OUR VOWS and NOVITIATE FORMATION
Understanding the four vows will be is easier if the spirit of the OMC is understood first, and that is best done by reading our Rule and Constitutions.
Some of the Constitutions are quoted here to put our vows in context:
The Order of the Merciful Christ, is established for the glory of God and the spiritual life of its members. It is intended to advance the Apostolic works currently done by members of the Church catholic, and any new individual Christians who feel called to such a dedicated life of Mercy.
The Evangelical Counsels
The evangelical counsels are the ideals to which each member will commit. Vows may be temporary or permanent as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Vows will be received by either the abbot or abbess, or the local community coordinator.
Poverty of Spirit. Although members may own personal property, they will be strongly encouraged to use all for Love. Members must use personal property for their personal well-being and health, as well as for the good of others, and they are responsible for all civic financial duties. Members may, if they wish donate to the Order, but not to the point of personal harm, or harm to their families. Members may bequeath to their local communities or the Order.
Chastity, which is understood as a purity of mind and heart, will be reflected in the particular state to which one is called, married or single. Such Chastity will enable a vowed member to hold Christ as first and foremost as a life of Love is lived in this world. Members may choose to remain single, live committed celibacy or enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, as led by the Holy Spirit.
Obedience to God's Will, manifested through spiritual discernment, will guide each member in this life of Mercy and Love. Each member is responsible to God for his or her life in the Church. Seeking the Will of God is of utmost importance if one is to have inner peace and love of neighbor. Although the relationship of anamchara is strongly encouraged, this relationship must not replace personal responsibility with any form of dependency which would foster immature spirituality. Members ought to seek the Will of God through their loving relationships with family, anamchara, local community, the Order's Rule and spirit, its membership, and the universal Church Tradition and doctrines of Faith. Obedience to a single individual is strongly discouraged.
Mercy. There will also be fourth vow of Mercy to all as a direct act which reflects Christ's Own heart. Such a fourth vow would serve to continuously compel us to be attentive to the needs of others, particularly the poor, disabled, distraught, disenfranchised, uneducated, lonely, aged or sick, in a self-sacrificial manner. The ultimate Mercy of God is the Gospel of Christ, the message of God's eternal Love, which is the ultimate balm to be offered to those who suffer in any way. The vow of Mercy will be lived in a very practical combination of prayer and apostolic works which serve the physical, mental and spiritual needs of all God's creatures.
Novices may make vows after the completion of a designated formation period of no less than one year and one day lived without interruption.
A novice will make temporary vows for one year, to be renewed yearly for a total of no less than three years of temporary vows before being considered for final vows. Temporary vows will be received by the abbot or abbess or by a vowed member designated by the abbot or abbess, and will be witnessed by two vowed members. There may be a third witness of the member's choice as may be required by his or her denominational obligations.
After a period of three years in temporary vows, a member, after mutual agreement with the abbess and formation team, may again renew yearly, or profess his or her perpetual vows.
Public profession of perpetual vows may be made only after a period of no less than three years in temporary vows. Perpetual vows will be received by the abbot or abbess and may be witnessed by two vowed members, and another person of the member's choice as may be required by his or her denominational obligations.
Perpetual vows may be professed within a Eucharist celebrated by a priest of the member's denomination, but will be received by the abbot or abbess of the Order.
Release from Vows
If for a serious reason, a vowed member or the community deems it necessary that the member take time apart from the life of the Order such member may request the amount of time, or be given it by the community. A separation such as this normally will be by mutual agreement of the member and community, with a specific intended purpose and time period. If at the end of such period the member requires more time, he or she may again discuss this with the abbot or abbess and community to seek a mutually agreeable schedule.
A vowed member who is convinced of a change in direction in his or her life may, after discernment within the community, request a dispensation from vows. This is a serious decision and it is expected that one's vow of Obedience includes openness and discernment within the community. The abbot or abbess will make the final decision regarding any dispensation, and his or her decision is final.
A dispensed member who wishes to return to the Order must discern with the community and the abbot or abbess. If he or she is to return there will be a a period of discernment within the community before renewing his or her vows. This period will be decided by the abbot or abbess according to each unique situation.
Transfers from other Catholic Orders or Religious Communities
Religious from other orders or religious communities may apply for entrance in to the Order of the Merciful Christ. A period of novitiate, testing one's call to a committed community will be standard for all who have not completed such a novitiate previously. Vowed religious who transfer from other communities may live a local community if one exists, or participate in the life of the Order for a period of time mutually determined by the coordinator of a local community, or the abbot or abbess of the Order, and the new member.
After such a determined time a transferring member, if previously dispensed from former vows within another religious community, may make vows if s/he wishes.
Song for OMC Vows:
"WITH MERCY, I VOW"
O God, open my lips,
And my mouth will proclaim Your praise!
My vows to my God I pay
and worship with love night and day.
I vow to You all that I own
To be used for Your Will alone
And the wealth of Your love in my heart,
With mercy ,I vow to impart.
Chastity body and soul,
Whether married or celibate, whole!
Your love, oh my God, in my heart,
With mercy, I vow to impart.
No other Voice shall I hear,
For Your Will, oh my God, I hold dear,
And Your love, oh my God, in my heart,
With mercy, I vow to impart.
I shall live poor and chaste for You
And obey You in all that I do,
And Your merciful love I will share
With all creatures everywhere.
These vows to You this day I make
And, with Grace, may I never forsake
Your love deep inside me, protect me and guide me
'til that day my soul you take.
So I sing this new song to the Lord
To the God I've always adored!
And the love in my heart I will give,
In Mercy, as long as I live.
"With Mercy I Vow" Copyright April 30, 1999, Cait Finnegan
May God bless the work!