Ordo Precis Contemplativae
Solemn Vocation - Brothers and Sisters under solemn vows have taken on our Rule for life.
Simple Vows - Brothers ans Sisters under simple vows have taken on our Rule for one year. Simple vows are renewed each year for as many years as a Brother or Sister wishes until they are ready for the next step of solemn vocation
Friends of the Order - Our teachings and weekly meetings are available for all people seeking spiritual growth by means of the contemplative life. For those who wish to be apart of our fellowship but do not feel called to take vows, we welcome them as friends of the Order.
Simple Vows of O.P.C.
The profession of simple or solemn vows should be preceded by fasting and a vigil if at all possible for introspection, contemplation, and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Postulant kneels before the Celebrant and replies accordingly as he/she is asked:
C- Do you believe in the foundation of the Church as given in your Baptismal vows and the Creeds of the Church?
P- I do.
C- Will you always seek weekly Eucharist and daily Eucharist as you are able?
P- I will, with God’s help
C- Will you set time aside each day for contemplative prayer to come before God with a silent and open heart?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you keep the Daily Offices as best as you are able, following the guidance of your Spiritual Director?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you seek God in all that you undertake?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you return to the Order each week for stability, direction, and growth?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you seek guidance regularly from your Spiritual Director, offer confession of your sins, and seek absolution?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Do you vow obedience to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as testified in the Holy Scriptures and by the witness of the Apostles and Saints?
P- I do.
C- Understanding that our Bishops are the embodiment of Christ’s presence for us in our Church, do you vow obedience to our Bishop and seek to live in fuller communion with the Church, the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith?
P- I do.
C- To temper your pride, do you offer a vow of obedience to the Order of Saint Anthony, O.P.C., its Rule and professions?
P- I do.
C- To temper the body, do you offer a vow of chastity unless in a committed relationship?
P- I do.
C- To temper the heart and better learn compassion, do you offer a vow of simplicity to not live frivolously by what you want but strictly within the bounds of what you need?
P- I do.
C- Before the Church and in God’s presence, what profession do you offer to the Contemplative Life?
P- Simple Vow: I, N.N., make profession and promise obedience to God, and obedience to the example set forth by the lives of Blessed Mary, and Saint Anthony the Great, and to you Father/Mother Name, in place of Neil Alexander Bishop of Atlanta and his successors, and to the Abbot of our Order according to the Rule of Ordo Precis Contemplativae, that I will be obedient to you and your successors for the next year.
Celebrant lays his hands upon the Postulant’s head and prays
C- Lord, as you led your only Son into the dessert to find silence and solitude in order to know You fully, and as Abba Anthony followed in the same, be with Br./Sr. N.N. through this coming year, and guide him/her to a silent and still heart. God the Holy Spirit, be upon N. to comfort, instruct, and guide him/her with Compassion and Love. We ask this in the name of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Postulant stands and is vested in the habit of the Order; whereupon, he faces the Celebrant who concludes with
C- May you come to stand before God in silence.
Postulant crosses him/herself in silent reply, but saying in his/her heart “Silentio Coram Deo”.
Service continues with the general Peace, to be followed by Holy Eucharist.
Rule of Life for O.P.C.
This Rule is intended for those seeking a contemplative life in an urban setting. These are guidelines intended to be foundations for those who are a part of the Ordo Precis Contemplativae. This Rule is not exhaustive or legalistic, but simply a starting point. It can be interpreted for individuals with guidance of a Spiritual Director or O. P. C. leader. The sole intent of this Rule is to help us find the silence we need in our lives to enable us the space to be with and listen to God’s Love, Word, and Guidance.
I. Regularly attended meetings of the O. P. C.
It is within this group setting that we can find stability and direction in finding silence within our urban lives. If we are to commit ourselves to placing God in the center of our lives then we must be willing to place this as the foundation.
II. Daily Contemplative Prayer
Set aside time each day to come before God in silence and with an open heart.
III. Daily Divine Office
Pray one or more of the Daily Offices as given in the Book of Common Prayer, or Other Christian Prayer The Liturgy of the Hours commonly referred to as the Breviary. Or other accepted Daily Office of the religious. Let your prayer include Holy Scripture and the Psalms for contemplative inspiration.
IV. Weekly Eucharist
The Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist should be at the center of our prayerful lives. It is from our contemplative silence that we gain a greater understanding and experience of Christ’s gift of His very presence in our lives in the Body and Blood we receive at His table. We should engage in a discussion of life from the past week as deliberate preparation for the Eucharist. All that we do should be directed towards finding the presence of God in our lives, which is most evident in the Sacrament and Divine Mystery.
