Supernatural Vision of Earthly Things

With the expression “biting reality”[1] we want to signify the effective interference of our apostolic work in the culture we seek to evangelize. This aspect is undoubtedly one of the essential components of our evangelizing task and what gives our priestly ministry a distinctive note.

In the first place, this ‘biting reality’ is born and nourished by a just consideration of the mystery of the Incarnate Word and fidelity to it, without which all our pastoral work would inevitably fall into complete failure.

We are convinced – and experience has shown us this – that it is familiarity with the Incarnate Word – nourished and increased in the life of prayer – that gives us “that Christian common sense”[2], that special ability to interpret the signs of the times free from all worldly pretensions. It is this familiarity with the Incarnate Word – and we say this with humility and gratitude – that gives us a particular ‘sensitivity’ to the cultural movements of the times, to the specific needs of the mission, to the problems of today’s world and its currents of thought, and makes us capable of entering into a fruitful dialogue with the cultures[3] to which we are called to evangelize, knowing how to give a positive response in the light of the Gospel; knowing how to appreciate and value the different ways by which God seeks to communicate with people and, in short, knowing how to insert ourselves effectively where we are working apostolically, because it will always be true that “true inculturation is from within through a renewal of life under the influence of grace”[4]. 4] Far be it from us “to embrace the present culture, renouncing to impregnate it with the Gospel”[5], because we would betray our mission, which is that of the Church: to take on all that is human by communicating to it the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the life of grace.

This very insertion into reality, centered on the mystery of the Incarnate Word, means that nothing authentically human is foreign to us, and that we seek to assume it in order to communicate the divine to it, knowing that “what is not assumed is not redeemed”[6] … and that is why the Word assumed a perfect human nature.

This non-negotiable element is reflected in various aspects of our religious life. Thus, for example, our formation plan seeks to engrave the Incarnate Word in the minds and hearts of our formandi so that their lives may be “a living memory of the way Jesus, the Word made flesh, lived and acted”[7]. 7] In other words, the Institute promotes a formation that makes our formands religious priests who, by the superior light of faith that illumines human realities, are able to “bite reality” with courage, that is, in absolute fidelity to Jesus Christ[8] and with a “serious (not mushy) spirituality”[9] who do not fall into posturing, ostentation, false mysticism, exteriority, mushiness or false pietism, but who are capable of transcending the merely sensible and are ready to go through the dark nights. For only in this way will our religious “be able to effectively present our Divine Master to the people and carry out the mission worthily and fruitfully”[10]. 10] Only in this way will they be able to “bite reality”, knowing how to change it effectively by teaching it for Jesus Christ, as the specific purpose of our Institute demands.

In the second place, it is Thomistic metaphysics that helps us to avoid hitting the air [11], that is, that allows us to make an effective contribution so that the faith may be incarnated in the life and culture of men [12].

This is why the members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word strive to learn to think about reality – starting from St. Thomas himself, entering into dialogue and polemics with contemporary problems and thinkers – in order to make it known to others in an ever-creative way, without this meaning to enter into “compromises with the spirit of the world”[13]. 13] This task becomes imperative at this time, given the progressivism that plagues the Church “because of the lack of criticism and discernment in the face of modern philosophies and the assimilation of the principle of immanence”.

We believe, therefore, that the metaphysics of being, a dynamic metaphysics that allows a full and global opening towards the whole reality, until reaching the One who perfects everything, together with a Christocentric spirituality and theology are the two tools to read the social reality in the light of the Gospel and to offer our contribution in the inculturation of the Gospel.

This grasp of reality has a great impact on our pastoral work, since the members of the Institute dedicate ourselves, among many other activities, to the preaching of authentic Spiritual Exercises (without ever forgetting that the essence of the Exercises lies, above all, in conversion and right choice); popular missions (seeking the conversion of sinners); catechetical teaching, always striving to guide souls to the knowledge and love of the living Jesus Christ, etc.

In short, from the same fact that God became man without ceasing to be God, we members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word learn to be in the world, “without being of the world”[15]. We go into the world to convert it and not to mimic it. We go to the culture and cultures of mankind not to become them, but to heal them and elevate them with the power of the Gospel, doing, analogously, what Christ did: “He suppressed the diabolical, assumed the human and communicated the divine to it”[16].

Thus: “biting reality” becomes non-negotiable when it comes to evangelization.


[1] Cf. Notes of the Fifth General Chapter, 4.

[2] Constitutions, 231.

[3] Cf. Vita Consecrata, 79: “By applying themselves to the study and understanding of cultures, consecrated persons can better discern in them authentic values and the way in which they can be accepted and perfected, with the help of their own charism”.

and the way in which they can be accepted and perfected, with the help of their own charism”.

[4] Cf. Directory of Spirituality, 51.

[5] Cf. Father Carlos Buela, IVE, The Art of the Father, Part III, chapter 14.

[6] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, 3: St. Athanasius, Ep. ad Epictetum 7: PG 26,1060; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. 4,9: PG 33,465; Marius Victorinus, Adv. Arium 3,3:

PL 8,1101; St. Basil, Epist. 261,2: PG 32,969; St. Gregory Nazianzen, Epist. 101: PG 37,181; St. Gregory Nicene,

Antirreheticus, Adv. Apollin. 17: PG 45,1156; St. Ambrose, Epist. 48,5: PL 16,1153; St. Augustine, In Ioan. Ev. tr. 23,6: PL 35,1585; CChr. 36,236.

[7] Constitutions, 254; 257; op. cit. cf.

[8] Notes of the Fifth General Chapter, 4.

[9] Ibidem.

[10] Blessed Paolo Manna, Apostolic Virtues, Circular Letter No. 6, September 15, 1926.

[11] Cf. 1 Cor 9:26.

[12] Cf. Directory for the Evangelization of Culture, 248.

[13] Directory of Spirituality, 118.

[14] Directory of Major Seminaries, 324 and Constitutions, 220.

[15] Cf. Jn 17:14-16.

[16] Blessed Isaac of Stella, Sermon 11; PL 194, 1728.