PRACTICE OF THE PRESS APOSTOLATE IN THE PIOUS SOCIETY OF SAINT PAULAs a follow-up to the theory concerning the practice of the press apostolate and the press apostle, we set out here the practical norms followed in this regard by the religious Congregation of the Pious Society of Saint Paul and, consequently, by the Pious Society Daughters of Saint Paul.1
Formation of the members
The Pious Society of Saint Paul gives its members a religious-moral, intellectual and technical formation.
The religious-moral formation is in view of a person's Christian and religious life and of the Congregation's specific apostolate. This takes place during the period of probation, the novitiate and the initial years of religious life. It aims to impart to members a solid interior life, centered on love. Love of God, which leads to intimate and habitual union with him by means of Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life right up to "vivere summe Deo in Christo Jesu."2 Love of neighbor that leads to the sacrifice of self following the example of the Divine Teacher. "Since [Jesus] laid down his life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."3
Intellectual and technical formation takes place by way of the customary study courses in those sacred and secular subjects necessary for carrying out the apostolate in an appropriate way. Particular emphasis is placed on the study of religion, in both breadth and depth, as a subject that is of the essence for good apostolic formation.
Study time is suitably alternated with the time given to the apostolate. Here the members learn, in the main, the theory and practice of the techniques of typography and bookbinding.4
Practice of the apostolate
The members of the Pious Society of Saint Paul carry out the press apostolate in all its parts: editorial, technical and promotion.
Editorial: Only those members who are judged suitable and have passed the set examinations, following the period of their formation, are promoted to the office of writers. A particular requisite is that, besides knowledge, they also have a deep spirit of humility and faith, as well as great docility.
The resolve of Pauline religious writers is to spread Christian doctrine; in other words, the truths that concern faith, morals and Christian worship, in accordance with Church teaching. Such extras, as information, stories, examples... must aim to open up people's minds to the text itself, and thus be a kind of staircase or enlightenment.
As a general rule they must avoid idle questions and lofty and secular debates. They are to keep to the basic and ordinary truths and to set them out in a clear and simple way, basing themselves on the example God employs in the holy books. So their output can be in the form of books, newspapers, pamphlets, flyers, pictures... whatever is a help to the masses, to children
and to all those who need the "Caritas veritatis",5 whether they are in civilized countries or in mission lands. Thus those publications that spread chiefly:
- The Church's doctrine as set out in pontifical documents, in catechisms, in liturgical and prayer books, in treatises on religion...
- Holy Scripture and the Gospel in particular;
- Tradition with the works of the Fathers, the Doctors, and Church writers, the lives of the saints and so on.
To guarantee at all times the apostolate's spiritual nature, which is against any kind of industry or commerce, the leadership of the Pious Society of Saint Paul demands of its members' full submission to Superiors and resolves to print and spread only what is written by the members themselves, and by Cooperators, or requested by competent ecclesiastical authority.
It does not allow any manuscript to go to press without being subjected to two revisions: one by the Pious Society and the other by ecclesiastical authority. This latter must be furnished with the "Imprimatur".
The revision of writings undertaken in the Society is reserved to people who are qualified. This concerns the work's moral and dogmatic teaching and its practical usefulness with respect to the spirit of the Society as well as the circumstances of time,
place and persons. Moreover, it has to judge if the writing aims at the greater glory of God and the greater good of people, setting aside all that have a simply human, artistic, financial and business aim. Everything is to comply, at all times, with Canon Law,6 with the norms of the Constitution Officiorum ac munerum7 and with the latest instructions of the Congregation of the Holy Office [=Doctrine of the Faith].
The revision judgment made in the Society must be brief and clear, given in writing to either the Superior or to a delegate of his so that they can decide, on each case's merits, if it is to be rejected, corrected, or presented for Church revision. Only this latter is definitive8 for permission to print.
All manuscripts signed by the author bearing the date of consignment are to be kept in the Society's archives and, except for a copy of the original, are not returned.
Technical: In the Pious Society of Saint Paul organization and the means for printing must be, as far as possible, the simplest and yet the quickest that progress places at the service of the press and the good of people.
The typographical and binding work must
follow the rules of these professions, but without exaggerated elegance, while yet setting out and giving the truths of religion an appearance that is becoming and favorable.
The offering (ordinarily called price) which has to appear on all printed articles, includes the expenses for editorial and presswork, and for the packaging and distribution. This is requested for the Society's life and its works' development.
