Common Rule

The Common Rule of Life for the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart
August 2006

Be it known that in the year of our Lord two thousand and six on the thirty-first day of August, the Feast of Saint Aidan, by an act of the Abbot General this Holy Rule was adopted by the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart to be followed and lived out in the lives of the brothers and sisters of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart and all who would wish to follow it.

As ratified by the office of the Abbot General
Feast of Saint Aidan August 31, 2006

Imprimatur: Feast of Saint Aidan August 31, 2006
+The Most Reverend Brian Ernest Brown, OSH

This, our Rule, is a compilation and a derivative work of the original Rule of the Community of the Companions of God in the Celtic Catholic Church,a community from which the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart shares a common history. It is oral tradition that this Rule was inspired through many voices and crafted by many hands and is a living breathing document. As Protector of the Rule and Visitor to the Community of the Companions of God, the Rt. Rev. Dwain Edward Houser, on the Feast of Saint Ebba 2006, granted the Abbot-Bishop of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart, the Most Rev. Brian Ernest Brown, OSH use of the Rule through the License of Creative Commons-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5.

The Rule of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart
© 2006 by the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart
License of Creative Commons-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5

Scripture quotations marked JB are taken from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday and Company, Inc.

Scripture quotations marked NAB are taken from THE NEW AMERICAN BIBLE, copyright © 1970 by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked REB are taken from THE REVISED ENGLISH BIBLE WITH THE APOCRYPHA, copyright © 1989 by the Oxford University Press and the Cambridge University Press.

Scripture quotations marked RSV are taken from REVISED STANDARD VERSION OF THE BIBLE, Old Testament section, Copyright 1952, New Testament Section, Copyright 1946, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America

Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Prayer of the Order

Father Almighty, God most high, God of hosts, Lord of the world, invisible, incorruptible, immortal, perfect, and merciful; God of the earth, of fire, of the waters, of the great winds, of the shining stars; God who made the world: Draw near and bend down to hear the prayers of your children.

In the shelter of your anointed Son, help us to be orderly, cheerful, and polite, civil, sensible, and honorable, quiet and discreet, generous, welcoming, and friendly, open-handed, truly loving, and full of humanity.

Help us to be willing, worthy, and respectful; and let us be outstanding for kindness and mercy, ministering to the poor and those in prison, for the harvest is ripe and ready for us to reap it.

Give us the purity of an angel and the chastity of a maiden, the simplicity of a dove and the cunning of a serpent, sweet humility and precious lowliness, and the spirit of the apostles on fire in our souls.

Give to us the patience of Job prepared for hardship, the joy of achieving peace, prudence, tranquility, and mildness, for these are the fruits of our flowers in the gap of danger.

Grant us courage to build our community in love, that we might become your bride, sustained by the sweet wine of your passion, and fed by the fullness of your Incarnation. Let our Order reflect your Divine Peace and may our Rule be our life’s measure of your Divine Plan.

High King of Heaven, give judgment in our favor and moisten our eyes with the continuing stream of your grace, that the Holy Spirit might dwell in us, and the sweet Name of Jesus be written graciously in the center of our hearts.

This we ask in that same dear Name, for ever and always.

Amen.

The Scriptural Mandate for the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart
“Rege Quod est Devium – Bring Back the Wandering”

 

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:14-15 (ESV)

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. Jeremiah 23:1-3 (NIV)

The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.

I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are my people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel 34 Shepherds and Sheep (NIV)

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:14-16 (ESV)

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:19-21 (NIV)

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:25-35 (NIV)

A Herding Blessing from the Carmina Gadelica

I will place this flock before me,
As was ordained of the King of the world,
Bride to keep them, to watch them, to tend them,
On ben, on glen, on plain,
Bride to keep them, to watch them, to tend them,
On ben, on glen, on plain.

Arise thou Bride the gentle, the fair,
Take thou thy lint, thy comb, and thy hair,
Since thou to them madest the noble charm,
To keep them from straying, to save them from harm,
Since thou to them madest the noble charm,
To keep them from straying, to save them from harm.

From rocks, from drifts, from streams,
From crooked passes, from destructive pits,
From the straight arrows of the slender ban-shee,
From the heart of envy, from the eye of evil,
From the straight arrows of the slender ban-shee,
From the heart of envy, from the eye of evil.

Mary Mother, tend thou the offspring, all,
Bride of the fair palms, guard thou my flocks,
Kindly Columba, thou saint of many powers,
Encompass thou the breeding cows, bestow on my herds,
Kindly Columba, thou saint of many powers,
Encompass thou the breeding cows, bestow on my herds.

Amen!

I Who We Are: Our Vision

“And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart’s burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals,f or demons and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears.” -St. Isaac of Syria

Love one another as Christ first loved us! Love is who and what we are and the “merciful heart” is our vision. We are the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart, followers of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, sharing our very lives with one another as we attempt to live out together the Beatitudes and the Two Great Commandments which our Lord Jesus gave us, to be for us an example of the Christian way of life. We are a community of adults who accept this Rule and the disciplines of our community life freely, as we attempt to become, with each other, more fully human, more fully alive to God’s presence in us, in all other persons, and in his splendid creation.

2. Our Order is not one of brick and mortar but rather of tribal or familial connection that calls us to share with each other the “pasture of our lives.” Though the Shepherd’s Heart may have a central gathering location such as an abbey, the continual focus is one of a “community without walls” or a “pasture without fences” so that we may truly “bring back the wandering.”

3. The Order does not exist to govern every detail of the members’ lives, but to provide support and love, direction and shared experience, encouragement and constructive criticism in our never-ending quest to become “the glory of God: the human person fully alive.”

4. True to our motto: “Rege quod est devium – bring back the wandering” we strive to offer safe pasture and sanctuary within our Order for all wandering Christians who would seek a more intimate union with God and his or her neighbor. To these ends we offer our Order to any and all who would want to struggle with us to live such a life of “intentional intimacy,” being radically inclusive and turning no one away.

5. The Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is an ecumenical covenant community which, while being birthed by the Celtic Christian tradition, is a part of the Free Catholic Movement within Christ Catholic Church Diocese of the Prince of Peace. We are Celtic in spirit, ecumenical in scope, and celebrate a deeply sacramental approach to the Christian faith and are composed of men and women in single, celibate, committed, and or open lifestyles who have been called as a domestic and monastic spiritual family into deep love relationships with and in Jesus Christ. Jesus is our example; the Scriptures are our Rule; love is our law.

6. The foundation of this Order is Love. In order to assure that this divine love is not simply misdirected human emotion, it is guided by divine truth. It is formed and fostered by a balanced life of prayer, study, and apostolic service.

7. The major expression of this foundation of love is integration. As such, we integrate all religions from a Christian base, all Christian denominations from a catholic base, and all religious and monastic traditions from a Celtic base. Celtic spirituality is our mother, but we are children born from it into the world in which we find ourselves. We see our Order as a reconciling agent in the world, integrating a call to solitude with a call to community, a call to contemplation with a mandate from the Gospel to the evangelical life. We also integrate various conditions of life into one spiritual community.

8. While recognizing the goodness of all creation and humankind, the life of the community is intentionally counter-culture. We are an alternative society living within and alongside the modern secular society, without being a part of it. We are also an expression of renewal and reform within the Church.

