The Fourviere Pledge is the oldest formal record we have of the intentions of those who founded the Marist family. Two of the priests who signed this pledge went on to become founders: Father Jean-Claude Colin is considered the founder of the priests and brothers and the entire Marist family, and Father Marcellin Champagnat is the founder of the Brothers of the Schools. Four of the signers—Colin, Champagnat, Etienne Terraillon, and Etienne Declas—became professed Marist priests in 1836.
There are, of course, words, phrases and references in this pledge that refer to events and conditions in the world at the time it was signed. But, as an example of the total dedication of the first Marists to what became known as the Marist project, this document has no equal. Lay groups should occasionally review this pledge. It can also be used as a model for members who may wish to compose a pledge of their own as a private spiritual exercise.
Canonical Institution of the Third Order of Mary
This short document is important historically because it records the Church’s approval of the lay branch of the Marist family.
Excerpts from the Constitutions of the Society of Mary
These passages from the Constitutions of the Society of Mary (1988) summarize the relationship between the priests and the laity.
THE FOURVIERE PLEDGE In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. All for the greater glory of God and the greater honor of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus. We the undersigned, striving to work together for the greater glory of God and the honor of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus, assert and declare our sincere intention and firm will of consecrating ourselves at the first opportunity to founding the pious congregation of Marists. That is why by the present act and our signatures, in so far as we can, we irrevocably dedicate ourselves and all our goods to the Society of the blessed Virgin. We do this not childishly or lightly or for some human motive or the hope of material benefit, but seriously, maturely, having taken advice, having weighed everything before God, solely for the greater glory of God and the honor of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus. We pledge ourselves to accept all sufferings, trials, inconveniences and, if needs be, torture, because we can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens us and to whom we hereby promise fidelity in the bosom of our holy mother the Roman catholic church, cleaving with all our strength to its supreme head the Roman pontiff and to our most reverend bishop, the ordinary, that we may be good ministers of Jesus Christ, nourished with the words of faith and of the wholesome teaching which by his grace we have received. We trust that, under the reign of our most Christian king, the friend of peace and religion, this institute will shortly come to light and we solemnly promise that we shall spend ourselves and all we have in saving souls in every way under the very august name of the Virgin Mary and with her help. All this is subject to the wiser judgement of our superiors. May the holy and immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin Marybe praised. Amen.
Canonical Institution of the Third Order of Mary Archbishopric of Lyons
We, Louis Jaques Maurice de Bonald, by the grace of God and the authority of the Apostolic Holy See, Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church, under the title of the Holy Trinity on the Pincian Hill, Archbishop of Lyons and Vienne, Primate of Gaul, etc. etc., by virtue of the Apostolic Brief of September 8th, 1850, which invested us with the necessary powers to specify and designate the spiritual privileges requested for the Third Order of Mary and granted by the Holy See,
I. We declare the aforesaid Third Order established, organized and canonically erected.
II. According to the terms of the petition and the Brief already cited, this Third Order is endowed with the indulgences granted to the Society of Mary, and with a plenary indulgence: 1. on the day of reception; 2. twice each month at the choice of the Tertiaries; 3. at the point of death; and finally a privileged altar which the different fraternities may enjoy wherever established by the local Ordinary.
III. The Superior of the Society of Mary and the Central Director of the Third Order may delegate other priests, even secular priests, to admit persons into the Third Order with the same graces and indulgences.
IV. The Rule, at present in a provisional state, will be observed for the time being, and will become definitive after our formal approbation, which will be sought by the Director of the ThirdOrder. The Third Order itself will be founded next Sunday, December 8th, 1850.
Done and given at Lyons, December 5th, 1850.
L. J. M. de Bonald Archbishop of Lyons
Excerpts from Constitutions of the Society of Mary Priests and Brothers Rome, 1988
Chapter I Nature and Foundations of the Society Article III, Marist Presence in the Church No. 19
Marists should respect, support, and work with diocesan priests and other religious in the part they play in the life of the Christian community. They will be especially concerned to enable the laity to live more fully their Christian vocation and exercise their role in the life and ministry of the Church.
