Who has told you times have changed,
has my Son come again unknown,
neither call dead the words He said,
nor those His chosen have sown.
Why do people think they must change holy things! Paths set for us by Saints are altered by people who can hardly spell their names in times long after they lived. What possesses us to do that! The modern Rules of most Orders, lay Orders for sure, are not the Rules of life that were given by their originators! In some cases they were revised by committees even! No Committee has ever been canonized! Condemned perhaps! So, has Jesus spoken to them? Did He come again and ask for this to be done? Did the Church Fathers ask for it? Did the Pope request it? At least in such a case it would be justified and perhaps accepted. Who asked for it? That is the question.
By whose authority do we alter the writings and teachings and works of a Saint? By whose authority do we declare them dead. It is not a matter of just adding to them. Invariably they are abrogated when the Rules have been changed, which means canceled, and that is the current situation in most Third Orders today! Their founding Rules have been canceled. Eliminated completely. Gone! So, we lose what the Saint said or intended. In some Orders little knowledge of any kind about the original Rules that started the Order remains. It doesn’t remain because to the modern leaders of these Orders, which often exclude priests at the request of the governing laity. Many never have studied their roots or reference in any serious way to the original Rule of their Orders in teaching others. These things are just lost!
Would we do so with the Gospels of Our Dear Lord? If we won’t do it with His Words, and God help us if we begin to do that, why do we think we can do it with the teachings of a canonized Saint? They are Saints as selected by His Church which means that the Lord has spoken through those He has chosen to lead the Church to give us these people as examples of how to live. To change the Rule given us by these same Saints is the same as to alter the words of the Gospel. It should never be done!
There are in the end three sets of documents that guide Orders and Associations of the Faithful. Their Rule. Statutes, and Constitution. The Rule is that given by the Saint to guide the Faithful in a holy way of life. Such Rules should never be changed! They don’t need to be changed. Some of their beauty is how they were written in the times of the Saint. Statutes are the ways that the leaders of the Orders, Institutions and Associations have interpreted the Rule to be lived in the times at hand. The Constitutions are the tenets needed to manage the organizations infra-structure, policies, procedures, and leadership. Statutes, the way the Rule is lived, can be changed. They need to be changed to fit changing times. Constitutions can be changed. The Rules themselves, given to us by Saints, should never be altered!