42. The growth of charity
The Pope, the bishops, and the parish priests are the principal, immediate and indispensable ministers of the Christian people, of the faithful. That is why the full personal authority of these hierarchically ordained and commissioned pastors over their flock makes for the tranquillity of the ecclesiastical institution. They must never be supplanted, rivalled or hampered by religious orders and congregations or by lay groups of perfection and apostolic work. On the contrary these groups must help them, treating them as the salt of the earth amongst the faithful.
It is as a result of the Lord’s call to the perfect life in accordance with the evangelical counsels, and under the certain inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that to the ecclesiastical ministries of the hierarchy have been added a multitude of institutes of perfection which impose on their members special demands of holiness and offer them conditions of life more appropriate to their observance.
1. The religious orders thus attract to themselves, from the mass of the faithful practising the common religion throughout the world, the more generous souls for whom they provide the opportunity of a life more dedicated to God, more perfect, and unfailingly more fruitful. Far from impoverishing the Christian community from whom they appear to be taken, they enrich it with the treasure of their prayers, their merits, their example, and their aid. Models of the contemplative life and an encouragement to the heroic practice of the virtues, through their charism of teaching, devotion, and apostolic zeal, they are an indispensable leaven in the Christian dough.
2. The third orders and secular institutes are the extension and, as it were, the countless ramifications of the great institutes of perfection. Their members, in effect, receive from the latter the necessary spiritual impulse for the observance of the evangelical counsels and the quest for perfection, so that they might exercise them in the world at the heart of the Christian people in any temporal condition and activity.
Thus the Phalange will constitute the third order of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who will provide it with the light and energy for its action, in accordance with the spirit of Brother Charles de Jesus, Father de Foucauld.