Conference:

The Assumptionists in the history of Religious Orders

 

The Assumptionists and the religious

A Conference by Sophie HASQUENOPH

I - A secular Congregation with a Tridentine affiliation

     1 - A religious Congregation, not a religious Order

     2 - Congregations of the Modern era

     3 - Secular religious on mission

II – Adapting to the 19th century: reading and interpreting modern times

    1 - A clerical congregation: a doctrinal apostolate

    2 - A secular congregation: a social apostolate

    3 - A missionary congregation with an ecumenical apostolate

Conclusion: An affiliation to the Tridentine and Augustinian traditions:

    Religious orders

    Regular religious

 

MIDDLE AGES Orders (1540): monastic; hermits; military; canons; Jesuit; mendicants; ransoming captives

 

MODERN ERA: Benedictine, Chartreux, Templars, Victorins, Trinitarians, Dominicans, Cistercians, Camaldolese, Teutonic, Premonstratensians, Mercedarians (Order of Mercy), Franciscans; Carmelites; Augustinians.

                                                                                 What's new in the Tridentine reform?

 

                                                                                                  Secular religious

       Religious congregations                                                                                                            Societies of apostolic life

          "Lay"            Clericals                                                         Clericals                                                      "Lay".

-Teaching Brothers (schools) - Montfortians – Oratorians, Daughters of Charity

  Christian - Redemptorist – Brothers of Charity

-Ladies of St-Maur - ASSUMPTIONISTS (1850) – Eudistes - Sulpicians

 

 

The 19th century: Religious families oriented towards:…

 

  • Foreign missions :

-Daughters of St. Joseph of Cluny, of Chambéry

-Spiritans

 

  • Education:

-Jesuits

-Dominicans

-Marianists

-Oratorians

-Sisters of the Christian Doctrine of Nancy

 

 

I have the pleasure of inaugurating this cycle of conferences on the history and spirituality of the Assumptionists and I wish to thank the organizers for their invitation and you, for your presence here tonight.

 

In order to begin this cycle of conferences on the right foot, I believe it is not only important but necessary to help you understand what we mean by the identity of this religious family called Assumptionists and compare it with other religious families in order to highlight its originality, an originality conditioned by its birth in the 19th century and its evolution up to the present day. I am sure you would share my belief that a religious family did not come to birth by chance, and that it had a direct link with the time, place and point in history when it was born. Take, for example, the military orders created in the Middle Ages; it is clear that they were founded in the particular setting of the Crusades. It is clear also that the four mendicant orders, founded a short time later in the 13th century in and for the cities, were founded at the time of the first great European urban expansion. Thus, the identity of any new religious family is forged first of all by its historical context, i.e. by the events and the expressed needs of the population at a specific moment in history. So, what was the historical context of the Assumptionists?

 

Note, also, that this link of Religious with History (with a capital H) often fits into a tradition, that is then reworked and modernised, but nevertheless in a tradition and a development of Religious Life that allows such a new religious family to have what is called an affiliation. New does not necessarily mean the creation of something out of nothing or a distinctive break with the past, creation ex nihilo as one might say. Think, for example, of the Capuchin Friars, born in Italy in 1528 but which are part of a dual tradition of medieval descent, both Franciscan and Hermit. In fact, the Capuchins represent a new branch of the Franciscans in the Modern Era. This affiliation with an older religious family is not necessarily or always institutional; it can also be spiritual. In any event, this question of tradition and lineage, concerning the Assumptionists, raises the question of innovation and modernity and its relationship vis-a-vis other existing Religious families, the latter becoming ever more numerous over time.

 

Let us return to the 19th century, to the time when Father d’Alzon created the Assumptionists, the number of Religious families in France and in the world is considerable: male and female, contemplative and apostolic, old and new families. So how can one distinguish and differentiate between them? How do they stand in relation to each other? How do we navigate this complex world of religious orders? An old saying states that "only the Holy Spirit can find his way about!" It is, therefore, a challenge for us to try to enter into this world but, nonetheless, we will try to do so, humbly!

