Solemn Vocation - Brothers and Sisters under solemn vows have taken on our Rule for life.
Simple Vows - Brothers ans Sisters under simple vows have taken on our Rule for one year. Simple vows are renewed each year for as many years as a Brother or Sister wishes until they are ready for the next step of solemn vocation
Friends of the Order - Our teachings and weekly meetings are available for all people seeking spiritual growth by means of the contemplative life. For those who wish to be a part of our fellowship but do not feel called to take vows, we welcome them as friends of the Order.
Simple Vows of O.P.C.
The profession of simple or solemn vows should be preceded by fasting and a vigil if at all possible for introspection, contemplation, and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Postulant kneels before the Celebrant and replies accordingly as he/she is asked:
C- Do you believe in the foundation of the Church as given in your Baptismal vows and the Creeds of the Church?
P- I do.
C- Will you always seek weekly Eucharist and daily Eucharist as you are able?
P- I will, with God’s help
C- Will you set time aside each day for contemplative prayer to come before God with a silent and open heart?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you keep the Daily Offices as best as you are able, following the guidance of your Spiritual Director?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you seek God in all that you undertake?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you return to the Order each week for stability, direction, and growth?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Will you seek guidance regularly from your Spiritual Director, offer confession of your sins, and seek absolution?
P- I will, with God’s help.
C- Do you vow obedience to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as testified in the Holy Scriptures and by the witness of the Apostles and Saints?
P- I do.
C- Understanding that our Bishops are the embodiment of Christ’s presence for us in our Church, do you vow obedience to our Bishop and seek to live in fuller communion with the Church, the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith?
P- I do.
C- To temper your pride, do you offer a vow of obedience to the Order of Saint Anthony, O.P.C., its Rule and professions?
P- I do.
C- To temper the body, do you offer a vow of constancy in all relationships?
P- I do.
C- To temper the heart and better learn compassion, do you offer a vow of simplicity to not live frivolously by what you want but strictly within the bounds of what you need?
P- I do.
C- Before the Church and in God’s presence, what profession do you offer to the Contemplative Life?
P- Simple Vow: I, N.N., make profession and promise obedience to God, and obedience to the example set forth by the lives of Blessed Mary, and Saint Anthony the Great, and to you Dorsey Henderson, Bishop Visitor of our Order, and to the Abbot of our Order according to the Rule of Ordo Precis Contemplativae, that I will be obedient to you and your successors for the next year.
Celebrant lays his hands upon the Postulant’s head and prays
C- Lord, as you led your only Son into the dessert to find silence and solitude in order to know You fully, and as Abba Anthony followed in the same, be with Br./Sr. N.N. through this coming year, and guide him/her to a silent and still heart. God the Holy Spirit, be upon N. to comfort, instruct, and guide him/her with Compassion and Love. We ask this in the name of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Postulant stands and is vested in the habit of the Order; whereupon, he faces the Celebrant who concludes with
C- May you come to stand before God in silence.
Postulant crosses him/herself in silent reply, but saying in his/her heart “Silentio Coram Deo”.
Service continues with the general Peace, to be followed by Holy Eucharist.
Rule of Life for The Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C.
This Rule is intended for those seeking a contemplative life in a modern setting. These are guidelines intended to be foundations for those who are a part of the Order of Saint Anthony the Great, O.P.C. This Rule is not exhaustive or legalistic, but simply a starting point. It can be interpreted for individuals with guidance of a Spiritual Director or Superior of our Order. The sole intent of this Rule is to help us find the silence we need in our lives to enable us the space to be with and listen to God’s Love, Word, and Guidance inside each of us: by experiencing God inside ourselves, we are transformed and recognize and honor God in all other people. In this way are we able to follow the Two Great Commandments and so witness to the world.
I. Regular contact with the Order
It is within the community that we can find stability, encouragement and direction in finding silence within our modern lives. If we are to commit ourselves to placing God at the center of our lives then we must be willing to place this community as the foundation. The purpose of our Order is to make contemplative spirituality accessible for all who seek it, and our community life through weekly contact and lessons is the primary means of fulfilling this mission.
