Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

04 Chapter 2: Our Place in the Church

04 Chapter 2: Our Place in the Church



I, Brother NN, offer and give myself to a Specific Church...


Where two or three are gathered together in His name, there is Jesus in the midst of them (cf Mt. 18:20).

Natural groups of persons are always determined, possessed of their own human character, their own joy, their own sin, their own culture, thirst and hunger.

There the Spirit of Christ summons men of various personalities to a loving unity of faith and love. These persons--clerics, religious, and lay - - gathered together into a church, constitute the people of God in a specific place, in a parish, a mission station, a school or a hospital. An assembly of this kind, established by Christ in a "communio" of life, love and truth is accepted by Him as an instrument of redemption,[2-2] and tends towards God and is fulfilled in Him.


On the day of profession each one of us offers and gives himself to a specific church in which the Church of Christ is truly present, and is immediately incorporated into a certain community (canonry) of the Premonstratensian Order. Our communities are especially ordered so that through the practice of common life and the apostolic mission they may manifest the "communio" of the Church of Christ within themselves, and also beyond: in the people of God as well as among men.

Our Communities


The act of giving which constitutes our perpetual profession binds us fully to a community of our brethren. From this stable fellowship, our community arises as something living and autonomous which has struck deep roots in a territory, occasionally for centuries.

Among the people of God, we should put into practice day after day the gift of self we have made, whether in the principal house (abbey) or in dependent houses, or in other assemblies of the brethren. There, while cooperating with one another and holding all our goods in common, we cherish the growth of that one mind and one heart which makes us the temple of God through our joys and sorrows.[2-3]

Our community should be the school and the daily training ground to actualize the "communio" of the Church of Christ both within the community and without, among other members of the people of God, that is, the world.

In deciding upon the types of apostolate the procedure should be circular so that with the abbey, priory or house as a center, the apostolate is developed in such a way that we may the more vigorously dedicate ourselves to the service of humanity. We should do this in the manner or life style of those nearby with appropriate regard for the needs of the locality and region. The concrete forms which "communio" adopts to manifest itself outside the community depends on what needs to be done.

Communion with Neighbors


Serving in the midst of parishes and institutions, our communities should be aware of the human and ecclesial reality of the place and region, cultivate human and Christian exchange, and should be prepared to collaborate in promoting the life of the Church and developing society in a more humane manner.

Communion With the Diocese and Its Bishop


The nature of human and Christian communion, whose culmination is found in the celebration of the Eucharist, ought to be evident in our relations with the bishop, clergy and laity of the locality wherever we reside.


Consecrated to the solidarity of the collegial and pastoral mission, the priests of our churches are bound by sacramental fraternity with the bishop and other members of the clergy.[2-4] Through the sacrament of Orders and through the apostolic mission received from the bishop, but also through canonical profession which has the character of incorporating them into a particular church, they are constituted members of his "presbyterium" by an intimate and specific title.[2-5] Wherefore, through the truly common life which they have embraced, they should be a leaven of communion among the diocesan priests.

Likewise, the apostolate, to which lay brothers and sisters are already assigned by Baptism and Confirmation, becomes operative more fully in a diocese through incorporation in a specific church.[2-6]

In the exercise of the apostolate our priests and lay people, both religious as well as those living in the world, complement one another. Our apostolate embraces the essential needs of the people of God rather than an individual action.

Universal Communion


Christ, the Apostle of God (Hebr. 3:1), makes us participants of His mission through His Spirit. Although we are domiciled in the specific place where we manifest "communio" more concretely, nevertheless the mission of our church is universal; it extends to believers or all non-believers, close or at a distance wherever they may be.[2-7]


By means of exemption, which looks to the internal ordering of our communities and the unity of our Order, fidelity toward our own charism is supported in so far as it is at the service of dioceses, episcopal conferences and mission.

Since exemption is designed for the sake of "communio", it ought to strengthen our concern for other churches and foster solidarity with the college of bishops.

Whenever we are sent to assist or establish another church, we ought to be solicitous that, in accord with the charism of our Order, we take care to regard the people of that locality as neighbors without distinguishing persons or social status, and to share on our part the pastoral office of the bishop and his priests.

Living Examples of Communion


Life in accord with the Gospel of Christ and the apostolic way of life, the Rule of St. Augustine as proposed by St. Norbert, and the lives of the saints of the Order constitute living examples for the ordering of our lives.


The life according to the Gospel, which St. Norbert proposes for us, is "to follow the sacred scriptures and to have Christ as a guide"[2-8] and thus to preach the Gospel in poverty; to observe the counsels of self-denial, mildness and humility; "to carry daily the cross of Christ" in a spirit of penance[2-9] to supply whatever is lacking to the passion of Christ in the flesh for the sake of His Body which is the Church (cf. Col. 1:24), in order that we may live with the resurrected Christ.


The apostolic way of life, under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ, is to have one heart and one mind, to have all things in common; to persevere in the teaching the Apostles; to persevere together in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the brethren; to break bread with joy, that is, to have the Eucharist as the center of all life; to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord by preaching, by good example and by every form of the apostolate (cf. Acts 1:13-14; 2:42-47; 4:31-35; 6:1-7, etc.). This apostolic way of life should be considered as the highest ideal which ought to distinguish our entire life.


We consider St. Augustine as the man who best understood and put the apostolic way of life into practice. In his life, works and Rule, we find a form of teaching and life directed towards God in love. Fraternal union, according to the teaching of Augustine, is based on the consciousness and experience that God Himself is present in the community and in each individual person and is manifested in a manifold "communio": that of minds and hearts, of goods, of prayers, of living and working together, under the guidance of the prelate serving through love.

A vivid expression of our profession can be found in those communities of lay brothers and sisters which Augustine founded, but especially in the community of the cathedral church of Hippo where clerics, in accord with the example of the apostles, lived a common life in accordance with certain vital monastic traditions: "and I wish ... to have with me a monastery of clerics."[2-10]


St. Norbert, reformer of the canonical order, gave us the apostolic way as a norm of life. This, he, a proven imitator of the disciples of Christ, also lived, stimulated by a courageous faith, true penance, voluntary poverty, zealous preaching of conversion, vigilant care of the poor, and finally becoming all things to all men.[2-11]

This spirit of Norbert must continually and increasingly permeate our minds, customs, actions and our individual and community life.


We must return continually to the form of apostolic life proposed here in order to draw from it a newness of spirit and, animated by creative fidelity, to express the values of the apostolic way of life in contemporary forms for a better fulfillment of our mission.

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