New Secular Insitute for men based on Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Hello!

I am founding a secular institute for men based on the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. The institute is called the Fraternity of the Hidden Life. Men are sought who feel called to a life of holiness in the practice of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

A secular institute for women was founded in the 1950s, but there is no institute for men.

If you sense a calling to the life of Jesus at Nazareth, to live as the hidden leaven of the world, please contact me at my website, fothl.org, or send me a message through this site.

Here is a summary of the spirituality of the institute:

“The life of Nazareth is that of the majority of people, very much like their ordinary life. It is also that of religious who live a hidden, contemplative life and, at the same time, are in touch with the people around them.” – Fr. Charles de Foucauld

When we seek to draw near to God through a consecrated way of life, we look first to Jesus. As Fr. Charles said, he is our model. Then, we look to those who embraced the charisms of life that we are seeking. We look to those members of fallen humanity who persevered and showed us how we might follow The Crucified One in the concrete situations of life.

The ideal of Fr. Charles was to live the hidden life of Jesus at Nazareth. The Son of God spent 30 years of his life hidden, buried, in the joys and tediums of everyday life. Though God incarnate, he lived and worked among others. He was The Leaven, The Salt.

Hiddenness as exemplified by Fr. Charles does not mean a complete obscurity of our call. He was a visible sign of the Church in the midst of others, especially in the midst of unbelievers. The hidden nature comes from, as much as possible, burying ourselves in the everyday banality and beauty of life in a secular world. It is a gentle presence of witness. We are also hidden because so much of our spiritual life is never seen by those around us. Hours of adoration, The Divine Office, and retreats are usually performed as a solitary. In this sense, those around us will never know the sacrifice and lonely battles of the spiritual life we lead. They also, though, will not be present to our deepest joys of the interior life.

To live this life requires the initiative to pray when no one is there to encourage us. It also requires a never-failing trust that God is always there, deep inside, in the unending splendor of the Trinity. Only with His grace will we persevere and triumph.

Following is a brief listing of the spiritual obligations of this way of life. Under the documents section of this site, we will expound further upon the different aspects of living this life in the concrete.

THE SPIRITUAL OBLIGATIONS

**Daily Mass**
**Holy Hour of Adoration** – “Remain here, and watch with me” – Matthew 26.38
   * Adoration of Jesus was of critical importance to Fr. Charles.  We would do well to imitate him in his love of staying with the Lord.*
**The Divine Office** – “Seven times a day I praise thee” – Psalm 119:164
    *The prayer of the Church.  Let us join ourselves with our brothers and sisters throughout the world in giving praise to God.*
O**nce monthly, a Day in the Desert **- “I will allure (him), and bring (him) into the desert” – Hosea 2:14
  • We draw away from the world to spend a day in silent recollection and love. With only a Bible and our breviary, we seek to abide in God.* To be under the guidance of a spiritual director - “He who hears you, hears me” – Luke 10:16 As Fr. Charles wisely said, the first thing one needs when entering the desert is a guide. To the best of our ability, we must find a spiritual director and be obedient to them. 20-30 minutes of meditation per day, ending with a concrete resolution – “I meditate and search my spirit” – Psalm 77:6
    • If necessary, this period of meditation may be integrated into the Holy Hour. For further details about meditation and resolutions, please see the link “Documents” at the top of the page.*

These daily prayer requirements will take sacrifice and time; however, consider the time, attention, and love that parents devote to their children. May we who have forsaken marriage and children never be accused of having a lesser love towards God.

[quote="FOTHL, post:1, topic:220175"]
Hello!

I am founding a secular institute for men based on the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. The institute is called the Fraternity of the Hidden Life. Men are sought who feel called to a life of holiness in the practice of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

A secular institute for women was founded in the 1950s, but there is no institute for men.

If you sense a calling to the life of Jesus at Nazareth, to live as the hidden leaven of the world, please contact me at my website, fothl.org, or send me a message through this site.

Here is a summary of the spirituality of the institute:

“The life of Nazareth is that of the majority of people, very much like their ordinary life. It is also that of religious who live a hidden, contemplative life and, at the same time, are in touch with the people around them.” – Fr. Charles de Foucauld

When we seek to draw near to God through a consecrated way of life, we look first to Jesus. As Fr. Charles said, he is our model. Then, we look to those who embraced the charisms of life that we are seeking. We look to those members of fallen humanity who persevered and showed us how we might follow The Crucified One in the concrete situations of life.

