Ordinals and Customals
of
The Order of Saint John the Divine




Ordinals are, for a religious order, a monastic expression of, and subsidiary to, the canon laws of the Church. They are intended to regulate the practices of the Order and, in The Order of Saint John the Divine, they derive their authority from the Code of Canon Law and the Primate of The National Catholic Church of America, who is the Abbot (or Abbess) and Superior General of the Order. The Primate is, hereinafter, referred to as "the Superior" and The National Catholic Church of America, is, hereinafter, referred to as "the Church".

Customals are regulations regarding the life and practices of local houses of the Order and are intended to provide local communities the opportunity of creating the kind of monastic life they will lead. Some examples would be the times appointed for common prayer, conventual Mass, days of recollection, policies for use of common resources, etc. Local communities of the Order are free to enact their own customals, provided that no customals may be enacted that are in conflict with the Rule or Ordinals of the Order or the Code of Canon Law of the Church.

Sections:


A. THE GOVERNANCE OF THE ORDER

A001. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1998. Governing Documents. The Rule of the Order of Saint John the Divine and the Ordinals of the Order of Saint John the Divine, subject to the Code of Canon Law of The National Catholic Church of America, constitute the governing documents of the Order.

A002. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1998. The Superior. Final authority in matters pertaining to the life, ministry and discipline of the Order of Saint John the Divine resides in the Superior; who, holding the office of Primate of the Church, holds "the place of Christ" within the Order. The Superior may resign from office, in which case he or she retains the title of "retired abbot" or "retired abbess", maintaining the rights and privileges appertaining to that status.

A003. Removal from Office. If the Superior is declared by a court of law in the state of his/her legal residence to be mentally incompetent, he/she may be removed from office pursuant to the provisions of The Code of Canon Law of The National Catholic Church of America.

A004. Amended and Ratified on January 1, 1998. Election. In the event of the resignation, death or removal from office of the Superior, the new Superior shall be that person elected to the office of Primate of the Church, according to the norms set down in The Code of Canon Law of the Church. In the interim period of abbatial vacancy, the Vicar General of the Primate’s Council will be the acting Superior, but shall not have authority to change the Ordinals of the Order.

A005. Amended and Ratified on January 1, 1998. The Abbot's Council. In order to advise and assist the Superior in governing the Order, there shall be created an Abbot's Council (or Abbess's Council), consisting of all Provincial Superiors (Priors Provincial or Prioresses Provincial), the Master or Mistress of Novices, and others appointed by the Superior, which shall meet, or otherwise confer, as deemed necessary by the Superior.

A006. Provincial Superiors. Whenever deemed necessary, the Superior shall designate a geographic area as constituting a province of the Order, and appoint a Prior Provincial or Prioress Provincial to serve as the Superior's representative in that area. Such Provincial Superiors will ordinarily be appointed at the time of the General Chapter and serve for a three year term of office. The appointment will then be subject to renewal by the Superior.

A007. Master (Mistress) of Novices. At his discretion, the Superior may appoint a Master or Mistress of Novices who is responsible for the oversight of novices, and reports directly to the Superior concerning each novice's suitability for the Order and readiness for vows.

A008. General Chapter. Every three years, a General Chapter of the Order of Saint John the Divine will be convened at a time and place determined by the Superior. All novices and professed members of the order will attend, unless specifically excused from doing so by the Superior.

A009. Provincial Chapter. Every year, a Provincial Chapter will be convened by the Prior Provincial or Prioress Provincial of each province of the Order, at a time and place determined in consultation with the Superior. All novices and professed members of the province will attend, unless specifically excused from doing so by the Provincial Superior or the Superior.

A010. Priories. Only the Superior may elevate a house of the Order to the status of a priory. Such designation will be made when a house of the Order is either a residence for more than one member of the Order, or, if the residence of a single member, the house has become, in the judgment of the Superior, a center of substantial apostolic activity. Each priory will choose a religious patron or title for the priory.

A011. Prior and Prioress. Members of newly created priories may choose one professed member among them as a candidate for prior or prioress, subject to confirmation and appointment by the Superior. Under other circumstances, priors and prioresses will be appointed directly by the Superior. All priors and prioresses serve as advisors to the Provincial Superior.

