10 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT LAY CISTERCIANS

What follows is my Lectio Divina on Philippians 2:5 that I had at 2:30 a.m. one night last week. I just happened to remember it and thought it might be of interest to you, it was to me.

Lay Cistercians are laity who choose to follow Cistercian spiritual principles and the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by Cistercian statutes and conventions. In this blog, I shall give you what I consider 10 bits of information you may not have known before and an link for you to find out more about it on the Internet.

  1. Lay Cistercians are not monks or nuns. None of us live in a monastery and we are not consecrated religious, but we are baptized laity who seek to love God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength and our neighbor as our self by following the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by Cistercian order (Trappist) in it statutes and constitutions. https://www.ocso.org/resources/law/constitutions-and-statutes/
  2. Each Cistercian monastery has, at its head an Abbess or a Abbot who represents Christ to those monks or nuns who pledge vows of stability (stay in one monastery for the rest of their life) and obedience (the Abbess or Abbot represents Christ). http://archive.osb.org/cist/
  3. After two years in formation as a Novice, Lay Cistercians make promises in three separate years as a Junior Lay Cistercian. In the fifth year, Lay Cistercians who choose to do so, apply to the community for permission to take final promises or Final Profession to lead the Cistercian Way of prayer, conversion of life, silence, solitude, work, prayer and community, for the rest of their lives. These Lay Cistercians are called Professed Lay Cistercians and wear a large St. Benedict medal each day for the rest of their lives. In addition, they promise to meet monthly at the Gathering Day at their monastery for prayer, Eucharist, formation as Novices, Juniors and Professed Lay Cistercians. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/2013/05/on-being-a-lay-cistercian-2/
  4. Lay Cistercians seek God in everyday living wherever they live by practicing Cistercian prayers and seeking Cistercian charisms to move from our false self (the World) to our new self (the Spirit). https://www.msmabbey.org/lay-associates
  5. Lay Cistercians are part of a larger group called the International Lay Cistercians. https://cistercianfamily.org/lay-groups http://www.citeaux.net/wri-av/laics_cisterciens-eng.htm
  6. Lay Cistercians follow the spiritual guidance of the Abbot or Abbess who represents Christ. They serve at the pleasure of the Abbot or Abbess and make promises, not vows before this person. I wrote out my promises which I made before the Abbot and the Lay Cistercian community at a formal ceremony in Abbey Church. https://cistercianfamily.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2014Star-of-the-Sea-HR.pdf
  7. Each Lay Cistercian group is autonomous based on what the Monastery permits. https://cistercianfamily.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2014CLC-Spencer-HR-2013.pdf
  8. Lay Cistercians are expected to make an annual retreat at the Monastery Retreat Center. This is a silent retreat and stresses contemplation and approaching God with humility and seeking mercy.
  9. There is an Internet Lay Cistercian group called “Conversi” for those who live too far away from a Monastery to attend the monthly Gathering Days. https://cistercianfamily.org/laygroups/conversi-an-on-line-community/
  10. Some Lay Cistercian groups (Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) have auxiliary groups in different parts of Florida. All of these daughter groups belong to the main Lay Cistercian group in Conyers, Georgia. There is an Ecumenical Lay Cistercian group attached to the Holy Spirit Monastery group, composed of other faith families. They follow the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by the Cistercians at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. They become Novices, make Junior promises and may apply for Final Profession before the Abbot. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

Of course, thee is much more to being a Lay Cistercian than this. One gentleman asked me what I do as a Lay Cistercian. I told him that I put myself in the presence of Christ every day through Morning Offering at 4:30 a.m., then Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Rosary, appreciation of the role of Mary as Patroness and Role Model of humility and obedience to God’s will, reading Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict every day, reciting the Liturgy of the Hours (Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer), writing my blog on Lay Cistercian spirituality as a result of doing all of this. In all the above, all I do is place myself in the present of the Sacred and wait. I try to keep my talking and thinking at a minimum and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. It is my hope that I become what I approach in Faith. Some days are better than others.

Brother Michael, O.S.C.O. taught us that we should pray when and as when can. There is no sin attached to not doing these practices, but there is grace and God’s energy for those who do all or part of them. St. Benedict says, “that in all things, God be glorified.” That’s not bad.

For more information, you can Email me at michaelconrad005@gmail.com

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