Our Way of Life

Fiat Spiritus Community

This Latin phrase lends itself to the community’s identity and has universal understanding. Attentive listening with a Spirit-led response, and a readiness and openness to the Spirit active in the member’s life are all meanings contained in the title Fiat Spiritus.

Description

Fiat Spiritus is a Christian community of single and married baptized men and women called to live an apostolic life according to the spirituality of Catherine Kasper and to share the charism of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. The members live this way of life through formal vowed commitment.

Spirituality

The member strive to model Mary's response in the Annunciation to listen to the Spirit and in the Visitation to act on the Spirit's initiative to become God's presence in the world. The Fiat Spiritus Community embraces not only Mary's response and action but also the response and action of the disciples at Pentecost; and continue to be inspired by holy people throughout history, to our present day as followers of Catherine Kasper and each other in community.

Shared Charism

From the earliest days of the congregation others chose to join Catherine Kasper in her attentiveness to the Spirit to God and service to neighbor. People of all situations, men and women, married, single and widowed people, joined with her in her works and way of life. Each contributed according to their talents and means. It is this early tradition that we claim as Fiat Spiritus Community members.

Mission

The Fiat Spiritus Community is a community of vowed Christian men and women who are committed to living in the way of Blessed Catherine Kasper.
We are called to listen to the Holy Spirit through community which empowers us to discern our response to the needs of our time.

Vowed Commitment:

Incorporation is expressed in three phases: seeking, integration and full membership. Seeking is a non-vowed commitment to the Fiat Spiritus Way of Life. Full membership is a vowed commitment to the Fiat Spiritus Way of Life.

The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council showed clearly that all Christians, regardless of their state of life, are called to the “fullness of Christian life and to perfect love.” Therefore, the evangelical life expressed by the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity is a way of life open to all Christians. These vows are ways by which three human drives (possessions, power and pleasure) can be used as sources of energy in service of love of God and neighbor.

Chastity

Chastity is respect for the dignity of the person because of the divine in ourselves and others. Chastity, not bound to any particular state of life, is a gift given to single as well as to married persons.

In responding to the call of celibate chastity, a person foregoes marriage, children and being sexually active in order to make oneself available in other ways. This call to celibacy does not bring a greater availability than that of married persons but rather a different availability.

In responding to the call of marriage, chaste couples open themselves to experience how the love for a partner and for love of Christ are increasingly united and become a single love. Their sexual union is chaste because it increasingly is the language of their love. This special relationship with one’s spouse becomes one with their love of God. Thus, Christ shines through in the joy of their devotion and love.

In responding to the call of chastity, a single person lives a life of love and faithfulness to ministry, while remaining chaste; free to enter relationships which may lead to marriage or continue the discernment of celibate chastity.

One’s intimacy with Christ, in all states of life, allows a member to be open and supportive of others and all of creation.

Poverty

The vow of poverty calls the members to move from “wanting to have” to “wanting to be”. It moves from a fear of not having enough possessions to a trusting love of a provident God.

With the growth of the joy and courage to be, members experience a longing to share the gifts with which they have been blessed. Members, both single and married, engage in the vow of poverty by practicing the poverty of self, and poverty in relationship to others and things.

Poverty Of Self

Poverty of self means becoming aware of one’s complete dependence on the Creator and learning to accept this dependence. Poverty of self is realized to the extent that members accept themselves as persons who do not belong to themselves or to their spouse but first to Christ and then through Christ to others.

Poverty in Relationships

Through the practice of poverty in relationships, relationships are formed in such a way that love grows. As poverty in relationships takes form, members are increasingly aware that since they do not “own” themselves they have nothing to defend. They become vulnerable. Authentic relationships allow warmth and tenderness to break forth in which the presence of God is experienced. Such relationships enrich and strengthen themselves, marriages and community.

Material Poverty

As poverty is lived in the spirit of Christ solidarity with the world becomes a necessity. Wanting “to have” will be transformed into “joy in being”. Thus, members who dedicate themselves to the vow of poverty have a growing inner need to make available themselves and all they have in response to the Gospel call of social justice and charity.

Obedience

Obedience to the will of God demands a discerning spirit. Reflecting on the various aspects of their life, members recognize where and how God has been and continues to be present in their continuing life story. Through being attentive to the events of daily life and reflecting on those events within the framework of prayer, members seek to see where the Spirit is leading and to follow that lead. This search in daily life helps members come in touch with their true selves and who they are in relation to God.

Continuing discernment in everyday life is a necessary foundation and support for discernment during times of major decisions and choices. This occurs within the context of a living relationship and continuing dialogue with God and community. During these times members engage in a formal discernment process that provides a framework for careful deliberation, openness and sensitivity to the movements of the Spirit.

Living a discerning life requires an attitude of trust and faith that the Spirit will lead members to right choices in their lives. God’s wisdom sometimes looks like folly. True discernment means being ready to be led beyond where our will would normally dictate and into the unexpected by the God of surprises, God’s foolish wisdom.

Renewal Of Vows

In order to strengthen communal unity among all followers of Catherine, members value a daily renewal of vows in order to recall this commitment and be attentive to “who we are and what we are about.”

The form of daily renewal of vows is: I vow to you, Blessed Trinity, to live in the spirit of Christ: poor, chaste and obedient. Give to me and to all vowed members the grace to be effective in the service of the Church for the salvation of the world.

Community Gatherings

Fiat Spiritus members form community and support each other through common prayer and regular gatherings.

