Whoever in this
Society is sent to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, should keep three things
in mind: the first concerns himself, the second concerns the neighbor with
whom he deals, and the third, the head and the whole body of the Society of
which he is a member.
Principles Concerning Oneself
With regard to the
first, that is with respect to himself, he should not be forgetful of himself
because of his interest in the neighbor. He should refuse to commit even the
slightest sin to further the greatest apostolic gain in the world, and not
even place himself in danger of committing one. He will find it a help if he
avoids dealing with persons from whom he has reason to fear danger, and if he
does deal with them, it should be rarely and in public. He should make little
account of external appearances, and look upon creatures not as fair or
attractive, but as bathed in the blood of Christ, as images of God, temples of
the Holy Spirit, and so on.
He should defend
himself from all evil and acquire every virtue; and the more perfectly he
possesses them, the more successfully will he be able to draw others to them.
To this end, it will be helpful daily to assign some time for the examination
of conscience, prayer, and the reception of the sacraments, etc.
He should take into
account his own health and his body's strength.
Principles Concerning the Neighbor
With regard to the
neighbor, which is the second point, we must be careful with whom we deal.
They should be persons from whom we can expect greater fruit, since we cannot
deal with everyone. They should be such as are in greater need, and those in
high position who exert an influence because of their learning or their
temporal possessions; those who are suited to be apostolic workers and,
generally speaking, all those who, if helped, will be better able to help
others for God's glory.
2. With regard to
the works he undertakes, he should prefer those for which he is especially
sent, rather than others. Among the other works he should prefer the better,
that is, the spiritual to the corporal, the more urgent to the less urgent,
the universal to the particular, those that have some permanence to those that
are ephemeral, since he cannot do both. We should remember that it is not
enough to begin but that we must, as far as possible, finish and ensure the
endurance of good and pious works.
3. As to the
instruments we must use, besides good example and prayer that is full of
desires, we must consider whether to make use of confession, the Exercises and
spiritual conversations, teaching catechism, or lectures, sermons, and so
forth. We should select those weapons (since we cannot use all of them) which
will be judged to be more effective and with which we are better acquainted.
4. As to our method
of procedure, we should try to be humble by beginning at the bottom and not
venturing into lofty subjects unless we are invited or asked to do so, or
discretion should dictate otherwise, taking into consideration the time,
place, and persons. This discretion cannot be reduced to any hard-and-fast
rule. Our method should include an effort to secure the good will of the
persons with whom we are dealing by truly manifesting our virtue and
affection, and this will command some authority with them. We should make use
of holy prudence in adapting ourselves to everyone. This prudence will
certainly be taught us by the unction of the Holy Spirit, but we ourselves can
assist it by reflection and careful observation. The above-mentioned
examination of conscience could be extended to include this consideration, and
it should be made at a fixed hour of the day. Special attention should be
given to cases of conscience; and when the solutions of these difficulties are
not clear in our own minds, we should not hazard an answer or solution, but
first give it the study and consideration it requires.
Principles Concerning the Society
With reference to
the third point, that is the regard we should have for the head and body of
the Society, it is shown principally by allowing oneself to be directed by the
superior and by keeping him informed of what he should know and by obediently
obeying the orders he shall give.
2. You can serve the
good name and reputation of the Society by helping wherever you can for the
glory of God, and this will be done especially by encouraging foundations of
colleges and particularly, when you see the opportunity, by recruiting
acceptable candidates for the Society. These should be persons educated,
alert, and young, especially when endowed with good manners, health,
intelligence, and who are disposed to good and are free of other impediments,
and so on.