The Passionist Constitutions
CHAPTER I – FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR LIFE
The Passionist Vocation
1. Saint Paul of the Cross gathered companions to live together and to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all.
The first name he gave his community was “The Poor of Jesus”. This was to indicate that their lives were to be based on evangelical poverty, which he held to be so necessary if they were to observe the other evangelical counsels, to persevere in prayer, and to preach the Word of the Cross in season and out of season.
Moreover, he wanted them to live their lives like apostles. They were to foster and develop a deep spirit of prayer, penance, and solitude so that they could reach closer union with God and witness to His love.
Keenly aware of the evils that afflicted the people of his time, he was never tired of insisting that the most effectiveremedy is the Passion of Jesus, “the greatest and most verwhelming work of God’s love.”
2. Recognizing in Saint Paul of the Cross the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church with her supreme authority approved our Congregation and its Rule, and entrusted us with a mission: to preach the Gospel of the Passion by our life and apostolate.
This mission still retains all its force and authenticity.
We come together therefore in apostolic communities so that we can fulfill this mission of ours by working for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Confident that God will help us to overcome our human limitations, we are determined to remain faithful to the patrimony and evangelical spirit of our Founder.
3. We are aware that the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory; therefore, we share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey through life toward our Father. We wish to share in the distress of all, especially those who are poor and neglected; we seek to offer them comfort and torelieve the burden of their sorrow.
The power of the Cross, which is the wisdom of God, gives us strength to discern and remove the causes of human suffering.
For this reason, our mission aims at evangelizing others by means of the Word of the Cross. In this way, all may come to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, may share in His sufferings and, becoming like Him in His death, may be united with Him in glory. Each of us takes part in this apostolate according to his gifts, resources, and ministries.
4. We accept the urgent demands made on each of us by the personal call of the Father to follow Jesus Crucified, namely:
-a personal and continual vigilance to make the Gospel the supreme rule and
criterion of our life;
– a steadfast will to live and work joyfully as a community of brothers, observing these constitutions in the spirit of Saint Paul of the Cross;
- a firm resolve to foster in ourselves the spirit of prayer, and to teach others
- a keen attention to the needs of others, as we strive to lead them to the
fullness of their Christian calling through the message of the Cross.
Our Consecration to the Passion of Jesus
5. We seek the unity of our lives and our apostolate in the Passion of Jesus. His Passion reveals the power of God which penetrates the world, destroying the power of evil and building up the Kingdom of God.
Since we have been called to unite ourselves to the life and mission of Him who
“emptied Himself taking the form of a servant”, we contemplate Christ through
persevering prayer. By giving His life for us He reveals God’s love for all people,
and shows the path they must follow as they make their way towards the Father. Faithfulness to this contemplation enables us to show forth His love more fully, and to help others offer their lives in Christ to the Father.
6. We express our participation in the Passion by a special vow, which is at once personal, communitarian, and apostolic. Through this vow we bind ourselves to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Christ). By word and deed we strive to foster awareness of its meaning and value for each person and for the life of the world.
By this vow our Congregation takes her place in the Church so as to dedicate
herself fully to its mission.
In the light of this, we seek to incorporate this vow into our daily lives by
living the evangelical counsels.
Then, as we relive the memory of the Passion of Christ today, our communities
become a leaven of salvation in the Church and in the world.
The Evangelical Counsels
7. Baptism immerses us in the flood of divine power welling up from the death and resurrection of Jesus, and consecrates us as members of the people of God.
This consecration we reaffirm, and resolve to live a fuller life through our
religious profession, faithful to these Constitutions.
Each of us welcomes the invitation God gives us to be a sign and a constant
reminder of the values of His Kingdom.
8. Impelled by the Spirit, we are brought together as a community of love to carry out the mission mandated to us by the Church. Together we undertake the arduous journey of faith, seeking to explore the depths of the mystery of God.
Together we share the same hope: that we shall contact in our lives the living
God Who draws us to Himself. We want our journey through life to proclaim that hope to all.
In this we are inspired by the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the handmaid
of the Lord; like her we trust the Lord, joyfully confident that even our weakness can show forth to the world the saving ways of God.
9. We leave all things to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel beatitudes.
In the midst of the people of God we constantly endeavour to live out our
commitment to poverty, chastity, and obedience as religious in community. Observing these evangelical counsels, both individually and as a community, enables us to contact Christ at a deep level of His Paschal Mystery.
If the message of the Cross has not first penetrated our own lives, we ought not
presume to proclaim it to others.
10. Christ clearly showed His love for us by becoming poor for our sakes.
We intend to respond to His love by bringing an authentic and evangelical poverty into our own lives. Accordingly we strive, both as individuals and as ommunities,
to characterize our lifestyle by an attitude of genuine detachment and proper use of temporal goods.
We recognize that this may lead to insecurity, and at times even to the lack of
necessities. Nevertheless, we place our full confidence in God and His supporting grace. We accept each day as it comes as a gift from the Father, without
worrying about amassing treasures for the morrow.
This spirit of poverty, awakened in us by Christ’s grace, makes us more ready to
give service to all.
11. Like the first Christian community, one in heart and one in spirit, and holding all their goods in common, we do not look upon our possessions as our own. Having chosen to live together, we wish to share what we have in a simple and modest lifestyle.
By renouncing the free disposition of our goods, we place ourselves, our talents,
our work, and our achievements at the service of the community and its mission.
