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Vol. I, Jan. 1995

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

1. Around the year 1950 a small group of priests and seminarians in Innsbruck, Austria began to meet with the intention of spiritually strengthening themselves in their priesthood through a stronger bond with the holy angels, their fellow servants in their ministry before Christ (cf. Apoc 19,10; 22,9).

This seed idea grew and developed. It took on ecclesiastical form in the canonical erection of the Association of Priests in the Work of the Holy Angels in the same and other dioceses. Thanks to the international center of theological studies centered at Innsbruck the spiritual movement spread to others countries.

In time, many North American priests also became acquainted with the spirituality, which they, following the original practice of the spiritual movement, also shared with the laity entrusted to their pastoral care. In North America we have maintained a rather loose contact with interested members by means of the Circular Letters, and an occasional Circular Letter for Priests. We have also had the opportunity to meet each year for the annual priest's retreat in the Work of the Holy Angels (originally held in the suburbs of Chicago, and more recently in Rockford, Illinois).

We are most grateful for these encounters, but for all of us there is the awareness that something is still missing. We want to incorporate more deeply into our daily spiritual and pastoral life this angelic help and the spiritual insights which we have gained and which we share with one another. Whereas the angels are pure spirits, we are men of body and soul. We cannot, therefore, content ourselves with purely abstract intentions, we cannot even restrict our piety to a mere affection of the heart --- we need to live out incarnately that which fills our heart and we need to manifest what love desires. Our personal and pastoral needs cry out for daily, real-life solutions.

2. The "Directory on the Ministry of Priests", recently published by the Holy See, indicates in the second chapter the dimensions that need to be touched, penetrated and transformed by a genuinely "priestly spirituality".

To respond to this requisite of our human condition, we desire with this letter to take a new step forward in our contact and mutual collaboration. The spiritual bond uniting us should take on more tangible forms. We wish to approach the question of the formation of sacerdotal groups in conformity with the ideal presented in the "Directory" and foreseen in Canon Law (can. 278,2). The "Directory" points out:

In all the aspects of priestly existence there appear particular bonds of apostolic charity, of ministry and of fraternity, which serve as the foundation of the reciprocal help that priests give each other. It is to be hoped that cooperation among all priests should grow and develop as regards their spiritual and human life, as well as their ministerial service. The help which must be given to priests in this field can find support in the different priestly associations... (whose) "statutes are recognized by the competent authority and which, by a suitable and well tried rule of life and by fraternal support, promote holiness in the exercise of their ministry and foster the unity of the clergy with one another and with their Bishop."(C.I.C. 278,3).

The work that these associations and other approved movements carry out for priests, is held in high esteem by the Church, who recognizes this as a sign of the vitality with which the Holy Spirit continually renews her. (Directory 88)

3. Beyond this natural law of organic development, two concrete facts lead us to the conviction that the moment has now arrived to take this step. The first has to do with the passing away of Fr. Alfred Boeddecker, OFM, in January of this year; he had served as the National Rector of the Association of Priests in the USA for nearly 20 years. We owe him much -- perhaps the majority of priests in the OA in North America entered through his ministry. Let us remember him in our prayers and emulate his example and zeal. Surely, his passing marks an epoch and calls for an organic step forward. The other related fact is that now, after many years, we are finally establishing a physical presence in the United States, which will allow us to more effectively assist you and to attend more concretely and directly to your petitions and the needs of this Work.

We realize that for the Opus Angelorum to take on flesh, it has to be lived, practiced and organized locally, otherwise it will only remain a fine spiritual idea.

This Circular Letter aspires to serve as a spiritual link among all our priests and communities, to brings suggestions and orientations in consonance with the spirituality and to help foster a fitting uniform character and identity to the OA.

The Statutes which follow describe the three essential characteristics of our Association:

  1. faithfulness in our priestly vocation,
  2. in unity with the Holy Father,
  3. through the help of the holy angels.

 

We plan to send this letter out on a monthly basis in order to maintain a more regular contact, and to deepen our knowledge in these three constituent areas of doctrine that focus on the finality of the Opus Angelorum. We also intend to indicate concrete ways of living (implementing) the spirituality, and so with time be able to permeate our priestly life. At times these will focus on our own life of prayer and meditation; at other times they will be directed to our pastoral cares. We also propose to offer suggestions for cenacle meetings with other priests of the Association, or in general for the diocese. Here, again, some of these will be on the practical level, profiting from the experience of others, and some will be directed to the intellectual and spiritual life (themes and readings for the conferences).

4. What will happen on the local level will naturally depend to a great extent upon the priests themselves. What can you do?

This depends, of course, to what extent a group has already been developed locally in your own diocese. Some bishops approved the following statutes in this or an analogous form, while others bishops gave an informal "green light" for the establishment of groups and the spread of the spirituality, while holding off on a juridical erection until something had actually developed.

