Rule of Life
The Call of the Community
We are a community of women and men drawn to the monastic life by our love of God and our common commitment to “seek and serve Christ in all persons”. We seek to further the Kin-dom of God on earth with a steady and committed focus on the Divine through prayer, work, and study; striving to see God in all things. Let our desire to be instruments of God’s peace serve as an icon that might draw others into a closer union with The Divine. The discipline of The Rule of Life that follows is undertaken not as a set of limitations but rather as a design for living that leads to profound freedom. We accept The Rule of St. Benedict as a guide for inspiration, but not binding.
The Monastic Vow
Stability is our commitment to life in the monastery. We bind ourselves entirely to the Community of Divine Love, offering our lives to God. In giving ourselves to stability we foster a deepening sense of equanimity. Just as “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”, we commit to live as monastic brothers and sisters until death.
Obedience is understood as listening for the will of God with the ear of the heart and the common mind of the community. Love without obedience is a shallow love asking of us only what is comfortable and convenient. In committing to obedience, we fully enter the life that we have been called to, growing beyond the confines of the self with its desires and whims. As the Lord says: “Narrow is the road that leads to life”. We look for the fruits of obedience to be manifested as generosity, humility, and purity of heart.
Conversion of Life
We seek to evolve, transform, and grow in grace by turning away from self-will and turning toward the will of God. We vow to be always a pilgrim, guided by the Holy Spirit, living in ongoing conversion, mindful that God is always calling us into deeper places with ongoing newness and fullness of life. It is in the challenges of living in community, where conversion meets the loving commitment of stability, that we become more aware of ourselves and our need to evolve. Through our conversion of life, we strive to reveal Christ Consciousness in ourselves and in the greater community.
The vow of poverty is a commitment of faithfulness to the Gospel itself which summons us to a new vision and way of life which reverses the values of the world. It means that we have made the conscious choice to dissociate ourselves from the structures of privilege, power, and wealth. We maintain a healthy distance from the trappings of the world in order to remain focused on the heart of God. Monastic poverty is interpreted as having no possessions of one’s own and living with simplicity and thankfulness for God’s provisions, holding all goods in common. Living in simplicity means that we need less and take less from the world and allows us to be good and prudent stewards of God’s resources.
We commit to be faithful to God in this single, celibate state of life. Drawn by the power of God’s love, we are free to welcome all people as brothers and sisters in Christ with equal modesty, decency and love. Living a chaste and celibate life helps us to keep our attention on Divine Love. To be self-aware requires that we will need to examine our hearts for our emotional honesty in our relations with others.
The disciplines that foster celibacy help us to prevent our spirits from becoming solemn and heavy and help us to live with vitality and spirit. We can all contribute to the harmony and balance of our life together in community by allowing playfulness and humor to help keep us in touch with our humanity and to release tension. It is important to keep our hearts open to the wisdom of our spiritual directors or confessors, for secrecy makes us more likely to deceive ourselves. It is through friendship that we can be of most support to one another. Celibacy could become lonely and arid unless we support one another in true friendship and affection in Christ.
The Three-fold Frame of Benedictine Spirituality
Prayer is a foundational element to the vocation of the monastic life. It is through the Opus Dei – the work of God, that we bring ourselves with deep intention to meet God in prayer. Engaging in the divine hours means that we are willing to commit to the repetitive rhythm of prayer. These frequent interruptions in the momentum of our day helps us to stop and remember God. The daily prayers mostly consist of the recitation of psalms, reading of scripture, intercessory prayers, and silent meditation.
Contemplative practices such as Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer and praying with icons are essential to cultivating the inner soil of our spiritual life.
Work is seen as both a practical means of support for the monastic community as well as a path to move deeper into the mystery of God in our lives. Our work includes daily tasks around the monastery such as cooking, cleaning, and repairs. In addition, we work at publishing materials for prison ministry, and spiritual direction, both in-person and through letters with inmates. Our work in ministry also carries us away from the monastery and into prison facilities and other places such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and youth detention centers where we encounter those most marginalized. In doing so, we encounter Jesus himself. In all we do, we seek to see God in all things.
