Constitutions Chapters

Decree of Promulgation, 1970

By this decree, the 1970 General Chapter of the Order of Premontre after careful review of the constitutions provisionally accepted by the Chapter of 1968, and having found them in accordance with the principles of Vatican II, hereby authoritatively promulgates them for observance by all whom they affect.

The norms contained in these Constitutions become binding one month from the date of publication at which time the 1947 Statutes of the Order of Premontre become null and void.

Since the present General Chapter intended to determine only the matters affecting the inspiration for our life as well as the central government of the Order, an now having established the more general and quasi-fundamental norms for the governance of canonries and houses, it leaves to the local communities the competence for determining in accordance with their respective needs what must be determined.  That these norms may be applied more accurately to the reality of life, provisions are hereby made for a sound pluriformity.

The task of the next General Chapter will be to decree more precisely and effectively those matters which experience teaches still need to be ordered [1]

Given at the Abbey of Wilten, site of the General Chapter
August, 8, 1970
Norbert Calmels, O. Praem.
Abbot General and
President of the General Chapter

These constitutions are in effect from Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971


[1] Protocol of the 1970 General Chapter, pp. 99-100 --- <<BACK>>

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Preface, 1970

In 1968 and 1970 the General Chapter of the Canons Regular of Premontre convened in several sessions with the desire and intention of achieving the renewal of the Order "obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit"[1] under the guidance of the effort of Vatican II to renew the Church, lest we receive the gift of God in vain.

Mindful of the desires of that good man of God, John XXIII, the Chapter sought a "new Pentecost" [2] for the Order as a whole and for its several members because the world awaits this new Pentecost through the medium of the Church and from each one of us. 

May God grant us, in our days, the grace to observe fully the Apostolic Way of Life which Augustine formulated and renewed and which he most enthusiastically proposed as a mode of life for himself and his followers:[3] "To sum up briefly, it is our intention to live in accordance with the clearly evangelical and apostolic life I have chosen."[4] May we strive wholeheartedly to "be faithful to the Sacred Scriptures and to seek Christ as our Master."[5]

The General Chapter is aware that the true renewal of the Order is to be achieved more by our manner of action than by our words.  It is also aware that a complete and final renewal cannot be achieved but must be continually sought in accordance with the needs of the times and the localities concerned.

The Chapter, therefore, offers these Constitutiones as a tentative instrument for the renewal of our Order, mindful of the words of St. Norbert: "without order and without rule . . . we cannot really embrace the apostolic and evangelical life and its demands."[6]

The first section of the Constitutions consists of the evangelical and theological principles of our Christian, religious and priestly life.  However, it stresses our union with the Church and incorporates relevant selections which recall the spirit and intentions of our Founders, Saints Augustine and Norbert, as well as the sound traditions of the Order.

The second part provides the necessary juridical norms because it is imperative that there be a conformity between them and the spiritual principles so as to insure a firm foundation for the Constitutions and provide them with true spiritual vitality.[7]

The third part consists of spiritual and practical recommendations by which all members, male and female, of the Order may be inspired and assisted in living up to their ideals.  These, however, are not obligatory for members or communities.

The General Chapter through these Constitutions, animated as they are by a creative faith, is attempting to preserve, and at the same time reinterpret, the fundamentals of our mode of life, prayer, work, government, and formative training.   This attempt is made in view of the exigencies of our times and of the people living therein.  In this way the unique charism of our Order may be reinvigorated for the benefit of the Church, as every true charism should be in accordance with its particular mission.  The special conditions of our times judged in the light of faith, led the brothers of the Chapter to propose "communio" as the essential mark of our Order.

The evangelical and apostolic nature of the way of life of our Order as outlined in these Constitutions obligates all members of our Order, unless circumstances prevent, because all have chosen that life.  Nevertheless, these Constitutions provide for a sound and considered pluriformity to provide for facing facts in regard to individual members and communities.

The Constitutiones are presented, with hopeful confidence, to every member as a seed which, God willing, may grow into a tree bearing rich and abundant fruit.  May our Fathers, Norbert and Augustine, intercedee for us that the Holy Spirit may guide us all in the arduous task of renewing our Order.  If we search with one mind and one heart, the Lord will give us His blessings.[8]

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[1] Cf. Allocution of Pope John XXIII at the Solemn Inauguration of the Second Vatican Council, 11/10/1962 --- <<BACK>>

[2] John XXIII in the Apostolic Constitution by which the Ecumenical Council Vatican II was convoked, December 25, 1961: "Renew Your wonders in our time as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the Holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace.  Amen!" --- <<BACK>>

[3] cf. St. Augustine, Sermon 356, 1 and 2, PL 39, 1575 --- <<BACK>>

[4] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 9 (MGH 678 at the end). --- <<BACK>>

[5] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 12 (MGH at the beginning). Cf. also the Bull "Omnipotenti Deo" of Peter de Leone and Gregory of San Angelo, pontifical legates, June 28, 1124 (ed. J. Lepaige, Bibliotheca Praemonstratensis Ordinis, p. 390). --- <<BACK>>

[6] Vita S. Norberti A, chapter 12 (MGH 683 at the beginning). --- <<BACK>>

[7] cf. Motu proprio "Ecclesiae Sanctae," August 6, 1966, II, n. 1255. --- <<BACK>>

[8] cf. St. Augustine, Ennarationes in Ps. 132 "Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum;" PL 37, 1729-1736. --- <<BACK>>

Decree Concerning the Effective Date for the Revisions Introduced by the General Chapter of 1994

This Decree was issued by Abbot General Marcel van de Ven on April 25, 1995 at the definitory meeting held in Strahov to the end that the effective date for the introduction of the changes introduced by General Chapter of 1994 is August 28, 1995, the Solemnity of St. Augustine.

+ Marcel van de Ven, O. Praem.

   Abbot General

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Preface, 1994

In composing the Constitutions of the Premonstratensian Order, the General Chapter gathered in the Abbey of Wilten in Innsbruck in the years 1968-1970 fittingly examined the manner of life, prayer and activity of the canons regular of St. Norbert, a process which truly engaged all the communities and members of our institute. This gathering duly adapted these elements according to the mind of the Second Vatical Council’s decree, "Perfectae Caritatis" issued on October 28, 1965, concerning the appropriate renewal of religious life taking into consideration as well the motu proprio of Pope Paul VI, "Ecclesiae Sanctae" dated August 6, 1966, as well as other conciliar documents.[1]

An effective and proper renewal already had been in progress since the meeting of the 1962 General Chapter. During this chapter it was proposed that a list of twenty-three questions which especially concerned adaptation of the Order's governance be published and undergo a more profound examination after the chapter. These questions along with many others gathered from every segment of the Order [2] were subjects of exhaustive study during the next few years, a study conducted by different groups of experts which had been constituted by the Colloquium in Averbode on March 21-23, 1966. As a result of the efforts of the experts, eight schemata were prepared concerning: the physionomy of our canonical Order, lay brothers, sisters, prayer, common life, apostolic activity, the government of the canonries and of the Order as well as the issue of formation.

As the subject matter for the next General Chapter, and by the letter of the Order's Definitory meeting in the abbey of Postel on December 14, 1967, these schemata were ordered to be published. In considering such varied material, discussions arose especially concerning the right balance between the spiritual principles and the juridical norms, both of which were considered necessary for insertion into the Constitutions. On August 8, 1968, the Fundamental Code, containing a synthesis of the spiritual values of our Order drawn up by the Central Commission of the Chapter of renewal and translated into four languages, was proposed to the Capitular Fathers.

Emanating from one fundamental concept, that our life is a life of ecclesial communion, there flows the entire spiritual and social structure of our Order:

This ecclesial character of our canonical life, as provided by St. Norbert, our founder, and St. Augustine, our teacher, moves the members to the communion of the Church which is both already given as gift by Christ, yet always needing to be built up continually in our communities. This same ecclesial dimension is to come forth in the form both of the worship of God and also in charitable service toward the brethren in the manner specifically entrusted to us in our threefold complenientary ministries:

The Provisional Fundamental Code, which meanwhile had been translated into Latin, enjoyed the force of law from September 22, 1968 until the second session of the General Chapter which met in 1970, during which time it replaced the 1947 Statutes except for those matters not contained in the Fundamental Code. Together with the provisional Code a decree was issued concerning the introduction of experiments in three regular observances.[3]

In the period between the two sessions of the General Chapter, this Fundamental Code was emended by an intersessional Commission which met in the Abbey of Wilten from July 14 to August 10, 1969, which was responsible for all the various suggested amendments submitted to the Secretariat of the General Chapter by June 15, 1969. At that same time a Book of Customs for the whole Order (Liber Usuum totius Ordinis - LUTO) was prepared.

The second session of this General Chapter met in the Abbey of Wilten from July 20 to August 9, 1970.[4] Since the capitular fathers were dissatisfied with the Book of Customs, they determined by vote that the spiritual principles and the juridical norms be published in a single code and at the same time, as a third part, there be added spiritual and practical instructions of an exhortative nature which strictly speaking bound neither members or communities.

The Decree promulgating the Constitutions, however, added the following: "Since the present General Chapter intended to determine only the matters affecting the inspiration for our life as well as the central government of the Order, and now having established the more general and quasi-fundamental norms for the governance of canonries and houses, it leaves to the local communities the competence for determining in accordance with their respective needs what must be determined... The task of the next General Chapter will be to decree more precisely and effectively those matters which experience teaches still need to be ordered."[5]

In subsequent General Chapters, the Constitutions promulgated in 1970 were emended for various reasons. In 1976 the normative part of the Constitutions was carefully reviewed and revised by the General Chapter meeting in the Abbey of De Pere and afterwards was published under the title "The Second Part of the Constitutional Norms of the Canons Regular of Premontre." With the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, the Juridical Commission of the Order accommodated our constitutional law to the content of the new Code. In that same year these accommodations were approved by the Abbot General with the consent of the Definitors of the Order in virtue of n. 284 of the Constitutions. This approval would remain valid until the next General Chapter. That General Chapter of the Order met in Steinfeld, a former Abbey of the Order, in 1988 and ratified and caused to be published our Constitutions adapted to the new Code. (Session 11a, part one, Protocol, pp. 88-89.) That same Chapter also established a commission which, after taking counsel with the competent commissions of the Order, was to undertake a total review of our law and especially the Constitutions with a view toward the General Chapter to be held in 1994.

The Commission for the Review of the Constitutions, engaged in the task of examining the current Constitutions, therefore saw to it that the law of the Order could be published in one volume, excepting those other norms of the Order's proper law which were not constitutional. Accordingly and with careful attention to the observations which had been made by the Order's Juridical, Liturgical and Canonical Life Commissions, this Commission presented a revised text containing all the necessary emendations to the Capitular Fathers. Finally the 1994 General Chapter meeting in Marchtal, a former canonry of the Order, after approving certain emendations, ratified and promulgated the revision succesfully completed by the Commission for Reviewing the Constitutions.


[1] Vatican Council II, session VII. nn. 3 and 4. -- <<BACK>>

[2] See Fontes Fratrum O. Praem., for use by the capitular fathers, the periti and the canonries, coordinated by the Secretariate for the Preparation of the General Chapter, 1968; Schlaegl Abbey, 1967, 363 pp. -- <<BACK>>

[3] Protocol of the General Chapter celebrated in Wilten Abbey (Innsbruck) from July 22 to August 22, 1968; The Secretariate of the General Chapter, 1968, 64 pp. -- <<BACK>>

[4] Protocol of the General Chapter celebrated in Wilten Abbey (Innsbruck) from July 20 to August 9, 1970; The Secretariate of the General Chapter, 1970. -- <<BACK>>

[5] Constitutions of the Order of Premontre approved and promulgated by the General Chapter of 1970, celebrated in Wilten, p.5.  -- <<BACK>>

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In our days, we are involved in profound changes of every kind. We are passing from a more static world-view to a more dynamic and evolutionary one. From this basic fact there arises a new complex of problems which challenge us to new analyses and syntheses.[1-1] We are constantly forced to adapt our lives, both individual and collective, to new conditions.

Moved by desire for authenticity and sincerity, we are in the process of determining and subjecting to critical evaluation the social and ecclesial institutions, including even those of our Order, which have come to us from the past. We are examining them for their relevance to our personal and social lives. Although this critical examination concerns us, men of this age, perhaps more deeply, it is not an exclusive phenomenon of this time, inasmuch as it is rooted in the very nature of man.


From birth, man, as a person, is necessarily a part of human society. In this apparently simple fact lies the source of the tension fundamentally inherent in our life. In our nature, at the same time individual and social, it happens that we experience the necessity of both affirming ourselves as persons through conscious and free choices and of relating ourselves to human society. A genuine participation of this kind is accomplished only through the commitment of a mature personality. The development and evolution of a human person and the growth of society are mutually dependent.[1-2] A balance between person and society will always remain a desideratum. If guided by self-centeredness (egotism) and pride, man excessively desires his own self-affirmation, he will be alienated from society; even so, if he is forced by interpersonal relationships and institutions to renounce essential personal values, his faculty of affirming himself will be frustrated.


The mature person seeks an authentic balance in this matter by choosing those relationships and institutions which are responsive to the needs of his time and in which a mutual respect for human uniqueness allows individuals to live in harmony, giving themselves to society for the sake of a fuller life. In this way, the mature person becomes capable of shaping society while he, in turn, is formed and completed by it.

Our Relationship To the Family of the Entire Contemporary Human Race


Through personal experience and the instruments of social communication, the problems and needs of men living in every part of the world affect our lives and demand our concern. The world of today is vividly conscious of its oneness, of the mutual interdependence of everyone, as well as of the need for solidarity. However, it is gravely split by men fighting among themselves. For there persist bitter political. social, economic, racial and ideological dissensions.[1-3] Individuals, societies, and nations overcome, only with difficulty, their own self-interest and greeds. Hence, in fact, the human family remains divided.


Meanwhile, the conviction grows that the enormous advantages provided by technology and culture can and should be extended in reality to all men. Solicitous about himself and his neighbor, modern man experiences the necessity of overcoming obstacles arising from the inequities among individuals, societies and nations in order that a true community of mankind may be finally attained. Among individual men, assemblies and nations, there is a growing desire to form community with others. Hence, movements aspiring to a healthy socialization, to associations and to various international meetings are being multiplied. However, a true union of men will be promoted not merely by a more equitable distribution of material goods but more profoundly by a communion of persons themselves.


Intimately involved in all these facts, conditions, needs, and desires regarded today as the principal "signs of the times", the people of God are anxious to discern, by the light of faith, which of them are true signs of the presence or design of God. For faith illustrates with a new light the relationship of men to society and their desire and effort to renew universal brotherhood "and manifests the divine design for man's total vocation and thus directs the mind to solutions which are fully human."[1-4] Indeed, the Lord sustains the life of all men even if they do not explicitly acknowledge Him.

For One Another In Christ


God created men to His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26), according to His own essence, which is love (cf. I Jn. 4:8). God calls us to share the joy of the unity and love found in Him. To foster this intimate union with Him among men, God Himself became man, notwithstanding the rights of divinity and dignity. For God came as one of us to meet us in Christ, who "emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave ... he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. On account of which God also raised Him on high ..." (Phil. 2: 6-9).

Through his resurrection Christ transfigured the lot of mankind. "Firstborn of many brethren, among all who receive Him in faith and love .... by the gift of His Spirit he founded a new brotherly community, namely in His Body, which is the Church, in which all, as members one of the other, would render mutual service according to the different gifts bestowed on each."[1-5]


Christ, therefore, although he was rich, became poor for our sake (cf. II Cor. 8:9) and made Himself a servant. "For the sake of the joy which was still in the future, He endured the cross" (Hebr. 12:2), in order to reunite by love those whom sin had dispersed.

This free choice of Christ must also be the free choice of the Church and the free choice of each one of us. Christ showed in Himself the way of human existence, commanding us to live in a similar way. "Anyone who wants to be first among you, must be your servant, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:27-28).


Whoever wishes to be a disciple of Christ, ought to die as a grain of wheat that he may bear much fruit in love, otherwise he remains alone (cf. Jn. 12:24).

Participating by faith and by the sacrament of faith (baptism) in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, we ought to experience in ourselves what is also in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil. 2: 3-5). The Spirit of Christ urges us, that denying and transcending ourselves we may break out of our self-centeredness and live for God and the brethren.


Only in this manner will we be led to the genuine "communion" which our hearts seek so profoundly and which the Lord begged for, praying: "May they all be one. Father, may they be one in Us, as You are in Me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me" (Jn. 17: 21).

One Heart and One Mind on the Way to God (communio-koinonia)


The already mentioned signs of the times, discerned in the light of Christ's free choice, and the original inspiration of the Premonstratensian Order, invite us to propose by dynamic faith that the spiritual influences of the patrimony of our Order be actualized for this age under the form of an ecclesial "communio."[1-6] For this reason it would seem opportune here to give a synoptic explanation of the full meaning of this communion.


