Document on “lay brothers” to appear

Source: FSSPX News

"Lay Brothers" in Brasil

Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, announced on Radio Vatican on February 2, 2010, the publication of a document dedicated to the “lay brother” in lay religious congregations and the older mixed religious communities.  It is anticipated that it will be published next fall, along with a document on prayer and liturgical formation.

The cardinal cited the example of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which numbered 16,000 in 1965, whereas today there are “at most” only 5,000.  “Unfortunately,” he lamented, “all congregations of brothers are having great difficulties.  And this concerns also the mixed congregations of priests and brothers:  the number of brothers has decreased much more than the number of priests.  So there is a problem, and something must be done.”  “We are convinced that one of the reasons for the drop in vocations of lay brothers is directly connected with a certain lack of attention on Church’s part” in their regard, Cardinal Rodé explained, noting that neither the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) nor the post-conciliar documents emphasized the importance of that vocation.

In his address, given on the occasion of the fourteenth annual Day of Consecrated Life, on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, the Slovenian cardinal explained that his dicastery was working on another document “on prayer in the spiritual life of consecrated religious”.  The high-ranking prelate, who is himself a Vincentian religious, is said to be quite conscious of the practical difficulties that religious men and women can encounter in their prayer life in this stressful, noisy age.

Finally, he announced, Cardinal Antonio Canizare Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, proposed that this document should be the collaborative effort of several Congregations, to which a section on the liturgical formation of men and women religious would be added.  “For there is a certain ignorance,” Cardinal Rodé explained, “a certain lack of knowledge and of liturgical formation among young men and women religious;  on the other hand, there are also liturgical fads which are not always in good taste and which do not correspond to the will of the Church or to the spirit of the liturgy itself.  Consequently it appears that certain corrective measures are needed.”  The Congregation for Divine Worship will be responsible for composing this second part.

Founded toward the end of the seventeenth century, congregations of lay religious men are communities devoted mainly to the instruction of young people.  Although usually these congregations formally rule out priesthood for their members, they sometimes allow certain members to receive priestly ordination so as to serve as the chaplains for the community.  (Sources:  apic/imedia/radiovaticana – DICI no. 211 dated March 6, 2010)