9. We do all of this by simply seeking to live the life of Christ and his apostles, integrating harmoniously those seeming opposites into a manifest and living whole. Committed to a more intense service of Christ, the Church, and the world, the brothers and sisters direct their whole lives toward revealing the glory of God in the world, and caiming the world for God. In word and work we give witness to the presence of Christ and the eminent and sure manifestation of His Kingdom.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen. 1:1 (RSV)

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen. 1:27 (RSV)

The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Gen. 2:7 (RSV)

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. Rom. 7:14-18 (NRSV)

I [Paul], therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:1-6 (RSV)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

. . .Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:1-7 (RSV)

 

Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal. 6:14 (RSV)

II Common Life: Our Order

“Three things that please God are true faith in God with a pure heart, a simple life with a grateful spirit, and generosity inspired by charity.“ -St. Ita

“Unless you are loving and generous, seeking perfection is like trying to build a magnificent palace without first putting in strong foundations.” -St. Morgan

The Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is an ecumenical covenant community sanctioned and chartered by Christ Catholic Church Diocese of the Prince of Peace. We are Celtic in spirit, ecumenical in scope, and celebrate a deeply sacramental approach to the Christian faith. We are men and women, single, married, celibate or sharing our love uniquely with another. We live a monastic life after the Celtic fashion, open and inclusive, suited to our various stations in life in our modern setting. We are open to the laity and clergy, drawing people from different traditions of God’s Church into a unity based on the Celtic monastic ideal, which sees the Church as community. Our prophetic vision is to see our family of love become the model for Christian living everywhere.

2. Seeking to be a home to all who wish to become brother or sister, we allow for various life-styles, so that all who are so called may find their place with us. We are all under a vow to follow the same Rule, share the same intentional life, and are joined together by the same spiritual parents.

3. We are a spiritual family, bound in the love of Jesus Christ. As a family we are guided by the leadership of elected spiritual parents. It is their job to develop attitudes and relationships of inter-dependence, rather than co-dependence or in-dependence within the Order. This attitude of family relationship reaches out to the entire Church and to all of creation, both human and non-human, animate and inanimate.

4. We are always to be united with the Church Jesus Christ founded. According to our monastic traditions, let us show respect for each individual bishop as the successor of the apostles. Likewise, give due respect to all priests, deacons, religious, and to all ministers whose calling and ministry is in the Lord Jesus. We show respect to all the people of God as members of Christ’s Body, all people on earth as created in God’s image, and all creation as bearing the signs of God and His purpose.

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the God’s word and put it into practice.” Luke 8:21 (NIV)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Cor. 12:12,27 (NRSV)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

. . .Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. . . . Earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1 Cor. 12:4-7,27,28,31 (RSV)

III Listening to a Common Rule: The Sounds of Silence

“First offer them the milk of simpler teaching, as the Apostle recommends, so that gradually, as they grow strong on the food of God’s Word, they are capable of receiving more elaborate instructions and of carrying out the higher commandment of God.” -From the monastic Rule of St. Aidan

“The soul must be submitted to the rule of the mind, the mind to Christ, and thereby the whole being is submitted through Christ to God the Father.” -St. John Scotus Eriugena

This is the Rule of our Order. A Rule is a measuring rod, a standard against which we check our progress, a map showing us the route toward our chosen goal. A Rule is not rules: the governance of some bureaucracy, another person’s program for our lives, laws and demands laid upon us from outside ourselves.

2. Knowing the persons we want to be, knowing the life of love with others we want to give birth to, we joyfully accept this Rule as a tool for creating a right spirit within ourselves. In freedom we accept its restrictions, so we may grow in discipline; in love we accept its precepts, that we may bring healing to a lonely and troubled world; in hope we accept its call, “Ever onward, ever upward,” to yet unknown regions of love and community.

3. In the spirit of poverty we make no exclusive claims to this, our Rule, but offer it to any who choose to follow it. In the spirit of chastity we live according to its injunctions to love all persons whom we meet. In the spirit of obedience, we follow it even when difficult, pursuing with integrity our particular way of achieving our goal.

4. We can not hear God’s voice if we do not listen, and we can not listen if we are never quiet. The religious tradition gives us a great gift: silence. This silence can be God’s healing balm for our poor souls battered by noise and hurry and all the many voices claiming our attention. Into this silence God’s voice is planted; within this silence true prayer blooms; out of this silence comes God’s word for us to speak.

5. And so all houses of this Order shall be committed to fostering silence, providing daily periods of silence and an atmosphere of quiet. And to preserve the stillness of the house and the quiet of our souls, as charity requires, we don’t talk from room to room, much less shout to get attention.

6. Yet because our noisy souls will require still more silence, let each member of the community, on the advice of his or her spiritual director, go into the desert of solitude, for some time each year. And at such a time as it becomes possible, some houses of this community will be set aside to provide for this solitude.

7. All of this is not intended to impose rules upon an already busy schedule, but to give a “nuptial visit” with Christ. As the new bride and groom hurry to their bridal chamber to share their love and joy as deeply and intimately as possible, even so do we run to Jesus, and speak our love to him, and he to us.

8. But ours is not a silent life: our way of life is in community and relationships. Our need for silence leads us into solitude, but out of solitude we return to healthy human relationships in Christ.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:4-6 (NRSV)

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (RSV)

For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation. Ps. 62:1

From the heart of the tempest Yahweh gave Job his answer. He said: “Who is this obscuring my designs with his empty-headed words?” Brace yourself like a fighter; now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me, since you are so well informed!

 

. . .Job replied to Yahweh: “My words have been frivolous: what can I reply? I had better lay my finger on my lips. I have spoken once; I will not speak again; more than once; I will add nothing.” Job 38:1-4; 40:3-5 (JB)

IV The Pillars of Our Common Life

Prayer-Contemplation Formation-Study Ministry-Apostolic Service

“Diligence at prayer and at the sacrifice of the Mass is necessary for piety and meekness.” -From the monastic rule of St. Ailbe

“We should live in righteousness and seek devotedly what is eternal.” -St. Columbanus

“Do not practice long, drawn-out devotions, but give yourself to prayer at intervals, as you would to food.” -St. Comgal

“Your daily occupation should be threefold, namely, prayer, manual labor, and divine reading.” -St. Columba

“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 any other need of theirs that may arise. As the Lord says, “No one should come before me empty-handed.” -St. Columba

Prayer and Contemplation

The most important task of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is prayerfully to worship God. Our approach to prayer embodies the various traditions of our members, but is rooted in and inspired by Celtic Christianity’s desire not so much to pray as to become prayer.

2. Essential to all of our devotion is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Our general practice is to celebrate this meal according to an historic, yet modern, Celtic Rite, but we graciously communicate wherever the Lord’s people gather in His Name. Of course, no baptized Christians are excluded from His table, and we would not presume to know the heart of any believer well enough to bar them from our fellowship at this or other meals.

3. After the example of the Celtic heritage and general Christian monastic tradition, the community regularly prays the Liturgy of the Daily Rounds, in common when possible, and whenever and wherever they come together. The ordinary place for this is a church or oratory. The formal liturgical office may be substituted by a totally ad libitum and personal form of common prayer and meditation by members of the community while traveling or when the Office is impossible. In this Daily Office, we express not our own devotion, but the prayer of the Church as a whole; we worship on behalf of the entire Bride of Christ as she adores her divine Spouse. We also give voice to every creature under heaven, from the grains of sand to the great stars, as they worship their Creator. In doing so, our adoration fulfills the deepest purpose of our existence, and is united to Christ’s sacrifice on the Altar of the cross.

4. In our devotions we give special attention to reflections on the mysteries of the life of Christ and His blessed Mother. We also honor the saints who are given to us as examples of the fellowship of Christ. All devotions are guided by the wisdom of the Scriptures and the teachings, practice, and traditions of the Church.

5. Members of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart are to be helped through the stages of meditation and contemplation in theory and in practice. The writings of the mystics of the Church, especially those of the Celtic and monastic traditions, are to be used as often as possible. Also, both private and common times of retreat in solitude and silence are provided for.