"Communio" signifies the existence of persons in relation to and for one another: "communio" is our internal union expressed in external form. Human communion, already founded in the will of the Creator, consists in mutual esteem, trust, sincerity, faith, responsibility: briefly, in that zealous humanity which love produces (cf. I Cor. 13). It is expressed through every kind of service, counsel, edification and courtesy and also through dialogue, communication, consultation, collaboration and a truly common life.


God has called us into the communion of His Son Jesus Christ (cf. I Cor. 9). Since we have died and risen with Christ, we are all one in Christ Jesus (cf. Gal. 3: 28). The Son of God made Man always offers Himself to our desire and effort to renew "communio" so that, removing the sin of division, He may transform us by the gift of His Spirit into a new fraternal communion, which He unceasingly strives to build in the Church.


With our whole-hearted cooperation, the "communion" of the Church is founded, constituted and manifested by the fact that collectively and individually we are moved by the Spirit of Christ: to believe, hope in and love God, One and Three, and to hold to the same sacraments (communion in the sacraments of faith); to maintain communion with one and the same Head, Christ in heaven, and with the college of bishops and its head, the Roman Pontiff, representing Christ on earth (communion with the hierarchy); to labor both internally and externally as members of the one people of God and on behalf of and for the benefit of that one people of God (communion of saints - Christians).


From this unity arises our own intimate association of members to members in one communion, vivified and directed by the Holy Spirit, and constituting that "one heart and one mind on the way to God." This communion which exists with God in the brethren and with the brethren in God is given to us to be actualized by us wherever we are. It therefore requires the daily practice of the Lord's word: "Anyone who loses his life for my sake, will find it" (Mt. 10:39). This unity of brethren manifests the coming of Christ and from it arises great apostolic strength (cf. Jn. 13:35; 17:21).[1-7]


The communion of the Church, which is "a people unified in accordance with the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"[1-8] is on a pilgrimage toward the one and triune God, Who is the origin, exemplar and consummation of all human and Christian communion.

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I, Brother NN, offer and give myself to a Specific Church...


Where two or three are gathered together in His name, there is Jesus in the midst of them (cf Mt. 18:20).

Natural groups of persons are always determined, possessed of their own human character, their own joy, their own sin, their own culture, thirst and hunger.

There the Spirit of Christ summons men of various personalities to a loving unity of faith and love. These persons--clerics, religious, and lay - - gathered together into a church, constitute the people of God in a specific place, in a parish, a mission station, a school or a hospital. An assembly of this kind, established by Christ in a "communio" of life, love and truth is accepted by Him as an instrument of redemption,[2-2] and tends towards God and is fulfilled in Him.


On the day of profession each one of us offers and gives himself to a specific church in which the Church of Christ is truly present, and is immediately incorporated into a certain community (canonry) of the Premonstratensian Order. Our communities are especially ordered so that through the practice of common life and the apostolic mission they may manifest the "communio" of the Church of Christ within themselves, and also beyond: in the people of God as well as among men.

Our Communities


The act of giving which constitutes our perpetual profession binds us fully to a community of our brethren. From this stable fellowship, our community arises as something living and autonomous which has struck deep roots in a territory, occasionally for centuries.

Among the people of God, we should put into practice day after day the gift of self we have made, whether in the principal house (abbey) or in dependent houses, or in other assemblies of the brethren. There, while cooperating with one another and holding all our goods in common, we cherish the growth of that one mind and one heart which makes us the temple of God through our joys and sorrows.[2-3]

Our community should be the school and the daily training ground to actualize the "communio" of the Church of Christ both within the community and without, among other members of the people of God, that is, the world.

In deciding upon the types of apostolate the procedure should be circular so that with the abbey, priory or house as a center, the apostolate is developed in such a way that we may the more vigorously dedicate ourselves to the service of humanity. We should do this in the manner or life style of those nearby with appropriate regard for the needs of the locality and region. The concrete forms which "communio" adopts to manifest itself outside the community depends on what needs to be done.

Communion with Neighbors


Serving in the midst of parishes and institutions, our communities should be aware of the human and ecclesial reality of the place and region, cultivate human and Christian exchange, and should be prepared to collaborate in promoting the life of the Church and developing society in a more humane manner.

Communion With the Diocese and Its Bishop


The nature of human and Christian communion, whose culmination is found in the celebration of the Eucharist, ought to be evident in our relations with the bishop, clergy and laity of the locality wherever we reside.


Consecrated to the solidarity of the collegial and pastoral mission, the priests of our churches are bound by sacramental fraternity with the bishop and other members of the clergy.[2-4] Through the sacrament of Orders and through the apostolic mission received from the bishop, but also through canonical profession which has the character of incorporating them into a particular church, they are constituted members of his "presbyterium" by an intimate and specific title.[2-5] Wherefore, through the truly common life which they have embraced, they should be a leaven of communion among the diocesan priests.

Likewise, the apostolate, to which lay brothers and sisters are already assigned by Baptism and Confirmation, becomes operative more fully in a diocese through incorporation in a specific church.[2-6]

In the exercise of the apostolate our priests and lay people, both religious as well as those living in the world, complement one another. Our apostolate embraces the essential needs of the people of God rather than an individual action.

Universal Communion


Christ, the Apostle of God (Hebr. 3:1), makes us participants of His mission through His Spirit. Although we are domiciled in the specific place where we manifest "communio" more concretely, nevertheless the mission of our church is universal; it extends to believers or all non-believers, close or at a distance wherever they may be.[2-7]


By means of exemption, which looks to the internal ordering of our communities and the unity of our Order, fidelity toward our own charism is supported in so far as it is at the service of dioceses, episcopal conferences and mission.

Since exemption is designed for the sake of "communio", it ought to strengthen our concern for other churches and foster solidarity with the college of bishops.

Whenever we are sent to assist or establish another church, we ought to be solicitous that, in accord with the charism of our Order, we take care to regard the people of that locality as neighbors without distinguishing persons or social status, and to share on our part the pastoral office of the bishop and his priests.

Living Examples of Communion


Life in accord with the Gospel of Christ and the apostolic way of life, the Rule of St. Augustine as proposed by St. Norbert, and the lives of the saints of the Order constitute living examples for the ordering of our lives.


The life according to the Gospel, which St. Norbert proposes for us, is "to follow the sacred scriptures and to have Christ as a guide"[2-8] and thus to preach the Gospel in poverty; to observe the counsels of self-denial, mildness and humility; "to carry daily the cross of Christ" in a spirit of penance[2-9] to supply whatever is lacking to the passion of Christ in the flesh for the sake of His Body which is the Church (cf. Col. 1:24), in order that we may live with the resurrected Christ.


The apostolic way of life, under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ, is to have one heart and one mind, to have all things in common; to persevere in the teaching the Apostles; to persevere together in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the brethren; to break bread with joy, that is, to have the Eucharist as the center of all life; to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord by preaching, by good example and by every form of the apostolate (cf. Acts 1:13-14; 2:42-47; 4:31-35; 6:1-7, etc.). This apostolic way of life should be considered as the highest ideal which ought to distinguish our entire life.


We consider St. Augustine as the man who best understood and put the apostolic way of life into practice. In his life, works and Rule, we find a form of teaching and life directed towards God in love. Fraternal union, according to the teaching of Augustine, is based on the consciousness and experience that God Himself is present in the community and in each individual person and is manifested in a manifold "communio": that of minds and hearts, of goods, of prayers, of living and working together, under the guidance of the prelate serving through love.

A vivid expression of our profession can be found in those communities of lay brothers and sisters which Augustine founded, but especially in the community of the cathedral church of Hippo where clerics, in accord with the example of the apostles, lived a common life in accordance with certain vital monastic traditions: "and I wish ... to have with me a monastery of clerics."[2-10]


St. Norbert, reformer of the canonical order, gave us the apostolic way as a norm of life. This, he, a proven imitator of the disciples of Christ, also lived, stimulated by a courageous faith, true penance, voluntary poverty, zealous preaching of conversion, vigilant care of the poor, and finally becoming all things to all men.[2-11]

This spirit of Norbert must continually and increasingly permeate our minds, customs, actions and our individual and community life.


We must return continually to the form of apostolic life proposed here in order to draw from it a newness of spirit and, animated by creative fidelity, to express the values of the apostolic way of life in contemporary forms for a better fulfillment of our mission.

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The unity of the Church of Christ must be made incarnate within our churches. Though this unity is a gift of grace, nevertheless, each member of our churches in which there is a diversity of ministry but a unity of mission, should work together daily to accomplish it, using the variety of gifts he has received.[3-1]

Those who offer and give themselves to our Churches by religious profession are called to strive for the unity both within our Churches and within the whole Church by life in common. Moreover, they should observe an equilibrium between the fellowship which is with God in the brethren and with the brethren in God since the Christian and religious authenticity of their lives depends on it.

Concerning the Members of Our Order


Among all members of our Order there is "a common dignity as members reborn in Christ, the common grace of sonship, the common call to perfection, one salvation, one hope, and undivided charity."[3-2]

The diversity of graces, of ministries, and of works which distinguish us ought to bring us together, because "one and the same Spirit works all of these things" (I Cor. 12: 1 1).


There are those laity attached to our Order, living their lives in the midst of the world and worldly business, who are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the particular context of their lives so that they may be as leaven placed in the mass.[3-3]

Other laity, participating in various degrees in our life, are joined more closely to our communities.


In another way, there are joined to us particularly: the parents of confreres, who take the first place among our benefactors; those who work with us or who contribute their services towards the various needs of our life and apostolates; and of course, friends and benefactors of the canonry. The bond with the family of a deceased confrere is not to be neglected.


There are priests and laity of both sexes who, led by some spiritual attraction, seek a "retreat" and a place of human and Christian exchange, so that, while continuing in their respective life styles, they may be spiritually enriched and experience a strengthening of faith, and may be led to desire to be more closely connected with a specific community of the Order. It is strongly suggested that the specific communities and the individuals concerned, through mutual deliberation, agree upon the form of this sort of relationship.[3-4]


Those adult laymen may be received as oblates who are tested in faith and piety, who wish to live with us and who wish to dedicate themselves to God and a specific church of the Order. Before anyone is received as an oblate, he should undergo at least one full year probation. If he perseveres in his intention, the prelate may receive him with the consent of the council and according to some form worked out by common deliberation for such an offering of self. Once a man has given himself to a community, that community is strictly bound to provide for his spiritual and material welfare. Should this bond be broken, care should be taken lest the oblate suffer material disadvantage.


Religious of the Order of Premontre are those who, having renounced property and matrimony, dedicate themselves to our churches by profession of the vows, in order that they might live the apostolic life in fraternal communion, following in the footsteps of Saints Augustine and Norbert. Our way of life consists of a definite ordered relationship of Christian and religious values. All members of our Order - sisters, lay brothers, juniors, and the priest brothers - direct their efforts to follow this design of life, allowing, of course, for reasonable pluriformity according to the character and grace of each.


Nuns of our Order are called upon especially to fulfill the contemplative duty of our life, accommodated to the needs of the world of our time, and led by a truly apostolic spirit as canonesses regular; they live in monasteries sui iuris and their lives are ruled by their own constitutions.

Other congregations of Sisters dedicate themselves more to external activities. Although they are imbued with the same spirit as the other brothers and sisters of our Order, their life is ruled by their own particular constitutions.

Lay brothers, joined together with their clerical brothers in one religious community, continue to share the apostolic and human responsibility of other lay people, in order that they may be a leavening force for Christian life in the midst of the people of God.

The brothers who are Juniors must be educated for full incorporation into the community. Rising above themselves, they ought to learn to place themselves generously at the disposal of the church so that they may be prepared to build community both within the Order and in its apostolates.

Priest brothers are ordained to fulfill a particular ministry within the Church: they are members of the body of Christ who, by the Sacrament of Orders, "are configured to Christ the Priest, so that they may act in the name of Christ the Head,[3-5] for His body, which is the Church. "Exercising the function of Christ the Shepherd and Head and by His authority, they bring the family of God together in one mind, and lead them through Christ in the Spirit to God the Father."[3-6]

On the Communion Which Ought to be Manifested by the Practice of Our Profession


The formula for the perpetual profession of the confreres is:

I, Brother N, offer and give myself to the Church of N, and I promise a conversion of my ways and life in community, especially in poverty, consecrated celibacy, and obedience, according to the Gospel of Christ and the apostolic way of life, according to the rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order of Premontre; I promise this before N, the Prelate of this Church and the Brothers.[3-7]

Profession: I Offer and Give Myself and I Promise


In order that we may live the consecration and the fraternal unity of the grace of Baptism more and more each day, we freely associate ourselves with a particular community of Norbertines. Our profession expresses the surrender of ourselves: by one and the same impulse, we offer ourselves to God and to the community which is at the service of the people of God. Profession does not draw us in upon ourselves, but rather compels us to seek the Kingdom of God in the communication of friendship with other Christians.

Conversion of Life


Since we are drawn together to be united both to God and to the brethren, we should work together for the conversion which we profess. Pardon, which ought to be sought and given, and penance, which ought to be exercised, aid in this conversion. Charity and humble service should be the token of our conversion. "For we know that we have passed from life to death, because we love the brethren" (I Jo. 3:14).

The Evangelical Counsels and the Vows


Christ upon entering the world said: "Behold I come, O God, that I may do your will" (Hebr. 10:5,7), and having accepted the form of a slave, he was made obedient to death (cf. Phil. 2:7 ff.), reconciling all things through the blood of the Cross. Christ having been raised from the dead, continues to fulfill the same will of the Father in the world through the Church which is His Body.

We, as members of the Church, should be obedient to this same salvific will of the Father. In faith and charity, we are aware of the voice of the Father inviting us to devote ourselves by celibacy with an undivided heart to our God and to the brethren, and to undertake voluntary poverty because of our following of Christ.

When we bind ourselves to the three evangelical counsels by vows, our vocation and obligation is to give ourselves with undivided heart to the service of God and man. In order that we may be faithful to this vocation, we should continually keep before our eyes the example of Christ proposed to us in the Gospel, and we should also continually seek ways of authentically bringing the evangelical counsels into operation in a manner accommodated to the needs of our time and locality. Thus, through our lives, the Church will truly be able to witness Christ better each day, whether it be before the faithful or before those who do not yet know Christ.[3-8]



By the vow of living without anything we can call our own, and having all things in common, we ought to say that all we have is at the service of those with whom our profession has joined us. All things which are given to the community should be distributed to each one as each one has need.

Those things which we possess in common should also be placed at the disposal of the poor. The spirit of Christ impels us to demonstrate true solidarity with those oppressed by hunger and need. We should show love of neighbor according to the mind of St. Norbert in being hospitable both to our guests and to the poor.[3-9]

Keeping in mind the circumstances of time and place, each confrere and the community as a whole should express voluntary poverty and a spirit of service, chosen because of the Gospel, in our manner of life and dress, in whatever work we do, in fulfilling our duties towards civil society, and in the prudent administration of goods.[3-10]

A truly common life is not restricted simply to putting all material goods in common, as Adam Scotus says: "Know therefore, that you have offered and surrendered yourself to the Church of God; in everything that you are, in all that you know, and in everything that you can do.[3-11]

Thus, we shall be witnesses, following the example of Christ, that all man has, and all that he is, has been given to him to be placed at the service of men to help them to obtain the happiness for which they are destined; thus also we shall be giving witness that the Kingdom of God, already begun in Christ, should be held in higher esteem than created things.

Consecrated Celibacy


In order that we may be able to respond to the vocation of manifesting the presence of the kingdom of God in this world and that we may follow our proposal to live life in community, we choose a celibate life by which we dedicate ourselves fully to God and the brethren. Through fraternal love and friendship in common life and through a solicitude toward men, our celibacy should be endowed with a humanity which reveals the love of God for men and promotes our human happiness.

We should work so that our community is the environment in which each confrere can live as a mature person and bring his personality to perfection. Each of the brethren should hold in honor those human relationships among themselves which man needs as a social being.

We should also realize that the cross, burdens, mortification, and the custody of one's senses are necessarily included in the celibate life.[3-12]



Our community in which "the prelate is to be obeyed as a Father,[3-13] is placed within the "mystery" of the obedience of Christ, whose food it was to do the will of the Father "so that the sons of God which were dispersed, might be brought together in unity" (Jo. 11:52). We should all seek the will of the Father by being open to the Spirit of Christ and dedicate our own wills through obedience to the service of God and the brethren so that the unity for which Christ offered himself may be increased in our community. Through the light of the Word of God and the teachings of the Church, the Divine Will is made known to us through the internal workings of grace, by the discerning of spirits in fraternal dialogue, by the exigencies of our common life and constitutions, by the direction of superiors, by the example of the brothers, by the demands of our work, by the signs of the times and by the events surrounding our lives.


