WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
Welcome to the family of the Celtic Order of St. Morgan. As a new member of the COSM you are in a formation period traditionally referred to as the novitiate. As a novice you are new to the disciplined religious life. This handbook was developed to assist you in the process of becoming a full and vowed member of the Order. Whether or not you choose to make your vows to the Order after this process, the materials herein will help you in your spiritual turas (journey) as you walk with Christ.
This manual will lead you through the seven principles of Celtic monasticism embodied in the Order's Rule of Life. Seven weeks are devoted to the exploration and development of each principle with practical examples provided for useful application of the Rule in your daily life.
YOUR MENTOR ~ A GUIDE FOR THE WILDERNESS
The Abbot has assigned you a mentor for your turas. By choosing to follow a Rule of Life you have chosen a spiritual path which leads you out of the mundane existence lived by most people in the world. While still living in the secular world you have chosen a way of life which reflects that of one who has chosen to live in the disert (desert). Like the Celtic monks of our spiritual heritage you have chosen a way of life which is at odds with the norms and practices of the world. You have entered the wilderness. Your mentor is your guide in this place set apart from the world.
The wilderness is a blessed experience which our forebears in faith - the Israelites - experienced. In that experience they were nurtured, remolded and refined to hear the voice of their Creator. When they been through their wilderness they were ready to be God's people in the way He wanted them to be. It is also an experience our Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself in preparation for His public ministry in obedient service to God the Father. Once you have been through your personal wilderness, you are ready face the world with a profound knowledge of God, your neighbour and yourself, and are ready to serve Him and them in the world.
The mentor you have been assigned is a vowed member of the Order who has already gone through the formation process and is experienced in the pitfalls on the turas. We have human frailties and weaknesses. We live in a non-Christian (sometimes anti-Christian) world. To keep our Christian standards, to accept a Christian discipline, to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, all of us need a supporting guide who can restore our perspective in periods of doubt and spiritual dryness.
During your formation you will be required to be in frequent contact with your mentor. You will be required to file periodic reports to your mentor. While it is preferable that you meet in person with your mentor the limitations created by the distances which separate many Brothers and Sisters may make this impossible. Nontheless you need to maintain frequent communication with your mentor via letter, e-mail, and/or telephone. Your mentor needs to know what you are attempting and what spiritual tools you bring to the task. He/she needs to know your life situation, the demands made on you, and your responsibilities.
After the completion of your formation period and taking of Vows you will want to select an anamchara (soul-friend). This may or may not be your mentor. The choice is yours. But you will want an anamchara who is a support and companion on your spiritual journey; a sounding board; a catalyst to transforming you into the person God intends you to be; a guide through the fog of your emotions, your depression, your clouded vision; a touchstone to test your motivations and intentions; a counterpoise to restore balance when personal problems upset your equilibrium. In short, a friend of your soul. Your anamchara can be a clergyperson, a vowed religious, a lay person, a man or a woman. But it is vitally important that the anamchara be a person of deep Christian faith.
LIVING THE RULE OF LIFE
There are seven principles to the Order's Rule of Life: worship; prayer; silence and contemplation; fasting and abstinence; study; work; and charity. The formation program is structured to familiarize you with the practices of these principles by addressing each principle during seven periods of seven weeks each. It is important to follow the formation program in sequence for each principle builds upon the previous one starting with the foundation of all Christian life ~ the worship of God.
There is always a danger of rushing too quickly and burning out. You and your mentor should maintain a steady pace in accordance with the time frame of the formation process. Remember, the Rule of Life is not a destination, it is a turas. While completion of the formation program leads to Vowed membership in the Order that is not its goal. The goal is making the Rule of Life a part of your life in a practical way.
Seven weeks will be devoted to each principle of the Rule. Each week will focus on a specific application of the Rule. As you apply each weekly task to your life you will build a temple of religious faith and practice.
