April 25, 2019
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DR#: 14 The Spirituality of the Rule of Life: The Six Loves


The Rule of Life, in its largest sense, beyond its definitive nature as a binding constitution for the Brothers’ vowed and communal life, charts a way to live the Gospel in keeping with the founding charism of André Coindre. Its 1984 edition represents a complete revision accomplished over a 15-year period after Vatican Council II. The general chapter delegates who re-wrote the new text hoped it would translate the spiritual and apostolic thrust of our founder and our first Brothers “into language which speaks to us today.”(Preamble) The Holy See, in its decree of approbation, described it as a means to “spread in the world the fire of redeeming love whose source is the Heart of Christ.”  

The Rule of Life presents “redeeming love” through the image of water: love flows over us as an un-merited gift and invites us to make a gratuitous response. (#2, #114) The gift comes either directly from God or through significant persons. Our response takes various forms: naming the love, accepting it, returning it and spreading it. This gift-response pattern becomes concrete in six “loves” or relationships: love of God, self-love, communal love, the special love of friends (by extension, married love), love of young people, and love of the poor. In the first two “loves” we receive more than we give. In the middle two, there is complete mutuality, and in the last two we expect to give more love than we receive.

Former editions of the rule considered religious life to be a search for our own perfection. In the present edition, we are called instead to perfect the quality of six loving relationships, that is “in the pursuit of perfect love.” (#17) Religious vows (by extension, married vows) are means to that growth.

Through this reading, the participant will:

  • seek a better understanding of the six key relationships developed concretely in the Rule of Life;
  • identify divine love gratuitously given through human loving;
  • kindle a renewed desire to respond and to grow in love of God, self, community, friends, young people, and the poor.

Readings from the Rule of Life 2007          (numbers refer to articles; letters to sentences within an article)

The 6 Loves Synonym in RoL Gift Response Gift Response
Love of God Grace # 1, 2a # 2b, c 3a # 113-14 # 115-118
Love of self Self-acceptance # 15c # 86 # 81 # 131, 152
Communal Love Communion # 15a,b # 156-157  # 22  # 23-24
Love of friends Friendship  # 25a-26 # 77 #113 # 113 # 167, 173 
Love of Youth Apostolate  # 11a,b # 16  # 118a,b  # 19c,d, 158 
Love of the poor Compassion Preamble a,b #10c, 150b, 155c  # 80a,d # 82, 126 


Options for Additional Readings

 Vatican II sources quoted in the Rule of Life:  

  • Gaudium et Spes paragraph 12, from “Chapter 1: The Dignity of the Human Person”
  • Lumen Gentium paragraphs 39-42, “Chapter V: The Call to Holiness”
  • Gravissimum Educationis, paragraphs 5 and 8 from “Preface”
Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1. The members of [school communities] help one another “in the pursuit of perfect love.” (#17)  In which of the “six loves” do I desire to grow by recognizing and welcoming a gift of love which I might be avoiding?  In which do I need help in making a more genuine or a more generous response?
  2. The first words of the Rule of Life are “God is love,” an act of faith repeated twice in quick succession in the first letter of the “beloved disciple,” model of openness to growth in love.  Re-read 1 John 4:8-16 and then write your personal profession of faith in the redeeming power of love.
  3. Articles 11 and 12 name persons who welcomed and responded to love in particular ways. Write similar tributes to persons you know who have “made love the center of their lives and the inspiration of their apostolic and missionary activity.”


(Inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 and Rule of Life 15)

Spirit of Love,
often I fear I’m becoming the kind of 
educator who is a noisy gong, 
a clanging cymbal, full of knowledge and comprehending advanced mysteries,
even doing all the politically and 
religiously correct things
like feeding the poor and teaching the Faith,
but uninspiring when it comes to love.

Give me enough patience 
to wait until love is offered 
instead of manipulating it from others.

Grant me enough kindness 
to give their motives the benefit of the doubt
and soften me with gentle 
when jealousy and airs of self-importance get the best of me.

Give me courage to ask forgiveness when 
self-seeking, rudeness or anger smother 
genuine sparks of love within me. 

Simplify me when I begin brooding
over my injuries or looking for someone to join in my misery
when I’ve been wronged.

Keep in the front of my heart the truth 
that I am lovable…and truly loved
by the Father who created me out of choice,
by my Brother who could have shown no greater love,
by the beloved community that is my family,
by friends who accept me for who I am,
and by my colleagues, students and the needy poor who come to me in trust, 
full of respect and forbearance 
which I don’t always deserve.

Strengthen my faith that growing in love is my greatest hope, my power, my endurance
—and the most precious gift I can give.

Teach me that love never fails and that love alone can redeem what is lost.


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