ORDER OF ST. COLUMBA
Article 1. The Ancient British Church’s Order of St. Columba is founded as a wholly Christian Community and Order, for the service and ministry to the People of God, no matter what their race, class, culture or standing, for it is essential to act always, and in every manner appropriate, to ensure that the faithful of the One, Holy, Universal Church of God in Christ is ministered to. It is the responsibility of each chief shepherd thereof, that is, of each Bishop in the Church of God in Christ, to act in accordance with the ancient and apostolic Christian Faith so as to meet this ever-present need of His people.
Article 2. And so, in execution of this sacred responsibility, the Ancient British Church, believing us to be called of Christ and moved of the Holy Spirit in behalf of the Universal Church and Her children in Britain and elsewhere, and being so mandated by the great commission of Christ, and the powers thereunto, by this present charter, The Order of Saint Columba with the provisions that such established communion shall be, and forever remain, in all respects, truly Christian and truly universal in the sense of the Apostolic Tradition of the historical Church of God in Christ and shall be in full communion with all of God’s Creation, maintaining and observing a true inclusive, Christian Order and Sacramental Communion. The said Order of St. Columba may include members of the sacramental Priesthood and ordained clergy of The Ancient British Church, or those who wish to become members as laity, either as part of The Ancient British Church or as remaining with their own Communions and jurisdictions. The Order of St. Columba, in so far as its spirituality and approach to religious and ecclesiastical discipline is concerned, is modelled upon the Rule of St. Columba itself and is not strictly a monastic order. Members promise to endeavour always to live a life that is pleasing to God: to help the poor, to feed the hungry, to visit the sick, to comfort the dying, and at all times and in all places to give good example of the true Christian in accordance with the exhortations of Christ and His Apostles, as read in the New Testament Holy Scriptures: to be always, and in all situations, kind, gentle, patient, faithful, diligent, prayerful, just, prudent, self-disciplined, humble and holy; and to endeavour to live-out the principal virtues of faith, hope and fervent charity.
Article 3. The purpose of The Order of St. Columba is to proclaim the Good News of our Lord in accordance with His command: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’, (Matt. 28:19-20), and to promote the universal religious faith in the fullness of Christian Traditions as found in the Universal Church. To mutually assist believers united in the Faith, by means of prayer, worship, teaching, and religious discipline, in attaining salvation through participation in the sacraments and a life dedicated to holy charity; and to undertake charitable works for the good and welfare of the community. The goal of The Order of St. Columba are to present the Faith to any and all people, in all its purity and fullness, in all the power of the Divine Spirit by both word and deed, and to provide the People of God with access to the Sacraments and Divine Services, with pastoral care and spiritual guidance, and with true Christian preaching and teaching of the Holy Gospel.
Article 4. In this Communion, lay members shall be bound by only this one rule of prayer from The Rule: ‘Pray thrice daily’. The Celtic Book of Hours for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer, shall be available to them but binding only upon clergy members. Lay members need only ‘pray thrice daily’, particularly by using The Psalms. Insofar as religious habits and ecclesiastical vesture are concerned, these are optional and at the discretion of each local Bishop. Each Order of the clergy shall be sufficient without honorary or higher grades. There shall be, as in the pristine Christian Tradition, those of Deacons, Presbyters and Bishops, but there shall not be any archdeacons, archpriests, archbishops, metropolitans, etc.; furthermore, there shall be, besides the formal sacerdotal rank of the clergyman, only one informal honorific address, to wit: Father Abbot (the Abbot), Father (Priest and Bishop) and Reverend N. (Deacons) for all three ecclesiastical Orders, but no such forms as Your Eminence, Your Excellency, Your Grace, Most Reverend, Right Reverend, etc., lest some poor misguided soul be led to covet such grades, titles, and honours. No one, however, should turn this rule into an offense by uncharitably refusing to use the honorific forms of address duly given to hierarchs of other jurisdictions, for in that direction one finds pride and intolerance. The humility of the clergy of this Order must not be perverted into any manner of sanctimonious condescension, since there is no excuse for sinning against charity.
