Active & Contemplative
The priests and religious brothers in the Order strive to make a complete and total response to the love of God by the profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. The Order follows the rule of St. Augustine, the ‘rule of love.’ It exhorts, “Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then your neighbor, because these are the chief commandments given to us.”
The angels are models of this selfless love of God and neighbor. Accordingly, just as from earliest times the Church has seen the ‘vita angelica’ as the exemplar for religious life, so also the Order of the Holy Cross since its foundation has striven to live consciously in the company of the Holy Angels. “Already here on earth the Christian life share by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God” (CCC, 336).
Members of the Order of the Holy Cross strive to respond to their vocation by: sharing in Christ’s love for the Father in holy adoration; participating in His love for all men in a spirit of expiation; contemplating the mysteries of Christ’s life, death and resurrection; and, proclaiming the wisdom and power of Christ-Crucified as our mission in the Church.
These four expressions of salvific love – adoration, contemplation, expiation and mission – express the contemplative and active goals of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross in their service of God and neighbor.
Adoration of God finds its highest expression in the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The renewal of this sacrifice in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stands in the center and is the summit of every day in the life of the Canons of the Holy Cross. As a community, the members of the Order are dedicated to the solemn celebration of the sacred liturgy.
In addition to the liturgy of the Eucharist, the Canons have a special responsibility to join the Saints and the Angels in Heaven through the communal chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours. “With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until he our life shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8).
Eucharistic adoration is also an integral part of the daily life of the Canons. In every monastery the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration, and if possible, perpetual adoration is observed.
The conscious communion with the Angels and Saints in celebrating the liturgy belongs to the character of the Order of the Holy Cross. Desiring to adore God, the Order attaches importance to the reverence, solemnity and beauty of the liturgy. In the liturgy all that is human is directed and subordinated to the divine, “the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2).
The Latin language is given a fitting place in the liturgy as an expression of the unity of the Church. Through its dignified character it should help us in a special way to elicit and keep alive a profound sense of the greatness of the Eucharistic Mystery.
Following the example of Mary, who continually pondered the words of Christ in her heart, the Canons of the Holy Cross foster a life of meditation drawing on the authentic sources of Christian spirituality. They strive to imitate the Saints and Angels in a life of silence, simplicity of heart, humility, poverty and holy purity in pursuit of the graces of contemplation.
“Following the example of Christ, the priest must know how to maintain the vivacity and abundance of the moments of silence and prayer in which he cultivates and deepens his own essential relationship with the living figure of Jesus Christ” (Directory for the Life and Ministry of Priests, 40)
Spiritual reading provides the necessary “daily bread” for the Canons of the Holy Cross. Priests and students in the community are seriously dedicated to the study of sacred theology, especially the Fathers of the Church, Scholastic theology and the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church.
The spirituality of the Canons of the Holy Cross focuses on the constant growth in priestly sanctity “conforming their life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross” (Rite of Ordination). This is understood to be a call to be both priest and victim with Christ in accordance with the words of St. Paul: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1,24).
Our share in Christ’s redemptive love is nourished daily at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; there we propose to learn the meaning of perfect charity in a spirit of reparation. Without these sentiments the sacrifice of the Mass would remain incomplete, for as P. Pius XII writes: “In order that the oblation by which the faithful offer the Divine Victim in this sacrifice to the heavenly Father may have its full effect, it is necessary that the people add something else, namely the offering of themselves as a victim” (Mediator Dei 98).
In this spirit, the Canons of the Holy Cross unite themselves to Christ in a special commemoration of His passion. On Thursday nights and on Friday afternoons the members of the Order join Christ in prayer and love during the hours of His passion, to pray for the sanctification of priests, for the needs of the Church, and in reparation for sins.
The active apostolate of the Order is to serve the Church in the work of sanctification of priests and the faithful. The Canons work for these ends by giving retreats and missions, and by offering seminary training and on-going formation for priests. Among the laity, the Order promotes a spirituality which is focused on prayer and expiation for priests. “The missionary spirit must, absolutely, be preserved in religious institutes and must be adapted to modern conditions, in keeping with the character of each, so that the preaching of the Gospel to all nations may be more effective” (Perfectae Caritatis, 20).
Adoration, Contemplation, Expiation & Mission
constitutes the Four Fundamental Directions of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross.
The spirituality of the Order is further vivified through the following:
Devotion to Mary
From the Cross, the Lord gave His Mother to us all as our Mother. She shares with us the love which enables us to offer our lives every day for Christ by our cooperating with her for the salvation of the world. “Hence a filial relationship to Mary is the royal road to fidelity to one’s vocation and a most effective help for advancing in that vocation and living it fully” (Vita Consecrata, 28).
In Mary we see the model of all virtues and of our religious consecration. From her emanates all the fragrance of virtues. In all our actions, we look upon Mary. It is our heart’s desire to imitate her in our actions whom we praise with such delight. We try to fulfill our tasks and missions as Mary did: willingly, readily and obediently integrating ourselves fully as a servant of the Lord.
The Holy Angels
Already here on earth we share in the company of the Holy Angels, who cooperate in all our good works. They participate in our life and activity, especially in the glorious service of the adoration of God and in the work of saving souls, as is expressed in our coat of arms. In all the aspects of our daily life, we strive to fulfill our tasks in union with and in imitation of the Holy Angels. In the tradition of the Order it is attested: “It seems to be something awesome to see how the religious living on earth in a certain manner lead the life of the Angels in heaven.”
Life in Community
The religious community is rooted in the love of God, which is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and is built upon it to form a true family which is congregated in the name of the Lord. Community life is a school of love, in which we daily endeavor to grow in love for God and the brothers.
Community life is an essential element of our religious vocation. Like the Apostles, the Lord has called us to be with Him and to live in community with Him as the center. That is why the Rule of St. Augustine warmly recommends to us: “The main purpose for your having come together is to live harmoniously in your house intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart… Let all of you then live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honoring God in yourselves, Whose temples you have become” (Rule of St. Augustine, 1-2).