Venerable Emmanuel d’Alzon – First Constitutions of the Assumptionists – 1855

Venerable Emmanuel-Maurice d'AlzonThe goal of our small Association is to work toward our perfection by extending the reign of Jesus Christ in souls; accordingly, our motto is found in the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Adveniat Regnum Tuum”.

The coming of the reign of Jesus Christ for ourselves and for our neighbor is what we propose before everything else.

The means of attaining this goal are: for ourselves, the practice of the religious virtues; for our neighbor, the works of zeal specified below.

The religious virtues we shall practice are:

1) FAITH. It will open us to the supernatural order. We shall believe with all our heart whatever the Church believes and teaches. We shall view all our actions in the light of divine mysteries, so that even the least of our actions might be carried out under the watchful eye of God and be prompted by the desire to fulfill in ourselves some of the teachings of Our Lord.

Moreover, we shall practice this virtue:

–by our complete submission, not only to the teaching of the Church, but also to the spirit of such teaching;

–by our filial obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff whose every wish that we are aware of we shall readily follow;

–by our respect for truth, manifested in the deposit of religious dogmas, realizing more fully the importance of our vocation as defenders and soldiers of these dogmas, and consequently as soldiers of Jesus Christ, Word of God and Eternal Truth;

–by our spirit of obedience to the Rule and to our Superiors, our faith enabling us to see God himself in those who are placed over us in our small Association.

2) HOPE. We shall place our trust in God alone, never in human means. We shall try to hold all created goods in contempt, in order to attach ourselves only to those of heaven. Evangelical poverty will be the external proof of our practice of hope. We shall also draw from it a true spirit of humility, i.e., of contempt and hatred of ourselves; and a spirit of prayer in which we shall ask for the graces needed to fulfill the Law and the Counsels of God; and a deep conviction that all that is not God or is not related to Him is not worthy of us.

Such a practice of hope will inspire us with the most profound gratitude for God’s gifts and remind us of the words of the Apostle who suggests that we thank God for all that happens to us: “In omnibus gratias agentes.”

Hope will be for us the source of an absolute trust in Our Lord amid all our trials. It was precisely at the time of his Passion that He said to his Apostles: “Non turbetur cor vestrum, neque formidet; creditis in Deum et in me credite” (Jn 14:1). As Our Lord pronounced these words just as he was about to fulfill the prophecy which said of Him: “He shall be surfeited with shame” (Lam. 3:30), we shall have confidence that, despite whatever trials befall us, He will not abandon us if we remain faithful to Him. Indeed, he promised us persecution along with victory; “Si me persecuti fuerint, et vos persequentur; in mundo pressuram habebitis, sed confidite, ego vici mundum” (Jn 15:20 and 16:33).

Concerning all things, let the members of our family remember:

1) never to request in their prayers anything which is not directed toward the greater glory of God;

2) to ask for deliverance from the trials which God sends them only insofar as such deliverance further contributes to the extension of the reign of Jesus Christ;

3) while working to solve their temporal difficulties, to seek solely a greater freedom for the service of God to whom they must be completely and absolutely consecrated;

4) to find their happiness, their strength, and their rest in the love of the Cross, since the Lord Jesus saved the world by the Cross. Let them be deeply convinced that their trials are as nothing when compared to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If they love this good Master, they should forget their own afflictions in the presence of those endured by Christ and those endured daily by the Church, his heavenly Spouse. They should act like the child who, suffering from a small hurt, quickly forgets it and attends solely to his mother when she suddenly becomes seriously ill. With this loving selflessness in mind, the religious of Assumption shall offer at the Holy Sacrifice and to Our Lord present in the tabernacle their hearts and their capacity to suffer, in order to atone for all the crimes committed against God and the Church.

3) CHARITY. Its practice includes:

–the love of God whom we shall solely love;

–chastity, which, because it detaches us from fondness for sensual pleasure, will help us direct toward God all the aspirations of our heart;

–the love of Our Lord, which we will try to prove by practicing the virtues that He perfectly exemplified in his holy humanity, and by making all our actions depend on his spirit according to his injunction: “Vos amici estis, si feceritis quae praecipio vobis” (Jn 15:14). The practice of charity also includes love of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Jesus Christ and our special patroness; love of the Church, whose every interest should be ours; and devotion to the Holy Angels, especially the Guardian Angels of our brothers and of the souls entrusted to us.

Love of our neighbor shall show itself: by our gentleness in bearing whatever wrongs others inflict upon us, by our readiness to serve others as required by our vocation, by our cordiality and our spirit of frankness, and especially by our zeal in all the works we undertake for the good of souls.

Finally, charity will reveal to us that spirit of unity which Our Lord asked of his Father just after instituting the sacrament of Eucharist and before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world: “Ut omnes unum sint… Ut dilectio qua dilexisti me in ipsis sit et ego in ipsis” (Jn 17:21 & 26). Because, in the words of Saint John, God is love, and because he who lives in love lives in God, we shall continually ask the Spirit of love, who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, to unite us indissolubly to God, to Jesus Christ, to his Church, to our brothers, and to those entrusted to us.

Such a spirit of unity will keep us far from the struggles which all too often arise within the Church between the secular and the regular clergies. We shall scrupulously stay within our bounds so as to avoid conflict with others who, like ourselves, are engaged in working for the salvation of souls. We shall consequently not get involved in any type of work that seems more properly the prerogative of the secular clergy. We must know how to renounce doing some of the good which must be done, in order to accomplish more perfectly the one which will be more directly entrusted to us. We do this in order to strengthen, by the example of humble charity, the bonds of brotherhood which should unite all the servants of Jesus Christ, in whatever type of work they do in his vineyard.

More specifically, we shall seek to extend the reign of Our Lord by the following works:

1) Education, understood in the broadest sense of the term, i.e.: secondary schools, colleges, seminaries, and universities. We shall engage in primary education only if we are to dispense it free of charge. We shall diligently devote ourselves to forming Christians deeply attached to the Church and to pointing out the absolute need for a vital unity, not only in dogma but also in discipline, under the increasingly respected direction of the Sovereign Pontiff. For, if one of the greatest evils of our day is the spirit of division which tends to break the bonds uniting the intelligentsia, one of the purposes of our small Association must be to try, through education, to bring the minds and hearts of men closer to the common center which Jesus Christ gave to his Church.

2) Publication of books capable of helping Christian education. The calumnies against the truth, which Protestants and philosophers have built up over three centuries, make it imperative for the defenders of divine truth to dispel the darkness which has obscured modern learning.

3) Works of charity, by which we can prepare the children entrusted to our care to carry out their Christian duty in the world. We cannot deny the fact that the poor harbor in their hearts great hatred against the rich. This comes either from a loss of faith among the lower classes or from the scandalous use the upper classes have made of their wealth. To redress, as much as possible, such a great evil, we shall try to inculcate in the young people entrusted to us a love and a respect for the suffering members of Jesus Christ, and we shall try to instill in them the obligation they have to help the suffering, not only by their alms, but by their words, their advice, their encouragement, and their solace.

4) Retreats. We shall conduct them either in our own houses or on the outside, provided there are no serious drawbacks.

5) Foreign missions and works for the destruction of schism and heresy.

We shall undertake work outside our houses, such as preaching and confessions, only if we are certain that it is agreeable to the secular clergy, under whose direction we shall place ourselves to perform such work.

Along these same lines, we shall endeavor to inspire the young people entrusted to us with a sense of respect and affection for their pastors and an understanding of their duties as parishioners.