Riforma dell’Ordine Agostiniano 1592
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Religious Order of Pontifical Right
The Order of the Discalced Augustinians (OAD) is a religious order of pontifical right, whose members, priests and lay brothers, make the solemn vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and humility, that is, not to seek higher ecclesiastical offices. It is part of the Orders the so-called “mendicant Orders.”
The Discalced Augustinians had started towards the end of 1500 in the climate of reform promoted by the Council of Trent in order to cope-up with the widespread doctrinal, spiritual and disciplinary downfall, that had invaded the structures of the Church and the same religious institutes, due to multiple factors, such as the schism of the West, the secular spirit of the Renaissance with its exasperated temporal autonomy claim, the sad aspects of the moral corruption of the papacy, the currents scholastic decadence that is promoting false mysticism, Protestantism, etc..
In particular, the Order of the Discalced Augustinians is founded ideally in the decree “Et quoniam satis” of the 100th General Chapter of the Augustinian Order (OSA) that on May 19, 1592 prescribed the reform of the Order.
The decree “Et quoniam satis”
Here is the text of the decree: “As it is all too clear that many religious of the Order are drifting apart from the observance of moral and norms of canon law that is very hard to recognize in their conduct the aspect of fraternal charity and of ‘ancient religious discipline; and, on the other hand, the longing to revive the Order for holiness of life and works, making it shine in the world as a luminous example of every virtue, the Fathers of the Definitory decreed a reform that should start from Roman monastery, then from this paradigm be extended to other neighboring convents, and eventually, to all monasteries and convents of the Order. This is to correct the customs, to eradicate any abuses with regard to ownership of property, to remove every stain or guilt, down to the smallest defect. ” But, four years earlier, in 1588, the Provincial Chapter of Toledo decreed a reform in Spain, which has given rise to the Augustinian Recollects. In Italy, there were just a few of the Augustinian religious who were eager to follow more closely the spirit of their Father St. Augustine and adhered to the proposal of the General Chapter. A month later, in Naples in the convent of St. Mary Olivella, they began to live a reformed life. On July 20 following the Reform, they put on the new reform habit and chose to go barefoot: an aspect commonly regarded at that time as a sign of evangelical radicalism.
A year later, November 16, 1593, the Prior General of the Order (OSA), Fr. Andrea Securani, with the decree “Cum Ordinis our splendorem” legally recognized the Reform.
On December 22, 1594, Pope Clement VIII, with the Brief “Decet Romanum Pontificem” formally approved it.
Clarification: Congregation – Order
Here it should be pointed out that the perspective of the General Chapter and all the advocates of the Reform – both the superiors and the enthusiastic religious who actually executed it – initially they did not consider establishing an Order in its own right, separate from
‘The Order itself’. However, the issue of autonomy showed up very early, and was imposed as a necessity, pressured by the course of events: At stake was – not ensuring a degree of autonomy to the reformed convents – the very possibility of implementing iterated appeals and desires of the religious who yearned for a reform and a more authentic expression of Augustinian life. Besides, this problem was felt in all the reforms of the religious orders. It was a problem that caused a lot of misunderstandings and tensions. However, the way, common to all the reforms within the ancient religious orders, was to first get an autonomy while remaining within the Order, and eventually full independence. Today there are three Orders Augustinians with different Constitutions and Superior: the Order of St. Augustine (OSA), the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR), the Order of the Discalced Augustinians (OAD).