Article 5. The requirement for initial reception into The Order of St. Columba is a life of stability within the Order for one year. Full membership in the Order shall require a perpetual vow. The perpetual vow is a vow of agreement under this Charter and life-long perseverance in the Order. This is a life-long commitment, not to be lightly entered into and not to be broken once made. Clergy are not required to take vows of celibacy but are all-the-same to remain chaste and pure, as are all members.
Article 6. The temporary Vow for one year shall be as follows:
Most loving, eternal God, Father Almighty, Thou Who art deserving of all my love, I,
On this day: __________________
In the year of Our Lord ____________
join myself, even though unworthy, to The Order of St. Columba and, inflamed with the desire of consecrating myself entirely to Thy holy love, in accordance with the Rule of St. Columba, bind myself to serve for a period of one year to serve Thee with all my strength, by imitating the holy life of Thy Servant St. Columba, which is the way of pleasing Thee, and to labour for the salvation of souls. Now, therefore, in the presence of Thy Divine Majesty and of the whole court of Heaven, prostrate before Thee on my knees, I vow, by this Holy Gospel, holy obedience and charity, persevering for a period of one year in the Order of St. Columba of the Ancient British Church.
___________________________ Signature of Postulant
___________________________ Signature of Witness
In all cases, the candidate signs and dates their vow; kneels, places their right hand on the Holy Bible and makes their vow. A witness signs the vow form immediately after the candidate makes their vow. The postulant should keep a copy and give/mail the original to the Father Abbot.
We reject the idea that any person who honestly believes the Good News of Jesus Christ and confesses Christ as our universal Lord and Saviour can or should be excluded from the Divine Liturgy. With respect to ecclesiastical discipline, the most ancient disciplinary norms and procedures shall be followed to the extent possible, remembering the ancient principle: In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.
Article 7. Perpetual vow.
THE ORDER OF ST. COLUMBA (osc)
Most loving, eternal God, Father Almighty, Thou Who art deserving of all my love, I,
On this day: __________________
In the year of Our Lord ____________
join myself, even though unworthy, to
The Order of St. Columba
and, inflamed with the desire of consecrating myself entirely to Thy holy love, in accordance with the Rule of St. Columba, bind myself to serve Thee all the days of my life with all my strength, by imitating the holy life of Thy Servant St. Columba, which is a way of pleasing unto Thee, and to labour for the salvation of souls. Now, therefore, in the presence of Thy Divine Majesty and of the whole court of Heaven, prostrate before Thee on my knees, I vow, by this Holy Gospel, holy obedience and charity, persevering until death in the Order of St. Columba of the Ancient British Church.
___________________________ Signature of Postulant
___________________________ Signature of Witness
In all cases, the candidate signs and dates their vow; kneels before the Father Abbot, or his representative,, places their right hand on the Holy Gospels and makes their vow. A witness signs the vow form immediately after the candidate makes their vow. The postulant is given a copy and the other is handed to (mailed to) the Father Abbot.
The Rule of St. Columba
- Be alone in a separate place near a chief city, if thy conscience is not prepared to be in common with the crowd.
- Be always unadorned in imitation of Christ and the Evangelists.
- Whatsoever little or much thou possessest of anything, whether clothing, or food, or drink, let it be at the command of the senior and at his disposal, for it is not befitting a religious to have any distinction of property with his own free brother.
- Let a fast place, with one door, enclose thee.
- A few religious men to converse with thee of God and his Testament; to visit thee on days of solemnity; to strengthen thee in the Testaments of God, and the narratives of the Scriptures.
- A person too who would talk with thee in idle words, or of the world; or who murmurs at what he cannot remedy or prevent, but who would distress thee more should he be a tattler between friends and foes, thou shalt not admit him to thee, but at once give him thy benediction should he deserve it.
