227. RULES OR CONSTITUTIONS FOR THE INSTITUTE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS (1885)
Critical ed. in Giovanni Bosco, Costituzioni per l’Istituto delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (1872-1885). Critical texts by Sr. Cecilia Romero fma. (= Istituto Storico Salesiano – Fonti, Serie prima, 2). Roma, LAS 1983, pp. 287-335.
Chapter 1. Purpose of the Institute
1. The object of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is to seek their personal perfection, and to cooperate in the salvation of their neighbour especially by Christian education to the children of working class families.
2. The Institute will be composed of unmarried women who profess to live the common life in everything. They will make temporary vows of three years or also in perpetuity.
3. The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians will endeavour before anything else to exercise Christian virtues, then they will work for the good of their neighbour. It will be their special concern to take up the direction of schools, orphanages, infant schools, festive Oratories, and also to open work shops to help the poorest girls in the cities, villages and foreign missions. Where there is need they will also accept the direction of hospitals and other similar works of charity.
4. They can also open boarding schools preferably for young women of the lower class, whom they will teach those subjects and arts which conform to their state in life and demanded by their social situation. They will see it as their task to form them in piety, make them good Christians who are also able eventually to earn an honest living.
Chapter 2. Form of the Institute
1. The Institute is immediately dependent on the Superior General of the Society of St Francis de Sales, to whom they will give the name Major Superior. In each House belonging to the Congregation he will be represented by a priest with the name of particular Director and for the whole Institute by a member of the Salesian Superior Chapter, or another suitable priest, with the title of Director General of the Sisters. The Director General will take care of everything regarding the material, moral and spiritual smooth running of the Institute.
2. The Major Superior, in agreement with the Superior Chapter of the Sisters, after a Sister has completed her period of triennial vows once or twice in a praiseworthy manner, may also admit her to perpetual vows when he judges it to be of advantage to the Sister and the Institute. The Major Superior gives the religious habit and receives the vows himself or by means of another priest delegated by him.
3. The vows oblige so long as someone remains in the Congregation. If for any Sister for reasonable reason, or after the prudent judgement of her superiors, were to leave the Institute, she can be released from her vows by the Supreme Pontiff or the Major Superior. Otherwise let each one persevere in her vocation until death, always mindful of the serious words of our Divine Saviour: “No one who puts their hand to the plough, and looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
4. All the Houses of the Institute, in what concerns the administration of the sacraments and the exercise of religious worship, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop. The Sisters then of each House belonging to the Congregation will have a Salesian priest for their ordinary confessor, appointed by the Major Superior and approved for confessions in the diocese; in Houses belonging to others they will have the parish priest, or other priest appointed by the bishop for their confessor. Among the tasks of the particular Director is that of holding a conference for the Sisters two or more times a month, dealing with some topic of religious perfection, or explaining some points of the Rule.
5. The Sisters and the girls of the House who do not belong to the Salesian Congregation will be subject to the jurisdiction of the parish priest in matters that regard the parish and its rights.
6. The Sisters will retain their civil rights even after profession, but they cannot administer their goods except within the limits and manner indicated by the Major Superior.
7. The fruits of stable and movable goods brought into the Congregation must be yielded to the same.
8. The Institute will see that each Sister has what is needed for food, clothing and those things that may be needed for health, or in case of sickness.
9. Whoever dies intestate shall be succeeded by her rightful heir(s), in accordance with civil legislation.
10. Whenever a Sister leaves the Congregation, she cannot ask for any kind of remuneration for any office she has exercised for the time she remained there. She may however ask for real estate or other items that she had before entering the Institute, and will receive them in the state in which they are. She has no right to ask account of the Superiors for the fruits and administration of these items over the time she spent in religious life.
Chapter 3. The vow of chastity
1. In order to practise works of charity to one's neighbour continually and to work fruitfully with the young an indefatigable study of all the virtues is needed and this in a more than ordinary fashion. But the vow of chastity, the angelic virtue, the virtue dear above all others to the Son of God should be cultivated in an eminent degree by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Firstly because the duty they have of instructing and guiding their neighbour in the way of salvation is like that of the holy Angels. It is therefore necessary that they should live with a pure heart and in the angelic state since virgins are called "angels of the earth". Secondly, because their vocation to be properly carried out demands a total detachment both internal and external from all that is not God. This is why they make a vow of chastity with which they consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ, resolved to preserve themselves in mind and heart as His pure and immaculate spouses.
2. In order to observe this vow they must practice a most vigilant guard over the senses which are the doors through which the enemy of souls enters. They must no longer live and breathe but for their heavenly Spouse alone, with all purity and holiness of spirit, of words, of deportment and of deeds, bearing in mind the words of Our Lord who says, "Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.".
