RITUAL OF MONASTIC PROFESSION FOR  
THE SWISS-AMERICAN CONGREGATION
OF THE BENEDICTINE CONFEDERATION


1984

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART 1. RITE OF ADMITTANCE TO THE NOVITIATE 1

PART II. RITE OF TEMPORARY PROFESSION 4

PART III. RITE OF PERPETUAL PROFESSION 8

 

1:1-3

 
PART I

RITE OF ADMITTANCE TO THE NOVITIATE

I. GATHERING OF CANDIDATES

1. The postulants gather before the abbot or are escorted to him by the novicemaster.
 

II. REQUEST

2. The abbot asks the postulants:

What is your request?

They answer: We seek admittance to your way of life.

Or: We seek the mercy of God and fellowship in this community.

They may prostrate as they answer.

3. Instead of the above question and reply the novicemaster may speak on behalf of the postulants saying for example:

Father Abbot, these young men request admittance to our way of life.

Or the postulants may state their request in their own words.

[page 1 ends]

1:4-8


III. ADMONITION
 

4. The abbot addresses an admonition to the postulants. such as:

My dear young men, we recognize your desire to undertake our way of life, but as the Apostle says:
"Test the spirits to see if they are from God." For this reason we cannot grant you an easy admittance.
We must first observe whether you truly seek God, and show concern for the Work of God, for obedience, and for reproaches. We must also tell you all the hardships and difficulties which will lead you to God. For the present, then, we receive you as Christ himself and permit you to enter the novitiate.

If words other than these are used, the abbot may ask the postulants whether they have understood his instructions and intend to comply with them.  When he has received their affirmative reply, he may say:

Then I admit you to the novitiate.

The community may respond: Amen.
 

IV. SIGN OF ADMITTANCE

6. As a sign of admittance the abbot may wash the feet of the novices and, where it is customary. confer upon them the vesture or insignia proper to novices.
 

V. READING AND PRESENTATION OF THE RULE

7. To indicate that the year of formation has now begun. the abbot or novicemaster may read the opening paragraph of the Rule to the novices.

8. He may then present each of them with a copy of the Rule saying:

And now, that you may know what you are entering. I confide to you this holy Rule which sanctified our fathers. By the grace of God may it come your way of life.

The community may respond: Amen.

[page 2 ends]

1:9-11

VI. PRAYER
 

9. The abbot enjoins the community to pray for the new novices, saying for example:

Let us pray.

Loving and merciful Father,
through the humility of your Son
you show us the way of return to you.
Look upon these servants who wish to follow him to glory.

Open their eyes to your divinizing light
and their ears to the voice of your Spirit.
Ready their hearts and bodies for obedience to your commands,
and where human nature is powerless,
give them the help of your grace.

We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.

10. If the rite of admittance takes place at Vespers. the above oration may be omitted and mention of the new novices may be made in the intercessory prayers at the end of the Hour.
 

VII. KISS OF PEACE

11. The abbot and community may give the kiss of peace to the new novices.

[page 3 ends]

 

II: 12-14

PART II

RITE OF TEMPORARY PROFESSION

I. GATHERING OF CANDIDATES

12. Temporary profession may take place at either Mass or Vespers. If it takes place at Mass, after the Gospel or homily, the novices gather before the abbot or are escorted to him by the novicemaster. The novicemaster may present them to the abbot, saying:

Father Abbot, these men have been tested during the past year in the novitiate and persist in their resolve.
 

II. REQUEST

13. Turning to the novices, the abbot asks:

What, then, is your request?

They answer: We seek admittance to your way of life.

Or: We seek the mercy of God and fellowship in this community.

They may prostrate as they answer.

14. Instead of the above question and reply the novices may state their request in their own words. Or the request may be omitted.

[page 4 ends]

II: 15-18

III. ADMONITION

15. If a homily has been preached after the Gospel, the abbot or novicemaster may read Chapter 72 of the Rule, introducing it by saying:

As you reach the end of your novitiate, listen once again to the words of our father, whose rule of life you seek to embrace.

16. He then shows the Rule to the novices and says:

Behold the law under which you are choosing to serve.
If you can keep it, enter.
If not, you are free to leave.

17. The homily may be omitted after the Gospel and the abbot may preach at this point. After developing the scriptural readings he shows the Rule to the novices and recites the formula given in no. 16.
 

IV. PROMISE

18. After this the abbot poses the following questions to the novices:

Tell me, then:
Are you resolved to renounce the ways of the world and adhere to this community?