 

And to do this, I will divide my reflection into two parts - both major influences. First of all, I will refer to the status of a secular congregation of which the Assumptionists is one and its fidelity and affiliation to the Tridentine model. In other words, I will explain the difference between a Religious Congregation and a Religious Order and how this model fits into the dynamics of the Council of Trent of the 16th century. Then, in the second part, I will speak of how the Assumptionist family adapted to the reality and modernity of 19th century, which was being expressed by other new Religious families after the French Revolution. I call this second part "reading and interpreting the modernity of the age."

Without more ado, let us begin this long introduction of the Assumptionists’ affiliation and adaptation to History.

 

I - A secular Congregation with a Tridentine affiliation

 

1 - A Religious Congregation, not a Religious Order

 

Indeed, it is evident in every dictionary, encyclopaedia or religious reference book, that the Assumptionists are constitutionally a Congregation; a Congregation and not a Religious Order. The difference is important, even essential because, over and above the use of words (not always well understood), a Congregation carries a special status and bears a particular relevance to its relationship with the Modern Era, notably between the 16th and 18th century. In the Middle-Ages, one talked about Religious Orders not about Congregations! A quick survey of the religious families that existed in the Middle Ages reveals that we have monastic orders (Benedictines, Cistercians), orders of hermits (Carthusians), military orders (Templars, Teutonic,...), the lesser-known orders who paid ransoms for captives (Trinitarians), (Mercedarians), the orders of Canons (Victorins, Premonstratentians,...), and finally the Mendicant orders (Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians). All these families, over and above their differences, are called Orders because they share a number of common elements, which I will quickly enumerate as characteristic of Orders: they pronounce solemn vows for life, public and perpetual; the application of a rule of life (hence the name: Regulars); a common, cenobitic life (greatly limited for the Carthusians but still present), finally a dependency on the Papacy, predominantly through submission to the King, known as the exemption. Therefore, the identity of a Religious Order is very specific, well defined and without the possibility of any confusion. And I would like to add that the last male Religious Order to be created was none other than the Jesuits, founded not so much in the Middle-Ages, but in the modern era, de facto in 1534 in Paris then de jure in 1540, the date of its official recognition by Rome. This latest creation, even if its era is somewhat ambiguous, is nevertheless legally an Order: the last Order created with a medieval tradition and affiliation. It would seem, therefore, that the Jesuit Order is somewhat anachronistic and separate, even out of place in modern times that saw the birth and development of a new form of Religious Life that was original and distinct from the Orders, called Congregations and which are of more interest to us here.

 

To conclude this first point, it is clear that the Assumptionists, as a religious family are undoubtedly not consistent with the medieval tradition of the Religious Orders and are very clearly distinguishable from the Regulars, be they monks, mendicant brothers, canons regular etc. in a word of anything that might link them to the old Orders.

 

2 - Congregations of the Modern era

 