V. Spiritual Direction
Monthly, or as often as your Bishop may allow, Meet with your spiritual Director or O. P. C. leader for individual discernment and direction for your prayer life.
VI. Confession and Absolution
Meeting with a Priest Confessor at Least once a year (if only once a year, preferably during the Season of Lent) for the Rite of Reconciliation to confess your sins and seek Absolution.
Attend a retreat of O. P. C. at least once a year, and schedule additional retreats, as you are able.
Undertake regular fasting of food, drink, or some activity that will help you put God as the focus of your life. Through fasting and self-denial, we put aside our own needs to make room for God’s direction in our lives. Fast especially during the appropriate Liturgical Seasons to help prepare your Heart for God’s presence and love.
Engage, daily the writings of Holy Scripture, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Contemplatives and other Holy men and women of faith to gain a greater understanding and experience of the contemplative life and practice.
The Following is borrowed and adapted from the spirit of the order and rule Of Saint Francis of Assisi and from the rule of Saint Benedict, and adapted by Br. Stephen J Buckley IV, revised by Br. Kenneth Hosley
The Rule is to be sure in all cases to seek the allegiance and Guidance of the local Bishop of the Church
The Three Aims of the Order are:
To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.
By word and example, our members witness to Christ’s commandment of love for God and all those around us. By interior prayer and sacrifice, we humble our hearts into silence, so that we may be open to God. In humility, we seek to love all without the obstruction of prejudice, fear, or pride.
To spread the tradition of our contemplative spirituality
By discovering the many different means of contemplative prayer, living a life transformed in this spirituality, and teaching this tradition to any who seek an inner silence, our members work to bring contemplative spirituality back into our Church to allow its members a fuller communion with the Body of Christ. By living a contemplative life, being in prayer will all people regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, education and opportunity, we seek to break down the divisions in the world and learn to see and love each other as God sees and loves each of us.
To live simply.
Acknowledging that everything belongs to God, we seek to use His gifts wisely and to be good stewards of this fragile earth, never destroying or wasting what God has made. We provide the things necessary for ourselves and our families without demanding luxuries. We seek never to forget the needs of others.
“We have been called to stand before God in silence, to seek God in all that we do, to feel God’s presence in every aspect of out lives, to see God in everyone we meet, and to listen to God’s direction with an open heart.”
The Calling to Our Life:
God, in His goodness, calls all Christian faithful in the Church to the perfection of love through different states of life in order to promote the holiness of each one and the salvation of the world.
Each one must give a response of love to this call with the greatest freedom, so that the dignity of the human person may be in harmony with the will of God.
All of us should gratefully rejoice over the special divine grace of the religious calling given to us.
By responding to our Order of Saint Anthony Contemplative Prayer, O. P. C. calling, we offer a public and social witness to the abiding and eternal presence of Christ's life; we follow the rejected and humble Christ, and spread His message to [all] people, especially to the rejected, wherever they may be.
In this way, in a brotherhood of pilgrims, of penitents in heart and deed, we devote ourselves to all in a spirit of minority and joy for the saving mission of the Church.
Concern for vocations arises above all from the brothers' and sisters’ awareness that they themselves are living and offering to others a program of life that is extremely rich in human and gospel values. By embracing this life candidates develop their own humanity and offer genuine service to God and people. If we are to present convincing witness to this way of life, we ourselves must be continually renewed.
All brothers should work together earnestly to foster vocations out of a desire to carry out God's design according to our charisma.
Mindful of Saint Francis' concern when he saw the growth of the primitive brotherhood, let all the brothers, especially the ministers and the individual Groups, exert indefatigable care in recognizing and cultivating genuine vocations especially by the example of their life, prayer and speech.
In this way we work together with God Who calls and chooses whomever He wishes, and we contribute to the good of the Church.
I. Rule On Chastity:
The Order of O. P. C. is a band of men and women who love God each according to there own capacity and live in common. If a brother or sister finds the lack of a life partner distracts them they should marry and if possible raise a family according to the love of God.
II. Rule On Poverty:
Poverty of spirit, each member is to be freely given to them according to the means of the local abbey and the order at large the things they need to live a safe, healthy and happy life also what they need for their daily endeavor no more then what is needed and no less and each should be content with little as Christ suggests for those that would follow him. Each member is to take up some reputable income-producing endeavor as long as it is reputable and service the greater good. We are called by Christ’s own example to learn to live within our needs not our frivolous wants.
