The General Chapter of 1982, after much preparation with the whole Society and responding to the call of the Church for renewal, formulated and proposed new Constitutions which would respond to the calls of Vatican II but remain faithful to the spirit of the (original) 1815 Constitutions.
The following are direct quotes from our 1982 Constitutions.
Gathered together in community in the name
of Jesus Christ,
we are sent to proclaim, by our very lives and activities,
the Good News of the Kingdom.
From His Heart we draw the love
which enables us to live in communion, among ourselves
and with others.
Whatever the service entrusted to us,
we stand together, united in our common mission.
Through our mutual trust,
the sharing of our prayer and life-experiences,
through our love and loyalty towards one another,
we come to find real joy in living together,
welcoming our gifts and our differences
of culture and mentality.
Our desire to live in mutual love
helps us to overcome our egoism,
and to work through our moments of tension,
open to forgiveness and reconciliation.
We want to be discerning communities,
living in awareness and sensitivity to the Spirit.
This attitude makes us responsive, in our mission,
to the sufferings and aspirations of our sisters and brothers.
It helps us to respond better to the calls of God
in the world around us, and it enlightens us
to make choices more true to the spirit of the Gospel.
Our life together is a celebration of the paschal mystery.
As such it calls for a certain self-restraint and asceticism
which places the needs of others before our own:
a life which, through prayer and conversion of heart,
in accordance with the discipline of the Church,
unites us with Christ's offering to His Father;
a life of joy in which we celebrate together
significant moments and feasts which remind us
of Christ's presence and steadfast love for His people.
We wish to live simply
so as to express our solidarity with those who are poor.
Openness, welcome and sharing with others
will make the community a sign of communion.
We help one another with simplicity, discretion and realism
to live out our relationships with family and friends.
No matter how important the time
spent with others may be,
we shall respect the demands of living
in an apostolic community,
sincerely seeking to be faithful to all our commitments.
We shall reserve some parts of the house for the religious
and we shall create in our community life space for silence,
times and places conducive to reflection, prayer and renewal.
To be better fitted to serve,
we take responsibility for our on-going formation
and use the means of social communication
with prudence, discretion and a critical sense.
We are particularly attentive to our sisters who are sick
trying to ease their suffering.
Through the Sacrament of the Sick,
they experience the strength and peace of God.
Our elderly sisters by their wisdom and their tenderness
bear witness to God's faithfulness and the joy
of belonging to Him.
Each one receives the encouragement and the affection
of the community,
enabling us all to live out our mission to the end.
All through life we show our care for one another,
in full activity as in sickness,
in situations which make us painfully aware
of our helplessness,
and at the moment of death.
When one of our sisters is called to the fullness of life,
we confide her to her Creator in our prayers
and in the celebration of the Eucharist
with hope and faith in the resurrection.
The Eucharistic presence in our communities
is a constant reminder that Christ is the centre
of our life,
inviting us to adore Him individually and in community.
Through the Eucharist we are committed
to live united among ourselves,
to build communion in a divided and unjust world,
and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to others.
The local superior is at the service
of the life and mission of the community
in a relationship of mutual trust with her sisters.
She is careful to foster communion and co-responsibility,
and to encourage enthusiasm for the apostolate.
She sees to it that community discernment is exercised;
she herself then takes final responsibility for decisions.
With love and simplicity
she fulfills her service of authority and her role as animator.
Each community draws up its plan,
presents it to the provincial and her council for approval
and is accountable to them once a year.
Periodic evaluations of this plan
help us as a community to review together the quality
and integrity of our life.
Communication with other communities and provinces
makes us aware of the needs of the whole Body
and more ready to serve wherever we are sent.
Wherever we are, we participate actively
in the life and mission of the Society;
we remain united to all our sisters
in the joy of being called and sent forth
to love as Jesus has loved us.
The spirit of our government is drawn from
the interior dispositions of Jesus
who came to serve and to give His life for the world.
In Him, we enter into a new relationship
with one another in faith and love.
Each one's commitment
to contribute to the progress of the whole
is an expression of our communion.