3. In order to preserve so great a treasure they shall call to mind the presence of God, turning to Him often with acts of lively faith, firm hope and ardent charity, fleeing from idleness and freely and voluntarily avoiding dangerous occasions of friendship of any kind other than for Jesus Christ. They will exercise interior and exterior mortification, the first, without limit and the second in the measure permitted by obedience.
4. Let the Sisters foster a special devotion to Mary Immaculate, to glorious Saint Joseph and to their Guardian Angels. If with deep humility they put into practice their Rules and all that this chapter suggests, trusting in Jesus Christ, they will one day go to sing the hymn to the Immaculate Lamb in heaven reserved by God for those to whom He has given the grace of living and dying in the state of virginity.
Chapter 4. The vow of obedience
1. The life of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, needing to be a continual burnt offering, would be lacking the best in this, if the sacrifice of one's will were not part of it. This in fact is offered by the vow of obedience to the divine Majesty. Our Divine Redeemer, moreover, has assured us that He came not to do His own will, but that of His heavenly Father. It is in order that we may be sure of doing the holy will of God that the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians make the vow of obedience.
2. By the vow of obedience we are obliged to occupy ourselves only with what the Superior judges to be for the greater glory of God and the good of one's own soul and the souls of others, according to the Rule of this Institute.
3. The Sisters should obey in the spirit of faith seeing God in their Superior. Their obedience should be trustful, expectant and full of hope, convinced that what is ordained by obedience will redound to their greater spiritual advantage, and indeed when the thing commanded is repugnant the reward they receive from God will be greater, if they faithfully carry it out.
4. Let their obedience be prompt and cheerful and without delay, dispute or sadness, and without judging and criticising the reasons given for the command, be they clear or hidden.
5. Let no one be unduly anxious to ask for anything or to refuse. On perceiving that something is harmful or necessary let her mention the fact to the Superior who will provide what is required.
Chapter 5. The vow of poverty
1. The observance of the vow of poverty in the Institute of Mary Help of Christians consists essentially in detachment from temporal goods. It is practised by observing the common life regarding food and clothing and keeping nothing for personal use without the permission of the Superior.
2. It is part of this vow to see that the rooms are very simple, with more emphasis given to decorating the heart with virtue than one's person or the walls of the room.
3. No one may use money in a spirit of ownership either in the Institute or outside, neither may she use it as a deposit for any reason whatsoever without the express permission of the Superior.
4. Whatever is brought as a gift to the Sisters will be delivered to the superior, who will dispose of it as she thinks best, without being obliged to give an account of her arrangements. The Sisters will not give gifts to any people outside and even amongst themselves without express permission. They will also not be allowed to borrow, or exchange anything, except with the consent of the superior.
5. Where needed let each be prepared to suffer heat, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue and contempt, if this redounds to the greater glory of God, the spiritual advantage of others, and to the salvation of her own soul.
6. To encourage the observance of voluntary poverty the Sisters reflect that this virtue makes them true followers of the Divine Saviour, who being rich became poor and to leave us a great example espoused poverty and remained poor from birth to death.
Chapter 6. Internal Government of the Institute
1. The Institute of Mary Help of Christians is governed and directed by a Superior Chapter made up of a Superior General, a Vicar, a Bursar and two Assistants, depending on the Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation.
2. The Superior Chapter will be presided over by the Major Superior, or by the Director General, or by the local Director delegated for this purpose. The Superior Chapter will meet when there is a need to open a new House or establishment,or for any other business concerning the general interests of the Institute. When it is a question of admission to clothing or profession the mistress of novices will also intervene.
3. The Sisters will never open a House or take up direction of some institution, kindergarten, school and the like, before the Major Superior has dealt with the bishop and is in full agreement with him regarding ecclesiastical authority.
4. The Superior General [for the Sisters] will have full direction over the Institute, under the Major Superior. It is up to her to to determine the duties of the Sisters, according to need, and to move superiors from one House to another after hearing the opinion of her superiors. In cases of buying and selling real estate, demolishing buildings or undertaking new constructions she should first have an understanding with the Director General, and obtain the consent of the Major Superior.
Once a year, and any time it is requested, she should also render a general account to the Major Superior on the moral, physical and material state of the Institute, and if she should have monies beyond what is strictly needed she should hand them over to him to be used as he judges best for the greater glory of God.
5. The Vicar will take the place of the Superior General and will note income and expenditure of the entire Congregation; she will look after legacies, wills and how to handle them, donations regarding the Houses of the Institute and will keep a register of them. The administration of moveable and immoveable goods and their fruits is also entrusted to her care and responsibility. She will however depend on the Superior General, to whom she should give account of her management every quarter.
6. The Vicar is also entrusted with the task of secretly admonishing the Superior General but will not warn her unless there are serious reasons and not before having prayed and consulted God about it, in order to know what to say, how to say it, the place and time for it to be of most advantage. The Superior herself from time to time will ask her if she has observations to make, to more easily provide her with the opportunity of offering this charitable service.
