Friday, September 05, 2003

Rule of the Community of the Holy Trinity

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called childrenof God.
Matthew 5 3-11

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Luke 6:20-23

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.
Acts 2 42-47

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possession, but everything they owned was held in common.
Acts 4:32

Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God... God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-12

Do not love the world system or the things in the world system. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world system; for all that is in the system of the world -- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches -- comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world system and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
1 John 2:15-17.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Luke 1:47-55

For Prayer and psalmody every hour is suitable, that, while our hands are busy at their tasks, we may praise God sometimes with the tongue (when this is possible or, rather, when it is conducive to edification); or, if not with the heart, at least, in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, as it is written. Thus in the midst of our work can we fulfill the duty of prayer, giving thanks to Him who has granted strength to our hands for performing our tasks and cleverness to our minds for acquiring knowledge, and for having provided the material, both that which is in the instruments we use and that which forms the matter of the arts in which we may be engaged, praying that the work of our hands may be directed toward this goal, the good pleasure of God.
. . .
Prayers are recited early in the morning so that the first movements of the soul and mind may be consecrated to God and that we may take up no other consideration before we have been cheered and heartened by the thought of God, as it is written: I remembered God and was delighted, and that the body may not busy itself with tasks before we have fulfilled the words: To thee will I pray, O Lord; in the morning thou shalt hear my voice, In the morning I will stand before thee and will see. Again at the third hour the brethren must assemble and betake themselves to prayer, even if they may have dispersed to their various employments. Recalling to mind the gift of the Spirit bestowed upon the Apostles at this third hour, all should worship together, so that they also may be come worthy to receive the gift of sanctity, and they should implore guidance of the Holy Spirit and his instruction in what is good and useful, according the words: Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within my bowels. Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and strengthen me with a guiding spirit.

... It is also our judgment that prayer is necessary at the sixth hour in imitation of the saints who say: Evening and morning and at noon I will speak and declare; and he shall hear my voice.And so that we may be saved from the noonday Devil, at this time, also the ninetieth psalm will be recited. The ninth hour, however, was appointed as compulsory time for prayer by the Apostles themselves in the Acts where it is related that Peter and John went up to the temple at the ninth hour of prayer. When the days work is ended, thanksgiving should be offered for what has been granted usor for what we have done rightly wherein and confession made of our omissions whether voluntary or involuntary, or of a secret fault, if we chance to have committed any in words or deeds, or in the heart itself; for by prayer we propitiate God for all our misdemeanors. The examination of our past actions is a great help toward not falling into like faults again; wherefore the psalmist says: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

Again, at nightfall we must ask that our rest be sinless and untroubled by dreams. At this hour also, the ninetieth Psalm should be recited. Paul and Silas furthermore have handed down to us the practice of compulsory prayer at midnight, as the history of the Acts declares: And at midnight Pal and Silas praised God. The Psalmist also says: I rose at midnight to give praise to thee for the judgments of thy justifications. Then, too we must anticipate the dawn by prayer so that the day may not find us in slumber and in bed according to the worlds; my eyes have prevented the morning that I might meditate on thy words. ...I think that variety and diversity in the prayers and psalms recited at appointed hours are desirable for the reason that routine and boredom, somehow, often cause distraction inthe soul, while by change and variety in the psalmody and prayers said at the stated hours it is refreshed in devotion and renewed in sobriety..
St. Basil, The Long Rules

Faith (pistis), as dispassionate (apathes) understanding (ennoia) of God
Hope, the journey of the mind towards the hoped-for.
Patience (or patient endurance), persistently and without wavering, seeing the invisible as the visible with the eyes of the understanding.
Without greed or covetousness, so as to wish not to have possessions as those who wish to have possessions.
Knowledge, as losing the sense of oneself in the ecstasy of God.
Definitions of St. Diadochos of Photiki

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury pardon; where there is doubt faith; where there is despair hope; where there is darkness light; and where there is sadness joy; Lord grant that I may seek rather to comfort than be comforted, to understand than be understood, to love than be loved. For it is by giving that one receives, by forgiving that one is forgiven, and by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assis

We set up a Rule to help us interpret our lives. The above texts stand as sentinels to watch over this Rule. We set these here also as signposts of our desire to live and interpret from Scripture and the Tradition.
Following the example of Acts and nearly 2000 years of ascetics, monks and nuns, we turn aside from the individualism and self-reliance of the world, resolving to hold real property in common for the purpose of service to Christ in, through, and for the Church and the world. We have chosen to live in community, in part, to speak to the current economic system, attempting to remove from ourselves the fetters of economic necessity. In doing this, we no longer trust the economy focused myopically on the creation and accumulation of wealth for individualistic benefit. We seek an economy of mutuality and the sharing of personal wealth and talents for both the common good and personal development, an economy beyond individual ownership and beyond all economies: the economy of the Kingdom of God. We come together sharing real property and other goods so that, through the joining of individual resources for the sake of the community, individuals may have not only what they need but also the means fully to express their selves and talents.
The community formed under this Rule exists for Christ and for others, not for itself alone. It is not a local church nor a replacement for a local fellowship of believers but a community of witness to the possibilities of the Kingdom of God, through its common life of discipline, communal living, hospitality, prayer, art, and seeking justice and mercy in the Church and world.
We acknowledge that God has called us to a life of common service, prayer and property according to the following Rule. In so doing we offer all to Christ in Love of God and of neighbor.
This Rule is to be reviewed by the community every year. This Rule is our covenant with each other and those who may join with us in this parable of the Kingdom of God, having made permanent profession or temporary vows to each other under this Rule before God and the Church.