Throughout your formation process maintain
a daily journal of activities, thoughts, and inspirations. You
will want to share these with your mentor and review them in the
future for your own edification on your walk as a pilgrim for
The COSM Rule of Life: All members of the Order are to attend a worship service at least once a week and preferably on Sundays. All members of the Order are to attend a worship service on days of obligation, major feast days, and the high holy days of Easter and Christmas. While it is hoped that all members of the Order can attend a worship service with a Celtic Christian community, it is understood that this may not be possible at all times due to availability and/or distance. If this is the case, members are to attend the closest church which holds to the basic tenets of the Order.
An Explanation of the Rule: The foundation of all Christian life is the worship of God. And the foundation of the discipline of the Order is in regular worship of the Holy Trinity especially in the celebration of Holy Eucharist and in receiving Holy Communion. The Lord's Day (Sunday) is the primary day of worship. In addition, you should worship on days of obligation (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), major feast days (see the Anamchara Celtic Church calendar), and high holy days (Christmas and Easter).
As a Celtic Christian you should strive to worship with an RCC community. If that is not possible strive to worship with a community whose denominational affiliation has a Concordat of Inter-Communion with the RCC. If one does not exist in your area seek to worship with a denomination holding to the basic tenets of the Order; that is, one which professes the Nicene Creed and celebrates Holy Eucharist on at least a weekly basis. You can check with your mentor, the Prior, or the Abbot if you have a question about the appropriateness of a denomination.
You should attempt to expand your worship beyond Sundays by the use of the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, and Evening Prayer). While the Daily Office of the RCC Disert Missal should be used your mentor may approve use of other Celtic services (i.e., the Northumbria Community's Celtic Daily Prayer or Celtic Nightly Prayer).
Week One - Begin to attend Holy Eucharist on Sundays.
Week Two - Begin to attend worship on days of obligation, high holy days, and major feast days.
Week Three - During this week pray the Daily Office of Morning Prayer.
Week Four - During this week pray the Daily Office of Evening Prayer.
Week Five - During this week pray the Daily Office of Midday Prayer.
Week Six - Set aside one hour per week for outdoor worship, sitting quietly and watching nature proclaim the glory of God.
Week Seven - Meet with your mentor to discuss your worship experiences and review your journal notes. Tell him/her of your difficulties and your joys in attending and worshiping our Lord.
You should continue in worshiping on Sundays,
days of obligation, high holy days, and major feast days. Observance
of the Daily Office will be developed under the principle of Prayer
in the next phase of your formation.
PHASE TWO: PRAYER
The COSM Rule of Life: The ancient Celtic Church followed the custom of a daily cycle of prayers called the Daily Office. The major offices were Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer. Therefore, all members of the Order are to keep one of the Offices during the day, using the Anamchara Celtic Church Order of Daily Offices. Further, each member is to pray the Dalriadan Rosary once a week.
Explanation of the Rule: Richard Foster has called prayer "the heart's true home." This principle of the Rule will immerse you in the life of prayer. You have already involved yourself in the life of prayer by attending and participating in worship. Now you will extend your prayer life, not limiting it to worship but making it a part of your daily routine. With practice it will become almost as automatic as breathing.
Week One: In the previous phase of your formation you spent one week praying each of the various Daily Offices. Select one of the Offices (Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, or Evening Prayer) to be your regular discipline. Choose the one which best suits your daily routine and allows you the best opportunity to perform this discipline. Begin praying that Office everyday.
Week Two: When the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray the Lord gave them what we call the Lord's Prayer. It is the perfect model for perfect prayer. Commit the Lord's Prayer to memory and pray it during this week. Examine the various aspects of the Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. (Praise for God)
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (Conformance to God's will)
Give us this day our daily bread. (Petition for basic physical and spiritual needs, remembering that man does not live by corporal bread alone but needs the bread of heaven which is Christ)
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Petition for forgiveness of sins, remembering that God's forgiveness of us is directly related to our forgiveness and mercy toward others)
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. (Request for God's guidance to do good rather than evil)
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. (Submission to God's rule, might, and majesty)
Amen. (Lord make it so)
Week Three: The ancient Celtic Monks had a love for the Psalms as instruments of prayer. The Order has a special love for Psalm 84 ~ a Psalm of pilgrimage and living in the presence of God. Memorize and pray this Psalm during this week.