The novices reply: I am.

Are you resolved to persevere in the monastic way of life?

The Novices reply: I am.

Are you resolved to practice obedience, renouncing even your own will?

The novices reply:  I am.

Do you promise for three years, stability in this community, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Constitutions of the Swiss-American
Benedictine Congregation?

The novices reply: I do.

The abbot may add: May God who began this good work in you bring it to completion.

The community may respond: Amen.

[page 5 ends]

II: 19-23

V. READING OF PROFESSION DOCUMENT

19. In the customary manner each novice reads the profession document he has written beforehand signs it and presents it to the abbot.

20. A typical text is:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I, Brother ___________________________________
promise for three years
stability in this community.
fidelity to the monastic way of life,
and obedience
according to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and the Constitutions of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation;
this before God and his Saints, whose relics are here,
and in the presence of the Right Reverend __________________ ,
abbot of this monastery, and of its monks.
In witness thereof
I have written this document with my own hand and
signed it here at __________________________ Abbey.
in _______________________________________
on this day of the month of ___________________
in the year of our Lord _______________________ .
 

VI. SIGN OF PROFESSION

21. The abbot confers upon the newly professed the vesture proper to first profession.

22. If it is to be blessed, he prays:

Father of mercy,
you sent your Son in the clothing of our mortality.

Bless this habit (garment) which our forefathers,
who renounced the ways of the world,
ordered to be worn as a sign of innocence and humility.
May those who receive it today
put on the Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

23. Whether the vesture has been blessed or not, the abbot may say as he presents it to the newly professed:

May the Lord strip you of the old man and his way of life
and clothe you with the new man,
created in his image, made just and holy by truth.

[page 6 ends]

II: 24-26

VII. KISS OF PEACE

24. The abbot and community may give the kiss of peace to the newly professed.

 

VIII. CONCLUSION

25. If temporary profession takes place at Mass, the Eucharistic celebration resumes with the general intercessions in which mention is made of the newly professed.

26. If temporary profession takes place at Vespers, the rite begins after the reading and is followed by the Canticle of Mary. The newly professed may be mentioned in intercessory prayers at the conclusion of the Hour.

[page 7 ends]

 

III: 27-30

PART III

RITE OF PERPETUAL PROFESSION


I. GATHERING OF CANDIDATES

27. After the Gospel or homily at Mass the following verses may be sung:

Come, my sons, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Draw near to him and be enlightened;
your faces shall not be ashamed.

28. At this time those to be professed gather before the abbot or are escorted to him by the juniormaster.

II. REQUEST

29. The abbot asks the candidates:

What is your request?

They answer:

We desire to share the sufferings of Christ in
this monastery until death
that we may also share his kingdom.
They may prostrate as they answer.

30. Instead of the above question and reply the candidates may state their request in their own words. Or the request may be omitted.

[page 8 ends]

III:31-34

III. ADMONITION

31. If a homily has been preached after the Gospel, the abbot addresses an admonition to the candidates, such as:

32. Consider well, my sons,
the covenant you are about to enter with the Lord.
Angels are present here taking note of it,
and you will have to give an account of it
at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I set before you today a way of life
which images that of the Lord himself.
To embrace it, you must leave all else aside.
Yet this very renunciation,
which is evidence of dying to ourselves,
at the same time proclaims the victory of Christ's cross.

Or:

33. Bear in mind, brothers,
that it is not to me or this community that
you are about to make your promise,
but to God himself.

If you obey his precepts wholeheartedly
for the rest of your life,
you are sure to receive a crown.

But should you ever take back what you promise,
I warn you, and the Lord and this community are my witnesses,
on Judgment Day you will have to give an account of your infidelity.

Or:

34. Our Lord Jesus Christ,
because of his great love for sinners,
emptied himself and assumed our flesh.

Though he was without sin,
he appeared in the world as the lowest of men.
In this way he reconciled us to the Father
and made us adopted sons -- we who were sons of wrath.

Through baptism he gave us forgiveness of sins,
changing the wrath which we merited into mercy.
But because we have committed many sins after baptism and,
falling away from him again, have, as it were, lost our sonship,
by his gracious love he showed us a way of humility and conversion
by which we are able to be reconciled to God again.

No one, therefore, however great may be the weight of his sin,
should despair of receiving mercy:
for he who chose to become man for the sake of sinners
even now intercedes with the Father on their behalf.

