Summary of Decrees of Provincial Chapters, St. Paul of the Cross Province, 1920

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In the Twentieth Provincial Chapter it was observed that many of the proposals concerning the observance, the spirit of poverty, the ministry, the preservation of fervor among students, and other vital matters, were embraced in the enactments of former Provincial Chapters. Therefore a new summary of all the Provincial Chapter Decrees to date was ordered, and attention called to the Regulation prescribing the public reading of this summary at least four times a year. —XX. Chapter i session.

  1. The Religious will strive to cherish and maintain the spirit of solitude; therefore let them gladly stay at home, and never go out or stay out except under the shield of obedience. —I. iv.
  2. It is the Rector’s duty to see that no one receive idle visits, or lose time in the parlor. No visit is to be paid without previous permission from the Superior, who must not tolerate useless ones. If a Religious, being out, thinks it necessary to make a call, he shall acquaint the Superior of the fact on his return. —II. ix., VI. vii.
  3. Let no one dine outside of the Retreat without grave cause, to be approved of by the Superior, who must be the first to give good example in this matter. —II. ix.
  4. All letters, except those to Higher Superiors, according to our Holy Rules, must pass through the hands of the Superior, who is always free and often bound to read them and cut short any useless correspondence. —VIII. xi.
  5. All games properly so called, and much more, plays and theatrical performances are forbidden by Rule. This holds good abroad as well as at home. —VII. xi.
  6. No private Religious can be allowed to keep money constantly in his possession. All presents received are to be brought at once to the Superior. Money given for a specified purpose is to be used for that purpose only. —VII. xi.
  7. Let the secular dress of our Religious be conformable to holy poverty and clerical in pattern. Lighter underclothing, if required when going out, may be used with the Rector’s permission. No article of silk is allowed. Gloves, if used, must be of a dark color and plain material. Silver buttons, chains, etc., are forbidden. Only watches made of silver or some less valuable material can be allowed. —II. viii.
  8. Only Father Provincial can allow a Religious to have his likeness taken. —I. ii.
  9. Superiors of missions have no authority to grant permissions for the purchase of articles of clothing, except in so far as such articles may become strictly necessary during time of mission. —XV. vii.
  10. When a Religious is transferred from one Retreat to another, he should be provided with everything needed in the way of clothing, etc., by the Rector of the Retreat which he is leaving, and should the Rector of the Retreat to which the Religious is transferred, find that this has not been done, and that in consequence he is obliged to purchase clothing, etc., for the Religious, he can send the bills for the same to the former Rector, provided he does so within one month after the transfer. —X. v. vii.
  11. In the burial of our religious, nothing shall be used that shall in any way offend against the poverty and austerity enjoined by our Holy Rule. —XV. vii.
  12. Superiors must guard against abuses in the matter of smoking. Smoking in our daily recreations is condemned; and the Religious are cautioned against keeping on hand a supply of cigars in violation of their vow of Poverty. —XV, vii.
  13. No refreshments can be taken out of meal time, without express permission of the Superior. If anything besides what is passed at the common table is needed regularly, the Provincial’s written permission must be obtained therefore. —XI. viii.
  14. The practice of total abstinence is strongly recommended to honor the Sacred Thirst of Our Lord. Spirituous liquors are prohibited to the Junior Fathers, either during time of missions or at any other time. —XVIII. viii., XI. viii.
  15. In order that our young priests may have time to prepare for the missions, they shall not be employed in the works of the ministry except within the limits prescribed by Father Provincial. Their writings must be submitted for revision to the examiners whom Father Provincial shall appoint. —XIV. vii.
  16. Pay lectures are prohibited during missions and at any other time without the express permission of Father Provincial, who may grant it only in a very exceptional case. —VII. xi.
  17. In accordance with Father General’s declaration, none of our Brethren shall engage to write for periodicals without the sanction of Father Privincial and his Consultors. No book, pamphlet, or other composition can be published without the Provincial’s approbation. —II. viii.
  18. Local Superiors must make a record of special benefactors, “Benefactores Insignes,” of their respective Retreats. Whether in the shape of an album or an open tablet, this must be continued and preserved by their successors in office as a means of ready reference and of kind remembrance. In this record besides their name and residence, also the nature and amount of their benefactions, and any other item of importance must be entered and specified. And in order that this provision be retroactive, the said Superiors are directed to include as far as practicable in this register the names of past benefactors, whether living or deceased. —XIII. viii.
