Regula Ordinis Incarnationis

Introduction

 If you truly want to be a disciple, open your heart to the prompting of the Spirit.  If disciples wish to obtain holiness, let them follow the examples of the religious fathers and mothers through obedience, discipleship, and commitment to community.

With this, our Lord is waiting for us to daily translate His words into concrete action.

Organization  and  Administration

  1.  Name

The religious community that follows this rule shall be known as Ordo Incarnationis (the Order of the Incarnation).  The order is a constituent part of the Ecumenical Catholic Church.

  1. Object

The Order of the Incarnation is a religious community with no specific apostolate.  The focus of the Order of the Incarnation is to work together to perfect the love demonstrated when God gave Jesus, His only Son, to reconcile the world.  Members accomplish this through a wide variety of loving works of mercy.  These works naturally flow when people turn their lives over to the care of God.  Members are encouraged to discern their individual vocation when deciding upon the works of mercy they will perform.

III.          Membership

Any member of the Ecumenical Catholic Church may apply for membership with the Order of the Incarnation.  Persons shall obtain an application from the chapter leader, vocations director, or abbot and shall return the application to the vocations director.  Persons who are not already members of the Ecumenical Catholic Church must join the church during their postulancy.

  1. Postulancy and Novitiate
  2. Application.  Persons who have submitted a completed application (including identifying whether they are applying to the novitiate or oblate) to the vocations director shall be considered postulants and encouraged to attend all meetings of the order.  Postulants have no voting rights and may not hold any administrative position in the order.  The postulancy shall last while the application is being processed.  Postulants shall be assigned to a chapter leader or the abbot, and they should maintain regular contact with their superior.  The chapter leader should observe and work with the postulant for several weeks before submitting a vocational recommendation to the vocations director.  Postulants may withdraw from the postulancy at any time by submitting a letter in writing to the vocations director.  Postulants who allow three weeks to pass without contacting their assigned superior may be dropped from postulancy.
  3. Rejection.  Due cause shall be provided if the abbot decides not to accept an applicant into the novitiate or oblate.  The applicant must wait for a period of time determined by the abbot and work to improve the needed areas.  During this time, the applicant shall remain a postulant.  After the appointed time, the applicant may re-apply if desired.
  4. Acceptance.  After receiving a favorable application, the abbot shall invite the applicant to enter the novitiate or oblate during first vespers of the next profession feast.  A novice or oblate shall be assigned to a chapter leader or the abbot.  A novice or oblate takes no vows and may leave the Order of the Incarnation at any time by giving written notice to his/her superior.
  5. Novitiate.  It is the goal of novices to make profession after completing their studies and discernment.  A novice is a member and shall participate in all activities of the order.  A novice may be addressed as “Brother” (Br.) or “Sister” (Sr.).  The initials O.I. do not follow a novice’s name as they are not yet professed members.  The novitiate shall last for a minimum of one year and one day but may be extended by the novice or the abbot.  If a novice has not been accepted for simple profession after a period of two years and one day, the novice shall leave the novitiate and may join the oblate.  During the novitiate, the novice shall complete the following:
  •  The ECC denominational preparation course offered by Holy Apostles Seminary,
  • A study of the psalms under the direction of the chapter leader
  • A study of the fathers and mothers of religious orders under the direction of the chapter leader.
  1. Oblate
  2. Definition.  Oblates do not intend to make profession but desire to be associated with the order to a lesser degree.
