Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

01 Preface, 1970

01 Preface, 1970

Preface, 1970

In 1968 and 1970 the General Chapter of the Canons Regular of Premontre convened in several sessions with the desire and intention of achieving the renewal of the Order "obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit"[1] under the guidance of the effort of Vatican II to renew the Church, lest we receive the gift of God in vain.

Mindful of the desires of that good man of God, John XXIII, the Chapter sought a "new Pentecost" [2] for the Order as a whole and for its several members because the world awaits this new Pentecost through the medium of the Church and from each one of us. 

May God grant us, in our days, the grace to observe fully the Apostolic Way of Life which Augustine formulated and renewed and which he most enthusiastically proposed as a mode of life for himself and his followers:[3] "To sum up briefly, it is our intention to live in accordance with the clearly evangelical and apostolic life I have chosen."[4] May we strive wholeheartedly to "be faithful to the Sacred Scriptures and to seek Christ as our Master."[5]

The General Chapter is aware that the true renewal of the Order is to be achieved more by our manner of action than by our words.  It is also aware that a complete and final renewal cannot be achieved but must be continually sought in accordance with the needs of the times and the localities concerned.

The Chapter, therefore, offers these Constitutiones as a tentative instrument for the renewal of our Order, mindful of the words of St. Norbert: "without order and without rule . . . we cannot really embrace the apostolic and evangelical life and its demands."[6]

The first section of the Constitutions consists of the evangelical and theological principles of our Christian, religious and priestly life.  However, it stresses our union with the Church and incorporates relevant selections which recall the spirit and intentions of our Founders, Saints Augustine and Norbert, as well as the sound traditions of the Order.

The second part provides the necessary juridical norms because it is imperative that there be a conformity between them and the spiritual principles so as to insure a firm foundation for the Constitutions and provide them with true spiritual vitality.[7]

The third part consists of spiritual and practical recommendations by which all members, male and female, of the Order may be inspired and assisted in living up to their ideals.  These, however, are not obligatory for members or communities.

The General Chapter through these Constitutions, animated as they are by a creative faith, is attempting to preserve, and at the same time reinterpret, the fundamentals of our mode of life, prayer, work, government, and formative training.   This attempt is made in view of the exigencies of our times and of the people living therein.  In this way the unique charism of our Order may be reinvigorated for the benefit of the Church, as every true charism should be in accordance with its particular mission.  The special conditions of our times judged in the light of faith, led the brothers of the Chapter to propose "communio" as the essential mark of our Order.

The evangelical and apostolic nature of the way of life of our Order as outlined in these Constitutions obligates all members of our Order, unless circumstances prevent, because all have chosen that life.  Nevertheless, these Constitutions provide for a sound and considered pluriformity to provide for facing facts in regard to individual members and communities.

The Constitutiones are presented, with hopeful confidence, to every member as a seed which, God willing, may grow into a tree bearing rich and abundant fruit.  May our Fathers, Norbert and Augustine, intercedee for us that the Holy Spirit may guide us all in the arduous task of renewing our Order.  If we search with one mind and one heart, the Lord will give us His blessings.[8]

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[1] Cf. Allocution of Pope John XXIII at the Solemn Inauguration of the Second Vatican Council, 11/10/1962 --- Back

[2] John XXIII in the Apostolic Constitution by which the Ecumenical Council Vatican II was convoked, December 25, 1961: "Renew Your wonders in our time as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the Holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace.  Amen!" --- Back

[3] cf. St. Augustine, Sermon 356, 1 and 2, PL 39, 1575 --- Back

[4] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 9 (MGH 678 at the end). --- Back

[5] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 12 (MGH at the beginning). Cf. also the Bull "Omnipotenti Deo" of Peter de Leone and Gregory of San Angelo, pontifical legates, June 28, 1124 (ed. J. Lepaige, Bibliotheca Praemonstratensis Ordinis, p. 390). --- Back

[6] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 12 (MGH 683 at the beginning). --- Back

[7] cf. Motu proprio "Ecclesiae Sanctae," August 6, 1966, II, n. 1255. --- Back

[8] cf. St. Augustine, Ennarationes in Ps. 132 "Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum;" PL 37, 1729-1736. --- Back

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