A Year with the Saints – 29 June

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The perfection of a Religious consists in exact obedience to his Rules; and whoever is most faithful in their observance will be, by this fact alone, the most perfect. – Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

Saint Vincent de Paul was most exact in the practical observance of all the rules of the Congregation, to such a degree that he scrupled to transgress even the smallest, such as that of kneeling on entering or leaving his cell, though in the last years of his life this became very painful to him, on account of a disease which had settled in his limbs. He was also usually the first to be present at the general exercises, particularly meditation.

Father Joli, Superior of the Congregation of the Mission, was most exact himself in the observance of the Rules and inflexible as to others, yielding neither to reasons nor to entreaties, so far as to permit the least want of observance. A Superior having once written to him to ask a certain permission, this was his reply: “Our Rule is opposed to this, and we ought to be most strongly attached to our Rule. This is the best of all reasons.” In a discourse to his Community he said one day: “We ought to regard as our chief duties the Rules and holy practices of the Congregation, disregarding, to observe them, all our own particular devotions. For example, we should consider it more meritorious not to speak without permission to persons of our acquaintance whom we may meet in the house, than to take twenty disciplines of our own will.”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal had the observance of her Rules so much at heart, and kept such strict watch over herself, that she might not transgress the smallest, even when a Superior, and much advanced in years, that her practice served as a living and most efficacious rule to rouse and incite all the others to a most perfect observance. It happened once that she came into recreation from the parlor, much prostrated on account of her great age. Some companions begged her to rest for the short time that remained before the close of recreation. “But what shall we do,” she answered, smiling, “with the Rule, which requires us to work in recreation?”

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was never seen to transgress the least rule of the Institute. He was so exact in this that he could not bring himself to give a companion half a sheet of paper or to receive any little picture that might be offered to him without first obtaining permission from the Superior, as the Rule prescribed.

One night the devil tormented a lay-brother in the Dominican monastery at Bologna with so much cruelty that the noise of blows and struggles aroused the Religious. When Saint Dominic, who was there, commanded the demon to tell why this was, he answered that it was because the brother had taken something to drink on the previous evening without permission and without asking a blessing, as the Rule enjoined.

Saint Gregory relates that an evil spirit entered into a nun and tormented her grievously because she had eaten lettuce without asking a blessing, according to the requirement of the Rule.

MLA Citation