Let the confreres make clear their wants, their problems, their talents, and their shortcomings to their superiors. Also, in matters concerning the general community, let the confreres consult with the superiors and the other confreres, particularly in the canonry and community chapters. Furthermore, the authority of deciding and establishing what things are to be done[3-14] rests with the superiors upon whom the responsibility for decision-making normally falls, excepting in those situations specifically set forth in these Constitutions. Even in obedience, we have an active role in fulfilling the mission of community.


While exercising the service of authority, the superiors should listen to the confreres with an active benevolence, and should provide for their needs, thus promoting that reciprocal trust which so greatly contributes to the good of the community. Let the superiors foster the creative talents of the individual confreres, communicate essential information to them and collegially seek out with the brethren the appropriate means for achieving the goals of the community.

According the Gospel of Christ and the Apostolic Way of Life


By our profession of vows, we give response to the mercy of God, who calls us, that, dead to sin but living in God in a fraternal "communio" characterized by the evangelical counsels, we may follow Christ and imitate Him more closely. The prime norm for our religious life is the following of Christ, as outlined in the Gospels.[3-15]


Our "raison d'être" is, in a special way, inspired by the life which the early Church led around the Apostles and which the Lord Himself had initiated in the company of the Apostles and the other disciples. (cf. Act. 1:13-14, 2:42-47, 4:31-35, 6:2-4; Mc. 3:14, ff.; Jn. 12:6; Lc. 9:1-6, 10: 1-16; and parallel texts.)[3-16]

According to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order of Premontre


Saint Norbert, furthermore, admonishes us: "Without organization and without a rule, and without the instructions of the Fathers, it is impossible to fulfill the apostolic and evangelical mandates.[3-17] Such assistance is offered to us in the Rule of St. Augustine and in the Constitutions of the Order of Premontre, whereby the churches of our Order are inspired and directed in conforming our lives to Christ's Gospel and the apostolic teaching.

Profession and Human Happiness


As participants in the joys and hopes of man, we believe in the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Through Baptism and religious profession we participate in the paschal mystery of Christ, through whose cross joy came into the whole world. With perseverance, we should imitate the Apostles who rejoiced in faith that Christ, who had died and was raised for the brothers, was in their midst.[3-18]

On the Communion which is to be actualized in carrying out of our Mission Consisting of the Three Complementary Ministries


We must implement our gift of self daily in our participation in the life of the Church and the apostolic ministries: through the ministry of hearing and announcing the word of God, (the prophetic ministry), the ministry of celebrating the liturgy and consecrating the temporal order (the priestly ministry) and the ministry of building the community in charity (the kingly ministry).

These three ministries, which complement one another, are incumbent on us in the name of Christ for the life of the world. Christ, who is the apostle of our confession (cf. Hebr. 3:1), continues to exercise His mission or His prophetic, priestly and kingly ministries through His church as through a living organism. These three ministries, which make up the apostolate of our communities and of our Order, unite all men into the one community for which Christ gave His life (cf. Jo. 11:52).

On the Ministry of Hearing and Preaching the Word of God


"In former days God spoke to our Fathers through the prophets in diverse ways; in these last days He has spoken to us in His Son" (Hebr. 1:1-2). Christ is present to our community in His Word, and we who cling to that Word through faith are more closely united with Christ and with one another.

We who hear the word of God faithfully in the liturgy and in spiritual reading, are disposed to discem the Word of God in the events and circumstances of human life, in our brothers, and especially in their specific needs.

Hearing the Word of God, whether alone, with the community, or by way of dialogue, nourishes sincerity, perseverance, docility and recollection. Therefore, the houses of our Order should be so set up that if there are places freely set aside for silence, reflection, diligent study and fraternal dialogue.


By constantly uniting reflection on the Gospel with their ministry, all the brethren should share with others the Word of God, which they have contemplated, through the testimony of a life which is truly Christian and religious; the priest-confreres, moreover, should also do this through the preaching of conversion, through education and Christian formation, and by the encouragement of perfection.

On the Ministry of Celebrating the Liturgy and Consecrating the Temporal Order


The Word of God which we hear and announce (the prophetic ministry), is made more available to men in the Sacraments of faith. The Sacraments are both signs and sources of the unity of the Church. Since we are incorporated into the death and resurrection of Christ through Baptism, we are made members of Christ; by the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we are assigned to an active and social participation both in the liturgy and in the sanctification of the world; by the Eucharist, we are made "sharers of the Body and Blood" of Christ and of all other Christians.[3-19]


Since the whole People of God united in Christ exercises a common priesthood, the celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, to which the communities of canons regular especially dedicate themselves, should be so ordered that the entire community and the faithful in attendance may actively participate. To that same end, all members must be integrated harmoniously into the liturgical life of the community, and each community is to celebrate the liturgy according to its own proper character and according to the principle of sound pluriformity. The liturgy is to be conducted according to the proper rite either in its proper language or in the vernacular according to the legitimately introduced local customs.


Singing in the liturgy is strongly recommended as it is more conformable to the nature of this prayer and can be a mark of a fuller and more profound union of hearts in carrying out the praises of God. All the singing ought to be carefully prepared.


In all of our communities in the midst of the people of God the Eucharist is to be celebrated daily with the faithful participation of the members since it is the culmination of our communion.[3-20] Indeed, no "Christian community can be built up unless, as its root and keystone, it has the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, from which all formation toward the spirit of community must take its origin,"[3-21] since the loaf of bread is one, we, many though we are, are one body, for all partake of the one loaf (I Cor. 10, 17).


In each of our canonries, the conventual Mass is to be celebrated regularly for the intention of the canonry, of the Order and of our benefactors. Concelebration, "in which the Church is more fully manifested, more clearly expresses the unity of the priesthood and of the sacrifice at the one altar, in a single act of thanksgiving,"[3-22] is strongly commended in houses and groups where several priests are gathered.[3-23]


Ecclesial prayer, as the table of the Word and a sacrifice of praise, is intimately connected with the celebration of the Eucharist; with psalms, canticles, and prayers, the Church responds to the word of God speaking to Us.[3-24]


Since the sanctification of the entire day and of all human effort both pertain to the very purpose of the Liturgy of the Hours, it must be celebrated in our communities in such a manner that the proper time for the Hours is observed and, at the same time, account is taken of the conditions of modern life.[3-25]


In the houses of the Order, the Liturgy of the Hours is to be carried out chorally. As to the obligation of celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours, which must be carried out according to our proper calendar, the following norms apply for our Order by virtue of canon 1174.

In the principal house of the canonry due attention is to be paid to the importance of the Hours which constitute its hinges, Lauds and Vespers. These hours are not to be omitted except for grave cause.[3-26] The Office of Readings, which is a most important liturgical celebration of the Word of God, should be carried out in so far as possible. In order that the entire day better be sanctified, the recitation of a Little Hour and Compline is to be valued.

According to the canonical character of our Order, all members of the community are corresponsible for the public prayer of the Church which must be carried out daily.[3-27] In small groups which cannot carry out the prayer of the Church, frequent common prayer every day is commended. By being constantly attentive to prayer we praise the Lord and intercede for the salvation of the whole world.[3-28]

Each solemnly professed religious is bound to pray those hours which are carried out in his community, maintaining the obligation of clerics as indicated in canon 276.2, n.3


Though we are called to pray in common, nevertheless, we are also to pray to the Father in secret (cf. Mt. 6:6). In all prayer, there should explicitly emerge an exemplification of the man who, through faith, constantly clings to his God and lives in intimate relationship with Him. Thus, we should and can pray always.


For all members, hearing the Word of God, the celebration of the liturgy, common and private prayer, which are of the essence of the contemplative aspect of our way of life, constitute the dearest form of the apostolate; in fact, they are the very soul of the apostolate.


Since we have professed a conversion of our ways, we should cooperate with the Lord Jesus who brings about this conversion through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance, in so far as by celebrating the mysteries of the Lord's death and resurrection, we die more to sin and live more for God and the brethren.

The Eucharist presupposes human harmony. Those brothers who need the mercy of God due to discord ought to be reconciled with one another before approaching the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice (cf. Matthew 5:23-24).

By our confessing the wretchedness of our sins and the mercy of God[3-29] in the sacrament of Penance, a multifaceted peace with God and the Church is offered to us, a peace which likewise must be shared with our brethren.

Communal penitential celebrations, which fittingly express the social aspect of sin and reconciliation, are to be fostered.

We are intimately united to Christ our Savior by frequent reception of the sacrament of Penance which, when accompanied by an examination of conscience, certainly fosters to a great degree the necessary conversion of heart to the love of the Father of mercies.


By the fact of our common priesthood, all our works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, our daily work, both mental and physical relaxation, the duration of our lives, if abiding in the Divine Spirit, "and even the hardships of life, if borne patiently, become spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (cf. I Pet. 2:5). These sacrifices are offered most lovingly to the Father during the celebration of the Eucharist along with the offering of the Body of the Lord."[3-30] In this way we consecrate the whole world itself to God. On the Ministry of Building Up the Ecclesial and Human Community in Charity


The fruit of the Word and the Sacraments is the visible and invisible gathering together of the sons of God. The unity of the People of God is brought about, above all, by the celebration of the Eucharist. The pastoral expertise and activity of priests, together with the work of the laity, complement one another to create, promote, and stabilize this unity. True unity in a specific ecclesial community is the culmination of Christian sacrifice. "This is the sacrifice of Christians: many become one Body in Christ."[3-31]


This unity in Christ which must be fostered both within and outside our churches is their primary apostolic mission. We are taught by St. Augustine that the unity of our communities should overflow into a charity which embraces all men.


We do not all have the same duties to carry out in the pastoral office: "Just as each of our bodies has several parts and each part has a separate function, so all of us, in union with Christ form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other" (Rom. 12:4-5). Therefore, our pastoral activity should be collegial.


The pastoral activities of our communities are to be inserted into the pastoral program of the dioceses and are to be carried out according to the norms determined by local Ordinaries. In our relationships with non-Catholic churches and non-Christian religions we shall strive to be attentive to ecumenical necessities.


In choosing forms of the apostolate for the Canonry, the more pressing needs of the Church and the contemporary world should be kept in mind. Our communities, although they carry out their work chiefly in the dioceses in which they are situated, nevertheless, should be prepared to be at the service of the universal Church. The missionary spirit of St. Norbert has been a mark of our Order from the beginning.


The mission of our Order is not only to announce Christ and the grace He has brought to men, but also to imbue the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel and bring it to perfection, since the human community must also be built up in charity.

Since we are joined intimately with the entire human family and with its progress, we ought to work at full strength with others in the building of a more humanely organized world, thus observing the great command to extend ourselves toward to the service of our brothers.[3-32]

Our communities ought to be centers which promote a synthesis of faith and culture. Christ himself revealed to us that "the new commandment of love was the basic law of human perfection, and hence of the world's transformation."[3-33] For God intends "in Christ to appropriate the whole universe into a new creation, initially here on earth, fully on the last day."[3-34]

On the Participation of the Members in Fulfilling the Mission of the Community


In our churches, where priests and lay brothers make up our religious family, there is surely oneness of mission, but yet diversity of ministry. In carrying out this mission, the priests and the laity, both religious and those living their lives in the world, complement each other. Thus, in the practice of the various forms of apostolates, there ought to be close cooperation between the priests and brothers of our churches and likewise with other priests and the laity.[3-35]


We firmly believe that the enormous task whereby people involve themselves in ameliorating the material, social, and cultural conditions of their lives, considered in itself, is a response to God's call.[3-36] It is proper for the confreres to animate the laity so that they assume as their proper ministry the renewal of the social order, which enjoys its own autonomy, its own ends and particular laws.

Wherever we ourselves live, and according to our capabilities, we ought to promote the goods of life and family, social conditions, culture, the education of youth, economic affairs, liberty, justice and peace especially for those people who because of racial or social conditions are virtually ostracized.[3-37]


The priests confreres, in their own right, share the pastoral ministry of the local bishop and in a special way are associated with his presbyterium. It is of the utmost importance that they integrate that participation and association into one living synthesis with the life of the community.


Thus care should be taken through appropriate means that the bishops become familiar with the communities of our Order and with our mode of living and working, so that they may place firm confidence in us as persons stably incorporated into a specific church; so that they may recognize and carefully promote as an element of true importance for the diocesan church that common life which is fostered, strengthened and maintained by exemption.


As the care of souls does indeed concern the mission of our Order, under the appropriate circumstances for a life of communio, let the bishop accept the confreres presented by the prelate, who is, as it were, the president of a presbyterial grouping, and who, working together with the bishop, is the inspirer and director of the pastoral activities of his community. Furthermore, both the bishop and the prelate ought to arrive carefully at a consensus regarding the obligations of our community toward the entire Church.[3-38]


The confreres ought to coordinate their own activities according to the apostolic character of the diocese; they ought to abide by the decisions made by those who share the bishop's authority. Let them work together with the other members of the diocesan presbyterium and attend meetings and conferences. Let them maintain unity among the members of the presbyterium in other ways as well; let them be fraternally hospitable, attentive to the good example of others and solicitous for the material and spiritual needs of their colleagues. Let them also be aware of the consequences of actions undertaken by the community and by individuals.


The life in common of those confreres dedicated to apostolic labors can take on various forms depending on whether those confreres reside in the abbey itself, in dependent houses, or in smaller groups. Those who currently live alone ought to try to form some sort of unit with other confreres. Also the superiors of the houses ought to promote good relations between the various confreres and communities.


After consultation with the diocesan bishop there ought to be carefully sought out ways whereby those members of the secular clergy, who, finding themselves attracted to our way of life while still wishing to belong to their own diocese, may be able to establish some bond with a canonry of the Order and live in common.

Members of the secular clergy who seek full incorporation in a canonry of our Order are to be admitted by the prelate to the novitiate, which must be carried out observing the due prescriptions of law,[3-39] only after consulting their own ordinaries. By perpetual profession such clergy are incardinated in the canonry and excardinated from the diocese.[3-40]

If several members of the secular clergy of the same diocese desire full incorporation into a canonry of the Order, a prudent inquiry should be made to see whether, with the consent of the diocesan bishop at an appropriate time, a new foundation can be made in this diocese and also whether such a foundation is expedient.[3-41]

On the communion to be manifested by the praxis of common life


The plan for communion outlined above has to be actualized in the complex reality of daily life. To this end we hold to those elements from the canonical tradition of our Order which most effectively promote communion or which serve to promote authentic Christian and religious values, as well as promoting the ecclesial mission of our churches. To that end and after careful and common deliberation these elements must be adapted to the contemporary conditions of the local community and the members by the prelate acting collegially with his council.


The Asceticism of Common Life: The charity on which common life is grounded does not seek its own (cf. I Cor. 13) and according to the Rule it must be so understood as preferring the common good to the interests of the individual, not personal interests to the interests of the community. The daily practice of common life therefore demands that whatever we are and whatever we have be directed to the common good.

The fraternal life of the confreres untiringly finds a human expression in personal relationships of mutual esteem, service, trust, edification, pardon and encouragement. The spirit of mortification which, by its very nature, is inherent in our profession is manifested also in discernment and the acceptance of the diversity of others and in patiently bearing the usual sacrifices and inconveniences of community life and daily work in common.

In regard to fast and abstinence, the laws of the Church, the customs of the region and the customs of the house are to be taken into account.[3-42]


Common Exercises: A common place of residence, common prayer, work, shared table and recreation together, the value of all of which has been proven by time, are designed to increase the integration of the confreres into the community and to foster the fraternal union among members of the same family.


Silence and the cloister: certain parts of the house are reserved for the life of the community and of the individual confreres, in the form of the cloister. Moreover, let peace and quiet there promote intellectual endeavor, especially scripture reading and familiarity with God, and that quiet which is part of one's private life.


Hospitality: St. Norbert especially commends hospitality and reception of the poor.[3-43] Therefore, we should open our hearts and our hands to the needs of people, especially the oppressed, those who suffer or are affected by discrimination in any way. Our houses should be opened to those who wish to be refreshed therein or those who seek ecumenical dialogue.


Our Work: Through our apostolic endeavors, manual labor, technical and social work, we, liable as we are to the universal obligation to work, also provide for the sustenance of the community. "Let no one do any task for his own benefit only, but let all your works take place in common, with greater eagerness and more devoted alacrity than if you were working for your own benefit alone."[3-44]


A Common Storehouse: The Rule says: "And you ought not call anything your own, but let all things be in common among you and let items be distributed according to need to each individual by your superior."[3-45] The common storehouse requires that everyone place money which they have received in a common fund. Let ordinary expenses, according to each one's needs, be provided to each individual in accordance with local customs.