And in the morning, a great while before day, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35 (RSV)

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thes. 5:16-18 (RSV)

 

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matt. 6:5,6 (NIV)

Formation and Study

Both initial and ongoing formation of the Order and its members will be centered on the balanced understanding of the sacred Scriptures, on prayer, and on the teachings and traditions of the Church, with a special emphasis on our monastic and Celtic heritage. All members are expected to spend time on a regular basis, after consultation with those responsible for their fosterage or with their spiritual advisors, in study, both religious and secular, and in prayer. Secular study may be mechanical or aesthetic, as well as intellectual, and may serve artistic, craft, technical, recreational, scholarly, or professional ends.

2. When studying, brothers and sisters carefully develop their minds and hearts so that they may come to conform to Christ in every way. As we seek to push our understanding past its limits, we remember that God is with us always, leading us into a fuller knowledge of himself and his creation. Yet in spite of his guidance, our human understanding will always be far surpassed by the infinite grace of faith and divine knowledge.

3. Much of our study is undertaken in order to deepen, develop, and better explain the teachings of our Christian faith. This is especially encouraged by Celtic spirituality, with its emphasis on ecumenism and evangelism. In all of our studies, we are faithful to the Christian world view, with its pillars of creation, incarnation, and redemption.

4. The sisters and brothers realize that theirs is the principle responsibility for study and reaching their desired goals. This can only be attained by a genuine excitement, accompanied by trust and cooperation with teachers, foster-parents in the novitiate, and all the other members of the Order.

5. From the Rule of our holy Father St. Columbanus: “What is best in the world? To do the will of the maker. What is this will? That we should do what he has ordered, that is, that we should live in righteousness and seek devotedly what is eternal. How do we arrive at this? By study. We must therefore study devotedly and righteously. What is our best help in maintaining this study? The Intellect, which probes everything and, finding none of the world’s goods in which it can permanently rest, is converted by reason into the one good which is eternal.”

And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself… Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Luke 24:27,44,45 (RSV)

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 (RSV)

 

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12 (RSV)

Ministry and Apostolic Service

The basis of the apostolic work of the members of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is to live the Gospel with a humble and joyful heart in a ministry of presence. The purpose for our presence is to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most apparent manifestation of this ministry of presence is in making ourselves available and responsive.

2. There are also other expressions of the ministry of presence which will need more planning and organization, both within the Order and within the Church as a whole. The various tasks and responsibilities of these ministries are undertaken within the context of the whole Order’s apostolic work. This is patterned after the common life described in Acts 2 and 4.

3. In all our apostolic works, each brother and sister is given scope to develop their natural talents, and to grow in personality so they may truly return their talents and increase to the Lord from whom they come.

4. Our ministry of presence is worked out in secular work, also, as a manifestation of our apostolic service. We do not detach our “spiritual lives” from our “secular lives”: all is one to us, and all an arena for bringing God’s love to a troubled and lonely world. We also must remember the good to the Order which such work provides, by assuring the care of the brothers and sisters and promoting the growth of the Order.

5. The Order seeks a peaceful and evangelical balance between prayer and activity, yet the primacy of prayer is always recognized and protected. The rhythm of the Spirit leads us from prayer into action, and from action back into prayer.

6. All of our actions, vows, and promises are part of our apostolic service, since everything we do is done not for ourselves alone, but in love and compassion for the whole world, and it all has implications for those with whom we share this planet. For example, the money that is saved from buying food during a fast is given to the poor, so that, even if we are not engaged in some apostolate to those in need, we are still aiding the Lord’s less fortunate sisters and brothers.

7. In faithfully carrying out the duties which are entrusted to them, all the sisters and brothers share in the apostolic call of the Order. In this the action of each is a sign of the oneness and unity of all. But no apostolic work is done in the name of the individual, but in the Name of God. To Him be given all glory and honor!

[Jesus said,] “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all — he is the greatest. Luke 9:48 (NIV)

[Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.” Matt 10:1,5-8 (RSV)

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Matt. 24:45,46 (RSV)

 

[Jesus said,] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers!'” Matt. 7:21-23 (RSV)

V The Pillars of Our Spiritual Life

Penance-Obedience Chastity-Poverty Forgiveness-Reconciliation

“He should bewail with everyone his sins. When there is cause for shame let him be silent about it. The poor and the needy are to be helped as far as lies within his power.” -From the monastic rule of St. Ailbe

“Consider the transitory world and Judgment Day and what you must do to avoid the pains of hell and to obtain the rewards of heaven.” -St. Kieran of Clonmacnoise

 

 


Penance and Obedience

We are called to live a life of daily self-denial and continuing conversion, so that others might turn daily to the comfort of the Spirit of Christ in their lives. Brothers and sisters are encouraged to fast according to the tradition of the Church. But let each one fast in keeping with his or her physical condition or abilities, recalling St. Augustine’s admonition that they should not be forced who can not fast, while those who are merely lazy or unaccustomed to denial must be gently encouraged by their more mature brothers and sisters.

2. In every activity (how we eat, how we spend our spare time, the songs we hum to ourselves during the day) we are converted from the ways of the world to the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven. For us the goal is the love of God and fellowship in his Body: turn always toward that, pray and fast to keep on the track, do not let your sisters and brothers become distracted.

3. Our life of penance is for reconciliation, not just for ourselves, but for the whole of God’s creation. In our penance, we sain our lives and make them holy, we caim the world with our life-giving awareness of God’s presence, we give hope by our example to a humanity gone mad.

4. “Our leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan…. It is a serious matter to choose wholesome recreations.” C. S. Lewis.

5. “It is not for quiet and security that we have formed a community in the monastery, but for struggle and a conflict. We have met here for a contest, we have embarked upon a war against our sins…. The struggle upon which we are engaged is full of hardships, full of dangers, for it is the struggle of man against himself… For this purpose we have gathered together in this tranquil retreat, this spiritual camp, that we may day after day wage an unwearying war against our passions.” Faustus of Riez

Jesus proclaimed the good news of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!” Mark 1:14,15 (NAB)

I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:1,2 (RSV)

 

I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. but if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires If we live by the spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Gal. 5:16-26 (RSV)

Chastity and Poverty

Chastity is an affirmation of the Resurrection of the body, and therefore leads us into responsible, nurturing physical relationships founded on Love. Chastity is love which comes from the body, the mind, and the spirit in harmony, without compulsion, possessiveness, or selfishness. It is love, sex, and physicalness made obedient to God.

2. Chastity must not be confused with celibacy, although some of us will be called to celibacy, either for a short time or for life. This is an individual decision, between the self and God, entered into with the support and advice of the community, either as a life-long commitment, or for a brief period as an aid to chastity.

3. Chastity is a part of our calling and life-style, but is also a gift of grace. It uniquely frees the hearts of men and women so they can become more fervent in love for God and all humanity. It is the confirmation of our responsibility for the whole world. It is the most perfect manifestation of the love between Christ and his Bride. Through chastity we are freed to find a truly loving relationship with ourselves, our families, friends, and spouses, the world we share, and God himself. Chastity is our taste of the Kingdom of God.

4. The brothers and sisters work to be as free as possible from the cares of the world, so that their hearts may be fixed only on the Kingdom of God. The poverty we pursue is the poverty of the Spirit, free from the compulsive needs of the world, and from domination by them. It is not a poverty of want and despair (to which none of God’s creation is called), but rather life full of God’s provisions. It is the affirmation of God’s care for us.

5. For all members of the Order our ultimate calling is to the renunciation of individual ownership, but for most (those not living under vows in community) this is a life goal to be entered into gradually. As we consider our needs and our wants, keeping in mind the call of evangelical poverty, always aware of the very real unchosen poverty in the world, we learn to let go of things, to satisfy our needs and wants with less. Individuals and families may retain personal property, using them as citizens of God’s Kingdom and sharing them with others, working for the day when the desire for unnecessary and extraneous things drop out of our consciousness.

