American-Cassinese Congregation

The Constitutions and the Directory

 

Part I: Matters Pertaining to the Individual Monasteries

Chapter III: The Growth and Formation of the Monastic Community

Article 3: The Obligations of Monastic Profession

C 52. The Rule of Saint Benedict prescribes that "before the entire community and in the presence of God and his saints the novice is to promise stability, conversion through a monastic way of life, and obedience" (RB 58: 17-18). The three elements contained in this promise are not meant to exhaust the full range of the monk’s self-offering. Rather, they are mutually related aspects of the one total commitment of the monk to prefer nothing to Christ by taking up the monastic way of life.

C 53. By his profession of stability the monk commits himself to perseverance in the monastic community of his profession until death (cf. RB 4:78; Prol 50). This commitment binds the monk not only to the community of a particular locality but especially to the monastic way of life of that community. By strengthening the monk’s resolve to remain in loving service of his Lord and his brothers within the concrete circumstances of his own monastic family, such stability fosters his abiding in the love of Christ (cf. Jn 15:10,12).

C 54. By his profession of conversion through a monastic way of life (conversatio morum), the monk commits himself to the persevering exercise of monastic discipline and self-denial that school him for growth towards the fullness of love (cf. RB Prol 45-49; 7:67). The ascetical labor of sharing in Christ’s passion by dying to sin and by leaving unchosen many things of great value for the sake of the Kingdom leads to the life and freedom of the resurrection (cf. RB Prol 50). This paschal character of the monastic way of life shines forth in the monk’s following of Christ in his poverty and celibate love.

C 54.1. The poverty that the monk embraces in the monastic way of life has its source in Christ’s total dispossession of himself for love of his Father and the world and finds its model in the first Christian community, "where all things were held in common" (cf. Phil 2:6-8; Acts 4:32; RB 33). Benedictine poverty directs the monk towards a spiritual dependence on Christ as represented by the abbot, towards a radical interdependence among the brothers by a mutual sharing of goods, and towards a reverent and responsible use of material things so that in everything glory be given to God (cf., e.g., RB 31-34; 53:15; 57:8-9). To this end, in accordance with the proper law of the Congregation, the monk renounces, by his temporary profession, the free use and administration of his property; by his solemn profession he renounces his property absolutely and loses the capacity to acquire and possess property (CIC 598.1; 600).

D 54.1. 1. Before his temporary profession a novice is to sign a document, valid in civil law, ceding the administration of his temporal goods to whomever he chooses and making disposition for their use and their revenues (CIC 668.1; see Appendix 3). He is likewise to make provision for the disposition of any income that may accrue to him by way of pension, subsidy, or insurance in any way whatever (cf. CIC 668.3).

D 54.1. 2. With the consent of the abbot, the person of the administrator and the terms of administration may be changed during the period of temporary profession.

D 54.2. 1. Before his solemn profession a monk is to sign a document, valid in civil law and effective on the date of his solemn profession, giving his property to whomever he chooses.

D 54.2. 2. He is also to sign a document of renunciation (see Appendix 4) and a last will and testament, both documents valid in civil law and contingent upon his solemn profession, determining that whatever he may acquire after solemn profession is acquired for and in the name of his monastic community. The current abbot and his successors in the office of abbot are to be named as the executor of the last will and testament (cf. CIC 668).

C 54.2. In foregoing marriage and family in order to enter into the life of his monastic community, the monk responds to the God who loved him first and calls him to prefer absolutely nothing to the love of Christ (RB 4:21). The monk’s commitment to a celibate life of total continence (CIC 599) serves as a sign that a new age has dawned with Christ and as a means of transforming all his human powers of loving into a living sacrament of God’s love.

C 55. By his profession of obedience the monk seeks to enter more fully into that mystery of loving obedience whereby Christ, fulfilling his Father’s will, laid down his life for all and opened for the future the hope of the resurrection. Through his listening for and heeding of God’s will as it is mediated to him both by his abbot and by the needs of his brothers, the monk seeks to express the lordship of Christ over his entire life (cf. RB 5:12-13). It is in this spirit that the monk binds himself to obey his superiors, including the Supreme Pontiff (CIC 590.2), in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the proper law of the Congregation (CIC 598.1; 601).

 

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