Maxims of the Sisters of St. Joseph

Structure of the Maxims of the Little Institute

Background of the Maxims

The Maxims of the Little Institute [MLI] is a different document than the Maxims of Perfection [MP] which are also written by Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ. It’s believed that Father Médaille wrote the Maxims of Perfection as a personal retreat journal and then published them for a wider audience. The Maxims of the Little Institute were written specifically for our first sisters.

The aim of our life is set forth in the first maxim:

Keep always in mind the aim of your vocation which is sublime; and never do anything which contradicts the commitment to a life full of modesty, gentleness, and holiness.” Some would say this maxim it says it all! Any good teacher repeats, repeats, repeats in many different ways. . . until the student “gets it.” This seems to be what Father Médaille was doing with our first sisters.

We will offer periodic reflections on the Maxims of the Little Institute in this area of our website.

The structure of the maxims can be seen in this slide presentation. Although the presentation structures The Maxims of the Little Institute as emphasizing God, others, self, one is never seen as separate from the other. Our mission is the love and service of God AND the love and service of neighbor without distinction. In 1650 Father Jean-Pierre Médaille tried to make our spirituality very concrete for our first sisters women who, for the most part, did not read.

More than 360 years ago, Father Jean Pierre Médaille, SJ, composed one hundred short sayings to help the first Sisters of St. Joseph grow in virtue and help all to develop the habits of heart and mind that were “in Christ Jesus.” They were called Maxims of the Little Institute. The adaptations displayed here come from Sister Susan Wilcox, CSJ Brentwood, and her college students.

For about a year we have posted one of these Maxims on our Instagram page each week: So that these are more available to all, we are creating short slide shows with five maxims. These will be posted every two weeks. Take time to reflect on the maxims below. Come back and reflect on them again. You can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see our “Maxim Monday” posts as they appear each week.