Ecclesiae Sanctae: Implementing the decree Perfectae Caritatis

 Part Ii: Some Things to be Adapted and Renewed in the Religious Life

I. The Divine Office of Brothers and Sisters

20. Although Religious who recite a duly approved Little Office perform the public prayer of the Church (cf. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 98), it is nevertheless recommended to the institutes that in place of the Little Office they adopt the Divine Office either in part or in whole so that they may participate more intimately in the liturgical life of the Church. Religious of the Eastern Rites, however, should recite the doxologies and the Divine Lauds according to their own Typika and customs.

II. Mental Prayer

21. In order that Religious may more intimately and fruitfully participate in the most holy mystery of the Eucharist and the public prayer of the Church, and that their whole spiritual life may be nourished more abundantly, a larger place should be given to mental prayer instead of a multitude of prayers, retaining nevertheless the pious exercises commonly accepted in the Church and giving due care that the members are instructed diligently in leading a spiritual life.

III. Mortification

22. Religious should devote themselves to works of penance and mortification more than the rest of the faithful. However, the special penitential practices of institutes should be revised insofar as it is necessary so that, taking into account traditions, whether of the East or of the West, and modern circumstances, the members may in practice be able to observe them, adopting new forms also drawn from modern conditions of life.

IV. On Poverty

23. Institutes especially through their general chapters should diligently and in concrete manner promote the spirit and practice of poverty according to the intention of No. 13 of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis while also seeking and urging new ways in keeping with the nature of their institute to make the practice and witness of poverty more effective in modern times.

24. It is the right of institutes with simple vows to decree in general chapter whether the renunciation of inheritances which have been acquired and will be acquired should be incorporated into the constitutions and, if this is done, whether such renunciation should be obligatory or optional. They should also decide when this is to be done, that is, whether before perpetual profession or some years later.

V. Living the Common Life

25. In institutes devoted to works of the apostolate the common life, which is so important for Religious as a family united in Christ to renew fraternal cooperation, should be promoted by every means possible in a manner suitable to the vocation of the institute.

26. In institutes of this kind the order of the day cannot always be the same in all their houses, nor at times in the same house for all the members. The order, however, is always to be so arranged that the Religious, aside from the time given to spiritual things and to works, should also have some periods to themselves and be able to enjoy suitable recreation.

27. General chapters and synaxes should explore ways is which members who are called “conversi,” “cooperatores,” or by any other such name, may gradually obtain an active vote in specified community actions and elections and also a passive vote in the case of certain offices. Thus indeed it will come about that they are closely joined with the life and works of the community and the priests will be freer to devote themselves to their own ministry.

28. In monasteries where the stage of having one class of nun has been achieved, choir obligations should be defined in the constitutions, taking into consideration the diversity of persons which the distinction of activities and special vocations requires.

29. Sisters devoted to the external service of the monasteries, whether called oblates or some other name, should be governed by special statutes in which consideration should be given to the needs of their vocation which is not contemplative only and also to the needs of the vocation of the nuns with whom their lives are joined, even though they themselves are—not nuns.

The superioress of the monastery has a grave obligation to have solicitous care for these Sisters, to provide them with a fitting religious training, to treat them with a true sense of charity and to promote a bond of sisterliness between them and the community of nuns.

VI. The Cloister of Nuns

30. The papal enclosure of monasteries must be considered an ascetical institution closely joined to the special vocation of nuns. The enclosure is a sign, safeguard and special expression of their withdrawal from the world.

Nuns of the Oriental rites should observe their own cloister in the same spirit.

31. This enclosure should be arranged in such a way that material separation from the outside world is always preserved. Individual Religious families, according to their own spirit, can establish and define in their constitutions particular norms for this material separation.

32. Minor enclosure is abolished. Nuns, therefore, who by their rule are devoted to external works should define their own enclosure in their constitutions. However, nuns who, although contemplative by the rule, have taken up external works, after a suitable time which is granted them to deliberate, should either retain the papal enclosure and give up their external works or, continuing these works, should define their own enclosure in their constitutions, retaining their status as nuns.

VII. The Training of Religious

33. The training of Religious beginning with the novitiate should not be organized in the same way in all institutes, but the special character of each institute should be considered. In the revision and adaptation of this training an adequate and prudent place is to be given for experience.

34. Those precepts set down in the Decree Optatam Totius (On the Training of Priests), adapted to suit the character of each institute, are to be observed faithfully in the education of Religious clerics.

35. Further training after the novitiate is to be given in a way suitable to each institute. This training is altogether necessary for all members, even for those living a contemplative life, for Brothers in lay religious institutes and for Sisters in institutes dedicated to apostolic works, such as now exists in many institutes and are called juniorates, scholasticates and the like. This training should generally be extended over the entire period of temporary vows.

36. This training is to be given in suitable houses and, lest it be purely theoretical, should for the sake of the inexperienced be complemented by the performance of works and duties in keeping with the nature and circumstances proper to each institute in such a way that they gradually become part of the life to be lived in the future.

37. While always maintaining the formation proper to each institute, when individual institutes cannot give adequate doctrinal or technical training this can be provided by the fraternal collaboration of many. This collaboration can take various forms at different levels: common lectures or courses, loan of teachers, associations of teachers, sharing of facilities in a common school to be attended by members of several institutes.

Institutes equipped with the necessary means should willingly assist others.

38. After adequate experimentation, each institute is to prepare its own suitable norms for the formation of its members.

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