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord
of hosts! My soul longs, yea, even faints for the courts of
the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring. The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength. Each one appears before God in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer. Give ear, O God of Jacob! O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed!
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my Lord than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Week Four: The truly selfless prayer is the prayer offered for others. This is what is called intercessory prayer. This week listen to the needs and concerns of others making note of their names and praying for them by name.
Week Five: The Dalriadan Rosary is a rosary whose origin is in the Order. It is God's gift to us. During this week pray the Rosary once each day. Afterwards pray the Rosary at least once a week. The Order generally prays the Rosary at 8:00 pm US Central Time (2:00 AM GMT) on Thursdays (Friday morning in Dublin and Edinburgh). Despite our separation by distance we are "gathered together" in common prayer once a week.
Week Six: St. Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing. A short prayer which has been the instrument of those striving to perform this act is the Jesus Prayer. Its origin is in the Russian devotional book The Way of the Pilgrim. As a pilgrim's prayer it is most appropriate for us ~ pilgrims for Christ. During this week call to mind the Jesus Prayer and say it frequently.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.
Week Seven: Meet with your mentor to discuss your prayer experiences.
You have completed the two foundational phases
of the Formation Program ~ worship and prayer. At this point you
should be attending worship on Sundays, days of obligation, high
holy days, and major feast days. Your prayer life should include
daily praying of one of the Daily Offices (Morning Prayer, Midday
Prayer, or Evening Prayer) and weekly praying of the Dalriadan
Rosary. Throughout your daily routine you should be praying the
Lord's Prayer, Psalm 84, the Jesus Prayer, and offering intercession
for people in their needs.
PHASE THREE: STUDY
Strengthen your devotion to the words and precepts of God. ~ From the Rule of St. Columcille (Columba)
The Rule of Life: Study, as defined by the Rule, is the reading, contemplating, discussing, debating, and teaching of those things which are for the edification, enlightenment, and health of the body, the spirit, and the Order. Each member is encouraged to supplement his reading of Holy Scriptures with such commentaries, concordances, and spiritual teachings as are in accordance with the basic tenets of the Faith. It is suggested that every member set time monthly to get together with his anamchara and share in fellowship and discussion. Further, members are encouraged to come together when possible for Bible study and discussion. Also, all members are encouraged to take any opportunity to teach the tenets of the Faith and bring the Gospel to every living creature.
Explanation of the Rule: The monks and nuns of the ancient Celtic Church placed a high premium on learning and were, consequently, responsible for the maintenance of learning during the so-called "Dark Ages." As the spiritual descendents of these ancient monastics the Order also has a high regard for learning. All members are encouraged to study the Holy Scriptures, theological works, devotional materials and Celtic Christian history. The study of God's Word ~ the Holy Scriptures ~ should be a regular and frequent practice of members. Holy Scriptures can be read for historical fact, spiritual truth, and personal reflection.
Week One: Turnaround. Read Mark 1:1-8. Answer the following questions
John the Baptist was the kind of guy that
I would like to....(complete the sentence).
Week Two: Mental Attitude. Read Matthew 5:3-10. Do the following exercises measuring yourself on these mental attitudes on a scale from 1 to 4 ~ 1 being low and 4 being high.
Poor in Spirit: I have come to the place where I feel accepted by God when I feel most unacceptable to myself. I recognize my need for God and know that I do not have to earn His love with wealth, status, or spiritual sophistication.
Mourn: I have come to the place where I can really face the empty places in my life. I can let others know when I am hurting and share the grief of others without embarrassment. I can weep like Jesus did.
Meek: I have come to the place where I don't have to be the strong one all the time. I can be tender and gentle with people. I have given the control of my life to God and I don't have to "win" all the time.
Spiritual Hunger: I have come to the place where I want to know God and His will for my life more than anything. I am more excited about God's will for the world than my own financial gain, success in my career, or acceptance by my peers. I long for God's perspective in my decision-making.
Merciful: I have come to the place where I can enter into the feelings of someone who is hurting, lonely or distressed and feel alongside them in their pain. God has given me a sensitivity for the suffering of others.