The ideal of Fr. Charles was to live the hidden life of Jesus at Nazareth. The Son of God spent 30 years of his life hidden, buried, in the joys and tediums of everyday life. Though God incarnate, he lived and worked among others. He was The Leaven, The Salt.

Hiddenness as exemplified by Fr. Charles does not mean a complete obscurity of our call. He was a visible sign of the Church in the midst of others, especially in the midst of unbelievers. The hidden nature comes from, as much as possible, burying ourselves in the everyday banality and beauty of life in a secular world. It is a gentle presence of witness. We are also hidden because so much of our spiritual life is never seen by those around us. Hours of adoration, The Divine Office, and retreats are usually performed as a solitary. In this sense, those around us will never know the sacrifice and lonely battles of the spiritual life we lead. They also, though, will not be present to our deepest joys of the interior life.

To live this life requires the initiative to pray when no one is there to encourage us. It also requires a never-failing trust that God is always there, deep inside, in the unending splendor of the Trinity. Only with His grace will we persevere and triumph.

Following is a brief listing of the spiritual obligations of this way of life. Under the documents section of this site, we will expound further upon the different aspects of living this life in the concrete.

THE SPIRITUAL OBLIGATIONS

**Daily Mass**
**Holy Hour of Adoration** – “Remain here, and watch with me” – Matthew 26.38
   * Adoration of Jesus was of critical importance to Fr. Charles.  We would do well to imitate him in his love of staying with the Lord.*
**The Divine Office** – “Seven times a day I praise thee” – Psalm 119:164
    *The prayer of the Church.  Let us join ourselves with our brothers and sisters throughout the world in giving praise to God.*
O**nce monthly, a Day in the Desert **- “I will allure (him), and bring (him) into the desert” – Hosea 2:14
  • We draw away from the world to spend a day in silent recollection and love. With only a Bible and our breviary, we seek to abide in God.* To be under the guidance of a spiritual director - “He who hears you, hears me” – Luke 10:16 As Fr. Charles wisely said, the first thing one needs when entering the desert is a guide. To the best of our ability, we must find a spiritual director and be obedient to them. 20-30 minutes of meditation per day, ending with a concrete resolution – “I meditate and search my spirit” – Psalm 77:6
    • If necessary, this period of meditation may be integrated into the Holy Hour. For further details about meditation and resolutions, please see the link “Documents” at the top of the page.*

These daily prayer requirements will take sacrifice and time; however, consider the time, attention, and love that parents devote to their children. May we who have forsaken marriage and children never be accused of having a lesser love towards God.

[/quote]

I would suggest that you make one very important correction in the above. Charles de Foucauld's title is Brother, not Father. He was a priest, but he was a hermit and used went by the heremetical title, Brother Charles of Jesus.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

I suggest that you speak with a canon lawyer and your bishop.

A secular institute has a specific definition according to canon law, it is " an institute of consecrated life" with both lay and clerical members.

I believe it require the approval of the local bishop.

[quote="ByzCath, post:3, topic:220175"]
I suggest that you speak with a canon lawyer and your bishop.

A secular institute has a specific definition according to canon law, it is " an institute of consecrated life" with both lay and clerical members.

I believe it require the approval of the local bishop.

[/quote]

The bishop will just turn him around and tell him to come back when he has at least one more stable member for a "Decree of Praise" and at least four stable members for a "Decree as a public association of the faithful". Then it proceeds from there. All of the recent Franciscan renewal communities went through this process. They do require that you have some members before you approach them.

You cannot call yourself Catholic without the bishop's permission. You can say that you're a community of Catholic men, but not a Catholic community.

Secular Institutes don't have to include clerics. They can be lay. The Sisters of Schonstatt are a secular institute. They're women. There are several communities of women that are secular institutes of Pontifical Right. The Daughters of Charity were the first. In those days, becaues the term "secular institute" had not been coined, the term used was "society" They were known as the Society of Charity" and later as the "Society of the Daughers of Charity". They were the first. They are not canonically women religious, because they do not have a novitiate or perpetual vows. They don't even have their own superior general. The Vincentian General is their Superior General.

