Life in the Order
Summary of the Rule of Life
A Rule of Life is to assist us with living the Holy life to which our Lord God has called each of us. Not all are called to holiness in the same manner, therefore some find various orders of life beneficial in fulfilling God's desire while others follow different practices. The Order of St. Columba is one where a Rule of Life is employed. Thus, we attempt to live a holy life in accordance with and in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and the example of the early Celtic Saints as exemplified by St. Columba. A discipline for a Holy life encompasses seven qualities which we attempt to include in our daily lives. Three of these qualities are focused toward the inward development of the soul to unite with its Creator. Three of these are focused toward the outward development and expression of the individual toward God, and one focuses both inwardly and outwardly.
The three inner disciplines are:
(1) Contemplative Prayer & Meditation
(3) Physical Exercise
The three outer disciplines are:
And intermediate to both is:
A full life will incorporate all of these discipline in some manner or other. Each life will incorporate these to different degrees, and each may be seen in a different form. For art may be expressed in various manners, whether as music, painting, dancing, writing, gardening or many other ways. Likewise each discipline has various manifestations. It is just that each in some form must be integrated for a full and healthy life.
The Rule of Life in the Order of St. Columba
Members owe obedience to:
A. The Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
B. The articles of faith contained in Scripture, Creeds and Tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
C. To a devout life as exemplified by St. Columba and the early Rule of the Order of St. Columba.
D. To the doctrine and discipline of the Order of St. Columba.
E. To one's Abbot, Prior, Prioress, and Spiritual Director.
Unmarried members within the order or society must live completely celibate lives. Novices take annual vows of celibacy. The fully professed members take life vows of celibacy. Married members of the Order must be faithful to their marriage vows. All must keep themselves pure in body and mind, according to their state in life, as well as being modest, self-disciplined and free from all excesses in order to be free to love others as commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
If chastity brings greater availability to concern oneself with things of God, it is acceptable only in order to give oneself more fully to one's neighbor with the very love of Christ. Our chastity means neither breaking with human affections, nor indifference, but calls for the transformation of our natural love. Only Christ converts the passions into total love for one's neighbor. When selfishness of the passions is not surpassed by growing generosity; when you no longer use confession to defeat the need, contained in all passion, to asset yourself; when your heart is not constantly filled with an immense love; you can no longer let Christ love within you and your chastity will be a burden. This work of Christ within you demands infinite patience. Purity of heart is contrary to all tendencies of nature. Impurity, even in the imagination, leaves psychological traces behind, which are not always effaced immediately by confession and absolution. It is important, then, to live in the continual recommencement of the Christian who is never overcome because always forgiven. Purity and openness of heart are closely linked. Do not display your difficulties, but do not seclude yourself either as though you were superhuman, exempt from struggles. Refuse to connive with vulgarity. Certain jokes fan the difficulties of the Brothers and Sisters who are struggling to maintain purity of heart. In chastity there can be a slackness which may veil the true meaning of the difficult yet joyous vow of chastity. Know that your bearing is a sign, and its neglect may hinder our common advance. Purity of heart can only be lived in spontaneous and joyous forgetfulness of self in order to lay down one's life for those whom one loves. This gift of oneself implies the acceptance of a sensibility often deeply wounded. There is no friendship without purifying suffering. There is no love of one's neighbor without the Cross.The Cross alone makes known the unsearchable depths of love.
Members take a vow of simplicity. Since they live independently, they must, of necessity, legally acquire some property individually. Married members of the Order are required to consider their marriage vows and their families when living within the vow of simplicity. Whether married or single, all members must strive to live simply, realizing that what they have is from God and that ownership of these things is merely temporal. Members make a commitment to use their possessions in the service of God by donating a portion of their labor to the Church and the Order.
It is the obligation of each member of the order of whatever degree to:
A. Recite the Daily Office of Prayer. There shall be at least 2 times of formal prayer each day: Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.
These are taken from a form approved by the Abbot. A standard is taken from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer or from the Prayer Book of the Order of St. Columba. All prayer shall include silence (meditation), and seeking God's will by the Holy Spirit during the time of free intercession. This discipline of the Daily Office includes both of the areas of worship and meditation/contemplation as well as services of intercession for the needs of others and the world. The hymn during these include at least weekly the breastplate of St. Patrick.
B. If living in a community house at least one time of daily prayer is in community, it being either Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, or Compline. If not in living in a community house, a member of the Order, will gather with others for prayer at least once a week and on Sunday.
C. Meditation and Contemplation: Each member will spend a portion of the day in silent meditation and contemplation of God.
D. Mass shall be attended, and communion taken, at least once per week. The individual will be a full and active participant in his/her local parish.
E. An examination of conscience shall be performed twice a day, normally at noon and before retiring.
Study & Private Devotions
Study of Holy Scripture: Scripture will be read daily and a formal study of scripture will occur at least once per week. Members are encouraged to use their own personal form of prayer, prayer books, spiritual readings, and the like. All members shall place prayer as their number one priority. Likewise, there is a daily reading and study from the Rule of the Order of St. Columba.
The body being the temple of the Holy Spirit, the member will give it ample exercise to keep it healthy and fit.
Service to the world will be performed as led by the Spirit of God and discerned between individual and spiritual director. The prior, prioress and/or abbot will give permission for such service.
Each member will work in a manner at least to support themselves at in a basis manner. No member shall expect to rely on others or the community as a whole to support them, but each shall do work sufficient to meet his or her own essential needs, and the proceeds from such work will be the responsibility of the individual as it is in accord with the vow of simplicity and God's ownership of all as indicated by the description of poverty previously given.
Each member will engage in some form of artistic activity during the week to be determined between the individual member and his/her spiritual director.
