On October 17th, Father Vernoy and several parishioners from St Thomas More, traveled to Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, in Silver City, New Mexico to witness Brother Bede's Vows.
Brother Bede, a former parishioner of St. Thomas More and son of Bill and Diana Oestreich, is one of many monks living at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Counsels of Perfection
Most Religious, in any Order, take three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are referred to as “Counsels,” because Our Lord gave them, not under obligation (unlike commandments,) but for those who want to do all they can to arrive at the perfection of charity; the purpose of these vows. In addition, the Benedictines take another vow referred to as the “Conversion of Morals.”
The beauty of this vow states every day, a monk vows to make some advancement in spiritual perfection. There is never a day he can wake up and resolutely say that he is not going to progress in his spiritual life without acting contrary to the vow. The spirit of the vow is the strong desire to become a saint and to obtain a perfect union with God.
Steps into Monastic Life
Upon entering the monastic life, men first receive the tonsure (shaved head), take the "cape" although still wearing lay clothes, join the Brothers in the choir, and are called a Postulant (from the Latin postulans, meaning, one who is requesting entrance.) Postulancy lasts for at least 6 months.
From that point, and if the Prior of the monastery approves, one takes the habit, is given his religious name, and enters into the Novitiate for two years. Within that time, he is trying to live the fullness of the Rule and Vows, although he is, of course, not yet bound by them.
After those two years, the community holds a Chapter (meeting) presided over by the Prior wherein they all vote on whether or not to receive the Brother’s vows. If received, he takes two sets of triennial vows; both lasting three years. Each time he renews them, the community votes again.
Spirit of Consecration
By the Vows and the Solemn Profession, the monk becomes a Religious, consecrated to God’s service. From the day of his Profession, all his actions belong to God. Each action of his whole life is an act of religion, done for God's honor and service, no matter what he performs.
In the time of St. Benedict, one was a novice for about a year and then made final vows. But the Church has made more accommodations for the modern man. Although it is interesting to note that if one takes temporary vows and does not have the intention of ultimately proceeding on to final vows when the time comes, his temporary vows are invalid.
The experience of seeing these Religious within, or seeking their vocation leaves one to contemplate their own union with Our Lord. In the Benedictines’ Motto, Ora et Labora, is the pathway to their spiritual union; prayer is not only the time set aside to sing praises during the day, but busy work is a prayer as well. All things work in unison to praise God from the marble of the Altar, and the wood-carved Crucifix to the beautiful prayer of Compline at the end of the day. What a beautiful life when the whole life consists in serving God in all things.
May we continue to keep Brother Bede and all Religious within our prayers!