7. The Bursar will take care of everything regarding material matters of the Houses. Repairs to buildings, new buildings, purchases, sales, wholesale supplies of clothing, food, furnishings and everything relating to management of these, are especially entrusted to the Bursar, in dependence on the Superior General.
8. The first assistant will keep the correspondence between the Superior Chapter and all the Houses of the Institute, and also with outsiders, but after being appointed by the Superior General. She will keep account of decrees, letters and all written material referring to ecclesiastical, municipal and civil authorities.
9. The second assistant will be entrusted with everything regarding schools and teaching in the various Houses of the Institute.
Chapter 7. Election of the Superior General, Vicar, Bursar and the two Assistants
1. The Superior General and other offices will have a six year term of office and can be re-elected.
2. The elections can be held over two occasions in accordance with the opinion of the Major Superior, but if there is no impediment they will take place on the octave of the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, or on the occasion of a General Chapter.
3. Three months prior, the Superior General will advise all the Houses of the expiry of her term and that of her other officials. At the same time the Major Superior will ask for prayers to be said to obtain heavenly light, and he will inform everyone who will take part in the new elections of the obligation of voting for the one they judge to be most suitable for governing the Institute and best suited to work for the glory of God and the good of souls in the Congregation.
4. The election of the Superior General, as far as possible, should not be delayed more than fifteen days from the expiry of her term of office. During this time the Superior General will act as Vicar in everything referring to direction and administration of the Institute.
5. The Superior Chapter and the superiors of each House will intervene in electing the Superior General. If for any reason someone is unable to vote, the election will still be valid. The election will be presided over by the Major Superior, or by the Director General, accompanied by two assistant priests.
6. Since the election of a good Mother General usually brings great good to the Institute and for the glory of God, so as to facilitate the best choice, the Major Superior, just before the election, may also propose a short-list of Sisters who seem to him to be more suited for the office of Superior General.
7. This election will take place in the following way: A crucifix will be place on a small altar or table, and two candles lit. The Major Superior or his delegate will intone the Veni Creator, followed by the Oremus Deus qui corda etc. Then following a brief address, voters will write the name on a form of the one they intend to elect, and folding this form they will go in order to place it in the appropriately prepared urn. Strict secrecy will be maintained in everything, so that no one will know the voting for one or the other, before or after the vote. Whoever obtains an absolute majority of votes will be elected as Superior General. Absolute majority means that more than half the ballot papers placed in the ballot box are in favour.
8. The Major Superior, by his authority, will confirm that the election has been completed.
9. If the election does not succeed in the first round of voting, it can be repeated on the same day of the following day. When the election has not succeeded after the second round of voting, because voting is too scattered, the Major Superior has the faculty of choosing as Superior the Sister he judges most suited to the task.
10. The election of the Vicar, Bursar and two Assistants will be carried out the same way, in different rounds, but the election will be valid with a relative majority of votes, meaning the one elected will be the one who gains more votes than any other. Their election will also be approved and confirmed by the Major Superior.
11. The Superior General whose term has expired, unless she was deposed, if not elected as Vicar or Bursar, will have full right to be first assistant for the six year period without any need to be elected.
12. The scrutiny for the ballots will be done by two assistants and the president, who will see that the ballot papers are burned in the presence of the Chapter which is voting.
13. When the election is complete and confirmed, the Te Deum will be sung, and the Director General in the name of the Major Superior will advise all the Houses.
14. A Sister, to be elected Superior General, Vicar, Bursar or Assistant should: 1. Be 35 years of age and 10 of profession, but if needs be the Major Superior either before or after the election may alter these conditions; 2. Have always been exemplary; 3. Be gifted with prudence, charity and zeal for regular observance; 4. Be perpetually professed.
15. Although one may assume that a humble Daughter of Mary Help of Christians would not be led by the ambition to use intrigues and scheming to gain promotion, nevertheless to prevent such a case we declare that notoriously ambitious Sisters are deemed to be ineligible—they are inept and unworthy.
16. In the case where any member of the Superior Chapter must cease office before the six years are up, the Superior General with the consent of the Major Superior, will choose a substitute as she thinks best in the Lord. This person will remain in office only until the end of the six year period already begun by the one who preceded her.
17. Whenever the death of the Superior General occurs during the six year period, or she has to relinquish office for some reason, the election of a new superior will take place in the manner described above; with the exception that in order to avoid further disturbance the Major Superior may choose her by his own authority. In both cases the one chosen will remain in office until the completion of the six year period already begun, when there will be new elections for the Superior Chapter.
18. During the vacancy the Vicar will govern the Institute until the election of the new superior.
19. When the new superior is to be elected by the General Chapter, the Vicar will advice all the Houses and in agreement with the Major Superior will choose the appropriate time for the election.