Each religious has a basic responsibility
which she cannot surrender
and which no one can carry out for her:
that of living in the truth of her heart and her life,
wherever she may be, the charism
of Saint Madeleine Sophie.
This means listening to God's calls
in the world, in others, and within herself.
She takes the initiative to suggest ways
of responding to these calls
and assumes the decisions taken by competent authority
in a spirit of active participation.
Our co-responsibility in government is expressed
in a common search for the will of God
to fulfil our mission in the world.
This discernment will be the hallmark
of all our government.
It calls for interior freedom, willingness to serve
and transcendence of self
so that we are ready to go wherever we are sent.
To some is entrusted the service of authority,
which they exercise to further communion,
with simplicity and love, aware of life in all its aspects
and obedient to the Spirit.
They have the responsibility
to facilitate discernment of God's calls
and the concrete way of responding to them.
They take the final decision in view of the common good,
and give leadership and direction for our mission.
Thus, no matter what our service,
we all participate
in the growth of the Society,
in a spirit of mutual trust
which facilitates communication and welcomes pluriformity.
A sincere affection unites us
and draws us together in an ever stronger communion,
so that we may become
"one heart and one mind in the Heart of Jesus".
The Provincial Community
That the Society may respond more effectively to its
mission in any given country or region, it is organized into provinces.
Other types of structure, called districts, can be envisaged according to need.
The superior general, with the consent of her council, has
the responsibility of establishing, modifying, uniting or
The PROVINCIAL SUPERIOR is named by the superior
general, with the consent of her council, and after
consultation with the province concerned. She should have
a sincere love of the Society, be a person who creates
communion, relates well and is sensitive to the signs of the
times. She must be able to work with others in a spirit of
co-responsibility and discernment so as to give leadership
for the mission of the province.
She governs the province in accordance with the Constitutions
and exercises authority and the responsibilities of
government with the help of her council.
The final decision rests with her except in those cases
provided for in the Constitutions.
She represents the province with respect to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities.
Her mandate is for three years, renewable once.
She must be finally professed for at least five years.
The members of the PROVINCIAL COUNCIL are
professed of perpetual vows, chosen by the provincial after
consultation with the province and with the approval of the
superior general. They must be persons who complement
one another, are capable of working as a team and are a
support to the provincial in her work. They live our spirit of
communion among themselves and with members of the
province. The provincial and her council work together in a
spirit of discernment which demands time for reflection,
prayer and discussion.
There will be at least two councillors.
The provincial with the help of her council is responsible for the leadership
of the province and for its spiritual and apostolic direction. She welcomes the initiatives taken
by individual religious and by communities.
She coordinates the efforts of all in the province to live the mission of the Society, in communion with the local
Church, in such a way that the religious can assume their co-responsibility.
The provincial with the help of her council is responsible:
- to know the reality of the country and discern its needs
- to give direction to the apostolic service of the province in the light of our Constitutions and the needs of the country
- to encourage reflection upon and evaluation of our service of the Church and our life in the province and take appropriate decisions
- to foster communion and ensure the effective participation of everyone through subsidiary structures
- to discern with people what are the concrete needs in the context of the province's mission, its future planning, and the overall pastoral plan of the area
- to ensure on-going formation in collaboration with those responsible for formation
- to visit the communities regularly
- to maintain communication with the hierarchy of the Church so as to maintain mutual relationships and follow its lawful directives
- to ensure, in collaboration with the provincial treasurer, that the administration of temporal goods is consistent with our commitment to build communion by sharing with those in need, and to encourage this sharing
- to encourage communication among communities and with other provinces
- to foster and extend relations with other religious congregations
- to give the required permission to those who preach to our religious (Canon 765) and for the publication of any writings which treat of religion or morality.(Canon 832)
The provincial sends the religious to their apostolicservice and their community.
She must visit the communities herself, at least every two
years; these visits are a way of strengthening and renewing
spiritual life and apostolic dynamism.
She also has the responsibility for all other matters required by the Institute and the Common Law of the Church.
The co-responsibility of our provincial community
requires a common search for the will of God, a search
which gives vitality to our mission in the Church.