If the Assumptionists are not institutionally related to the religious Orders born in the Middle-Ages, it is because they are related to a new feature of the Modern Era: in other words to the Congregations, in the context of the Tridentine Catholic reform, such as the Societies of apostolic life of the 17th century. Therefore, let me briefly recall the context surrounding the birth of these new forms of religious life, to better understand their distinctiveness. In a context very different to that of the Middle-Ages, the Catholic Church faced 3 major concerns (later we will see if they still existed in the 19th century for Fr. d’Alzon): 1st, in the first half of the 16th century, the birth and diffusion of Protestantism in Europe (Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, and Presbyterianism in Scotland); 2nd, the internal crisis in the Catholic Church by the end of the Middle Ages, in which contemporary people of letters were denounced, such as Rabelais, Marguerite of Navarre and Erasmus; 3rd, concern for the great problems of that era, the misery that affected a substantial proportion of the population. It is indeed a period marked by what is called the "3 plagues of the Ancien Regime”, namely, civil and external war, various epidemics present everywhere, including the plague and terrible food crises: food shortages and famines, which were rampant in the population, especially during the period called the "little ice age" (climate cooling). Given the context, these were three major reasons for the Church to reflect on its place and role in this new reality more suited to the new forms of religious life created for these situations. Therefore, between 1545 and 1563, the Cardinals gathered in Italy for the famous Council of Trent in order to address this situation. Accordingly they expressed their willingness to take in hand the growing number of faithful and clergy attracted to Protestantism, those who had become removed from Catholic values and virtues in their daily lives, and all the victims of the misery of the time (some would fit into all three categories). To do this, they were ready – certainly not without some initial reticence because new situations bring their own fears – to build and rely on the innovations provided by the new Religious Congregations and Societies of apostolic life. It meant taking a gamble, an attempt at the impossible by the Catholic Church: but, if it wanted to overcome or at least to bring relief to these three concerns, it needed to act with efficiency, insight and especially with the use of modern means adapted to the new struggles of the day. At the same time, the old religious Orders of the Middle Ages, mentioned earlier, were themselves often in crisis. It was therefore beyond their capabilities - even though they continued to exist and recover in the main – it was necessary to find a tool to win back and secure the place of Catholicism, and the Congregations and Societies of apostolic life was to be that primary tool. We can say right now that the Assumptionist family fits into this lineage as will be revealed later.

 

3 - Secular religious on mission

 

But who are these new Congregations and Institutes that are unique, particular, and distinct from the old medieval Orders? First of all, they are comprised of both secular and non-regular religious. This difference is crucial. They are and will be much more inserted into the world than the regulars, more engaged in the service of the faithful who are in need of them. They have a particular structure. They take simple and solemn vows, temporary or perpetual; although the Societies of apostolic life did not take vows. They shared a more flexible community life (women were not cloistered). And finally, they did not depend directly on the Pope but on the local authority (without exception), which was not without its own weaknesses. In short, these men and women, in this new way of life, were more available to work in the social apostolate and combat poverty, to train and mentor the faithful of all kinds, seduced by other ways of believing or a wrong belief. We thus see them invest their energies in the field of education, missions, various works of charity (health care, the fight against famine, centres for abandoned children, etc...). The men and women religious of this new era work in all areas of the apostolate and social misery (even having a diversity of Apostolates within one family), translating with energy what is called the Church Incarnate and developing a humanist and Christocentric spirituality. This, then, is a long way from the quest for individual perfection, which was a priority for the monastic orders whose spirituality was more theocentric; or from the intellectualism of the Dominicans; or the cloistered life of the monks. I like to refer to them as the secular religious for any field (religieux tout terrain RTT!), fully engaged with society, always on mission both inside and outside their country, thus including the new settlements in America, Asia, and the Islands connected with the great discoveries and the growing development of maritime trade between the 16-18th centuries.

 

However, among these ‘all terrain missionaries’, two social categories in particular are hard at work in this fight whom one might call the front liners: the priests and the women. At a time when the Tridentine message sought to rehabilitate the priest, his status and his spirituality, the priests were open to the proposals made by the new forms of religious life, particularly the distinctiveness of the clerical Congregations (such as the Montfortians created at the beginning of the 18th century by the Vendéan, Grignon de Montfort) but also the Clerical Societies of apostolic life in the 17th century (Lazarists, Eudists, Sulpicians). Whatever the family or their formulas, they all contributed by their action to the clericalisation of society i.e. to supervise the whole life of the faithful, not just their spiritual life but also (and this is new) their social life. They laid great emphasis on Dogma, threatened by Protestantism, and on the expression of Catholicism: faith and works. The priests were present everywhere, in fact, close to the faithful and not only at the Sunday mass and sacramentally; they were spiritual directors, teachers, etc, becoming key contributors to Modern society. As for the women, they became more and more numerous in secular Congregations (such as the Ladies of Saint-Maur, and Daughters of ...) or female Secular Companies (such as the Daughters of Charity). Other women preferred to work individually, such as the Ladies of Charity, creating charity schools in the city directly linked to the parishes. All of them, like the priests, were present everywhere in society, assisting and accompanying the priests in their daily apostolate. One could call this a feminisation of the Catholic Church!