20. The Superior General will visit each House at least once a year. Where because of distance or number of Houses she cannot do this in person she will choose, with the consent of her superiors, some visitors to whom she will give the task of doing this in her stead. The Visitors will take the place of the Superior General for matters and affairs entrusted to them.
Chapter 8. Election of superiors of individual Houses and their respective Chapters
1. There will be a superior [direttrice] in every House of the Institute, to whom the Sisters assigned there will give their obedience.
2. The Superior Chapter of the Sisters, with the approval and confirmation of the Major Superior, will choose the superior for each House and its Chapter in proportion to the number of Sisters living there. After the superior the first to be chosen will be the vicar and assistants according to need. The new superior will also work with the Superior Chapter for these.
3. The superior can administer goods brought into the Congregation and donated for a particular House, but always within the limits fixed by the Superior General, or by the local Director, if the Sisters are working at a Salesian Institute. She cannot buy or sell real estate or put up new buildings, nor carry our renovations without the consent of her superiors. In her administration she must take care of all the moral, material and scholastic running, if there are schools, and for more important matters will call together her Chapter and will make no decisions without hearing their opinion. Every year she will give an exact account of her administration to the Superior General.
4. The vicar takes the place of the superior when she is absent, and her task will also be to administer temporal things. Therefore she will keep a vigilant eye on everything regarding domestic economy. She will see that nothing is lacking, nothing is wasted or damaged and will see to all the necessary provisions for the House. If the House is annexed to a Salesian College or some other Institute she will also consult with the appropriate person regarding norms for expenditures. The vicar should render account of her management to the superior as often as she is asked to.
5. The assistants will be part of all important decision-making, and will help the superior in scholastic and domestic matters, and in everything that is assigned to them.
Chapter 9 The Novice Mistress
1. The Novice Mistress will be chosen and constituted by the Superior General after hearing the opinion of her Chapter and with the consent of the Major Superior.
2. The Novice Mistress needs to be a Sister of proven virtue and prudence. She should have full and clear understanding of the holy Rule and be known for her spirit of piety, humility and patience under all odds. She should be at least 30 years old and 5 of profession. Her term in office will depend on the arrangements of her superiors.
3. The Novice Mistress will endeavour to show herself amiable and full of kindness, so that the daughters will open their hearts to her in everything that could see their progress in virtue. She will direct and instruct them in the observance of the Constitutions, especially in what regards the vow of chastity, poverty and obedience. In every case she will be their model in fulfilling all the prescriptions of the Rule. She is also encouraged to inspire a spirit of mortification in the novices, but to use great discretion in external mortification in order not to weaken them to the point where they cannot carry out the duties of the Institute.
4. She will watch over the imperfections of the novices and will often turn to God asking his enlightenment to discern the defects which are natural and those which are wilful: the former kind she will put up with and lead them to useful reform, while the latter she will correct, lessen and eliminate with prudent discretion and charity.
5. Saint Teresa wanted her Sisters to be cheerful, sincere and open. Therefore the Novice Mistress will see that her novices are the same, because Sisters of this kind are the best suited to inspiring the girls and people in the world to respect and love piety and religion.
6. Finally she should not forget that the spirit of the Institute is a spirit of charity and kindness, a spirit of abnegation and sacrifice, and therefore she will endeavour to inform and encourage the novices with this spirit so that once professed they will be able instruments for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
7. What has been said of the Novice Mistress also applies to the assistant or one looking after the postulants. Especially for the early days of probation she will be their consolation and comfort; then later she should see if they have a true vocation to the religious state and if they have the physical and moral qualities required by the rules.
Chapter 10. General Chapter
1. Every six years and possibly whenever the Superior Chapter has to be elected, there will be a General Chapter. Taking part in this will be the Major Superior or Director General with two priest assistants, the Superior Chapter and superiors of each House, if distance and other circumstances allow.
2. The General Chapter will deal with matters of common interest for the Congregation and can also modify articles of the Constitutions, but in accordance with the spirit of the Institute.
3. If the Major Superior has not personally taken part in the General Chapter, all the acts will be given him to examine them and will not oblige until he has given his approval.
Chapter 11. Terms of admission
1. Girls who wish to be aggregated to the Institute of Mary Help of Christians will put their request to the Major Superior or the Superior General, who either him or herself or through a Sister appointed for this purpose, will find out the necessary information about their circumstances, conduct, abilities, etc., and if they have the required qualities, will admit them to the postulancy.
2. Personal conditions: Legitimate birth, excellent morals, good character, sincere inclination to the virtues proper to the Institute, testimonial of good conduct and testimonial of good repute of the postulant's family, from the parish priest a certificate of vaccination and good physical health, whether she has suffered from smallpox, aged between 15 and 30 years and has not previously been a member of the Religious Congregation.
