You can download a pdf of the Rule, which includes biblical references, here: The Rule of the Lotus House (revised Jan 2015).
The Rule of the Lotus House
We, the sisters and brothers of the Lotus House, those washed (Latin: lotus) in the blood of the Lamb, covenant to live together as a community committed to faithfulness, simplicity, and service. Our life together is a response to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the messiah. Following our Lord Jesus after the example of the Jerusalem Church, the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the New Monastics, and Christian communities throughout time, we joyfully order our lives in the belief that Jesus calls us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Chapter I: Community
1. We recognize that as a people created in the image of the Triune God, we were not created to live alone, but to share our lives in relationship with one another. We confess that we have failed and that our sinfulness has disfigured God’s likeness in us and in our society. We seek to recover the Trinitarian unity of relationship by living together in an area abandoned by the Empire as a community of disciples committed to sharing our property, our gifts, and our lives.
2. We will call nothing our own, but everything will be ours in common. Our property will be available to whoever is in need, just as the early church had all things in common and distribution was made to each one according to each one’s need. Expenses for the house will be shared, including food, utilities, and rent. We will also share household responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking, and yard work.
3. Just as God made himself vulnerable by becoming a man, so we open ourselves by surrendering our privacy and sharing our lives. We are a family, and as sisters and brothers we will celebrate our joys together and together mourn our griefs. We recognize that our lives are not our own, and denying ourselves we freely give ourselves in love to one another and to the world.
4. At least two nights a week we will prepare a meal and gather around the table as a community, recalling that Jesus is encountered in the breaking of bread. Our table will be open to all, but especially to the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind because then we will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
5. If someone feels called to join the community, we will meet with the candidate and discuss their situation. Remembering that “God does not call those who are worthy, but those whom He pleases” (Thérèse of Lisieux), we will discern whether the candidate is truly called to the common life. If they are willing to accept the Rule, they may enter the community as novice members. After a one-year novitiate, they will be welcomed into the community as full members.
6. The Lotus House is house of hospitality. If one of us encounters a stranger in need of shelter for the night, our home is open to them, for by doing this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Longer visits will be discerned prayerfully by the community. Within ourselves we will always make a home for the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Chapter II: Faithfulness
7. We affirm that we were created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We glorify God in this life by praising Him and giving Him thanks for making us in His own image and likeness. Following the ancient tradition of the Church, we will come together as a community twice daily for prayer and thanksgiving. Similarly, since we pledge to conform our lives completely to the Gospel, we will individually dedicate time to the reading and study of Scripture. For “whoever does not come to know the face of God in contemplation will not recognize it in action, even when it reveals itself to him in the face of the oppressed and humiliated” (von Balthasar).
8. We submit ourselves completely to Christ’s Church. We will continue to worship regularly on the Lord’s Day with our home congregations, serving them faithfully and submitting to their oversight.
9. Just as God was known for faithful love (hesed) to Israel, we pledge to keep our promises and be true in all of our relationships. Remembering that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we will keep ourselves sexually pure. Since the moment of our salvation is nearer than ever, let us live properly, as in the daylight, not partying or getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarreling and being jealous.
10. When problems occur among us, we should immediately and humbly ask forgiveness of one another even before offering our gift of prayer before the Lord. When disputes arise which cannot be resolved by members of the House, or involve sensitive issues, someone outside of the House will be appointed to adjudicate and counsel.
11. If anyone seriously neglects the form of life which we profess, anyone who knows about it should speak to that person. The one who talks to the negligent person should not embarrass them or gossip, but be as kind and sensitive as possible. We must all be careful of self-righteousness, which destroys the community spirit.
Chapter III: Simplicity
12. We covenant to imitate the simplicity and humility of Jesus. Though rich beyond measure he emptied Himself for our sake and chose poverty in this world. Let us remember that if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that. In our speech, our dress, and our home, let us have nothing to attract undue attention; after all, we are not trying to please by our outward appearances, but by our good lives.
13. The truly poor in spirit live in this world as pilgrims and strangers. They neither appropriate nor defend anything as their own. So excellent is this poverty that it makes us heirs and rulers of the kingdom of heaven. Shunning the world’s economy of exchange, we will embody the economy of gift, estimating our goods, our labor, and our wealth in relation to the Kingdom of God, giving away as much as possible. Let us especially beware of money, which has pierced many through with grief. Personal decisions about income and large expenses will be considered prayerfully as a community. By surrendering individual capital, we learn to depend more upon one another and God. Limiting our wealth and consumption also allows us to stand in solidarity with the poor among our neighbors.
14. Knowing that we must give an account of every word spoken, let our conversations be simple, truthful, and sincere, free from pretense and duplicity so that our speech may be full of grace, seasoned with salt. Our “yes” will be “yes” and our “no,” “no.” Periodically, we will engage in silence and solitude. “Let one who cannot be alone beware of community” (Bonhoeffer).
15. Because the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, we are committed to living in harmony with and lessening our harmful impact upon the earth and the community. Thus, as good stewards of Creation, we will strive to decrease our energy consumption and increase our efficiency in the House in the areas of transportation, heating and cooling, and water usage. We will consume less, discard less, and take care of the gifts we have been given. We will buy necessary clothes and goods second-hand when possible. We will also try to live more sustainably by growing and preserving as much of our own food as possible; what remains to be bought will be organic and local when possible. We will eat less meat, especially beef.
Chapter IV: Service
16. Just as Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s, we too should submit our wills to God. We shouldn’t try to dominate or seek power over one another, but rather we should willingly be servants to one another in love, esteeming others better than ourselves. We should make our needs known to one another so that we may serve, and by serving one another learn humility. Likewise, we should be aware of the needs of our neighborhood, so that like Jesus we can take up the towel of service.
17. Let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and in truth. God has sent us into the world so that we might give witness by word and work to His voice and to make known to all that the Lord alone is God. We witness to God’s love and mighty works by telling his story and by joining in God’s ongoing work in the world. We promise to serve one another and our neighbors according as they have need. As a community, we will serve together on a specific project at least once weekly.
18. As we announce peace with our lips, we should be careful to have it even more within our hearts. No one should be angered or insulted because of us; rather all should be moved to peace, goodwill, and mercy because of our meekness. We are called to heal the wounded, to bind up those who are bruised, and to reclaim the erring. Wherever we are, we should recall that we have given ourselves up completely and handed ourselves over totally to Jesus for the Kingdom’s sake. Therefore, we should be prepared to expose ourselves to every enemy, visible and invisible, for the love of Him who says: Blessed are they who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We joyously accept the risks of living and laboring in North Saint Louis, for Jesus’ sake.
19. All of us, whether at work or at home, whether serving or in prayer, should strive to be humble in everything. We should not seek glory, or be self-satisfied, or secretly proud because of a good work or word God does or speaks in or through us. Love “demands that one suffer humiliation with the humiliated Christ rather than receive honor, to be seen as a fool and madman for Christ’s sake, who himself was seen primarily as such, rather than to be esteemed as wise and clever in this world” (Ignatius of Loyola). In every place and circumstance, let us acknowledge that all good belongs to the Lord. Let us always give thanks to Him from Whom we receive all good.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.