 

In summary, to conclude this first part, I believe that the modern Tridentine spirit shaped the focus of these religious families and individuals on the apostolate; men and women leading a life that was both contemplative and active, fundamentally committed to Dogma that was being threatened and attacked; Christian men and women upholding the honour of the priests and women in a variety of daily apostolates. It is recognised and understood that they were all living an apostolate that was doctrinal, social and missionary throughout, thus making the Church a visible, even demonstrative institution, a "Spectacular Church" (a strong term used by the historian Joël Cornette in his work on the State); a Church which shows and demonstrates its power (in pilgrimages, baroque art, processions,...). However, this Tridentine spirit, which fostered the creation and development of religious, secular and clerical Congregations, this Tridentine spirit is not dead in the 19th century. The Congregation of the Assumptionists, which can be thought of as similar to the Montfortians, is proof of this. She is enrolled within this continuity, this lineage after the French Revolution, and unsettling the religious life of the French. But, as a secular and clerical Congregation, the family of Assumptionists, through the voice of its founder, Emmanuel d’Alzon, knows how to "read and interpret modern times" so as to better adapt to society and the France of the 19th century. This is what we will now examine.

 

II – Adapting to the 19th century: reading and interpreting modern times

 

You all know, that the French Revolution, which lasted 10 years (1789-1799) profoundly disrupted the French Catholic Church. But at the dawn of 19th century, a new spiritual dynamic appears, accompanied by a willingness to reconquer French society, which had not really acceded to the proposed new revolutionary cults: the worship of reason, of the Supreme Being,... nor to a totally dechristianised culture, despite the Reign of Terror and the dechristianisation during the 2nd year.

But if, little by little, the 19th century saw the revival of Religious Orders, those before the revolution (the Jesuits in 1814, the Benedictines in 1837, the Dominicans in 1843…), just as in the 16th century, the question remained of adapting to the new era. In the first half of the 19th century, there were certain men who dreamt of rebuilding the former medieval Christianity, a dream maintained by romantic writers like Chateaubriand, author of the famous "The Genius of Christianity" in 1802 or the utopian writer like the young Comte de Montalembert who calls his vows "his dear Middle-Ages"! (his words) But soon, this romantic and anachronistic nostalgia opened the room to other challenges aimed at creating a new affiliation of the Modern era to a Tridentine association, while adapting its apostolate to the new challenges of the 19th century. The Assumptionists of Father d’Alzon will be of this kind; their apostolate adopted the three axes of the Council of Trent: it was doctrinal, social and missionary, but with its own particularities, which made it distinct from other religious families.

 

1 - A clerical congregation: a doctrinal apostolate

The Assumptionist congregation, officially founded in 1850 by Emmanuel d’Alzon is a clerical congregation, similar to the Montforts of the 18th century. In the beginning, it gathered together priests, whose natural and statutory task was to defend dogma and disseminate doctrine. Are not the three functions of a priest: to teach dogma, to celebrate the Office and minister the sacraments? These three functions were reaffirmed in the early 19th century and demonstrated forcefully by the Catholic Church, at a time when the ideal of the revolutionaries was not dead and was even gaining ground in French society. France has endured three revolutions: the great Révolution Française, which lasted 10 years, the revolution of July 1830, very anti-clerical and which focused on the Jesuits, who were described as the "enemies of the people"; and finally the revolution of 1848, less violent but still against the Church (one can see religious such as the Daughters of Charity and Rosalie rendering service to the injured on the barricades!). That being said, the Jesuits were greatly discredited, victims of a latent anti-Jesuit feeling during the 19th century (as had happened in the 18th century elsewhere), powered by the literature of Eugène Sue, de Béranger, Michelet, etc… There was no question, therefore, of someone like Emmanuel d’Alzon mobilising his religious faith behind the Jesuits, whom he considered to be too lax on the moral front and having little community spirit!