After some clarification, we could say that the development were extraodinary. Both in Italy and in Europe, the Discalced Augustinians spread by opening new homes where they lived the spirit and discipline of the Reform; They drew up new Constitutions (1598; 1610; 1620; 1931; 1969; 1981); They wrote memorable events regarding the mission in Tonkin, now Vietnam, and China (1697-1811); They formed the provinces for better organization of the Congregation called the ‘Discalced Augustinian Hermits of Italy and Germany”; they exerted effort in promoting their own identity. And in particular for the most notable were so many pious religious , teaching, pastoral services, such as: the Venerable Father John Nicolucci of St. William (1552-1621), Fr. Carlo Giacinto Sanguinetti of St. Mary (1658-1721), Fra Santo of St. Dominic (1655-1728); the Servant of God Fra Luigi Maria Chmel of Holy Cross (1913-1939); and then, the devout mendicant of the Holy Spirit, Fra Bernardo of the Holy Spirit (1585-1614), the martyr Fra Alipio of St. Joseph (1617-1645), the two mystics Fr. Elias of Jesus and Mary (1631-1710), Fr. Fortunato Calabrese Addolorata (1714-1786), the apostle of charity, Fr. Antero Micone of St. Bonaventure (1620-1686), the bishops Msgr. Hilario Costa of Jesus (1696-1754), Msgr. John Damascene Salustri (1727-1781), the historian Fr. Giambartolomeo Panceri of S. Claudia (1660-1719), the founder of the Academy Aletina Fr. Ignatius Danisi of the Cross ( 1718-1784), Fr. Benedict Mazzoni of St. James, theologian (1616-1690), Fr. preacher Abraham Megerle of St. Clare (1644-1709), the artist Fra Enrico de Groos of St. Peter (+ 1659), etc.).
Unfortunately the OAD could not avoid the serious threat – that could have been fatal to the very existence of the Discalced Augustinians Reform – the suppression of Joseph II, Emperor of Austria, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Italian State which forced the religious to abandon the monasteries and the confiscation of all their properties. But regardless these three suppressions, in a truly providential way, the Discalced Augustinians were able to survive, and start from scratch, to make a quantum leap going to another continents. Thus in:
– June 12, 1948, the first three Discalced Augustinians arrived in Brazil and started the mission in Ramos-Rio de Janeiro, from there they extended in Paraná, São Paulo, Mato Grosso and Paraguay, in the Colonia Yguazú District;
– August 2, 1994, OAD religious missionaries reached Cebu in the Philippines, from there it extended in the other islands of Leyte, Mindanao, Luzon, as well as other countries under the Philippine province: Indonesia and Vietnam;
– January 29 2008, OAD religious missionaries arrived in Cameroon, Africa, in the diocese of Bamenda.
Today the Order of Discalced Augustinians (whose General Curia is in Rome) has three provinces (of Italy, Brazil, the Philippines), with numerous vocations.
The current General Council:
Fr. Doriano Ceteroni, Prior General (ITA)
Fr. Carlo Moro, 1st Definitor and Vicar General (ITA)
Fr. Jose Valnir Silva, 2nd General Definitor (BRA)
Fr. Dennis Duene Ruiz, 3rd General Councilor (PHIL)
Fr. Alejandro Remolino Jr., 4th General Definitor (PHL)
Fr. Calogero Carruba, Procurator General (ITA)
Fr. Diones Rafael Paganotto, Secretary General (BRA)
However, if you want to describe the spirituality of the Discalced Augustinians, two elements are needed as components of their identity: Being Augustinian, from which the name Augustinian Order derived, and that of the Tridentine Reform, it’s from this context of which they were born.
– “Augustinian-Discalced” its simple description is to highlight the richness of content enclosed in each of the two constitutive terms of such denomination: “Augustinians – Discalced”. The first term, refers to the dense “augustinianity” of both spiritual and doctrinal themes common to various augustinian families; secondly, it refers to the intense radicality of the penitential aspects typical to the spirit of the Tridentine reform. The Discalced Augustinians are not simply “Augustinians”, nor “Discalced”.
– “Charity-Humility”. You could also say, by resorting to another combination, that the spirituality of the Discalced Augustinians is contained in the words: “love, as love of unity, – humility” or “interiority – communion – humility.”
