July 3 – THE RULE OF 1874


The 1872 Rule of Br. Eugene-Marie (See 6 September) was sent to all the Brothers for preview. The responses, which for the most part indicated the need for a “lighter” version, were submitted to a commission. This latter drafted a project for the Chapter that was to open at the end of June 1874. Result? A thin volume of 76 pages of size 13 em x 9 em. It was the Rule of 1874 which followed the same plan as that of 1838. The ambitious Rule of 1872 had been drowned in a sea of dread and criticism. Some elements were however saved from drowning: the religious-catechist­ teacher trilogy that defined the Brother of St Gabriel, the spiritual meaning of religious exercises “to form oneself in Christian and interior life”, and the synthesis of the spirit of the Institute which is still of current interest. The 1874 Rule was taken up again in 1898, 1908, 1924 and 1960, adding the supplementary accents it lacked:

– in 1898, ten years after adding the chapter on the affirmation of our Montfortian origin, Montfort figured among the special protectors of the Institute and the daily rosary was prescribed;                                                 .

– in 1924, the Brothers were invited to the practice of the holy slavery according to Montfort;

– in 1960, the reference to Montfort was made in the perspective of a greater Marian, apostolic and mortified life.

The article on the spirit of the Institute was this: “The spirit of the Brothers must be:

– towards God, a spirit of faith, of love and of filial trust in His Divine Providence;

– towards themselves, a spirit of abnegation, sacrifice and humility;

– towards their Brothers, a spirit of peace, simplicity and charity which will make of the Congregation a single family in Our Lord Jesus Christ;

– towards their Superiors, a spirit of filial docility and respectful submission;

– towards the children of the Institute, a spirit of zeal and supernatural dedication”.

All the Superiors General have written about the spirit of the Institute. Those of . Br. Eugene-Marie and Br. Gabriel-Marie are especially mentioned here :

Br. Eugene-Marie devoted his first main ·circular (17 January 1863) to the spirit of faith and one other important one to Family Spirit (2 January 1864): before publishing on 2 July 1867 his circular On the goal, the name and the spirit of the Institute. He wrote: “The spirit which must animate us before everything is the spirit of faith which will make us appreciate everything from the supernatural and divine point of view. It will impartus with this eagle’s look that sees God everywhere and always… Towards God, the spirit of the Congregation is a spirit of filial trust that will make us serve God as the best and most tender of Fathers: spirit of religion and prayer which makes us consider ourselves as hosts entirely consecrated to God”.

Br. Gabriel-Marie devoted to the spirit of the Institute six circulars which totalled 784 pages: On the spirit of our Institute (1956), On the spirit of detachment from the world (1957), On the spirit of abnegation in our religious life (1962), On the spirit of simplicity (1963), On the spirit of peace (1964), On our poverty in the mystery of the poverty of Jesus (1964).