  3. Participation.  Oblates may participate in all activities of the order, but may not hold any administrative position.  Oblates may not wear the habit, but may wear the symbol of the order in the fashion of the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  Oblates live a nonprofessed life influenced by the rule, and may each discern their individual vocation and commitment.  Oblates shall contribute to the financial support of the order, but are not directly subject to the 5% minimum requirement of professed members.  Oblates should be an example of love and stewardship in their parish community.
  4. Chapter Assignment.  Oblates shall be assigned by the abbot to a chapter leader or shall remain directly under the abbot.  They shall maintain regular contact with their superior.  They shall attend chapter functions whenever feasible.
  5. Address.  Oblates are not addressed as “brother” or “sister” and do not use the initials O.I. after their name.
  6. Withdrawal or Removal.  Oblates may withdraw from the oblate at any time by submitting a letter in writing to their superior.  Oblates who allow three weeks to pass without contacting their assigned superior may be dropped from oblate.
  1. Simple Profession
  2. Request.  After the required time has passed, and the novice has completed the required studies, the novice may request in writing to make simple profession.  Simply professed members who wish to renew their profession shall do the same.  This letter shall include a summary of their experiences with the Order of the Incarnation and shall be sent to the vocations director.
  3. Profession Feasts.  Professions may only be made on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) or Holy Cross Day (September 14).
  4. Rejection.  Due cause shall be provided if the abbot decides not to accept an applicant into simple vows.  The applicant must wait for a period of time determined by the abbot and work to improve the needed areas.  During this time, the applicant shall remain a novice.  After the appointed time, the applicant may reapply if desired.
  5. Charter Members.  The charter members of the order shall be considered eligible to make simple profession on the first profession feast after ratification of this rule provided they have completed the studies delineated in paragraph III.A.4.
  6. Acceptance.  Applicants accepted into simple vows shall make vows for a period of one year.  (Vows are explained in a separate section.)  They shall be professed members and participate in all activities of the order.  Once professed, members may follow their name with the initials O.I. as a sign of their profession in the Ordo Incarnationis.  Simple vows may be renewed annually for as long as the member desires.
  7. Solemn Profession
  8. Request.  After two consecutive years in simple vows, a member may request to make solemn profession in writing.  This letter shall include a summary of the member’s experiences with the Order of the Incarnation and shall be sent to the vocation director.
  9. Rejection.  If the abbot decides not to accept the member into solemn vows, the member shall be provided with due cause.  The member may renew simple vows and work to improve the needed areas.  The member may reapply for solemn profession in one year, if desired.
  10. Acceptance.  Members accepted into solemn vows shall make vows for life.  Solemnly professed members shall participate in all activities of the order.
  1. Special Cases
  2. Married Applicants.  Married applicants must normally obtain their spouse’s permission to make profession.  If a spouse is not willing to give permission, simple vows may still be taken, but only under the advice and consent of the prefect for religious orders.  Sacramentally married persons may only make solemn vows together, as both partners then jointly take on these new lifelong commitments into their marriage.  One individual of a sacramentally married couple may make consecutive annual vows of simple profession without the other partner being a member of the order.
  3. Clergy Applicants.  Ordained clergy of the Ecumenical Catholic Church shall obtain their bishop’s permission to make application.  This shall be indicated by submitting a letter of consent from their bishop with their application.  (Please see section V.H. regarding religious orders and holy orders.)
  4. Ordination of Members.  It is advisable that persons interested in ordination with the Ecumenical Catholic Church and profession to the Order of the Incarnation handle these two vocational choices separately.

