April 25, 2017
 
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DR#: 10 Mission and Apostolate in the Rule of Life

Introduction

Though Father André Coindre never found the time to pen a Rule for his nascent group of Brothers, his thoughts on the importance of “mission” and the nature of their “apostolate” seem crystal clear by his own witness and encouraging words.  If community was to be the physical presence or “embodiment” of this new religious enterprise and spirituality, the soul that gave it life, then mission and apostolate were to be the very reason for its existence.  Coindre writes to Bro. Borgia,

“Well, God has need of soldiers to bear the burden and heat of the day even more than he has need of contemplatives who honor him only with their lips.  Sword in hand, zeal for His glory, desire to save souls, to instruct, to edify the neighbor, that is what God loves more than anything else.  ‘Those who teach others unto justice shall shine as stars for all eternity,’ says the prophet.”  (André Coindre, Workbook 1, Letter of May 15, 1823, page 54)

In a similar vein, he seeks to encourage a Brother in his vocation,

“Have a sincere love for your neighbor, a devotedness without measure towards the young hearts confided to your care.  ...  Realize that you have been called especially to the service of the poor, therefore serve the Lord in their person.  You have the office of Martha, fulfill it with a great spirit of faith and joy for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.”  (Life of Father André Coindre, Letter of January 10, 1822, page 107)

We know that Fr. Coindre modeled what he preached about mission and apostolate, ultimately collapsing in the pulpit from over-extending himself as the founder of several religious congregations, a preacher of missions, and a teacher of seminarians.  He received the rest that he believed “was not of this world” after his untimely death in May, 1826.  His legacy and emphasis on mission and apostolate would be continued in those who followed in his footsteps – immediately and today.

Brother Polycarp, the first Brother Superior General of the Institute, took his inspiration from the founder as he codified the Brothers’ first official Rules.  While he emphasized the importance of unity in this community rooted in the love of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, it is clear that he also stressed mission and apostolate in the Rule and in his writings:

“The house in Mobile is closest to my heart…  But to respond well to my hopes, it must not deviate from its true purpose.  Now, my very dear Brothers, allow me to remind you of it here:  that purpose, as in all our houses, is the religious and moral instruction of youth.  All your desires and efforts must tend toward that goal; never forget this.  ...  Therefore, always be worthy of your holy mission.”  (Brother Polycarp, Workbook 2, Circular of August 20, 1849, page 65)

As heirs of this legacy, the significance of mission and apostolate continue to be focal points for us, modern day disciples of Fr. Coindre and Bro. Polycarp.  While the form and context of the apostolate may have changed throughout the years, the nature and focus of the mission remains the same:  How can we, as an extended community of lay and religious educators, continue to evangelize youth with the love we have received and experienced from the Heart of Christ?  Our current Rule of Life gives direction, challenge and inspiration. 

Through this reading, the participant will:

  • deepen their understanding of the importance of mission and apostolate to the founding of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart;
  • gain a better understanding of the importance of the concepts of mission and apostolate as contained in the Rule of Life; and
  • reflect on how their own mission and apostolate correlates to the missionary and apostolic goals of the Institute today.

 

Readings
  •  
  • Rule of Life
     - Decree of Approbation, page 7, paragraphs 1-5
     - Preamble, page 15
     - Community of Apostolate, pages 34, #’s 47-51
     - Chapter X:  Apostolic Life, pages 73-80
Options for Additional Readings

 

  • Brother Polycarp Workbook 2, D.  His Counsels to Religious Educators
  • Be Filled with Zeal and Devotion, page 97
  • Love the Youths Entrusted to You, pages 98-99
  • Be Courageous and Trusting, pages 100-101

 

Suggestions for Journal Reflection

 

  1. From your knowledge of the history of the Institute and from the contents of this reading, what, in your opinion, is the difference between mission and apostolate?  How would you describe the mission of the Institute?  What is its apostolate(s)?  How would you articulate your mission and apostolate?  How does your mission and apostolate correlate to and further the Institute’s mission and apostolate(s)?
  2. What are the most important qualities you feel we should look for in a person who will contribute much to our common mission and apostolate?  Who will best lead and further our mission and apostolate?
  3. Rule 150 states:  “We adapt our apostolate of education to the needs of the time and place with clearsightedness, good sense and boldness in order to give the best possible response to the Spirit’s call.”

A) Why do you think you were selected to participate in the Coindre Leadership Program?

B) How have you adapted your apostolate to better meet the needs of “your time and place with clearsightedness, good sense and boldness” in your leadership role?