III. Rule On Obedience:
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This is the virtue of those
who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ; who, because of the holy service they have professed, and the fear of hell, and the glory of life everlasting, as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior, receive it as a divine command and cannot suffer any delay in executing it. Of these the Lord says, "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45). And again to teachers He says, "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16). Such as these, therefore, immediately leaving their own affairs and forsaking their own will, dropping the work they were engaged on
and leaving it unfinished, with the ready step of obedience follow up with their deeds the voice of him who commands. And so as it were at the same moment
the master's command is given and the disciple's work is completed, the two things being speedily accomplished together in the swiftness of the fear of God
by those who are moved with the desire of attaining life everlasting. That desire is their motive for choosing the narrow way, of which the Lord says, "Narrow is the way that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14), so that, not living according to their own choice nor obeying their own desires and pleasures but walking by another's judgment and command, they dwell in Abbey, or its dependent housing or independent housing and desire to have an Abbot over them. Assuredly such as these are living up to that maxim of the Lord in which He says, "I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). But this very obedience will be acceptable to God and pleasing to all only if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, Luke warmness, grumbling, or objection. For the obedience given to Superiors is given to God, since He Himself has said, "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16). And the disciples should offer their obedience with a good will, for "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). For if the disciple obeys with an ill will and murmurs, not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart, then even though he fulfill the command yet his work will not be acceptable to God, who sees that his heart is murmuring. And, far from gaining a reward for such work as this, he will incur the punishment due to murmurers, unless he amend and make satisfaction.
We are to live in obedience first to the will of God and the word of God second to the vows herein. Through these vows and obedience to them, each member will have no trouble being obedient. Further, this obedience should naturally extend to the will of the order, the members’ superiors, and the church at large.
IV. Rule On Stability:
Primarily, for postulants and vowed members, stability is returning to the Order each week for growth and contemplative spiritual direction. For those that live in common, stability is to that in and of itself when one is assigned a house that they are to be apart of unless requested by their superior. Each member is to live at the assigned house until assigned in obedience to live else where. In like manor in the case of individual housing, and independent housing those members are required to attend as much of the functions at the abbey as is possible, they should meet regularly with their spiritual advisor as well as their reporting to their superior, and Abbot.
Should be the clothing of the common people of the day. According to the local and national customs and climate of the day and times. However, there is an “Official Liturgical Habit” that of Saint Anthony Contemplative that should be worn when possible and appropriate. The daily habit current to all times which should be the Liturgical Habit and worn when appropriate. When it is inappropriate a common day habit should be a simple shirt of color and embellishment befitting the Order (Do not be afraid of color if you need a Guide try the color of the liturgical season.) also, simple Pants, jeans, and kakis. Regarding, the daily non-liturgical habit of the sisters should be a simple and modest skirt or dress also modest in length or slacks.
VI. Daily Liturgy:
When living in common, Daily Office and Liturgy should be observed. However, for Sunday Service the entire community should observe at the local Parishes, serving as an example to the young and old alike in Liturgical Habit when permitted and possible. Be warned not to “take over.” When possible, let the lay serve in the parish liturgy as much as possible only serve when needed.
For those who would be leaders of the order must follow Christ’s command that they should be the servants of the order as they are the servants of God’s servants.
An Order of Contempaltive Prayer
Ordo Precis Contemplativae
As the members of our Order are encouraged to be active within their own parishes and religious communities, we are asked on occasion to preach during services. As our members are offered that privilege, we will be posting those sermons here. (Now, if we could figure out how to get audio files up on the site, then we'll really be in business!) Additionally, many of our members journal extensively as part of their contempaltive practice, so this corner of our online Abbey will also be a place to share those musings.
Brother Kenneth's Blog:
Brother Kenneth's online journal can be found here: Contemplative Musings
Brother Maurice's Blog:
Brother Ashton's Blog:
Sister Erin's Blog
November 23, 2009 in Anglican Communion, Meditations and Pontifications, Monasticism, Reflections on Scripture, Religion, Sermons and Audio, Uncategorized | Tags: Convocation of Religious, Diocese of Atlanta, Episcopal Church, monks, nuns, religious orders | 1 comment
This past weekend, several brothers and I had the pleasure of attending the first Convocation of Religious for the Diocese of Atlanta. Present there were members of The Society of St. Anna the Prophet, The Order of St. Anthony the Great, Brothers of St. Gregory and Sisters of St. Gregory. While it was a relatively small gathering, it was wonderful to see representatives of all the Episcopal religious communities present in the Diocese. As religious communities are so few and far between, it was a comfort to see others living out the same calling as ourselves. It was a true comfort to know that we are not alone in the Diocese in the work that we do.
For the closing of the convocation, we chanted Evensong together, and I was given the honor of providing the homily. The scriptures read for the service were Isaiah 65:17-25 and Matthew 18: 21-35. As requested, I’m providing a recording of the homily here for any that may be interested. Special thanks go to Br. Aelred, B.S.G. for his work in organizing this event!