The Canons of the Ecumenical Catholic Church allow any person to apply for ordination, though it is possible that a person may be discouraged from doing so by one or more clergypersons.  It is advisable that professed members (either simple or solemn) seek the counsel of the abbot concerning application for ordination.  Professed members may make application for ordination without the knowledge or consent of the abbot.  This act, however, may be considered a violation of the vow of obedience and the member may be released from vows and dismissed from the Order of the Incarnation in accordance with the section on dismissal and release of vows.

  1. Marriage of Members.  Simply professed members shall seek the permission of the abbot to marry.  Failure to do so may be considered a violation of the vow of obedience and the member may be released from vows and dismissed from the Order of the Incarnation in accordance with the section on dismissal and release of vows.  Solemnly professed members may only enter a sacramental marriage with another solemnly professed member of the order, or a member who is eligible for solemn profession.  If the other partner is not already solemnly professed, the marriage may take place concurrently with or subsequently to the solemn profession.
  1. Vows
  2.  General Information Regarding Vows
  3. Acknowledgment.  Vows are acknowledgments that God deserves more than He demands.  A vow is a spiritual consecration to God, similar to a marriage.  Unlike failing a promise made to a human, failure to fulfill a vow to God does not only result in loss of earthly credibility, but also results in a damaged relationship with God.  Vows should not be taken lightly.  Not all people are called to take the vows of this order.  The vows that a member makes are obedience, discipleship, and commitment to community.  The ceremony in which a member makes vows is called profession.
  4. Dismissal and Involuntary Release from Vows.  The abbot, with the concurrence of the prefect for religious orders, may dismiss members from the Order of the Incarnation (which will include involuntary release of vows taken) for violation of any of the vows, for violation of the rule, or for conviction of heresy accompanied by excommunication from the Ecumenical Catholic Church.  Dismissed members may not apply to the Order of the Incarnation again without the express consent of the abbot.
  5. Voluntary Release from Simple Vows.  Members may request voluntary release of simple vows from the abbot.  Such request shall be in writing and shall identify the specific reasons for the request.  The abbot shall decide if the vows are to be released.
  6. Voluntary Temporary Release from Vow of Community.  Members may request a temporary release from the vow of community from their local leader (or abbot if there is not a local leader).  Such a request shall be in writing and shall identify the specific reasons and length of time for the request.  Typically, such requests do not exceed one year.  The leader or abbot shall decide if the vow is to be released.
  7. Voluntary Release from Solemn Vows.  Members may request voluntary release of solemn vows from the abbot.  Such request shall be in writing and shall identify the specific reasons for the request and if the member wishes to leave the Order of the Incarnation or to enter simple profession.  The abbot shall decide if the vows are to be released and if the member is to be accepted for simple profession.
  1. Vow of Obedience
  2. Definition.  The vow of obedience binds the member to the spiritual and community decisions of the chapter superior, abbot, prefect for religious orders, and/or bishops with regards to spiritual and community life.
  3. Violation.  Willful disobedience of superior(s) may be considered grounds for release from the Order of the Incarnation.  Unknowing disobedience should be corrected by the superior.
  1. Vow of Discipleship
  2. Definition.  The vow of discipleship binds the member to pursue daily study and prayer, to draw closer to God, and to practice regular confession.  Ideally members would select a learned and religious person to help guide them in their discipleship.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to poverty and chastity.  Poverty means that we do not obsess about material possessions.  Poverty requires that we keep what is meeting our needs, rather than always seeking the newest and nicest.  Chastity means that we respect our gift of sexuality.  Chastity requires that we are not driven by our sexual lusts and appetites.
  3. Tools for Good Works.  Members should strive to become disciples through their works.  To do this members must love God with all that is within them and love their neighbors as themselves.  Members must heed the commandments of God:  respect life, respect others’ property, and honor every person with whom they come in contact.  Members should take Mary the mother of Jesus as their example and follow Christ to Calvary, help the poor, give clothing to the naked, visit those who are ill, and give comfort to those who are troubled or who are sorrowing.  Hospitality should be shown to all at all times because one never knows when s/he entertains angels as Abraham did long ago.  Just as our Savior said,  “I was a stranger and you welcomed Me.”  Proper honor must be shown to all.  Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people.  In all ways members strive to act in peace and tranquility and avoid any falsehood.  Members should love their enemies and give their blessing to everyone.  Members should hope in God, pray constantly, and pay attention to the many ways in which the Spirit speaks.  Members should never lose hope in God’s mercy and unconditional love.
  4. The Way of Humility.  There are five basic ways to practice humility, and these were exemplified in the life of Jesus.  Jesus kept God before His eyes at all times.  Therefore, keep God always before you.  Jesus put God first in His life.  Therefore, do not love your own will, but love the will of God.  Jesus was obedient in all things.  Therefore, be obedient to your superiors.  Jesus did all in accordance with the Scriptures.  Therefore, follow the Scriptures, this rule, and the example of your superiors.  Jesus is the Suffering Servant.  Therefore, seek to serve all people. When following the example of Jesus, keep before you the words of the Gospel:  “God must increase while I must decrease,” and “Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled, and those who humble themselves shall be exalted.”
  5. Violation.  Immoral or unloving conduct may be considered violation of this vow requiring correction by the superior.  Repeated failing may be considered grounds for release.
  1. Vow of Community
  2. Definition.  The vow of community is twofold.  Within the religious community, this vow binds the members to actively attend the meetings of the order, to support the order and the Ecumenical Catholic Church through stewardship of their time, talents, treasures, and faith, and to assist other members to fulfill their vows.  Within the world community, this vow binds each member to work the spiritual and/or corporal works of mercy.  Each member shall spend one hour each week in these works, beyond the other commitments of the vows.  This is not to say that all members must work all these works of mercy.  Some members will be called to pray, others will be called to feed the hungry, etc.  Each member will have a specific and individual call.  (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-7)
  3. The Works of Mercy

To guide those seeking God.

To teach the unlearned.

To give advice the those who ask it.

To comfort those who suffer.

To be patient with others.

To forgive those who hurt you.

To pray for others.

  1. The Corporal Works of Mercy

To feed the hungry.

To give drink to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To visit the imprisoned.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To bury the dead.