C) How do you foster such qualities of “clearsightedness, good sense and boldness” in others?

 

Prayer

 

Loving God,

To belong to the Institute today is
to believe in Your love,
to live it, and
to spread it;

It is to contribute as a religious educator
to the evangelization of the world
particularly through the education of children and youth.  (Rule 13)

Gift me, O Lord, 
with a creative mind
so as to translate your love in clear and certain terms
to the youth of today,

with generous and strong hands
that can demonstrate your love in sure and effective ways
to the youth of today, 

with an empathetic and forgiving heart
that can, in some small way,
show forth your unconditional, merciful, and boundless love
to the youth of today.

Gift me, O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
with a heart like your own compassionate heart
that I might be a part of your mission and ministry
to the youth of today,

a sign of your compassion in our wounded world.

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

 

Readings

 

Rule of Life – Community in the School Setting

July 22, 1894

DECREE OF APPROBATION

Pias Inter Societates

Among those pious Associations founded to render ineffectual, with the help of God, the attacks of the impious who, in our days, tend to undermine the Authority of the Church, in Christian and Civil education, it is most fitting to count the Institute of men, all lay, which bears the name of Congregation of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

This pious association of Brothers was founded, in 1821, in France, by the very devoted priest André Coindre, of the Diocese of Lyon.

Besides their own sanctification, the end which they pursue with ardor, is to cultivate the spirit of intelligence and piety, always taking into account the character of each one as well as the conditions of time and place, of boys and young men whom they assemble in their various establishments.

The Brothers, under the direction of a Superior General, lead a common life and observe the three ordinary, simple vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, first temporary, then perpetual.

They apply themselves with such great zeal to attain the end of their Institute that, to the very great advantage of the Catholic religion and of civil society, they have spread with the help of God into several dioceses of France and even in various countries of both Europe and of America.

 

PREAMBLE

To rescue young people from ignorance, to prepare them for life, and to give them a knowledge and love of religion, Father André Coindre, in 1821, founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

In the spirit of evangelism that marked the period, the founding of the Institute expressed a response to the needs of the time and place on behalf of neglected and dechristianized youth.

Father Coindre wanted the members of the Institute to be brothers living the values specific to the religious life and committing themselves in a stable way to the service of the Church and society.

Brother Borgia, Brother Xavier, and Brother Polycarp took care to preserve the heritage of the founder. The Rule of 1843 describes in a definitive way the original grace of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.  It expresses clearly the elements essential to the life of a religious educator.

By the apostolic decree of July 22, 1894, the Church acknowledged the action of the Holy Spirit in the founding and history of our Institute, which it has approved as a pontifical institute of simple vows.  By the same action, the Church has confirmed the members of the Institute in their vocation and their mission.

The Spirit who inspired our founding and who has sustained us throughout our history remains constantly active in the Institute.  The present Rule of Life strives to translate the spiritual and apostolic thrust of our first Brothers into language which speaks to us today.

 

Community of Apostolate

47. The brothers live in community to support one another and to have a greater influence for good on the people among whom they live and work.

48. Whether they work within the community or outside of it, the brothers give witness to a life wholly consecrated to God and neighbor.

49. The brothers have a preference for communal apostolic works where they develop a team spirit to increase their effectiveness.

50. The brothers actively support the interests of the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected.

51. The brothers generously respond to the missionary needs of the Church and make efforts to interest the Christian community in these needs.

 

Chapter X

Apostolic Life

149. Apostolic Calling

Our apostolic life flows from a movement of love toward God and neighbor.

As members of an institute devoted to Christian education, especially that of children and youth,
we have the specific responsibility of giving them a holistic human formation
in the perspective of their eternal destiny.

We participate in this mission through whatever function obedience assigns to us.

 

150. Pastoral Adaptation

We adapt our apostolate of education to the needs of the time and place with clearsightedness,  good sense, and boldness in order to give the best possible response to the Spirit's calls.

In collaboration with diocesan pastoral agencies and with educational organizations, we work to promote the natural and supernatural growth of all, especially of the poor and of victims of injustice.

 

151. Apostolic Competence

It is a duty of justice for us to acquire professional competence.

It is an apostolic necessity that we stay well informed of the latest developments in the field of education and of the teaching of the Church on social problems.

This is true because it is not sufficient just to instruct our students; we must also afford them a formation which enables them to improve the earthly city by furthering the reign of Christ.