6. As poor members of the environment and ecological system we do our best to produce everything that we use. Whenever possible, we raise our own food in simple gardens and farms maintained by our own hands. We encourage artistic expression and handiwork in all the items we use in liturgy. All articles of church use should be an expression of our own talent and labor. If possible, we live in shelter of our own construction. We also investigate alternative forms of energy production proper to our culture and time. This is the yearning of the heart, and will not always be possible, but it is our goal.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well. Luke 12:22-31 (RSV)

Jesus said [to the rich young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

. . . Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt. 5-8 (RSV)

[Jesus said,] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:27,28 (RSV)

[Jesus said,] “There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” Matt. 19:12 (RSV)

You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal. 5:13,14 (RSV)

 

My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 5:10,16 (RSV)

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

A call to community is a call to perpetual forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a never ending process that enables us to live harmoniously in close relationship with one another and all of creation. We can allow ourselves to be forgiven only as much as we can allow ourselves to forgive and because of that we should always be mindful of and engaged in the gift of reconciliation, forgiving our brothers and sisters as we ourselves wish to be forgiven.

2. Forgiveness can be born out of a response to true repentance or it can be a gift freely given but it should always be genuine and not manipulative, truthful and not deceiving. It is one of the most powerful and Christ like gifts we can offer our brother or sister and ourselves. Our Order is based on love, and seeking to love one another we must seek to forgive one another.

3. Forgiveness is a decision and not necessarily always a feeling. It is through forgiveness that we intend to enter into, spiritually if not emotionally, a place where we may be reconciled to one another. As we enter into this place, we must ourselves shed our expectations of our brother or sister even as they themselves must attempt to reconcile with us.

4. Reconciliation is a process and not an automatic given. It is a healing process that begins with compassionate listening, it encourages mutual transparency, and ultimately offers mutual acceptance, but through it all it demands mutual courage to persevere. During this painful process the wise and sometimes more objective counsel of foster-parents, spiritual advisors, the Abbot or Abbess, or the Visitor or Chaplain should be sought.

5. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” -St. Martin Luther King, Jr.

6. “We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven. Therefore we should be glad that we can be forgiven by others. It is our forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus manifest in our lives, for in forgiving one another we act towards one another as He has acted towards us.” -St. Thomas Merton

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matt. 18:15-17 (NIV)

 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matt. 18:21-22 (NIV)

VI The Foundation Laid on Rock

“O God, you created us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” -St. Augustine of Hippo

“God is near to all those who call on Him. The kingdom of heaven can be reached from any land.” -St. Samthana

“We should live in righteousness and seek devotedly what is eternal.” -St. Columbanus

We build our life upon a firm foundation, strong enough to stand against all the storms of our lives, broad enough to support us in all our variety. This foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord, his Love and Teachings. Jesus is our example, Love is our law, the Scriptures are our Rule.

2. To assure that the love upon which our Order is founded is not just misdirected human emotion, it is guided by divine truth. Our life and spirit are molded by the Beatitudes and Two Great Commandments. These statements form the essence of our Rule and practice as a community. They are the ideal toward which we strive, the clear statement of who we wish to become. Though we may never attain to their fullness, we must struggle to do so with our brothers and sisters. Though they show our real shortcomings and our real guilt, they must not be used to provoke feelings of guilt or unworthiness in ourselves or others, but should point toward repentance and new life. As followers of Him who is “the Way”, we believe that we are always journeying toward our goal, not having yet arrived.

3. Our life is founded upon Jesus Christ: we must always be in prayer or He becomes to us a pious fiction. Our life is founded upon love: we must always be engaged in some form of apostolic service, or our love becomes nothing more than a pretty word. Our life is founded upon divine teaching: we must always be studying and applying the Scriptures, or the Bible becomes for us just a dust-covered decoration in a dust-covered life. Our life is founded upon humility: we must always be in penance or we will be living in self-centered make-believe.

4. We will be blessed (happy, filled with joy) when we experience the full depth of our humanity, without distraction, without defenses, in relationship with God and other persons. We will be truly blessed when we have met our humanity face to face and seen it transfigured in love. (But what do we mean by blessedness? Certainly not a perpetual euphoric bliss; even less, gratification of all our desires. Blessedness for us can only be defined in the context of Christ Jesus and His Love. Perhaps we can call it the serenity which comes from integrity; perhaps, the ability to pass through turmoil and trials, knowing that we shall emerge from the other end more mature, more whole. It was blessedness which enabled the patriarch Job to say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away: Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”)

Then Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Luke 6:47,48 (RSV)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you, when men revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt. 5:3-12 (RSV)

[Jesus said,] “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40 (RSV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Phil. 4:4 (RSV)

Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (RSV)

 

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death-
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ s Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:5-11 (NRSV)

VII A Respect Born of Love

“Do not ever think yourselves better than the rest of your companions who share the same faith.” -St. Cuthbert

“Do not be deceived by those who seem to seek perfection, yet do not keep the basic commandments of God. There are people who eat little, who live simply and who are celibate; yet they show no love and compassion toward their neighbors. Before seeking perfection a person must first learn to love others and to be generous towards them.” -St. Morgan

“See in each herb and small animal, every bird and beast, and in each man and woman, the eternal Word of God.” -St. Ninian

As our life is built on love, we must let our love be genuine and practical. Love does not put on airs, it is not haughty, not even inside where only God can see. For out of the abundance of the heart do we speak and act. Love allowed to work in our relationships, both with ourselves and with other persons, is respect. Let us treat each other as Christ has treated us. My brother is lonely; my sister is frightened; both are struggling to do the best they can to find love and happiness. From a gentle heart be gentle with them. See their frail humanity, created for glory by God, and love it for what it is, respect it for what it can become.

2. Accept those around you for who they are. Accept–but this does not always mean to agree. Respect for your own integrity will not allow you always to agree with others.

3. In humor, be kind. In griping, be truthful. In conversation, be patient. In gossip, be silent. Trust your sisters and brothers to make their own decisions; believe them when they speak of their own inner state. It is our calling to support and pastor each other, but never to manipulate or mold our free fellows into our own pattern.

Do not let your love be a pretense, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Rom. 12:9,10 (JB)

Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:25-27,31,32 (RSV)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:5 (NIV)

 

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:4-7 (NRSV)

VIII Being in Full Accord and of One Mind

“He [the monk] should not speak evil of, or harshly reproach, another, nor should he put anyone to the blush. Never should he violently rebuke anyone or carry on a conversation with a boorish person, and his speech at all times should be noted for its lack of boastfulness.” -From the monastic rule of St. Ailbe

“Let the tongue have its rein firmly in the heart.” -St. Columbanus

“The freedom to choose makes us like God: if we choose evil, that freedom becomes a curse; if we choose good, it becomes our greatest blessing.” -St. Morgan

“Be at peace, and have genuine charity among yourselves. If you follow the example of the holy fathers, God, the comforter of all good, will be your helper.” -St. Columba

Being a community of adults, we are each responsible for our own decisions, and the community as a whole is responsible for the Order’s decisions. Therefore, the Order as a whole makes the decisions, and does so unanimously. All members, including postulants and novices, are involved in decision making as appropriate.

2. We must agree in all things that concern our common spiritual or physical well-being, or our relations to the rest of the Church or world. If we have no unanimity, we shall not act. Any one member may veto any plan. Of course, this would be called foolish by many, and certainly it has unique perils, but only so can we achieve full community.

3. When unanimity is not possible on small matters, everyone should abide by the veto (or lack of decision) gracefully. On larger matters, this may indicate some serious split, perhaps some sickness in the community. We should humbly seek counseling and guidance from outside, from our Visitor, Chaplain, and other wise persons. In an emergency, when no decision can be reached, the members should agree to abide by the decision of the Abbot or Abbess or Visitor, as appropriate. And remember that difficult decisions, disagreements, or blackballing are often signs that confession and reconciliation are needed. Let us not pass up the opportunity.