You can download the homily by following this link: http://brotherkenneth.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/convocation-homily.mp3
Books of Common Prayer from 1637-1979
I am happy to say that our list of required readings for postulants inquiring into our Order and spiritual formation has been handed over to the Cathedral Book Store at St. Philip’s. They have agreed to have copies of the books on hand for those wishing to purchase them for our convenience. For our members and guests that will be choosing which book we discuss in the coming weeks, here again is our required reading list for postulants and early formation:
1) The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen – Henri Nouwen was one of the greatest contemplative writers of the 20th century, standing along side others like Thomas Merton and Joan Chittister. This very small book is his basic introduction into the purpose and practice of silence. Being Roman Catholic, his theology flavors a lot of his descriptions, but it is still a wonderful bite size morsel. Best when read, allowed to sit, and then reread slowly.
2) What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills – In a short and straight forward format, Wills shows how radical the really outward teachings of Jesus really were and what he was trying to accomplish within religious identity. He also shows where the Church has been trying to cover up, overshadow, and outright ignore a lot of his radically inclusive message while claiming to be the “embodiment of Christ on earth.” A good “back to the basics” book for any Christian contemplative.
3) Wisdom Jesus by Mother Cynthia Bourgeault – This is best read as a companion to What Jesus Meant. Where Wills shows the radical outward ministry of Jesus, Mother Cynthia shows the radical inward spiritual teachings of Jesus. Her grasp and explanation of ancient texts, including the Gospel of Thomas, is excellent and provides a far more internal view of Christian spirituality than is often found in traditional church teachings.
4) Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong – For anyone interested in intentional religious community, these two books are a must. In the 1960s as a woman in her early 20s, Karen entered a convent to become a nun. She entered at a time when Religious life was being redefined by Vatican II and systems of tradition were giving way to much need innovation and restructuring…but the change was hardly easy for those that had lived under the old system for most of their lives. Karen is caught between two worlds as she enters into her novitiate, and struggles in her own religious identity as her own Religious Order struggles with theirs. The Spiral Staircase is the second half of her autobiography, picking up from where she left her convent and tried assimilate into the secular world while eventually coming to terms with her own faith and experience of God. Her transformation speaks to many who are searching, and her observations of Religious life can offer us numerous lessons as we move into community as modern contemplatives in our Church.
5) Meditation without Myth by Daniel Helminiak – Dr. Helminiak, a former Roman Catholic priest, is now a professor of psychology at West Georgia College. By initially “taking God out of the equation” for teaching centering/meditation, he offers a good introduction to the very basic practice while showing the benefits both physical and psychological. At the end of the book, he brings God back in, showing the greater depth one can achieve through the basic practice of being still. His simple instruction and medical explanation shows how all of us are wired for centering, and what to expect when we being doing it on a regular basis.
6) God is a Verb by Rabbi David A. Cooper – For anyone interested in the mystical aspects of Judaism (which figured into early Christian practice) this is a great and easy to read guide to the basics of Kabalah, the contemplative branch of Judaism. The concept of Ein Sof will resonate with anyone who has practice contemplative spirituality, regardless of tradition.
7) The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century by Thomas Merton—A concise collection and excellent introduction into the sayings of the early Christian hermits as compiled by one of the 20th century’s best known contemplatives. Each small reading offers a wealth of material for prayer and contemplation.
The last of our guided centering prayer sessions for this round.
I am thrilled to say that our Order has taken a great and much anticipated step forward in formation. As of this weekend, four of our members are now in community. The monk house (not quite a monastery yet) is in Sandy Spings, Atlanta. Brothers Addison, Ashton, Kevin and I are currently renting a townhome there. Moving in wasn’t entirely easy, as the stairs going down to the lower level can’t accomodate full size box springs…but that’s what the porch is for. Up and over it went and then in through the downstairs patio entrance. Just goes to show that nothing can stand in the way of determined monks.
The altar and worship space is set up and we sang and recited compline together last night. What a wonderful experience!
Next step is to continue to raise funds and find donors to help us purchase property that will fit everyone. Br. Stephen is anxious, as are we all, to join us in community so that we can go ahead and sell the small townhome in which he is living. It will also be nice to have a dedicated space for visitors and postulants coming to us for formation. We give thanks to God for the progress thus far and ask that you all keep us in your prayers as we continue ever forward, always to the glory of God who unites us in Love and Christ. Amen!
A recording from last week’s meeting. At the beginning of the recording, you’ll also find our usual opening for the Vesper Light. For those that have not been with us before in our meetings, our version of the Office of the Vesper Light has been adapted to honor our Jewish heritage and to make it interfaith for guests that join us throughout Atlanta. Find a quiet place during the day and enjoy. God’s Peace.