- Let thy servant be a discreet, religious, not tale-telling man, who is to attend continually on thee, with moderate labour of course, but always ready. Yield submission to every rule that is of devotion.
- A mind prepared for red martyrdom [that is death for the faith].
- A mind fortified and steadfast for white martyrdom [that is ascetic practices].
- Forgiveness from the heart of every one.
- Constant prayers for those who trouble thee.
- Fervour in singing the office for the dead, as if every faithful dead was a particular friend of thine.
- Hymns for souls to be sung standing.
- Let thy vigils be constant from eve to eve, under the direction of another person.
- Three labours in the day, viz., prayers, work, and reading.
- The work to be divided into three parts, viz., thine own work, and the work of thy place, as regards its real wants; secondly, thy share of the brethren's work; lastly, to help the neighbours: by instruction or writing, or sewing garments, or whatever labour they may be in want of, as the Lord says, ‘You shall not appear before me empty’.
- Everything in its proper order, for no one is crowned except he who has striven lawfully.
- Follow alms-giving before all things.
- Take not of food till thou art hungry.
- Sleep not till thou feelest desire.
- Speak not except on business.
- Every increase which comes to thee in lawful meals, or in wearing apparel, give it for pity to the brethren that want it, or to the poor in like manner.
- The love of God with all thy heart and all thy strength;
- The love of thy neighbour as thyself.
- Abide in the Testament of God throughout all times.
- Thy measure of prayer shall be until thy tears come;
- Or thy measure of work of labour till thy tears come;
- Or thy measure of thy work of labour, or of thy genuflexions, until thy perspiration often comes, if thy tears are not free.
Article 8. Notes on The Rule
Having a Rule ensures not only harmony within the community, but also discipline and moderation for the individual. St. Columba, the sixth century Irish priest established a monastic community on Iona from which much of the British Isles would be evangelized. Those Evangelists lived by the Rule given to them by St. Columba.
PARTICIPATION IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
Being a member of the Church means being a member of the Church, even if you are an isolated hermit. There is no such thing as an independent Christian. We are not meant to live the Christian life on our own. St. Columba’s Rule instructs hermits to live ‘in the vicinity of a great city’, some translate ‘great city’ as ‘the seat of a Bishop’, in other words, even when spending most of your time in isolation you need to remain firmly planted in the Church. This Rule also instructs the hermit to ‘have a few devout men who will discuss God and the Scriptures with you. Let them visit you on great Feast Days, that so they may strengthen your devotion to the words and precepts of God’.
We need to be supported by good Christian fellowship. We ought to associate with those farther along the spiritual path than we are, to help show us the way. Note that the Rule mentions ‘Feast Days’. The liturgical calendar of the Church should play a prominent role in our devotional life.
Many Christians may live out in the world and yet be spiritual hermits, isolating themselves from much of the world. These should not only attend the Sunday Divine Liturgy, which is the principle celebration of the Christian community, but should be participating in the community in other ways also: helping the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, etc. They ought also to attend the Divine Liturgy on feast days during the week. They must also have a competent soul-friend or father Confessor.
- BE DETACHED FROM THE WORLD
Detachment is a good spiritual practice no matter what one’s station in life. St. Columba calls his hermits to ‘let your life be completely detached from the world, and follow the teaching of Christ and the Gospels’. This does not mean having no possessions whatsoever, it means not being attached to them. The Rule also instructs, ‘Whether you possess much or little in the way of food, drink or clothing, let it be retained with the permission of a senior. Let him have control over its disposition…’ Whatever we may possess, it is important not to allow it to possess us. For those not part of a religious order, placing control of goods in the hands of a superior is not an option, but we can place their control in the hands of God; after-all, God owns it all anyway and we only borrow it for a time. This is what it means to be stewards of God’s creation - we are caretakers only and nothing really belongs to us. Note, too, the specific goods the Rule mentions: food, drink and clothing. There is not much in the way of luxury here; and because there is a tendency to put too much value in our possessions, we should strive to possess only that which we truly need.