Pure in Heart: I have come to a place where I can be completely open and honest with God and others ~ transparent because I have nothing to hide. I don't have to put on "airs" or pretend to be someone I'm not.
Peacemaker: I have come to the place where I really work at keeping the channels of communication open between me and those around me. I deal with anger and disagreements immediately and don't allow them to fester. I encourage those around me to work out their differences without hurting one another.
Persecution: I have come to the place where I know what I am living for, and for this cause I am not afraid to suffer and, if need be, I am willing to "take the heat" and stand alone for what is right. I can take criticism without feeling self-pity or self-righteous.
Below are a list of qualities based on the Beatitudes. In silent, self-reflection consider your own qualities. Rank them 1 through 8 with 1 being what you believe is your strongest quality and 8 being your weakest.
Self-Acceptance: The ability to accept yourself and your imperfections, and to enable others to be more self-accepting.
Empathy: The ability to feel what others feel, to laugh and cry with others.
Gentleness: Ability to be tender because you are inwardly strong and to lead without overpowering others.
Spirituality: Ability to maintain spiritual priorities and to cause others to seek a deeper walk with Christ.
Sensitivity: The ability to pick up on the hurt and pain of others and to be "present" without being pushy or nosey.
Transparency: The ability to be yourself without any pretenses and allow the presence of Christ to radiate through you.
Peacemaking: The ability to harmonize differences between others without causing either person to "lose."
Endurance: The ability to stand up for what you believe without getting defensive or compromising your principles.
Answer the following questions. In what area (beatitude) have you made the most progress in the last year? How have you experienced the blessing? In what area do you need to work on something? How could the Order help you grow in this area?
Week Three: Moral Issues. Read Mark 11:12-19. Do the following exercises.
Rate the following situations on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being NO SWEAT, 2 being MIFFED, 3 being LOW GROWL, 4 being FLARING NOSTRILS, and 5 being BLOOD BOILS).
Getting the run-around, red-tape
Answer the following questions: How would you describe the behavior of Jesus in this passage? Do you think Jesus overreacted in this situation? Why or why not? Why did the chief priests and the teachers of the law start looking for a way to kill Jesus? If Jesus came to clean up your town, where would He start?
Take a moment and think about your reaction to social wrongs and abuse. How would you describe your own response to injustice, abuse, or moral corruption? When are you more likely to get involved or take action? What have you found most effective in changing the behavior of society for the good? Where is God calling you now to get in involved?
Week Four: Priorities. Read Luke 10:38-42. Answer the following questions.
Why do you think Jesus went to Martha and
Week Five: Possessions. Read Matthew 6:25-34. Answer the following questions.
If you had three wishes, which would you choose
from the list below?:
What does the phrase "do not worry about your life" mean? What does "but seek first His kingdom" mean? What is Jesus saying when He tells us not to worry about tomorrow? What is the spiritual principle of this reading? If you were to take seriously this reading, how would it effect your life?
Week Six: Control. Read Mark 14:32-42. Answer the following questions.
If you knew that you had only a few days
to live, what would you do with the time?
Week Seven: Meeting with mentor. You should have a lengthy meeting with your mentor to discuss your responses to the various questions and choices. Hopefully you will have found Holy Scriptures an instrument to assist you in hearing God's voice speaking to you, personally.
During this phase of your formation you have learned to use Holy Scriptures for personal reflection. You should continue in the study of Holy Scriptures and become involved in a Bible Study group if possible. In any event, ask your mentor or anamchara for guidance in future study of the Scriptures, the lives of the Celtic saints, and devotional materials.
In these first three phases of your spiritual
formation you have learned to commune with God in worship, communicate
with God in prayer, and hear what God is saying to you through
personal reflection on His Word.
PHASE FOUR: SILENCE AND CONTEMPLATION
Two-thirds of piety consists of being silent. ~ From the Rule of St. Ailbe
The Rule of Life: Silence and contemplation is the intentional stilling of oneself and/or the removing of oneself from the bustle of everyday life in order to seek communion with God, to contemplate His Word within our hearts. Each member should set aside time during the week for extended silence and contemplation. As a goal, at least twenty minutes daily should be set aside for quiet contemplation.