  19. The same suffrages shall hereafter he offered for Passionist Nuns as are offered for our Brethren of a different Province; and record must be made of the same in the book of suffrages for Deceased Religious. —XIV. vi., XV. v.
  20. The annual retreat in one house of the Province, such house to be designated by Father Provincial, shall be held a fortnight in advance; and to this house, let those Fathers, who would be engaged in local or parish work, be sent to make the exercises with the community of the house so chosen, to the end that, returning to their own monasteries they may be free for active work while the rest of the religious are on retreat. —XVI. vi.
  21. Since the opinion is current among some that the Director of students is independent of the Rector in his relations to the students, the Chapter declares that the Rector should be recognized as the one possessing full authority in the community, and should be consulted especially in what appertains to extraordinary outlays and places of recreation for the students. —XVI. vi.
  22. As a relief for the divers inconveniences resulting from over lengthy discourses on our missions, and especially that the time alloted for the evening confessions be not encroached upon, let not the evening instruction extend over twenty minutes, the evening announcements and sermon over fifty minutes, the early morning Mass and “Motive” over forty-five minutes, and the morning announcements and instruction over forty-five minutes. —XVI. vii.
  23. The obligation we have toward that large class of the faithful, who must be taught through simple and tangible methods devotion to the Passion of Our Lord, can he most satisfactorily fulfilled by teaching and urging them on our missions to make the Stations of the Cross. —XVI. vii.
  24. It having been reported that some of our missionaries dwelt upon topics during the mission only remotely connected with the eternal truths or the subjects customary with us, Father Provincial shall use peremptory measures against those who attempt to introduce such frivolous and extravagant discourses. —XVI. vii.
  25. When engaged on mission work, our Fathers may make use of the Apostolic Indult favore operariorum concerning the abstinence. —XVI. vii.
  26. Since the Office of the Blessed Virgin recited on our missions is a commutation of the ordinary Office, the missionaries should consider themselves obliged to recite it, and should not for trivial reasons seek further commutation from it. —XVI. vii.
  27. In order to avoid misunderstandings and criticism and to uphold the full authority and liberty given the Provincial by the Holy Rule, it is declared that no official position or mere seniority gives a religious the right to be appointed superior of a mission. —XVII. vi.
  28. For the promotion of a student to a higher class at the close of a scholastic year, the average of his class work during the year, the quarterly written and oral examinations and the annual oral examinations shall be taken into account by the Lector and examiners, and the final decision shall be left to Father Provincial and his Consultors. —XVIII. iv.
  29. In order to give our students more time for study, they shall have study and class in the morning on second class feasts, excepting the feasts of the Circumcision, St. Stephen, and St. John the Evangelist; and in the afternoon on feasts of Rule. —XVIII ii.
  30. The students may have a half day walk once a week. Directors of students should insist that the young men placed under their charge make systematic and conscientious use of whatever facilities for physical exercise may be afforded them, as regular physical exercise is very necessary for the preservation of health and vigor. —XVIII. v.
  31. Those missionaries, who wish to retire after leaving the confessional in the evening may do so. And when there are several Fathers on a mission and not many confessions to be heard on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the Superior of the Mission should arrange that only one Father need arise at 4:3o and the others be allowed a longer rest. —XVIII. vii.
  32. The civil act of renunciation customary in this Province should be made when Religious reach the age of twenty-one. Father Provincial should inquire on each visitation whether this order is carried out. The Rector should try to hold the Local Chapter for a final profession at a time when all or most of the Fathers are at home. —XVIII. xiii.
  33. The half hour taken from the midnight Office by decree of the General Chapter shall be added to the time of rest before Matins; and the time of siesta shall be limited to one hour throughout the year. —XVIII. xvi.
  34. In order to provide for the financial needs of the Province, Father Provincial with the consent of his Consultors is authorized to tax each Retreat annually pro rata. —XVIII. xvii.
  35. It is recommended that henceforth our Provincial Chapters be held a month earlier than had been customary that the reports of the Rectors be made up at the end of the month preceding the opening of the Chapter, and that permission be secured for the Master of Novices to have an active voice in case the Chapter be held in some other than the Novitiate house. —XVIII. xviii.
