(To read full text of this document, please refer to Point of Departure.)
The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict (WRBs) is a federally recognized publicly supported religious order. The WRBs include two distinct, interdependent associations, The Order and The Network. The Abbot-Bishop of the WRBs presides over The Order in his monastic capacity as Abbot. The same Abbot-Bishop presides, for the time being, over The Network in his jurisdictional capacity as Bishop. By participating in The Order, one participates in The Network. Participation in The Network does not imply participation in The Order.
The Network is an expression of the WRBs' Mission Statement. This mission is to engender an atmosphere for healing the human experience wherein each person may realize wholeness, holiness. The WRBs accomplish this end through administration of the Word and Sacraments to all, without question, who wish to participate in them. The WRBs are an independent jurisdiction in the Old (Dutch) Catholic tradition.
The purpose of The Network is to provide an episcopal jurisdiction — a context, field of spiritual comfort — to anyone so desiring, specifically, Contemporary Catholics. The intention is to fulfill Christ's catholic request: Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. (Luke 6:36) The specific purpose is to live out Christ's command: Love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
The Network, a composition of people, specifically accepts our human propensity to engage in delusion — falsely believing that we and our reality are the way we think it is or should be. The Network's context predisposes individuals to live Christ's admonition: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
Second, The Network accepts our human propensity to engage in illusion-falsely perceiving that phenomenal events happen to us. The Network recalls Christ's admonition: Do not keep judging according to appearances; let your judgment be according to what is right. (John 7:24) And what is right? Perhaps appreciating the unconditional absolute reality that we each are a child of God and that unless we become again like little children with non-dualistic, whole perceptual ability, we can not enter the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:17), which is now (Luke 17:21) not in the past, present, or future.
Third, The Network accepts our human propensity to engage in allusion-falsely holding our personal life-story or our interpretation of life as being The Truth. We live out Christ's command: Love one another; just as I have loved you. (John 15:12) By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35)
Another name for this stillness is Yahweh, I Am who I Am. (Exodus 3:14)
In this regard, The Network provides a clearing wherein in people are not invited to fall into the delusion of believing the illusion of God some have generated in anthropomorphic allusions of God. We sit — however that may be — quietly in What Is, Is. The Network provides a context to listen. Obedience derives from the Latin words Ob (through) + audiens (listening), listening through the moment. By listening, one positions oneself to obey Christ's two commandments (Matthew 22:35-40):
Consequently, The Network provides a context, an episcopal jurisdiction — a field of spiritual comfort — wherein one may be the answer to Christ's prayer (John 17,21):
Oneness. Unity. Wholeness. The Network creates a context — a field of spiritual comfort — for people to appreciate that true personality comes forth when a person dissolves one's delusions, allusions, and illusions. Thus, the person no longer attaches to one's own self. The person experience true unity of personality as a pure and simple activity that comes forth of itself. Thus, an individual out of love for one's self and others, lets one's self go so that that person may return to one's Self. The person becomes again as a child — ready, willing, and able to enjoy the Kingdom of God. The person gets it that personality is not found in mere reason or desire, much less in unconscious impulses. Like the inspiration of a genius, the individual appreciates one's Self. The Self is an infinite unifying power that functions directly and spontaneously from within each individual, whether the person is aware of this or not. This Self may be called God's Grace.
Therefore, the White Robed Monks of St. Benedict, through the Benedictine Network, offers a context, an episcopal jurisdiction — a field of spiritual comfort — for joint religious and spiritual affiliation and affirmation so that we can serve the People of God as we are ought-being present as Christ is Presence, being open to all.
The Network reverts to the early Church. The specific time is the transitional stage between the time of the Apostles exercising authority over several communities and the time of Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107 CE.) when a single bishop exercised authority over an assembly and a number of priests. The transition phase held a single bishop with authority of the Apostles over a single community. (Jerusalem Bible, Titus, note 1b.)
Each independent episcopal jurisdiction, as the Church at Jerusalem, remains autonomous, yet interdependent within the whole. The Network remembers Christ's reminder to Peter: There are many rooms in my Father's house (John 14:2).