Explanation of the Rule: The most difficult thing for a person to do is remain purposefully silent. Yet the Lord tells us, "Be silent, and know that I am God." Silent contemplation is an extension of prayer in which we do not "talk" to God but let God "speak" to us in the stillness of our hearts. It is in silent contemplation that we come to be in God's presence without the clutter of our misconceptions, personal perceptions, and private idolatries.
Week One: The Rule of the Order enjoins us to set aside at least 20 minutes per day for silence and contemplation. However, this may be difficult in the beginning. It is better to start with 5 minutes of quality meditation than plan on 20 minutes, only to become distracted. This week set aside 5 minutes for silence and contemplation.
Choose a similar time each day and a particular location. This will help you make silence a regular part of your activity and establish a "sacred" contemplative place. The time should be a period when you are free of external demands. The location should be one free of external distractions.
Create a contemplative setting. You may like to use a prayer rug. To create a meditative mood during this initial stage you may also wish to use stilling music like Gregorian chant or mellow Celtic music.
Sit in a comfortable position ~ one that minimizes your consciousness of your body but not too comfortable that you fall asleep. Select a sacred two-syllable word. Some good examples are "Jesus", "Father", "Abba", "Shalom" (Hebrew meaing peace). Focus on a lighted candle (symbolizing the Light of Christ). Slow your breathing and mentally say your sacred word, inhaling on the first syllable, exhaling on the second.
Again, limit yourself to 5 minutes a day during this first week. You may like to use an egg timer to notify you when the 5 minutes have expired. However, it is better to come out of meditation in a gentle way and the bell may be too startling. As an alternative you could select an appropriate piece of music approximately five minutes in length so that the end of the music signifies the end of your period of meditation.
Week Two: Continue to follow the instructions for Week One. However, increase your time to 10 minutes.
Week Three: Continue to follow the instructions for Week Two, meditating for 10 minutes. Prior to the beginning of meditation, select something on which to meditate. This may be a section of the Daily Office or the Celtic Mass. For the purposes of your formation process it is recommended that you select a verse from the Beatitudes (see Matthew 5:3-10), selecting a new verse for each week.
Week Four: Continue to follow the instructions for Week Three. Increase your meditating to 15 minutes.
Week Five: Continue to follow the instructions for Week Four.
Week Six: Continue to follow the instructions for Week Five. Increase your meditation to 20 mnutes.
Week Seven: Meet with your mentor to discuss difficulties you may have in meditation. Share your formation notes with your mentor.
During this phase of your formation you may have experienced some difficulty in maintaining the discipline of silence and contemplation. It is important to your spiritual life to renew efforts at maintaining this discipline for in silence and contemplation God is the teacher. He teaches us more about ourselves and our responsibilities, preparing us for being instruments of His Gospel.
The continued and regular practice of silence
and contemplation will serve as a discernment tool as God reveals
Himself to you in quiet but powerful ways. You will find the effects
of this discipline in your daily life.
PHASE FIVE: FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Let the monk fast at suitable times, since an accompaniment of this practice is a salutary restraint of the body. ~ From the Rule of St. Cormac Mac Ciolionain
The Rule of Life: Fasting is the deleting of certain meals from the daily and/or weekly schedule and using said time for prayer and contemplation. All members are to fast at least one meal a week and should use the time for silent contemplation. All members are to fast before taking Holy Communion and on all prescribed fast days of the Calendar. Additional fasting may be done during Lent and Advent. Abstinence may, at the discretion of the Abbot, be used in lieu of fasting. Abstinence, as defined by the Rule, is the removal of specific food from one's diet at specified times as a sign of penance or for use in the disciplining of the flesh. All members should abstain from at least one favorite meal during Lent and may, at the member's discretion, abstain from red meats on Fridays.
Explanation of the Rule: It was the habit of our Lord to fast in preparation for some great task. The obvious example is his 40 day fast in the wilderness immediately after His baptism as He prepared for His public ministry. During this period He combined fasting with silent contemplation in the desert of Judea. From His example we learn that fasting is primarily a tool for preparation and discernment. It focuses us on that which matters to spiritual health and our relationship to God rather than wordly acclaim, power, or wealth.
