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My husband was at the LC seminary about 20 years ago and quickly developed serious reservations about the order. He asked many questions, one of them being, "What is the charism of this order?" The only answers he ever got were in the form of negatives. "We don't do parish work. We aren't teachers. We don't do hospice care." The only charism he could figure out was that they minister to the wealthy.

To read more about his story, take a look at the Anonymous posting on Feb. 4th at 12:30 AM in this post:

The charism is not a definition, though a lot of people look at it like that - the Jesuits, for example, are teachers, or the Dominicans are preachers, and so on.

That's not really accurate - the charism is a particular lifestyle that you only understand when you visit the community. It is a particular way of living the Gospel that the Holy Spirit has entrusted to the founder so that he can form a community, a family, and grow.

They are not the apostolates that they do or don't do, though that is a part of their life. Prayer, how they celebrate the sacraments, how they live together and glorify the Lord is the charism.

From the Archdiocese of St. Paul:

Charism: each Religious Community has a charism—a purpose or mission, and a spirit defined by the Community’s founder. For example, a Religious Order might exist to serve the poor or to teach all in a spirit of humility. Some Communities have an apostolic charism, meaning an active ministry in the world. Other Religious Orders are contemplative, focusing mainly on a communal life of prayer.

From the Congregation of Christian Brothers:

Charism – a specific and unique gift to the Church. When it is said that the brothers and others in the Edmund Rice Network share in, are inspired by, grow in, or even promote the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, they are acknowledging the specific and unique gift Edmund has been to the Church. The Church officially acknowledged the charism of Edmund with his beatification in October of 1996. While the followers of Edmund make continued efforts to discover or articulate his charism, they do not invent or shape it.


CHARISM - A charism is a gift freely given by God to a person or community, for the good and service of others in bringing about the Kingdom of God. Religious communities seek to live the charism which is received through their founders as God's gift to the Church.

A central component of the Legion's charism is to form laypeople to be holy so in turn they will work to reevangilize our world.

Does any one recall JPII saying to the Maciel (duing the anniversary celebration) that the founding charism was to help the poor?

UM DUH! That's the whole point. The LC/RC charism is all about being Catholic. Basic Catholicism. Nothing unique meaning NOTHING to do with being like Maciel. It was always about Christ.

Chere Monique: If it's only Catholicism, there's no charism. If nothing sets it apart, then why join?

Perhaps a contemporary example will help. Opus dei's charism offered a new way to look at the importance of ordinary work and reminded us of the lay vocation.

[Note, I give the example with the caveat that no distractions will be allowed. You folks simply needed an example. Stay on the topic of RC, please, for other comments will be deleted.]

ok, how about the constitutions of the order?

Ténganse las Constituciones como el carisma propio dado por Dios a la Congregación, especialmente en cuanto se refiere a su naturaleza, a sus fines específicos, a sus métodos propios de apostolado, a su espiritualidad y a sus medios ascéticos y sacramentales de perseverancia espiritual. Todo esto constituye de manera especialísima la razón de ser de la Congregación, y lleva el sello de la asistencia divina al Fundador y del juicio de la Iglesia. Nadie, excepto la Sede apostólica, tiene poder para sancionar la introducción de alguna modificación o cambio en las Constituciones de la Congregación.

n420. Regard these Constitutions as the specific charism given by God to the Congregation, especially in all that refers to her nature, her specific objectives, her own methods of apostolate, her spirituality and her ascetic and sacramental means of spiritual perseverance. All of this uniquely constitutes the raison d'etre of the Congregation and bears the seal of divine assistance received by the Founder and the judgement of the Church. No one except the Holy See has the power to sanction the introduction of any modification or change in the Constitutions of the Congregation.

Interesting question. I got an email from a woman still in RC after I extended a "if you need someone to talk to, I'm here" email. Her response was basically that, even though she's heartbroken, RC=Catholicism 101 & nothing has really changed.

I talked to another woman who's still in RC, a team leader, who said that she's not really affected by the news and nothing changed in her mind. Scary!!

Perhaps this scandal IS the charism. The dialogue will be helpful for the Church because it will shed light on what it means to serve the Church as a movement. The charism of Regnum Christi truly belongs to ex-Regnum Christi members. Interestingly, it is like the early Church phenomenon of defining truth. Before "Fides Quarens Intellectum" and the scholastic movement, the Church Fathers responded to heresies, and so the great central doctrines of christianity were defined. In this age, there are many movements. Regnum Christi is a counterfeit movement (though made up of authentic christians), and the gift that comes from the Holy Spirit corresponds to our wrestling with it. This is so that the Church may prepare herself in the future and so that the Church's sons might become "wise as serpents" in defending her.

Very interesting, James. "A counterfeit movement." It is purifying the whole Church, and forcing open the eyes of many who would rather brush this under a rug. Haven't we already learned that lesson?

Few theologians have reflected as broadly and deeply as Hans Urs von Balthasar on the mission and charisms of ecclesial movements. Below are a couple of salient points Angelo Scola's 1986 interview with him, published by Ignatius Press under the title Test Everything: Hold Fast to What is Good.

