven. The children must keep to this order for the whole time of the mission, always sitting in the same place and next to the same companions, each row being named after one of the nine choirs of angels, seraphim, cherubim, thrones, etc. This method is ideal: (i) for keeping the children in order and the God of order in the children; (ii) for making the children attentive and regular in their attendance, each child being obliged to inform the catechist of the absence of the one who sits next to him; (iii) for shortening the duration of the lesson, since the catechist does not have to write down the children's names or call the register day since he can see at a glance who is missing and who is present.

86. (8) After the rosary has been said and the children have taken their places, the catechism class begins. First, the catechist gets the children to make an act of faith in the presence of God and then the acts of hope, charity and contrition, the offering of the catechism class to Jesus, an invocation to the Holy Spirit and a prayer to the Blessed Virgin and the Guardian Angel to ask for their help.

87. (9) He then has one child repeat all that was taught in the previous lesson and puts a question which is repeated by several of the children in turn according to the seating arrangement. He can frequently do this without saying a word-merely indicating the child with his finger or with the pointer. In this way, he can, without any great fatigue to himself, question four or five hundred children in an hour and a half.

88. (10) The catechism class should not normally take more than one hour and a half. After the final exhortation, he lets the children out, row by row, if the class is a large one, in an orderly manner without tolerating the shouting and rushing for the door which are so common at the end of catechism classes.

89. (11) After the catechism, the poor children who attended are to be brought two by two to the Providence where they will be given their dinner which they will eat in humble silence. During the meal, the catechist will have something read to them or perhaps put some questions to them on the catechism since we have a greater obligation to the poor than to the rich.

90. (12) Responsibility for proficiency in the catechism of the children who have been chosen to make their first communion lies with the catechist. Here he must abide by the rules which have been drawn up, i.e., (i) He must give them sound instruction. (ii) He must discuss the matter with the children's parents. (iii) He must examine them closely on their knowledge of the catechism. (iv) They must make sure that the confessor has given the children absolution. The confessors must give a certain password to those children whom they have absolved warning them not to repeat it to the other children. The propose of this precaution and many other similar ones is to prevent the children from making bad communions since they are easily led astray by the example of others and by the suggestions of the evil one.

92. (13) In general, they are to use only the "Catechisme abrigé des missionnaires" (Abridged Catechism for the use of Missionaries) from which the children can learn in seven short lessons all that is necessary for salvation. I say "in general" because, in the case where the parish priest of the locality has given the children a sound instruction based on another catechism with a different wording, the missionary must use this catechism. He thus avoids confusing the minds of the children who learn more by rote than by reasoning.

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