Week One: Abstain from red meats on Friday. During Friday meals reflect on our Lord's Passion and Crucifixion.
Week Two: Continue the exercise from Week One. Identify a specific personal failure to live up to Christ's commandments. Remove one favorite food from your diet during this week. Use this abstinence as a purgative tool. When you crave this favorite food reflect on your failure.
Week Three: Continue the exercises from Week One and Two.
Week Four: Continue to refrain from red meat on Fridays. During this week pick one day to observe a short fast by abstaining from one meal. During this mealtime spend the period in silence and contemplation using the techniques in Phase Four.
Week Five: Continue the exercises from Week Four.
Week Six: Continue to refrain from red meat on Fridays. This week observe one day for a 24 hour fast. During mealtimes spend a period each in praying the Dalriadan Rosary, the reading of Holy Scriptures, and silence and contemplation.
Week Seven: Meet with your mentor to discuss any difficulties you may have incurred in fasting and abstinence. Share what you have learned and what the Lord has revealed to you.
In this phase of your spiritual formation you have been exposed to fasting and abstinence and their purposes. You have incorporated prayer, the Holy Scriptures, and silence and contemplation into the discipline of fasting and abstinence.
From this point you should be abstaining from red meat on Fridays and abstaining one meal a week (using the time for silence and contemplation). You should also observe a 24 hour fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. During Lent you should abstain from one favorite food. Also, it is common practice to observe a one hour fast prior to Holy Communion as a preparation for receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
With the consultation of your mentor, anamchara,
or the Abbot you should use this disciplinary tool prior to undertaking
a major task or seeking discernment of the Lord's will in matters
PHASE SIX: WORK
Your manual labor should have a three-fold division. First, fill your own needs and those of the place where you live. Secondly, do your share of your brothers' work. Thirdly, help your neighbors by instruction, by writing, by making garments, or by providing for some other need of theirs that may arise. ~ From the Rule of St. Columcille
Rule of Life: The ancient Celtic Church affirmed that ordinary work and daily activity are sacred. Through it, the worker gains discipline and the means of financially supporting not only himself or herself but his or her family as well. Further, the workplace can be an area where one can spread the Faith by word and deed. Finally all work done by the Order and the Church as a whole is dependent on the giving of tithes and offerings. Therefore, each member is to give what he or she can to the Church and/or to the Order, striving to achieve the ideal giving level of 10% of his or her gross income.
Explanation of the Rule: It is a common mistake to view work as a "curse" brought about by Adam's Fall. Yet we find that God is a "worker" for it is His "work" that brings about creation. And we learn from Holy Scriptures that during His Incarnation our Lord worked as a carpenter. His disciples and followers included fishermen, civil servants, tentmakers, and physicians among other vocations and professions. Through Christ's Incarnation work becomes ennobled and, when pursued with Christ as its center, liberation from self-centeredness.
Most members of the Order work in secular employment. It is our tendency to view such work as less sacred than that which is specifically "religious." But as Celtic Christians we are called to live "sacramentally" ~ that is, our outward life should be an expression of the inward grace of Christ which dwells in us, regardless of the setting. To live sacramentally, it is imperative that we work for the sake of others and not simply to satisfy our own needs. This applies to all aspects of our work whether we are employed as a religious professional, in a secular profession, or in the home.
A member of the Order has to first be converted from the world to Christ, and then converted back to the world with Christ. The Church is called to be in society, to be at the cutting edge of life, not by power struggles, but by a quality of life ~ of which work is a vital part.
Week One: During this week reflect on the nature of your work. Write a description of your work. What do you do? What does the company (or organization) you work for do? How does your work contribute to the goal of the company? Does the purpose of the company benefit the community? In what ways? Looking beyond the immediate to the ultimate, is God glorified by the company and your work? Is His purpose revealed and fulfilled?