As individuals and as communities, we have to avoid whatever does not correspond with the real need for our life and our apostolate. We aim to share what we have with other communities of the Congregation and of the Church, and with the poor.
Each one of us willingly accepts that he is subject to the common law of labour,
and contributes to the daily life of all according to his capacity.
12. Whatever we acquire either by our own industry or because we are members of the Congregation, whatever is given under any title by benefactors, as well as grants, subsidies, pensions, and the like, whether awarded or received after profession, are all acquired by the Congregation. On the other hand, goods bequeathed to a religious by title of inheritance from parents or relatives become his own property.
13. In a world where the unjust distribution of goods is a major source of division, hatred, and suffering, we want our poverty to witness to the true value and purpose of these goods.
As far as possible we intend to share our life with others, and to use our
possessions for the relief of suffering and for the increase of justice and peace in
Each religious must ask himself what he can do to implement such an intention;
and indeed the whole Congregation, each Province, and every local Community must do the same. In this way we shall all be showing our solidarity with the poor.
14. In this spirit of poverty, we renounce by vow the free disposition of our
In order to fulfill the demands of effective and evident poverty, we also
promise by virtue of the vow to depend on the Superior with competent authority in our use and disposition of temporal goods.
By our willingness to share in the poverty of Christ who gave all, even His very
life for us, we try to be faithful to the motto of our Founder: “Poverty is the
standard under which the whole Congregation fights.”
15. Religious in perpetual vows may renounce total ownership of personal property in accordance with appropriate norms of Provincial Authority, and with permission from the Superior General.
16. All human beings, created by God to love and to be loved, fulfill their vocations in different ways.
Following the example of Christ and for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (2O),
we choose celibacy with full freedom, giving all our love to God who is Supreme love and to our fellow human beings.
17. Furthermore, our choice also expresses our faith. Forming communities with brethren not chosen by us, but given to us by Christ, we desire to show the profound meaning of human love and its ultimate purpose, “that God may be all in all.”)
Notwithstanding the views of many to the contrary, we testify that it is possible
to realize in this world the prayer of Jesus, “that all may be one.”
18. As a gift from God to His Church, celibacy enables us to share with the Church in the universal love of Christ, who came “to serve and to give His life as
a ransom for many.”
The more we love others in Christ, the more sensitive we become to their joys,
sorrows, and anxieties.
Our lives are thus consecrated by vow to the service of our neighbours in
fidelity to Gospel values.
19. Evangelical celibacy does not deny the value of human affections; it transforms them, and tends to promote mature generosity and refinement of heart.
Although we are aware of the radical renunciation celibacy requires of us, “for
the sake of the kingdom of heaven” we bind ourselves by vow to perfect continence in celibacy. To remain faithful to our commitment requires maturity of mind, self-mastery, and well-balanced character. In all our efforts, we rely on the strength that comes from the grace of God and a close union with Christ. His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is also our Mother, is our example and support.
We recognize at the same time that an environment in which sincere friendships
can develop in our communities will also provide strong support to our affective life, and help to strengthen and develop personality.
20. God our Father has a loving purpose for the world and for every person it contains. In the Father’s plan Christ freely accepted the role of servant, and
becoming our brother was “Obedient unto death.”
As followers of Christ we too accept our roles in this plan. Alert to hear the
Father’s voice and to do His will, we try daily to ascertain His loving purpose in an attentive and Loving search. Day by day, we confront our lives with the Gospel values and the example of Christ, ponder the events of life so as to discern “the signs of the times”, and endeavour to fulfill our mission by living these Constitutions under lawful authority.
21. Evangelical obedience is the foundation of the entire Christian life and
The mediation of others, especially of Superiors and the community, helps us know God’s will. Accepting this meditation in a spirit of faith, we become witnesses to the dynamic presence of Christ and His constant love of the Father.
To the extent we work with Christ in fulfilling His plan of Redemption, our
obedience is missionary. By accepting and fulfilling our common mission, using our initiative and working responsibly together, we give evidence of our solidarity.
This collective responsibility is implicit the commitment we freely make to work
for “building up the body of Christ.”
22. We recognize that co-responsibility and mutual dependence open the way to freedom and fulfillment for each one of us.
The Gospel leads us to look at the human situation in the new light of obedience to the Father and brotherly love.
By living together in a spirit of co-operation and peaceful harmony, we aim
at overcoming in ourselves and in our world every form of self-seeking and every
abuse of power. In this way is clearly revealed the power of the Cross to set people free.
23. The Superior is brother to all. In their dealings with him, the religious are to
be open and spontaneous, recognizing that the Lord has given him a duty of special responsibility which they are to accept in a spirit of faith. As guide to form his community at all times, the Superior seeks and listens to their views in a frank exchange marked by respect and charity remembering that all together we are striving to ascertain and fulfill what the Father wants of us.
The Superior always has the responsibility of making the final decision, in
conformity with our Constitutions and for the common and individual good.
In exercising the authority belonging to his Office he animates and guides the community in an atmosphere mutual confidence and collaboration.
24. Since we have promised to live according to the Gospel and our constitutions, we oblige ourselves by the vow of obedience to carry out the orders of our lawful Superiors, when what they command is in accordance with these constitutionss. We are aso obliged by our vow to obey the supreme Pontiff, who is the highest superior of our Congregation.