3. The postulants will pay a fee of 30 francs per month for their time of probation in preparation for the novitiate. This probationary period will last at least 6 months. They will bring with them a sufficient outfit, in accordance with the note that will be provided. Since the Sisters retain their civil rights, they will bring with them the same dowry that would be expected in the family. This dowry however will be no less than a thousand lire. The Superior General with the consent of her superior can modify this article when she believes it to be for the greater glory of God.
4. Should a daughter leave or die during this time of probation the dowry and her outfit will be returned to her family, though her residential fee, and expense for sickness and funeral will be up to her family.
5. If a novice leaves or dies, her outfit will be returned to her family in the state in which it is, provided however that 15 lire per month is subtracted for the time spent in the novitiate.
6. The dowry and outfit will go in its entirety to the Institute if the Sister leaves or dies once professed.
Chapter 12. Clothing and profession
1. The girl accepted as a postulant should spend no less than 6 months exercising the virtues proper to the Institute, learning the spirit and becoming accustomed to everything that could with the tasks, ways of teaching and teaching catechism.
2. When this time of probation is over, the Superior General will ask the Major Superior will ask for her to be given the vocation exam by the Director or other person appointed. They will then proceed to a vote by the House Chapter where the postulant is living and if she gains a majority of votes, an exact report of this will be given to the Superior Chapter, which will decide on admitting her for clothing in the religious habit with the prescribed ceremonies. In the case where the postulant is not admitted to clothing, her family will be advised and she will be sent back to them.
3. After clothing there will be two years of novitiate. A month before this period concludes the conduct and attitude of the novice will again be examined and if she obtains the majority of votes in the scrutiny she will be admitted to holy profession, in accordance with the prescribed formula. The day of the profession will be put in the appropriate register along with the signature of the professed and two Sisters who are witnesses. If she should not be approved she will return to her family unless the Chapter decides to extend her probation for a further 6 months after which a definitive and final decision will be made.
4. Clothing will be preceded by some days of retreat and profession by the normal retreat.
5. A book will be kept in every House of the Institute, in which will be written the age, provenance, name and surname of the Sisters there, and their parents.
6. For serious moral and behaviour reasons novices may be sent away from the Institute by the Superior General and the professed Sisters of the Superior Chapter with the consent of the Major Superior who by that act will release her from her vows.
Chapter 13. The principle virtues recommended for novices to study and for the professed to practise
1. Patient and zealous charity, not only with children, but also with young girls and any other person, with the purpose of doing the greatest good possible for souls.
2. Simplicity and modesty; inward and outward spirit of mortification; strict observance of poverty..
3. Obedience of will and judgement, willingly, and without comment accepting advice and corrections and the duties entrusted to her.
4. The spirit of prayer with which the Sisters carry out their practices of piety will keep them in God's presence and abandoned to his sweet Providence.
5. These virtues must be well-proven and deep-rooted in the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians since they must combine the active and contemplative life in equal measure, copying Martha and [Mary] Magdalene, the life of the apostles and the angels.
Chapter 14. Arrangement of the Various Hours of the Day
1. Since the occupations of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are many and varied, great solicitude is required to carry them all out exactly and in an orderly way. Therefore it will be very helpful to arrange an accurate distribution of the hours of the day.
2. From the 1st April to the end of August rising will be at 5; from the 1st September to end of March, at 5.30.Half an hour will be allowed for dressing, making the bed, washing etc. At the sound of the bell the Sisters will meet in their chapel for community prayer according to the set formula. This will be followed by half an hour's meditation for which the subject will be read aloud. They will then assist at holy Mass. The time that follows until lunch time will be occupied in work imposed by obedience, except for half an hour for breakfast.
3. A quarter of an hour before midday they will go to the church or private oratory to make the particular examen of conscience and say the Angelus, after which they will go the refectory for lunch. There will be reading throughout the meal from some spiritual book which is instructive and also raises the spirit. On principle Solemnities the superior may dispense from part or all of the reading.
4. The usual prayers will be said before and after meals. After dinner there will be about an hour's recreation. During this the Sisters will relate to one another with sisterly affection, animating one another in the divine service and rejoicing to see themselves in God's house away from the danger of offending Him. To uplift both spirit and body, honest and innocent games are not forbidden. No one should be absent from recreation without permission. When this is over they will go to the chapel for a brief visit to the Blessed Sacrament, after which they will diligently continue with their tasks.
5. At a quarter past four they will have fifteen minutes of spiritual reading in common, after which half an hour of moderate recreation is granted. About half an hour before supper they will go to the chapel and say the rosary.
6. There will be reading during supper as at lunchtime. After recreation they will go the chapel, say the prayers in common, and having read some topic for meditation the following morning, they will go to rest in silence.