II. Daily Contemplative Prayer
Set aside time each day to come before God in silence with an open heart and continually seek to develop an ever greater depth of contemplative spirituality in all aspects of our lives. In all that we do, be a witness of Christ’s command to seek the Kingdom of God inside each of us and so honor and love the presence of God in all people whom we encounter. It is our inward contemplative transformation that must precede and so define all our outward expressions.
III. Daily Divine Office
Pray one or more of the Daily Offices as required by the degree of membership in the Order. Let our prayer include Holy Scripture and the Psalms for contemplative inspiration.
IV. Weekly Eucharist
The Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is at the center of our lives. It is from our contemplative silence that we gain a greater understanding and experience of Christ’s gift of His very presence in our lives in the Body and Blood we receive at His table. Our life in community should be a deliberate preparation for the Eucharist. All that we do should be directed towards finding the presence of God in our lives, which is most evident in the Sacrament and Divine Mystery.
V. Spiritual Direction
Monthly, or as often as our Bishops may allow, meet with a Spiritual Director for individual discernment and direction for our prayer life, contemplative growth, and spiritual formation.
VI. Confession and Absolution
Meet with a Priest Confessor at least once a year for the Rite of Reconciliation.
Attend Convocation of the Order, and schedule one annual retreat and additional retreats as we are able.
Undertake regular fasting of food or drink as we are physically able, or some activity that will help us put God as the focus of our life. Through fasting and self-denial, we put aside our own needs to make room for God’s direction in our lives. We fast especially during the appropriate Liturgical Seasons to help prepare our Hearts for God’s presence and love. Furthermore, we give a portion of our time, talents and resources to the Order, to our church and to those in need in our surrounding community. We seek to meet the needs of others before ourselves in order to develop fuller compassion and truer humility.
Engage daily the writings of Holy Scripture, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Contemplatives and other Holy men and women of faith, ancient and contemporary, to gain a greater understanding and experience of the contemplative life and practice.
The vows to which we dedicate ourselves define us as monastics in the modern world, and commit us to transformation of life and spirit. Our four principle vows are Simplicity, Chastity, Obedience and Stability. By Simplicity, we learn to live with what we truly need, not frivolously by what we want, and to be good stewards of creation. By Chastity, we seek purity in body, mind, and spirit and singleness of heart. We practice this by striving to unconditionally love others as Christ loves us, to do so without need for return or control, to love without judgment and condemnation, to be intimately aware of our own shared brokenness, and to remain abstinent unless in a committed relationship. By Obedience, we commit ourselves to transformation as contemplatives by following the Rule and the direction of the Order’s Superiors, remembering that our obedience is a commitment to the relationships we seek in a healthy and healing community. By Stability, we dedicate ourselves to continual formation through the Holy Spirit and with support of the community, by keeping ourselves accountable for our actions and our relationships to our fellow brothers and sisters, humanity and all of creation.
Constitution of The Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C.
I. Of Name
The community shall be known as the Order of Saint Anthony the Great, Ordo Precis Contemplativae (Order of Contemplative Prayer).
II. Of Purpose
a. The intent of this Order is to renew the practice of contemplative spirituality to the Church, of clergy and laity alike.
b. The Order seeks to renew the practice of contemplative spirituality through two means: intentional community as formed by our Rule of Life and education.
c. The practice of contemplative spirituality that the Order seeks to renew is that internal experience of God in the individual and the recognition of God’s presence in every moment.
d. The practice of contemplative spirituality that the Order seeks to renew is not the antithesis to the corporate worship of the Church, but rather a means to compliment and deepen the experience.
e. The Order places itself under the patronage of the Blessed Mother, the first contemplative after Christ; and of Saint Anthony the Great of Egypt, called the first monastic of the Church of both East and West.