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8 (NRSV)

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Phil. 2:1-3 (RSV)

 

Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. 18:19,20 (RSV)

IX Intentional Relationships: Bearing Another’s Burdens

“Even though he have possession of the unsavory world, he should not love its treasures. Let him cultivate and share the fruits of the earth. He should not be cruel since that will not bring him to bright heaven.” -From the monastic rule of St. Ailbe

“God made man in His own image; and so He intends for each of us to be like Him.” -St. Morgan

As brothers and sisters under a common Rule, children of one God, we are called into a family based, not on birth and law, but on choice and love. Having chosen our relationships with each other, we willingly take on the responsibilities they entail. As a family within the Church, we are especially called to bear one another’s burdens.

2. In all the times of our life together, and in all the ways available to us, we give our support to the members of our Order. In prayer, we hold them up to God. With kindness we let them feel our love. With our tears and laughter we share their sorrows and joys, making them more manageable. By all conceivable means we seek to make our brothers’ and sisters’ burdens lighter, taking into ourselves sacrificially whatever we can, and making their joy more triumphant.

3. When they sin, or fall short of the Rule, or disappoint us in some way, we know also how to deal with that. With all love and humility, we love them and seek to understand their weaknesses, knowing how weak we are ourselves. With patience and charitable truthfulness, after prayer, we point out to them their sin or shortcoming, or share our disappointment. The spiritual directors, especially, with all the tools of their art, offer guidance and confession. And in all of this, our goal is never to exalt ourselves, but to share and reduce the burden which our common sinfulness imposes, doing so in love. As Christ on the cross bore our sinfulness and weakness, so do we, as other Christs, make his sacrifice available to all for healing and forgiveness.

4. And yet we are each mature humans, making our own mistakes and feeling our own emotions. We can not prevent our brother from sinning; we can not take to ourselves all of another person’s sorrow and pain; we can not rescue him from himself. We are each responsible for our own life and our own calling, but a part of that calling is to help our brothers and sisters, to bear their burdens with them and to make their loads lighter.

We exhort you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thes. 5:14 (RSV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. Rom. 15:1,2 (RSV)

If you see the ass of one who hates you lying under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him to lift it up. Ex. 23:5 (RSV)
Is this not the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke? Is. 58:6 (RSV)

If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently but watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:1,2 (NIV)

My brothers, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19,20 (RSV)

[Jesus] took our infirmities and bore our diseases. Matt. 8:17 (RSV), quoting Is. 53:4

Each will have to bear his own load. Gal. 6:5 (RSV)

[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24 (RSV)

 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all those put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col. 3:12-14 (RSV)

X Being Generous Distributors of God’s Grace

“Do not despise those faithful who come to you seeking hospitality. Receive them, put them up, and set them on their way with kindness, treating them as one of yourselves.“ -St. Cuthbert

“The man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.” -St. Columbanus

“Every visible or invisible creature is a theophany [an appearance of God].“ -St. John Scotus Eriugena

The heart of our apostolate as Christians and as a community is hospitality. We give with hands overflowing what we have received with hands empty. In our suffering and pain we have learned patience and gentleness with strength. In our joy and exultation we have tasted the wine of abundant life. With our eyes and ears, in wondering souls, we have known beauty to break the human heart. In the community to which God has called us, we have felt absolute love freely given. In our silence we have heard the voice of God. In following our Rule, we have discovered a life we can respect for our selves, a life worth living. In our Lord and Friend and Lover, Jesus Christ, we have been given meaning and have found our place in God’s world, our particular relationship to the creation and the Creator.

2. To a world of violence and noise, ugliness and alienation, we offer all these graces we have been given. In our monasteries and homes, at work, in our families, on the streets, wherever we may be, we make ourselves available to those who choose to take what we have to give.

Do not be deceived. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:16,17 (RSV)

As generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received. 1 Peter 4:10 (NAB)

[Jesus said,] “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:37,38 (RSV)

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Mtt. 5:14-16 (RSV)

[Jesus said,] “Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48 (RSV)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Cor. 12:4-7 (NRSV)

If I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel. 1 Cor. 9:16-18 (RSV)

 

Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Rom. 12:13 (RSV)

XI Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

“Out of compassion you should do without your due allowance of food and clothing so that you may share with your less fortunate brothers and with the poor in general.” -St. Columba

“The Body of Christ and the Blood of Mary’s Son (Holy Communion) is a sure protection for the soul and a safe road to heaven. It has a wonderful power, it fosters purity and is the food which destroys all desires.” -St. Cormac

We are all creatures of God, living on this fragile planet together. We show our care for all the inhabitants of our earth by eating foods that effectively use available nutrients and resources. Simple foods that nourish the body and delight the spirit, promoting fellowship around the table, and doing so within our means: this is the basis of our diet. Good food, healthy and palatable, lovingly prepared and thankfully eaten, brings joy to the community and is part of our witness to the world; so the one appointed to cook should be grateful for the opportunity to serve, not grudging the work, while those who eat must give the cook reason to be grateful.

And God said [to Adam and Eve,] “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” Gen. 1:29,30 (RSV)

Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart. Ps. 104:14,15 (RSV)

The eyes of all look to thee, and thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest thy hand, thou satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Ps. 145:15,16 (RSV)

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. Rom. 14:14-17 (RSV)

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim. 4:4,5 (RSV)

 

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Prov. 17:1 (RSV)

XII The Role of Anamcara: Particular Relationships

“Anyone without an anmcara (soul-friend) is like a body without a head.”-St. Brigid

Although many traditions of the religious life discourage “particular friendships,” relationships with other persons which are more intense and personally meaningful than with the rest of one’s brothers and sisters, our Order encourages them. Since the essence of our life is the creation of a meaningful “flock of God,” a real family of the Church, we must form and live the deepest relationships we can with our fellow brothers and sisters. This, of course, is not possible to the same extent with everybody. There will always be those with whom deep loving friendship seems to happen automatically, and those with whom we must struggle to establish a meaningful brother- or sisterhood.

2. With this in mind, we rejoice in particular friendships among the brothers and sisters, because in them we see the realization of the deepest love possible between the two people. But while rejoicing in the very great potential good, we must all be aware of the possible dangers. All of us, but especially the spiritual directors, must always be alert to the formation of cliques, to friendships which do not simply include the friend to a special degree, but actually exclude others. It is our hope that in a community of mature Christians we will be able to enjoy the good and shun the harmful.

. . . the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Sam. 18:1 (RSV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Eccles. 4:9-12 (RSV)

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17 (RSV)

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another. Prov. 27:17 (RSV)

 

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
whoever finds one has found a treasure. Sir. 6:14 (NRSV)

XIII Honesty and Integrity: Being Set Free

“From the deformity of our imperfection after the fall of the first human being, the Holy Trinity brings us up to the perfect human being and trains us for the fullness of Christ’s time.” -St. John Scotus Eriugena

Honesty, integrity, and truth become for the brothers and sisters of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart a standard and benchmark of behavior when interacting with each other, God, and indeed with the world around us. We freely accept a call to a life of mutual transparency and accountability recognizing the Scriptural mandate to immerse ourselves in whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable.

2. Let our honesty be tempered with compassion and our truth be offered out of love and respect. We must never allow our honesty to become a tool of manipulation used out of malice and guile. Sometimes silence offers a powerful witness to the truth and discretion becomes the better part of honesty.

3. We are called to live a life of integrity, one of unbroken or undivided completeness, of wholeness and beauty lived out not only within ourselves but within the community at large. As love is our law so to let our integrity be founded in love. So often in the world integrity has come to mean rigid adherence to a set of societal norms or even doctrinal dictates. The brothers and sisters of the Order, being counter-cultural, are called to an integrity whispered by the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and guided by compassion and love. Let us display an integrity born out of freedom and set a blaze by our love of Christ and His creation.

