Preliminaries: At 8:15 AM, the solemnly professed community meet with the President of the Election, the two Witnesses and the Notary (Secretary) and the Cantor reads Chapter 64 from Saint Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, “On Constituting an Abbot.” Then the President, Abbot Damian, comments briefly and exhorts the community. The Notary next reads the roll call of electors–and each of us answers “present”–and the two Scrutators distribute the ballots.
The Election: The Senior Scrutator then fills in and casts his ballot, then the Junior Scrutator; they take their place with the Witnesses. Then each monk, in seniority fills out his ballot, casts it and leaves the room–going to either the church or the cloister. At that time we have no contact with one another. When all ballots are cast, the Scrutators count the votes and one rings a hand bell to call us all back. The results are read to us and if an election has not been achieved, we vote again. When there is an election, the President announces: I declare Dom N. truly and canonically elected as the legitimate Abbot of this monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Cross. The elected monk is asked whether he accepts. If he accepts, the Notary completes the official minutes of the election (and that is one instance we are all grateful for computers) and each participant signs the election document: first the President, then the Abbot elect, the Electors in seniority, the Witnesses and finally the Notary.
The Follow Up: Then the President contacts the Abbot General by phone (he is, of course, previously informed and awaits the call) who confirms the election. All the election papers are collected and burnt.
Of course, this being a monastic exercise, we are not done yet.
to be continued