  1.  Separation of the Chapel.  The chapel should be what it is called, and nothing else is to be done there.  Each member should have a room or part of a room set apart.  After the Divine Office or the celebration of the Eucharist, all should leave at their discretion with reverence for God, so that if others wish to stay behind and pray, they may do so.  We must know that God regards our purity of heart.  Prayer should therefore be short and pure, unless one is inspired by the Spirit to remain longer in prayer.
  2. The Divine Office and Celebration of the Eucharist.  The Order of the Incarnation will maintain the ancient practice of praying the psalms, specifically the Divine Office.  Many versions exist, and the abbot should be consulted when selecting a version for the local chapter.  Members shall pray at least one office each day.  On Sundays and major festivals, members shall begin the day with the singing or recitation of Lauds (Morning Prayer) and closing the day with Vespers (Evening Prayer).  Members shall participate in the Celebration of the Eucharist weekly, preferably on Sunday, and on major festivals.
  3. The Habit.  The Order of the Incarnation has adopted religious garb to be worn by professed members and novices at such times designated by the superior of the chapter.  Habits are regarded as being a visible designation of our commitment and community.  The habit serves as a visible sign to the community at large.  The habit should be worn for special times such as the celebration of Eucharist, the Divine Office, and at chapter meetings.

The habit consists of this:

  • A white tunic or alb with near fitted sleeves.
  • A white, straight cut, full-length scapular with hood (or a white scapular without hood, yolk and veil of modest length).  The scapular is emblazoned with the symbol of the order, discreetly over the heart.
  • A white belt.
  • No cross, or crucifix, may be worn visibly about the neck, while in habit, unless by a prior, abbot, or bishop.
  • One medal, crucifix, rosary, or other chaplet may be worn, attached to the belt.
  1. Daily Work.  Idleness is the enemy of the soul.  Therefore, we should have a task that we perform daily.  This can be either a job in the secular community or something that we do in our home.  All members of the Order of the Incarnation are called to provide for themselves.  A job in the secular community should be seen as a chance to witness to others.  This should be an opportunity to show forth God’s mercy, love, and glory.  We connect life in the secular world and in the religious community through our monetary tithes and contributions.  Effectively, then, even though members are not working together as a whole, their contributions to the order provide the means by which the order can carry out its works of ministry, thus effecting a further sense of community among the members. All novices and members of the Order of the Incarnation are responsible for striving toward the biblical standard of contributing 10% of their gross income and benefits to the work of God.
  2. Contributions to the Order.  In addition to any tithes, talents, and offerings to their parish, diocese, or denomination, or to any other charity, each professed member of the Order of the Incarnation shall contribute a minimum of 5% of their gross income from all sources to the order.  Novices are encouraged to strive toward this 5% contribution goal as quickly as possible.  Oblates are encouraged, but not required, to make similar contributions.  When we live by the labor of our hands then we are really disciples.
  3. Day of Rest.  We should maintain the practice of keeping holy the Lord’s Day, that is setting aside one day out of the week to be dedicated to God by prayer and praise.
  4. Community inHorarium.  The members of the chapter should maintain a community in horarium during the week.  This means letting the members know your general schedule that they may participate with you as appropriate.  (For example, Br. John visits a nursing home each Thursday evening from 7:00 to 8:00.  He makes this known.  Sr. Elizabeth has the option of accompanying Br. John if she is available.  Sr. Elizabeth also has the option of praying for Br. John while he is at the nursing home.)
  5. Violation. Failure to attend chapter meetings without obtaining temporary release from the vow of community, failure to spend one hour each week engaged in the works of mercy, failure to establish a chapel at home, failure to pray the daily office or participate in the Celebration of the Eucharist, failure to wear the habit at times appointed by the superior, failure to provide for oneself, failure to support the order through one’s time, talents, faith, and contributions, or failure to participate in the community in horarium  shall be violations requiring correction by the chapter leader.  Repeated violations may be considered grounds for dismissal.
  6. Chapters
  1. All Members in Chapters

All members of the Order of the Incarnation are organized into chapters.  A chapter is defined as those members who all live within one hour’s travel of each other.  If more than 12 members live within an hour’s drive of each other, they may with the abbot’s approval form two chapters.  If a person lives more than one hour away from an existing chapter but wishes to commute to that chapter, s/he may join the chapter with the abbot’s approval.

Nonresidential chapters shall be open to members regardless of sex.  Residential chapters, once established, may be segregated by sex if so desired and if approved by the abbot.

  1. Residential Communities

Chapters interested in forming a residential community (either in whole or in part) should submit a proposal to the abbot identifying the means of support, acceptance of novices, and relationship with non-residential members.  The abbot shall work with the prefect for religious orders in evaluating this proposal and establishing additional regulations and procedures relevant to the residential chapter.

  1. Chapters of One

A single person who wishes to join the Order of the Incarnation, but is not able to join an existing chapter because of distance, may still enter novitiate and, eventually, make profession of vows.  The member is still expected to pray and, if appropriate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist.  A chapter with one member shall report to the local bishop and the order’s abbot.  The local bishop may assign this responsibility to a parish pastor.  The abbot may assign this responsibility to the administrator or prior of another chapter.