Courtesy: Let courtesy characterize our daily conduct according to the intent of St. Paul as he bids us to be "diligent in fraternal love toward one another, outdoing one another in showing respect" (Rom. 12: 10).[3-46]


The Day Order: The order of the day should be drawn up such that it harmoniously orders the life and work of the community and the confreres and fosters fidelity in serving God and others.


The Habit: Our customary white habit has a three fold significance: sanctity of life, the tradition of the Church, and the unity of the Order. Let it be used, according to local custom, especially in liturgical services. Where the confreres do not wear the regular Norbertine habit, let them regulate their garb according to locally accepted custom.


Care of the Sick and Elderly and those of Advanced Age: Brothers who are subject to advancing age or ill health ought to be zealous in uniting themselves to Christ's suffering for the salvation of the world. While in their gradual configuration to Christ through such mortification they contribute to the building up of communion, they should be supported by the fraternal concern and care of their brothers.

Those brothers who on account of illness or old age find themselves in danger of death and have been strengthened by the Anointing of the Sick should prepare themselves so that with their passing they may enter fully into the paschal mystery in the kingdom of the Father.

The entire canonry should value the care of the sick and those of advance age. Superiors should solicitously see to it that confreres advanced in age or who are infirm are properly assisted and well cared for.


Prayers and works on behalf of the deceased confreres: Our union with the confreres who sleep in the peace of Christ is by no means destroyed, but, on the contrary, should be strengthened by the communication of spiritual goods. Thus, we devoutly recall the memory of the deceased before the Lord's altar, and we pray on their behalf.[3-47]

Each year, on behalf of deceased brothers and sisters of a canonry, and of its friends and benefactors, let there be celebrated two general services: one after the feast of the Lord's

Presentation, and the other after the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. In the individual communities whatever services are to be held in particular cases are to be determined by the prelate acting collegially with his council.

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The union of minds and hearts in one according to the "one mind and one heart in God" must be considered the ministry and duty of everyone who has sworn to follow Christ in the Order of Premontre and to live the canonical life in the building up of the Church of Christ. These norms or juridical principles are rooted in this common obligation, to which all members of our canonries are bound by the principle of collegiality. By these principles are established the responsibilities of each for the fostering and government of the life of the canonry. The chief organs in the individual canonries for the fostering and the government of our lives are:

The canonry chapter, which, as the corporate body with more of a juridical figure, in fraternal dialogue and by force of its administrative competence, treats of questions concerning the whole canonry, keeping in mind the norms which govern the form and scope of the activity of the chapter;

The house chapter, which is the organ by which the local community effects true communion among the members actually living there;

The prelate, who is a member and also the president of the canonry chapter and by his own authority, governs the canonry according to the norms that are detailed further on;

The prelate's council, constituted in part by members designated by the canonry chapter through election, has real responsibilities in the governance of the canonry to be carried out along with the prelate according to the norms established in law.


The canonry chapter has precedence over the prelate and his council only when it treats of those matters which, according to the norms of these Constitutions, pertain explicitly to the canonry chapter acting collegially. In other matters the canonry chapter does not have precedence over the prelate and his council. Recourse in devolutivo to the abbot general is assured by number 304 of the Constitutions.

The Canonry Chapter


A canonry chapter is the college of all members incorporated by perpetual vows into a particular canonry. It is also one of the organs by which the canonry governs itself as an autonomous moral person within the context of the Order. By its activity the canonry chapter implements that collegiality which is rooted in the mutual responsibility of all members of the canonry and which directs the particular mission of the community.


The canonry chapter may participate in the government of the canonry in several ways.[4-1]

  1. By a collegial act, by which all members including the prelate, with equal right, decide issues by a majority vote;

  2. By consent: as when the prelate needs the consent of the majority of the canonry chapter in order to place a valid act. In such cases, however, the canonry chapter cannot compel the prelate to act.

  3. As often as the prelate with his council wishes to, or must, hear the mind of the canonry.


The participation of the canonry chapter in the government of the canonry is required as follows:

  1. The canonry chapter must act collegially:

    1. in all elections within its competence(nn. 111, 114, 126);
    2. in determining the manner of procedure in the canonry chapter (n. 98);
    3. in determining the duration of the office of the prelate to be elected and in determining the age limit, which when completed, the prelate to be elected must resign from office (nn. Ill, 112.2);
    4. in determining the number of the members of the prelate's council, who must be elected by the canonry chapter(n. 116);
    5. in determining which superiors, as such, are to be chosen as members of the council (n. 1 16);
    6. in deciding which matters, other than those determined in law, may be handed over to the prelate's council (n. 117);
    7. in introducing the proper procedures affecting mandates and proxies according to norm 267 (cf. n. 98);
    8. in determining the degree of autonomy of a dependent house (n. 287.8);
    9. in petitioning the elevation of a canonry to the dignity of abbey (n. 290);
    10. in reviewing and abrogating its own decrees (n. 332; cf. n. 100);

  2. The consent of the canonry chapter is required
    1. in order for an administrator, in a particular case, to dispose of matters according to n. 245.
    2. in order for a canonry, in the case of a transitus, to receive a member from another canonry of our Order.

  3. The canonry chapter must be heard:
    1. before a new dependent house is established, and also before a dependent house is constituted as a new canonry (n. 287.2.3);
    2. in the case in which a canonry has been suppressed and the community is to be united with another canonry. (n. 296). The prelate acting collegially with his council may more precisely determine whether in a particular case not foreseen by law the canonry chapter must give its consent or simply be heard.


It is the right of the canonry chapter to propose issues to be treated, and to review the execution of its decisions. Decisions as to procedures in the canonry chapter are to be determined by the canonry chapter itself.


The canonry chapter shall be convened at least once a year. Moreover, the prelate is responsible for convoking the chapter as often as a quarter of the perpetually professed religious ask it.


Decisions of the canonry chapter oblige all those for whom they are made.

The House or Community Chapter


Besides the canonry chapter, embracing all those perpetually professed members of the canonry, there is to be a house or community chapter, which is constituted of all members who will point of fact live in a certain community (monastery, dependent house, mission) or in some other group of confreres.


Since the house or community chapter is an organ by which the local community or group of confreres pursues true communion among all its members, it will ordinarily conduct its affairs in a fraternal manner, bringing to realization a care and concern for each and every member. When there is need to place a juridical act, the chapter should proceed according to norms established by the canonry chapter.


The house or community chapter, all factors being weighed, has the same rights as the canonry chapter to determine its own mode of procedure, keeping intact the rights of the canonry chapter.


The prelate presides in the house chapter of the monastery. In other communities the superior presides.


Before all else the house or community chapter is responsible:

  1. to promote genuine communion by exchanging information, by fostering the common good, by increasing a communitarian sense of responsibility and by demonstrating a sincere concern for actualizing common life;

  2. to examine the ways in which the life of prayer and the work of the apostolate are to be ordered;

  3. to search out means by which, in accordance with the lessons of experience, the Constitutions are to be realized in daily life;

  4. to examine criteria and means for the admission and formation of candidates;

  5. to take care of the spiritual and material health of all members, taking into consideration the peculiar needs of each member;

  6. to prepare matters to be treated in the canonry chapter;

  7. as the brothers become accustomed little by little to this mode of fraternal colloquium, to institute a common review of the mind and activity of both the community and the individuals and gradually to introduce the practice of fraternal correction;

  8. to establish local customs.


Community meetings, which should be announced to the confreres in timely fashion, should be frequently convened in the houses and communities. Lest spontaneity be stifled, too rigid a determination concerning the frequency of community meetings should be avoided. Thus the confreres should be called to these meetings as often as the superiors judge necessary or whenever some confreres (the exact number can be decided by the chapter) ask for it. However, a house chapter, at which the confreres ought to participate as fully as possible, should be convened at least four times a year.

The Office of Prelate


The prelate, member of the canonry chapter and its head, should preside over and animate the canonry he governs. While on a human level equal to his brethren he is distinguished by the service of his leadership; he should "deem himself happy to serve them in loving care"[4-2]

Placed over a community in the ministry of leadership and exercising his office with pastoral care in word and example, he above all should maintain a careful balance between the members as individuals and the community as a whole, always carefully seeking the spiritual and material advancement of both. For that reason and with the active cooperation of each and every confrere, the prelate should promote the "communion", which all have freely vowed, by his government, by exhortations, and when necessary, by precept.


Besides being a major superior, the prelate as the Ordinary of all the religious of his canonry is endowed with the power of jurisdiction in both the internal and external forum. Acting according to the norms concerning governance of the canonry, he executes whatever he can decide by his own authority, or whatever must be treated and decided with the canonry or house chapter or with his council.


As the president of the priestly community, the prelate should be the inspiration and the coordinator of the pastoral activity of his community within the limits of the program of the diocesan apostolate.


To be eligible for election as prelate, a priest must be thirty years old and perpetually professed as a member of the Order for at least five years. He should be endowed with those qualities which would make him suitable to govern the canonry for which he is elected.


The prelate is elected by the canonry chapter. It is the right of that same canonry chapter to determine by collegial act not only whether the prelate shall be elected for life or for a term of office but also in either case at which age he must offer his resignation. If the term of office is preferred, the chapter itself shall decide the number of years which ordinarily will not be more than twelve years nor less than six years. When the predetermined term of office has been reached, he may be immediately re-elected.


Each canonry shall determine at what time antecedent to the election, the canonry chapter shall decide on the length of term of office and the age limit at which retirement shall be mandatory. A prelate who intends to resign his office, whether by reason of having attained the age limit, or for other reasons, is to offer his resignation to the abbot general, who having considered the matter seriously and, in so far as possible, having heard the mind of the definitors of the Order, shall then decide what is to be done.


Whether the prelate is elected for life or for a term determined by the canonry chapter, the General Chapter or, outside the time of a General Chapter, the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order, may terminate the prelate's responsibility, provided that there has been a canonical visitation and it has been duly determined that the prelate is incapable of governing the canonry.


If the prelate of any canonry, elected for life, becomes unequal to the responsibility of continuing the full government of his canonry, yet for some other valid reason it does not seem advisable that he resign, he may be granted a coadjutor with the right of succession. In these cases the reason must be adequately demonstrated and approved by the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order. Even when an abbot is unwilling, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, may impose a coadjutor. The election of a coadjutor is to be carried out according to the norms found in the Order of Election of a Prelate of the Order of Premontre.



The prelate's council is one of the organs by which the canonry within the context of the Order governs itself. The council, acting with the prelate, shall care for the good of the canonry, when this is not left to the canonry chapter. Therefore, the prelate and the council must present an accounting of the administration to the canonry chapter.


Parity is to be maintained in the constitution of the council between those members elected by the canonry chapter and those appointed by the prelate. The number of councilors to be taken from among the perpetually professed and superiors is to be determined collegially by the canonry chapter.


Likewise, the canonry chapter is to determine what else, besides those responsibilities fixed in law, may be assigned to the council.


The prelate must act collegially with the council in the following cases:

  1. in the erection (n. 287.2) and suppression of a dependent house;

  2. in the raising of a dependent house to a canonry (n. 287.3);

  3. in seeking the consent of the abbot general for the suppression of a dependent house (n. 287.3);

  4. in introducing customs affecting the whole canonry;

  5. in introducing changes in prayer and apostolate which are a major concern to the community;

  6. in introducing changes in the form of common life;

  7. in changing the competence of the canonry chapter in accord with norm of number 96;

  8. in setting the agenda for the canonry chapter;

  9. in defining the procedures of the council itself (n. 122);

  10. in determining whether and when a confrere sent for the sake of assisting the canonry may participate in capitular activities (n. 243.1);

  11. in anticipating or delaying the election of the prelate according to number 265.


The prelate needs the consent of the council:[4-3]

  1. in determining the number of superiors and officials (n. 125);

  2. in defining the nature and the limits of the power of a dependent house (n. 131);

  3. in the admission of candidates to the novitiate (n. 149);

  4. in admitting confreres to first profession or renewal of vows;

  5. in re-admitting a confrere, who legitimately left at the profession. (n. 165);

  6. in admitting confreres to final vows (n. 166. i);

  7. in determining the course of studies for the confreres;

  8. in organizing various affairs of an administrator, when the need arises (n. 245);

  9. in anticipating or delaying elections according to norm 266.1;

  10. in determining a sum of money, which the prelate may not exceed, for extraordinary expenses (n. 273);

  11. for acts of alienation and those other acts addressed in can. 638.3;

  12. approval of the annual budget for the administration of goods (n. 278);

  13. in deciding the norms for the administration of goods (nn. 272 and 279);

  14. in approving the inventory of the canonry's patrimony;

  15. for the construction of a new building, or the notable demolition or renovation of buildings;

  16. in adopting a community of a suppressed canonry according to norm 296;

  17. for sending away a religious in perpetual vows in the case of grave external scandal or in the case of most serious and imminent harm to the community (n. 321);

  18. in granting a transitus, properly speaking, to another canonry (n. 323);

  19. to enter civil court action in the name of the community;

  20. in granting permission for residence outside a house of the Order but not beyond a year, except in the case of health reasons, studies or an apostolate exercised in the name of the Order (n. 31 1);

  21. in determining the time and manner of probation in the case of a transfer from another institute to our Order (n. 322.3).


The Prelate must hear the council:

a. for validity of the act:

  1. in allowing suitable confreres to be sent for assistance to other canonries or in admitting such from another canonry;

  2. in excluding from subsequent profession for a just reason someone who has completed his time of temporary profession (n. 315).

b. not however for the validity of the act:

  1. in appointing confreres to a determined office whether within or outside the canonry;

  2. in all matters of some importance.


The prelate must convene the council at least every other month or as often as two council members ask that it be convoked. In order to proceed validly, the majority of the council members must be present.


The details of council procedure are to be determined by the council itself.


In dependent houses, the house chapter may perform the function of the council. If, however,it seems expedient, the prelate may establish a council in dependent houses according to the norms for the council of the canonry. The same may be done in other ~oups of confreres.

Other Superiors


To share responsibility, whether in the government of the canonry or pastoral care, the prelate must appoint superiors and officials as cooperators with whom he can work, according to the principle of subsidiarity.


In determining the number of superiors and officials who will be necessary for effective governance in the monastery, in dependent houses, in the missions and in the works of the apostolate, the prelate shall hear the mind of the community concerned and have the consent of his council.


The responsibilities entrusted to these cooperators are to be determined more precisely by the character of the community, group or work over which they preside.


The prelate shall name superiors and officials to remain in office at his will and at the same time he may specify a definite term of office, at the end of which these superiors and officials should at least offer their resignation. Before the appointment of a prior, subprior or circator as well as a regular superior, considering however n. 125, he should consult the community concerned. Such a consultation may be carried out, in place of a vote, by various means of dialogue undertaken by the prelate with the confreres.


The superiors and officials shall be granted the necessary faculties according to the principle of subsidiary to carry out their functions properly in union with the prelate, who is the head of the entire canonry.


The prelate shall choose as prior a solemnly professed priest with whom he may harmoniously exercise a pastoral care of the confreres and to whom, in his own absence, he may be able to commit the government of the community. Other duties may be given to the prior which are compatible with his responsibility.

Dependent Houses

A dependent house is that which, although it enjoys a certain autonomy, constitutes nevertheless an integral part of the canonry.


According to the principle of subsidiarity, decisions and actions which can be undertaken by the local community, should be left to that community. This principle presupposes, therefore, an interdependence which will permit "communion" to be fostered within the community and at the same time promote good relations with other communities. For this reason, the nature and limits of the appropriate power to be given to each dependent house must be determined by the prelate with the consent of his council and with the advice of the chapter of the dependent house, or, in particular cases, in consultation with the council of the local superior. Such determinations must be put in writing.


Since the structure of the Order presupposes the autonomy of houses, dependent houses which have been erected with the intention of their becoming independent should do so as soon as possible after the necessary steps have been taken.

The Quasi-Canonry


The prelate of a canonry, with the consent of his council and having heard the chapter of a dependent house, may seek the status of quasi canonry for that house if: the dependent house has 8 solemnly professed confreres; the house has reached such a stage of autonomy that it can be raised to a canonry; the canonry chapter acting collegially and in writing has granted to the delegated superior and the chapter of a dependent house nearly all powers. The prelate of the canonry, with the consent of his council and having heard the chapter of the dependent house, may petition for the status of a quasi-canonry. Status as a quasi-canonry can be granted once and then renewed an additional time by the abbot general with the consent of the Order's definitors.

Once this recognition is granted at least two years before a General Chapter, the superior of the quasi-canonry must be convoked to the General Chapter and the house chapter has the right of electing and sending its own delegate to that same chapter.


In the same manner as prescribed for strictly filial houses in Const. 287.8, so in particular fashion, the limits of the autonomy and the rights and obligations of the members of the quasi-canonry are to be set down in writing in an agreement entered into by the canonry chapter and the quasi-canonry.

