An association of secular priests who observe a simple rule embodying the common duties of their state, afford mutual assistance in the functions of the ministry, and keep themselves in the spirit of their holy vocation by spiritual conferences. Its object is the sanctification of the secular clergy in their missionary lives among the people. Its spirit is a personal love for Jesus Christ . It was established in the seventeenth century by the Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser, and was revived and reorganized in France about forty years ago (from 1913) by Canon Lebeurier, who in 1913 remained its president-general. One of the first acts of Pius X, 20 December, 1903, was to take the Union under his special protection, whilst increasing its indulgences and spiritual favours. The Brief of the Holy Father (Acta S. Sed., XXXVI, 594) recites the establishment of the Union in 1862, and its spread to a great number of dioceses throughout the Christian world, in France, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, United States , Canada, South American, Australia, and parts of Asia. The Holy Father proclaims the fact that he was a member of it, and had experienced its utility and excellence, and admits the advantages derived from it, eleven after his elevation to the episcopate. The brief goes on to summarize its organization. Proposing as it does to all its associates a uniform rule of life, monthly reunions and spiritual conferences, and the submission of a bulletin regularly to the superior, it strengthens union among the clergy and unites by a bond of spiritual fraternity priests who are scattered far apart. The dangers of solitude are removed, and there is a concentrated effort on the part of all to attain the common end. Each priest under these conditions devotes himself to the well-being and perfection of all, and, though prevented by the cares of his ministry from enjoying the advantages of living in community, he does not feel that he is deprived of the benefits of the religious family ; nor are the counsels and assistance of his brothers wanting. The brief then recites the approval of the institute by Leo XIII in Apostolic letters of 31 May, 1880, and again in 1887, when he gave it as a cardinal-protector the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Monsignor Lucido Parrocchi. Then follows a recital of the indulgences and special privileges granted to the priests who are members. These may be found in Beringer, ed. 1905, II, 450.
The means by which the ends proposed are attained are as follows:
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