Chapter I Article V, Membership of the Society of Mary No. 31
From the beginning the Marist project envisaged a branch open to lay men and women. In 1850 this branch took on a particular form and was officially recognized by the Holy See as the “Third Order of Mary.” In Father Colin’s mind it was to be a broadly based association available to all people, whatever their situation, age, or condition. It could assume many forms, and, where appropriate, might even be given another name.
Vatican II Documents
Excerpts from Vatican II documents are included here to make it easier for lay Marists to review important teachings of the Church regarding a number of topics.These excerpts may be photocopied and should be reviewed periodically.
Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, 1965
This document is about the “laity’s special and indispensable role in the mission of the Church.” It is appropriate for lay Marists to continue their study of this topic by obtaining a copy of the original document (30-32 pages in length depending on the edition used).
Decree on the Up-To-Date Renewal of Religious Life, 1965 Norms for Implementing the Decree, 1966
These documents are important to lay Marists because in response to these directives, the Society of Mary extensively researched the vision of our Founder,Father Jean-Claude Colin, S.M. As a result, many materials have been developed for the lay branch of the Marist family. This topic is discussed further in Section III titled, “In the Mind of the Founder.”
Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, Paul VI, 1967
Obviously when handbooks are published over an interval of more than 80 years, there will be major changes. In the handbook for Marist laity dated 1926, numerous partial indulgences are attributed to many prayers. That is not the case in this Handbook because of the directives in this document. This change does not mean there are no indulgences: it means the value of partial indulgences will no longer be measured in human terms, such as days and year.
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Excerpts from the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People Vatican II, Apostolicam actuositatem 18 November 1965
Introduction #1: In its desire to intensify the apostolic activity of the People of God the Council now earnestly turns its thoughts to the Christian laity. Mention has already been made in other documents of the laity’s special and indispensable role in the mission of the Church. Indeed, the Church can never be without the lay apostolate; it is something that derives from the layman’s very vocation as a Christian.
Chapter 1, The Vocation of Lay People to the Apostolate (#2, second paragraph): In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God. In the concrete, their apostolate is exercised when they work at the evangelization and sanctification of men; it is exercised too when they endeavor to have the Gospel spirit permeate and improve the temporal order, going about it in a way that bears clear witness to Christ and helps forward the salvation of men. The characteristic of the lay state being a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs, laymen are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world.
Chapter 1, Foundations of the Lay Apostolate (#3): From the fact of their union with Christ the head flows the laymen’s right and duty to be apostles. Inserted as they are in the Mystical body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate.
Chapter 1, The Spirituality of Lay People (#4, last paragraph): Perfect model of this apostolic spiritual life is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles. While on earth her life was like that of any other, filled with labors and the cares of the home; always, however, she remained intimately united to her Son and cooperated in an entirely unique way in the Saviour’s work. And now, assumed into heaven, “her motherly love keeps her attentive to her Son’s brothers, still on pilgrimage amid the dangers and difficulties of life, until they arrive at the happiness of the fatherland.” Everyone should have a genuine devotion to her and entrust his life to her motherly care.
Chapter IV, Group Apostolate (#18): The faithful are called as individuals to exercise an apostolate in the various conditions of their life. They must, however, remember that man is social by nature and that it has been God’s pleasure to assemble those who believe in Christ and make of them the People of God, a single body. The group apostolate is in happy harmony therefore with a fundamental need in the faithful, a need that is both human and Christian. At the same time it offers a sign of the communion and unity of the Church in Christ, who said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Chapter IV, Various Types of Group Apostolate (#19): Great variety is to be found in apostolic associations. Some look to the general apostolic end of the Church; others aim specifically at evangelization and sanctification; others work for the permeation of the temporal order by the Christian spirit; and others engage in works of mercy and of charity as their special way of bearing witness to Christ.