The Abbot Founder and the Father Abbot of Men


It is fitting that for some time founding canonries should assist new canonries so that the new canonries may achieve an ordered growth and development. Therefore, besides the usual contracts which regulate relations between a founding canonry and a daughter house, certain rights and obligations are conferred on the abbot-founder, who with the goods of his own canonry established the new canonry or re-established an extinct canonry. This applies to the father abbot who succeeds the founding abbot.


The rights and obligations of the abbot-founder are these alone:

  1. He must be consulted before the daughter church undertakes a new foundation;

  2. He may demand, as often as he wishes, a report on the state of the daughter house in both spiritualities and materialities;

  3. He has the right of visitation at any time; this right, however, should not be exercised in those years in which an ordinary visitation is to be instituted, except for serious reasons;

  4. For other business of consequence, he has the right of giving advice;

  5. He has the care of vacant daughter churches, the right of presiding at the election of a new prelate and of confirming the election in the name of the abbot general;

  6. He may receive petitions and appeals from religious of the daughter church;

  7. He has the right to intervene with advice in any notable extraordinary expenses and in those actions by which the condition of the house may be worsened.


The father-abbot who immediately succeeds the abbot-founder:

  1. has the right and obligation to review agreements entered into by his predecessor with the daughter canonry, or if conditions warrant, to propose a new contract;

  2. also has care of a vacant daughter canonry, and in the case that the abbot general is impeded, he is to preside at the election of the new prelate

The Father-Abbot of Sisters and the Provost


Considering the bonds arising from profession and communion of life, the figure of the father-abbot of a canonry of sisters is to be seen as the bond joining the exempt sisters with the Order. For the father-abbot, as an external superior, has a particular responsibility, determined in the sisters' own Constitutions, to watch over the life to be lead by the sisters according to the spirit of the Order, especially by means of canonical visitation. It is his responsibility, having the agreement of the prioress with her council and having heard the community, to appoint a confrere as provost.


The provost, who is to serve also as the rector of the church, is responsible for the spiritual care of the sisters. He is also to assist the prioress and her council by suggestions in matters temporal and spiritual without, however, intervening in the internal government of the house.

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In order that religious life in our Order may be truly responsive to both the demands of the Gospel and the aspirations of human nature, as well as to the particular character of each individual vocation, candidates are to be initiated gradually but surely into our way of life.


The scope of formation is: To help the candidate to respond faithfully to his divine vocation, so that he may grow harmoniously into a mature human and Christian person. To be present to the candidate so that he may sincerely develop a sense of Christian responsibility and may learn to dedicate himself, his qualities, and his talents to his confreres and to the Church in apostolic activity.


The entire community has a real role in forming candidates so that the living faith and sincerity of life of each of the confreres, whether they live in the community or outside of it, are to contribute greatly to the process of formation. The awareness of such influence must also be a stimulus to the community, so that, taught by experience, they may renew local observances and customs.


The fundamental elements of formation should be the same for all confreres of the Order all over the world, allowing for a sound pluriformity. Among these fundamental elements there must be an initiation, given in the light of the particular charism of the Order and its history, into religious and community life as well as Sacred Scripture, liturgy, theology and the sense of apostolic mission.[5-1]


The time of initiation into community life should actually and concretely prepare the candidates for the life which they will be leading afterward. As the candidates grow toward human and christian maturity opportunity should be given them to develop and manifest a sense of personal responsibility and freedom. They should also be allowed a gradual participation in contributing to the progress of the community and afterwards helping to arrive at community decisions.


In so far as possible, training is to be given to the individual confreres so that each may learn how to develop his talents and potential and how to use them in the service of the community and church ministry.


Various stages of education and formation should be suitably accommodated to the particular conditions of the brethren, and when there is question of making decisions which affect them, they also should be heard.



In addition to common law, the following norms must be observed in regard to the stages leading to full incorporation in our communities.



In Christ each person is called by the Holy Spirit to his proper ministry (cf. I Cor. 12:6 ff.). Those who believe they are called to serve God and the brothers according to our manner of living are to be admitted as candidates, unless there is a canonical impediment or a positive doubt concerning the genuineness of the vocation. On the other hand, only those should be accepted who possess the qualities, at least potentially, by which they may contribute effectively to the life and work of our communities.


Those who are considered suitable for religious life are admitted to the novitiate by the prelate with the consent of his council, manifested secretly, having first heard the opinion of the director of postulancy, if there is one.



Where the postulancy is introduced, the postulants, for some period of time determined by the individual canonries, remain under the direction of a suitable religious, even though this probation period may, with the permission of the prelate, be carried out outside a house of the Order.



In order that the novitiate be valid, it must be made in a house of the Order duly designated for this purpose by the prelate. It must also include at least twelve months spent in the community of the novitiate itself.


With due regard for the prescriptions in canons 647 and 648, absence from the novitiate house which lasts more than three months, either continuous or interrupted renders the novitiate itself invalid. An absence of more than 15 days must be made up.


When there are permitted periods of formative activity carried on outside the novitiate house to complete the formation of the novices, the entire time spent outside the novitiate is added to the twelve months required for the validity of the novitiate. Including this time, the total time of the novitiate should not exceed two years.

154 .

If when the novitiate is completed there is still doubt about the novice's suitability, the prelate can extend the novitiate, but not beyond six months. This applies even where there is a two-year novitiate.


Unity of mind and heart must prevail between the prelate, the novice master and the novices. This necessary union, which is the fruit of genuine charity, is necessary, for the formation of novices.


In our Order, all candidates, whether they have entered with a view toward the priesthood or not, can be formed in the same novitiate. If a lay brother is allowed to advance to the diaconate or to the priesthood, the novitiate does not have to be repeated.


A novice may freely leave the Order or be dismissed by the prelate for a just cause. The prelate, however, should proceed carefully and before dismissing a novice hear the master of novices unless a special reason intervenes.


If a man changes his mind and aspires to enter the Order again, and whether he is to be received either into the same canonry or into another, he is obliged to repeat the entire time of the prescribed novitiate, Where there has been introduced the custom of a two year novitiate, the novice who has duly fulfilled the requirement of a canonical novitiate of twelve months, and then legitimately left the novitiate during the second year, can be re-admitted by the prelate with the consent of his council, without being required to repeat the whole novitiate, but the second year can be extended for some time by the prelate, but not beyond six months.


The prelate, for a just cause, may permit that first profession be anticipated, but by not more than fifteen days.


To establish a novitiate does not require the permission of the Apostolic See. Each canonry by law is a house, in which the novitiate may be carried out. The prelate may also constitute a novitiate in a house that is dependent on a canonry. It is the Abbot General, however, who, with the consent of the Definitors of the Order, may permit the novitiate in a house dependent on the Order.

To erect a second or third novitiate within the same canonry requires a written decree given by the Abbot General with the consent of the Definitors of the order.

Temporary Profession


When the novitiate is completed, it is the right of the prelate with the consent of his council to admit a novice to profession. Beforehand, he is to consider the report of the master of novices. He should also hear anyone else whom the matter concerns. Moreover, as the profession approaches, he should inform the house chapter in sufficient time so that each one is given the opportunity of manifesting his considered judgment on the suitability of the candidate.


The novice, upon completing the novitiate, may profess temporary vows for a number of years which should be neither less than three nor longer than six. In a particular case for solid reasons the temporary profession may be extended by the prelate, such that however, the entire time in temporary vows does not exceed nine years.


When the time for which the vows were professed has elapsed, there is to be no delay in the renewal of vows. The renewal of temporary vows is dependent upon the prelate admitting those to be professed to such a renewal with the consent of the council.


Before first profession members should cede the administration of their temporal goods to whomever they choose and they freely dispose of the rights of use and usufruct in writing. A will which is valid in civil law should be made at least before perpetual profession.


Whoever legitimately leaves the Order after completing the novitiate or after profession, may be re-admitted by the Prelate with the consent of his council without the burden of repeating the novitiate; it is the right of the Prelate to determine a suitable period of probation prior to the profession of temporary vows and a time of temporary vows before solemn profession according to cc. 655 and 657.

Solemn Profession in our Order


It is the right of the Prelate with the consent of his council to admit to public perpetual vows, called in our Order solemn vows. As the profession approaches he is first to inform the members of the canonry in sufficient time so that each one is given the opportunity of manifesting his considered judgment on the suitability of the candidate. The solemn profession may be anticipated for a just cause but not beyond three months. In order that the perpetual profession be fully effective, it is most desirable that preceding it a sufficiently lengthy period of time for immediate preparation be designated. It is left to each canonry to determine or modify the time and form of this period of preparation. Profession of solemn vows in the Order is carried out according to our own rite approved by the Holy See.


Those who are admitted to solemn profession in our Order must renounce beforehand their goods and make that renunciation in a manner which, in as much as possible, is also valid according to civil law and takes effect from the day of the profession. By such renunciation they lose the very capacity for acquiring or possessing and therefore acts contrary to the vows of poverty are invalid. They must surrender any goods which come to them after the renunciation to the canonry to which they belong according to the locally accepted practice. Those bound by the perpetual vow of chastity in the Order invalidly attempt marriage.



Juniors, before entering into the ecclesiastical disciplines, should be properly educated in undergraduate studies, especially in the humanities and sciences in the manner in which youth in their regions prepare for higher studies. If it is not possible to provide facilities for such studies, prelates should send their students to some well equipped institution.


In the house of studies there must flourish a common life which is accomodated to the situation of the students but nevertheless in accord with the spirit of the house of profession.


The master of professed should diligently inquire about the application and progress of the students and fraternally work with the prefect of studies to whom, along with the instructors, falls the responsibility to direct the studies of the students.


Where there is a commission on studies, it should include representatives of the professors and students as well as of the community. This is true because the studies of our Juniors have great bearing on community life.


Ecclesiastical studies are to be carried out according to the discipline of the Church in such manner that they begin with attention to the mystery of salvation, so ordered that the students may grasp the meaning, order, and pastoral purpose of ecclesiastical studies, and at the same time may be aided in deepening and penetrating their own life with faith.


Installation in the Ministries


The ministries of lector and acolyte, the common law being observed, may be conferred on any suitable religious. They are conferred by one's proper prelate, whether an abbot or prior de regimine, after the confrere aspiring to them has presented a freely written and signed petition to his own prelate.

Promotion to Orders


Only those solemnly professed, about whom it can be conjectured that they will be suitable and worthy priests or deacons, may be advanced to the orders of diaconate and priesthood.


Candidates to the diaconate, either permanent or transitional, and to the priesthood, must receive and exercise the ministries of lector and acolyte for a suitable period of time. The right of dispensing them from receiving these ministries is reserved to the Holy See. Candidates for the diaconate, before they are promoted to this order, must present to their prelate a handwritten and signed declaration, by which they testify that they knowingly and willingly are ready to receive the sacred order and devote themselves perpetually to the ecclesiastical ministry at the same time seeking to be admitted to the order which they will receive.


Observing other elements in common law, according to the privilege of the Order, solemnly professed religious, in possession of dimissorial letters from their prelates, may receive holy orders on Sundays or other feast days, even consecutively, from any Catholic bishop whom they prefer, even a guest, validly and licitly.[5-2]


Before anyone may be promoted to sacred orders, the prelate shall see to it that cc. 1050, 1051 and 1052.2 be observed.



Those who accept from the community the immediate responsibility for formation should have skill in the necessary fields, as well as experience so that the responsibility given to them may he faithfully carried out. They should know well the mentality and the values of the social milieu from which the candidates come. The responsibility of forming members is an apostolic responsibility which may be carried out by a group of persons whose qualities, working together, can increase the effectiveness of formation.


There must always be a novice master with his own proper responsibility; he must be at least 30 years of age. The master of novices shall draw up concrete norms for the formation of the novices. These norms must be approved by the prelate and his council. The master should frequently call the novices in, listen to them, inspire them, correct their negligences and lead them to more perfect things by his counsel.


The directors of formation shall employ great effort in training novices and juniors according to the mind of these Constitutions.



Once the regular course of studies is completed, every confrere should earnestly continue spiritual and doctrinal development, being conscious of the advances in the sciences, and especially the ecclesiastical sciences, as well as taking into account the development both of the human community and of the needs of the various apostolates.


Continuing formation is concerned not only with intellectual knowledge, but more especially with the human development of the whole person so that the confreres may better serve their community for the good of the people of God.


The community should provide not only the necessary funding, but also the time, so that confreres, in accordance with their own talents, may be able to perfect their own gifts and knowledge by study.


University studies are commended even when these do not immediately follow the normal course of studies. In certain cases the opportunity should be provided confreres of giving themselves over to continuing formation, even suspending apostolic work for a time.

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The General Chapter


The prime purpose of the General Chapter is to give expression to and promote the bond of charity, the unity and the charismatic vitality of the entire Order. It is also to be a fraternal dialogue and a pastoral colloquium in which there is to be communication concerning the experiences and contemporary questions of religious life and the apostolates of our communities. It is to be a reflection of the manner in which the Order must respond to the needs of the modern Church and world. It is also to concern itself with the ways and means of affording solutions for the difficulties of the communities of the Order. It is to be the forum of review and watchfulness concerning the fidelity with which the houses and canonries manifest the charism of the Order. To this end the General Chapter, as the supreme authority in the Order, establishes laws and suitable norms, and shall be sometimes a fraternal, sometimes a judicial forum, in rooting out those obstacles, whether in persons or communities, which obstruct the development of "communio". It may reserve to itself those matters of importance which it considers as proper to itself as the sole supreme authority in the Order.


The General Chapter is a college comprised of the abbot general, who by right is its president, and delegates of the houses of the Order as well as the officials of the Order.

1. The following must be summoned to the General Chapter, except in the case provided for in n. 263.

    1. the abbot general and all reigning prelates;

    2. the definitors of the Order, an abbot general emeritus, the procurator general and the provisor of the Order;

    3. the superior and one deputy from each quasi-canonry duly recognized as such by the definitory of the Order (cf. Const. 133. 2);

    4. one deputy from each canonry, elected by the members of the canonry chapter, with the exception of those who are members of a house chapter or community, which has the right of having its own delegate according to the second part of this norm;

    5. one deputy from each house chapter or community properly recognized as such according to paragraph 2;

    6. the provosts of the exempt canonries of nuns of our Order.

  1. Those house chapters or communities which have at least eight solemnly professed members, and which have their own identity and also are recognized as such two years before the celebration of the General Chapter, both by the canonry chapter and the definitory of tt~e Order (also have the right to send a depu~). That recognition must be communicated to all canonries by the definitory of the Order.

    All the above mentioned must be called to the General Chapter; they enjoy deliberative vote in the chapter and are bound to attend, unless there intervenes a legitimate reason. Within three months of the notice of convocation, this reason must be communicated to and weighed by the definition of the Order.

  2. To a General Chapter:

a. prelates, legitimately impeded, are bound to send a delegate;
b. superiors of quasi-autonomous houses, legitimately impeded, may send a delegate;
c. If a deputy is legitimately impeded, there is to be a new election, if in the actual election
no one else by a separate vote was designated as a substitute. If there is not time for
arranging a new election, that one is the substitute deputy who obtained the next highest
number of votes after the elected deputy in the last ballot of the election.

5. Since no one may receive more than a simple mandate (proxy vote), a capitular who is legitimately impeded can appoint a delegate who may substitute conditionally as his proxy; he may even designate a second, a third, or a whole series.


The abbot general is a member and the head of the General Chapter, presiding over it by right. In the event that the abbot general is prevented from being present, and could not appoint a delegate, the first definitor of the Order shall be president.


To decide all questions which cannot be treated by the entire General Chapter, there shall be constituted by secret ballot four definitors of the Chapter, who shall act collegially with the abbot general. In addition to reigning abbots, other capitulars may also be elected definitors of the Chapter.


To avoid having a report about each and every house of the Order during a General Chapter, the abbot general shall be charged with the preparation of a general report on the state of all houses of the Order.


The ordinary General Chapter shall meet at least every sixth year. The General Chapter shall be convened, moreover, as often as the definitory of the Order shall deem it necessary, having in mind the needs of the Church and the Order in the modern world.


Announcement of a General Chapter shall be made to all canonries twelve months before its celebration. At least three years before the General Chapter, a secretariate shall be formed by the abbot general with the definitors which shall prepare for the General Chapter. This secretariate shall consist of a chairman named by the abbot general with the definitors of the Order and a sufficient number of assistants selected by the chairman under the vigilance of the definitors of the Order.


The definitory shall take care that the updated order for the celebration of the General Chapter is prepared.

The Abbot General


The abbot general will be the principal agent of unity among the abbeys, priories and houses of the Order and the principal agent of peace within and outside. He will be the first pattern of a charity that serves, an exemplar for prelates and confreres. He will be the pursuer of the spiritual life and vitality of the whole Norbertine community. He presides in the General Chapter with the definitory of the Chapter. Between General Chapters, he is the executive of the Chapter in his own person and with the definitors of the Order. He presides over the Order with his own proper authority, and he governs the Order according to the norms of law. To him must be given that cooperation on the part of prelates and all members which will provide for the welfare and the achievement of a perfect union of the entire Order.


