Month: July 2018

Understanding Religious Profession

Two monks making vows at their religious profession

Religious Profession – What is it?

First, I’d like to clarify the meaning of the term “religious profession.” It refers to an event, not a job. The reference is to making or “professing” vows as a way of committing to a religious community. This usually occurs in a formal ceremony. It may also include the giving of a new name. Think of it like marriage. The couple professes vows in a public ceremony. Then their family and friends recognize them as in a way being different people. They will celebrate the anniversary of this event as long as they both live.

The Vows

The most common vows for Catholic religious are chastity, poverty, and obedience. However, as Benedictine monks, our explicit vows are a bit different. We profess obedience to the abbot, stability in the community,
and fidelity to the monastic way of life. The way of life includes chastity and personal poverty by implication (and according to our Constitution).

More Definitions

As further clarification, “religious” is used as a noun to refer to someone who has made the religious vows. “Profession” is used in this context as a noun referring to the event. To be explicit one could say “profession of vows.” In most uses, however, “profession” implies the vows just like “marrying” does.

Profession vs. Ordination

Furthermore, religious profession is not the same as ordination. In fact, we consider them two separate yet compatible vocations. Men as well as women profess religious vows. Men who do this are “brothers.” Professed women are “sisters.” If a male religious is also ordained a priest, the usual form of address is “Father” instead. Priests usually have pastoral and sacramental ministries. Brothers and sisters, on the other hand, are devoted to non-sacramental work and prayer. Both are vital to the life of the Church.

Feast of St. Benedict

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of western monasticism and the creator of St. Benedict’s Rule, a guide to monastic life in which the monks of Conception Abbey follow.

During his life, St. Benedict was known to have performed numerous miracles, including breaking a glass full of poison with the Sign of the Cross, saving a man from drowning by briefly becoming another person, reading the minds of his monks, bringing a child back to life, exorcising a demon and more.

Although St. Benedict lived for several years in solitude, many people found his miracles alluring and began to follow his teachings. He went on to establish 12 monasteries, each with 12 monks, and himself in general control of all. One of St. Benedict’s greatest achievements was his Rule, a guide for the government and the spiritual and material well-being of a monastery. His Rule is said to be one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom.

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The Printery House: Send Something You Believe In!

As we come together this week to celebrate our nation’s independence we are reminded of the freedoms we enjoy and the rights we share as citizens within the United States. We remember those fought, and are currently fighting, for our country so that we can be free from tyranny and truly pursue happiness.

On 4 July 1776 the United States was born by declaring its independence from Great Britain. The preamble of the Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We as a nation have struggled over the years when trying to truly understand what a “right” is, and what is self-evident.

In November 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, which began: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” President Lincoln reminded us during the Civil War that we as a nation had not lived up to the belief that all men were created equal. He reminded us “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Prayer Card
I Have a Dream prayer card

One hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream speech” He makes reference to the Emancipation Proclamation given by President Lincoln calling for freedom from slavery in the United States. Dr. King in this speech was harkening back not only 100 years, but 187 years to when the Continental Congress declared independence. King writes:

“When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, great God almighty, we are free at last.’”


My brothers and sisters, may we take a moment this July fourth to remember our 242-year history. May we remember that we have not always gotten it right. May we remember that men and women have given their lives so that we can have freedom of speech, to vote, to truly live in the pursuit of Happiness. May we take a moment to pray this July fourth. Pray for those who are persecuted in our country; pray for those in our military protecting our freedoms; pray for each other; pray that we may let go of our prejudices, so that, we can truly be “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”