Instruction for the Sojourn at Trent
Dealing with Others
1. Since associating
and dealing with many people for the salvation and spiritual progress of souls
can be very profitable with God's help so, on the other hand, if we are not on
our guard and helped by God's grace, such association can be the occasion of
great loss to ourselves and sometimes to everyone concerned. In keeping with
our profession we cannot withdraw from such association and, therefore, the
more prepared we are to proceed according to a common plan, the more likely we
are to succeed in our Lord. In the following notes, which may be modified or
amplified according to need, we may be able to offer some assistance.
2. Be slow to speak.
Be considerate and kind, especially when it comes to deciding on matters under
discussion, or about to be discussed in the council.
3. Be slow to speak,
and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the
meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know
when to speak and when to be silent.
4. When these or
other matters are under discussion, I should consider the reasons on both
sides without showing any attachment to my own opinion, and try to avoid
bringing dissatisfaction to anyone.
5. I should not cite
anyone as supporting my opinion, especially if they are persons of importance,
unless this has been thoroughly arranged beforehand. And I would deal with
everyone on an equal basis, never taking sides with anyone.
6. If the matters
being discussed are of such a nature that you cannot or ought not to be
silent, then give your opinion with the greatest possible humility and
sincerity, and always end with the words salvo meliori iudicio—with
due respect for a better opinion.
7. Finally, if some
point of human or divine science is under discussion and I have something to
say, it will be of great help to forget about my own leisure or lack of time—that
is, my own convenience. I should rather accommodate myself to the convenience
of him with whom I am to deal so that I may influence him to God's greater
1. While at Trent
Ours should try to live together in some respectable district. And what they
should especially seek to accomplish for God's greater glory is to preach,
hear confessions, lecture, instruct children, give good example, visit the
poor in the hospitals, and exhort the neighbor according to the talents each
is conscious of possessing, so as to move as many as possible to prayer and
devotion. Pray and lead others to pray particularly to God our Lord,
beseeching His Divine Majesty to deign to send forth His Holy Spirit on all
who take part in the discussions of that august gathering, so that the Holy
Spirit may descend in greater abundance with His grace and gifts upon the
2. In your sermons
do not touch on subjects on which Catholics and Protestants are at variance,
but simply exhort your audience to virtue and to devotions approved by the
Church. Awaken in souls a thorough knowledge of themselves and a love of their
Creator and Lord. Speak frequently of the council and always end your sermons,
as we have said, with a prayer for the council.
3. In lecturing
follow the same rules as you do in preaching, and try to enkindle in souls a
love of their Creator and Lord, explaining the meaning of the passage read,
and have your hearers pray as has been indicated.
4. When you hear
confessions remember to tell your penitents the same that you have said in
public. Let the penance consist of prayers for the council.
5. In giving the
Exercises and in other conversations, remember that you are equivalently
speaking in public. Recall that, in general, only the exercises of the first
week should be given to everyone, unless you are dealing with very special
persons who are prepared to arrange their lives according to the manner of the
elections. Such persons should not be allowed to make any vows, either during
the Exercises or at their end; nor should they bind themselves in any other
way, especially at the beginning. Later on, if time allows, they might do so,
but always with moderation, and only if the Exercises are given in their
entirety. Prayers for the council should also be said.
6. You should teach
boys at some appropriate time, according to an arrangement that is suitable
and which may vary in different places. Begin with the basic rudiments and
explain them in keeping with the needs of your audience. When you end your
instruction recite some prayers for the council.
7. Visit the
hospitals at some convenient hour during the day, always taking your health
into consideration. Hear the confessions of the poor and console them, and
even take them some little gift if you can. Have them pray, as I have
suggested when speaking of hearing confessions. If you are at least three in
number, each one should take his turn visiting the poor, a day at a time,
twice a week.
8. Exhort those with
whom you come into contact to frequent confession, Communion, or the
celebration of Mass. Have them make the Exercises and perform other works of
piety; also encourage them to pray for the council.
9. Here also, as in
determining the matters to be discussed, it will be better to be slow to speak
and to speak little, as I have said. But on the other hand, if you wish to
urge souls to make progress in the spiritual life, it will be better to speak
at length, with order, and with kindness and love.
Spend an hour at
night when each of you can share with the others what you have done that day
and discuss your plans for the following day.
We should agree on
past and future matters by vote, or in some other way.
On one night, let
one of you ask the others to correct him in what he may have done amiss, and
he who is corrected should make no answer unless he is asked to explain the
matter about which he has been corrected. On another night, another will do
the same. Thus each one in turn, so that all can be helped unto greater
charity and to greater influence in all things.
resolutions in the morning and twice during the day make the examen.
This order should
begin within five days of your arrival at Trent. Amen.