Week Two: Dorothy Sayers has said, "Work is not primarily a thing we do to live, but the thing we live to do." It is indispensable to our humanness. On a personal level, do you find the work you do to be fruitful? Does your work fill you with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment? In what ways can you enhance that satisfaction and accomplishment? During this week look at your co-workers and determine how you can help them in their work.
Week Three: This week read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence ~ a 17th Century Carmelite monk of simple faith who found all work to be an expression of his faith. Take notes on your readings. Reflect on how the mundane and trivial can be offered to God.
Week Four: During this week begin to offer each task you perform, no matter how trivial or mundane you believe it to be, to God by starting each task with the following prayer: "As I kindle the fire of work, I pray, O Christ, that the flame of Your love may show forth in my labor. I pray that indifference and apathy, contempt and pride, may not pour like cold water on the fire. Instead, may the spark of Your love light the love in my heart, that it may burn brightly through my work. Amen."
Week Five: St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Preach the Gospel in everything that you do; if necessary, use words." Through work dedicated to Christ we can be His salt and light to the world by the quality of our example. During this week focus on being a quiet witness to Christ by your performance of work. Let the proclamation of Christ's Gospel be evident in your cheerful attitude toward work, your attention to doing the highest quality work in a timely manner, and your willingness to help others in their work. Let the grace of Christ which dwells in you be manifested in the outward sign of your work.
Week Six: Plan a budget which allows for your
regular tithing to your local church and the Order. Keep in mind
the instruction of St. Columcille at the beginning of this Phase
in your formation. As you would budget for your own housing, clothing,
food, and transportation, allocate a portion of your income to
both the local church and the Order. As a guide, your goal should
be 10% of your net income. If that goal is not immediately attainable,
plan a progressive budget which gradually increases your offering
to 10%. Keep in mind that the tithe is a personal discipline.
It requires sacrifice and it is necessary to the operational life
of the Church ~ the Holy Spirit's instrument for the spreading
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have now completed six Phases of your
spiritual formation. You have built a foundation of worship, prayer,
study, silence and contemplation, and fasting and abstinence.
Upon that foundation you have "Christianized" your work. You have
begun to live sacramentally, encountering all of life as God's
gift and making that encounter manifest in all aspects of your
life. You are now prepared to do that which all Christians are
commanded to do ~ love one another as Christ has loved us by manifesting
acts of charity.
PHASE SEVEN: CHARITY
Anything remaining over and above the needs of the community he ordered reserved for the poor. ~ From the Rule of St. Tallaght
Rule of Life: Our Lord placed tremendous importance on acts of charity. In fact, Our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross can be looked on as the supreme act of charity. Our Celtic forefathers also took charity very seriously. In Celtic society the tribe as a whole was responsible for caring for its poor and needy. Every member was expected to assist and give and the Church, as a member of the tribe, was often called upon to give for the aid of the tribes's needy. Charity, as defined by the Rule, is the giving of one's time, talent, and/or funds for the benefit of those less fortunate. Such giving is above and beyond the tithe and offering given to the Church. The Order also encourages its members to be involved with organized charities and relief organizations. Involvement can be either in volunteering to work within an organization or in providing funding for an organization. Our Celtic forefathers had a deep and abiding reverence for all of God's creation. Several tales exist of Celtic saints who were able to communicate with wild animals, cared and nurtured these animals, and even considered them part of their congregations. As such, all members of the Order are to care for all living things and to help defend the environment from deprivation.
Explanation of the Rule: The word "charity" comes from a Greek word whose root pertains to fertility and bearing fruit. Acts of charity - showing a concern in and for the welfare of others - are the fruits of our faith. To live sacramentally is to bear fruit of the grace dwelling in us. We bring this fruit to harvest by our loving involvement in God's creation ~ in that of nature as well as human beings. Our charity unites us to God's charity ~ the ultimate gift of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Week One: During this week read Mark 3:31-35 and Matthew 25:31-46. In your own reflection on these texts, who is your brother or sister? Who is your family? What is your obligation to others?
Week Two: During this week make a list of
the needs in your community. Research how those needs are met
by various charitable and relief organizations. Who are the hungry,
the thirsty, the ill-clothed, and the homeless? How are they serviced
in your community? What does your local church do in the area
of charity and relief?