III. Of Denominational Affiliation and Obedience to the Church
The Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C. observes the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church as the supreme authority under which it functions in obedience. We are bound by the doctrine of The Episcopal Church as expressed in the Book of Common Prayer, and authorized supplements thereto. We are bound by the disciplines of The Episcopal Church as defined in its Constitution and Canons.
IV. Of Government
a. For governance of the Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C. as a whole, the primary officers of the Order will be the First Abbot, his designated Prior, the Order’s Secretary, the Order’s Treasurer, and the local Abbots.
b. For the governance of the individual Abbeys, the primary officers will be the local Abbot, the designated Prior, the Abbey Secretary, and the Abbey Treasurer, working under the auspices of the First Abbot.
c. The Order of Saint Anthony the Great, O.P.C. is governed by its Rule of Life and Constitution, and guided by the Typikon of the First Abbot.
d. These documents can be amended by the following majorities of all voting members, those over eighteen (18) years of age, of the Order, meeting in Convocation or special assembly:
i. The Rule of Life for the Order can only be amended by a consensus of all voting members.
ii. The Constitution of the Order can be amended by a nine-tenths (9/10) majority of all voting members.
iii. As the Typikon is not a binding document, but a guiding foundational document, it is not subject to amendment by the members of the Order. Supplements, however, may be added as circumstances arise, by First Abbots of the Order.
e. The final interpretation of the governing documents rests with the governing body of the Order, as defined in article IV.a.
V. Of Episcopal Oversight
a. The primary Episcopal oversight of the Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C. will rest with the Episcopal Visitor.
i. The Bishop Visitor of the Order will be chosen by the governing body of the Order.
ii. The Bishop Visitor shall be the guardian of the Constitution of the Order, and shall serve as arbiter in matters which the Order or its members cannot resolve through its normal processes.
iii. In all matters of discipline, save dispensation of vows, the Bishop Visitor shall be the final level of appeal.
iv. The Bishop Visitor will act as counsel and pastor to the Order as a whole.
v. Upon vacancy of the office of the Bishop Visitor, the governing body of the Order shall seek a replacement, with recommendation from the members of the Order, within no more than sixty days of the vacancy.
b. The Order, in whichever diocese it has a Chapter or Abbey present, when defined within the boundaries of a single diocese, shall always request the diocesan bishop as Diocesan Protector for that Chapter or Abbey.
i. The Diocesan Protector shall act as counsel and pastor to the Chapter or Abbey within the boundaries of the diocese, and shall offer direction as to the Order’s ministry within the diocese.
ii. In accordance with Canon III.14.2.c of the Episcopal Church, the Diocesan Protector does not exercise discipline over the members of the Order within the diocese in regards to internal matters of the Order.
VI. Of Chapters and Abbeys
a. Chapters of the Order will be designated when there are three (3) or more members within a geographic area, preferable by Province of the Episcopal Church at the greatest scale, or within the boundaries of a diocese at the smallest scale.
b. Chapters of the Order will be under the oversight of the First Abbot.
c. Abbeys of the Order will be designated when there are six (6) or more members within a Chapter that can meet regularly in accordance with our Rule, provided there is at least one life vowed member, in accordance with VII.e.i.
d. Upon designation of an Abbey, the members of said Abbey will chose by election its local governing body.
VII. Of the Officers of the governing body of the Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C.
a. The governing body of the Order will consist of the First Abbot, the Order’s Prior, the Order’s Secretary, the Order’s Treasurer, and the Abbots.
b. Of the First Abbot
i. The founder of the Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C. shall serve as First Abbot until his death or retirement from the office.
ii. Following said vacancy, the Order as a whole shall elect subsequent First Abbots, who shall serve for a period of seven (7) years, without limit on reelection.
iii. A First Abbot will be elected from the members who are solemn professed.
iv. The election of the First Abbot shall take place at the Annual Convocation in the sixth year of the current First Abbot’s tenure, if timely, or by special ballot as designated by the governing body of the Order.
v. The First Abbot-elect will serve as First Prior to the outgoing First Abbot during the sixth year of the First Abbot’s tenure.