A012. Houses of the Order. Those residences of Order members not living with other Order members shall ordinarily be considered houses of the Order. The member may, if he or she desires, choose a patron or religious title for the residence.

B. SPIRITUAL LIFE

B001. Commonality of Faith. Members of the Order profess common belief in the Holy Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, and the Christian faith as expressed in the Nicene and Apostles Creeds.

B002. Spiritual Growth. Each member of the Order is responsible for the growth of his/her spiritual life under the guidance of the Rule and by means of daily prayer, worship, study, the reading of Scripture and a life lived in imitation of Christ.

B003. Annual Retreat. Each member of the Order shall make an annual retreat at a time and location of his/her own choosing.

B004. The Rule. A copy of the Rule of the Order of Saint John the Divine shall be displayed in all houses of the Order and read by each member, alone or in common, at least once each week.

C. MEMBERSHIP IN THE ORDER

C001. Non-discrimination. Candidates for membership in the Order of Saint John the Divine will be admitted to the Novitiate without regard to gender, marital status, race, sexual orientation or physical disability. Lay and ordained candidates from other denominations may be admitted to the Order. However, all apostolically ordained clergy (deacons, priests and bishops) must be fully incardinated in The National Catholic Church of America, and may not be members of any other church, unless granted an indult by the Superior.

C002. Period of Novitiate. All candidates admitted to the Order will be required to serve a period of Novitiate, normally one year. The period of Novitiate may be shortened or extended as deemed appropriate by the Superior.

C003. Minimum age. The preferred minimum age for entry into the Novitiate Program is 25. In no case will a novice be admitted to vows who is less than 21 years of age.

C004. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1998. Institute Enrollment. All novices will be enrolled in the Institute for Pastoral and Religious Studies upon entry into the Novitiate Program, unless, in the judgment of the Superior, a novice has already attained a sufficient degree of competency in those areas covered by the Institute. This exception, however, will not apply to the requirement to serve a period of Novitiate.

C005. Religious Name. At the time of profession of the vows, a novice may choose to adopt a religious name or retain the use of his/her legal name.

C006. Reception of Vows. Whenever possible, religious vows should be received by the Superior. When this is not possible, the reception of vows may be delegated by the Superior to another priest, preferably a member of the Order or the Church.

C007. Vow formula. The formula of the vows used at the time of profession is identical to that taken by each member of the Order since the Order's inception.

C008. Associate Members. Provision shall be made for the reception of associate members of the Order who, while not professing religious vows, desire to join themselves in a closer manner with the spirituality and ministry of the Order. A Director of Associates shall be appointed and serve at the discretion of the Superior. After the applicants have been accepted for membership by the Superior, the director will have primary responsibility for maintaining contact with the associates and will act as their spiritual director.

C009. Affiliate Groups. Provision shall be made for organizations desirous of having a status similar to that of associates of the Order. Each group seeking such affiliation shall apply directly to the Superior who will decide whether such affiliation is appropriate and whether to designate the work of such group as an "affiliated ministry".

C010. Equal Status. While recognizing and providing for differences in function and level of authority in the Church and the Order, lay and ordained members will hold equal status within the Order as religious. All ministries not requiring ordination will be equally available to qualified lay and clerical members.

C011. Amended and Ratified on January 1, 1998. Resignation. Any member may resign from membership in the Order by submitting a signed letter to the Superior giving the reasons for such action. If a professed member resigns he/she must explicitly renounce his/her vows in writing.

C012. Amended and Ratified on January 1, 1998. Suspension and Expulsion. The object of all discipline within religious life is to restore the member to fullness of unity with Christ, the Church, and the community. However, there are, from time to time, instances of violation of the Rule, vows, ordinals or canon laws, of such a serious or habitual nature that they require temporary or permanent separation of the member from the Order. The Superior shall make any final decision regarding such action in consultation with the appropriate superiors and advisors of the Order.

D. DUTIES OF NOVICES

D001. Completion of Program. Each novice will complete all aspects of the Novitiate Program as designed for him/her by the Master (Mistress) of Novices or the Superior.

D002. Accountability. Each novice will fully cooperate with his/her assigned mentor, and follow the instructions of the Master (Mistress) of Novices, who is the Superior's representative in regard to matters concerning preparation for vows.