Chapter IV, Various Types of Group Apostolate (#19, last paragraph): While preserving intact the necessary link with ecclesiastical authority, the laity have the right to establish and direct associations, and to join existing ones. Dissipation of forces must, however, be avoided; this would happen if new associations and works were created without sufficient reason, if old ones now grown useless were held on to, if out-of-date methods continued to be employed.
Chapter V, Relations with the Clergy and with Religious (#25): Bishops, parish priests and other priests of the secular and regular clergy will remember that the right and duty of exercising the apostolate are common to all the faithful, whether clerics or lay; and that in the building up of the Church the laity too have parts of their own to play. For this reason they will work as brothers with the laity in the Church and for the Church, and will have a special concern for the laity in their apostolic activities.
Chapter VI, Training for the Apostolate (#28): A training at once many-sided and complete, is indispensable if the apostolate is to attain full efficacy (effectiveness). . .
Chapter VI, Training for the Apostolate (#29, second paragraph): Education for the apostolate presupposes an integral human education suited to each one’s abilities and conditions. For the layman ought to be, through an intimate knowledge of the contemporary world, a member well integrated into his own society and its culture.
Chapter VI, Exhortation (#33, mid-paragraph): It is the Lord himself, by this Council, who is once more inviting all the laity to unite themselves to him ever more intimately, to consider his interests as their own, and to join in his mission as Saviour.
Excerpts from the Decree on the Up-To-Date Renewal of Religious Life Vatican II, Perfectae caritatis 28 October 1965
Paragraph 2: The up-to-date renewal of the religious life comprises both a constant return to the sources of the whole of the Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes, and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time. This renewal, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and with the guidance of the Church, must be promoted in accordance with the following principles:
(a) Since the final norm of the religious life is the following of Christ as it is put before us in the Gospel, this must be taken by all institutes as the supreme rule.
(b) It is for the good of the Church that institutes have their own proper characters and functions. Therefore the spirit and aims of each founder should be faithfully accepted and retained, as indeed should each institute’s sound traditions, for all of these constitute the patrimony of an institute.
Paragraph 3: The manner of life, of prayer and of work should be in harmony with the present-day physical and psychological condition of the members. It should also be in harmony with the needs of the apostolate . . .with the requirements of culture and with social and economic circumstances.
Excerpts from the Norms for Implementing the Decree: Paul VI, Ecclesiae Sanctae II 6 August, 1966
Section III, Criteria for Renewal and Adaptation (paragraph 16, #3): For the good of the Church, institutes must seek after a genuine understanding of their original spirit, so that they will preserve it faithfully when deciding on adaptations, will purify their religious life from alien elements, and will free it from what is obsolete.
Section III, (paragraph 19): . . . suitable renewal cannot be achieved once for all: it needs to be fostered continually…
Excerpts from the Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of IndulgencesPaul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina 1 January, 1967
This document starts with a review of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints upon which rests the doctrine of indulgences:
Chapter II, The Communion of Saints (#5, second paragraph): Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always tried to help one another along the path which leads to the heavenly Father, through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation. . . They were convinced that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God who is the Father of mercies. This is the very ancient dogma called the Communion of Saints.
Chapter II, The Treasury of the Church: The “treasury of the Church” is . . . the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. . . In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints . . .
Chapter V, Norms (#1): An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as minister of Redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints.
Chapter V, New Rules for Partial Indulgences: Concerning partial indulgences, the way they have been determined hitherto, by days and years, is abolished.
Chapter V, Fewer Plenary Indulgences: In order that the faithful may esteem plenary indulgences more, it has been thought proper to reduce their number appropriately.
Chapter V, Indulgences Not Attached to Things and Places: The purpose of this change is to make it clearer that indulgences are attached to what the faithful do, and not to things or places which are only the occasion for gaining the indulgences.