- MAKE GOOD FRIENDS
In addition to the above requirement to have devout people with whom you can discuss God and the Scriptures, St. Columba’s Rule also warns against conversing ‘with anyone who is given to idle or worldly gossip, or with anyone who grumbles about what he can neither prevent nor rectify’. The Rule calls for the hermit or monk to bless such people, and then send them on their way. We should, the Rule warns, be discerning in our friendships and associates, we should surround ourselves with those who will support us in our quest for sanctity and avoid those who will bring us down. Note: we should not treat the latter unkindly, we should pray for them, but cannot allow them to involve us in their worldly pass-times or vices.
- PRAY FOR OTHERS
It goes without saying that the Christian disciple needs to have a robust daily prayer life. St. Columba’s Rule says to ‘cherish every practice of devotion greatly’. It specifically mentions praying for two groups of people: those who annoy you, and the dead. Concerning the dead, the Rule instructs to pray for them constantly, ‘as if each dead person were a personal friend’. We should pray for the dead in our families and communities on a daily basis.
- BE FAITHFUL
The Rule instructs the hermits and monks to be ‘Faithful to the commands of God at all times’. A footnote mentions that ‘commands’ could also be translated as ‘testament’, which connotes bearing witness. Another way of putting this is martyrdom. St. Columba’s Rule mentions two types. It says, ‘Be ready in mind for red martyrdom’, the martyrdom of blood, but it also says, ‘Be preserving and steadfast for white martyrdom’. This ‘white martyrdom’ means abandoning everything for the sake of Christ. It means living a totally faithful Christian life, despite whatever hardships or obstacles the world throws at us; despite whatever derision or scorn it might bring. It means a constant dying, or martyrdom, to oneself so that we can say with St. Paul: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God’ (Gal.2:20), for the Lord Himself commanded: ‘And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’, (Mark 8:34); and again: ‘So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple’, (Luke 14:33). Hermits and monastics live this white martyrdom in a very specific way, of course, but there is no reason whatsoever that a lay person cannot live this same spirit in his or her home out in the world.
- DO PENANCE
St. Columba’s Rule instructs, ‘Let your vigils be constant day by day, but always under the direction of another’. A footnote here indicates that ‘vigils’ refers to cros figell or ‘cross vigil’, a penitential form of prayer where the hermit would pray standing or kneeling with his arms outstretched as if on a cross for long periods of time. Penance ought to be a part of every Christian’s spiritual practices. Note that the Rule instructs this penance to be performed ‘under the direction of another’, this is as a caution against going overboard in our penances. As Christians, we believe penance is good, holy and necessary, but we are not masochists; sufficient for the lay person to keep the fasting days, perform some penance on Wednesdays and Fridays of the year, and make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. No one should take on too many personal penances without spiritual direction from their anam-cara or Father confessor.
- FORGIVE OTHERS
The Rule instructs to ‘forgive every person from your heart’. No further explanation here is necessary, no adaptation for the modern life required. Forgive, forgive, forgive.
- PRAY, WORK, READ
The Rule mentions three activities that make up the daily occupation: prayer, manual labour, and lectio or ‘holy reading’. These are good daily endeavours for all Christians. Obviously the particular work of a hermit or monk will be different than that of a layman in the world, but the principle still applies, we ought to spend some time each day in prayer, spiritual reading, and productive work; remembering that all three are important and that one does not obscure the others. Each is important. St. Paul managed to work for his living, ‘so as not to be a burden on anyone’, and he also prayed much and read/wrote: ‘Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you’, (1 Thess. 2:9).
- WORK WELL
Concerning daily work, the Rule specifies a three-fold division: first you should work to: ‘fill your own needs and those of the place where you live’; secondly you should ‘do your share of your brothers’ work’; and thirdly: you should ‘help your neighbours’; that is, work for yourself and then for your community. As Christians, we are reminded often of the need to serve others, and this is essential for a true Christian life; once we have ‘denied ourselves’ as directed by the Lord, then we are free to serve, and serving Christ is done by serving others: ‘James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do’, (Gal.2:8-10).
