The Vowed Life
The life of a Benedictine canon isn’t difficult (indeed St. Benedict tells us in his Rule that he means to put nothing burdensome forth) but naturally there are important promises and commitments that shape our lives together. Our communities conform to the following basic patterns:
Our practice has been to make temporary and then solemn vows of obedience (to Holy Scripture, the Rule, the Prior, and each other), stability (within the community), and conversatio (conversion of life by living according to the Rule). A postulancy of at least six months and a novitiate of at least one year prepares the candidate for vows. The vows are made with the local community gathered in the presence of the Prior, with the concurrence of the Prior General, one’s local Priest and Bishop. We also have a modest Oblate program.
The main charism of a Benedictine Community is prayer. Accordingly we come together spiritually every day as we observe the Daily Office with a focus on the recitation of the psalter in a monthly cycle. It is preferable to pray with others when possible.
Members of our communities read a portion of St. Benedict’s Rule daily; we reflect upon it and find ways of applying it to our lives. We commit to daily periods of sacred reading (lectio). We also study Holy Scripture, and works by Church fathers and mothers.
Our members are expected to engage in meaningful work of some kind, whether paid or unpaid. Secular work is appropriate, though it must allow for Sunday worship and the other obligations of the Benedictine life.
Our members come from many different walks of life. We accept men and women both single and married. Celibacy is expected from those who are single and chastity for those in the married estate. One’s spouse is not expected to join the community though this, of course, would be ideal.
Canons and Novices may wear a habit on Church property and at Church functions but do not normally wear them as regular public dress. Our habit is black and includes the cassock with belt, scapular and hood. Only the Prior and the Prior General wear a cross in addition to the habit. A Benedictine medal, which is also permitted as a replacement for the habit, is normally worn at other times.
Canons endeavour to keep a modest home and should seek a balanced life of hospitality and love of neighbour. Moderation is to be encouraged.
Since we are non-cloistered communities, it is vital to be an active member of a local parish. This means giving freely of one’s money, time and talents to the Church. It means seeking Holy Communion daily (at the very least on Sundays and, when possible, on major Feast Days). It also means keeping a strict Lent and making a regular practice of confession to one’s priest.
Members also gather regularly together in chapter and keep in close contact with their Prior for spiritual direction and mentorship.