In addition, if the revolution of 1848 was certainly less violent towards the Catholic Church, it left its mark and a number of revolutionary and republican activists; it naturally associated the monarchy with the Church and the Republic with anticlericalism. A painting, reflecting this situation, says a great deal. It is a painting by Gustave Courbet dated 1849 (the eve of the foundation of Fr. d’Alzon) called "the burial at Ornans". Because, behind this very mundane scene (the burial of a village), is the burial of the Republic of 1848 (along with the Republican grandfather of Courbet). For him and for many believers, the Republic stood for the spirit of the revolution: individualism, critical of the family, religion, and spirituality, etc... For a certain number of Catholics, it was, therefore, important, even urgent to combat this before it became too late; in other words, to strengthen the clerical supervision of society, as had been the case during the Tridentine reform. In other words, this meant restoring the position of priests, defending the action of priests and mobilising them to form the religious and moral outlook of the younger generation, profiting especially from the Falloux Law of 1850 allowing the freedom of education. In this move to return to an integrated Catholicism of the Tridentine era, the picture by Gustave Courbet in 1849 highlights well the historical dilemma concerning the future of France: an atheistic Republican society or a Christian society with a Christian democracy, with the priests totally at its service. Clearly, Emmanuel d’Alzon belongs to and wants the second category and is ready to engage. Indeed, does he not teach in a school in Nîmes and is he not aware of the present and persistent dangers facing the next generation? Does it not also seem clear that the Republic, being buried in the picture of Gustave Courbet, is finally and definitively buried? What is clearly evident is that time evolves. Is Emmanuel d’Alzon the only one to be worried? Certainly not! The Jesuits and the Dominicans of Father Lacordaire share this fear of dechristianisation and make efforts to oppose it. So they, too, passionately invest themselves in defending Dogma and the education of young people (by means of teaching through the Third-order that the Dominicans established in 1842). But if, originally, the Jesuits were still victims of a negative image, they later became too intellectual and minimized somewhat the purpose of the revolution of 1848: particularly the increasing importance of a working society. For Emmanuel d’Alzon, it was absolutely essential that a doctrinal apostolate be accompanied by a genuinely social apostolate. And this is where he differed from the Jesuits and the Dominicans.

 

2 - A secular congregation: a social apostolate

So, if 1849 is the year of the painting of Courbet, 1848 is the year in which Marx and Engels publish the "Manifesto of the Communist Party". The development of the working-class is, in fact, a reality from which the Church cannot hide; a reality unfortunately associated with much suffering: the rural depopulation brought great hardship to the population, child labourers (viz. the poem "Melancholia" by V. Hugo dated 1856), the first strikes of the Lyonnais Canuts (silk workers), etc… and, in general, this misery of the labourers and domestic workers left them more open to be seduced by Marxist and anti-Christian propaganda.

This was the reality with which the Catholic Church became more and more preoccupied, especially women, as it had in the Modern era. Women's religious families of the Tridentine era such as the Sisters of Charity or those of the Good Shepherd invested themselves considerably in social welfare (establishing Refuges, crèches, schools, etc…) but there were also new religious families, which were increasing: nuns visiting homes, bringing moral and spiritual assistance to disadvantaged populations. One of the most important is none other than that of the Little Sisters of the Poor, founded in 1839 in Brittany by a former housemaid: Jeanne Jugan. Some congregations nursed the sick like the Nursing Sisters of Compassion founded in Rouen in 1844. These followed the Franciscan tradition, one of humility and poverty lived and shared on a daily basis.