  1. More than One Member and Less than Three Professed Members

When a chapter has at least two members, but does not have three professed members, an administrator shall be selected.  Members of this chapter shall report to the chapter administrator.  The chapter administrator shall report to the local bishop and the order’s abbot.

  1. Three or More Professed Members

When the chapter has three or more professed members, a prior shall be selected.  Members of this chapter shall report to the prior, and the prior shall report to the local bishop and the order’s abbot.

  1. Appeals of Decisions

Decisions of an administrator or prior may be appealed to the abbot.  Decisions of the abbot may be appealed to the prefect for religious orders.  For description of the prefect for religious orders and further appeals refer to the canon law and policy manual of the Ecumenical Catholic Church.

  1. Nature of Dual Reporting

Dual reporting of the local chapter to the diocesan bishop and the order’s abbot is explained as follows.  Chapters report to the diocesan bishop regarding any parish and diocesan ministries with which the chapter is involved as well as public ministries within the diocese.  Chapters report to the abbot on all matters concerning the order or local chapter as part of the order.  Some activities, such as the chapter starting a parish, would involve both the diocesan bishop and abbot.

  1. Religious and Holy Orders

Historically there have been two views regarding clergy in religious orders, and the Order of Incarnation supports both of these.  One is that religious orders are “preferred” to holy orders.  The other is that holy orders are “preferred” to religious orders.  Members are not bound to one view.  However, all members who are in both religious orders and holy orders must state their view in writing, and a change in view should have the approval of both the abbot and diocesan bishop and be recorded in writing.

  1. Preferring Religious Orders to Holy Orders means that the member is first a member of the order and secondly (or incidentally) a member of the clergy.  Such members typically view their sacramental roles tied very closely to the members and work of the order.  Such members would report to the chapter leader, who would advise the diocesan bishop of all sacramental activities.  This is not to say that such members cannot hold administrative positions in a parish or diocese; they can.  Positions that members of this view might hold are those of parish director of religious education, diocesan chancellor, or denominational director of some department.  Members of this view would not be parish pastors, regional deans, or diocesan bishops.
  2. Preferring Holy Orders to Religious Orders means that the member is first a member of the clergy and secondly a member of the order.  Such members view their sacramental roles to be that of diocesan clergy and their involvement with the order to be that of personal spiritual support and an extension of their holy orders.  Such members would report to the diocesan bishop directly on sacramental activities and to the chapter leader on spiritual activities and obligations of the vows.  Parish pastors, regional deans, and diocesan bishops would be some of the members who hold this view due to the nature of their clerical position.
  1. Superiors

The superior of a community is an important person.  The superior is to be like another Christ to the members.  The superior is to point out to the members all that is good and teach them more by action than by words.  The superior should not show favoritism among the members.  (Great care must be exercised if the superior is married.)  Superiors should know that God will ask an account of all the souls entrusted to their care.

  1. Prefect for Religious Orders

The prefect for religious orders is a denominational position outlined in the canons of the Ecumenical Catholic Church.  Simply put, the prefect is over all religious orders of the denomination.