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. Ps. 15:1-2 (KJV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. Ps. 19:14 (NKJV)

For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Ps. 84:11 (KJV)

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Cor. 4:1-2 (KJV)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:4-9 (NIV)

XIV Putting on the Habit: Entrance into the Order

“The struggle upon which we are engaged if full of hardships, full of dangers, for it is the struggle of man against himself.” -St. Patrick

When a person hears God’s Spirit calling him or her to consider membership in the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart, the candidate enters, with the Order, into a period of discernment to test the Spirit. This time is not intended to determine the worth of the person before God, or even their overall call to community or religious life. It is meant only to discern their specific call to be a brother or sister of the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart.

2. Upon entrance into the Order we take on the habit, both spiritual and physical. Being clothed in the grace of Christ, and robed with humility and sanctity, like Jesus who put on our lowliness as a garment, let us wear our habit in holiness, penitence, and lowliness of heart. We wear it as a word in the larger vocabulary of the Church: a word about holiness, a word about humbleness, a word about humility.

3. As a sign of humbleness, the habit must never become an occasion for pride or self-aggrandizement. It should be an outward sign of an inward attempt to live the Rule. If it ceases to be this, it becomes worthless and vain. Any clothing for clothing’s sake is incompatible with our call.

Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph. 4:22-24 (RSV)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 (RSV)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 (RSV)

[Jesus says,] “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!” Rev. 16:15 (RSV)

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col. 3:14 (RSV)

John (the Baptizer) was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi,” (which means Teacher) “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. John 1:35-42a (RSV)

Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim. 4:12 (RSV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid in Christ with God. Col. 3:1,2 (RSV)

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17,18 (RSV)

 

Hanna said, “As soon as the child [Samuel] is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and abide there for ever.” 1 Sam. 1:22 (RSV)

XV Governance of the Order: Authority and the Statutes

“No matter how much you esteem your strength of will, place yourself under the direction of another.” -St. Comgal

Let those who have been placed in positions of authority in the Order remember that they also serve under the same God as the rest of the sisters and brothers. The officers of the Order must remain alert to the needs of each sister and brother. They are to be the facilitators who provide what is needed for individuals and families so that there will be neither excessive permissiveness nor denial of legitimate needs.

2. The Abbot or Abbess is called to be, not a demagogue, but an administrator. He or she interprets and enforces the spirit of the Order, which responds to the voice of God as heard in open dialogue, under the spirit of obedience. The father or mother of the Order administers the spirit of the community in trust and wholeheartedness.

Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-28 (RSV)

 

Jesus said, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 (RSV)

The General Statutes

General subject matter of the sections into which the statutes are divided:

1 Priorities
2 Orders, Brothers and Sisters
3 Prayer and Work: The Dialectic
4 International and Missionary
5 Community Life
6 Habitation
7 Government
8 Eucharistic Worship
9 Local Worship
10 Apostolic Work
11 Promulgation of the Order
12 “Non-religious” Work and Manual Labor
13 Ecumenical Scope
14 Various Cares and Concerns
15 The Habit
16 Friendship and Chastity
17 Matters of Conscience
18 Entrance into the Order
19 Aspirants and Manaigs
20 The Postulancy
21 Full Membership
22 The Novitiate
23 Personal Declaration
24 Disagreement and Correction
25 General Council

1. These are the priorities of our community life which give us direction and, together with our Rule, inform all our actions and decisions: God the holy Trinity is our primary concern, and to follow his will for our lives as expressed in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and sustained through the Holy Spirit. The Church is the Bride of Christ. It is the fulfillment of our calling and the deepest need of the human heart. The fellowship of God’s people in His Kingdom, it governs and permeates every aspect of our life on earth. The supportive community of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is the school where we learn the tools to overcome the pain and fear of our spirits, so far from God’s purity, and thus bring the Lord’s peace and care into our lives and the lives of those who will struggle and grow with us. This is the family we have embraced in our acceptance of the Rule. In our relationships with ourselves and others we attempt to carry the love of God into the world of persons. This is the basis of life in our cells and monasteries. In this context we become whole, alone or in family. The local monastery, mission, or cell is the place where God’s people are supported and challenged. Having been supported and guided by these great gifts given to us, we take what we have found to the world in overflowing service, being in it but not of it.

2. In keeping with ancient Celtic monastic tradition, the members of the Order are all set aside for ministry. How far each one advances must be decided individually. “Brother” and “Sister” are the preferred titles for all. While the clerics in holy orders are honored for their office, be it deacon, priest, or bishop, they hold no right to special position, as we are admonished in Scripture not to place one member of the Body above another. We are all considered brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. Our life is a deliberate combination of prayer, contemplation, study, and work. Our work and study flow from prayer and contemplation, and lead us and others back to prayer. It is through this alternation, each in season, that we come into full union with the mind of Christ. Our response to the Gospel will only be fruitful to the degree that we combine prayer and action as Jesus himself did for our salvation. In this way, our life of prayer is charged with a spirit of labor, and our labor is inspired by prayer. Each member observes a daily discipline and schedule to ensure that proper time is given to each aspect of our Gospel life of prayer, study, and work. The daily schedule is kept flexible in keeping with the varying demands of our lives, but secular work is not allowed to interfere with our primary commitment to a life of solitary and communal prayer, apostolic work, and religious study.

4. In the light of the Gospel admonition to go and teach all the nations, the scope of the Order is immediately international. By its nature the Order is free to make foundations and to carry out ministries wherever they are made welcome by local Church authorities. In doing so, we must keep in mind our principle of respect, not interfering with other missionaries, the legitimate local Churches, or the native spirit of the people in their response to Christ. We freely make every effort to meet and cooperate with Christians throughout the world. As conditions allow, we work, study, and pray to help and unify the effort of building the Kingdom of God, always sensitive to differences of tradition and local custom. We are especially eager to offer help in building community through religious vocation. As we go about the world, we are faithful to our Vision, Rule, and Statutes.

5. Consecrated to God through their profession of and adherence to the same Rule, all the brothers and sisters are built up into one community. Experiencing Jesus individually through prayer, study, and work, the brothers and sisters join together to support one another in their life-journey. Even in the solitude of one’s own dwelling or hermitage the life of the community is, in fact, primarily communal. To make possible this unity, let the brothers and sisters anticipate each other in mutual love, and serve each other with ready hearts. Let them encourage wholesome undertakings, and genuinely find joy in the successes of one another’s lives. The Order strives to nurture mature and inter-dependent relationships in Christ. Each brother, sister, cell family, and chapter shows a sincere respect and gratitude for each other’s walk, life, and religious faith. Noteworthy news and events are communicated to the brothers and sisters, so that, even while not living together, we keep track of each other’s lives and deepen our communal sense. Likewise, we attempt to communicate with future generations by carefully recording our history. Those in monasteries as well as family cell groups and hermitages are to live a single-hearted observance of the Rule and to participate in the activities of the Order. The General Chapter together with local Chapters, and General Council, shall arrange for times and places of common recreation and fellowship. They shall attempt to supply whatever is needed to foster close relationships among brothers and sisters who live apart.

6. Individuals and families may live apart from the others in cell families or hermitages, and persons living close to each other may form weekly or monthly chapters. But the basic form of our life is in a monastery, either an abbey or a dependent priory, with a chapter. At the beginning, the abbey may exist in name only, without house or area, but when it is formed in fact, it will act as monastery and retreat house. The brothers and sisters show concern for the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of those of the Order in need, providing help when appropriate and possible, making every effort to be of assistance when the need is great. Community houses must include areas for common and individual use, for any community which does not allow for private time and private space will eventually create emotionally unbalanced individuals who will, in turn, destroy the community.