 

So, what was happening among the male congregations? Here also, the activity is notable; a man desiring to live better what is called social Catholicism will grow to maturity after 1860. For example, in 1845, (5 years before the AAs), Jean-Léon Le Prevost founded the Congregation of the Religious of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. These early brothers animated charitable works in the popular districts of the cities and attracted followers, giving rise to vocations. Antoine Chevrier, a young priest in a working-class parish, La Guillotière (Lyon), founded, in his turn, the Prado (1860).

 

It was therefore natural that Fr. d’Alzon, who grew up in this context, will want to be registered in this movement of social Catholicism, without it being exclusively so. His original and novel investment in the popular press is a sign of his social commitment. The press was a modern tool, which one needed to know how to use to touch, win over, and even captivate the workers. Such is the originality of the Assumptionists, the founders of Le Pèlerin (1873), then La Croix (1883) the people's daily costing a penny, published by the Maison de la Bonne Presse. In addition, was their efforts to organise pilgrimages with the Association of Our Lady of Salvation (1872), and the famous "white trains" remind us of the mass demonstrations of the Tridentine Church. This was yet another sign that the Catholic Church was still powerful and able to mobilise crowds of people. It gave the sense of a visible Catholicism not a Catholicism in the shadows, hidden away. Fr. d’Alzon is not afraid to invest in a landscape like French society, in the image of the painting by G. Courbet.

Thus, the Assumptionists undertake to involve themselves in an original and diverse apostolate, not exclusively committed to any one social category, like the brothers of St. Vincent de Paul devoted to the service of poor. They are committed to a doctrinal apostolate which, if it is not also social, is certainly without a future and doomed to failure because the anticlerical and dechristianising threat was growing stronger. It was, therefore, necessary to be always vigilant and active on all mission fronts. Let us be clear that Courbet’s painting is not only a beautiful work of art but the revelation of a dilemma concerning the future of France: an anticlerical Republican society or a fully integrated Christian society?

 

Fr. d’Alzon believed that, besides the priests, women must be included in this tableau, just as they were in the Modern era before the French Revolution. Hence the creation of various Assumptionist women's families in the years that followed, such as the Oblates in 1865, the Little Sisters of the Assumption in 1865, etc. It is together - priests, women and laity - that the Assumptionists live a Christocentric apostolate and spirituality, inscribed in the Tridentine tradition.

 

3 - A missionary congregation with an ecumenical apostolate

 

The doctrinal and social apostolate of the Assumptionists is also missionary, universal and, in particular, Ecumenical. This vision, once again, shows the skill and desire of Fr. d’Alzon to adapt to the modern reality of the day. The 19th century saw the rise of European colonisation and, for France, the progressive establishment of a colonial Empire with its first colony in Algeria in 1830. The Catholic Church also sustained this new missionary spirit, especially under Pope Gregory XVI, who added his active support with the Association of the Propagation of the Faith founded in May 1822. Soon, large numbers of male and female religious left for distant lands, America and Asia, but mostly Africa. Only the French monks, marked by the Cluniac tradition, focusing on prayer and liturgy, led by Dom Guéranger who restored the Abbey of Solesmes, were untouched by this missionary movement. However, other families were. The Bishop of Marseille, Eugène de Mazenod, founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Sisters of Saint-Joseph of Chambéry, founded in 1806, founded a growing number of communities in Africa and the Islands (Martinique, St Pierre and Miquelon), as well as Guyana. Fr. Libermann took in hand the old Congregation of the Spiritans, one of the strongholds of the missionary venture. Some missionary congregations took a specific interest in the convicts of Cayenne, like the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres from 1852. In short, here and there, there was an interest, as in the Modern era, in Christianise pagan territories. In this way, the Catholic Church was able to show its international and universal power.