Rule 1) On Community {On Membership and Guests}
Living in community means living life in common while allowing for and embracing differences in situation and call. We expect that members will come from all walks of life and be called by God to live in community in differing ways. To honor Gods call on the individual and to honor our communal life we order community membership according to discernment of call and commitment.
The Community of the Holy Trinity will consist of those who are professed members, committed members, and guests, long and short term, and friends of the community.

A. Professed members have taken vows to live in the community on a life long basis commit to life of prayer hospitality and common enterprise doing the primary work of the community. Permanently professed members must be in a life long relationship or called to a life of celibacy before taking profession.

B. Committed Members are those who wish to enter fully into the life of the community but find their commitment necessarily limited, either because they do not feel called to a lifetime commitment to the community or because other vocations will call them away from the community from time to time or keep them from taking part in the ministries of the community. These members will usually keep some form of employment outside the community and donate some portion of their income and time in aid and maintenance of the ministry and community. These members could also be artists (musician, visual artist, actor, etc.) or scholar in residence, based in a living contract agreed upon by the artist or scholar and the community (these might also choose to join the community as long term guests).

C. Guests can be short-term (2 weeks) or long-term .
a. Short-term guests will be those on retreat or those in need of short-term housing.
b. Long-term guests may be from a variety of life situations (artists or scholars in residence who do not feel lead to join as committed members and will be considered on a situation by situation basis. They will be seen as full members of the community partaking in all aspects of community life as their life situation allows and based on the reasons the guest has chosen to join the community as a guest.

D. Friends of the community will keep to the Rule of the community while living outside the community.

E. Observers are those discerning a role within the community, whether it be as friends, long-term guests, committed members, or professed members. (Further information on the reception of members can be found in Rule 2).

Rule 2) On Reception of New Members
There will be two means of joining with the community, as an individual/couple/family, or as an already established community which wishes to join our community through implementation of this Rule.

A. On joining our community as an individual or as a couple.

a. Those interested in joining us under this Rule of community life must first take regular part in the life of our community for three months to a year, by becoming an observer of the community. An observer first, having read the rule, will take part in the prayer services, community meals, and other appropriate parts of the communities life. An observer can join the community as an observer if she and the community agree there is a need for further exploration of the type of member she wishes to be in joining the community. Someone who wishes to become a professed member will spend some months after joining the community as an observer. However, even if one has joined the community as long term guest or committed member one can change ones level of commitment after a period of time and in discenment with the community in council The community in council will decide the exact amount of time on the circumstances and the nature of the individual(s) participation and the discernment of the individual and community on the readiness of the person to join us in community life.
If an individual seeks to become a professed member of the community and is single, this person should feel called to a life of celibacy and have examined the challenges and benefits of a celibate lifestyle in a community including a mixture of expressions of human sexuality: couples, families, and celibates.

b. If one is not called to celibacy, he may join the community as a professed member only as a committed couple where both individuals are called to life under this Rule in community. The discernement process for couples is the same as for individuals.

c. Individuals couples and families can join the community by renting/purchasing a property near the main house of the community, while in all other ways sharing in the common life of the community.

B. An Established Community Joining with us under the Rule.

a. For a community living on a different property but within close proximity to our community house, a period of discernment of three months to a year when the joining community takes a regular part in the life of the Community of the Holy Trinity.
Communities wishing to join with us under the Rule but dispersed over a distance that makes it impossible for the communities to join together regularly, (i.e. in prayer, meals, and council), then that community may join with us as a sister community, following the Rule and committing to work common cause between the communities.

b. After the period of discernment all members of both communities must agree to the joining of the two communities on separate properties.

c. It may be advisable that once the two communities have come together as one that they seek out space near their respective community houses that could be used for common prayer, common meals and council.

Rule 3) On Prayer and Meditation
Prayer and meditation will be the center and rhythm of our common life. The work we are called to do as a Community and as individuals is not possible without emersion in the life of God through prayer and meditation. We as a community seek to live into the balance of contemplation and action.

A. Times of Prayer
a. The three main hours of prayer will be Vespers, Matins and Noon prayer (precise times to be scheduled by the community) observed by all members of the community, acknowledging that some may occasionally be absent.
b. Three secondary Hours of Compline, Terce and None, roughly at 11 PM, 9 Am, and 3 PM will be kept by all professed members when at the house.
c. Two hours of voluntary night vigilsmay be kept, Midnight between 12 and 2 AM and Early morning at 4 AM.
B. Each main Hour will be a time of quiet for all who are on the property of the community. For those at work or when other circumstance take them from the community house, it is appropriate to acknowledge the hours by praying a short prayer, the Jesus prayer (with or without prayer rope), saying the rosary, making the sign of the cross or other prayerful or meditative action. The goal of this is so that wherever any member of the community is she may always be mindful of our living according to these sacred rhythms.