The abbot general presides by right in the General Chapter and to it alone is he subject in the Order. He governs the entire Order as the supreme moderator. He exercises his office and has that authority over the members, canonries and circaries of the Order which is compatible with the office of abbot general of the Order.


He is the immediate superior of the governing prelates of the Order. As regards those members subject to their own prelates, he has the right of precept only in the case of visitation, recourse and appeal or as often as the matter concerned comes under his competence. In these last instances he may not take away an appointment imposed by virtue of the vow of obedience, unless the religious' own prelate, having been asked to do so, refuses.


He may call religious to offices directly connected with the government of the Order. In these cases, and as far as the office is concerned, that religious is subject to the abbot general. The religious, nonetheless, retains his incorporation in his own canonry. If he must call other religious to responsibilities not directly connected with Order government, prelates who have been asked to provide a religious in this fashion should provide them willingly and quickly.


At the time of his election, the abbot general must be a priest and at least five years solemnly professed in our Order. The abbot general remains in office for life. When, however, he has reached seventy years of age, and when the General Chapter is in session, he should of his own accord or when properly requested, resign. He should do the same whenever failing health or some other grave reason shall in his judgment render him unequal any longer to carry the burden of government.


The abbot general shall reside in Rome and he ought not be absent from the Generalate for a notable length of rime without entrusting to the procurator general or an official of the Order tasks of his office which must be carried out.


Since the abbot general is to protect and animate the vitality of the Order in every way and tirelessly to foster fraternal union and cooperation among the canonries, he shall not neglect to send occasional letters of encouragement and circulate necessary information to the prelates and their confreres. Prelates for their part shall, at least three months before the General Chapter, submit to the abbot general a report on the state of their canonries. The vicars of the abbot general shall forward to the abbot general a report on the state of the circaries, as well as the major happenings in those circaries.


The abbot general, for the good ordering of his administration, shall maintain separate books in which significant facts concerning the government of the Order are inscribed. Therein also are to be recorded the deliberations of the definitory of the Order. These minutes are to be signed by himself and the definitors of the Order. These accounts, as well as all documents concerning the government of the Order, are to be kept in the Order's archives. Material which must be maintained in secrecy is to be kept in a private file, but when sufficient time elapses and there is no prejudice to justice, these are to be destroyed. When the office of abbot general becomes vacant, this private file is to be sealed. Only with urgent necessity and without removing any documents, may the vicar general have access to this file.


The acceptance of the resignation of the abbot general, as well as any consideration of his being removed from office is reserved to the General Chapter alone. Once an abbot general has legitimately resigned, he once again enjoys the active and passive voice, suspended for the duration of his time in office, whether in the house of his profession or in the canonry which he formerly governed.

The Definitory of the Order


The definitors of the Order, as counselors general (can. 627) assist the abbot general in the ordinary and extraordinary government of the Order. They should be competent persons, and as far as possible, they should represent the various linguistic regions. Nonetheless, without concern for origin, they should be animated by the simple desire of serving the entire Order.


The council which assists the abbot general in governing the Order consists of four definitors elected by an absolute majority in the General Chapter and remaining in office until the next ordinary chapter. They may be elected from among the prelates or priests of the Order. Priests elected should be at least thirty-five years of age and have been perpetually professed in the Order for at least five years. As often as the office of definitor is vacated outside the time of a General Chapter, the abbor general, with the consent of the remaining definitors, shall appoint a successor.


Maintaining intact the responsibility of the abbot general, at least one of the definitors of the Order shall collect, coordinate and disseminate news concerning the experiences and work of the chapters as well as information concerning the apostolates and missions.


At least once a year the definitors must meet with the abbot general to conduct the affairs of the Order. They must also meet as often as business occurs in which the abbot general needs the consent of the definitors. Only in the case of a dispensation from temporary vows and the dispensation for the required age to receive sacred orders may the abbot general seek their consent by letter.


Should an urgent situation arise for which the consent of the definitors cannot in any way be sought even by mail, the abbot general may act with the prior consent of the procurator general and another member of the curia of the Generalate.


It is the abbot general who convokes the definitory and in due time provides them with the agenda of the matters to be treated. However, if two definitors request a meeting, the abbot general must as quickly as possible convene the definitory. It is the right of each definitor to propose matters to the abbot general for consideration in the definitory. Accurate minutes of definitory meetings shall be drawn up and decisions and news concerning the members of the Order shall be communicated to them.


The acceptance of the resignation of a definitor, as well as his removal from office, shall pertain to the abbot general with the consent of the other definitors.

Officials of the Order


As the Order's official representative at the Holy See, a priest perpetually professed, eminent in knowledge, prudence and devotion to the Order, and best fitted for the responsibility, should be chosen as procurator general. His term of office extends to the next ordinary General Chapter, and before that time he cannot be removed without consultation with the Holy See. If, for any reason, the office becomes vacant between General Chapters, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, shall appoint a new procurator.


In those matters which pertain either to his religious obligations or to his office, the procurator general is subject to the abbot general alone, who may request of him, as frequently as he wishes, a report on his administration. Annually he shall submit for the approval of the abbot general an accounting of his receipts and expenditures. He shall also submit annually to the abbot general, a report on his activities which will assist the abbot general in preparing his own report for the General Chapter.


In handling matters with the Holy See which affect the entire Order directly or indirectly, the procurator general will always consult with the abbot general and without his consent he will not act. In matters of the individual houses to be handled with the Holy See, or in asking for personal privileges, he will need, in addition to the consent of the prelate of the house concerned, the consent of the abbot general.

Other than those cases cited above, he must be free, as often as, by reason of his office, he has to give information or an opinion concerning business brought to the Holy See or yet to be presented.


Unless it is a matter of the internal forum, individual religious should handle affairs with the Holy See through the procurator general. The religious should have obtained the approval of his respective prelate, always keeping intact his right of free communication in regard to both the Holy See and the procurator general.

The procurator general shall live in Rome and not leave without the permission of the abbot general. In his absence, a substitute who will perform the duties of the office should be designated with the approval of the abbot general.


The procurator general shall record those acts of his administration which are worthy of note and these records, and any other documents of particular importance, shall remain in the archives of the Order.


He shall be reimbursed for the expenses incurred in negotiations for a canonry or religious by the respective canonry.


The resignation of the procurator general may be received by the abbot general, having heard the definitors of the Order.


For the ordinary administration of the goods of the Order, the abbot general shall appoint a provisor of the Order. He shall do this in a session of the definitory of the ordinary General Chapter and with the consent of the definitors of the Chapter. He may appoint any perpetually professed member whom he judges most suitable for the responsibilities to be assumed.

Outside the time of the General Chapter, should this office become vacant for any reason, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, shall appoint a new provisor of the Order.


The provisor carries out his responsibility under the direction of the abbot general.


Taking into consideration the circumstances involved, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, shall establish the limits of competence of the provisor of the Order. These shall be communicated to him in his letters of appointment.


A postulator general shall be elected by the General Chapter to handle the causes of saints of the Order with the Holy See. If outside the time of the General Chapter this office should become vacant, the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order shall appoint a new postulator.


The archives of the Order shall be under the direction of an archivist appointed from among the perpetually professed members of the Order by the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the General Chapter. Outside the time of the General Chapter, as often as this office becomes vacant, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, shall appoint a new archivist.


It will be the archivist's principal responsibility to care for the acts of the general administration of the Order in the archives, to file them in an orderly fashion and to establish tables of contents.


In the public archives are to be kept those papers which are no longer necessary to the abbot general and which the abbot general himself shall each year hand over to the archivist.


The acceptance of the resignation of the archivist or his removal from office is reserved to the abbot general, having heard the definitors of the Order.


All officials of the Order shall work faithfully with the abbot general, following his direction in the carrying out of their functions. Those living in the Generalate, while retaining full incorporation in their respective canonries, are to comply faithfully with the directions of the abbot general in establishing the common life to be lived in the Generalate. Whoever is appointed to fill some office for the good of the Order shall be supported fittingly by him who made the appointment.

Members of the Order's commissions are named or confirmed by the definitory of the general chapter. Outside the time of a general chapter the appointment of a new member is to be done by the abbot general, having heard the definitors of the order and ordinarily after the commission itself proposes a candidate of proven competence.

Visitation and Visitators


As is to be seen in the Order of Visitation, visitations have as their prime object the increase of fidelity to "communio" which is the highest rule of our communities. Therefore, the first purpose of visitation is to confirm a dynamic spiritual life, strengthen legitimate local customs and see to the carrying out of the decrees of the General Chapter.


The definitory of the General Chapter shall in each General Chapter compile a list including the abbot general, prelates and other religious of the Order, who are judged suitable to fulfill correctly the responsibility of visitation. This list is to be submitted to the General Chapter for its approval.

From that list the definitory of the Order, acting collegially, by the authority of the General Chapter, chooses in due time Visitators to visit each canonry and provides them with letters confirming their appointment.

Outside the time of the ordinary General Chapter, and in case of necessity, the definitory of the Order has the faculty of supplementing this list.


To facilitate the appointment of good visitators, prelates before a General Chapter shall send to the abbot general a list of prelates and religious of the Order who are suited to fulfill correctly the responsibility of visitation.


Ordinarily there will be two visitators, one of whom is a prelate or definitor, the other a non-prelate. At least one visitator should be familiar with the customs, conditions, and language of the region in which the house is located. Moreover, one of the visitators, who would be free for this task, should remain for a time in the house visited. Visitators may not visit each other's houses and no visitator should be a blood relative of the prelate of the house under visitation.


If any religious is to be corrected. before anything is decided concerning him, he should first be heard by a visitator.


When the visitation is completed. data collected during it should be prudently brought to the attention of the prelate and council of the canonry or house: visited and the house chapter by the visitators so that fraternal and apt corrections may be promulgated where necessary.

Visitators should only correct those things which are·e contrary to the common law or against the Constitutions of the Order and the decrees of the General Chapter. More serious matters are to be referred to the competent authority.


The visitators shall examine carefully the minutes of the meetings of the prelate's council, sign their names to them and ought not to omit rightful praise or words of prudent correction. Visitators shall also maintain strict secrecy concerning matters which they have heard or learned during the course of the visitation.


Once the visitation is completed, the visitators should accurately report the general condition of the visited house not only in the protocol but also in the other reports to be given to the prelate of the canonry, to the abbot general, and to the General Chapter. In this last report they are also to give an account for the proper execution of their responsibility.


It is the right and duty of the abbot general, either by himself or through others, to see that the visitation reports are put into effect,


By reason of his office:

1. The abbot general at any time has the right of undertaking a regular visitation in any canonry or house of the Order.

2. The prelate has the same right in houses dependent upon his canonry. However, this right should not be used in those years in which the ordinary visitations are to be conducted in view of the General Chapter, except for serious reasons,

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The Order is partitioned into circaries by the General Chapter so that the needs and utility of the various regions, given their diversity and variety of customs, may be provided for.

In a circary, which is above all a fraternal union, are included all houses of the region or language whether autonomous or dependent. It is a task of the circaries to promote the unity of the Order and to take care that the decrees, norms, and directives of the General Chapter are carried out.


The vicar of the abbot general is the bond between the central government of the Order and the houses of his circary or region. At the same time he shall promote "communio" between the houses of the region. He shall be appointed by the abbot general, who beforehand will hear at least the mind of the prelates of the circary or region, should they wish to propose their own candidate.


The vicar of the abbot general prudently may call a meeting of the prelates, superiors and house deputies of his circary. While such a meeting does not have legislative power, it may concern itself with the coordination of ideas and actions, as well as giving mutual assistance, so that the bonds of charity may truly inform the life of the circary.


In each circary, the vicar of the abbot general shall deal with the communities in a fraternal way, collect information, and communicate this to the canonries, as well as the Abbot General and the Definitors of the Order according to n. 200 of these Constitutions.


When communication with the central government of the Order has been disrupted in a certain region because of special circumstances, the jurisdiction of the abbot general for the canonries and houses of this region falls upon the vicar himself, or if there is none or he is impeded, it falls to the prelate who is senior in office. Also, in such circumstances, the meeting of the prelates, superiors and deputies of houses in that region have the power to issue decrees concerning the more urgent questions, which otherwise would be within the province of the General Chapter.

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Mutual Assistance


After the example of St. Paul who had the care of all the churches, let the communities of our Order, joined together by the bond of charity, intensely nourish the spirit of mutual assistance. In order that a true communion between the communities may arise and be extended, it is proper that, just as it was said earlier for individuals in a community, our houses should willingly communicate with each other whatever may lead to the betterment of our way of life, prayer and work. If the need arises, let them not neglect to put into practice the spirit of that mutual concern by coming to the aid of the houses undergoing material or spiritual need. If a certain house should seem to lack the necessary vitality, and is unable to be helped efficaciously by the Order, it would perhaps be true mutual assistance if the suppression of that house be considered by the competent authority.


Religious, while remaining in the canonry of their profession, but who live in another canonry or house in order to help out there:

  1. may obtain the right of participating in the activity of the house or canonry chapter where they are living, except for the election of the prelate;

  2. while they retain only the right of voting in their own canonry for their own prelate, they can be elected to all the offices there;

  3. the preIates whose concern it is, acting collegially with their councils, should decide whether and when such a confrere may participate in the capitular activities of the community where he lives. Beforehand, the opinion of the canonry chapter should be sought as provided for in n. 161.


We ought to be also united by a particular bond of charity with others who have professed the canonical life. Let the mind and heart of our Order also be opened willingly to other groups of religious men and women.


A Vacant Canonry


When a canonry is vacant, the government of the canonry whether in material or spiritual matters resides with the prior as administrator. All is to remain unchanged in that state in which the prelate whose office has expired left it.

When some urgent necessity dictates, an administrator with the consent of his council, or in a particular case, with the consent of the canonry chapter, may handle certain matters. When the canonry is vacant, the administrator shall see to it that all documents of the house and the personal effects of the deceased prelate remain intact, in so far as possible.

It is within the abbot general's authority, having heard the definitors of the Order to impose an administrator ad nutum (in respect to his person) and for a prescribed time (in respect to the office), but only if there is a grave cause. Such an administrator ad nutum, in the manner of a true prelate, obtains all the rights and duties of a prelate, unless the abbot general, having heard the definitors of the Order, shall have restricted his power.

The Vacant Office of the Abbot General


When the office of abbot general is vacant outside the time of a General Chapter, the responsibility of abbot general with all the inherent rights falls in the interim to the first definitor. All others who have a direct part in the government of the Order or in the circaries remain in place. As the Order's vicar general, the first definitor of the Order, must go to the Generalate as soon as possible so that the ordinary business of administration suffers no delay and he can prepare for the election of a new abbot general. Besides the cases in which the abbot general needs the consent of the definitors of the Order, the vicar general of the Order in all matters of any importance which admit of no delay is to seek the opinion of the procurator general.



For any college of the Order which enjoys the right of election the following statutes are to be observed. If no provision is made, then canons 119~1 and 164-179 of the common law are to be observed.[8-1]

I. Elections in General


In order for an election to proceed, the office must be vacant, except in the case of an office bestowed for a determined time.

Before an election, perhaps certain questions must be resolved as, for instance, in the case of the election of a prelate.

An election is to take place within the time determined by the college whose right it is to elect.


Whoever has the right of convoking an election must convoke orally or by letter or notice all members of the college who have active voice, indicating the day, the time and the place of the election.

If it concerns an election for life, even though perhaps with an age limit imposed, the convocation of the electors before the office is vacant has no juridical effect.

In regard to offices which are actually committed for a determined time, all must be prepared in due time, so that on the day itself, when the determined length of office has expired according to c. 203. The election takes place immediately. For a just cause it can be anticipated, but not beyond six months, in which case the election takes effect when the office is vacant, that is, when the determined time has elapsed. If because of a just cause an election is delayed, it cannot be beyond three months, and the newly elected assumes the office immediately after he is confirmed, with no intervening vacancy.

a. proxies


Legitimately impeded confreres, whose impediment has been proven by the president of the election, can entrust a mandate to vote in their place to a specifically named confrere selected from among those who will be voting.


The letters by which proxies are designated, signed with name and surname, should be sent to the president of the election, who at all times has the right to decide in doubtful cases. The letters are to be sent in a sealed envelope containing nothing other than the appointment of the proxy; otherwise the proxy is invalid.

b. the president of the election


At the place, the date and the time of the election indicated in the letter of convocation, the election is instituted under the direction of the president of the election, who is not always the same as the president of the college.

c. convening of a chapter of election


The chapter of election is duly constituted by the roll call of all who have active voice, whether in themselves or through proxies. If anyone, who because of various titles, should have the right of casting a vote in his own name, he may cast only one vote. If anyone should have the right of voting both in his own name and by virtue of delegation, he has a double vote.