"the ecclesial radiance of a person extends as far as his (accomplished) mission. Seen from that angle, Mary's mission radiates throughout the whole Church (the image of the "protective mantle" expresses this symbolically), and analogous to this, other charisms radiate across vast spaces of the Church. Remember Saint Francis, who not only radiates throughout the orders which live through its mission, but beyond that, all "franciscan" souls. Saint Francis is not an idea, but a reality" (82-83).

"The Holy Spirit may suddenly illuminate parts of revelation that have always been there, but have not been sufficiently reflected upon. The history of the Church confirms this. Before Saint Francis, no one had thought so deeply about the poverty of Christ. This poverty is not a secondary consideration but a new access to the center" (88-89).

The charisms above are profoundly rooted in persons whose transparency witnesses to Jesus Christ anew for different times and circumstances. As Germain Grisez has written: "But even after the death of an institute’s saintly founder, its members’ service and life continue as cooperation with him or her." A charism is not an idea but a person whose witness to Christ generates a movement of people.

The charism was efficiency.

The charism is inspiring Catholics to live their baptismal promises by service to the Church. RC provides formation for growth in personal holiness and materials for apostolate programs to engage all Catholics in their faith. All charisms respond to needs of the church and the need to enliven the faith of all Catholics (not just the 20 on every parish committee) is evident in our time.

I haven't read the writings of Maciel, nor do I profess to understand the complexity of this question. From my interactions with priests in the Legionaries, I have been ministered to in a more direct path to Jesus way, and less of a religious way than I have by any other order of priests. It would seem the Catholic Church is attempting through the Legion to bring spiritually impoverished lay people to have a close RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. In a way similar to what Protestant faiths encourage, I haven't been ministered to like that by diocesan priests, but maybe there are other orders that approach evangelization in this way as well, which I guess then would negate the uniqueness of it.

There are three answers that we were generally given.

1. Charity. When you asked on a retreat, that's what they would say. This has already been dismissed, and for good reason: could you find an order whose charism was not, pared down to its bare essentials, charity?

2. Christ-centeredness. Again, find me an order that is not Christ-centered! Even at fourteen years old, I was perplexed by this answer.

3. Efficacy. This, they stressed, was their "apostolic charism" and didn't describe "our special, unique spirituality." This one, I will definitely admit, is unique and definable. However, this was the one I didn't like. After all, efficiency, as they explained it, included a lot of odd methodology, such as a pyramid-scheme-like structure (vertex to base) and programs to guide all your friendships.

Still, if I had to name one thing to be their charism, I would choose efficiency (or efficacy). This one they truly do put into practice, finding every possible way to gain new members and start new apostolates as quickly and efficiently as possible. That sounded pretty nice when you assumed that all this organized, efficient effort was bringing souls to Christ every minute. However, souls are harder to win than that, and the emphasis on efficiency probably made it easier to skip the step of actually winning souls to Christ from time to time.

Thank you for starting this blog. The question of charism is a very interesting one. I think it would probably help the LC/RC not to focus too much on that point. Some founders, like St. Francis or St. Benedict, brought incredible change into the Church. But many worthy congregations have come into being without anything very unique to offer. Certain individuals saw particular needs in their area, felt a call to do something, and the thing got going.

If the LC/RC is reformed, it will find its charism along the way.

With other religious movements and orders such as Cursillo or Mother Theresa you can see how the special charism is exemplified in the actions and the life of the founders or foundresses. In the case of the LC and RC it is quite a different and pathetic situation.

Let us take them to task about the 'charism':

It's been nearly 8 weeks and I have backed right out of the movement and my RC apostolate. Standing on the outside these weeks, I scratch my head and wonder, what WAS that all about?

I am finding it so much easier to just focus on Christ. Without all the extra work and meetings and time spent contemplating my own holiness, I can actually get down to the business of loving souls. It's so much easier!

RC made it all so much more complicated than it had to be.

A charism is a grace, that is self-communication of God given through the mediation of some paricular saintly person for the building up of the Church, "gratia gratis data", (grace freely given, as distinct from "gratia gratum faciens", meaning sanctifying or habitual grace. In theory, such a grace could be communicated by God without the mediator being in a state of grace. However, in the case of founders, I cannot see how this could be the case. It is a matter of the "foundational charism", which as mentioned above in quote from Han Urs von Balthasar in a previous post. Just as there could hardly be a Dominican charism if St. Dominic had not dediated himself to preaching, or a Franciscan one if St. Francis had not attempted with all his might to reproduce the humility and poverty of Jesus Christ, and so for others. So, in my estimation there is no such thing as a legionary fundational charism. Maciel was a mere fraudster and plagiarist. The case seem to be that being homosexual, he attempted to create a kind of projection of what he was not. He did this by imposing thousands of rules and regulations on others which like a perfect hypocrite he never even lifted a finger to fulfill himself. What did he do to found Regnum Christi? He got some of the legionary priests such as Fr. José Antonio Alonso to plagiarize what they could from such sources as Opus Dei, Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne of Chardjin. Of course, before than the Legion was the result of plagiarizing mainly from the Jesuits, although badly done. He could hardly have understood St. Ignatius. In any case, he was too busy chasing women, creating a harem of young boys and living high off the hog in the Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Hyatt, traveling in style in the Concorde, and of course amassing a sizeable fortune. With it he could take care of his offspring and other family members, whilst the poor novices in Cheshire and elsewhere put up with the unheated building, cold showers in Salamanca, ate left over food and so on.

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