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Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus


The limitations imposed by the nature of this conference do not allow for anything more than a fragmentary set of reflections upon a topic of such critical importance to the understanding of religious life. This paper, then, can do no more than attempt three of the many tasks which fall under so general a title: ( I) To sketch something of the development of the magisterium 's teaching on this subject; (2) to indicate some of the problems which this teaching entails; and (3) to suggest a manner in which these problems might be understood and moved towards resolution. The paper proposes the following three theses: ( I) The fundamental identity of religious life must be grasped in terms of charism; (2) This understanding of religious life as charismatic raises profound problems that touch every aspect of its reality; (3) The office of the hierarchy is to discern an authentic charism from its counterfeit, while the exercise of this office is subject to the very real danger that excessive legalism will quench the Spirit.


Copyright U.S. Central and Southern Province, Society of Jesus. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute individual articles for personal, classroom, or workshop use.

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