Promotion: Through its promotion work the Pious Society of Saint Paul aims to get the printed word of God into every place, even the most remote, and especially in those places inaccessible to the priest's word.
It does this with the various ways of promotion. Taking the lead here are catalogs, publicity pieces, book reviews, distribution centers, libraries and house to house promotion.
The catalogs, publicity pieces and the reviews of new titles must indicate the needs of the people to be helped, how the publications in question are subsidized, how they are promoted in practice and the type of reader they are for.
The distribution centers are places open to the public at the service of the clergy and the faithful; members of the Pious Society manage them. There are also small diocesan and parish centers dependent
on the Pious Society's central administration which undertake, in effect, the negative and positive apostolate of the press through action and advice.
To fulfill their purpose such centers must have:
- a complete supply of all the Society's publications;
- a promotion center for libraries and parish and religious bulletins;
- a subscriptions' office for registering subscribers to the Society's newspapers and magazines, as well as subscribers to the best Catholic newspapers and periodicals;
- an information and distribution service as regards the most useful and reliable products of Catholic publishers;
- an information mechanism to draw attention to the bad press and to exhort the faithful to refrain from buying it;
- a stock of holy cards, statues and religious objects.
Distribution centers are to be chosen and located in such a way that the faithful have easy access, as well as prompt and satisfactory service. The religious who manage them must have the protection of the charitable and watchful eye of the Society as well as being constantly reminded of [their status] by the people who enter the center.
The indication signs for clients, the interior arrangement of furnishings and articles, the particular layout of pictures and of the Gospel have to show that what we have here is not a shop,
but a sacred place, the aim of which is to spread the word of God through the press.
Religious must be measured and serious in their speech; absorbed in what they are doing (as one would expect in a catechism class); the price-offerings fixed and clear.
The purpose of house to house promotion by the Society of Saint Paul is to have the principal truths of religion made available to the people. The Society's rule is always to offer gratuitously to all those who do not refuse it at least a leaflet with a religious message. The Religious of the Pious Society or its Cooperators undertakes such promotion.
When Religious undertake it, the following rules must be observed:
1. This role is to be undertaken only by serious and mature-age professed Religious.
2. It is obligatory to observe the instructions that the Holy See has given or will give for cases that are somewhat analogous, as would be, for example, that of begging.
3. Promoters must carry with them authentic documents that indicate the person's role and the permission of the Ordinary. If asked, they must produce such documents.
4. They must always be in pairs and never alone.
5. If they are out of reach of their religious house
they must not lodge in hotels, but are to seek hospitality from other Religious or, in extraordinary cases, from families who are well known for their Christian piety and solid virtue.
6. They must not remain outside the Congregation for more than two months. On their return they must spend as many days in community as they were absent.
7. When they are in nearby localities or can easily get in touch, they must return to the Congregation every evening or at least once a week.
8. They must always and everywhere distinguish themselves for humility, modesty and cleanliness. They are not allowed to frequent places not in keeping with their state and, although they are outside the community, they must faithfully observe the Rule and their religious practices.
9. They must not enter houses9 or accept drinks except for some cordial or water in case of necessity.
10. They must always be under the supervision of their Superiors who are to give them, on a case by case basis, opportune warnings.
Summing up: The editorial, technical process and promotion are the three parts of a sole apostolate which the religious Congregation of the Pious Society of Saint Paul aims to implement for God's glory and the good of people's souls.
An apostolate which, in the mind of the
Pious Society, must be complete, that is, negative and positive, universal, and suited to the circumstances of time and persons.
An apostolate that has as its characteristic mark the understanding, the assimilation and the explanation of the gospel trinomial: "Way, Truth and Life".
1 For the nature and goal of said Congregations, see p. 56 and following.
2 * "To live to the utmost for God in Christ Jesus."
3 1 Jn 3:16.
4 * Bookbinding is the art and technique of sewing and thus binding the various signatures of a book together. These are then placed between boards which gives the book a sturdy and elegant finish.
5 * "Love of the truth": cf. 1 Cor 8:1; 1 Jn 2:5.
6 See canons 1345 (nn. 1, 2, 3), 1386, 1389, 1390, 1391, 1392, 1393, 1394. * These refer to articles in the 1914 Code of Canon Law, prior to the reforms and changes in the present Code.
7 * Constitution of Leo XIII, 25 January 1897.
8 * The Italian text notes that the word in the original text was indefinitiva.
9 * A norm of apparent extraneous origin which seems to contradict the very idea of "house to house promotion".