The vows are a Paleochristian’s way of manifesting what it is to think, feel, and act in a fundamentally new way, as men and women baptized “in Christ”. We express this in our seven vows of hospitality, collinearity, poverty, self-sacrifice, self-education, self-observation, and service-to-others.
Hospitality is the ever-present readiness and willingness to be both host and guest. At the most essential level, we are hosts to the Spirit of the Divine, and guests in Divine Creation. As such we have responsibilities. These responsibilities are expressed in our interpersonal interactions, as hosts to friends and strangers, and as externally considerate guests.
Collinearity means we are all headed in the same direction; we are aligned, in harmony. We are of one mind in our aim and understanding, no matter how varied we are in terms of our past, our personality, and our own special gifts. Collinearity is not an enforced uniformity of belief, but a common understanding born of shared knowledge, experience, and aim.
Poverty is the renunciation of personal gain and possession. This does not mean that brothers and sisters do not work, or that they cannot make money or possess some personal items. But any work is done primarily for the community. And funds go toward the maintenance and development of the community and its projects. Poverty is a practical application of living in communion and living in Christ, where possessions are shared.
Self-sacrifice is the act of denying the self of certain of its wants in pursuit of wider, common goals and interests. Selfishness, laziness, and activities that do not align with the community’s direction are conducive neither to the individual’s own spiritual development, nor to the common good. To gain spiritual gifts, we must often renounce personal desires.
Self-education is the inner drive not only to learn as much as possible about life, the world, and the divine in all their aspects. It is also the inner practice of separating the higher from the lower in oneself, and instructing the lower to live and act in conformity with the higher, teaching it a new way of life. This is a personal process, but it can only be achieved in community, through feedback and interaction with others who are already living this new life.
Self-observation is a practice of attention and awareness of oneself in one’s environment. Without it, we are prone to habitual behaviors, unconscious words and actions, which are often inappropriate and even harmful to others. Self-observation encompasses the range of states and behaviors of the body, feelings, and thoughts, in relation to the environment and the people with whom we share it. It is only when we see how automatic, unconscious, and reactive all these inner experiences are, that we are free to actively choose how and what we manifest for ourselves, others, and the Divine.
Service-to-others is a quality of the soul that prefers supporting the well-being of others over our own. To give when asked, with as little thought of the self as possible. It is the ultimate goal and aim: to live for others, for God, in Christ.