The one big Augustinian family12 Oct 2015, by Augustinians in
The Augustinian family is a very large, beautiful, and interesting one. I did not really know much about this family’s size and beauty until I became part of it, and since then, I have not for one day regretted my decision. Life with the brothers is beautiful; it goes beyond the community we live in to embrace our province and all the provinces of the world. Its beauty of this one big family embraces not just the clergy and the lay faithful; it extends to some other religious groups as well. This great and beautiful family is composed of the following:
1. THE FRIARS: The word friar is from the Latin word for brother (“frater”), the friars are sometimes confused for monks, but they are not actually the same. Friars are members of the mendicant Order; though they live in communities and vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience like the monks, they, however, differ in that they are involved in the active pastoral work of the Church. Monks, on the other hand,, are more of cloister and ascetics. In the Augustinian Order, the friars, whether professed or novices, who are members of the various circumscriptions of the Order are part of this one big family.
2. THE CONTEMPLATIVE NUNS: The contemplative nuns, just like the monks, are more cloister incline. Like other contemplatives, the Augustinian contemplative nuns may be cloister incline, but they share in the Augustinian apostolate. The Augustinian constitution clearly states that they enjoy a special place in the Order. As an expression of the whole Christ, they eagerly work together with us to respond to the needs of the Church and the Order, with the result that they fulfill the apostolic life through us and we become more contemplatives through them. Though these Augustinian nuns have their own constitutions, they are bound by obedience to the Prior General of the Augustinian Order according to their own constitutions.
3. AUGUSTINIAN SECULAR FRATERNITIES: Vatican II promotes the ecclesiology of communion, one people, one Church. Both the clergy and the laity share the same baptismal dignity and are called to respond to this baptismal vocation. Whether as clergy or laity, we are all called to carry on the mission of the Church. In light of this ecclesiology of communion and in the spirit of our holy father Augustine, every circumscription of the Augustinian Order is expected to carry the laity “along” in all those areas which the Order fosters and promotes…
The Augustinian secular fraternity has a long tradition in the Order; they are laymen and women who devote their lives to God and humanity’s service, living the Augustinian spirituality. They are expected to be theologically balanced, ethically and socially formed, and have a good knowledge of Augustinian spirituality. They are governed by their own statutes, approved by the Prior General, and confirmed by the Holy See.
In addition to the above-named groups, the Augustinian family, like the traditional African family, extend farther. It is not just about the friars, the contemplative nuns, and the secular fraternities. Other groups are part of this one big and happy family, and they are:
1. RELIGIOUS INSTITUTES: These are religious institutes of apostolic life, with their own constitution but officially united to the Order by a decree of aggregation. This institute may have its own apostolic work but contribute to the Church and the Order’s good with that consciousness of their spiritual bond to the Augustinian family. They are allowed to use the rituals and calendar of the Order.
2. OTHER GROUPS OF AUGUSTINIAN LAITY: There are groups of lay faithful around our communities that admire and desire to dedicate themselves through their devotional life in the Augustinian family. In Nigeria, for instance, we have the Augustinian young people association (A.Y.P.A.), the pious union of St. Rita, and those we call the Augustinian associates. These are devotional groups in the Church with the Augustinian spirituality, therefore members of the one big Augustinian family.
3. AFFILIATED MEMBERS: The Order affiliates some lay faithful to her family who in one way or the other merit their special recognition. By this affiliation, they become members of the Augustinian family. The parents of Augustinian friars and sisters are specially recognized and affiliated with our Order; they are issued a certificate of affiliation.
These last three groups may be more of a spiritual union, but we all form one big family in the spirit of St. Augustine.