Decree 7: “The Brothers,” General Congregation 31 (1966)

The delegates of the 31st General Congregation used their seventh decree to address the matter of temporal adjuators, or brothers, within the Society of Jesus. The delegates were responding both to the declining numbers of brothers over the last several decades but also to postulata (or petitions) that requested both a clarification of the brothers’ status and even a statement of esteem for that position. “Brothers,” the following decree states,” “have a full share in the special apostolic nature of the Society.” After noting brothers engage in those “tasks for which they may have a God-given talent and in which they may be of assistance and example “for the help of souls,” the decree encourages that Jesuits avoid “every social distinction in community life,” that they all share “in common domestic tasks,” and that they allow brothers’ “progressive participation” in discussions.

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1.     Since it is of the greatest moment that all Jesuits truly understand the nature of the Jesuit brothers’ vocation in order that they may be properly integrated into the life of the Society, it seemed clear to the 31st General Congregation that the principal task to be accomplished with respect to the brothers was clearly to state the nature of their vocation and the practical applications which flow from it. The result will be that all members of the Society, even at the cost of a complete change of mind, may be truly of “one heart and one mind,” and all, enjoying one and the same vocation apart from the priesthood, may together and in the spirit of our founder dedicate themselves totally to the mission of the Church.

2.     Since apostolic activity belongs to the very nature of the religious life in Institutes devoted to the apostolate, the whole life of a brother must be called apostolic by reason of the specific consecration which they make to God through vows in the body of the Society. But beyond that, the brothers have a full share in the special apostolic nature of the Society, which pertains to all its members. For that reason their activity in the Society is to be defined by the same principles which define the apostolic service of the whole Society, namely, through its attention to the greater service of God and the universal good. Thus it is that, through various talents and activities—all its members being united in one spirit by the bonds of love and obedience—the Society is to enjoy the presence of Christ, perform His tasks, and manifest His coming.

3.     Those offices and functions of the brothers which are described in the Institute have a true apostolic value and are to be performed in a spirit of cooperation. It is by works such as these that the religious intimacy and calm of the Society’s houses, the fraternal union in the service of Christ, the dedication of scholastics to their studies, and especially the mobility and freedom of priests in the ministries are more perfectly maintained. Such offices are to be committed to the brothers with the fullest possible responsibility.

Furthermore, in the service of the Society, administrative offices may be given them, even in our communities and with respect to other Jesuits, always excluding, of course, the power of jurisdiction.

4.      Moreover, following precedents in both the old and the restored Society, in addition to the offices mentioned above and in accordance with the judgment of superiors, brothers properly undertake those other tasks for which they may have a God-given talent and in which they may be of assistance and example “for the help of souls.” Among such tasks are teaching, practicing the liberal and technical arts, laboring in the fields of science and in whatever other areas their work, according to circumstances and places, may prove more useful in attaining the end of the Society.

In all the above mentioned ways the brothers, as men consecrated to God, show that only in the spirit of the beatitudes can the world be transfigured and offered to God; and in the Society they make a great contribution to the good of the Church.

5.     Since the Society wishes that the brothers be brought closely into both the social and liturgical life of the community as well as into its works, as befits companions who live the religious life in the same family, fraternal union and communication are to be fostered more and more among Jesuits by all the means which a discerning love may dictate.

6.      To this end the following will also be conducive: (a) the avoidance of every social distinction in community life; (b) the sharing, on the part of all Jesuits, in common domestic tasks, always with consideration for the greater service of God and the help of souls; (c) progressive participation on the part of the brothers in consultations; (d) the observance of the decisions of the 31st General Congregation regarding their participation in congregations.

7.     The formation of brothers is to be entrusted to men who are carefully selected and diligently prepared. They are to be taught especially to devote their lives to the service of the Church in the following of Christ. In order, however, that they may fulfill their duties and perform their functions more perfectly in the circumstances of modern life, their formation is to be spiritual, doctrinal, and technical, even confirmed with suitable degrees. This formation is to be carried out in suitable houses and is to be continued throughout life in accordance with each one’s abilities. The diversity which can result from this will contribute greatly to all the varied and necessary ministries which are to be carried on with one and the same spirit, supposing, of course, the preservation of indifference and availability for any offices whatsoever. “There are varieties of graces but one and the same Spirit.”

8.      In order that all this may be conveniently put into execution, Father General is to establish a commission of experts. It will be their function: (a) to study more profoundly and to propound the theology of the vocation of the religious who is not destined for the priesthood in the Society; (b) to advise Father General on practical experiments to effect the application of this decree; (c) to propose general guidelines for the formation of brothers, which ought to be adapted by provincials for their respective areas; (d) to revise the rules and regulations concerning the brothers according to the spirit of this decree.




Original Source (English translation):

Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, General Congregation 31, Decree 7, “The Brothers,” pg. 64–66 [65–74].