First, Second and Novice members of the Order shall make a formal, individual confession to a priest at least once a week. All other degrees will make a formal, individual confession to a priest at least once a month.
The individual will visit their spiritual director for guidance at least quarterly. However, the exact ordering of the number of times one sees their director shall be determined by the spiritual director. The member shall follow the guidance of their spiritual director. Once a year a Rule of Life Covenant shall be agreed to by the member and the spiritual director. The rule of life should be reviewed on a regular basis by the individual and referred to in the spiritual direction relationship.
Members of the Order will meet together on a regular basis, and at minimum bi-weekly, to deal with any issues arising in the community as a whole or the lives of individuals in particular. At such times needs and concerns, as well as insights and prophecy shall be shared. The will and mind of the Lord will be sought at each of these meetings, seeking the mind of the Lord revealed by the Holy Spirit. The structure of such meetings shall proceed by the following outline:
Gather together with the Abbot, prior, or senior member opening in prayer.
A reading from the Rule of the Order of St. Columba with brief discussion.
Discussion of any business of the Order.
A sharing of needs, concerns, and what has arisen in prayer.
Intercession and seeking the mind of the Lord for the Order and the individuals present.
When not in a situation that demands worldly clothing, the member of the Order will dress in the habit of the Order of St. Columba. This habit will be worn during prayer and at Mass.
Of the Habit: The formal habit of a Professed male member shall be a flax hooded cassock alb extending to the ankles; it shall be girded about either by a black belt or by a cincture of black with the three-fold Vows represented by knots worn on the right side. There shall also be a scapular to a point within the hem of the cassock alb. The cross of the Order of Saint Columba shall be worn about the neck.
The formal habit of a professed female member shall be a flax alb extending to the ankles; it shall be girded about by either a black belt or a cincture of black with the three-fold Vows represented by knots on the right side. There shall be a black scapular extending to a point within the hem of the alb. The cross of the Order of Saint Columba shall be worn about the neck. A black veil shall be worn on the head.
The habit of a male Novice shall be a flax hooded alb girded about with a cincture of black. The cross of the Order of Saint Columba shall also be worn.
The habit of a female Novice shall be a flax alb girded about with a cincture of black. A flax veil and the cross of the Order of Saint Columba shall also be worn.
All Brothers and Sisters are encouraged to wear their crosses with street dress. The cross signifies membership in the Community.
Members of the Society are encouraged to wear their crosses with street dress. Clerical members of the Society are to wear black cassocks when attending functions of the Order and Society of St. Columba.
Head wear is optional for the member of the order, however if a skullcap is worn it shall only be worn by a priest or deacon, and the color shall be black. As with other aspects of the garb, other optional wear shall be approved by the Abbot.
The Degrees of Membership
There are six degrees of membership in the Order of St. Columba. The most committed of members are of the First and Second Order.
The First Order Brothers is comprised of men who take the traditional vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience and may live in community. It also consists of men known as the Secular Brothers. These are ordained clergy in Apostolic Succession who take the promises of Simplicity, Purity, and Fidelity, with vows of obedience. Secular Brothers may be either celibate singles or married men.
The Second Order is comprised of women who take the traditional vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience and may live in community.
The third degree of membership is that of Novice. This is a man or woman seeking to enter into the life of the Order at the First or Second order who takes a minimum of one year of discernment while living a life similar to a Brother, Sister or Secular Brother.
The fourth and fifth degrees of membership comprise the Third Order (Seculars). These are the Oblates: lay brothers or sisters living in the world who take the three promises of simplicity, purity, and fidelity, plus the vow of obedience. Also, the Tertiaries: lay brothers or sisters living in the world who take the three promises without the vow of obedience.
The sixth and least demanding of degrees is that of Companions: these are lay members who do not make the promises and do not commit to following the full Rule, but agree to follow a modified rule, and are committed to praying for the Order. They may wear cross, pin, or ring.
Community House Rules
Daily community prayer. While living in a community house at least one time of daily prayer is in community, it being either Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, or Compline.
A weekly common meal shall be shared, the time to be determined by the community.
A weekly community house meeting will be held (the time to be determined by the community) to deal with any issues arising in the community as a whole or the lives of individuals in particular. At such times needs and concerns, as well as insights and prophecy shall be shared. The will and mind of the Lord will be sought at each of these meetings, seeking the mind of the Lord revealed by the Holy Spirit. The structure of such meetings shall proceed by the following outline:
(1) Gather together with the Abbot, prior, or senior member opening in prayer.
(2) A reading from the Rule of the Order of St. Columba with brief discussion.
(3) A Reading of the House Rules.
(4) Discussion of any business of the Order.
(5) A sharing of needs, concerns, and what has arisen in prayer.
(6) Intercession and seeking the mind of the Lord for the Order and the individuals present.
(7) Closing prayer
All meetings and governing of the community house are in accord with the principles of consensual government.
A Great Silence is to be observed in the common areas of the house after 10 pm, except for special circumstances to be agreed upon by the Abbot and the community in a community meeting.
Alcohol shall only be consumed in moderation (at most two drinks per day). A drink is defined as one (1) glass of wine, (1) 12 oz. of beer, or (1) 1 oz. of distilled spirits.) All members shall be aware not to bring temptation to drink to another member who decides to abstain.
There will be no smoking within the house. This is not to say that the member is to be a non-smoker, but rather smoking is done outside the community house.
Each member shall participate in the common chores of the community house. The kitchen shall be maintained in a orderly and clean fashion on daily basis. Bathrooms likewise, shall be maintained in clean manner, and toilets and showers cleaned on a weekly basis.
Members shall maintain their bodies and clothes in a hygienic manner.
A members room shall also be maintained in a hygienic and safe manner.