C. The three main hours of prayer are intended as corporate hours of prayer and should not be observed in private meditation. The secondary hours of prayer may be used for times of group meditation and/or private meditation, either in the chapel, if not used for a corporate service, or privately in her room.

D. In the absence of the Prior a member of the community will be appointed to lead prayer services

Rule 4) On Property and the Community of Goods
Essential to the life of community is a sense of what is held in common and seeking the meaning of simplicity. As in Acts space remains for what is one’s own and what is others’, and also the expectated discipline of offering up of one’s own to the community as a whole. Holding property in common is itself a spiritual discipline calling each member to care for community property. It is part of a chosen poverty, which seeks to care for more than just one’s own personal property. While portions of the common property will be for personal use, living together and sharing common space constitute this discipline and poverty.

A. Real estate (rented, leased, or owned) shall be held in common, each member contributing to its maintenance as she is able either from outside employment or in common enterprise of the community.

B. The responsibility for collecting money for community bills and paying them will be rotated amongst the members or assigned to one or more of the members of the community by the council.

C. The cleaning and maintenance of the community house (such as repairs and acquisition of supplies) will be apportioned to the members of the community by the community in council.

D. Each member of the community commits to exploring the nature of our community of goods, as defined and understood in the Rule of the Taize Community. and what personal property and the sharing of resources and goods means for the community.

Rule 5) On Food and Maintenance of the Kitchen
Food is another key aspect of our common life and hospitality. Sharing meals together and supporting each other in fasting are essential to the common life. Each meal of the community should be seen as an anticipation of the great wedding feast ofthe lamb.

A. We take Jesus’ table fellowship as our model in coming together as a community around food and the sustenance of our bodies.

B. Food for the community will be provided for by all, each providing according to their means.

C. Preparation and acquisition of food for the community will be rotated through the members of the community or assigned to one or more members of the community by the community in council.

D. Clean up of kitchen will be assigned to a member(s) of the community by the community in council or will be rotated through the members of the community.

E. There will be regular common meals, usually the evening meal.

Rule 6) On Governance and Leadership of the Community*
The community in Council will be the governing body overseeing the regular and daily functioning of the community through consensus.
The community will be served, as numbers and circumstances will allow, by 2 priors, a Hospitaler and Dean, duties include guests and hospitality and moderator of council when it is considering accusations of impropriety of one of both of the priors, is ombudsman and in charge of the observers under the guidance of the priors, a financial secretary, a secretary/archivist, duties include keeping minutes and maintaining archives of the community.
The community will have two priors, one male and one female (not married to each other), not for purposes of rank or rule—we are ruled by the gospel and its particular expression in this Rule—but to gather together the various intentions, motivations, and gifts and goals of the members of the community, shepherding them toward the goals of the community and to ensure that the discipline of the rule is kept.

A. The priors will be accountable to the body governing the clergy of the priors’ denomination(s).
B. The priors’ duties will include leading prayer and meditation, giving direction and counsel to the community as a whole and individual members as is needed or desired, providing a teaching ministry according to her or his gifts and the needs and activities of the community.

C. The prior will be chosen or appointed by the community in council.The prior must be a member of the community and the leaders spouse and/or family must also feel called to intentional community of goods, and live according to the Rule of the community.

Rule 7) On Administration and Communication
The community will meet at least once a week in council to allow a forum of discussion and to provide support to each other on our spiritual journeys. As needed or requested by a community member, the council will meet to administer the community, discuss new and ongoing endeavors, and deal with conflict within the community. Such a meeting will be announced to the community, and will usually be at the time of the regular community meeting.
Financial issues are to be dealt with in council. Members with financial responsibilities of the community shall report to the council.
The prior will be the moderator of all council meetings, except when the council is considering issues concerning conduct of the prior.
If the council is unable to reach a decision acceptable to all, the moderator, ensuring that all have made known their thoughts and feelings, will adjourn the council. At a later meeting of council, based on the views of the members, the stated purposes of the community and the Gospel, the moderator will recommend to the next meeting of council, either to leave aside the issue before the council or to move ahead in one direction or the other.
Rule 8) On hospitality
Our model of hospitality is God’s own self-giving love. The Scriptures consistently show God’s concern for the stranger. God’s love for us calls us to be a welcoming people.
Next to the life of prayer, hospitality is a central activity of this community. Hospitality will be expressed in various ways.

A. Overnight guests will be received according to the abilities of the community. And as the community in council decides

B. Guests are invited to take part in keeping the Hours of prayer, and are requested, if not keeping the Hours, to respect the Hours when on the community property.

C. Preparation for and reception of guests shall be rotated through the members of the community or the community in council will appoint one member to do so.

Rule 9) On Travel and Sojourns
In the tradition of Jesus’ and Paul’s wandering ministries and in the tradition of traveling monks, such as Saints Brendan and Columban, St. Francis and the mendicant monks, the community sees itself as an anchor for a wandering spirituality, of holy journeys and sojourns as a proclamation and realization of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God in the world.

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