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Celtic Franciscan Companions

Celtic Franciscan Companions

We are a Religious Order of the CCCUSA who embrace the distinct, yet very interconnected spiritualities and charisms of; the Franciscan Mendicant tradition with Celtic, Desert, Benedictine, and new monastic spirituality and its forms of historic and New Monasticism.  We vow to live a life of the ‘Perigrini Christi’ – the one who sees life as a pilgrimage of Anam Cara, Soul Friendship, with Christ. Through our soul friendship and compassion, we seek to become the hands, feet, and heart of Christ within Creation and towards all whom we meet along the way. 

We have opportunities for affiliation for those who are 'called' to serve under vows. These steps are as follows:

POSTULANCY - This is a time for Discernment, where the postulant will have conversations with other monks, and the Abbot, to determine that one is truly called and ready for this way of life. Also, a background check is required of all candidates.

NOVITIATE - Novices meet regularly with the novice master and their individual spiritual directors. Like all the stages on the way to solemn profession, the novitiate is both a time for formation as well as continued discernment. At the completion of one year of novitiate, the novice may ask to profess simple vows as a monk of the community.

SIMPLE VOWS - When a person professes simple vows, he promises stability, obedience, and conversion to a monastic way of life for three years. The simply professed monk (a “junior monk”) is under the direction of the junior master. During these three years, the monk receives periodic conferences as a part of his continued formation.

SOLEMN VOWS - Solemn profession of the Order's vows of stability, obedience, and conversion to a monastic way of life is a commitment to faithfully live as a monk until death. Though no longer in the formation program, a solemnly professed monk, through their vow of conversion, continually strives to conform his life to Christ.

Manual of Rule of Life

This manual has been developed to lead you through the seven principles of Celtic Catholic Formation, and then into the basic components of Spiritual Protection.  These seven principles were developed within Celtic monasticism and are carried forward in the Order's Rule of Life. Keep in mind as you read and study this manual that it is merely a guide for the member’s spiritual growth and protection. Since all members of the Order live outside of a monastic setting, some flexibility is expected when applying the Rule to each member’s walk with God. Also know that these seven principles are our most effective weapons when engaged in spiritual combat with the enemy.

 

 

LIVING THE RULE OF LIFE

There are seven principles to the Order's Rule of Life: worship; prayer; silence and contemplation; fasting and abstinence; study; work; and charity.

 

 

PHASE ONE: WORSHIP

The Body of Christ and the Blood of Mary's Son is a sure protection of the soul and a safe road to heaven. It has a wonderful power, it fosters purity and is the food which destroys all desires. ~ From the Rule of St. Cormac MacCoilionain

The CFC Rule of Life: All members of the Order are to attend a worship service at least once a week and preferably on Sundays. All members of the Order are to attend a worship service on days of obligation, major feast days, and the high holy days of Easter and Christmas. While it is hoped that all members of the Order can attend a worship service with a Celtic Christian community, it is understood that this may not be possible at all times due to availability and/or distance. If this is the case, members are to attend the closest church which holds to the basic tenets of the Order.

 

An Explanation of the Rule:

The foundation of all Christian life is the worship of God. And the foundation of the discipline of the Order is in regular worship of the Holy primary day of worship. In addition, you should worship on days of obligation (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), major feast days and high holy days (Christmas and Easter). As a Celtic Christian you should strive to worship with a Celtic Catholic community. If that is not possible strive to worship with a community whose denominational affiliation has a Concordat of Inter-Communion with the Celtic Catholic Church. If one does not exist in your area, seek to worship with a denomination holding to the basic tenets of the Order; that is, one which professes the Nicene Creed and celebrates Holy Eucharist on at least a weekly basis. You can check with the Abbot and/or Abbess if you have a question about the appropriateness of a denomination. You should attempt to expand your worship beyond Sundays by the use of the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, and Evening Prayer). While the Daily Office of the CCCUSA Disert Missal should be used, your Abbot may approve use of other Celtic services (i.e., the Northumbria Community's Celtic Daily Prayer or the Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book).

 

An Exercise in Worship:

Maintain a journal of your thoughts and inspirations the Lord reveals to you during worship.         

 

PHASE TWO: PRAYER

Do not practice long, drawn out devotions, but rather give yourself to prayer at intervals, as you would to food. ~ From the Rule of St. Comghall.

 The ancient Celtic Church followed the custom of a daily cycle of prayers called the Daily Office.

The major offices were Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer. Therefore, all members of the Order are to keep one of the Offices during the day, using the Celtic Catholic Church Order of Daily Offices or a Celtic Prayer book approved by the Abbot. Further, each member is to pray St. Francis’ Prayer at least once a week . (See Appendix and References at the end of this handbook).

 

Explanation of the Rule: Richard Foster has called prayer "the heart's true home." This principle of the Rule will immerse you in the life of prayer. You have already involved yourself in the life of prayer by attending and participating in worship. Now, you will extend your prayer life, not limiting it to worship but making it a part of your daily routine. With practice it will become almost as automatic as breathing.

