In the early Culdee (Celtic and Anglo-Saxon) Church, nearly all establishments were monastic, that is to say, that "parish" churches were usually associated with a monastery. Clergy were drawn from monastic ranks, and it was the monastery which served as the seminary for training candidates for Holy Orders.
In monasticism, as in so much else, the Culdee Church did things its own way. There were a number of "joint" monasteries of both men and women, the most famous being Kildare, founded by St. Brigid and ruled by an Abbess. Celibacy was not universal among monastics, even those in Holy Orders. Monasteries were viewed as a family or clan, in fact the most common name for a monastic group was the Familiae, and in Scotland, Abbots were entitled to wear an eagle feather in their bonnets, a sign of a clan chief.
The contemporary Church of the Culdees is guided and formed by this same style. The Order of the Celtic Cross is open to any man or woman, married or single, who is at least 18 years old and has been a regularly participating member of the Church for at least one year and pass an entrance exam. Members of the Order of the Celtic Cross vow: moral purity, apostolic poverty, obedience and stability. The vow of stability means that they will not leave the jurisdiction of their Abbot or Abbess without his or her approval, nor may they be forced to leave without their own consent. Although members of the Order continue to lead their "secular" lives with jobs, family and other demands, they are required to pray the seven Daily Offices every day. The must attend all Church functions unless given specific release from their Abbot or Abbess.
The first step in this life of special dedication is the Postulancy. The postulancy lasts for at least six months and is completed when, in the opinion of their Abbot or Abbess, they have completed their required scholastic training and reached sufficient personal and spiritual maturity to advance in the Order. Following the successful completion of the postulancy, the religious may take Novice vows. The novitiate lasts for at least two years and is judged completed by standards like those for postulants. After the successful completion of the novitiate, one may give solemn and perpetual vows, promising to continue this life of special dedication until death.
It is quite possible to spend one's entire life in the Order as a lay brother or sister. However, only those who have taken their Solemn and Perpetual vows are considered for candidacy for Holy Orders.
The Church of the Culdees, like all Catholic and Orthodox Churches has Deacons, Priests and Bishops. For more information feel free to contact us.
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