[page 9 ends]

III: 35- 37

35. The homily may be omitted after the Gospel and the abbot may preach at this point. After developing the scriptural readings he should admonish the candidates about the gravity and consequences of the promise they are about to make.

IV. PROMISE

36. After this the abbot poses the following questions to the candidates:

Tell me, then:
Do you promise perpetually before God and his Saints
stability in this community,
fidelity to the monastic way of life,
and obedience
according to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and the Constitutions of the Swiss-American Benedictine Federation?

The candidates reply: I do.

Do you believe
that if you ever act otherwise
you will be condemned by him whom you mock?

The candidates reply: I do.

The abbot may add: May God be your help.

All may respond: Amen.

37. The longer form of promise (no. 18) may be used also. In this case the phrase "for three years" should be changed to "perpetually."

[page 10 ends]

III: 38-41

V. READING OF PROFESSION DOCUMENT

38. In the customary manner each candidate reads the profession document he has written beforehand, signs it and places it on the altar.

39. A typical text is:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I, Brother __________________________
promise perpetually
stability in this community,
fidelity to the monastic way of life.
and obedience
according to the Rule of Saint Benedict
and the Constitutions of the Swiss-American Benedictine Federation:
this before God and his Saints, whose relics are here,
and in the presence of the Right Reverend _________________,
abbot of this monastery, and of its monks.
In witness thereof
I have written this document with my own hand
and signed it here at __________________________ Abbey,
in ______________________________________
on this ____________ day of the month of _____________________
in the year of our Lord________________________________ .
 

VI. SUSCIPE

40. The newly professed, standing with arms outstretched, sing:

Accept me, 0 Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live.

Then kneeling with their arms crossed over their chests, they continue:

Do not disappoint me in my hope.

41. This verse is sung three times in the aforesaid manner. It is repeated each time by the community. After the third time the newly professed remain kneeling and the community adds the doxology.

[page 11 ends]

III: 42-43

VII. PRAYER OF THE COMMUNITY

42. Then the professed prostrate while the community intercedes with God on their behalf. Any one of the following forms may be used.

A. PSALM 50

43. Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness,
in your compassion blat out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.

Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.
That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge.

O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.

O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may thrill.

From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create far me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.
Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.
O rescue me, God, my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.

A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.
In your goodness, show favor to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
(burnt offerings wholly consumed),
then you will be offered young bulls an your altar.

[page 12 ends]

III: 44

B. VERSICLES AND RESPONSES

44. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
For in you my soul takes refuge.

My God, do not stay afar off.
Make haste and come to my help.

Let you face shine on your servant.
save me in your love.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.

May innocence and uprightness protect me.
For my hope is in you, 0 Lord.

I am bound by the vows I have made you.
Grant me the heritage of those who fear you.

Let me dwell in your tent forever.
Hide me in the shelter of your wings.

Show me the path of life.
The fullness of joy in your presence.

[page 13 ends]

III: 45

C. LITANY

45. Gracious Lord, Ruler of all,
we invoke your mercy on these your servants
whom you have called from the ways of the world and
added to the number of your holy ones.

Grant that they may remain faithful to their promise
and obtain the salvation they prayerfully seek.

May they put into practice what they have promised. Amen.
May they be wise and humble. Amen.
May their knowledge be true. Amen.
May their obedience be evident. Amen.
May they conform to right doctrine. Amen.
May they accept correction willingly. Amen.
May they bear pain with dignity. Amen.
May they be tender in showing compassion. Amen.
May they be provident in dispensing charity. Amen.
May they be attentive in exercising stewardship. Amen.
May they be strong in time of temptation. Amen.
May they bear insults with patience. Amen.
May they seek peace with determination. Amen.
May they be quick to give alms. Amen.
May they be constantly at prayer. Amen.
May they never tire of showing mercy. Amen.
May they be kind to their subordinates. Amen.

In all that they do, may they remember your judgment. Amen.
We entreat you, Lord, accept the offering of these servants
and mercifully grant whatever they beg of you in prayer.
This we ask through Christ our Lord.

[page 14 ends]

III: 46

VIII. PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

46. The prayer of consecration begins with the usual dialog. Then, with arms uplifted, the abbot continues:

It is indeed right to give you thanks and praise,
almighty and eternal God,
for you created man in your very own image and
placed all things under his feet.
Though he transgressed your command,
you chose a people from his scattered descendants
and promised them a blessing.