 

PHASE THREE: STUDY

Strengthen your devotion to the words and precepts of God. ~From the Rule of St. Columcille (Columba)

The Rule of Life: Study, as defined by the Rule, is the reading, contemplating, discussing, debating, and teaching of those things which are for the edification, enlightenment, and health of the body, the spirit, and the Order. Each member is encouraged to supplement his reading of Holy Scriptures with such commentaries, concordances, and spiritual teachings as are in accordance with the basic tenets of the Faith. It is suggested that every member set time monthly to get together with his anamchara and share in fellowship and discussion. Further, members are encouraged to come together when possible for Bible study and discussion. Also, all members are encouraged to take any opportunity to teach the tenets of the Faith and bring the Gospel to every living creature.

 

Explanation of the Rule: The monks and nuns of the ancient Celtic Church placed a high premium on learning and were, consequently, responsible for the maintenance of learning during the so-called "Dark Ages." As the spiritual descendants of these ancient monastics the Order also has a high regard for learning. All members are encouraged to study the Holy Scriptures, theological works, devotional materials and Celtic Christian history. The study of God's Word ~ the Holy Scriptures ~ should be a regular and frequent practice of members. Holy Scriptures can be read for historical fact, spiritual truth, and personal reflection. 

 

PHASE FOUR: SILENCE AND CONTEMPLATION

Two-thirds of piety consists of being silent. ~ From the Rule of St. Ailbe

The Rule of Life: Silence and contemplation is the intentional stilling of oneself and/or the removing of oneself from the bustle of everyday life in order to seek communion with God, to contemplate His Word within our hearts. Each member should set aside time during the week for extended silence and contemplation. As a goal, at least twenty minutes daily should be set aside for quiet contemplation.

Explanation of the Rule: The most difficult thing for a person to do is remain purposefully silent. Yet the Lord tells us, "Be silent, and know that I am God." Silent contemplation is an extension of prayer in which we do not "talk" to God but let God "speak" to us in the stillness of our hearts. It is in silent contemplation that we come to be in God's presence without the clutter of our misconceptions, personal perceptions, and private idolatries.

 

Exercises in Silence and Contemplation:

The following exercise will introduce you to the very basics of silence and contemplation.

They will not make you an instant "mystic", but they will provide you with a foundation from which to expand your meditative practices as you travel the spiritual turas as a soldier for Christ.

 The Rule of the Order enjoins us to set aside at least 20 minutes per day for silence and contemplation. However, this may be difficult in the beginning. It is better to start with 5 minutes of quality meditation than plan on 20 minutes, only to become distracted. Choose a similar time each day and a particular location.

This will help you make silence a regular part of your activity and establish a "sacred" contemplative place. The time should be a period when you are free of external demands. The location should be one free of external distractions. Create a contemplative setting. You may like to use a prayer rug.

To create a meditative mood during this initial stage you may also wish to use stilling music like Gregorian chant or mellow Celtic music. Sit in a comfortable position ~ one that minimizes your consciousness of your body but not too comfortable that you fall asleep. Select a sacred two-syllable word. Some good examples are "Jesus", "Father", "Abba", “Yahweh”, "Shalom" (Hebrew meaning peace). Focus on a lighted candle (symbolizing the Light of Christ). Slow your breathing and mentally say your sacred word, inhaling on the first syllable, exhaling on the second. Again, limit yourself to 5 minutes a day during this first week. You may like to use an egg timer to notify you when the 5 minutes have expired. However, it is better to come out of meditation in a gentle way and the bell may be too startling. As an alternative you could select an appropriate piece of music approximately five minutes in length so that the end of the music signifies the end of your period of meditation.

 

It is important to your spiritual life to renew efforts at maintaining this discipline for in silence and contemplation God is the teacher. He teaches us more about ourselves and our responsibilities, preparing us for being instruments of His Gospel. The continued and regular practice of silence and contemplation will serve as a discernment tool as God reveals Himself to you in quiet but powerful ways. You will find the effects of this discipline in your daily life.

 

PHASE FIVE: FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Let the monk fast at suitable times, since an accompaniment of this practice is a salutary restraint of the body. ~ From the Rule of St. Cormac Mac Ciolionain

 

The Rule of Life: Fasting is the deleting of certain meals from the daily and/or weekly schedule and using said time for prayer and contemplation. All members (if able) are to fast at least one meal a week and should use the time for silent contemplation. All members are to fast before taking Holy Communion and on all prescribed fast days of the Church Calendar. Additional fasting may be done during Lent and Advent. Abstinence may, at the discretion of the Abbot, be used in lieu of fasting. Abstinence, as defined by the Rule, is the removal of specific food from one's diet at specified times as a sign of penance or for use in the disciplining of the flesh. All members should abstain from at least one favorite meal during Lent and may, at the member's discretion, abstain from red meats on Fridays.

