The Spirituality and the Charism of Divine Word Missionaries stem from the vision of Saint Arnold Janssen, a German priest who founded his missionary order in 1875. Broadly speaking, here are some insights.
The spirituality of Christian religious congregations is based on an aspect of the life of Jesus, which they use to guide them as disciples and carry out His call to spread the Word of God. Some orders focus on Jesus as creator. Others focus on Jesus as preacher or teacher.
The SVD focuses on Jesus as missionary.
God the Father sent Jesus to be a missionary among His children, to show us through His teaching and example, how to live our lives in righteousness, according to the Will of God. Jesus then sent forth his disciples—as missionaries—to spread the Good News and to live their lives as His followers, as stated in Matthew 5:16.
“...your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
The missionary aspect of the Holy Spirit, which is always and everywhere on mission among us, is also important in SVD spirituality.
As missionaries, members live out God’s call to follow in His footsteps, exemplifying His life, as His disciples. In this way, the SVD carries out His mission to spread the Word of God, which is reflected in this prayer by Saint Arnold Janssen:
"May the darkness of sin and night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the spirit of grace, and may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all. Amen"
The word “charism” comes from the Greek word charis, which means grace. God’s grace flows to all of us and in turn, we channel His grace as our gifts to others. To talk about a religious community’s charism is to speak of the God-given gifts that it offers to the world.
The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) is centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and its charism relates to the Holy Trinity. As the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist in perfect harmony as the Holy Trinity, the SVD strives to live in intercultural harmony both within the society and on mission with those from other cultures. As the Holy Spirit is now and has always been on mission touching the lives of God’s children, Divine Word Missionaries go on mission preaching the Gospel and touching the lives of others by living their lives as followers of Jesus.
This charism is put into action by what the SVD calls, “Prophetic Dialogue,” which is to interact respectfully with people from other cultures and traditions. Within the society, it does this by welcoming, understanding and accepting the rich cultural diversity of its members. On mission, Prophetic Dialogue is expressed by reaching out to:
His mission is Our mission...Is it Yours? Let’s find out together!