Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

03 Chapter 1: Relationship to Mankind

03 Chapter 1: Relationship to Mankind

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In our days, we are involved in profound changes of every kind. We are passing from a more static world-view to a more dynamic and evolutionary one. From this basic fact there arises a new complex of problems which challenge us to new analyses and syntheses.[1-1] We are constantly forced to adapt our lives, both individual and collective, to new conditions.

Moved by desire for authenticity and sincerity, we are in the process of determining and subjecting to critical evaluation the social and ecclesial institutions, including even those of our Order, which have come to us from the past. We are examining them for their relevance to our personal and social lives. Although this critical examination concerns us, men of this age, perhaps more deeply, it is not an exclusive phenomenon of this time, inasmuch as it is rooted in the very nature of man.


From birth, man, as a person, is necessarily a part of human society. In this apparently simple fact lies the source of the tension fundamentally inherent in our life. In our nature, at the same time individual and social, it happens that we experience the necessity of both affirming ourselves as persons through conscious and free choices and of relating ourselves to human society. A genuine participation of this kind is accomplished only through the commitment of a mature personality. The development and evolution of a human person and the growth of society are mutually dependent.[1-2] A balance between person and society will always remain a desideratum. If guided by self-centeredness (egotism) and pride, man excessively desires his own self-affirmation, he will be alienated from society; even so, if he is forced by interpersonal relationships and institutions to renounce essential personal values, his faculty of affirming himself will be frustrated.


The mature person seeks an authentic balance in this matter by choosing those relationships and institutions which are responsive to the needs of his time and in which a mutual respect for human uniqueness allows individuals to live in harmony, giving themselves to society for the sake of a fuller life. In this way, the mature person becomes capable of shaping society while he, in turn, is formed and completed by it.

Our Relationship To the Family of the Entire Contemporary Human Race


Through personal experience and the instruments of social communication, the problems and needs of men living in every part of the world affect our lives and demand our concern. The world of today is vividly conscious of its oneness, of the mutual interdependence of everyone, as well as of the need for solidarity. However, it is gravely split by men fighting among themselves. For there persist bitter political. social, economic, racial and ideological dissensions.[1-3] Individuals, societies, and nations overcome, only with difficulty, their own self-interest and greeds. Hence, in fact, the human family remains divided.


Meanwhile, the conviction grows that the enormous advantages provided by technology and culture can and should be extended in reality to all men. Solicitous about himself and his neighbor, modern man experiences the necessity of overcoming obstacles arising from the inequities among individuals, societies and nations in order that a true community of mankind may be finally attained. Among individual men, assemblies and nations, there is a growing desire to form community with others. Hence, movements aspiring to a healthy socialization, to associations and to various international meetings are being multiplied. However, a true union of men will be promoted not merely by a more equitable distribution of material goods but more profoundly by a communion of persons themselves.


Intimately involved in all these facts, conditions, needs, and desires regarded today as the principal "signs of the times", the people of God are anxious to discern, by the light of faith, which of them are true signs of the presence or design of God. For faith illustrates with a new light the relationship of men to society and their desire and effort to renew universal brotherhood "and manifests the divine design for man's total vocation and thus directs the mind to solutions which are fully human."[1-4] Indeed, the Lord sustains the life of all men even if they do not explicitly acknowledge Him.

For One Another In Christ


God created men to His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26), according to His own essence, which is love (cf. I Jn. 4:8). God calls us to share the joy of the unity and love found in Him. To foster this intimate union with Him among men, God Himself became man, notwithstanding the rights of divinity and dignity. For God came as one of us to meet us in Christ, who "emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave ... he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. On account of which God also raised Him on high ..." (Phil. 2: 6-9).

Through his resurrection Christ transfigured the lot of mankind. "Firstborn of many brethren, among all who receive Him in faith and love .... by the gift of His Spirit he founded a new brotherly community, namely in His Body, which is the Church, in which all, as members one of the other, would render mutual service according to the different gifts bestowed on each."[1-5]


Christ, therefore, although he was rich, became poor for our sake (cf. II Cor. 8:9) and made Himself a servant. "For the sake of the joy which was still in the future, He endured the cross" (Hebr. 12:2), in order to reunite by love those whom sin had dispersed.

This free choice of Christ must also be the free choice of the Church and the free choice of each one of us. Christ showed in Himself the way of human existence, commanding us to live in a similar way. "Anyone who wants to be first among you, must be your servant, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:27-28).


Whoever wishes to be a disciple of Christ, ought to die as a grain of wheat that he may bear much fruit in love, otherwise he remains alone (cf. Jn. 12:24).

Participating by faith and by the sacrament of faith (baptism) in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, we ought to experience in ourselves what is also in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil. 2: 3-5). The Spirit of Christ urges us, that denying and transcending ourselves we may break out of our self-centeredness and live for God and the brethren.


Only in this manner will we be led to the genuine "communion" which our hearts seek so profoundly and which the Lord begged for, praying: "May they all be one. Father, may they be one in Us, as You are in Me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me" (Jn. 17: 21).

One Heart and One Mind on the Way to God (communio-koinonia)


The already mentioned signs of the times, discerned in the light of Christ's free choice, and the original inspiration of the Premonstratensian Order, invite us to propose by dynamic faith that the spiritual influences of the patrimony of our Order be actualized for this age under the form of an ecclesial "communio."[1-6] For this reason it would seem opportune here to give a synoptic explanation of the full meaning of this communion.


"Communio" signifies the existence of persons in relation to and for one another: "communio" is our internal union expressed in external form. Human communion, already founded in the will of the Creator, consists in mutual esteem, trust, sincerity, faith, responsibility: briefly, in that zealous humanity which love produces (cf. I Cor. 13). It is expressed through every kind of service, counsel, edification and courtesy and also through dialogue, communication, consultation, collaboration and a truly common life.


God has called us into the communion of His Son Jesus Christ (cf. I Cor. 9). Since we have died and risen with Christ, we are all one in Christ Jesus (cf. Gal. 3: 28). The Son of God made Man always offers Himself to our desire and effort to renew "communio" so that, removing the sin of division, He may transform us by the gift of His Spirit into a new fraternal communion, which He unceasingly strives to build in the Church.


With our whole-hearted cooperation, the "communion" of the Church is founded, constituted and manifested by the fact that collectively and individually we are moved by the Spirit of Christ: to believe, hope in and love God, One and Three, and to hold to the same sacraments (communion in the sacraments of faith); to maintain communion with one and the same Head, Christ in heaven, and with the college of bishops and its head, the Roman Pontiff, representing Christ on earth (communion with the hierarchy); to labor both internally and externally as members of the one people of God and on behalf of and for the benefit of that one people of God (communion of saints - Christians).


From this unity arises our own intimate association of members to members in one communion, vivified and directed by the Holy Spirit, and constituting that "one heart and one mind on the way to God." This communion which exists with God in the brethren and with the brethren in God is given to us to be actualized by us wherever we are. It therefore requires the daily practice of the Lord's word: "Anyone who loses his life for my sake, will find it" (Mt. 10:39). This unity of brethren manifests the coming of Christ and from it arises great apostolic strength (cf. Jn. 13:35; 17:21).[1-7]


The communion of the Church, which is "a people unified in accordance with the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"[1-8] is on a pilgrimage toward the one and triune God, Who is the origin, exemplar and consummation of all human and Christian communion.

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