vi. The First Abbot or designee will act as Chair at all governing meetings of the Order and can exercise vote in the event of a tie.
vii. When there are two or more Abbeys within the Order, the First Abbot will serve solely in the capacity of First Abbot of the governing body of the Order and not as an Abbot of an individual Abbey.
c. Of the Order’s Prior
i. It is the responsibility of the First Abbot to appoint a Prior who will act as assistant to the First Abbot, with the exception under VII.a.v.
ii. The Prior will hold this office as an annual term with no limit on reappointment.
iii. Appointment of the Prior will be made at Annual Convocation from the entire vowed body of the Order.
iv. The First Abbot, with due cause, may relieve his Prior and appoint a new Prior before Annual Convocation.
d. Of the Order’s Secretary
i. The Secretary will be chosen by election from the whole vowed body of the Order.
ii. The Secretary will serve for a term of one year, with no limit on reelection.
iii. The Secretary will be responsible to the First Abbot.
iv. The Secretary will be responsible for keeping minutes of governing meetings of the Order.
v. The Secretary will be responsible for overseeing all publications of the Order.
e. Of the Order’s Treasurer
i. The Treasurer will be chosen by election from the whole vowed body of the Order.
ii. The Treasurer will serve for a term of one year, with no limit on reelection.
iii. The Treasurer will be responsible to the First Abbot.
iv. The Treasurer will be responsible for managing statements of the Order’s banking accounts.
v. The Treasurer will provide an account of the Order’s fiscal yearly transactions to the members at Annual Convocation.
f. Of the Abbots
i. The Abbots will be elected by the members of their Abbeys from the body of solemn professed members, under the supervision of the First Abbot and Bishop Visitor.
ii. Abbots will serve a term of seven (7) years with no limit on reelection.
iii. The Abbot-elect who is chosen in the sixth year of the Abbot’s tenure will serve as Prior for that year.
iv. The Abbots will be responsible to the First Abbot and Bishop Visitor of the Order.
v. Abbots will oversee the election of the officers for their own Abbeys, consisting of the Prior, the Secretary, and the Treasurer.
vi. Abbots are responsible for facilitating the requirements of the Rule of Life of the Order within their Abbeys.
VIII. Of Membership
a. Eligibility and Admission
i. Any baptized member of The Episcopal Church, or any Church in communion with it, may apply for membership with the Order of St. Anthony the Great, O.P.C., provided they are fifteen (15) years of age or older, and feel that they are called to lead a life in accordance with the charism of contemplative spirituality and our Order.
ii. Applicants under eighteen (18) years of age must have written permission on file with the Order from their parent or legal guardian.
iii. Those accepted into formation are designated as postulants.
iv. The Abbots, or their designees, under the direction of the First Abbot and Bishop Visitor, will be responsible for the formation of postulants.
v. Postulancy will usually be no less than one year, at the discretion of the Abbot.
vi. Upon completion of formation as a Postulant, with the approval of the Abbot, and being at least sixteen (16) years of age, an individual may offer simple vows for the Rule of Life of the Order.
vii. Initial simple vows should be made, when at all possible, in the communicant’s home parish.
viii. Simple professed members are initially clothed with a habit and black scapular.
ix. While under vows, a communicant is a full member of the Order, and is entitled to all privileges therein, save for voting rights which are reserved for those who are eighteen (18) years of age or older.
x. Simple vows are renewed annually, with the permission of the Abbot, at Annual Convocation, and can be renewed perpetually.
xi. When a member under simple vows, who is at least twenty (20) years of age, reaches a point, as recognized by the solemn professed that they are ready for solemn profession, they will be clothed with a habit and grey scapular at their next renewal of vows.
xii. A simple professed member who has been clothed with the grey scapular may apply for solemn profession at anytime thereafter.
xiii. Upon application, they will meet with the First Abbot, their Abbot, and a committee of solemn professed as organized by the First Abbot to confirm that solemn profession is suitable for the individual and the Order.