  1.  Order-Wide Administrative Leaders
  2.  Abbot
  3. Form of Address.  An abbot may be addressed as “Brother Abbot” or “Sister Abbot” (“Father Abbot” or Mother Abbot” if an ordained priest).  The title of “abbot” shall be used whether the abbot is male or female.  The abbot shall be selected by unanimous vote of the members or appointment by the prefect for religious orders if a unanimous vote is not obtained.  The abbot shall be selected from the professed members (simple or solemn) and serve as administrative head of all chapters of the Order of the Incarnation.  If there are no professed members who are willing and/or sufficiently trained to serve as abbot, the prefect for religious orders shall serve as abbot.
  4. Leader.  The abbot shall serve as the leader of all chapters until s/he resigns, retires, dies, or is removed from office by the prefect for religious orders.  The abbot may select staff as necessary from among the members of the order.  The abbot shall have the option of serving as leader of one chapter.
  5. Decision-Maker.  The abbot has the authority to make decisions in regard to the religious order on a national level.  When considering a decision on a national level, it is advisable that the abbot ask the opinions of administrators, priors, bishops, the prefect, and primate of the denomination.  Ultimately the prefect of religious orders shall approve all executive decisions.
  6. Acceptance of Vocations.  The abbot has the authority to receive applications and to decide acceptance or rejection of these applications after consultation with the members of the vocation council for the particular applicant.
  7. Ceremonial Superior.  The abbot has the authority to function as the superior in the ceremony of profession into simple or solemn vows.
  1. Vocations Director
  2. Selection.  The abbot may serve as vocations director or may select a member to be vocations director.  If selected, the vocation director should be selected first from among the professed members (simple or solemn).  If a novice is selected (because there are no willing and/or sufficiently trained professed members) care must be exercised that the formation of this novice will not be affected by these added duties.
  3. Reports to Abbot.  The vocations director reports to the abbot and is responsible for sending applications and informational material to inquirers, for gathering the parts of the application and sending them to the vocations council, and for gathering the vocations council’s recommendations and submitting them to the abbot.
  4. Work with Denominational Vocations.  The vocations director of the order shall cooperate and work closely with the vocations director(s) of the denomination responsible for holy orders.
  1. Vocations Council
  2. Make-Up.  The vocations council for the Order of the Incarnation will vary for each applicant.  The council shall consist of the following:  the vocations director of the order, the local bishop, the chapter leader (if the member will join an existing chapter with a leader), the canon for pastoral support, the local dean, and the local pastor (if the member attends a local parish).  If one or more of these positions do not exist or if the same person holds two of these positions, additional people who are ordained clergy in the Ecumenical Catholic Church and/or members of the Order of the Incarnation shall be selected so that the vocations council is six in number.  The vocations director shall appoint the additional people as needed for each candidate.
  1. Recommendations to Abbot.  The vocation council members shall be responsible for making recommendations to the abbot concerning the acceptance or rejection of new applications for novitiate.  The vocations council members shall be responsible for making recommendations to the abbot concerning the acceptance or rejection of a novice’s request to enter into simple profession.  The vocations council members shall be responsible for making recommendations to the abbot concerning the acceptance or rejection of a member’s request to enter into solemn profession.  It is not necessary to consult the vocations council when renewing simple profession.
  1. Chapter Leaders
  2.  Administrator
  3. Form of Address.  Administrators may be addressed as “Brother Superior” or “Sister Superior” (“Father Superior” or “Mother Superior” if an ordained priest).  The title of “administrator” shall be used whether the administrator is male or female.
  4. Selection and Term.  The administrator shall be selected by unanimous vote of the members of the chapter or appointment by the abbot if a unanimous vote is not obtained.  The administrator shall serve a term of one year after which there shall be another selection (the administrator may be selected for another term).  There is no limit to the number of terms of an administrator.  The abbot may remove an administrator from office with the concurrence of the prefect for religious orders.  If an administrator resigns, dies, or is removed, the term shall end and a new administrator shall be selected for a one-year term.  It is preferable, though not required, that the administrator be selected first from the professed members, and lastly from the novitiate.  Oblates may not serve as administrators.
  5. Local Authority.  The administrator has the authority to make decisions in regard to the local chapter (e.g. meeting time and place).  When a decision is to be made in regard to the local chapter, the administrator should gather all members in the chapter and get their counsel.  The counsel of novices and oblates should be weighed with the level of their commitment.  It is advisable to seek the counsel of the abbot.
  6. Serve on Vocations Council.  The administrator does not have authority to process applications, but shall serve on the vocation council for members of his/her chapter.
  7. Ceremonial Superior.  An administrator who is also a professed member has the authority to function as the superior in the ceremony of profession into simple or solemn vows.  An administrator who is not professed may witness such vows, but may not serve as the superior in the ceremony.  In the later case, the local bishop or abbot shall serve as superior.
  1. Prior
  2. Form of Address.  The prior may be addressed as “Brother Prior” or “Sister Prior” (“Father Prior” or “Mother Prior” if an ordained priest).
  3. Selection and Term.  The prior shall be selected by unanimous vote of the members of the chapter or appointment by the abbot if a unanimous vote is not obtained.  The prior shall serve a term of one year after which there shall be another selection (the prior may be selected for another term).  There is no limit to the number of terms of a prior.  The abbot may remove a prior from office with the concurrence of the prefect for religious orders.  If a prior resigns, dies, or is removed, the term shall end and a new prior shall be selected for a one-year term.  The prior must be a professed member of the Order of the Incarnation.
  4. Local Authority.  The prior has the authority to make decisions in regard to the local chapter (e.g. meeting time and place).  When a decision is to be made in regard to the local chapter, the prior should gather all members in the chapter and get their counsel.  The counsel of novices and oblates should be weighed with the level of their commitment.  It is advisable to seek the counsel of the abbot.
  5. Serve on Vocations Council.  The prior does not have authority to process applications, but shall serve on the vocation council for members of his/her chapter.
  6. Ceremonial Superior.  The prior has the authority to function as the superior in the ceremony of profession into simple or solemn vows.