The Network holds that communion or koinonia is the heart of its ecclesiology. The Network forms a communion in grace with God and a communion of all the faithful. The horizontal perfects the vertical. Hence, teaching authority does not reside in a juridical or hierarchical understanding. The Network as a communion of independent jurisdictions is the bearer of God's word. Each Bishop embodies and testifies to the faith of (the Bishop's) own community, of which (the Bishop) is an integral part. (Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien. New York, Harper Collins, 1994, page 701.) As was the case before Pope Eugene III (1198-1216), each bishop bears the responsibility of being Vicar of Christ (and recognizes the Pope in his traditional <since the end of the 4th Century> title of Vicar of Peter). (C.f., page 756)
Religious Congregations without a Bishop as superior will subsume within the episcopal approbation of the Abbot-Bishop of the WRBs in the beginning. With the presence of other Bishops, each religious community is free to ask a Bishop for approbation. Likewise, it may be fitting and proper for the superior to be ordained to the Order of Bishop in due course. In any event, each religious community functions autonomously according to its own Rule, Constitutions, and Tradition only under the guidance of the Bishop as the community and Bishops so ordain.
Ordained Catholic Clergy not presently incardinated may seek incardination from any Bishop within the Network. A cleric incardinated in one jurisdiction is automatically incardinated in all The Network's jurisdictions. A cleric may ask any Bishop within The Network to hold one's incardination papers.
The Presidency of The Network passes yearly from Bishop to Bishop, much as the Swiss presidency passes annually from one Canton President to another. (The draft of The Network's Constitutions are structured according to the Swiss Constitution.) The order of passage is in alphabetical order according to the Bishop's surname. Each Bishop becomes eligible after three full years' affiliation. If a Bishop elects not to assume the Presidency, the Presidency passes to the next in line. Or, the Bishops will elect one of their midst yearly to serve as President.
The Presidency has jurisdictional responsibility for The Network as a whole only. The President's main task is to be responsible for the integrity of the episcopal jurisdiction — a context, a field of spiritual comfort for one and all. Secondary tasks include, among others, being the spokesperson for The Network so that The Network speaks with one voice. As President, the bishop exercises authority only as a servant of the servants of God. The President is only a shepherd guiding, not leading, a flock. The President necessarily seeks collegial guidance directly from the other Bishops and indirectly from The Network. The President is one among equals with other Bishops and as such cannot make any structural or policy change in The Network without collegial consensus. In short, it may be said that the Bishops as a whole are responsible for the whole as well as for each of their individual parts — each making a personal and public written commitment to preserve the integrity and Spirit of the whole.
The President may be removed from the Chair by a 3/4ths vote of the Bishops. Any group of 20 people in The Network may petition the Council of Bishops to consider appropriate action regarding the President. The Network cannot emphasize too strongly the non-institutional form of its structure. The Network remains only a context for an expression of an answer to Christ's prayer: that they all may be one.
To affiliate as an episcopal jurisdiction or a religious order, the Bishop or Superior of a completes and submits a Network Affiliation Form and later signs a Letter of Agreement affirming the signatory's intention to further realize Christ's prayer: that we may be one, to respect the diversity of Christian expression possible within the diversity of human beings, and to be open and accepting of fellow affiliates. In addition, the signatory agrees to provide The Network with a copy of its Creedal Code, Constitutions and the like for the Archives, and an updated list of clerics and/or religious and a yearly summary of sacramental activity that may be shared within The Network for cross pollination possibilities. Finally, the signatory agrees to offer a modest USD$100.00 per year donation, when possible, to cover maintenance costs and office expenses. (Each signatory recognizes that this suggested donation may be adjusted up or down with the approval of the College of Bishops.)
To read full text of this document, please refer to Point of Departure.
For further information, clarification, or offering of input, or please contact Father Abbot at address below.
Thank you and peace.
The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
The Network's Brochure
The Order's Brochure