Read Psalm 96. Reflect on the phrases: "heavens rejoice," "earth be glad," "field be joyful", and "trees of the woods rejoice."
Read Colossians 1:13-19. Note that Christ is the first-fruit of creation. Reflect on the revelation that all things were created BY Him; all things were created THROUGH Him; all things were created FOR Him; all things dwell IN Him; and all things will be RECONCILED to God because of Him. Does this alter your answers to the questions on the prior reading from Genesis? Does this give you a greater appreciation and understanding of phrases from Psalm 96? How?
Week Four: During this week research and make a list of the ways your community relates to, appreciates, and protects the environment. Look for such things as the Society for the Protection of Animals, the Sierra Club, the Audobon Society, wildlife refuges, parks, environmental action groups, volunteer litter and trash pickup, and others. Are there areas of concern in your community which are not met?
Week Five: Review your lists from Week Two and Week Three. Using the spiritual tools of prayer, fasting and contemplation discern the area in which God would have you commit your time, talent, and/or treasure.
Week Six: Begin to volunteer your time, talent, and/or treasure to the act of charity to which the Lord has led you.
Week Seven: Meet with your mentor to discuss the personal effects of your exercises.
With completion of this Phase you have finished
the Formation Program for aspirancy in the COSM. Hopefully, you
will have developed an integrated spiritual life, combining contemplation
and action which results in a practical "orthopraxis" (right practice)
in your daily life.
PREPARATION FOR VOWED MEMBERSHIP
You should spend a couple of weeks in consultation with your mentor ~ praying, fasting, and meditating ~ to discern whether or not the Lord has led you to Vowed membership in the Order. Vowing to assume the discipline of the COSM Rule of Life is no different than taking vows of Holy Matrimony (Marriage) or Holy Orders (the Priesthood). It is a solemn vow to God to bring your life under this particular discipline. It is a vow of obedience to the Abbot of the Order. It is a vow of commitment to the other members of the Order. It should not be frivously taken.
If you determine that the Lord has led you to Vows, and your mentor affirms this discernment, you are directed to send a written statement to the Abbot indicating you wish to make your Vows. Your mentor will also send a written letter to the Abbot indicating that you have completed your novitiate and stating that he or she affirms your entrance into the Order. Your mentor will request of the Abbot that you be received into the Order as a pligrim for Christ.
The period of novitiate is one year and one day from the beginning of your aspirancy. You will be scheduled to take your Vows at the first Chapter Meeting of the Order following the completion of your novitiate. Chapter Meetings are generally held at the RCC's Annual Convocation (June or July) and 5 to 7 months after the RCC's Convocation (sometime between November and February).
Once you make your Vows you will be expected
to adopt the habit of the Order. This is a simple gray alb, a
dark green scapular, dark green hood, a white cincture, and a
celtic cross. You are expected to make your habit or have it made
at your expense. Wearing of the habit is mandatory at the Chapter
Meerings of the Order. Contact the Abbot or Prior regarding the
pattern and design of the habit. They can also advise you on appropriate
times to wear it and how to get in the "habit" of wearing the
PERPETUAL SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Spiritual formation is an ongoing process. We are never finished in this life. The Brother or Sister who has been a vowed member for 10 or 20 years is no less in need of constant metanoia (repentance that increases spiritual awareness) than the newest aspirant.
It is recommended that you continually re-work through this Formation Handbook, modifying it to suit your changing needs and to assist you in areas of weakness. Also, build an ongoing relationship with an anamchara to help you on your turas for all of us experience periods of spiritual dryness which need the water of soul-friendship and spiritual guidance.
Finally, guard against pride. This discipline is not the means of salvation ~ that is only accomplished in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. This Rule is only a turas. It is a tool by which we can follow the instructions and counsel of St. Paul and St. James. They advised us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. And, to reveal our living faith in good works. But this task and our work are not the cause of our salvation. They are only expressions of what Jesus Christ has done for us and in us. All praise to His Most Holy Name. Amen.