- PRACTICE MODERATION
The Rule contains a set of short precepts reminding the hermit and monk to be moderate in all things, ‘Do not eat until you are hungry. Do not sleep until it is necessary. Do not speak until necessity demands’.
If we only eat when we are hungry, we avoid the sin of gluttony, if we only sleep when we are tired, we avoid the sin of sloth, if we only speak when we have something meaningful and necessary to say, we avoid the sin of gossip, calumny, detraction, and so many others. This is good advice for all of us to bear in mind.
- BE GENEROUS
Living moderately allows us to be more generous to others. The Rule reminds us that if we take less than our allowance of food and clothing, we will have more to share with the poor, it says, ‘Above and before all else practice almsgiving’. Again, this is good spiritual advice for all.
- BE ZEALOUS
The Rule of St. Columba instructs us to be particularly zealous in both of areas of work and prayer, ‘The extent of your prayer should be until tears come’, and, ‘The measure of your work should be to labour until exhaustion comes’. The Rule holds this up as an ideal to strive for rather than an absolute requirement, and recognizing that this won’t be possible or practical to many, the Rule also states that if tears do not come, the limit of our prayer and work ‘should be perspiration’, in other words, we shouldn’t be lazy in either our prayer or labour but should engage in both until we are tired.
- REMEMBER THE BASICS
Finally, St. Columba’s Rule instructs us to ‘Love God with all your heart and with all your strength’, and to ‘love your neighbour as you would yourself’. These are the two great commandments given to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 22:37), Who said that all the Law and Prophets depend on these two commandments (Mt 22:40); and so any Rule of Life we adopt for ourselves must also depend on these basic tenets of the Christian faith - after all, if our Rule does not help to us to live these two commandments more fully and faithfully, then our rule is wrong.
Article 9. What we believe: ‘The Celtic Way’ of The Ancient British Church
We acknowledge the full Old Testament of the Septuagint Bible (containing the so-called Apocrypha), which Our Lord Himself frequently quoted from, and the New Testament, as the inerrant Word of God and the primary requirement for ruling in all matters of practice and Church policy.
We believe that the statement of Faith in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Symbol of Faith), contains all that is necessary and sufficient for salvation. This means that we believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, His Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, His eventual return, the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, God's forgiveness of our sins through Christ, and eternal life, and our communion with the Saints in Heaven. That the correct version of the Creed is that which was approved at the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and reaffirmed and expanded by the Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.); it does not contain the later addition of the ‘Filioque (and the Son) clause’, so arbitrarily added by the Church of Rome, and which act caused the split of the One, Undivided Church into the Roman West and the Orthodox East.
We observe all seven Sacraments (or Mysteries) of the One Undivided Church: the Sacraments of Baptism (with Chrismation, as was always the norm) and Holy Communion and that these are necessary to living a full Christian life. The other Sacraments of: Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession), Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Holy Unction (Anointing), including Extreme Unction, (also called The Last Rites) are deemed necessary for a more abundant life in Christ and the Church. We also recognize the work of grace in what are called ‘Sacramentals’, such as preaching, teaching, prayers and devotions, etc., which assist in the growth of the spiritual life and the spread of the Holy Gospel. We teach, as the Celtic Church always did, that the whole of Christian life should be sacramental, known as ‘Sacramental Living’, that is, an outward sign of the inner grace of Christ present within, which should show in the lives we lead.