The point is that all secular institutes begin just like congregations and orders, with two or three people who then approach the bishop for his blessing. Then things get rolling from there.

But they should tidy up the title of Br. Charles, because it clericalizes the spirituality. Charles was neither clerical nor monastic. He was much more similar to the early Carmelites. He was a hermit and a penitent. That's why he went by Brother. It was the ancient custom of the hermits. If I'm not mistaken, in the Rule of St. Albert he wrote to the Prior as Brother B. We're never told if he was a priest or not. I'm assuming that he was, because you guys evolved as a clerical order or am I wrong?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

Yes, the original founder is only knows of as Brother B in the rule, Carmelites have named him "Brocard" but we do not know his actual name or if he was a priest or not but the rule does say that Mass should be celebrated so we know what the original hermits on Mount Carmel had at least one priest.

We became mendicants with our move into Europe. I would be interested in seeing when in history we started to consider ourselves a clerical order, I would hazard a guess that it is around the same time that the Dominicans did so.

[quote="ByzCath, post:5, topic:220175"]
Yes, the original founder is only knows of as Brother B in the rule, Carmelites have named him "Brocard"

[/quote]

For the benefit of others, its worth saying that some traditions have linked Brother B with St Berthold as well, although there's no clear evidence whatsoever for this. The accepted wisdom of the order is that the identities of the men on Mount Carmel are unknown.

[quote="ByzCath, post:5, topic:220175"]
We became mendicants with our move into Europe.

[/quote]

Increasingly I wonder about this, even though it is our usual received wisdom. Having read recent unpublished material from one of our historians, it seems to me that there were already mendicant elements to our life even in the Holy land - we apparently made and sold things to pilgrims, and offered refuge and the sacraments to pilgrims passing by, may have celebrated mass in Acre (a day's journey from Carmel) and seem to have acted as chaplains to a nearby Templar fort (where we might also have retreated when the war became too close).

It sounds as though a mendicant attitude was already setting in; certainly we were not entirely separated from the world in a monastic or classically eremitical way. These may have been the foundations for our change in lifestyle when we returned to Europe, especially given the concurrent witness of Francis and Dominic (and the Augustinian mendicants) already in evidence. But like the identity of Brother B, this is probably unknowable.

[quote="ByzCath, post:5, topic:220175"]
I would be interested in seeing when in history we started to consider ourselves a clerical order, I would hazard a guess that it is around the same time that the Dominicans did so.

[/quote]

I'd be interested in knowing this too. In a related matter, an Irish friar researched when we decided to begin parish-based work, and could find no clear directive from the order at any stage. We appear to have drifted into it somewhat in a variety of places in Europe because of an obvious need in the dioceses rather than because we decided that it was appropriate for our charism. Which begs the question as to whether returning to the vision of our founders as per Perfectae Caritatis should include parish ministry as a major element of our apostolic life.

I know this is off-topic, but hopefully its not entirely lacking in interest.:o

[quote="JReducation, post:2, topic:220175"]
I would suggest that you make one very important correction in the above. Charles de Foucauld's title is Brother, not Father. He was a priest, but he was a hermit and used went by the heremetical title, Brother Charles of Jesus.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Br. JR,

Thanks for the excellent observation! It's difficult to know the proper way to address him, that's for sure. Those who followed him (Carlo Carretto, for example) would call him either brother or father in their writings. Charles signed his Tuareg dictionary "Fr. Charles de Foucauld", as well. My hope is that we can very soon just call him "St. Charles".

Thanks again,
Matthew Manint

[quote="ByzCath, post:3, topic:220175"]
I suggest that you speak with a canon lawyer and your bishop.

A secular institute has a specific definition according to canon law, it is " an institute of consecrated life" with both lay and clerical members.

I believe it require the approval of the local bishop.

[/quote]

Thanks for your reply! I see that others have written about the above points, so I won't elaborate on those.

I will be looking at the suggestions I've received and see what changes might be made. I truly have no idea if anyone else will be joining this endeavor, but I pray that it will bear some fruit. I've been living this life for six years now, and will continue to do so no matter what becomes of the institute. Please pray for me!

-Matthew

JR, a minor correction. The Daughters of Charity are not a secular institute, but a society of apostolic life. They do live in community, unlike secular institutes, and they make private vows,which are renewed annually, every March 25, Feast of the Annunciation. They never take perpetual vows.

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