Two tellers and a secretary should be chosen by the chapter of election from among those voting.

d. the election


The senior teller notes secretly the names of those for whom votes were cast, together with the number of votes which each one received. At the request of the president of the election, the number of votes of all the candidates should be communicated to all the members of the college of the election.


Should one of the electors be present in the house in which the election takes place, but cannot participate in the election due to sickness, his signed ballot is to be collected by the tellers.


All the acts of the election are to be accurately described by the secretary and are signed by him and the president (by the definitors of the Chapter in case of the election of an abbot general), and the acts are to be signed by the scrutators and preserved in the files.


In all elections, that one is elected who has received an absolute majority of all the votes. If the required number of votes was obtained by no one, a second ballot should be started immediately, and if this again proves to be inefficacious, a third is to be initiated. Whenever no one has obtained an absolute majority of votes on the third ballot, a fourth ballot is begun, in which only those two candidates who received the greater number of votes on the third ballot have a passive but not active voice.


If the third ballot is inefficacious because of a tie, there is to be a fourth ballot in which only the 2 candidates who are senior in age and have received the same greater number of votes on the third ballot have passive voice while lacking active voice. The one who obtains the greater number of votes on the fourth ballot is elected. In case of a tie on the fourth ballot the older in age is elected.


When the election is announced, the consent of the elected is asked for by the president of the college.[8-2] If the president himself is elected, consent is sought by that person who is first among the members of the college according to the rules of precedence.


An election may also take place by compromise, observing the norms of law. A college may always postulate, as long as cc. 180-183 are accurately observed.

II. Particular Elections

a.  the election of an abbot general


When the office of the abbot general is vacant during the time of a General Chapter, before any other business is conducted, the election of a new supreme moderator is to take place under the presidency of the first definitor of the chapter. Should any issues not directly concerning the election are resolved before, those decisions lack all force and validity.


In the case of the vacancy of the office of the abbot general outside the time of any ordinary General Chapter, the vicar general of the Order convokes an extraordinary chapter of election, unless the ordinary general chapter will meet within a year. In the election of an abbot general outside the time of an ordinary General Chapter, prelates de regimine and only one deputy from each canonry are to be convoked, as well as the definitors of the Order and the procurator general.


Everything else regarding the election of the abbot general is determined by the Order for the Celebration of a General Chapter.

b.  election of a prelate


The election of a prelate is carried out according to the norms of the Order for Electing a Prelate of the Norbertine Order.

c. other elections


The president of the college needs the consent of his council to anticipate or delay an election. It is the right of the same president to convoke the college.


It is left to each canonry to issue norms for proxies and those who are entrusted with them in these elections, if local usage requires some different practice.


When several persons are to be elected on the same ballot for the same office, with the consent of the canonry chapter, there can be followed whatever method of balloting is currently being used according to the regional customs of any canonry.


General Norms


Members of the Order, who, considering themselves as the poor of Christ, have renounced ownership of goods through the solemn vow of poverty or free possession of them by a simple vow, are to be supported from a common fund, to which they also are faithfully to contribute whatever they have which must be given according to common law.


Ownership and the possession of goods in our Order belong to the moral persons, duly recognized by ecclesiastical law, who have the right of acquiring temporal goods and of keeping and administering the goods which are acquired. These moral persons are the canonry, the Order and the circary. Goods acquired by a dependent house belong, according to ecclesiastical law, to the moral person on whom the house depends unless special arrangements have been made. In all matters which relate to the dominion and possession of goods, the prescriptions of civil law should be observed in addition to the norms of ecclesiastical law. Civil corporations should be so set up that the income of the activities of the canonries may be used for the support of the community.


Let all to whom the administration of goods of the community is committed by reason of office and likewise those who use these goods, remember that they are not owners, but that each and every member is obliged to show true concern for common goods. Administrators are faithfully to give an accounting of their administration to those on whom the government of the entire community rests.


For the safekeeping of money, fixed assets and investments and for the fruitful administration of these, norms should be set up by the respective superior with the consent of his council (after the financial commission has been heard), so that no one not even the superior may freely dispose of these goods.


The superior needs the consent of his council for all expenses paid from the assets, except in the case of an urgent necessity. Taking into account local circumstances, the prelate shall determine, with the consent of his council, what sum of money he may not exceed for extraordinary expenses without the consent of his council.


The well-ordered administration of goods includes annual budgeting for ordinary and extraordinary expenses, and especially financial planning with expert assistance regarding foreseeable expenses and income.


Concerning acts of extraordinary administration of goods, the norms of ecclesiastical and civil law and the arrangements established by each canonry should be observed. For the validity of alienation and any other activity by which the patrimonial condition of the canonry can be worsened, there is required permission in writing given by the Prelate with the consent of the council. If, however, there is question of a matter which exceeds the highest amount defined by the Holy See for various regions, or concerns objects given in view of the Church or special works of precious art or history, there is also required the permission of the Holy See.

II. The Temporal Goods of the Community


Together with his council, the prelate manages the temporal goods of the canonry. He must entrust the ordinary administration to the provisor of the canonry appointed by him in the same manner as other officials are named.


The prelate and the provisor must be assisted effectively by a finance committee composed of those who share in the administration of the canonry's goods or those suitable by reason of true expertise in the field. Although this committee, which may be established through the intervention of the canonry chapter, has only a consultative function, the canonry chapter can give it a special mandate so that in matters of greater importance when the participation of the entire community would seem more necessary, the committee may carry out its function with a deliberative vote in deciding the matter.


At least once a year, and when it is provided for by the prelate's council, twice a year, the provisor shall submit the books of income and expenses for the examination and approval by the council of the canonry and should render an account of his administration. When this report has been properly concluded, if it is approved, it is signed by the prelate, the council, and if necessary by the financial committee, and is preserved in the archives while another authentic copy remains in the possession of the provisor. It is proper that the state of the canonry concerning its temporal goods be communicated to the canonry chapter. The abbot general has the right of demanding an account as often as he wishes.


Norms according to which money of the diverse works of the canonry are administered and kept, are set up by the prelate with the consent of the council (after the finance committee has been heard).

In dependent houses, the ordinary and extraordinary administration of goods should be more precisely determined in a special mandate by which the administration of the house is outlined.

All who have charge of the administration of goods, whether in dependent houses or in works of an apostolate, should at stated times render an account to the central administration, so that the temporal condition of the entire canonry and each dependent house, and also of the works of the apostolate, may be clearly known.

Even confreres who live outside the community should faithfully submit each year to the central administration of the canonry a record of income and expenses besides an inventory of furniture or moveable goods.

The Temporal Goods of the Order


Temporal goods belonging to the whole Order are administered under the supervision of the abbot general, who must entrust the ordinary administration to the provisor of the Order. Houses directly dependent on the Order are under the direction of the abbot general even with regard to temporal goods. It is proper that he entrust the ordinary care of such goods to an official deputed for this.


In all things which pertain to the administration of goods, the abbot general should be helped by the finance commission of the Order, which performs its function especially by giving counsel in solving questions pertaining to its competency.


Every year the provisor of the Order shall submit the books of income and expenses to the examination and approval of the definitory of the Order and the financial commission. Moreover, in the General Chapter, the provisor of the Order should submit a report concerning the Order's patrimony to the definitory of the General Chapter and should render an account of his administration.


The common fund of the Order, from which assistance is given for material necessities of canonries or houses, is built up especially from contributions freely paid by the canonries. It is the function of the General Chapter, acting upon the suggestion of the definitory of the Chapter and with the advice of the finance commission, to propose how each canonry or house may contribute to building up the common fund of the Order. Outside the time of the General Chapter, however, the abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order and after the finance committee has been heard, may seek extraordinary voluntary contributions either for the good of the entire Order or a circary or for the good of a canonry or community suffering special need. It pertains to the General Chapter, or outside the time of a General Chapter to the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order to dispense canonries which seem unable to make contributions.



Canonries also extend "communio" through the foundation of new communities, which, according to the tradition of our Order, are generally formed so that immediately, or in due time, they may attain autonomy.


Houses which are erected either to establish the Church or to meet the needs of the Church, will depend for some time from the founding house until they are able to assume full autonomy.


There are also other houses which, because of historical or geographical reasons, never arrive at full autonomy.

287. In erecting exempt religious houses the canonical norms are to be observed and the following conditions met:

  1. Before the erection of a house, the reasons which seem to demand such an establishment should be prudently weighed and an attentive examination should be made whether there is present a firm hope for expanding the Order

  2. A collegial decision of the prelate with his council is required for the erection of a dependent house. The canonry chapter must be heard beforehand so that it may manifest its determination to help the new foundation and realize that it has a great responsibility in this matter.

  3. In the case of a dependent house being elevated to a new canonry, there is again required, once the chapter of the founding canonry has been heard, the collegial action of the prelate with his council. Additionally, the prelate is to seek the approval of the abbot general with the consent of the definitory as a sign of union with the other communities of the Order.

  4. A decree of erection should be duly committed to writing by the founding prelate and everything should be arranged so that by all means provision for the support of the house is made.

  5. Everything should be prepared in order that the common life may be started as quickly as possible. It is required that in an autonomous house there be at least eight religious, of whom four should be in sacred orders, unless the definitory of the Order should have judged a lesser number to be sufficient.

  6. Religious sent to start a new canonry are immediately and definitively incorporated in the new canonry, without the intervention of the Holy See.

  7. The founding abbot has the right of presiding over the election of the first prelate of the new canonry.

  8. Houses, which on account of special circumstances are established as strictly filial houses, should obtain a certain degree of autonomy, which is to be determined by the chapter of the founding canonry.


A new canonry belongs to the circary of the region in which it is situated. It should retain no special juridical bond with the founding canonry unless otherwise determined in special contracts.


The establishment of a house which is not independent and which immediately depends on a circary belongs to the competent authority of that circary. For the erection of a house immediately dependent on the Order, the General Chapter is competent; outside the time of the General Chapter, the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order has competence.


It is the right of the General Chapter alone, when a canonry chapter acting collegially requests it, to raise a canonry to the status of an abbey.


From the very beginning of our Order our communities have undertaken pastoral care in parishes, and by a special concession of the Holy See,[8-3] priests of our Order exercise the care of souls even in secular parishes. It is desirable that only those parishes should be accepted in which several confreres may lead a common life. As forms of true communion, parish priories are especially recommended. As often as the care of souls is entrusted to the Order, agreements in canonical form should be entered into with the local Ordinary.



History teaches that our houses have been suppressed many times by civil governments and the members dispersed. Civil suppression, however, does not affect the existence of a community which, as a ecclesiastical moral person, continues to exist for the duration of time established by canon law. Fraternal union demands that they be supported not only by compassion but also by efficacious help in their trial, and by aid collected which will assist in the restoration of common life at a propitious time.


The condition of communities, which no longer seem to serve the Church effectively or which Offer no witness of true "communio", must be seriously examined. Various solutions can be considered to improve the state of a canonry where common life does not flourish, or which is suffering from a permanent lack of vocations or which lacks the means by which it may be properly supported. A canonry of this type, after its autonomy has been taken away, may be joined to another canonry, or if this union cannot be achieved, it may rather be suppressed for the good of the brothers living there.


After a canonical visitation has been duly carried out, the competent superiors along with the community in question should carefully consider the above mentioned solutions. Having heard all those whom it concerns, if a change in juridical condition must be decreed, the confreres should be brought to an agreement about it before the change is implemented.


In an extraordinary situation, the abbot general, taking into consideration all the circumstances, can grant for one time only that a canonry chapter can elect a prior de regimine in the place of an abbot, if the chapter for serious reasons so desires it. The change of the condition of an abbey into a sui iuris priory is reserved to the General Chapter alone.


If the autonomy of a canonry must be removed, a decree of the General Chapter is necessary, or outside the time of the General Chapter, a decree of the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order. In this case and once the remaining members of the community are heard, the community then may be united to another canonry with the agreement of the prelate and the consent of his council and under the conditions spelled out in the decree of union. However, each confrere will be allowed to choose the house of a new incorporation.


With the observance of the requirements of law, the suppression of a canonry is done in the same way by decree of the general chapter or outside the time of a chapter, by decree of the abbot general with consent of the definitors of the Order, after their local Ordinary has been heard.


The confreres of a suppressed canonry come under the jurisdiction of the abbot general until they duly transfer to a new house of incorporation. Prelates should willingly receive them into their houses. However, if they are unwilling to accept them, the abbot general has the right of obliging the father abbot or another prelate to receive them at least experimentally until their situation has been settled. This should be done within three years.


The abbot general should be concerned about confreres who are dispersed by a civil government. They may choose for themselves a house in which to live and, upon invitation of the abbot general, prelates should willingly receive them.


If any goods of a suppressed canonry remain, they pass to the patrimony of the Order, but a just portion should be given to the houses which have received the surviving members, and provision should justly be made for religious who perhaps may desire to return to the world. The abbot general, with the consent of the definitors of the Order, and after the finance committee has been heard, shall decide about the proper distribution of goods.



If anything decreed by the common deliberation of the General Chapter or the canonry or the community should not be observed by the brethren, it is up to the superiors especially that it not be passed by negligently but, with all charity, care should be taken for emendation and correction. It is the responsibility of the brethren to exercise fraternal correction discreetly in love.


As often as quarrels due to human frailty arise between brothers or between houses of the Order, every attempt must be made that these quarrels be settled as quickly as possible according to the spirit of the Gospel and the Rule of St. Augustine.


However, if the brothers themselves are unable to settle a serious dispute which has occurred, they should have recourse to some body or assembly composed of impartial members appointed according to norms laid down by the chapter of the house or canonry. Where judicial process must be instituted, the norms of canon law should be observed.

Recourse Against an Administrative Decree [8-4]


If someone feels injured by a decree of the prelate or by a penalty imposed by him or by a decree of a visitation, he is to have recourse to the abbot general according to canons 1732-1738. A petition for revocation of a decree imposing or declaring a penalty or recourse against such a decree has a suspensive effect.


It is very desirable whenever someone feels injured by a decree there not be contention between this person and the author of the decree but that care be taken by common counsel in finding an equitable solution between them. In this matter serious persons also may perhaps be used for mediation and study.


Before anyone proposes recourse, he must seek in writing from the author of the decree its revocation or emendation; by such a proposed petition, it is understood that suspension of the execution of the decree is also sought. The petition must be made within a peremptory time of 10 available days from when the decree was legitimately communicated.


It is allowed to have recourse immediately to the prelate against decrees emanating from authorities subject to him within a peremptory period of 15 available days. In this case and for validity, mention must be made about the decision of the authority inferior to the prelate. But if anyone then wishes to have recourse against the decision of his prelate to the abbot general, he must first seek in writing the revocation or emendation of the decision from the prelate within the peremptory time of 10 days. Likewise revocation or emendation of the degree must not be sought from the author in the cases mentioned in canons 57 and 1735. In regard to the temporary suspension of a decree canons 1736, 1353 and 1737.3 must be observed.



Whoever asserts that he has been harmed by a decree, may have recourse, for whatever reason, to his competent hierarchical superior, who issued the decree. Recourse may be proposed before the author of the decree, who must immediately transmit it to the competent hierarchical superior. Recourse must be made within the peremptory period of fifteen available days, which period begins according to the norm of canon 1737.2.


It belongs to the superior to whom recourse has been made, according to each case, to not only confirm the decree or declare it void, but also to rescind, revoke, or if it seems more expedient to that same superior, to amend, subrogate or abrogate it.


Acts and decrees of the abbot general in the case of recourse are to be submitted to the definitory of the General chapter.



While the norms[8-5] remain valid by which members of the Order, because of studies, apostolate or health, may live outside one of our houses while maintaining intact the bond with their own community, the following ways are provided whereby the incorporation of members is either lessened or entirely removed.

1.  Departure

a.  Exclaustration


The abbot general, with the consent of his council, for a grave reason, may grant an indult of exclaustration to a member in solemn vows, but not beyond three years, and with the prior consent of the local ordinary in whose diocese the man will live if this concerns a cleric. To extend or grant exclaustration beyond three years is reserved to the Holy See.

With the consent of his council, the abbot general may petition enforced exclaustration from the Holy See for grave reasons, always observing justice and charity.

Whoever has sought an indult of exclaustration remains bound by his vows and other obligations of his profession which are in accord with his state, and likewise remains under the care and dependency upon his own prelate and also of the local ordinary, especially if he is a cleric. He may wear the habit of the Order, unless something else is stated in the indult, However, he lacks active and passive voice.

b. Departure at the end of temporary profession.