Benedict puts great importance on the relationship between prayer, work, and study. Study is part of the necessary balance that brings the God-given use of the mind into both our prayer and work life. Learning is an essential part of our being.
We seek at all times to offer ourselves to the continuing challenge of intellectual growth. Regular study can help us to expand our minds and deepen our understanding of ourselves, others, and the complexities of an ever-changing world. The ultimate desired goal of regular study and learning is to become a fully integrated human being.
All learning is a gift of our Creator and helps us expand our awareness of the interconnectedness of all things. In addition to study of Holy Scripture and theological pursuits, we also see value in study of other sacred texts and attention to current world events, culture, and art.
Benedict puts great emphasis on the importance of the value of humility. Humility is an honest appraisal of who we are. No amount of praise or dismissing should shake this inherent sense of our strengths and shortcomings. We attempt to relinquish ourselves of our ego enabling the Holy Spirit to work through us. This is the opposite of self-leading, domination, and self-will running riot from the unrestrained ego. Many Character shortcomings can be traced to the lack of humility. Conversely so, true humility can pave the way on the spiritual journey that can lead to a steady, generous, and open-hearted way of living. The path that will make us more like Jesus is the path to humility.
Our life in community calls for keeping a respectful silence at all times, free of needless chatter in which words can become empty. Silence in community is different than solitary silence and requires a more mindful intention. Silence in community reaches beyond the words from our mouths into silence of our entire being. It is in this silence that we hope to hear the heart of God speak.
Just as Jesus would withdraw to be alone with God, so too are we called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with the Divine, together as a community as well as personally, to be free of distractions and to dwell lovingly in the Divine Presence. It is hard to hear God in noise or agitation. We aspire to an inner silence that welcomes the voice of God.
The Sacrament of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is our central act of worship. It is in the Eucharist that our worship of God finds its fullest expression. All that we do and all that we are as Christians is bound in this sacramental sharing of bread and wine, the holy food and drink of unending life in Christ. It is the meal that brings us together in community and through which we are caught-up in the mystical body of Christ.
We celebrate Holy Eucharist on Sundays as well as some weekdays.
Ministry is an important part of our community life and our lives as Christians. Although our ministry work is closely identified with prison ministry, we are not tethered to this as exclusive in any way. We are always open to responding to need. New brothers and sisters entering the community may bring ministry gifts with them and new opportunities will surely present themselves.
Our ministry also includes individual spiritual direction, leading retreats, teaching, preaching, and writing.
When considering the many ministry opportunities that come our way, we must always carefully discern the impact on the community. We should always be mindful of the tension in the balance of responding to the needs of others and our own needs of the community. Discerning which opportunities we should respond to brings into play the wisdom of the whole community. The coordination of our tasks, responsibilities, and ministries means that we must often turn down requests. This prudence is not meant to hold us back from responding generously, but to respond responsibly, ever mindful of the mission priorities of the community. Without faithfulness to our limitations, we can jeopardize our community life and its balance.
Our ordinary life is our spiritual life. We look to create a balance between prayer, study, work, ministry, recreation and retreat. The monastery should be a place of peace and renewal. We strive to maintain a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit through physical exercise, meditation, relaxation, and healthy eating that can help us to remain grounded as individuals and as a community.
Since all of life is holy, we don’t want to let it pass by unnoticed. We give our attention as fully as we can to what we are doing in any given moment. Being fully present in each moment helps us to be aware of the presence of God. Ultimately, our life is our prayer.
As a community we are mindful of recognizing all who come to us in the form of a guest, stranger, or pilgrim, as the Jesus himself. If we are to truly meet Christ face to face in these encounters, we should remember how deeply people are yearning for the things of God. We offer silence, our stream of prayer, and our fellowship where our guests are safe from intrusion and free to pray. We may also offer our gifts of teaching, guidance, and encouragement by where we can all grow in the love and knowledge of God.
We must also remain mindful and true to our limitations. The claims upon our community life and ministries mean that we cannot take all who come to us with the desire for retreat time. If we do not honor the boundaries that protect our life in community, we endanger our life together and the resources we have to offer.