The Church of Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic Parish founded in 1834 that serves the neighborhood of East Harlem in New York City. The parish is in the care of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. The Mission of the Church of Saint Paul mirrors the mission of the Archdiocese of New York and the Institute of the Incarnate Word:
General Principles of the Institute of the Incarnate Word
PART I: INTRODUCTION
OUR RELIGIOUS FAMILY: GENERAL PRINCIPLES OR OUR “WAY” (SEE ACTS 9:2)
1. [Intention] We profess that God is the Lord and Father of all things, the beginning and end of everything; that his Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh, died, and rose from the dead to save all men; that the Holy Spirit is Lord and giver of life, Who for the glory of the Holy Trinity, for a greater manifestation of the Incarnate Word, and for the honor of the Church founded by Christ, “subsists in the Catholic Church which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”1 We want to give “testimony that the world can neither be transfigured nor offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes.”2 We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to grant us the grace to persevere in this purpose until death.
2. We wish to live in a state that “constitutes a closer imitation and an abiding re-enactment in the Church of the form of life which the Son of God made his own when he came into the world...”3 by the practice of the evangelical counsels, contributing in this way “to reveal the variegated nature and the multiple dynamism of the incarnate Word of God.”4
3. [Name] We aspire that our religious family be known and called “of the Incarnate Word” as we come closer to the 2,000th anniversary of the event -the Incarnation- that is even greater than the creation of the world and that cannot be surpassed by any other event.
4. [Universal End] The objective that we intend is twofold. On one hand, it is to seek the glory of God and the salvation of souls – our own and those of our brethren – especially by practicing the virtues that make us participate more in the humbling of Christ himself.5
5. [Specific End] On the other hand, we commit all our strength to inculturate the Gospel, that is to say, to extend the Incarnation “to all men, in the whole man, and in all of the manifestations of man,”6 in accordance with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church.7 In this respect His Holiness John Paul II teaches: “The term ‘acculturation’ or ‘inculturization,’ may well be a neologism, but it expresses very well one of the elements of the great mystery of the Incarnation.”8
6. [Consecration by means of vows] To carry out the service of God and his people with greater perfection, we commit ourselves by taking three vows; chastity, for the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 19:12); poverty, sell what you have (Mk 10:21); and obedience, which is better than sacrifice (1 Sm 15:22); in order to follow the Incarnate Word more intimately in his chastity, poverty, and obedience.
7. [Foundation] We want to be rooted in Jesus Christ who has come in the flesh (1 Jn 4:2), and only in Christ, and always in Christ, and Christ in everything, and Christ in all, and all of Christ, because the Rock is Christ,9 and no other foundation can any one lay (1 Cor 3:11). We want to love and serve Jesus Christ, his Body and his Spirit, and to make others love and serve him. We want to love and serve the physical Body of Christ as much as his physical Body in the Eucharist as his mystical Body, the Church: formed by us all who must become “other Christs” by holiness of life. Church that is also formed by all men in whom we see the same Christ, especially sinners, enemies and the poor. We want to be “another humanity added to His own”10; to be chalices so full of Christ that we spill out to others in over-abundance; to show with our lives that Christ lives. We want to love and serve the Spirit of Christ because the Spirit is the soul of the Church, and because any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Rom 8:9).
8. [Spirituality] In this respect, we consider that our spirituality must be deeply marked by all the aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation: a) its origin, b) its natures, c) the union of its natures, d) and its end.
9. a) In regards to the origin: We must have a deep and radical devotion to the Holy Trinity, the active principle of the Incarnation; and to whom it is attributed: the Father insofar as He is the principle of the Son - I came not of my own accord, but he sent me (Jn 8:42) - and the Holy Spirit insofar as He is the personal Love from which all divine work proceeds – by the power of the Holy Spirit.11 From here the primacy of spiritual things is derived in all of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, since God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:13), and because the teaching of the Incarnate Word is clear: seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well (Mt 6:33). An example of total abandonment to the will of God is the Virgin Mary: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).
10. b) In regards to the two natures, human and divine: We want to live intensely the virtues of the transcendence: faith, hope, and charity, in order to be the salt... to be the light (Mt 5:13ff) in order not to be of the world.12 Therefore incessant prayer is necessary - to pray constantly (1 Thes 5:17) -as well as the active and passive purification of the senses and the spirit: unless you repent you will all likewise perish (Lk 13:3).
11. We want to live intensely the virtues of humiliation (to humble oneself): humility, justice, sacrifice, poverty, pain, obedience, and merciful love..., in a word to take the cross.13 It is necessary to be in the world14 and to assume in Christ all that is human, since “what is not assumed is not redeemed“15 and “becomes a new idol replete with all the old malicious cunning.”16 Priests working as spiritual directors are able to illumine the temporal, and form lay people so that they “are engaged in temporal matters and direct them according to God’s will.”17 We must not assume non-assuming “matter” like sin, error, lies, evil: abstain from every form of evil (1 Thes 5:22).
