Five sound principles from the council bishops:
The adaptation and renewal of the religious life includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time. This renewal, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Church, must be advanced according to the following principles:
a) Since the ultimate norm of the religious life is the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels, let this be held by all institutes as the highest rule.
Jesus in the Gospels: an excellent start.
b) It redounds to the good of the Church that institutes have their own particular characteristics and work. Therefore let their founders’ spirit and special aims they set before them as well as their sound traditions-all of which make up the patrimony of each institute-be faithfully held in honor.
Attend to the charism of the founders: a great number two.
c) All institutes should share in the life of the Church, adapting as their own and implementing in accordance with their own characteristics the Church’s undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary and social.
Seven categories in which to consider their own and the Church’s characteristics, with the first emphasis on their own community.
d) Institutes should promote among their members an adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times they live in and of the needs of the Church. In such a way, judging current events wisely in the light of faith and burning with apostolic zeal, they may be able to assist (people) more effectively.
Signs of the times: Jesus encouraged wisdom in this regard. I would see the efforts of the more progressive orders in addressing injustice, as well as the modern yearning for authentic contemplation in the spiritual life as two huge examples of this being effective for religious life today.
e) The purpose of the religious life is to help the members follow Christ and be united to God through the profession of the evangelical counsels. It should be constantly kept in mind, therefore, that even the best adjustments made in accordance with the needs of our age will be ineffectual unless they are animated by a renewal of spirit. This must take precedence over even the active ministry.
Renewal of spirit over the active expression of a community’s charisms: this is an important point. Perhaps some religious saw their discernment, personal and community, move into new territory. Perhaps some moves were, in retrospect, ill-conceived or not of the Spirit. But most religious, it would seem, if they faltered, did so with the intent of following Christ more closely, more fully, more authentically.
Naturally, if any religious wish to comment, please do so.