We hold that the First Seven ‘Ecumenical’ (that is: ‘universal’) Councils of the Undivided Catholic Church were guided by the Holy Spirit and form a continuation of the deposit of the faith given by Christ to the Apostles. In addition to theological clarifications on the nature of Christ and the Holy Trinity, these Councils also pronounced on the intercession of the Saints and the veneration of sacred images (icons) as consistent with Christian doctrine and worship. They also gave the Blessed Virgin Mary recognition as the Mother of God (Theotokos:‘God-bearer’) by virtue of the birth of the Son of God through her obedience. Since the Great Schism of the East and West in1054, no proper Ecumenical Council has ever, could ever, take place again of the Church has been possible since the Church was no longer One, but fortunately, the essentials of the Faith were all secured by then.
We hold that Sacred Tradition is the deposit of faith given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration or subtraction. Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church: it is dynamic in application, yet unchanging in dogma; it is growing in expression, yet ever the same in essence. Unlike many conceptions of Tradition in popular understanding, the Ancient British Church does not regard Sacred Tradition as something which grows and expands over time, forming a collection of practices and doctrines which accrue, gradually becoming something more developed and eventually unrecognizable to the first Christian beliefs, rather, Sacred Tradition is that same faith which Christ taught to the Apostles and which they, in turn, gave to their disciples, preserved in the whole Church and especially in its leadership through Apostolic Succession.
According to the ancient dictum: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, meaning that what we pray shows what we believe, we maintain that it is the Sacred Liturgies which demonstarate our theology; the beliefs of The Ancient British Church can be clearly seen in the Divine Liturgies and prayers which it maintains.
Whether he is a Bishop or not, the most senior person in the Ancient British Church is the Father Abbot. The Father Abbot is elected by the voting of all clergy and is appointed and consecrated by the Bishops, although the Abbot retains the right to name his successor.
The Church is divided geographically into Provinces (not Diocese, which was never the way of the Celtic Church) and each Province has a Father Prior who is appointed by the Abbot. The Prior will be a Cleric in Holy Orders who may, but not necessarily be, also a Bishop.
Priests/Bishops are bound to offer the Divine Liturgy on each Sunday and all Feast days in accordance with the ancient Celtic Missal. Priests/Bishops can, but are not obliged to, offer it on other days.
All Fridays and Wednesdays throughout the year should be kept as fast days with abstention from meat also. During Lent, all days except Sundays are to be kept as fast days. The minimum fast is where only one full meal is partaken of; a partial meal, may be taken at another time of the day if needed. The meal that is permitted on a fast day also ought not to be large or extravagant, but simple and sufficient for nourishment. The faithful are to be encouraged to keep the fasts but are not obliged to do so. While Wednesdays and Fridays are obligatory fast days, the clergy are encouraged to fast on other days too if they are so able. On all days and at all times, the clergy are to practice other self-denial practices, and should encourage the faithful also so to do. (Mark 8:34, Matthew 16:24).
Anyone offering or attending the Divine Liturgy should fast for at least one hour before it commences (health permitting), not an hour before Communion is expected to be. Fasting from midnight of the previous day is highly commendable but not obligatory.
All Clergy are to follow the Rule of St. Columba, and are to be committed to a disciplined spirituality under the guidance of a Father Confessor. They are also to encourage and lead all the faithful to develop a deep spirituality and prayer life, and ought to spare nothing in their endeavours to bring them in such wise to their heavenly home.
Any Clergy that desire to join the Celtic Church must demonstrate both competency and knowledge, plus a deep spirituality and prayer life; should this be seen to be lacking, they must set themselves to changing the situation by study and prayer under the direction of a designated Father Confessor.
Any man wishing to be considered for Holy Orders within the Ancient British Church must be prepared to undergo all necessary training: academic, pastoral, spiritual and practical; to be mentored by an experienced Cleric, and to develop a spirituality and prayer life under the direction of a Father Confessor. Any prospective candidate should contact the Bishop in their Province to discuss their vocation.
Applications for Incardination must be made by letter to the Father Abbot via the applicant’s Bishop of their Province. A Letter of Incardination, for clergy from another jurisdiction, will be issued when: a DBS check has been made and presented by the person applying, academic qualifications and any relevant training has been produced, or the willingness to undergo training; evidence of a deep spirituality and disciplined prayer life has been demonstrated, a letter of reference is received by a competent referee. The Incardination will be followed by a Letter of Faculties once all things are deemed to be in order.
