Questions And Answers About The Canons
What is a canon?
Historically a canon is a priest who lived under the laws of the Church. In the first millenium of Christianity, in the 600's, 700's, 800's, and 900's, there were movements to reform the clergy, and in that time, the name "canon" came to refer to those clergy who were living according to the laws or "canons" as prescribed for clergy by the Church.
Why are you the Canons Regular of the "New Jerusalem"?
There is a mystagogical meaning to the term "New Jerusalem", which refers to Heaven. By nature, canons are attached to a specific place of church, and are referred to as the Canons of "the name of that church". The Canons of the New Jerusalem were founded without a specific church building, and in order to instead highlight the supernatural end of Christianity for today's world and to focus on having our lives supernaturally oriented; and to signify that we are members of the Catholic Church, which is itself the New Jerusalem, as well as showing that we are canons of the "Church to come" in eternity, the Canons have taken this name of "New Jerusalem".
Why do you follow the Augustinian Rule?
Since the 12th century, all canons who are "observant", that is, "canons regular, meaning those who live under vows and the canons of the Church, also live under the rule of St. Augustine, and we follow this way of life.
Why do you wear the habit you wear?
Our religious habit is charactistic of those habits that are worn by Augustian regular canons. The white robe comes from habits of those orders and reform movements of the era of the great, Gregorian reforms in the Church, where the Cistercians, Carthusians, Norbertines, Dominicans, et. al. all had and have white habits, which is indicative of the angelic life. Canons also wear a "camail" (pronounced "kam-eye"), which is the shoulder cap with a hood. The black camail worn by the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem signifies the mortality of this life, and which, after death, will be replaced by a new, white camail in eternal life. For Liturgical services, when not celebrating Mass as priests, we also wear a special white garment over the regular white robe called a "rochet" (pronounces as though rhymes with "rocket").
Why do you have your hair cut like that?
We wear a haircut called a "tonsure" as part of our habit.
Are you in communion with the Holy See?
Yes, and with the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (West Virginia, USA).
What is your chief apostolate?
Prayer, especially litugical prayer. By definition, canons pray the entire daily, liturgical office in public, and in their oratory, and we offer the full Divine Office every day in our oratory.
Why do you pray the Divine Office in Latin Roman Breviary and the Traditional Latin Mass of in the Roman Missal 1962?
We find that the Gregorian Liturgy is more mystically suited for and expressive of our contemplative life.
Didn't Vatican II do away with Latin in the Liturgy?
No. See: Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium (4 December 1963), §36, §54, §101, §116, at The Holy See, www.vatican.va.
Why are you in Charles Town, WV?
The Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston was kind of enough to invite us and to place a church [building] at our disposal, and the circumstances here were ideal for us.
Are you part of a religious order?
No. Juridically we are "sui juris", which means "of its own right", and we are an individual, autonomous foundation under the authority of the diocesan bishop, with status in canon law of a "Public Association of the Faithful".
Do you take prayer requests or Mass intentions?
Do you have any special devotions as a community?
We have a devotion to our holy father St. Augustine. We also have a special devotion to Our Lady under her title of Our Lady of Walsingham.
How best can one help the Canons?
By prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, including prayers for and donations to the Canons.