Lanterian Charism


What exactly does the “Lanterian charism” consist of? A religious
charism is a spiritual reality, a gift of the Holy Spirit, by which the
Founder and his followers seize upon and live the Gospel in a particular
way. As such, it belongs to the realm of Mystery and eludes any precise
and clear-cut formulation. We can, however, outline its essential
traits by meditating on the life and words of Fr. Lanteri and trying to
secure his fundamental insights. With that having been said, the
Lanterian charism is, very succinctly, characterized by the following
A keen sense of the Mercy of God made manifest in Jesus Christ
The God who took hold of Fr. Lanteri is a God of goodness and of mercy:
the Father who sent His Son, as the Good Shepherd, to save man. Fr.
Lanteri places Christ, gentle and merciful, in the center of it all. He
experiences Christ as his Companion, as his Teacher, his Model, Help,
Recompense. He became a fervent witness to it in all of his activities.
The Lanterian heart lives in the presence of a God Who loves each person
for who he or she is and Whose love is free and without limits, and it
knows that “mans salvation is the greatest object of interest to the
attentive care of Providence”. This vision inspires certain
characteristic attitudes:

  • An ever renewed trust in God: “Immediately destroy every shortcoming
    in the fire of love, and repeat continually, and with firm resolve:
    Nunc coepi, Now I begin..
  • A fraternal love which bears all the marks of a man of great human
    feeling: “The love with which they will love one another shall be a
    cordial love, such as befits true brothers of the same family, an
    affable love, a love that is one step ahead, forbearing, preserved at
    the cost of whatever sacrifice”.
  • Finally, it is a goodness that permeates his whole style of
    evangelization: “In the heart of Lanteri, truth is always joined to
    love: always practicing zeal for the truth in a spirit of love, striving
    to win over the heart before the spirit, by making one fall in love
    with very truth that he defends and teaches”.

A filial love for Mary
At the age of twenty two, the young Lanteri had entrusted himself
totally to Mary as a trusting son would do. Later on he would make this
fervent prayer to Mary: “Holy Virgin, Mother of God and my Lady, I ask
two things of you and both are necessary for me: give me your Son, He is
treasure, without Him I am poor. Give me to your Son, He is my Wisdom
and my Light, without Him I am in darkness “. Christ remains ever at the
center of the whole of Fr. Lanteris theological vision and
spirituality, but the Virgin Mary occupies a privileged place therein as
Model of faith and Mother who brings to Christ. On the emblem of the
Oblates we read: “Mariam cogita, Mariam invoca.” They are St. Bernards
words which invite us to contemplate the image of Mary as presented to
us in the Gospel: model of one who is totally at the disposal of the
Word and of the Spirit; and to invoke Mary, with such trusting prayer as
entrusts all that we are and all that we do to her maternal
intercession. An important element of the spirituality of Fr. Lanteri is
the offering of oneself to the Lord through the hands of Mary.
A genuine sense of fidelity to the Church
Fr. Lanteri often quoted the words of Christ, ” My teaching is not Mine,
but His who sent Me” (Jn 7:16), as the foundation of his total
adherence to the teaching of the Church. He invites the Oblates to
profess a “total, sincere, and inviolable obedience to the authority of
the Holy See, and a total attachment to its magisterium”. It is an
important component of the spirit of communion with the Church, the
“sensus Ecclesiae” that must characterize the Lanterian spirit.
Insertion into the Churchs journey, love for the Pope, prompt
attentiveness to his word are some of the essential attitudes for a
Lanterian both in his or her own formation as well as in any pastoral
initiative. Such a spirit also entails the possession of a particular
attentiveness for working in step with the local Church, the
responsibility for which belongs first and foremost to the bishop.
Ignatian pedagogy
Lanteri chose the Ignatian way both for his own spiritual life as well
as for its use in the apostolate. “The Exercises of St. Ignatius are, in
general, a very powerful instrument of divine Grace for worldwide
reform, and in particular, a sure method for everyone to become a saint,
a great saint, and quickly “. The Exercises chart a spiritual course
which teaches one to contemplate Christ in prayer, in order to follow
him in a radical way and to live the Gospel fully in ones vocation.
Ignatian pedagogy helps unite faith and life, it forms free men and
women, able to discern the call of the Lord in the concrete situations
of history; it is a sure path to spiritual growth. The Lanterian takes
his or her place squarely within the ongoing tradition of the great
Ignatian family which has succeeded, especially in recent years, in
renewing and presenting the pedagogy of St. Ignatius in a way that is
relevant for today. It should be added that Fr. Lanteri nourished his
spiritual life with other great masters: St. Alphonsus Liguori, St.
Francis de Sales, St. Theresa of Avila, and many other Fathers of the
Church and theologians, thereby teaching the importance of letting
oneself be formed at the school of the great authors of Christian life.
An ardent and intelligent apostolic consciousness
Fr. Lanteri was a man set afire with a blazing fire: he burned with the
desire to help all encounter Christ. For this to take place, his
apostolic action was directed, on the one hand, toward that
evangelization that happens deep within a person, particularly with
spiritual direction and confession, and on the other, toward the
evangelization of the culture, especially through the circulation of the
printed word. These were two complementary directions to which Fr.
Lanteri was attentive all his life. Another characteristic of his was
also the concern he had not only to evangelize, but to form
evangelizers. Certainly, his apostolic intuitions can still today
inspire the creativity of many men and women who, sensitive to the
anxieties and hopes of the world, are looking for the most effective
ways to love and serve. With Fr. Lanteri the apostolic heart is
committed to “making all men and women who are docile to grace, know and
feel that () the most essential business of their true happiness
demands that they unite themselves to the Supreme Good”.