These words – Inspice et Fac – are embedded in the mind and heart of every member of the Canossian Family.
Our Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa, wrote in her Memoirs (I.32,34):
“During Holy Week while reading in a small meditation book the verse “Inspice et fac secundum exemplar”, I experienced an inner stirring, so strong that it remained with me for several days. I felt urged to follow the Crucified Christ but without understanding anything in particular…I believe that it was then that I looked to the virtues of Christ Crucified for inspiration to write the Rules of the Daughters of Charity, that is, of the Institute.”
The passage quoted by St Magdalene refers to Exodus 25:40 – “Inspice et fac secundum exemplar quod tibi in monte monstratum est” – “Look and do according to the example shown to you on the mountain”. She is quoting from a meditation booklet she was using, that placed this passage into a Christian context: look to Christ on the mountain of Calvary for the example for Christian life. Magdalene was taken up with this image, and it became the charismatic intuition to take up Christ Crucified as the model for her, and later on, for the Daughters of Charity-Servants of the Poor.
The heart of our Charism of the Greatest Love comes from the idea, we cannot love our neighbor without first contemplating the “Greatest Love that shines from the Cross”. It is there, contemplating Jesus’ greatest act of love, we learn to be love for others.
Inpice = to gaze upon, steadily look at.
et = and
Fac = do it (imperative)
It is not just a nice sentiment for us. It is an imperative, a must, in the life of every Canossian, to take up our duty of contemplating Christ Crucified, and to learn from him our path of virtue and service. Our Mother Foundress, Magdalene, outlines very clearly the virtues we should be ever willing to embrace in our lives:
These can only be learned by taking Christ for our Model. We learn from Him, by daily contemplating Him. Inspice et Fac.
It is the heart of the Canossian way of life.
We learn to love God through our teacher, Jesus.
We learn also to love our neighbor through our teacher, Jesus.
And hopefully, those we serve will desire to do the same. Inpsice et Fac secundum exemplar.