All Priests should report to their Prior, at least once a year, upon their ministry. All Priors should report to the Father Abbot, at least once a year, upon their ministry and the state and management of their region.
All Bishops who are not Priors, should also report to their Father Prior, at least once a year upon their ministry. At least once a year there should be a general Chapter with as many in attendance as possible.
All Clergy must be male and over the age of 25. Clerics may be married or celibate. Marriage can take place either before or after Ordination. Whether married or celibate, clergy must be chaste at all times. Candidates who are in a second marriage may also request Holy Orders.
All clergy who not of the age of retirement and who are in suitably good health, must work for their living and for the sustenance of their family and maintenance of their ministry. No fees or stipends ought to be taken for their ministry or for the administration of the Mysteries of God, the Sacraments: ‘freely ye have received, freely give’.
All Clergy ought to have a Father Confessor with whom they can confide, and who will lead them along the spiritual path. This Confessor should be competent in the spiritual way. Clergy should receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly from this Confessor.
All Clergy must pray the Celtic Office of Hours thrice daily, also read and meditate upon Sacred Scripture and spend time in meditation and prayer; and fulfil all other commands of the Rule.
Clergy must not depend upon Funeral stipends for their living, calling this a ‘funeral ministry’, rather they are to have work which relates to the work of the faithful, and there to engage with them and demonstrate that the Clergy also engage in the same toils as they. Clergy ought to take on few Funerals unless they be of the Ancient British Church.
Clergy must only use authorised Ancient Celtic Liturgies; this includes: the Divine Liturgy, the Divine Office (Hours), Rites and Rituals, Sacramentary and Ordinal.
Clergy ought always to wear clerical attire, except when engaging in secular employment, at which time it ought to be sombre and not according to the present fashions. The colour of Clerical dress for Deacons, Priests, and also Bishops, is black. British Bishops do not wear the regal purple of other Churches, they may wear a pectoral cross. Bishops in the Celtic tradition hold a very important ‘office’ but this is not a ‘rank’, and whilst they are to expect obedience to their office, they are not to be afforded any particular honours, since ‘all are equal in Christ’.
Clergy are to establish Chapels where the Liturgy can be offered and from where the Sacraments can be dispensed. The mainstay of ministry is to be amongst God’s people in the communities where they live and work. Should a congregation become larger than the Priest’s Chapel can accommodate, other provision will have to be arranged within the local community.
Clergy must not be wealthy nor live extravagantly, but rather should live by humble means and live frugally, disdaining the world and its luxuries, avoiding its pleasures and excitements. They should embrace poverty as far as possible without putting those with whom they live in discomfort, hardship or anxiety. In this manner will they encourage the faithful to look to the things above, and not the things below: ‘for where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also’.
All clergy must at all times be gentle, patient and kind; knowledgeable and well-read yet unassuming; never proud or arrogant; always humble and prayerful; hard-working and not given to idleness; not a heavy drinker but drinking only very infrequently and then sparingly; not given to much sleep or recreation; softly spoken and never to raise the voice to anyone; never to be angry or resentful; never to be scornful or critical of anyone; resentful and hating only of one’s own will, desires, appetites and urges; never using foul language, swearing or engaging in crude talk of any kind; ever tender-hearted and hospitable.
In accordance with holy Tradition and the ways of our Eastern Orthodox brethren, there is provision, under certain circumstances, for second, and in some cases third, marriages to take place once the Church has formally granted a dissolving of the first/second marriage and having completed the Lamentation period.
The faithful should be encouraged to attend the Divine Liturgy on all Sundays and Feasts (according to the calendar within the Missal); to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to read the New Testament often; to endeavour to lead holy lives and to give generously to the poor.