From among their ranks you raised up Moses;
the humblest of men you made their strength.
In luminous darkness you showed him your glory and,
face to face, gave him your law.

When fidelity to your precepts had turned to rebellion,
you kindled your zeal in the prophet Elijah
and at his word brought fire on earth.
You worked wonders through his obedience
and in whirlwind and flame carried him to heaven.

To prepare a people fit for you,
you commanded a voice to cry in the desert
and proclaim a baptism for forgiveness of sins.
Finally you sent your Son to assume our flesh.
He bore our sins in his own body on the cross
that we might die to our sins and live for holiness.
Now that you have raised him up,
you send him to bless all who turn from their wicked ways.

We implore you, then,
to look with favor on these servants
who prostrate before your altar and call upon your name.
Receive the prayer and offering,
which they make today with repentance and tears.

By your glorious power
cleanse them of sin and fill them with your Spirit.
strengthen them against temptation
that they may persevere in your service.
Make them watchful in prayer and mindful of your word.
Increase their knowledge of your will
through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight.

Clothe them with compassion;
with kindness and humility, gentleness and patience.
Deepen their love for their brothers
and for the whole human race.
Confirm their hearts in holiness
that they may stand before you pure and blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints

[page 15 ends]

III: 47-51

On that day
grant them fellowship with that great cloud of witnesses who
threw off every encumbrance
to gain what had been promised.

Then, on Mount Zion, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where
millions of angels have assembled for the feast, may they be
gathered together with the entire Church to glorify your
holy name.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God,
forever and ever.

IX. SIGN OF PERPETUAL PROFESSION

47. The abbot may then bless the cuculla, the traditional sign of perpetual profession. He prays:

48. Lord our God,
you promised to adorn your faithful ones. with the
clothing of salvation and eternal joy.
We ask you to bless this garment
which signifies the humility, compunction, and death to
which your servants, by their holy profession, must be
visibly conformed.

By your protection
may they persevere until the end of their days in the
monastic way of life which they undertook at your inspiration.
When at last they stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. may
they receive the prize of everlasting life.
This we ask through the same Christ our Lord.

49. The professed rise and are vested with the cuculla.

50. The cuculla may be replaced by some other sign of perpetual
profession, which may likewise be blessed. If the monastic habit is to be
blessed as a sign of perpetual profession, the formulas given in nos. 22-23 may be used.

X. KISS OF PEACE

51. The abbot and other perpetually professed monks then give the kiss of peace to the newly professed.

[page 16 ends]

III: 52- 58

XI. MYSTICAL BURIAL

52. Mystical burial may take place after the suscipe, or after the prayer of consecration, or after the kiss of peace. Or it may be omitted.

A. AFTER THE SUSCIPE

53. When the professed prostrate after the suscipe (see no. 42), they are covered with a pall.

54. The choir sings the responsory:

I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God.
I shall not die but live, and proclaim the works of the Lord.
My life is hidden with Christ in God.
Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful.
I have died arid my life is hidden with Christ in God.

55. The prayer of the community (nos. 43-45) and the prayer of consecration (no. 46) follow.

56. Then the deacon summons the professed to rise, singing:

Awake, you who sleep, rise from the dead;
Christ will enlighten you.

57. At this the pall is removed, the professed stand, and the liturgy continues with the sign of perpetual profession (nos. 47-50).

B. AFTER THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

58. At the conclusion of the prayer of consecration (no. 46) the professed remain prostrate and are covered with a pall. The choir sings the responsory "I have died" (no. 54), at the end of which the deacon summons the professed to rise (no. 56). Then the pall is removed, the professed stand, and the liturgy continues with the sign of perpetual profession (nos. 47-50).

[page 17 ends]

III: 59

C. AFTER THE KISS OF PEACE

59. Having received the kiss of peace (no. 51), the professed again prostrate, and are covered with a pall. The choir sings the responsory "I have died" (no. 54), after which Mass resumes with the presentation of the gifts. The professed remain prostrate and covered until after the congregation has responded to the invitation to Communion. Then the deacon summons them to rise (no. 56). At this the pall is removed, the professed stand, and the abbot gives them Communion.

[page 18 ends]

Commentary

 

Rt. Rev. Peter Eberle OSB
Abbot President
Swiss-American Congregation
Mount Angel Abbey
St. Benedict, OR 97373
Tel. 503-845-3304; fax: 503-845-3202
E-mail: abbotp @ mountangelabbey.org

 

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