American-Cassinese Congregation

The Constitutions and the Directory

General Principles


B. Wimmer, photograph.
Pope Leo XIII gave the Cappa Magna to Archabbot Boniface on 29 December 1883.

C 1. The American-Cassinese Congregation, erected on 24 August 1855 by Pope Pius IX with the Apostolic Letter Inter ceteras, under the patronage of the Holy Guardian Angels, is a monastic congregation of pontifical right (CIC 89). It is composed of autonomous monasteries of Benedictine monks (CIC 613).

C 2. The earliest monasteries of the Congregation combined a cenobitic monastic life with educational and parochial apostolates to meet the needs of an immigrant Church in a young American nation. This combination, adjusted to changing needs, has remained traditional in the Congregation, though no specific work is incumbent on all the monasteries. In service to the local church where it has taken root, each monastic community of the Congregation bears its own particular witness to the presence and power of Christ.

Purpose of the Congregation

C 3. The Congregation exists to promote and protect the growth of its autonomous member monasteries in their life according to the Gospel, the Rule of Saint Benedict, and their own sound traditions, for the up building of the Body of Christ. It aims to do this, with due respect for the principle of subsidiarity and for legitimate pluralism, both by juridical means and by the encouragement of fraternal cooperation and support.

C 4. The monasteries of the Congregation follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. Rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the supreme law of all Christian life, the Rule of Saint Benedict embodies a monastic inspiration, spirituality, and structures that must be lived, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with creative fidelity in the changing circumstances of time and place.

Juridical Documents

C 5. In the service of the following of Christ according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and as a means for its member monasteries to express their particular charism within the Church, the Congregation has as its proper law:

C 5.1. The Constitutions, which contain the more important norms for the ordering of life within the monasteries and for the structure and functioning of the Congregation itself. Approbation and authentic interpretation of the approved Constitutions are reserved to the Apostolic See. Changes in the Constitutions require an absolute majority vote of the general chapter and the consent of the Apostolic See.

C 5.2. The Directory, which, within the bounds set by the Constitutions, contains more precise rules and directives for the government of the monasteries of the Congregation and of the Congregation itself; it is the general chapter of the Congregation that establishes, changes, or abrogates these rules and directives.

C 5.3 The Decisions of the General Chapter, which are provisions of a more temporary or particular nature than those contained in the Directory. Such Decisions remain in force until revoked by a subsequent general chapter or until the time specified in the provision itself elapses.

C 5.4 The Ritual, which contains directives or guidelines for monastic liturgical celebrations, in accordance with the norms issued by the Apostolic See.

C.6. The Rule of Saint Benedict, complemented by the proper law of the Congregation, expresses that form of monastic life that the monks of the monasteries of the Congregation are bound to observe before God and the Church, because of the holy service they have professed (RB 5:3).


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