We strive to make each local community a true home where we form bonds of genuine loving concern. The quality of our common life is a priority for us. We are convinced that our ministry in the Church is made more fruitful by the fact that we live and work together. We accept the particular brothers with whom we live and minister as a gift of God’s providential love. We believe that with God’s grace and our sincere efforts our mutual strengths will build us up and our mutual faults will challenge us to deeper vulnerability and conversion. We embrace our brotherhood, along with our apostolic mission, as the pre-eminent means to our wholeness and holiness. As individual members we freely embrace our co-responsibility for the life and mission of our respective local communities. We regard our full participation, and that of every brother, as valuable and necessary. It is the right and duty of each member to ensure the health and vibrancy of his local community. We share one life, one spiritual heritage, and one common mission. For this reason we regard the well-being of each brother and the success of each community apostolate as a matter of personal concern. In practical terms we place the success of our common life and common mission ahead of personal agendas and goals. God has distributed gifts and graces to each member for the spiritual growth, human consolation, and apostolic fruitfulness of all the members. Therefore we choose to rely on each brother’s unique gifts and abilities and use our own gifts for the good of our brothers.
Members are encouraged to seek opportunities to recreate, exercise, and even vacation together. We recognize that taking an interest in a brother’s hobbies and spending care-free time together is one of the best ways to strengthen relationships and invest in the health of our local communities. In order to be welcoming to our brothers, we embrace an “open door” policy in our local communities. During the day, doors to personal rooms are only closed when a brother requires privacy or a time of personal solitude. In order to promote a stronger sense of community, we gather in our common areas for recreational purposes such as watching television and movies. As brothers we are called not merely to care about one another but to care for one another. Taking time to discover the authentic needs of brothers, investing in fraternal relationships, and ministering to one another are central to our call to community. We acknowledge that we cannot claim to love and serve God if we neglect the brothers within our own house. As an act of mutual care and courtesy, we make the effort to let others know when and where we are going when we leave the house for an extended length of time, and to check in with the brothers upon returning. We embrace our simple household tasks dutifully and with generosity, as an important way of loving our brothers. We recognize that it is often the neglect or fulfillment of the “small things” such as tidiness, etiquette, anticipating the needs of brothers, being on time, and promptly seeing to assigned household tasks, which can either erode fraternal harmony or enhance it. We recognize that living a balanced life is an act of charity towards the brothers with whom we live. When a brother is living a balanced life he is more likely to be a joyful and positive presence in the house. Proper work balance, regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and wholesome leisure all contribute to a brother’s overall well being. A brother who has a well-balanced and ordered life has a greater capacity to love, care for, and be present to his brothers. With gentleness and humility, and motivated by fraternal charity, we choose to resolve conflicts with our brothers in a personal and direct manner. Share groups are at the very heart of our vision of brotherhood. We get together every two weeks with the members of our household and share the key issues affecting us at this time. It may be about our spiritual lives, our personal lives, community life, or our apostolate. Our purpose is to understand, support, challenge, and assist brothers on their journey to wholeness and holiness. Prayer and personal ministry conclude the times of sharing. Where our community residence is connected to a parish complex, or in similar situations, we separate our residence from any parish or ministry offices. We regard our residences as our private homes, and legitimately expect the same privacy and freedom as would be expected in any family home. In support of unity, every local community minimally holds meetings every quarter, in order to discuss openly both the personal and ministerial concerns of its members.
Our Life of Prayer
Our common prayer reflects the various aspects of our spirituality. Charismatic praise and worship, Marian devotion, and Eucharistic adoration all find their place in a local community’s rhythm of weekly prayer. Common household prayer is scheduled, as a minimum, on more days of the week than not. Household prayer may be scheduled at any time of the day, in conjunction with the Mass or any office of the Liturgy of the Hours, as best suits the ministerial needs of the members. Times of silent listening for the word of the Lord are carried out with expectant faith and devotion. This practice is based on a lively faith that the Lord will speak regularly into our common life and ministry with guidance, correction, or new initiatives. Prophetic “now words” are given priority during times of listening with the assembled brothers (cf. 1 Cor 14:1-5). Pious inspirations, personal reflections, or inspired wisdom are also shared for the mutual edification and benefit of the brothers. In household celebrations of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, members are encouraged to celebrate the optional Marian memorials in the General Roman Calendar as well as the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday. Brothers recite the Companions of the Cross Marian Entrustment daily. The seasonal Marian antiphon or another appropriate Marian hymn is sung at the conclusion of common celebrations of Evening Prayer. All members who are in close proximity meet on a regular basis for prayer, teaching, discussion, and fellowship.
Brothers share scheduled meals on more days of a week than they do not. The common meal may be any meal of the day, as best suits the ministerial needs of the members. In order to “fan the flames” of our life, spirituality, and mission, short excerpts from our booklet Table Readings are to be read prior to grace at our scheduled household meals. On occasion, other passages from our Constitutions and Rules, the writings of our Founder, or other community documents are substituted. Meals begin with a simple prayer of blessing. On special occasions there may be a more extended time of vocal praise and thanksgiving. A simple prayer of thanksgiving and the recitation of the Angelus conclude our common meals. At opportune times (such as common meals) we take a few minutes to “check in” with the other brothers of the household. Each brother briefly shares his schedule for the next twenty-four hours, or until the next check-in. Our household check-in strengthens our brotherhood and creates opportunities for mutual support. Through this sharing we are able to offer assistance to brothers burdened by excessive demands, make plans to recreate together, and generally feel more a part of one another’s lives. Every local community shares an extended social time each month.
Simplicity of Life
Members strive to arrange community houses and their personal rooms in such a way that even the poor feel welcome visiting them. In their lifestyle choices, members are conscious of the need not to compromise their witness to the Gospel. In order to help us remain faithful to our promise to live simply and eliminate every affectation and luxury from our lives, we seek the counsel of the brothers in our local community in the discernment of lifestyle choices and significant expenditures, particularly those that could have a negative impact on our collective witness to simplicity of life.
The community is committed to hospitality, as far as its capabilities allow, providing a warm welcome and ministry to priests and seminarians. We acknowledge that such hospitality strengthens priestly fraternity and fosters vocations.