Tag Archives: Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross

Canons and Canonesses

One day, I received a call asking what a canoness was. I confess I could not answer the question except that I supposed that they were associated with canons. The only canonesses I know of are members of the flourishing and rapidly growing community (they are building a convent to house 48 sisters) of Norbertine Canonesses in Tehachapi, California. According to a Catholic dictionary, a canoness is  a woman who lives a vowed religious life according to the Rule of St. Augustine followed by the Canons Regular.

The next obvious question is: what is a Canon Regular? Canons regular are a community of men following the Rule of St. Augustine who seek to fulfill the Church’s obligation and privilege to worship God through the public celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Hence, canons are usually priests and associated with a particular church. There are also Canons Secular who do not profess vows and may own their own property. St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians, was a Secular Canon of the Cathedral in Rheims, France.

Pope Pius X, when approving the Constitutions of the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception said: “This type of priestly life that unites the pastoral ministry and the religious life, is truly admirable and is to be commended. Far from being opposed to each other they strengthen and fortify each other … to the great advantage of the people.”

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “The Order of Canons Regular is necessarily constituted by religious clerics, because they are essentially destined to those works which relate to the Divine mysteries, whereas it is not so with the monastic Orders,” The clerical state is what distinguishes the Canons Regular from monks who may or may not be priests.

Canonesses are also asked to lend “their voices to Him and to His entire mystical body so that Heaven’s eternal canticle may resound also on earth. Therefore, they dedicate themselves to an individual Church of their order.” The Norbertine canonesses are associated with St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. Their life is one of sacrifice and prayer, especially liturgical prayer, ie, the Mass and Divine Office. For a history and current status of Norbertine canonesses around the world, check out the Norbertine website in Chelmsford, England.

There are four IRL Affiliate Communities that are composed of Canons Regular.

May the Canons Regular and canonesses, by their prayers and witness, strengthen parish and family life across our country.


Work of Angels

This year commemorates the 850th anniversary of the death of St. Theotonius (1082-1162), co-founder of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, a new IRL Affiliate Community. The Order was founded in 1131 and violently suppressed in 1934 by the government of Portugal. The restoration of the Order was undertaken in 1977 by members of the spiritual movement called Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (Work of the Holy Angels). They were granted the privilege to introduce into the Order a “special devotion to the holy angels according to the tradition of the Church.”

In 1958, Pope Pius XII said that our lives are surrounded by the holy angels: “Each one of us, even the poorest of the poor, has angels watching over him. The angels are glorious, pure and splendid, but they have been given to us as companions along the way of life. They have the task of watching over you all, so that you do not stray away from Christ, your Lord.”

Archbishop Allen Vigneron has appointed the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Grotto) and the Adoration chapel of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, both in Detroit, as places where a plenary indulgence may be gained to mark this special year honoring the saint (February 18, 2012 to February 18, 2013).  The church of Mary, Mother of Mercy in Carrollton, Ohio, will be an additional location where the indulgence may be gained. The relics of the Saint from the original monastery of Coimbra, Portugal, will be on a tour of all the houses of the Order throughout the world. They will be in Detroit from September 10 to 22, 2012.