VII.          Meetings

  1.  Chapter Meetings
  2. Weekly Meeting.  The local chapter shall come together at least once a week.  At the weekly meeting, the community should pray the Divine Office (or other suitable public prayer); if a priest is present, the community should celebrate the Holy Eucharist.  (A deacon or professed member may on occasion celebrate the Mass of the Presanctified or “Deacon’s Mass.”)  The community should also spend some time working toward spiritual growth.  If there are novices or postulants at the meeting, some time should be devoted to discussion of the Rule.  A period of recreation should accompany these meetings.
  3. Additional Meetings.  The chapter may meet more often than once each week, at the discretion of the chapter leader.  The chapter leader may conduct these additional meeting as s/he desires.
  4. National Meetings

National meetings of all members shall be held every two years.  These meetings shall be scheduled with consideration for the national and diocesan meetings of the Ecumenical Catholic Church.  The abbot, or an appointed assistant, shall set the schedule of the national meeting.

VIII.   Finances

A       Control of Abbot

All financial matters of the order at the national, regional, and local levels are under the control of the abbot, and ultimately the prefect for religious orders and the primate.

  1.  Distribution of Funds

Assessments to the national denomination shall be paid by the order on all funds received in accordance with canon law and the denominational policies on assessments.  The abbot, in conjunction with the chapter leaders, shall develop a plan for the distribution of the remainder of the order’s funds to national, regional, and chapter functions and activities of the order.

  1.  Residential Chapters

Rules and regulations for residential chapters may be established separately from those for nonresidential chapters, provided they are in accordance with canon law and denominational policy.  This is especially appropriate since the member-based costs and direct member contributions associated with a residential chapter may be significantly greater than and different from those of a nonresidential chapter.

  1.  Property of Denomination

In accordance with canon law, the Ecumenical Catholic Church remains one legal and financial entity, with all property associated with the order or any chapter being in the title and ownership of the denominational corporation.

  1.  Canonicity

The Order of the Incarnation is under the authority of Ecumenical Catholic Church canon law, doctrinal policies, and procedural policies as issued by the primate.

  1. Ratification and Amendments
  2. Ratification and Allegiance

This rule becomes binding and effective upon ratification by the primate.  All members of the Ordo Incarnationis are required to dedicate obedience to this rule as part of their vows of membership.

  1.  Amendment by Membership
  2. Abbot/Prefect Supportive.  The members may, by means of written vote of 50% or more of the professed members, petition the abbot for amendments to the rule.  If the abbot supports the amendments s/he shall then forward the proposal to the prefect for religious orders.  If the prefect for religious orders supports the amendments, s/he shall forward the recommendation to the primate.  Amendments to the rule become effective upon ratification by the primate.
  3. Abbot/Prefect Not Supportive.  If the professed members propose amendments that are not supported by the abbot, if they achieve at least 2/3 support among the professed members, they may submit the amendments directly to the prefect for religious orders and/or the primate.  The final decision regarding the amendment shall rest with the primate.
  4.  Amendment by Primate

The primate may from time to time make amendments to the rule, particularly upon consultation with the prefect for religious orders and the abbot.  The prefect and/or the abbot may also propose amendments directly to the primate.  Generally such amendments would be administrative in nature or clearly in the best interest of the order.  Because the members are required to continue to be obedient to the rule, including its amendments, the abbot, prefect, and primate should wisely seek the counsel of the membership on all amendments which affect the general life of the community.

 Conclusion

Let us keep in mind, leader and member, the following words from Scripture:  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ instruction and the communal life, to the Breaking of Bread and the Prayers.”

If one wants to obtain true holiness let him/her continue to listen to the words of Christ Who asks us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow in His footsteps.

PROFESSION OF VOWS

This rite should be celebrated within the context of the celebration of the Eucharist, following the Creed.  The candidate should be clothed in normal clothes.  (If already an ordained bishop/priest/deacon, the candidate should wear cassock, surplice, and stole.)

The superior calls the candidate by baptismal name.

Superior           N.N.N.

Candidate         Here I am.

The candidate then goes to stand before the superior and says:

Candidate         N.N., brother/sister/father/mother in Christ, during the time of novitiate I have shared in the communal life of the Order of the Incarnation by participation in the Divine Office, the Eucharistic liturgy, and reading the rule.

I now ask that I may dedicate myself to God and His Kingdom by making profession in the Order of the Incarnation and by embracing this rule as my guide.