The purpose of community gatherings is communal discernment, spiritual growth, mutual support, celebration and the ongoing development of the Community. Fiat Spiritus Community members may live in community or separately as appropriate to their state of life and ministry.

It is the spiritual union of a special family in Christ that is the basis of community.

Prayer

The Fiat Spiritus Community continually strives to enter more fully into the redeeming mystery of Jesus Christ by participation in the prayer life of the Church and by seeking a deep personal relationship with the Creator, the Word and the Spirit. Like Blessed Catherine members are attentive especially to the Spirit and the Word in their call to prayer and service. Both individually and communally, members turn frequently to God in prayer to convey and deepen their love for God, a love which finds its expression in their relationship with others.

Time is set aside daily for communal and personal prayer. The form is determined by the individual or local community, The renewal of vows, Catherine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit, and the Fiat Spiritus Community Prayer are designated communal prayers.

Days of special festivity and remembrance in the community are:

Blessed Catherine Kasper (Feast Day) February 1
Death of Catherine Kasper February 2
Annunciation March 25
Blessed Catherine Kasper (Beatification Day) April 16
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (PHJC Foundation Day) August 15
Foundation Day – Fiat Spiritus June 20

Pentecost

Deceased members of the PHJC congregation, the Fiat Spiritus Community and PHJC Associates, and their families and benefactors are also remembered in prayer.

Integration

To grow into the ways of God in the unassuming spirit of Blessed Catherine is the aim of every Fiat Spiritus Community member. This growth is a gradual, lifelong process that calls for continued conversion and deepening faith response to the death/resurrection experiences in one’s own life and ministry.

Integration allows individuals time to live the Fiat Spiritus Community Way of Life prior to making a vowed commitment and becoming a full member. The dignity of each person allows for an individual approach for incorporation to the Fiat Spiritus Community. When individual discernment has led a person to consider full membership in the Fiat Spiritus Community all concerned vowed members and the individual engage in a formal discernment process.

The heart and center of this integration is God active in each individual and in the community of faith. It is the Spirit who initiates and continues to have a leading role in personal transformation; yet each person must freely choose growth and cooperation with the Spirit.

To deepen and renew commitment, each member makes an annual retreat of at least five days and sets aside time for spiritual renewal.

Ministry

Ministry is the attitude and values that guide members in their work. Wherever God calls each member to work is that member's ministry. Fiat Spiritus members emphasize their mission of love with service to their neighbor understanding that work takes on a fuller meaning when recognized as our ministry. It is nurtured, enlivened and sustained by their prayer life, community and the spirituality of Catherine Kasper.

Faithful to the spirit of Catherine Kasper, members adapt their ministries to the needs of the times with particular attention to the poor and powerless. Ministries are recognized by the love and simplicity with which the service is given.

Members collaborate with PHJC partners, the local Church, and other organizations that share Fiat Spiritus values. Members find joy in collaborative ministry.

Government

Decisions that affect the entire group are made through a collaborative process among the members.

A climate of mutual trust, accountability and appropriate communication among Fiat Spiritus Community members are necessary as the Fiat Spiritus Community develops. This climate is maintained by discernment of the promptings of the Spirit, mutual respect in listening to one another and by authentic dialogue.

Leadership is exercised in the Spirit of Jesus who came to serve, not be served. All members are expected to participate in leadership tasks, for all have a share in the welfare of the whole and accept responsibility for it. As the Fiat Spiritus Community develops, members will determine formal leadership responsibilities.

Leadership roles of the Fiat Spiritus Community include:

  • Liaison is authorized to speak on behalf of the Fiat Spiritus Community, to define policy with other organizations, to articulate the Way of Life with others; responsible for external correspondence; communicates with those seeking and discerning membership; mentors those seeking membership or channels that person to another member of the community when appropriate; participates in vocations events.
  • Archivist sends all materials to be archived to the Notre Dame Archive Library; receives the chronicles from all members at regular intervals.
  • Moderator gathers the community together with topical information; routes an agenda; facilitates gatherings; invites other community members to report, plan, prepare for gatherings; keeps gatherings focused. This role is rotated yearly among members.
  • Treasurer maintains the checking account; receives donations; establishes and maintains 501(c)3 and prepares all tax forms; creates a written structure of finances for the community; prepares finance reports given to the community at gatherings; coordinates and maintains development activities.
  • Secretary maintains the Fiat Spiritus Community website; takes notes at each gathering and sends them to the community; official "minutes" are sent to the archivist; responsible for internal communication of community meetings.

Stewardship Review

Members annually review the FIAT SPIRITUS WAY OF LIFE. Members administer the temporal goods of the Fiat Spiritus Community for their intended purposes in keeping with the vowed life.

Dismissal

For a member to be seriously out of harmony with the community and be disruptive/destructive despite repeated verbal interventions by concerned members alone and in pairs, will result in the community becoming aware of the problem. If three written warnings and discernment on the part of all concerned does not resolve the situation, it will be brought to the entire community for decisive action that may result in dismissal.

If a member, after careful discernment, feels that membership in Fiat Spiritus Community is no longer the will of God s/he should make the situation known to the community. If after a period of six months of dialogue and discernment with the community the decision remains the same, the member is released from vows.

Amendments

This Way of life is amended by consensus of all members.

Dissolution

The Fiat Spiritus Community is dissolved by consensus of all members.

Freely responding to the Spirit . . . with attentive ears, contented hearts, joyful service.