Chapter 15. Enclosure
Although it is not possible for the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians to observe strict enclosure on account of the works of charity, they should observe the following rules:
1. People from outside should only be introduced into those parts of the House set aside for them or, when there is need in the rooms used by the boarders. In all other areas occupied by the Sisters, and especially in the dormitories, no other individuals are permitted to enter, except when duty or need require it or when, in an extraordinary case, the superior allows an exception. The doctor, director and closest family members may come to the infirmary when someone is sick, but always accompanied by a Sister.
2. When the bell rings for the Hail Mary in the evening, no outsiders may be admitted to the House, except in the case of a daughter being gravely ill.
3. The Sisters shall not leave the House for walks or visits, or for duty without the permission of the Superior who will provide them with a Sister or a pious lay woman as a companion.
4. Except when travelling or for a work of charity, the Sisters will not leave the House after the bell has rung for the evening Hail Mary.
5. They should not stop in the street to talk to anyone whosoever, apart from a grave necessity which is justifiable in the eyes of those who see it.
6. They should never take food in the houses of lay people or even of their relatives unless on a journey or when there is serious need.
7. If Sisters have to pass the night away from their own convent in the course of a journey and there are Sisters of the same Institute in the place they should choose to stay with the Sisters rather than with friends and relatives. The Sisters who are the hosts should receive the travellers with sisterly joy and kindness and accept no payment for expenses.
8. The Sisters will not frequent the houses of parish priests or other priests or render services to them. Neither shall they stay for dinner or take part with them in recreational or devotional gatherings. Of course visits which respect and recognition demand are not forbidden, especially to benefactors of the Institute.
9. The Sisters' rooms will be entirely separate from other rooms such that no one can enter or leave except by the door that leads outside.
10. Where the Sisters work in colleges or seminaries they must only have communication through the turntable [ruota] for meals, clothes, linen, sacred vestments, etc.
11. In every House there will be a parlour, where the superior needs to confer with the director and people outside; but this must not be used at night without grave need, nor ever with the door locked.
12. Without the permission of the superior no Sister, not even in the parlour, can confer with any person alone, except with the bishop, the Major Superior or with the Director General.
13. Conversations should be brief, about essential or useful matters, and always marked by reserve and seriousness as if one were speaking to God.
14. The superior should watch carefully over the selection and comportment of Sisters who have some engagement with people outside, as for example for the school, festive oratory and workshops, the kitchen, laundry, etc.
15. In every House the Sisters will have their own chapel for practices of piety. Where this cannot happen, they will assist at sacred functions in the community church where they work, but in a separate area, or in the parish church in an appropriate and convenient area.
16. The superior will see that the Sisters do not go to confession at night time. Where it should be necessary, she will see that the place is lit so that no problems arise.
Chapter 16. Silence
1. As silence greatly promotes the observance of regular life, so in a religious house where it is to be observed, spiritual fervour, recollection, solid piety and union with God is maintained. Therefore it is strongly recommended that the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians observe it exactly.
2. Silence in the Institute is of two kinds: rigorous and moderate. Rigorous silence begins with the bell for prayers in the evening and lasts until morning after holy Mass. This silence requires not only that one does not speak but that one avoid too much walking around, or any other noise that might disturb the recollection of the community.
3. Moderate silence covers the rest of the day, outside of recreation times mentioned in Chapter 14. Of course people can speak softly to one another when there is need or duty, such as in directing work, going on errands, doing things around the house, or other affairs requested from people outside.
4. This silence can be broken for half an hour in the workshops, after 10 in the morning, speaking moderately, or even singing hymns. The same can be done, including outside the workshops, from 4.30 to 5 in the afternoon.
5. Without real necessity, no one should stop to talk in the dormitories, corridors or on the stairs.
6. In particular cases where for reasons of duty, silence cannot be observed as above, it is up to the superior to establish a freer and more suitable time for this.
7. Let everyone take advantage of the opportunity for silence, to be more united with God, often thinking of him and being moved to affectionate aspirations.
Chapter 17. Particular practices of piety
1. Each day the Sisters will commemorate the Seven Sorrows of Mary, on seven occasions, and at the end of each they will recite a Hail Mary with the prayer that they shall also often repeat in the course of the day: Eternal Father, we offer you etc. Then from Vespers on Holy Saturday until Sunday in Albis [What used to be called Low Sunday, First Sunday after Easter] and throughout the octave of the Feast of Mary's Assumption into Heaven they will recite the Seven Joys of Mary, one for each occasion.
2. n the quarter of an hour assigned for spiritual reading they will use books that the Superiors will indicate. Recommended above all are: The Imitation Of Christ,, the Holy Nun and the Practice Of Loving Jesus Christ by St Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church; the Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales adapted for youth, the Rodriguez and lives of the saints who dedicated themselves to the education of the young. But for no reason, either greater perfection, study or instruction should the Sisters provide or read books that have not first been examined or allowed by the superiors.
3. On Sundays and holy days of obligation, the Sisters will say the Office of the Blessed Virgin, unless taking part in parish functions, or assisting at some sodality. The office of the Blessed Virgin should be said with great devotion, slowly, in unison and observing the asterisk for pauses.