 

For his part, Fr. d’Alzon was only too aware of this missionary dynamic. Born in a Protestant area of France that experienced Catholic missions, he was aware of the significance of this missionary spirit. He, therefore, makes it his own, faithful in this, as always, to the Tridentine spirit, but giving it a more specific focus: an ecumenical orientation. Do not forget that the region of Nîmes was still Protestant territory being reformed, so that, in 1853, the young Emmanuel d’Alzon delivered a series of conferences in the Cathedral of Nîmes on Christian Unity, following his deep desire for unity. Indeed, the Congregation took a particular interest in the question of the Orient, territories then called "heretical" and yet close to Catholicism, otherwise called the Orthodox lands of Eastern Europe: Bulgaria and Russia. The founding of the Oblates of the Assumption in 1865 helped him in this apostolic and ecumenical orientation. The Oriental Mission will continue to grow thanks to Fr. Victorin Galabert at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. This was not a fight against the pagans but against heretics, similar to the time of the early Church and the time of Saint Augustine. And this last reference is not a coincidence.

 

Conclusion: An affiliation to the Tridentine and Augustinian traditions:

 

So if the missionary spirit of the Assumptionists fits, as we said into the Tridentine tradition, updated with the colonial movement of the 19-20th centuries, it also found its inspiration in affiliation to Augustinian spirituality (not Thomistic like the Dominicans). Did not Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in the 4/5th centuries, fight passionately against the Arian heresy? Did he not defend, with energy, Catholic doctrine against the heretical tendencies of his time? Some have criticized his vehemence in the conversion of peoples, what is called the famous doctrine of "compelle intrare" (force the people to come in), based on a text in the Gospel: the parable of the guests invited to a banquet (Luke 14, 15-24)

Although it is probably an exaggeration to defend or justify the intransigence of missionary religious with this Gospel passage, it is clear, however, that the spirituality of the Assumptionists is nourished by the Augustinian tradition, and, I would even say that one of the defining characteristics of the Assumptionists in the fidelity of their academic, social and missionary commitment to the thinking and spirituality of Saint Augustine. As a result, community spirit is fundamental and community solidarity is an essential element of Assumptionist identity, bringing them closer to the monastic orders in this respect. The Assumptionists obviously share orientations with other religious families: social, missionaries, doctrinal, but they live in the Augustinian tradition, which enables them to unify these different orientations. The disciples of Father d’Alzon do not seek a mission that is too specialised; they want to be present on all mission fields, even parishes so that Catholicism will triumph everywhere for everyone. So, in the thinking of Father d’Alzon, the Augustinian spirit and Tridentine spirit converge, giving birth to an original and versatile religious family that enables each of its members to find their own place: men, women, intellectuals, manual workers, priests and laity, etc… but amidst all their differences, they are pious and active, fraternal and apostles. All of them, through their various commitments, express the presence of the Catholic Church in the world, particularly in difficult fields of service like the "young Churches" just as it is today; places, for example, where the Catholic faith is threatened, where social misery is present and where the missionary spirit must be lived daily, in adapting itself to the reality of its local situation. This is the case, for example, today, in Africa or Russia, difficult places if I may say so, as I have personally seen for the Assumptionists in Moscow a year and a half ago or in Rwanda in 2006. All these disciples of Father d’Alzon believe with strength and passion in the motto of their religious family, a motto that unites them across social, intellectual and geographical borders: "Thy Kingdom come!"

 

As I draw my talk to an end, I hope that now you are better able to grasp the specific character and place of the Assumptionists in the great family of Religious. And that you will, from now on, be able to compete with the Holy Spirit and state that you, too, can navigate this vast world of religious men and women!

            

The Assumptionists obviously share orientations with other religious families: social, missionaries, doctrinal, but they live in the Augustinian tradition, which enables them to unify these different orientations.

  • The working-class :

-Brothers of Saint-Vincent de Paul

-Prado

 

  • Social assistance:

-Little Sisters of the poor

-Daughters of charity

-Good Saviour

 

  • Liturgical renewal:

-Benedictines