12. c) In regards to the union of natures: The center of our life must be Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who unites both natures in his one, unique, divine person; for in truth we profess that the Word became flesh (Jn 1:14), and he is the one mediator between God and men (1 Tm 2:5), and that He is the only one who has the words of eternal life.18 He is the resulting person of the Incarnation. In a particular way our devotion to Jesus Christ must manifest itself in the mystery of the Incarnation; in his second complete humiliation in the mystery of the Passion -the supreme priestly act- that, in contrast, makes us admire the kenosis19 of the Incarnation even more deeply; and in the mystery of his Second Coming which will constitute the fullness of his First Coming. Intimately united to the mystery of our religion which was manifested in the flesh (1 Tm 3:16), and therefore united to our love, are the three white things of the Church: the Eucharist that prolongs the Incarnation under the species of bread and wine by the action of the Catholic priesthood; the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who gave her yes so that the flesh and blood of the Word was made flesh;20 and the Pope, the incarnate presence of the Truth, the Will, and Sanctity of Christ.
13. It is necessary to embrace the practice of the apparently opposed virtues, against all false dialectics; it is necessary to respect the essence of the virtues without interchanging them; it is necessary to avoid all false duality by practicing truthfulness, fidelity, coherence, and authenticity of life, against all falsehood, infidelity, pretense, and hypocrisy; it is necessary to restore entirely, all things in Christ. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Cor 15:25), taking possession of the entire universe for Christ to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Eph 1:10).
14. d) In respect to the end: We want, in Christ, to seek the glory of God and the integral well-being of man. By introducing his first-born son into the world21 the Father manifested his glory: we have beheld his glory (Jn 1:14) and in everything we want to have a righteous intention: whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).
15. Since “every man, on account of the mystery of the Redemption, is entrusted to the solicitude of the Church”22 and that “it is only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word that the mystery of man truly becomes clear,”23 we want to work for man’s integral well-being by showing him his nature, dignity, vocation, inalienable rights, freedom, and eternal destiny by achieving the goal of faith which is the salvation of souls.24 All which leads to seeing Christ formed25 in men will be an object of maximum attention and apostolic work for us.
16. [Apostolate] In a special way, we will devote ourselves to the preaching of the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12), in all forms: by studying and teaching the Holy Scriptures, Theology, the Church Fathers, Liturgy, Catechesis, Ecumenism, etc.; by the achievement of mission outreaches, spiritual exercises, education and Christian formation of children and young people, and also works of charity with the most needy (abandoned children, the handicapped, the sick, the elderly); in the search and formation of suitable ministers of the Word; in the publication of magazines, treaties, books, etc.; and in other things. By oral and written word we want to prolong the Word.
17. [Marian Slavery] By making a fourth vow of slavery to Mary according to Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, we want to manifest our love and gratitude to the Blessed Virgin so to obtain her indispensable help in order to prolong the Incarnation in all things. We do not want the spirit of our religious family to be any other than that of the Holy Spirit, and if it degenerates to be of another spirit, from now on and in whatever place, we beg the Lord to erase our religious family from the face of the Church.
18. [Fidelity to the Holy Spirit] Only with the most absolute fidelity to the Holy Spirit can we use the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). Our poor breath is only fertile and irresistible if it is in communication with the Spirit of Pentecost.
To achieve this disposition of maximum, total and unrestricted docility to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ,26 we need the Holy Virgin Mary to be the model, the guide, and the form of all our actions. For by this means can we say with all the strength of soul and heart, today and always, “Totus tuus”, Mary!27
1 LG 8.
2 LG 31.
3 LG 44.
4 JOHN PAUL II, To the Union of Men Superiors General, November 26, 1979.
5 Cf. Phil 2:7-8; PC 5.
6 Cf. ES 23-24.
7 Especially: GS 53-62, EN 20, CT 53, etc.
8 JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Pontifical Biblical Commission on Biblical Science and Magisterium of the Church, April 24, 1979.
9 Cf. 1 Cor 10:4.
10 BLESSED ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY, Elevations 34.
11 RM, Creed ; Apostles’ Creed.
12 Cf. Jn 17:16.
13 Cf. Mt 16:24.
14 Cf. Jn 17:11.
15 SAINT IRENAEUS, quoted in DP 400.
16 DP 400, 469.
17 Cf. LG 31.
18 Cf. Jn 6:68.
19 Cf. Phil 2:7.
20 Cf. Jn 1:14.
21 Cf. Heb 1:6.
22 RH 13; DM 1.
23 GS 22.
24 Cf. 1 Pt 1:9.
25 Cf. Gal 4:19.
26 Cf. Rom 8:9.
27 SAINT BONAVENTURE, Psalt. Maius, Canticum ad Instar illius, Is 12; 14, 22 a.b.; TD 216; Episcopal Slogan of JOHN PAUL II.