4. They will go to confession every week. If in this space of time a Sister wanted to confess, or speak to the confessor about her soul, and is able to do so, she will be free to do so, but sooner or later will inform the superior, who will refrain from asking why. In the accusing themselves of their faults they strive to omit unnecessary circumstances. let them be brief and say their sins with simplicity and humility in the same way as if they were making these accusations to Jesus Christ. Let them show their confessor great respect and confidence, as befits those who are destined by God to be father, teacher and guide of their souls. But let them never speak of these things amongst themselves, and much less so about the confessor.
5. On the first Sunday or the first Thursday of the month there will be a day of spiritual retreat, where, leaving temporal affairs aside as much as possible each will be recollected, make the exercise of a happy death, arranging her spiritual and temporal affairs as if about to leave the world for eternal life. Some reading will be done suitable to need or where possible the superior will ask the director to give a sermon or conference on some topic.
6. Every 6 months the Sisters will have an extraordinary confessor, appointed by the Major Superior and approved for confessions in the diocese. Outside of this time, should someone have need, she will ask her superior who will make it easy for her to do so.
7. Ordinarily Holy Communion will be approached on Sundays and holy days of obligation, Thursday and Saturday of each week, the anniversaries of clothing and profession. But anyone may approach the altar every day with permission of her confessor.
8. If for any reason a Sister chooses not to take communion the superior is not obliged to ask why but will to speak to her in a nice way if the Sisters abstains for over a week, and if necessary will provide for her spiritual need.
9. Particular devotion and solemnity will be shown for the Feast of St Joseph, St Francis de Sales and St Teresa of Jesus who are the particular patrons of the Institute.
10. The principle Feast of the Institute are the Solemnities of the Immaculate Conception and Mary Help of Christians, preceded by the novena. The Sisters will prepare for these with sentiments of great piety, approaching the sacraments and thanking the Lord and the Blessed Virgin for having granted them the grace of a religious vocation.
11. There is no rule that prescribes abstinence and particular fasting for the Sisters in addition to those commanded by the Holy Church. In any of these they may not follow their own will but obey the confessor and the superior. Likewise they will not engage in bodily penances without first asking due permission.
12. However they should endeavour to comply with the laudable habit of fasting every Saturday in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If during the course of the week there is fasting commanded by the Church, or Saturday falls on a public holiday, they are dispensed from this fasting rule.
Chapter 18. General Rules
1. All the Sisters, from their various Houses, should come once a year to the Central House, or if they are a long distance away, to the House on which they depend, to make their retreat. If the work they have does not make it possible for them to come together for the retreat, there will be two or three separate possibilities, as judged by the Superior. At the end of the retreat the professed Sisters will renew in common and before the Blessed Sacrament the vows they made on the day of their profession.
2. Letters to the Sisters, or that they wrote to others, will be opened and read where the superior judges this to be good. She then may pass them on or keep them.
3. However they have permission to write, without requesting it, to the Supreme Pontiff, the Major Superior and Superior General and likewise to receive answers to these letters without them being opened.
4. When they are visited by family members or other people, these will be taken to the parlour accompanied by a Sister who is assigned by the Superior. On other occasions for essential visits it is recommended that the Sisters exercise great prudence and Christian modesty and superiors should take all the necessary cautions to avoid everything untoward. Since the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have many things to do, and when it is not a case of matters of importance, these people should not be allowed to visit more than once a month.
5. Let the Sisters love one another in the Lord but be careful about relationships amongst themselves or with anyone in terms of particular friendships which take us away from perfect love of God and end up being a plague in the community.
6. No one is allowed to give commissions, not to school children or family or anyone, except with a prior understanding of the superior, to whom any correspondence should be referred.
7. Each Sister should regard herself as less than all the others, thus no one will be lacking in humility nor will she refuse even the most humble tasks in the house ass assigned her by the superior according to her abilities and according to what she prudently judges to be good in the Lord.
8. The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians will always be happy with their Sisters, laughing, joking etc., always, however, as it would seem the angels do amongst themselves; but whenever people of the other sex are present they will deport themselves seriously and with dignity. When out on the street they will walk with great composure and modesty, never staring at people or things they come across, but nevertheless greeting people who greet them, or ecclesiastics who are nearby, with a nod of the head.
9. In the house and outside they will always speak humbly, not maintaining their own point of view, avoiding especially any harsh or biting words, words of reproach, vanity regarding themselves or the good things the Lord has deigned to do for them. All their activities in private and in common will be done solely for God They will never speak about status, age, wealth, if they had any of this in the world. They will never raise their voice when speaking with someone, even during recreation.
10. They will always speak respectfully of the ministers of God. And when someone has some observation to make in this regard, she will confide it only to her superiors. They will do similarly when speaking of their own superior and religious of other congregations, as well as of Sisters who have left the Institute.
