Study, preach and found convents! Just after the celebration of the Jubilee of the confirmation of the Order, it is in the dynamism of this renewed joy to be sent to preach the Gospel that I promulgate this new Ratio Studiornm Generalis.
We are sent, as disciples and seekers of God, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God which is near. Disciples, founding their lives on listening to the Word, finding their joy in the wonder of the mystery of a God who hears his people, and going to him to reveal in fullness the promise of the covenant and to fulfil it. Disciples who, day after day, based on a contemplative study of the Word and the tradition of the Church, seek tirelessly to discern the signs of the times beginning from the friendship that is offered to them by the One who is the way, the truth and the life. Seekers of God who, placing themselves in the school of their Lord, go to meet all those who seek the truth, entering into dialogue with them and studying with them, like the first brothers Dominic sent to the universities. « Thus our spirit ought to be open both to the Spirit of God and to the hearts of those to whom the word of God is being preached, so that it may obtain a communication of the light, the love and the strength of the Paraclete. Consequently, the brothers should learn to recognize the Spirit working in the midst of God's people, and to discern the treasures hidden in the various forms of human culture, by which human nature is more fully manifested and new paths to truth are opened» (LCO 99, §II). Yes, it is true, an Order may have been instituted for the purpose of study, because it is totally dedicated to the evangelization of the Word of God (LCO 1, §III).
This Ratio, of which the original and approved text is in English, replaces the one approved by brother Timothy Radcliffe in 1993. It is the fruit of an intense dialogue within the entire Order, and I would like to express here a deep gratitude for all those who have contributed to its development. Because it wants to support the Preachers in their vocation of learning how to become servants of the mystery of Truth in this world, it places, at the heart of study, the Word of God. Guided by the long and fine tradition of study in the Order, from the great masters Albert and Thomas down to our contemporaries, it proposes a method which indicates both the demands of contemplative study and the way in which this study is essential to the full realization of the vocation of the preacher. Proposing fundamental principles common to all, it underlines both the importance that each particular province should translate these into its own cultural context and adapt them to the specific vocations of the clerical brothers and of the co-operator brothers, both united in the same dynamic at the service of evangelization. In this way the dialogue initiated in the development of this Ratio will continue, taking into account the intercultural reality of the Order today, as well as the complementarity of vocations within the Order, seeking always to establish a stronger « culture of study » which carries the preaching project. A culture that is both rooted in fidelity to the tradition of the Church, and gives courage for encounter and for dialogue with contemporary forms of knowledge, while learning how to deploy, in contemporary contexts, the proclamation of the Gospel in the friendship of fraternity.
Study, preach and found communities. In promulgating this Ratio Studiorum, I express once again the hope that it will help each of us, and each of our communities, to deepen and to express their joy in being preachers in the contemplative study of Truth.
7 March 2017