– Today, the most commonly used formula is provided by the Constitutions n. 3, from which are formulated summarily dominant themes on evangelical love, the collective pursuit of God, of humility: “Following the example of St. Augustine and the first Augustinian community of Tagaste, we Discalced Augustinians, aimed with ‘the help of grace to reach the perfection of evangelical love, looking and enjoying together, in a peculiar attitude of humility, God, who is the common good and is the totality of all goods. “
– It is through this figure that the Order is situated in the heart of the Gospel, encompassing others who, in a very harmonious manner, propose and highlight, the different aspects of spirituality proposed by Saint Augustine:
* The legal aspect, which sees the Order in its precise location of the canonical fabric of the Church;
* Trintarian aspect, sets the Order in the heart of the Trinity. The consecrated life is in fact initiative, gift and confession of the Trinity; and we all know how significant the thought of St. Augustine, the Trinitarian mystery of the life of God and man;
* Christological-ecclesial aspect, sees the Order in the heart of Christ and the Church, in a word, according to the expression of St. Augustine, the “whole Christ”. Consecrated life, in fact, is essentially configuration to Christ and living part of the life and holiness of the Church;
* The contemplative aspect, counted among the essential element in all spirituality as an essential constitutive dimension of man, first experience and the final goal of human adventure;
* The apostolic aspect, is also considered essential, because OAD is consecrated for the mission;
*The fraternal communitarian aspect, prescribed by St. Augustine at the beginning of the Rule which says that you have to live unanimously (communion) in the house (community). These are two terms related to each other that reflect and complement each other as, in the definition of man, the soul and the body;
*Ascetic-penitential aspect, expressed through in being discalced and the vow of humility. It is an aspect that is not related only to the historical context of the post-Tridentine period, but also to the Gospel and to St. Augustine. It is important because it reminds that we carry treasures in earthen vessels; and therefore we should first be discalced then, to be Augustinian; We must embrace the feelings of kenosis( emptying of oneself) of Christ or, as St. Augustine said, to humble oneself clinging to God’s humility. For Saint Augustine, humility is more than a virtue; it is a person, “the humble Jesus”;
* The Marian aspect. This element is essential to every spiritual journey, and is present in that of the Discalced Augustinians, who see in Mary the Mother of Consolation who nourishes the life and heart of the community with her delicate affection.
* The liturgical aspect, this is the key to understand the spiritual life, contemplative, community and apostolic life of the Order. So it is written in the Constitutions no. 11: “Religious life, in all its expressions, is a perennial worship to God.”
*To serve the Most High in spirit of humility.” It is another very effective and incisive formula that describes the spirituality of the Discalced Augustinians : “serving the Almighty in spirit of humility.” The meaning of this expression leads to the very heart of the identity and mission of Jesus, described in the Christological hymn of the Letter to the Philippians (2,6-11), to which the Discalced Augustinians are inspired. For as “Christ though he was in the form of God … emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … he humbled himself and becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” and in this form of a servant Jesus, who became a priest and sacrifice, served the Father through worship and served the humanity by saving them, so the Discalced Augustinians are meant to express the highest form of service of love towards God and neighbor. According to the dictates of their formula of consecration, they aspire to be consumed without a noise, as “… a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God”; aspire to serve and to live the relationship with God and with our brothers “in a peculiar attitude of humility”; aspire to that hidden service, extraordinary salvific value of the death that gives life, the poverty that is recycled into treasure, of humility that leads to glory, fraternal and ecclesial relationships that become acts of worship.
In short, for the Discalced Augustinians, barefoot and humility are two very strong signs of a more complete proposal, and most radical in humility and service, which is that of God, expressed in the mystery of his Incarnation and Redemption, in the mystery of the humble Jesus, that never ceases to wash the feet of his disciples, to create the harmony of fraternal communion, the unity of the Church and to let mercy overflow over the abundance of misery!
For an essential bibliography:
P. Gabriele Raimondo: The Discalced Augustinians, Genova 1955;
Father Ignacio Barbagallo: “Take off your sandals … The land you are treading is holy” – The spirituality of the Discalced Augustinians, Frosinone 1978; “I came to cast fire on the earth” – The missionary spirituality of the Discalced Augustinians, Frosinone 1979;
Father Eugenio Cavallari, Serve the Most High in spirit of humility – Letter to the Order in its 4th centenary of the foundation, Rome 1992; P. Gabriele Ferlisi, – Discalced Augustinians Constitutions and Charism, Rome 2008.