 

IMPORTANT:

*It is not advisable for a member to fast or practice abstinence if such practice will endanger the member’s health in any way. All members are hereby advised to first consult with a physician and the Abbot and/or Abbess before undertaking any type or period of fasting and/or abstinence. * 

 

Explanation of the Rule: It was the habit of our Lord to fast in preparation for some great task. The obvious example is his 40 day fast in the wilderness immediately after His baptism as He prepared for His public ministry. During this period, He combined fasting with silent contemplation in the desert of Judea. From His example we learn that fasting is primarily a tool for preparation and discernment. It focuses us on that which matters to spiritual health and our relationship to God rather than worldly acclaim, power, or wealth.

 

PHASE SIX: WORK

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 some other need of theirs that may arise. ~ From the Rule of St. Columcille

 

Rule of Life: The ancient Celtic Church affirmed that ordinary work and daily activity are sacred. Through it, the worker gains discipline and the means of financially supporting not only himself or herself but his or her family as well. Further, the workplace can be an area where one can spread the Faith by word and deed. Finally, all work done by the Order and the Church as a whole is dependent on the giving of tithes and offerings. Therefore, each member is to give what he or she can to the Church and/or to the Order, striving to achieve the ideal giving level of 10% of his or her gross income.

 

Explanation of the Rule: It is a common mistake to view work as a "curse" brought about by Adam's Fall. Yet we find that God is a "worker" for it is His "work" that brings about creation. And we learn from Holy Scriptures that during His Incarnation our Lord worked as a carpenter. His disciples and followers included fishermen, civil servants, tent makers, and physicians among other vocations and professions. Through Christ's Incarnation work becomes ennobled and, when pursued with Christ as its center, liberation from self-centeredness.

 

Most members of the Order work in secular employment. It is our tendency to view such work as less sacred than that which is specifically "religious." But as Celtic Christians we are called to live "sacramentally" ~ that is, our outward life should be an expression of the inward grace of Christ which dwells in us, regardless of the setting. To live sacramentally, it is imperative that we work for the sake of others and not simply to satisfy our own needs. This applies to all aspects of our work whether we are employed as a religious professional, in a secular profession, or in the home.

 

A member of the Order must first be converted from the world to Christ, and then converted back to the world with Christ. The Church is called to be in society, to be at the cutting edge of life, not by power struggles, but by a quality of life ~ of which work is a vital part. St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Preach the Gospel in everything that you do; if necessary, use words."

Through work dedicated to Christ we can be His salt and light to the world by the quality of our example. focus on being a quiet witness to Christ by your performance of work. Let the proclamation of Christ's Gospel be evident in your cheerful attitude toward work, your attention to doing the highest quality work in a timely manner, and your willingness to help others in their work.

Let the grace of Christ which dwells in you be manifested in the outward sign of your work.

 

PHASE SEVEN: CHARITY

Do that which all Christians are commanded to do ~ love one another as Christ has loved us by manifesting acts of charity.

Anything remaining over and above the needs of the community he ordered reserved for the poor. ~ From the Rule of St. Tallaght

Rule of Life: Our Lord placed tremendous importance on acts of charity. In fact, Our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross can be looked on as the supreme act of charity. Our Celtic forefathers also took charity very seriously.

 In Celtic society the tribe as a whole was responsible for caring for its poor and needy. Every member was expected to assist and give and the Church, as a member of the tribe, was often called upon to give for the aid of the tribe’s needy. Charity, as defined by the Rule, is the giving of one's time, talent, and/or funds for the benefit of those less fortunate. Such giving is above and beyond the tithe and offering given to the Church. The Order also encourages its members to be involved with organized charities and relief organizations. Involvement can be either in volunteering to work within an organization or in providing funding for an organization. Our Celtic forefathers had a deep and abiding reverence for all of God's creation. Several tales exist of Celtic saints who were able to communicate with wild animals, cared and nurtured these animals, and even considered them part of their congregations. As such, all members of the Order are to care for all living things and to help defend the environment from deprivation.

Explanation of the Rule: The word "charity" comes from a Greek word whose root pertains to fertility and bearing fruit.

Acts of charity - Showing a concern in and for the welfare of others - are the fruits of our faith. To live sacramentally is to bear fruit of the grace dwelling in us. We bring this fruit to harvest by our loving involvement in God's creation ~ in that of nature as well as human beings. Our charity unites us to God's charity ~ the ultimate gift of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

 

 

PERPETUAL SPIRITUAL FORMATION

One last thing, Spiritual Formation, like conversion, is continuous. It never ends. We all hope to deepen our walk with Christ on a daily basis. It is advised that members of our Order review this Formation Handbook on a regular basis. This is recommended for discovering one’s areas of spiritual weakness and building up these areas. It is also advised that each member get to know one another, so, that God in his Divine Wisdom, will reveal the appropriate anamchara or soul-friend relationships for members within the Order. The anamchara relationship is essential for true spiritual growth within the Order and the Celtic Catholic Church.

Reference materials

Rule of Columba

Rule of Francis

Rule of Benedict

http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/francis2.htm

Uinseann Ó Maidin OCR (Translator) The Celtic Monk: Rules and Writings of Early Irish Monks (Cistercian Studies) Paperback  – November 1, 1996

Original Anam Chara Celtic Church Rule of Life: http://dfba.home.mindspring.com/celticrule.html

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