xiv. Upon approval, and no less than thirty days after application, the member may make solemn profession before the Order, First Abbot, and Bishop Visitor, preferably at Annual Convocation.
b. Of Discipline of Officers
i. Any member of a governing body within the Order is subject to the requirements of our Rule and Constitutions.
ii. Should a member of a governing body be found to have grievously deviated from the Rule, the Constitution, or responsibilities of their office, they will be brought before the governing body of the Order for inquiry and discipline.
iii. Should the First Abbot be found to have grievously deviated from the Rule, the Constitution, or responsibilities of the office of First Abbot, he or she will be brought before the governing body of the Order for inquiry and discipline, with the Bishop Visitor acting as chair.
iv. Any member in an elected office can be removed by a three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of those whose responsibility it is to elect the officer.
c. Of Discipline of Members and Dispensation of Vows
i. Any member that is found to not fulfill the Rule of Life of our Order, or that acts contrary to our Order’s charism, or acts outside the requirements of this Constitution, must meet with their Abbot (who will notify the First Abbot), and offer counsel.
ii. Abbots, at their own discretion, can suspend requirements of the Rule of Life depending on life circumstances of the individual member.
iii. If grievous deviance from our Order’s way of life, without permission, is found to be intentional or nonrepentant, then the member will be brought before the governing body of the Abbey for disciplinary measures.
iv. Abbots who are found to have deviated from our Order’s way of life will be brought before the governing body of the Order.
v. Any disciplinary decision of an Abbey’s governing body may be appealed to the governing body of the Order, and subsequently to the Bishop Visitor.
vi. If a member has been found to have abandoned the Rule and practice of our Order without dispensation, and remains unrepentant of such action, then, at the discretion of the governing body of the Order and the Bishop Visitor, they may be released of their vows.
vii. Dispensation of vows, in accordance with the Canons of the Episcopal Church, can be appealed to the Presiding Bishop who will be the final authority.
viii. Whether being released of vows by nonrewal of simple vows or dispensation of solemn vows, all articles that have been provided to the member by the Order must be returned to the Order.
IX. Of Temporal Possessions and Dissolution of the Order
a. Of Operating Financial Obligation
i. All funds are held in trust of the Order of St. Anthony the Great as a whole.
ii. Abbots are responsible for the necessary expenditures of the residence that they oversee.
iii. Such expenditures should be covered by the members of the residence.
iv. All other expenditures over the sum of $250.00 must be approved by the governing body of the Abbey in regards to their need, or of the Order in regards to its needs.
v. No member may place a burden of debt upon the Order without the approval of the necessary governing body.
b. Of Wills and Disposition of Property
i. All members taking solemn vows must provide a will before taking solemn vows, to have on file with the Order.
ii. No member may place upon the Order any debt or requirement in their will without the prior consent of the Order.
iii. Neither an Abbot nor a Prior of the Order may act as an executor of a will that may benefit the Order.
c. Of Tithing
i. Members under simple vows should make the best effort to meet monthly dues of at least $25.00.
ii. If a member is not capable of this level of support, they may seek dispensation from their Abbot.
iii. Dues collected are for the ministries of the Abbeys that receive them.
iv. Solemn professed members should, based on their abilities, meet the tithing requirements of least 5% of their net annual income to the Order and at least 5% to their parish.
v. Abbeys will offer 10% of monies raised through dues and donations to the working budget of the Order and its overall ministries.
d. Of Dissolution of the Order and Its Effects
i. The dissolution of the Order can only be effected by a unanimous vote of the entire membership of the Order.
ii. Should the Order be dissolved, all property owned outright by the Order that held no contingency upon its donation shall be sold to settle any existing debt held by the Order.
iii. If the dissolution displaces members who have been living on property which is being sold, a reasonable portion of the funds remaining after payment of debts will be allocated to the displaced members to facilitate relocation and establish an appropriate standard of living if beyond their current means.
iv. Remaining funds will then be divided according the number of solemn professed and donated to their respective Dioceses or a similar charity of their choice.