 

152. Limitations of the Apostle

Our apostolate roots us in the hidden but powerful action of God.

Despite the resistance of evil, the indifference of our society, and the experience of failure, we must persevere with faith and trust.

The experience of our personal limitations gives us greater sensitivity toward the spiritual and material sufferings of others.

Our unselfish and dedicated concern can reveal to them the compassion of the Lord and draw them to him.

  

153. Missionary Spirit

A missionary spirit urges us to help expand the Church in countries where Christianity is still young.

We try to spread the Good News in language that can be understood.

Moreover, we realize that the simple presence of a religious community is already a sign of the nature of the Christian vocation.

Cordial relations among brothers of different ethnic and cultural origins give eloquent witness to the love which must unite all in Christ.

 

154. Missionary Life

In our adopted countries, we make every effort to understand the work of education in its cultural, pastoral, and social contexts.

This process of inculturation, a work of love and self-emptying, is never complete.

We help the people who welcome us to acquire a formation so that they themselves can provide for the growth of their country and their Church.

  

155. Context of the School

We work in schools of all types and hold key positions in the field of education as the need arises.

We attach great importance to the formation  of new generations of teachers, to the Christian animation of teaching teams, and to the promotion of social respect for the teaching profession.

Among the diverse calls which reach us, we give preference to deprived children and to less developed regions.

  

156. School Community 

Christian education cannot easily be realized without the witness of a school community which is built on close relationships among teachers, parents, students, and the local people.

We wholeheartedly support the establishment of programs for participation and animation which give dynamism to the school community, especially through the search for a common educational vision.

 

157. Christian Mission of the School

We share with the lay teachers the responsibility for the religious and moral formation of the students, creating an atmosphere of understanding and generosity which awakens in young people a sense of community and a desire to serve others.

In this way, we are helping to form a dedicated laity and to develop religious, priestly, and missionary vocations.

We are also supplementing the formation given in the family and carrying out the educational mission of the Church.

  

158. Education in the Faith

Christian education is often associated with schooling and cultural development.

It fills the school with the spirit of the Gospel.

We carry out our role as educators in the faith especially through the teaching of religion, which leads the young to an enlightened and close union with Christ.

To accomplish this goal and to kindle in our students a desire for the interior life, it is essential that we cultivate a dynamic relationship both with them and with the Lord.

  

159. Apostolic and Moral Awareness

In an atmosphere of respect and trust, we educate the young to a sense of personal responsibility.

We also attempt to challenge them to become involved in social ministry, to promote justice and peace, and to appreciate the value of sharing.

We support those students involved in movements and extra-curricular groups which promote  human and Christian formation, as well as those who feel called to a special vocation within the Church or society.

 

160. Christian Acceptance

In our dealings with people of different faiths and ideologies, we look for points of agreement and we welcome dialogue.

We also foster among the young  a spirit of acceptance  which leads them to love all people regardless of their race, nationality, or creed.

 

161. Apostolate of Suffering

The brothers who are sick fulfill a special mission.

By enduring their trials in a spirit of surrender and communion with the suffering Heart of Jesus,
they are a profound source of strength within the Institute.

By their serenity and courage in sickness as well as by their prayer,
they become a grace for the brothers in the active apostolate.

 

162. The brothers consider the school to be the privileged place for their apostolic activity, yet they remain open to all other apostolates determined through prayer, communal discernment, and the agreement of their superiors to be in keeping with the founding charism and the needs of the Church.

163. The brothers carry out their mission by the example of their lives and by teaching both religious and secular subjects or by whatever other task they perform in a spirit of obedience.

164. In the Church the brothers have a special mandate to be educators in the faith.

165. The brothers feel responsible for the missionary work of the Institute. Each brother expresses his concern by prayer, by contact with missionaries, by eagerness to help them, and even by offering to serve in any country to which the Church calls the Institute.

166. To foster genuine inculturation, the brothers chosen to serve in a foreign country are given a time for preparation which includes appropriate missiological studies.

167. The brothers' apostolic activity and community life are integrally related. By pursuing the same ideal and sharing their experiences, anxieties, and joys, they develop a communal apostolic prayer life, strengthen their bonds of brotherhood, and support individual activity with the strength of the community.

168. The brothers readily adapt their teaching methods to take advantage of the educational potential of technology and mass media. They work to develop the moral judgment of the young, who are so greatly influenced by what they read, see, and hear.

169. In keeping with the Church's teachings, the brothers sensitize their students to issues of social justice and other problems of the times.

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