11. When in the presence of people of the other sex, their speech will be serious. Should they be people superior to them, ecclesiastics for example, they will give due respect to their status If they are lay people, then decorum and good example are required. All their efforts will be to show, in their dealings and whole demeanour, who they need to be, that is, brides of Jesus Christ Crucified and daughters of Mary.
12. In church they will stand in a composed manner, erect, will make a full genuflection when passing in front of the altar of the Blessed Sacrament. The professed Sisters will have the crucifix visible, hung around their neck, and the novices will have the medal of Mary Help of Christians.
13. Each one will look after her own health; so when a Sister does not feel well, without hiding or exaggerating her illness she will advise the superior so that she can provide for her need. While ill she will obey the infirmarian and doctor or surgeon so they may look after her body as they judge best before God. She will endeavour to show patience and resignation to the will of God, enduring the hardships inseparable from poverty and always keeping an imperturbable peace of mind in the hands of the Lord, who is a loving Father, both when preserving her health or when afflicted with sickness and pain. To do the best for their spirit, those who are confined to bed will be given Holy Communion once or twice a week where the nature of the illness and the place permit this.
14. The Sisters will strive always to keep closely united by the bond of mutual charity, for it would be a deplorable thing if those who have committed themselves to imitate Jesus Christ should neglect to observe the commandment most recommended by him to the point where he called it his precept. Hence besides mutual forbearance and impartial affection it is prescribed that should any Sister fail in charity towards another she must apologise as soon as she has become sufficiently calm or at least before retiring to rest and that the one offended should immediately offer her cordial forgiveness.
15. That charity be more perfect, let each one prefer the convenience of her Sisters to her own and let all on every occasion help and encourage one another by acts of kindness and holy friendship and let them never yield to any feeling of jealousy. As for the way the Sisters treat each other they will use the familiar form of address and to the superiors of the Institute and their own superior, the more formal address.
16. The Sisters should desire and do all the good they can for their neighbour, always striving to help and serve Our Lord Jesus Christ in the person of His poor, especially by assisting, serving, consoling Sisters who are ill or afflicted and promising spiritual good for the girls in the town or village where they live. They will be careful not to ask or permit girls from outside the school, workshops or festive oratories to speak to them about worldly amusements, or less pleasant activities or practices.
17. They should consider themselves fortunate when they can do something good for someone, but be very careful never to offend anyone by what they write, or with less than courteous words. When they cannot do a favour asked, they should use cordial words showing how sorry they are that they have to refuse. Likewise, especially in conversations with people outside the Institute and anyone inferior to them they should find an opportunity to talk about God, or religious matters, or some virtue or uplifting deed. By acting thus each one in her own little way can be salt and light for her neighbour and deserve the praise that the Church gives to St Catherine of Siena, that no one ever left her without improvement.
18. Keeping their heart open to the superiors will help much in advancing in religious perfection, since they are the ones who are destined by God to direct her in the way of virtue. Therefore all the Sisters will have great confidence in the superior and their own superior, regarding her as an affectionate mother, and she should show herself to be truly so. They will turn to her in their doubts, express their sorrows to her, explain their needs and difficulties.
19. They will do similarly with the Major Superior and whoever represents him, especially for manifestations and any time they are appropriately asked, convinced that the superiors desire only to help them love God and become saints.
20. Therefore once a month and even more often, if needed, the Sisters will manifest their external activity to her with all simplicity and sincerity, and receive advice and counsel from her in order to succeed well in the practice of mortification and the observance of the holy rules of the Institute. Internal matters are excluded from these manifestations as well as external matters when these are matter for confession.
21. All the Sisters will be present at the conference that the superior will give each Sunday to instruct them in their duties, as also to correct defects that could diminish fervour and observance in the community.
22. Each will take the greatest care with the practices of piety, from the observance of which comes that inner fervour which moves us to unite ourselves in everything with Jesus Christ our divine exemplar and spouse of faithful souls.
23. The charity then which keeps the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians united during life, should not cease after their death. So when a Sister is called to eternal life, the holy Mass de requie will be celebrated and the Sisters of the House where the deceased came from will go to Communion and say the complete rosary. The body will be dressed in her religious habit and accompanied with decorum to burial, following local custom for each town.
24. If the deceased Sister was professed, or was the superior, besides the de requie Mass, 5 others will be applied in suffrage for her soul. Every year on the day after the feast of Mary Help of Christians Mass will be said or sung in the Mother House and all the Sisters will offer their Communion in memory of the deceased Sisters. This will also be done at the end of each Retreat.
25. On the occasion of the death of the Major Superior, Director General and the Superior General, besides the above suffrages a Requiem Mass will be celebrated in all churches belonging to the Institute.
26. May the abundant peace and mercy of God come down upon all who follow these rules.