  36. The work of Laymen’s Retreats is sanctioned, and wherever these retreats are undertaken Father Provincial is urged to appoint a Father who shall look after the proper management and execution of a work that is a most fruitful exercise of apostolic zeal. —XVIII. xx.
  37. Branches of the Benefactors’ Society shall be established in all our Retreats, each branch participating in the daily Mass offered at West Hoboken. The Society shall be under the supervision of Father Provincial and subject to his regulations. —XIX. vi.
  38. The canonical Rector of the Preparatory School shall be exofficio Director of the students. —XIX. iii.
  39. Students not in major orders and the lay Brothers shall wear secular collars and ties when they go out in citizen dress. This legislation is not obligatory on the Brothers who made perpetual vows prior to 1917. —XIX. v.
  40. Father Rector may authorize the Lector of students to correct the reading in refectory and choir. —XIX. vi.
  41. The hour of Sext shall be chanted with None and Vespers during Lent. —XIX. vii.
  42. The Rectors are reminded that in the proper custody of the Archives is implied the serious obligation of assuring themselves with the aid of legal experts that deeds and other legal documents contained therein are properly drawn up and recorded, so that the properties of the Retreat are in no way endangered. They are moreover to see that every provision required by the Charters of our Retreats are complied with in accordance with legal statutes. —XIX. ix.
  43. While visiting Religious are not supposed to be present at Local Chapters on Fridays, they are however expected to prostrate after dinner along with the Religious of the house, and to say Culpa with them to the Rector. —XX. ii.
  44. The Rules and Regulations shall be read at the noon meal on Wednesdays and Fridays. —XX. iii.
  45. In the Alumnate the day hours of the Divine Office shall be recited by the boys; and the Professed shall be present with them at this exercise and at meals. High Mass shall be celebrated and an Instruction on the Passion given each Sunday morning. —XX. iv.
  46. In order to lend solemnity to the occasion and the more securely to safeguard the secrecy required, it is directed that in all the Chapters held to discuss the fitness of the students for perpetual vows and for ordination an oath of secrecy shall be taken by all in such Chapters. —XX. vi.
  47. Rectors are reminded that it belongs to Father Provincial and his Consultors to accept indefinitely an engagement for the office of chaplain, confessor, ordinary or extraordinary, of any convent or institution. —XX. vii.
  48. In order to avoid misunderstanding, when any of our priests have to duplicate on Sundays, he will be free to apply one of the Masses in conformity with the privilege granted by our Holy Rules, but in this case he shall not be allowed to take another Mass during the week. The Superior however cannot oblige him to choose that particular Mass, but he can determine the intention of such Mass. —II. ix.
  49. The Venerable Chapter reminds all the Religious of the prohibition to carry books from one Retreat to another. In case however of real necessity, it is requisite to have a written permission from Father Provincial. —V. ii.
  50. The Venerable Chapter decrees that each Rector make a duplicate of the triennial Capitular Report, excepting the item “de Missarum celebratione,” and this duplicate be left on file in his Retreat, and the original copy be kept on file by Father Provincial. —XIV. vii.
  51. To preserve the spirit of solitude, and keep our Religious from all unnecessary intercourse with the world, the Venerable Chapter decides that our Brethren shall not be permitted to join Catholic Fraternal Organizations. —XV. viii.
  52. The Venerable Chapter reminds the lay Brothers that their state in the Congregation obliges them to discharge with careful solicitude the manual offices imposed on them by holy obedience, and therefore they should not occupy this time in study or recreation, which is incompatible with their state. Hence, they have no right outside of the time already specified to employ themselves in reading in their cells. They should diligently employ their free time on Sundays and Holidays in spiritual reading. —XVII. xiv.

Finally all the Brethren are reminded of the admonition of the saintly Bernard Mary of Jesus, the first Superior General to visit our Province:

Whilst recognizing the fact that it is very difficult to reconcile the spirit of our Rule with local circumstances, he however warned the Religious against the delusion that the spirit of our Rules must be sacrificed to these circumstances. To labor for our neighbor is doubtless a necessary duty but this must be regulated and restricted conformably to the spirit which our Holy Founder has bequeathed to us, viz., a spirit of solitude, of prayer, of poverty and mortification.

If the Religious, both Superiors and subjects, are careful to preserve this spirit, it may be expected that the Religious of this Province will sanctify themselves and sanctify their neighbor. Should they fail to do this, God’s blessing will be wanting, and the most disastrous consequences may be expected. He therefore earnestly recommended to all the maintenance of this spirit for their own welfare in particular, for the well being of the Province and of the entire Congregation.-XII. x.