I am launching an idea for a dispersed community of prayer for those who wish to live a life inspired by the Rule of St Benedict and the idea of the Secular Oblature. It is not a monastery, nor is it anything pretending to be an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but in reality a name given to the concept of the New Goliards. The idea is fundamentally no different.
All I would like is to build up a spiritual community of lay people and priests committed to giving their name and commitment to the common ideal and a regular cycle of prayer and intercession. We might sometimes correspond about a spiritual question or a way to live according to the Holy Rule in our state of life. Otherwise, we would live in solitude and offer our lives in prayer following the liturgical cycle as expressed in the Office. Such a life would also give meaning to priests who find themselves living a solitary life through vocation or circumstances in life – and especially to their daily celebration of Mass even when no congregation is present.
This Fraternity would be open to lay folk (men and women) and priests whether or not they belong to a recognised institutional church body and whether they are married or single. All that is demanded is that all have been baptised and that those claiming to be priests have been ordained by one conventionally known to be a bishop. I would not be in a position to judge the objective validity of a priest’s orders, preferring to leave him to continue to celebrate Mass and his ministry of intercession. The Fraternity would not be in a position to give any canonical mission, or faculties to hear confessions outside situations of danger of death.
To belong to this Fraternity, I would appreciate knowing something about the person in question and the history of his life and sacramental Christian commitment. I also need to point out that there is no provision for the ordination of those aspiring to the priesthood. This Fraternity would be prepared to find its place in due time in an established ecclesial body. Each member would commit his or her self to the Fraternity’s intercession list and the daily recitation of the whole or a part of the Divine Office according to any breviary or prayer book and in any language. I would also want an e-mail from each member at least once a year.
There would be no habit or any obligation to travel anywhere for retreats. Instead, members would receive texts on the Rule and traditional monastic spirituality, and may send e-mails to a private e-mail list to be established using software like Outlook – no need to use any web-based forum. I am open to suggestions, but I don’t want to “codify” anything in the absence of a reality, if you get my meaning. If no one is interested, then it will just be an idea to be scrapped, and I would simply continue with my little life waiting for God’s will.
If anyone is interested in a serious commitment before God, the comment box is not the place to express such an interest. They should send me a private e-mail to anthony.chadwick AT wanadoo.fr.