Greetings: I hope that you find the website helpful and uplifting as you strive to discern your own vocation. If we can be of assistance please feel free to call or write me personally to discuss your vocations as a monk, nun, priest, or oblate.
Sometimes people may not feel free to discuss God’s call because they have been previously rebuffed or discouraged by others. That certainly will not be the case here. Let me assure you that I do understand and I do want to assist you.
Sometimes people may not feel free because they may not “feel” as though they are good enough, educated enough, holy enough, or any number of other self-imposed restrictions. Please put those aside. The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross does have a goodly number of educated men and women; it does have people in high office, church or otherwise, but mostly we just have people who strive to be good and holy before the Lord. That is why I have included some testimonials from “ordinary” people.
It also seems that God sometimes directs the disabled and poor to us. We have found them to be most prayerful and a real gift to our charism. When you are accepted we will provide you with a Manual that will help guide your daily life, spiritual growth, and knowledge of the Cistercian way. We will also provide you with a Novice Master who will be in regular supportive contact with you.
Before long you will feel a part of our family and this will be a “happy call”.
Research from Br. Columcille
As the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross approaches our 40th anniversary, Abbot Oscar Joseph, OCCO++ asked for research regarding any other religious orders/communities based in the United States that are like ours. The following information sketches my methods and results.
There are approximately 140 internet search engines and web directories available today. I decided to limit myself to the five most commonly used in the United States: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and Duck Duck Go. Then, I made a list of descriptors for our Order, our mission and the opportunities/services provided to members. These included (but were not limited to): dispersed, non-residential, religious order/community, apostolic succession, Independent Anglican, Independent Catholic, conservative, monastic, monks, vowed religious, priests, ordination/incardination, brothers, sisters, novice, life-professed, formation, postulant, oblate, seminary/theological college, extern, rule, constitution, abbot.
With these descriptors identified, I began the process of searching for them singularly, or in conjunction with one another, using my five search engines one at a time. I started with directories and continued on to individual sites. With the vast results, I limited my time for each group, concentrating on any “about us” information that could provide structure, membership and mission statements. I used this data in comparison with the aforementioned descriptor criteria related to the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross.
Over the course of about seventy hours, I collected, categorized, and edited a pool of religious groups. The vast majority of these groups were easily culled by failing to meet the key descriptors of our Order. Many were exclusively Roman Catholic or Anglican, etc. so failed in comparison to our more ecumenical membership. Others were extremely liberal, ordaining women to the priesthood, having no claim to apostolic succession, etc. These were removed when compared to our more conservative charism both socially and liturgically. Others failed by a lack of clear structure and/or mission statement. These were more like loose confraternities made up of mostly laypeople. More of a Third Order aspiration, but without any guiding Rule or discernable leadership .And of course, there were dozens of dead links and references to groups I could not find, or that had a severely outdated “cover page” and nothing else. One has to assume that these groups are now defunct, if they ever existed in the first place.
Lastly and sadly, there were the pretenders. And there were a lot of them! These groups usually had very few members and seemed more to be role playing at being monks, hermits, even priests and bishops. I shudder to think of the people they have misled into grievous spiritual harm.
To conclude, I can proudly say this to you: Father Abbot, Brothers, Sisters, Oblates and friends; we are unique. There is no other group that can lay claim to our holy foundation, structure and government, programs, membership, formation opportunities and requirements, not to mention our longevity at 40 years! The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross, Common Observance is alone in its legitimacy, tenacity, and excellence.
My God bless and protect this Order and all of the earnest, holy people who that make it our true spiritual home. Amen
Let me share some more thoughts from our members:
“The Cistercian charism is a refuge for ardent lovers of God. The adherence to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and focus on contemplating God in prayer is a precious balm on hearts aching for closer union with the Lord. The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross is an opportunity for men or women to become a true monk or nun in this revered tradition.”
“The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross serves God in a variety of ministries throughout the world. Our union with each other, developed through common prayer also unites us to Jesus Christ, whom we ultimately serve with joy.”
“There were certain things that prayer, study, and scriptural research have convinced me are required in my own path. It was important for me that the order be contemplative, and that it adhered to the traditional orthodox teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was not interested in joining an order that was too easy, or that bent over too far to be politically amenable. It was important to me that I would be well guided along the way.”
“Indeed, our affiliation with the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross has brought tremendous spiritual blessings to us and our dear ones. The Cistercian habit has become an effective and visible sign of the healing and reconciling presence of our Lord Jesus.”
“Since its 1098 inception, the Cistercian charism has been the refuge of some of monasticism’s most ardent lovers of God. These men and women seek out hardship and rigor in order that they might breathe the rarefied air of true desert spirituality. The strict adherence to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, the intense solitude, and unwavering focus on contemplating God in prayer is certainly not for everyone. Not every Christian drawn to consecrated religious life is called to such ascetical practices and disciplined lifestyle. But for those of us who are, each aspect of this humble expression is precious balm on hearts truly aching for closer union with the Lord. The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross is an opportunity for a Spirit-led man or woman to become a true monk or nun in this revered tradition. Our leadership structure is designed to accomplish the traditional formation of Postulants and Novices. The immediate assignment of each candidate to a Novice Master and the requirement that every person have regular contact with a Spiritual Director and Confessor in their area ensures confident and qualified members for the Order. The Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross serves God in a variety of ministries throughout the world. Our union with each other, developed through common prayer and sacrifice also unites us to Jesus Christ, whom we ultimately serve with pure joy.”
I look forward to hearing from you. Blessings, The Most Rev. Oscar Joseph, O.C.C.O. Abbot General (336) 918-0975 abbot@nullBellsouth.net