Superior           After taking counsel I accept Brother/Sister N.N. as a candidate for profession.

People              We also accept him/her.  Thanks be to God.

The Examination

The candidate stands and the superior questions the novice about his/her readiness for profession.

Superior           You have already been consecrated to God in Baptism by water and the Holy Spirit.  Are you resolved to be more closely united to God by the new bond of profession?

Candidate            I am.

Superior           In your desire to follow Christ and His saints more perfectly, are you resolved to strive for perfect charity through the living out of the Rule of the Order of the Incarnation?

Candidate            I am.

Superior            May almighty God give you His grace X to carry this out.

All                    Amen.

Litany of Saints

The candidate shall lay prostrate during the singing of the Litany of the Saints.

Profession

Superior           Let us pray.  Lord, look upon your servant and friend Brother/Sister N.N.  Today s/he wishes to dedicate his/her life to you by professing the Gospel life as expressed in the rule of the Order of the Incarnation.  In Your Love grant that his/her way of life may bring glory to Your Name and further Your plan of salvation.  Through Christ our Lord.

All                    Amen.

The candidate stands.  There should be at least two to witness the profession along with the superior.  The candidate comes before the superior and reads the formula of profession.  After reading it, the formula is signed by the newly professed at the altar.

Simple Profession

Candidate         In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  I, Brother/Sister N.N.N. of {city}, in the diocese of {diocese}, promise with vows valid for one year, to be renewed if desired for another year before God and His saints, in the presence of our brother/sister/father/mother in Christ, N.N., and the members of this order, the vows of obedience, discipleship, and commitment to community.

In witness whereof I have prepared this document and signed it here at {name of place} in {city}, {state}, in the year of our Lord {year} on the {day} day of {month}, the {name of feast or liturgical day}.

Solemn Profession

Candidate         In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  I, Brother/Sister N.N.N. of {city}, in the diocese of {diocese}, promise with vows valid for life, in the presence of our brother/sister/father/mother in Christ, N.N., and the members of this order, the vows of obedience, discipleship, and commitment to community.

In witness whereof I have prepared this document and signed it here at {name of place} in {city}, {state}, in the year of our Lord {year} on the {day} day of {month}, the {name of feast or liturgical day}.

The newly professed then goes to the middle of the sanctuary and kneels with head bowed and arms extended.  S/he will sing the following three times with the Gloria Patri

Newly Professed

Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word and I will live, and disappoint me not in my hope. (Three times.)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever.  Amen.

Superior           Let us pray.  God Almighty, you have found a laborer for Yourself in Brother/Sister N.N.; be merciful to him/her as s/he begins to serve You and Your Church in the prayer and good works of this community; may s/he be a source of strength to us and an instrument of Your peace to all whom s/he meets.  Through Christ our Lord.

All                    Amen.

The candidate stands before the superior and is clothed in the habit.  If already an ordained bishop/priest/deacon, the cassock, surplice, and stole are removed; the candidate is dressed in the habit; and then the surplice and stole are put over the habit.

Superior           Be clothed with the habit as a sign of your dedication; may you keep in your heart that devotion to the Lord which this habit outwardly proclaims.

Newly Professed

Amen.

The newly professed is given the rule.

Superior           Receive this rule which you have freely accepted.  By keeping it faithfully, may you run the Gospel way with love.

Newly Professed

Amen.

The Mass continues with the prayers of the people or offertory.


RATIFICATION

 Submission

We, the undersigned charter novices of the Order of the Incarnation, submit this rule, being the original version, to Your Excellency for approval.

            Richard Daniel George Bellotti X                   Janine Taylor Bryant X

            David Conlay Burrell                                      X Richard John Cardarelli

            Ronald Travis Channell                                  Anthony C. Christopher Ehemann X

            Robert Darrell Hall X                                      Gary Lynn Wheat

Approval

I, the prefect for religious orders, have read and approve the Rule of the Order of the Incarnation and submit it to Your Eminence for acceptance and ratification.

X Michael Robert Frost 
Bishop of New York
Prefect for Religious Orders

Ratification

Primam hanc editionem Regulae Ordinis Incarnationis Ecclesiae Catholicae Oecumenicae, quam a tiribus et praefecto ordinum religiosorum approbata, probamus atque omnibus sub hac regula commendamus.

Datum Pensacola Floridae apud Festus Incarnationis die 25 decembris anno Domini 1995.

X Mark Steven Shirilau 
Patriarcha Archiepiscopus Primasque
Ecclesia Catholica Oecumenica