A member, who completes his temporary profession and wishes to depart, may leave the Order.

c. Departure during temporary vows


A member who during his temporary profession seeks to leave the Order for a grave reason, can obtain an indult of departure from the abbot general with the consent of his council.

d. Refusal of admission to a subsequent profession


When the time of temporary profession is completed and if there is a just cause, a member may be excluded from making a subsequent profession by the prelate, having heard his council. Physical or psychic illness, even if contracted after profession, which in the judgement of experts, renders a member unfit for the life of our Order constitutes a reason for not admitting him to the renewal of vows or advancement to solemn profession, unless he shall have contracted the illness due to negligence of the Order or due to the work he did in the Order. However, if during temporary vows a member becomes insane, even though he may not renew his profession, he cannot be dismissed from the Order.

e. Departure of a professed in solemn vows


A solemnly professed member is not to seek an indult of departure from the Order except for very grave reasons. If he, however, seeks the indult, canons 691-693 and 702 are to be observed.

2. Dismissal

a. Dismissal ipso facto


A member is to held to be ipso facto dismissed if he has:

  1. notoriously defected from the Catholic faith;

  2. contracted marriage or has attempted it, even if only civilly.

In these cases after the proofs have been collected, that prelate with his council, must issue a

declaration of the fact without any delay so that the dismissal is juridically established.

b. Obligatory dismissal and non-obligatory dismissal


A member must be dismissed if he has committed crimes indicated in canons 1397, 1398 and 1395, unless in the case of the crimes indicated in canon 1395.3, the prelate deems dismissal not entirely necessary and if the correction of the individual, restitution in justice and repair of scandal can be accomplished in another manner. A member can be dismissed for other causes as long as they ate grave, external, imputable and juridically proven, such as: the habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of sacred vows; persistent disobedience to the legitimate prescripts of superiors in a grave matter; grave scandal due to the culpable behavior of the member; stubborn adherence and diffusion of doctrines condemned by the Magisterium of the Church; public adherence to ideologies infected by materialism and atheism; illegitimate absence for more than six months, as treated in canon 665.2; other causes of like gravity determined by proper law.

c. Manner of proceeding


In the case of obligatory dismissal canons 95.2 and 699.1 are to be observed. In the case of non-obligatory dismissal, even though the member may be in temporary vows only, canons 697 and 699.1 are to be observed. In every case there remains the right of the members to communicate with the abbot general and to demonstrate to him their defense. A decree of dismissal, even for a professed in temporary vows, has no effect, unless confirmed by the Holy See. Only the abbot general acting collegially with the definitors of the Order can dismiss a member in temporary vows. 

d. Effect of dismissal


By legitimate dismissal, rights and obligations arising from profession ipso facto cease. If however the member is a cleric, he cannot exercise sacred orders until he finds a bishop, who after a suitable time of probation, may receive him or at least allow him to exercise sacred orders in the diocese according to canon 693.

Whoever has legitimately left the Order or who shall have been dismissed from it legitimately, can not claim anything on account of any work done while in the Order. The Order, however, should exercise justice and evangelical charity toward the member who is separated from it.

e.  Urgent cases


In the case of grave exterior scandal or imminent and most grave harm to the community, a member may be expelled immediately from a religious house by the prelate, or if there is danger in delay, by the superior of the house with the consent of his council or, that lacking, the consent of the two senior priests. The prelate, if necessary, should institute the process of dismissal according to the norms of law, or refer the matter to the Apostolic See.

3. Transfer in the strict sense


For a solemnly professed member of our Order to transfer to another religious institute, or for a member of another religious institute who wishes to transfer to our Order, he needs the permission of the abbot general and the supreme moderator of the institute, either to or from which he wishes to transfer, along with the consent of their respective councils.

In order for a member of our Order to seek a transfer to a secular institute or an institute of apostolic life, or for a transfer from these institutes to a canonry of our Order, the permission of the Holy See is required, whose mandates are to be observed.

A prelate with the consent of his council determines the length and manner of probation which must precede the profession of the member in the canonry. The time of probation may not be shorter than three years nor longer than six years, so that the member can be formed in the character and spirit, purpose and discipline, history and life of the Order and the canonry.

Up to the time of profession in the new institute, while remaining in vows, the rights and obligations which the member had in his previous institute are suspended. From the beginning of the probation period the member is held to the observance of the prescriptions of the proper law of the new institute. By profession in the new institute, the member is incorporated into it and vows, rights and obligation in the former institute cease.


For a member of our Order to transfer to another canonry, with the exception of the case treated in Constitutions 287.6, there is required both the consent of the prelate and the council of the canonry from which he is transferring as well as that of the prelate and chapter of the canonry to which he is transferring. He also needs the consent of the abbot general. In such a case the prelate of the canonry receiving him may require residence in the new canonry for a certain period of time before the transitus takes effect.

Prolonged Absence


If a confrere separates himself from his own community without taking care to re-integrate himself into the community, the prelate as soon as possible should use all means to rectify his condition, not excluding dismissal.



The proper law of or Order is made up of the Constitutions of our Order, the decrees of the General Chapter and faculties which have been obtained by concession of the Holy See. Customary law can be established as part of our proper law according to the norms of canons 23-28 of the Code of Canon Law.


Privileges and indults granted to the Order should be maintained with the greatest care.



The particular laws of our Order, as well as the decrees issued by General Chapters, begin to oblige three months from the day the acts and decrees of the General Chapter are published, unless another time is established.


Constitutional law, as well as particular laws and general decrees of our Order, oblige all for whom they are made.



Constitutional law, as well as particular laws and general decrees of our Order, are authentically interpreted by the legislator, as well as the one to whom the legislator has granted power to authentically interpret them.


In more urgent situations, however, the abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order may interpret the Constitutions, whose judgement is to be sustained until the next following General Chapter. The prelate may do the same for decrees issued by the canonry chapter until the next meeting of the canonry chapter.

Abrogation or Dispensation of Law


Amendment or abrogation of the Constitutions or decrees of the General Chapter, whether they pertain to the Order, a circary or a house, belongs exclusively to the competence of the General Chapter.


Amendment or abrogation of decrees of the Canonry Chapter belongs exclusively to the competence of the canonry chapter.


Precepts and decisions of the visitators of the General Chapter, which are beyond the Constitutions, are valid until the next visitation in view of a General Chapter, unless it is otherwise evident from the nature of things, or something has been expressly decreed. Precepts and decisions of other superiors cease when the power of the one issuing the precepts ceases, unless they have been imposed by means by a legitimate document.


An habitual dispensation from the Constitutions for a whole community or for the individuals in matters that are not of common observance may be granted only for one's own subjects by the legislator, or by one who enjoys executive power, or their successors or superiors, unless the power has been expressly granted to others.


A dispensation in single cases, even for an entire whole community, and a habitual dispensation for individual persons from common observances within the jurisdiction of the Order, is granted by prelates for a just reason, unless a dispensation is explicitly, or in some equivalent manner, prohibited or reserved to others.


The abbot general with the consent of the definitors of the Order, can dispense laws and decrees within the jurisdiction of the Order. He can do this even in a habitual manner until the next General Chapter, except in cases expressly reserved solely to the General Chapter or to the definitory. However, if he uses his power in favor of religious subject to a prelate of the Order, this is valid only in the case of visitation, recourse, appeal or as often as the matter pertains his competency.

The Relation of Present and Former Law


The norms of the Constitutions which incorporate entirely the common law must be interpreted in accordance with the authority of the common law and in accordance with interpretations accepted among approved authors.

Our particular law, however, must be understood according to the proper meaning of the words considered in text and in context. If certain deficiencies or doubts arise, the solution must not be at odds with the interpretation of the former law of the Order or with legitimate customs.

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We, too, have been marked by that saying of Norbert declaring "those can never disband, who wish to remain together, if they faithfully fulfill their profession according to the Gospels and teaching of the Apostles and the way of life of St. Augustine which they have vowed."

May God Himself, who began in us this work of conversion and communion, complete that work unto the day Christ Jesus, "because out of many souls there will be one future city, of those having one mind and one heart in God; this perfection of our union shall occur after this earthly pilgrimage."

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Numbers in the tables of contents refer to paragraphs, not pages.

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Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem
Decree on the church’s Missionary Activity, Ad gentes divinitus
Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus
Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes
General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, Instructio generalis de Liturgia Horarum
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium
Decree on Priestly formation, Potatam Totius
Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of the Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis
Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctym Concilium
Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio
Vita A
Vita Norberti, Archiepiscopi Magdeburgensis, edidit Rogerius Wilmans, in MGH, SS. XII, Hannoverae, 1856, pp. 663-706
Vita B
Vita S. Norberti, auctore, Joanne Chrysostomo Vander Sterre. Notationibus illustrata a R. D. Polycarpo De Hertoghe, Antverpiae, 1656.

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Constitutions, Chapter 1, Footnotes:

[1-1] Gs. 5. --- <<BACK>>

[1-2] Gs 25 --- <<BACK>>

[1-3] Gs 4 --- <<BACK>>

[1-4] Gs, cf. 23, 28 --- <<BACK>>

[1-5] Gs, cf. 32 --- <<BACK>>

[1-6] Pc 2. --- <<BACK>>

[1-7] Pc 15 --- <<BACK>>

[1-8] St. Cyprian, De Oratione Dominica, 23; PL 4, 553 --- <<BACK>>

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Constitutions, Chapter 2, Footnotes:

[2-1] The following are to be noted in reference to the meaning of the terms used: "Church of Christ" (with capital letters) means the mystery of the Church; "church" with small letter means a specific church or any legitimate gathering of the faithful in which the Church of Christ is truly present; "people of God" includes clerics, religious and laity; "community" (as in religious or Premonstratensian) means the group or community of those who have professed our way of living; the various dimensions are explained in nn. 12-16. The context in which these terms are used may better explain the sense of the term used. Some ambiguity cannot be avoided given the subtle colorings of the theological terms used. --- <<BACK>>

[2-2] Cf. Lg 9 --- <<BACK>>

[2-3] Cf. St. Augustine, Ennarationes in pslamos, 31, 5; PL 36, 250 --- <<BACK>>

[2-4] Cf. Po 7-8 --- <<BACK>>

[2-5] Cf. Lg 28; Po 7-8; CD 28-34 --- <<BACK>>

[2-6] Cf. Aa 3; CD 34 --- <<BACK>>

[2-7] Cf. Lg 45; CD 35, 28 --- <<BACK>>

[2-8] Vita A, Chapter 12 --- <<BACK>>

[2-9] Sermon of St. Norbert in Vita B, p. 262 --- <<BACK>>

[2-10] St. Augustine, Sermon 355, De Vita et moribus clericorum suorum, PL 39, 1570 --- <<BACK>>

[2-11] Vita B in passing praises the virtues of Norbert, in particular his faith (chapter 6); voluntary poverty (chapters 9, 10, 13); preaching (chapters 7, 13); penance (chapters 10, 12, 18); the apostolic live and imitation of Christ’s disciples (chapters 24, 13, 15; and care of the poor (chapters 25, 42) --- <<BACK>>

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Constitutions, Chapter 3, Footnotes:

[3-1] Gs 32 --- <<BACK>>

[3-2] Lg 32 --- <<BACK>>

[3-3] Cf. Aa 2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-4] In reference to the Statutes of the Third Order, cf. Protocol of the General Chapter of the Order of Premontre, 1988, p. 112, 12. --- <<BACK>>

[3-5] Po 2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-6] Lg 28 --- <<BACK>>

[3-7] Cf. The Order of Profession of the Order of Premontre as approved by the Congregation of Divine Worship on April 27, 1987, Prot. 672/87 in Appendix I. The tenor of the formula for profession in quasi-autonomous houses approved by the decree of the 1970 General Chapter decree (Prot., p. 94) is "I, Brother N, offer and give myself to N. Church, which depends from N. canonry, etc." and at the end of the formula " . . . before Brother N, superior of this church, as legitimately delegated by the abbot of that church, and the brothers." --- <<BACK>>

[3-8] Cf. Lg 46 --- <<BACK>>

[3-9] Cf. Vita B, chapter 25 --- <<BACK>>

[3-10] Pc 13 --- <<BACK>>

[3-11] Adam the Premonstratensian, De dignitate canonicorum, de habitu et de professione regulari, de canonica regula B. Augustini, Sermo 5, 7; PL 198, 484 --- <<BACK>>

[3-12] Pc 12 --- <<BACK>>

[3-13] Rule of St. Augustine, VII, 1 --- <<BACK>>

[3-14] Cf. Pc 14 --- <<BACK>>

[3-15] Cf. Pc 5.1.2a --- <<BACK>>

[3-16] Cf. Vita A, chapter 6 at the end; Vita B, chapters 15, 24, 25 --- <<BACK>>

[3-17] Vita A, chapter 12 --- <<BACK>>

[3-18] The text is in part grounded on Mt. 18, 20; I Cor. 8-11; and Rom. 14, 15 --- <<BACK>>

[3-19] St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses mystagogicae, 4, 3; PG 33, 1099 --- <<BACK>>

[3-20] Cf. Canon 663.2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-21] Po 6, cf. 13; Pc 6.15; Lg 41 --- <<BACK>>

[3-22] Notitiae 11 (1975), 287 --- <<BACK>>

[3-23] Whoever has already celebrated Mass for the people, may also receive Communion or concelebrate at the community Mass. Cf. Sc 57. Cf. The General Instruction for the Roman Missal, 1970, nn. 76 and 158d. Whoever has already received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive again (but only once) on the same day, but only at a Eucharistic celebration in which he participates. Cf. cAnon 917, taking into account canon 921.2. Cf. Also AAS 76 (1984) 746. --- <<BACK>>

[3-24] Cf. IGLH 12; cf. CD 30 --- <<BACK>>

[3-25] Cf. IGLH 11, first paragraph; cf. SC 88 --- <<BACK>>

[3-26] Cf. Can. 666.3 --- <<BACK>>

[3-27] Cf. SC 95 --- <<BACK>>

[3-28] Cf. IGLH 11 --- <<BACK>>

[3-29] Cf. St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 11, PL 32, 809 --- <<BACK>>

[3-30] Cf. Lg 34 --- <<BACK>>

[3-31] St. Augustine, The City of God, 10, 6; PL 41, 284 --- <<BACK>>

[3-32] Cf. Gs 34 --- <<BACK>>

[3-33] Cf. Gs 38 --- <<BACK>>

[3-34] Cf. Aa 5 --- <<BACK>>

[3-35] Cf. Aa 2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-36] Cf. Gs 34 --- <<BACK>>

[3-37] Cf. Aa 7 --- <<BACK>>

[3-38] Concerning the contract entered into by the canonry and the bishop of the place where the confreres are to be sent, cf. Can. 681.2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-39] Cf. Can. 644 --- <<BACK>>

[3-40] Cf. Can. 268.2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-41] Protocol of 1988 General Chapter, p. 98, F --- <<BACK>>

[3-42] Cf. Rule, Chapter 3; the Apostolic Constitution Poenitermini, Feb. 17, 1966, II and at the end; cf. Lg 41 --- <<BACK>>

[3-43] Cf. Vita B, Chapter 25 --- <<BACK>>

[3-44] Rule, chapter 5, 2 --- <<BACK>>

[3-45] Rule, chapter 1, 3 --- <<BACK>>

[3-46] Rule, chapter 7 --- <<BACK>>

[3-47] Lg 49-50 --- <<BACK>>

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Constitutions, Chapter 4, Footnotes:

[4-1] Cf. Also canons 119, 164-179, 127 --- <<BACK>>

[4-2] Rule of St. Augustine, chapter 7 --- <<BACK>>

[4-3] The Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation responded in the negative to the following question: "Whether when the law decrees that a superior needs the consent of some college or group of persons to place acts according to the norm of canon 127.1, the superior himself has the right to cast a vote with the others, or at least cast a vote to break a tie." Acta Apostolicae Sedis 77, 1985, 771. --- <<BACK>>

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Constitutions, Chapter 5, Footnotes:  

[5-1] Cf. Appendix V concerning the Order of Formation for novices during the canonical novitiate. --- <<BACK>>

[5-2] Benedict XIII, January 24, 1730 --- <<BACK>>

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Constitutions, Chapter 8, Footnotes:

[8-1] E.g., that the majority of all those to be convoked must be present (or participating in an election either by a proxy or mandate or voting by letter). --- <<BACK>>

[8-2] If the one elected is not present, see can. 177 --- <<BACK>>

[8-3] Benedict XIV, Sept. 1, 1750, Oneroso sacri apostolatus ministerio: "To the Canons Regular of Premontre is granted the entire privilege of acquiring and retaining whatever parish churches and vicarages, whether secular or regular, without an apostolic dispensation." Bullarium of Benedict XIV, tom. III, pp. 137-138. --- <<BACK>>

[8-4] Cf. Canons 1732-1939 --- <<BACK>>

[8-5] Cf. Canon 665.1 --- <<BACK>>

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<<End of Constitutions of the Order of Canons Regular of Premontre>>

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