7. The Abbot or Abbess, together with Priors or Prioresses, Chaplain, and other officials of the Order except the Visitor, live in close union with the rest of the brothers and sisters living in community. While remembering the demands of privacy and confidentiality, they enhance the common life, never feeling or acting superior to any of their fellows. The Visitor lives apart from the Order by reason of his function and responsibilities, but this should not separate him from the obligations, fellowship, care, and commitment of the Order.

8. We place the highest value on the holy Sacraments, the summit of all the Church’s activity and the epitome and source of Christian life. For that reason we especially cherish the mystery of the Eucharist. Individually and in common we make every effort to nourish our spiritual life with them and to open their treasures to the faithful. In our attempt to make our whole lives sacramental, we structure our devotions and days with the Divine Office. In the Liturgy of the Daily Rounds God speaks to us in His own holy words taken from Scripture. So that the words of God celebrated in the Office may penetrate our hearts more deeply and shape our lives more effectively, they are sung or spoken and heard with the greatest reverence and attention. Whenever possible the Psalms are sung in keeping with ancient usage. Appropriate silences are introduced to allow the words to penetrate slowly, steadily, and surely. Let us seek to praise God more with the words of our hearts than with the words of our lips, that we not incur our Savior’s reproach to the Pharisees, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” We participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice and communion meal as fully, actively, and consciously as we can since we are celebrating the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ until He comes again. We keep back nothing of ourselves in this offering so that He may receive us totally, who gave Himself totally to us. We do not wish to exclude ourselves or others from this holy sacrifice. While acknowledging the importance of the priesthood, derived from the apostolic episcopacy, we understand that if the Holy Spirit is invoked, formally or informally, He is there to make the sacrifice a Sacrament. As the one Bread, broken for many, and the one Cup, poured out for many, bring many into unity, so our lives and celebrations manifest both sacrifice and unity.

9. Local Chapters can determine the time and circumstances of the celebration of the Eucharist, the performance of the Divine Office, and all other forms of common prayer. These must always be in tune with the spirit of the Gospels, and in accordance with propriety. The Abbot or Abbess has authority generally to direct the liturgical practices of the Order, without interfering with their spirit and calling.

10. Normally, the apostolic works of the Order are team efforts, involving at least two. If a brother or sister works alone, it must be done in spiritual unity with the Order, and with the direction of the Abbot or Abbess. Each one is responsible for helping the others avoid undue stress caused either by the nature or amount of work, apostolic or manual. Sooner or later this stress will dissolve the community and the health of the individual. Consequently, it can threaten the whole witness of our way of life to the Gospel. The financial support of the Order, individual, or family must never be the purpose for choosing an apostolate. There are, however, financial considerations which must be dealt with realistically by all in community life. When financial need enters into the choice of an apostolic work, the Abbot or Abbess must be consulted. This does not prohibit a brother or sister from choosing a work to which the Holy Spirit is calling him or her, and which the signs of the times indicate as being necessary. For the sake of Christ, our Order, and our calling, we must remember that financial needs alone are not our reason for working. The real and whole needs of people, of the Church, the community, and the individual brother or sister is the main criterion when selecting work, either apostolic or secular for self-support. The Chapter, General or local, together with the Abbot or Abbess and the local Prior or Prioress, have the task of discerning the gifts and capabilities of individual brothers and sisters and the needs of the community and Church. Through the Abbot or Abbess the brothers and sisters have the opportunity to become proficient in specific fields, and the scope to perform them is willingly given, together with the necessary time and support for preparation. For the good of all concerned, the leadership is careful to take into account the skills, aptitudes, and desires of each one; nor shall they easily change a brother or sister from the work in which he or she is expert, except for the glory of God. Since we are dedicated to God’s Kingdom in the Church and the world, we accustom ourselves to reading the signs of the times in which God’s plan can be discerned with the eyes of faith. Responding to this discernment, we use whatever talents we may have, individually and collectively, to undertake any type of work, always giving priority to the needy and those who have not received Jesus’ message of salvation.

11. We promote traditional apostolic works such as retreats, missions, preaching, and the administration of the Sacraments. Yet we also try to adapt our efforts to new circumstances and challenges. We give special care to the building-up and spread of our Order, the promulgation of community life, and guiding people to understand and respond to their vocations.

12. All work is in some way apostolic, whether in the confines of our community, within the Church, or in the broader setting of the world as a whole. Outside the Order, it is made so by our spiritual, intellectual, and material witness, outreach, and care for those whom we contact, especially in pastoral and missionary service in parishes and Christian institutions. If our work is secular, the witness is the same. Wherever we are, our souls yearn for the dawning of the Kingdom of God. The brothers and sisters are ready to do manual work in accord with the earliest monastic tradition when love, obedience, or necessity requires. Manual labor is well-suited to the contemplative life, for it nurtures a spirit of humility, simplicity, and inner silence. It places us in solidarity with the world’s poor, who must labor daily to supply their most basic needs. We do not play favorites. We are not partial to anyone in the Order because of the work they do, the position they hold, the salary they receive. We do not let anyone’s outside job influence our esteem for them in our order in any way at all.

13. We are actively involved in the ecumenical dialogue of truth, charity, and prayer within the Church in order to share the unity of Christ. We strive to uproot from our own lives and from our community any obstacles to His unity, and would not exclude from our fellowship and sacraments anyone who calls upon the Name of Jesus, regardless of his or her state of grace. However, in our openness to all who call themselves by the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we never compromise the Apostolic Faith delivered to us by our fathers and mothers in the Church. At the same time, we engage in an active dialogue, according to the practice of the Christian faith, with non-believers among whom we live and to whom we are sent. Mindful of our own call, the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart works with people of good will in all areas of charity, social assistance, and international solidarity, in which the possibility of human and economic growth is offered to individuals and nations caught in need.

14. All things required for the use of the Order are to harmonize with our Rule, and that which is no longer of any use is put to other uses or recycled. Brothers and sisters seek to be self-sufficient in all things, and to develop their talents, art, or craft, to provide for the rest of the order. In this, God is given only the best we know and have. Let simple meals be a feast, and modest homes manifest His handiwork. Ever with humility and simplicity we are building the Kingdom of God. Can we give less than the best we have to offer? We are very careful of God’s world, treating it gently and with respect, in our construction of buildings and use of things. Neatness and order reflecting the peace of God are to be found in every cell. For in the cell and in those spaces where we meet with people, heaven comes down to earth to make a caimed space. In all such matters, while care is called for, scruples are not, since they distinctly undermine the purpose of such concern, which is freedom of heart. Each Chapter shall read a chapter (thus its name) of the Rule in successive order at each of its meetings. Also, each cell and individual brother or sister shall make sure to study a chapter in regular succession at least once a week.

15. Remembering that our religious clothing is symbolic of consecration to God and the Order, the brothers and sisters wear the habit both inside and outside the community. The habit is especially worn during liturgical gatherings and public ministries as a constant reminder of our life of prayer, study, penance, and service, poverty, chastity, and obedience. The habit is worn whenever the use of secular work clothing is not necessary. Though properly worn during liturgical worship and ministry, it is not a vestment, but simply the sign of our calling and the normal clothing of the professed Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart. Because the habit is a sign of penance, it is worn even when it seems a sacrifice. In cases of ill health, or for obvious good reason, its use can be dispensed with by the Abbot or Abbess, or by conscience for a short time, till confirmed by proper authority of the Abbot or Abbess. Work or recreation which requires the use of casual clothes is kept within the spirit of our calling, and at such times the little habit may be worn. All secular clothes still retain a witness to modesty and to the spirit of our Rule. We dress and groom, not according to fashion or style, but rather simplicity, modesty, and practicality. If the wearing of the habit becomes an occasion for pride or self-righteousness, the use of secular clothes may be required by the Abbot or Abbess or General Chapter.