D003. Mass or Church Attendance. Each novice will attend Mass, or, if a Protestant, church services, on Sundays and Holy Days and will not lightly excuse himself/herself from this obligation.

D004. Attendance at Chapter. Each novice will attend local chapter meetings as well as Provincial Chapters and the General Chapter, unless specifically excused from doing so by the Superior.

E. DUTIES OF THE PROFESSED

E001. Reporting Requirement. Each professed member of the Order will submit a quarterly report to the Superior concerning his/her activities related to life and ministry in the Order. The nature and schedule of these reports will be determined by the Superior.

E002. Mass or Church Attendance. Each professed member of the Order will attend Mass, or, if a Protestant, church services, on Sundays and Holy Days and will not lightly excuse himself/herself from this obligation.

E003. Celebration of Mass. Those who are priests in the Order will celebrate Mass at least each Sunday, whether alone or in community, unless there is a serious reason for not doing so.

E004. Day of Recollection. On at least one day each month, each professed member of the Order will set aside a substantial portion of the day as a Day of Recollection, seeking to refocus his/her dedication to Christ and the Order. If possible, this should be done with a local community of the Order.

E005. Amended and ratified on December 8, 1997. Chapter Attendance. Each professed member of the Order will attend local chapter meetings, unless prevented from doing so for serious reason. Each professed member will also attend Provincial Chapter unless specifically excused by the Prior Provincial or the Superior and will attend the General Chapter unless specifically excused by the Superior.

F. MINISTRY

F001. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1998. Area of Ministry. No member of the Order will engage in an area of ministry specifically prohibited by the Superior, or that is in conflict with the Rule or Ordinals of the Order or the Code of Canon Law of the Church.

F002. Inform Superior. Each member of the Order will inform his/her immediate superior of the nature of his/her ministry activities as well as any change in area of ministry.

F003. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1998. Financing. Those engaged in local ministry are responsible for raising the funds necessary to that ministry’s operation from members of the local community who benefit from, or who support, their work. In recognition of the obligation all members of the Order have to financially support the administration of the Order and the work of the Church, each Order member will regularly contribute to the Superior an amount of money in keeping with his/her means.

F004. Amended and Ratified on December 8, 1997. Continuity. Those engaged in ministry prior to entering the Order may continue in their ministry if it is not in conflict with the Rule or Ordinals of the Order or the Code of Canon Law of the Church, and is not expressly prohibited by the Superior.

G. LITURGICAL LIFE

G001. Incardinated Priests. Deleted on January 1, 1997.

G002. Amended and ratified on January 1, 1997. The celebration of The Holy Eucharist and Other Sacraments. Priests of the Order will normally celebrate the Mass of Saint John the Divine or the Novus Ordo Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, considered our monastic rites. For the present, those rites used by the Roman Catholic Church in the administration of its sacraments, with inclusive adaptations, shall be considered the monastic rites of the Order.

G003. Amended and Ratified on January 1, 1998. Protestant Clergy. Those members of the Order who are ordained and practicing members of Protestant denominations will observe the requirements of their own churches regarding the celebration of services and other rites.

G004. Ecumenical Services. As a Catholic, yet ecumenical community which desires to give witness to the real possibility of Christian Unity, ecumenical worship services are encouraged. However, participation in such services must be guided by the Order's basic commitment to Catholic theological and liturgical principles, especially as pertains to those in Holy Orders.

H. RATIFICATION AND REVISION

H001. Binding. The ordinals of this Order become binding upon ratification by the Superior.

H002. Superior Revises. The Superior may amend, add or delete any ordinals (with the exception of Ordinal A.003.).

H003. Amended on January 1, 1998. Revisions to Be Listed Herein. Additional ordinals shall be added in the appropriate sections. Revised or amended ordinals shall simply be changed to indicate the revised text and the date of the amendment.

RATIFICATION

The above text of Ordinals of the Order of Saint John the Divine, shall be binding upon said Order, all its members and authorities, and every constituent group thereof, this being the second version of the ordinals, as declared by me, The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD, Primate of The National Catholic of America and Abbot and Superior General of The Order of Saint John the Divine, on this First day of January, in the Year of Our Lord, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight.

The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD
Primate - The National Catholic Church of America
Abbot - Order of Saint John the Divine
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