Wherever the standard of the Cross has been carried, there divine Providence has chosen heroic souls to imitate the sacrifices and charity of the Crucified. For centuries these elect of God were banded together in Institutes called Orders which demanded of their members the profession of Solemn vows and generally also the observance of the Cloister. With the changed conditions of society it frequently became very difficult, and in some countries even impossible, to adhere to this ancient and approved mode of Religious life and still render to society that multifarious service which Christian charity inspires. Hence divine Providence. As the Holy Father tells us, came to the rescue by providing Institutes which were adapted to our times and necessities. For a long time, however, the Church was extremely' reluctant to recognize officially some of the new Institutes that had sprung up in the various parts of the Christian world. She ever appreciated the good they performed and repeatedly confirmed their rule of life as well adapted to the purpose of their Institutes. But it was only after years of probation that She gradually placed Her official approval on single Communities and their mode of living. Especially was this Her attitude towards Institutes of women. But it remained for the celebrated Pontiff, Leo XIII. By his decree "Conditae a Christo." to give the Congregations a pennanent and specific standing in the Common law of the Church. A consistent policy of reforming and generalizing the laws for Religious Congregations was carried on throughout his entire pontificate. These regulations and generalizations. however, extended chiefly to the external relations of Congregations. Some important modifications and new laws were made for the internal regime, but even these have frequently a more or less dose connection with external conditions. Many valuable works have been written in the Latin, German, French. and Italian languages on Religious Congregations. Frequently their authors wrote before a definite and common status had been assigned to Religious Institutes. Then. too, large parts of their works are often devoted to the "Normae" drafted and used by the Holy See in approving new Institutes. But the Holy See has never imposed these "Normae" on an Congregations as laws. Still it must be said that no better foundation could be laid for their writings, for they express the mind of the Holy See. Finally, the new discipline demands a reconstruction of many of the works on Religious Congregations. These different circumstances and the fact that Religious Societics occupy such an important place in Religious Iife and ecclesiastical legislation, have led us to believe that Religious Congregations afforded a valuable subject for a canonical study. The present study, however, excludes particular and internal regulations and privileges. It aims solely at investigating the legislation of the Church in regard to the external relations of Religious Congregations in general. For this purpose it has seemed necessary to review the origin and development of Religious Congregations. to give the laws governing a new foundation and its approval. the conditions requisite for entrance, the regulations regarding dismissal. and the external government, With this brief foreword we introduce the reader to the following eight chapters of "Religious Congregations in Their External Relations,"' hoping some day to perfect and supply what is wanting in them. We deplore the fact that European conditions prevented us from investigating some valuable works having direct bearing on our subject. Some Canonists have written commentaries on many of the new decrees used in this treatise. But at present it is very difficult and in some cases impossible, as we experienced. to obtain them. No doubt these experienced minds throw considerable light on many points of the new regulations.
Celestine Freriks CPPS, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1501031376, ISBN 13: 9781501031373