The Rule of Saint Benedict“Now, we have written this Rule that, observing it in monasteries, we may show that we have acquired at least some moral righteousness, or a beginning of the monastic life. On the other hand, he that hasteneth on to the perfection of the religious life, hath at hand the teachings of the holy Fathers, the observance of which leadeth a man to the height of perfection. For what page or what utterance of the divinely inspired books of the Old and the New Testament is not a most exact rule of human life? Or, what book of the holy Catholic Fathers doth not loudly proclaim how we may go straight to our Creator? So, too, the collations of the Fathers, and their institutes and lives, and the rule of our holy Father, Basil — what are they but the monuments of the virtues of exemplary and obedient monks? But for us slothful, disedifying, and negligent monks they are a source for shame and confusion. You, therefore, who hastenest to the heavenly home, with the help of Christ fulfil this least rule written for a beginning; and then you shall with God’s help attain at last to the greater heights of knowledge and virtue which we have mentioned above. Amen.”
Religious vows are an essential feature to Religious Life. Normally a monk would take “temporary” vows after one year of Postulancy and “permanent” vows after two years as a Novice. This period of three years gives ample opportunity to discover and live the vocation prior to giving a final commitment.
The vows of stability and obedience made by a monk is a rite by which a man, having been moved by a desire for greater perfection, offers himself to God, to Our Savior, to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to our Holy Father Benedict. By this act he spiritually affiliates himself with the Cistercian Order and its community, in order thereby to lead a more perfect Christian life according to the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict. He does so through stability and obedience, so he may share likewise in the spiritual treasures of the Cistercians and enjoy the special privileges granted to its members. He also pledges to promote, as far as lies in his power, the good of the Order.
Special emphasis should be placed upon the vocational aspect of religious life, and only those should be admitted to membership who truly seek God and have the emotional and physical health, good morals, good reputation, and desire to attain spiritual perfection under the guidance of the Holy Rule and the Statutes of the Order. It should be emphasized that the vows are the essential feature of worship, and that the monk should seek perfection by means of those practices and ideals which are given special importance in Cistercian Life: the Liturgy, the Divine Office, Stability, and Obedience.
ConversatioDo you vow:
- To be faithful and loyal to the Cistercian Monastic way of life and earnestly follow the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by living according to the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitution of the Order of the Holy Cross?
- To persevere in the spiritual craft for the purpose of committing to your vocation and to be open to growth and change, and be willing to be challenged by God and others?
StabilityDo you vow:
- To commit yourself to the Cistercian Monastic way of life, to remain and live within this community?
- To dedicate yourself to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and in all things trusting in the Power of Grace and in the love and support of the brothers in this community?
ObedienceDo you vow:
- To live under obedience and to comply with and fulfill all the demands legitimately asked of you by all lawful superiors?
- To live in accordance with the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitution of our Order?