16. The brothers and sisters love everyone in Christ. Through mature interdependence, familial and friendly relationships, they lead others to share in the Kingdom of God. Spiritual and life-giving friendships between members of the Order are encouraged, as long as they do not detract from the healthy religious life in community; however, compulsive or codependent friendships are actively discouraged, inasmuch as they destroy the fellowship of the group and are harmful to the spirit. The Chapters and leadership have the duty and right to use appropriate measures to correct abuses in this area. Our attitude toward those who would normally kindle inappropriate sexual desire is characterized by courtesy, respect, and appropriate caution. In our use of books, television, movies, etc., we use moderation and a mature standard of selection. We carefully avoid whatever would be harmful to faith, morals, or the consecrated life, and delight in whatever up-builds them. Our call to chastity is to responsible, nurturing relationships founded on Love. Such is our faith, even in the deepest physical manifestation of our sexuality. The wisdom and effort of the community must be brought to bear for support in these areas. The use of the Visitor or Chaplain as confessor may be helpful.

17. The brothers and sisters are bound by obedience to the Rule, General Statutes, and local statutes of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart, when they do not violate the teachings of Christ’s Church or conflict with one’s conscience. If a brother or sister finds the conscience to be at variance with the Order, he or she should first share the matter of conscience with the local Chapter and Prior or Prioress or Abbot or Abbess. If the matter can not be resolved, then the advice of the General Chapter should be sought. If the matter is still unresolved, the brother or sister must follow the dictates of conscience and separate from the Order. Separation must be done without consequence and in the spirit of Christ. Simple disagreements with the interpretation of the Rule, General Statutes, or local Statutes by members of the Order are resolved by maturely appealing the action, first to the local Chapter (and Prior or Prioress), then the Abbot or Abbess, the General Counsel, and finally to the General Chapter. At any time, the Visitor may arbitrate, upon mutual agreement of the parties concerned. Our calling and prayer should be enough to resolve most disagreements between men and women of faith. The Rule of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart is our commitment to the essentials of religious life in the Church. It is binding by conscience for all who choose to accept it because of its moral character. The brother or sister is bound to observe the Rule in its entirety upon becoming a postulant, while all who are associated with our Order, even those who plan never go on to become postulants or make any formal act of association, strive to abide by the Rule as they are able.

18. The process of entrance into the full membership of the Order of the Shepherd’s Heart consists of aspirancy, postulancy, novitiate, and profession, first temporary then permanent. At the direction of the Holy Spirit, and taking the needs of the individual into account, a person may remain at any stage indefinitely. All persons under the age of eighteen must have their parents’ or guardians’ written permission to enter the aspirancy, and no one may be considered for profession until they have first completed their twenty-first year. All persons formally affiliating themselves with the Order in any way shall through written statement set forth personal expectations and goals discerning their individual calling and publicly vow to keep the Rule so far as it applies to their station in life. The form of this Vow of Entrance, which may be made before the Visitor, Abbot or Abbess, or Prior or Prioress, is as follows:

I, (Name), inspired by the Holy Spirit to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ more intently by association with the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart, by an act of my own free will, do covenant and promise to God and this order in the presence of the Church, the members here assembled, and to you, Father/Mother, to live the life of charity, according to the holy Rule of the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart, and to follow that Rule as far as possible in my station in life to the best of my ability (for a period of .x. years) . I further dedicate my life to that close union with God and intense love which is the fruit of a disciplined, committed Christian life.

The formula of public profession of vows by a novice or professed, which is made before the Visitor and the Abbot or Abbess, is as follows:

I, (Name), inspired by the Holy Spirit to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ more intently by public profession within the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart, by an act of my own free will, do covenant and promise to God and this community in the presence of the Church, the Chapter assembled, and to you, holy Father, and further place myself into the hands of Abbot/Abbess (Name), to live the life of charity, according to the holy Rule of the Order of the Shepherd‘s Heart, under the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and the four covenant promises of penance, prayer, study, and apostolic work, to the best of my ability (for a period of .x. years [as a novice]). I further dedicate my life to that close union with God and intense love which the substantial silence and solitude of the Order can give.

19. The manaig is a person who wishes to affiliate himself or herself with the Order but who does not foresee a life in community or religious vows. This person is as involved with the rest of the Order as possible, taking into account difficulties of distance and life-style. Manaigs vow to follow the Rule of the Order as they are able. Aspirants are those who enter the Order desiring to become postulants and then novices or fully professed members. The life of the aspirant is basically the same as that of the manaig; only the ultimate intention is different. A manaig is, of course, perfectly free to decide to become a postulant at any time. A person desiring to become a manaig or aspirant of the Order must have the approval of a local Chapter, the Prior or Prioress of which must inform the Abbot or Abbess of the decision. The Vow of Entrance is made in the presence of the Prior or Prioress or the Abbot or Abbess and as many members of the Order as possible.

20. The postulant lives within the community, in a monastery or cell, and is accorded, as far as possible, the rights and responsibilities of Order membership. It is during this period that a foster-parent is found. At the beginning of postulancy, the postulant may select a name in religion, taking the name of any appropriate saint(s), if he or she was not already given such a name in baptism. To select such a name is at the discretion of the postulant, but the foster-parent and Abbot or Abbess are consulted, and the attempt is made to avoid duplications within the Order.

21. Full membership in the Order begins with the twelve-month long period of the novitiate. It is seen as a probationary and formative period, in which the novice is taught our way of life and values through education and experience. A foster-parent supervises the novice’s education. Twice a year, the foster-parent renders an assessment of the fitness and progress of the novice under his or her supervision. This assessment is given in writing to the Abbot or Abbess. The novitiate shall not be shortened in any case, but may be extended indefinitely by the decision of the foster-parent, Abbot or Abbess, and novice.

22. The following are required for admission to the novitiate: right intention; freedom of choice; spiritual, intellectual, and social fitness. Sound physical and mental health, considering also possible inherited dispositions. Personal maturity. Appropriate intellectual and professional training, or willingness and ability to seek the same. Good standing as a Christian, and the ability to profess the Apostles’ and the Nicene creeds, with some understanding of their contents and historical contexts. If in a family, or if engaged, both members of the couple must apply together. Dependent children aged thirteen or over must be consulted in this matter before the family can be admitted to the novitiate. The Abbot or Abbess or Prior or Prioress shall make a determination of the children’s reaction.

23. Each person admitted to the novitiate must declare in writing that: they do or do not suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, or any contagious disease, or from any grave or chronic illness. Though they will not be discriminated against in any way, and may yet be admitted if the Chapter wishes, after careful deliberation, their reception and profession will be considered null should they conceal this fact fraudulently. They are entering the novitiate of their own free will. They are ready to render all their services gratis as the Order may dispose. They may not demand financial recompense if at any time they should leave the Order, or be dismissed by the General Chapter, or Abbot or Abbess.

24. When there is a disagreement between members of the Order, we first go and speak to the brother or sister with whom we have a problem, or who we believe finds fault with us, and talk privately about the matter. Next, we go with one or two, but even this must be kept very private and confidential. If the individual still does not respond, then the matter should be brought to the local Chapter. Most problems should not require additional action. All must show brotherly and sisterly compassion to those who sin, or who are in danger of sinning, to provide them appropriate and effective help in Christ Jesus. Ours is not to judge, but rather to serve. Communal spiritual correction by the leadership is undertaken only for the spiritual well-being of the individual and the Order. Great care is taken to protect the basic rights and integrity of the individual in question, while also preserving the discipline and welfare of the community. If the good of individuals and the order forces the leadership to admonish, correct, or even punish, he or she is to offer this service kindly and lovingly in accordance with the provisions of the Rule.

25. The General Council is competent to establish and repeal General Statutes, modify the Rule, and act in place of the General Chapter, until action can be taken by the General Chapter at its annually scheduled meeting.

Amen!