Looking at the ascetic aims and practice of the Brethren offers us a deep insight into the spirituality of the Order of St. John:
The main subject are the Religious vows. All Brethren vow chastity, obedience and to live without their own personal property. Thereafter the Rule explains the demands of the separate Evangelical Counsels in more detail:
- The Brethren are supposed to avoid contact with women in order to be able to keep the vowed chastity. If such contact cannot be avoided they must keep guard over their morality. Contrary to the customs at that time and place they also should not sleep naked. If a brother fell into fornication in spite of all these precautions, he should, if he had sinned in secret, confess secretly and do an appropriate penance. If the brother's sin became publicly known he is subject to severe punishment.
- Whatever the master demands from the brother he is to do in obedience. It is called "holy obedience" because it is an instrument for sanctification.
- It is part of fulfilling the vow of poverty that the clothing of the Brethren must not be luxurious but simple. Compliance with this vow is enforced by threatening the brethren with severe punishments even posthumously, if a confrere was found to have been in possession of forbidden property. If this happened at the lifetime of the concerned, such money was tied round his neck and he was led naked through the hospital and beaten severely.
Another ascetic obligation is the fasting of the Brethren. They should eat only twice a day and on Wednesdays, Saturdays and from Septuagesima (= the third Sunday before Lent) until Easter they should abstain from eating meat.
The Brethren must practise utmost modesty and they must keep silence at table and after compline (= night prayer).
This page is part of the publication: Blessed Gérard and his "everlasting brotherhood": The Order of St. John of Jerusalem
This page was last updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 14:39:09