The provincial chapter and the provincial assembly, each
with its own structures, create a climate for this discernment
"The spirit of the Society
is essentially based upon prayer and the interior life
since we cannot glorify the adorable
Heart of Jesus worthily
except inasmuch as we apply ourselves
to study His interior dispositions
in order to unite and conform ourselves to them."
(Abridged Plan 5).
Jesus calls us
to a personal encounter with Him.
He wants to make known to us
the feelings and the preferences of His Heart.
In the Gospel
through His words, His attitudes,
His relationships with people,
His way of relating to all created things,
we discover His Heart
wholly given to the Father and to all people.
In prayer we come to Him
with everything that touches our life,
with the sufferings and hopes of humanity.
We learn to remain in silence
and poverty of heart before Him.
In the free gift of ourselves
we learn to adore and to abide in His love.
The Spirit dwelling within us
gradually transforms us, enabling us
through His power to remove whatever
hinders His action.
The Spirit unites and conforms us to Jesus
and makes us sensitive to His presence
within ourselves, in others and in all that happens.
Thus we learn to contemplate reality
and to experience it with His Heart,
to commit ourselves to the service of the Kingdom
and to grow in love:
"Have this mind among yourselves
which was in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5).
This contemplative attitude permeates our whole being,
helping us to live ever more united to Christ
in our relationships, our tasks and our ministry;
it becomes a powerful force
of conversion and transformation for mission.
In welcoming God's word
Mary gave Christ to the world.
In receiving the life of Jesus
we give ourselves with Him so that all may have life.
Prayer, the contemplative outlook on the world,
union with Christ in daily living
make us grow in the interior life,
so that in all circumstances we seek
to glorify the Heart of Jesus.
The Society's call to contemplation,
a compelling love written in our hearts by the Spirit,
makes us seek and cherish
prolonged times of prayer.
Our relationship with Christ is nourished
by the study of Scripture, by reading,
reflection and daily examen,
all of which are necessary for the deepening
of our inner life;
this relationship is further strengthened
by periodic renewal and an annual retreat.
Within this common vocation,
each one receives her own unique call.
We respond to it personally
in and through our diverse cultures.
The demands of mission and our spiritual background
necessarily influence rhythms and forms of prayer.
Desiring to keep God at the centre of our lives
we are drawn to give one hour each day to prayer,
without this time being considered in any sense a limit.
Each religious finds her own rhythm of prayer
and will decide how best she is to be faithful
to what Christ asks of her and of the Society.
She will discern the method and style of her prayer-life
with a person of her own choice,
with the agreement of the provincial or someone
delegated by her.
The Society offers its members the means necessary
for their life of prayer, according to their needs:
- spiritual direction
- reflection with a religious of the Congregation
- help from the community
- the assurance of the necessary time and
space for prayer.
We are invited to say the rosary
and to adopt the forms of Marian devotion
proper to the country in which we live.
The community takes to heart the need
to create a climate
which favours experience of God,
sharing among ourselves and with others.
Each day our life together is strengthened
by community prayer.
We share the Word of God,
say the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church
unless we have been dispensed
from this by competent authority,
and adopt forms of prayer which help us
to grow in faith, hope and love.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart is for us
a time to renew and deepen our common spirituality.
On that day, in a spirit of thanksgiving,
we renew our vows in union with the whole Society.
Knowing our weakness
and our involvement in the sin of the world,
we participate often in the sacrament of reconciliation.
We joyfully welcome God's mercy
which renews our hearts
and moves us to restore communion.
We prepare ourselves for this sacrament
by the daily examen. (Canon 664)
Whether we pray alone or with others,
our prayer is that of the People of God.
In the local church
we celebrate the mysteries of the life of Christ,
the feasts of Mary and of the saints,
aware that we are members of one Body, the Church,
which worships God in prayer and song.
The Eucharist is the culmination of this ecclesial prayer.
As far as we can, we participate in it actively every day.
By receiving the Body of Christ,
we unite ourselves to His prayer of thanksgiving
and to His offering of Himself to the Father
for the life of the world.
Gradually, the Eucharist makes us become more truly
Body of Christ, broken to give birth to a new humanity.