The goal is the glorification of God and the salvation of souls, for which purpose we desire to be strengthened in our priesthood by the help of the holy angels. We see in their mission, which Pope John Paul II designated as "messianic", a great help in this hour of the economy of salvation. The need for some structure and support are provided in a discrete measure by the Association. Hence, "in tempore opportuno" it is to be hoped that the Association be erected in the several dioceses. This would also help facilitate the local activities of the OA among the laity, whose prayers are such a great spiritual support for us priests.

During the coming month of January we request that you recite the enclosed prayer in conjunction with Lauds so that the holy angels may open the doors to those individuals who are being called to join or grow further in the Opus Spirituality. Beyond this, we recommend that you would keep on eye open among your confreres for those who would be grateful to hear about this sacerdotal confraternity with the holy angels. Write their names down and develop the practice of calling upon their Guardian Angels to join you and your angel in every celebration of the liturgy. We foster this union by reciting the "Holy, Holy, Holy" -- the Seraphim's prayer of adoration -- before every act of liturgy.

For those groups which already meet on a monthly basis, we would like to suggest that you reflect together on practical ways and possibilities to establish contact with other priests in your diocese and bring them some sort of priestly (spiritual) help.

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC


II. STATUTES OF THE ASSOCIATION OF PRIESTS
IN THE WORK OF THE HOLY ANGELS

The Work of the Holy Angels is a militant society made up of angels and men summoned by the mercy of GOD to meet the needs of our time.

The finality of this Work is to offer a help for priests in the Church in the realization of GOD's great design to establish union between GOD and man, angels and man, men among themselves who seek GOD both within and outside the Church.

By an act of dedication approved by the Church, one opens oneself in a special way to the grace of angelic help. In this way the individual associates himself more consciously with the holy angels in the spiritual battle. This is what it means "to take one's part in the Work of the Holy Angels."

The obligations of one's state in life and of ordination are prior and prevail over any obligations assumed in the Association.

Aims of the Association:

  1. The help of priests by the holy angels;
  2. The strengthening of orthodoxy in faith and fidelity to the Roman Pontiff;
  3. The strengthening of the sacramental priesthood in the whole Church.

The Association of Priests is comprised of:

  1. Executive members who have dedicated themselves to their Guardian Angel by a votive consecration.
  2. Consulting members: priests who in the spirit of the Work of the Holy Angels unite in fidelity to the Holy Father for the purpose of mutual support and assistance to their brothers in the priesthood.
  3. Associate members, namely, priests of the Church in the midst of spiritual combat, priests in conflict and distress to whom the Association of Priests is a prop and an aid, a fraternal shelter and support in the battle.
  4. Collaborators of the Association: These include all those tried and true members of the faithful, whether religious or lay members, who in a generous love assist the Association of Priests with their counsel and labors.

The Government of the Association

Rectors, consultors and other officials of the Association of Priests, before they are elected, ought to have taken part already in the Work of the Holy Angels.

A diocesan Association, inasmuch as a moral person, and all of its associates taken individually are automatically (ipso jure) members of the Roman Association of Priests in the Work of the Holy Angels that was erected in the Church of Santo Andrea della Valle, that was canonically erected in Rome by his eminence Cardinal dell'Acqua, the Vicar General of His Holiness in 1970.

The Roman Association of Priests in the Work of the Holy Angels coordinates the activities of the other Associations of Priests in the OA, and proposes new rectors to the local ordinaries.

The Rectors of the diocesan Association are assisted by two consultors appointed by the Roman Association. The Council of the Roman Association consists of four consultors, which number is renewed by co-optation. In all major matters the four consultors have a deliberative vote, and act unanimously with the rector. In matters concerning a particular member of the Council, that member remains without a vote. The Council of the Roman Association proposes a new rector to his eminence, the Cardinal Vicar of the City.

Excepting the case of death, the office of rectors and of consultors ends only by the nomination or co-optation of a successor by the competent authority.

The Means by which the Association achieves its ends:

The Association of Priests in the Work of the Holy Angels is a juridical person of public ecclesiastical right in the sense of the canons 312-320 of Canon Law.

Help is offered in the form of priestly gatherings, of spiritual retreats, days of recollection, verbal and written consultations.

Expense of the Association of Priests are defrayed by donations from benefactors.

In the case of the extinction (dissolution) of the Association of Priests, the possessions of the Association belong to the dedicated associates who ought to use them for the ends of the Association of Priests in the Work of the Holy Angels according to the mandate of the Council of the Roman Association.


Priest's Prayer

O Lord, God of Hosts!You made Your Angels winds, and Your servants flames of fire!

Send Your messenger spirits out in the power of Your Word, to call laborers into the harvest, to add their light to our words when we preach Your Gospel, and to call the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Send forth Your Angels as flames of fire to purify our hearts, to teach us anew holy reverence before You as we stand at Your altar, as once Your angel taught Moses from the Burning Bush!

May Your Angels strengthen us in all that is good, inflame our hearts with Your love, and with their flaming sword protect us and our flock from the roaring lion that roams about seeking the ruin of souls.

Grant that by heeding their voice and following the light of their inspirations, we may escape all evil and come to the eternal home that You have prepared for us, so that together with Your angels and saints we may sing Your praises for ever and ever. Amen.