Istituto Secolare Cristo Re logo

Some Characteristics

The members live a profound sense of the Church and operate in ways proper to the laity. They have a filial respect for the Pope and the Bishop and collaborate with pastors and those in the Holy Ministry. The members, inspired by the life of Jesus of Nazareth, fulfill their family role and relationships so that charity may animate their natural affections.. The members do not wear any outward sign to distinguish themselves from the generality of men to whom they wish to display the testimony of their faith through the exercise of Christian virtues. The Institute does not have or promote its own works. This is in order to respect the individual vocations and to ensure that members are not removed from the ordinary conditions of the life of other men. It thereby offers the utmost readiness for the initiatives which the Spirit continually arouses in the Church and in the world.

1. The Evangelical Virtues:
To attain this end which demands total consecration to God and which passes from the death of self in order to find oneself again in Christ, the members of the Institute live by means of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience by which they recognize the absolute power of God over their hearts, their goods and their wills. These vows are initially temporary though definitive in their intention and are renewed each year. They can become triennial after a period of four years and after a period of another six years, even perpetual if the member so desires. The vows should be seen in the light of faith and love and not as a mere external juridical act. They imply the sacrifice and surrender of oneself to God in order to express in an efficacious manner that the member belongs entirely and uniquely to God.

Consecrated Chastity:
The evangelical counsel of chastity requires of its members a life of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, lived in a secular context. Celibacy for the Kingdom does not imply a mere renunciation of marriage but an affirmation of love and life. It implies being called to witness to Love and an encouragement to all who are seeking love’s genuine image. Freed from attachments they can love the Lord with an undivided heart. Prayer and faith are the roots of the vow of chastity where the member after a search will find that it is best lived not by withdrawal from social activities but by reaching out to people to bring them to the experience of God. An enlightened formation to provide for harmonious development of their personality at the affective level and to cultivate relations of genuine friendship, is necessary.

Consecrated Poverty:
Poverty detaches only that it may attach us to the one supreme God. It is a means to an end, voluntarily embraced in order to reach union with God in the imitation of Christ. The members of the Institute do not live a common life and the vast majority live with their family or alone by themselves. They choose their own work or occupation and are personally responsible for taking care of themselves. They keep their own salaries, pay their own expenses and set aside some fund for the future. They emphasize the necessity of labouring for one’s daily bread as the secular foundation for one’s poverty. They live in the insecure economic conditions of lay people around them, and learn to experience the conflicts and pressures, difficulties and privations of daily life in the spirit of gospel detachment. They are urged to share their material goods and come to the aid of the deprived, to join social and political movements and to struggle alongside the economically underprivileged against the injustice and oppression in society. They are asked to make a preferential option for the poor and to love the company of the poor. They must contribute to the support of parents and those dependent on them and also to the Institute. They submit annual budgets to the Directors for approval and ask permission from him when required by the rules of the Institute. This does not suppress the possession of goods, the facility to increase them, to administer them, but it regulates the free use of those goods which concern the member himself. Each member considers his good as “the possessions of God” for the service of others and he administers them in this light. All this must be done in a spirit of inner freedom and Gospel detachment so as to bring about interior spiritual change. The manner of life will be simple but not different economically from people in similar circumstances. This then is the context of their secular poverty – the poverty of ordinary life.

Consecrated Obedience:
A step in faith is necessary to receive the indications given by the Director as in some mysterious way manifesting the will of God. When members of the Institute profess obedience, they do so in imitation of the obedience of Jesus who was obedient even unto death on the cross. The members, however, live obedience once again in a secular context. At times of meetings, retreats and study sessions, the members of the Institute together under the guidance of the Director, individually and collectively, are helped to discern the will of God and discover how the charism is expressed in the member’s own life and work. The member undertakes to submit to the Director the choices of which concern the fundamental aspects of his life and to accept the interpretation of the Director as the authentic representation of God’s will. Some of the areas where such choices occur are – starting or leaving a profession or employment, variations that modify the conditions of life, change of residence and undertaking tasks of human promotion and evangelization. Members must however discern God’s plan for themselves in the concrete circumstances of their own secular and professional life -- in fidelity to the rules of the Institute.

2. Community without common life.
The Institute is a community founded on faith, lived with the vision of being “but one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). The community spirit lived in friendship and charity requires participation in the meetings of the Institute, rendering services when required, assisting the aged members, practicing brotherly correction in a spirit of charity, and a commitment to the growth and life of the Institute. The meetings are seen as special occasions for each member to verify and to read in faith, the facts and the choices of the life which constitute the history of each one inserted in the history of the world. Common life however is not part of the consecrated life of its members so that they may live a truly secular life.

3. Apostolic activity
-- a personal and not a corporate apostolate.
-- a private and not a public office in the Church.
The apostolate of members of the Institute is to be faithfully exercised not only in the world, but in some way should originate from the world. Consequently, its profession, activities, forms, places and other circumstances are to correspond to this secular condition. Members are to be like leaven striving to imbue all things with the spirit of the gospel for the strengthening and the growth of the body of Christ. They do this primarily by ordering temporal realities according to God and in forming the world through the power of Gospel. They share in the evangelizing mission of the church in the world by their witness of a Christian life and by their fidelity to their consecration. In their activities they co-operate with the ecclesial community but according to their secular character.. The whole sphere of art, science, politics etc. is their apostolate and they are encouraged to enter those fields where religious are unable to enter. Members are not presented to the world in a role of public ministry or as a servant of the church. The apostolate is always personal and performed as private individuals and as member of the faithful.

The importance of “being” must go together with their “doing” so that their work does not descend from action to mere activism. They are urged to be both committed and competent in their respective fields, with the aim of establishing everything in Christ.

4. Prayer
Members are instructed to give prayer the first place in their lives and to find in prayer the only efficacious way to live out their vocation in the world. It is the most singular expression of their consecration. It has at its centre the Paschal Mystery lived again in the Eucharistic celebration and in union with Mary- the Mother of God and the Church. The needs and the expectations of the Church and the world form the special contents of the prayer of its members. With the guidance of the Director, the member is helped to grow and deepen his relationship with the Lord, in prayer. If this solitary apostle who is a member of the Institute does not zealously guard his consecration to God and the Church, if he does not live minute by minute his vocation which implies prayer and work, reflection and action, he betrays his ideal and he betrays himself, he refuses the call of God and becomes unfaithful to the choices he has made.