Deaconate or Secular Orders


#1

Dear All,
Thank you for this wonderful Catholic community you have on here, I've used this website in the past to answer questions for myself and others. This is my first post on here and I'm seeking more information for discernment. Currently, I am discerning married life with my girlfriend of three years and it is going wonderfully. However, I've always felt like there has been something more God wants for me and my potential future family. I've been looking into the deaconate, but I know that in my diocese requires candidates to be 35 or older. These are things I'm willing to take a long time to pray about and consider, especially since I'm only 21 right now. Essentially what I'm looking for is more information on Secular Orders like Franciscans, Dominicans, Opus Dei, Carmelites, as well as ANY others and even more information on the married deaconate if any of you have experience there. Links as well as personal experience would be very valuable.
I appreciate your help, God bless
B


#2

Should have checked the stickies, sorry....
Still more info would be awesome
God bless,
B


#3

[quote="PaschalCatholic, post:1, topic:194330"]
Dear All,
Thank you for this wonderful Catholic community you have on here, I've used this website in the past to answer questions for myself and others. This is my first post on here and I'm seeking more information for discernment. Currently, I am discerning married life with my girlfriend of three years and it is going wonderfully. However, I've always felt like there has been something more God wants for me and my potential future family. I've been looking into the deaconate, but I know that in my diocese requires candidates to be 35 or older. These are things I'm willing to take a long time to pray about and consider, especially since I'm only 21 right now. Essentially what I'm looking for is more information on Secular Orders like Franciscans, Dominicans, Opus Dei, Carmelites, as well as ANY others and even more information on the married deaconate if any of you have experience there. Links as well as personal experience would be very valuable.
I appreciate your help, God bless
B

[/quote]

You will find a lot of information on the Secular Franciscans here. nafra-sfo.org/

However, remember that the Secular Franciscan Order is a true canonical order. Once you join it and you make profession, you are bound for life. A person cannot use a secular order as a steppiing stone or a holding area until he becomes something else. You join a secular order because you're in love with the their way of life and feel called by Christ to live this way.

In the case of the entire Franciscan family: friars, sisters, nuns and seculars, we are very attached to our founder. So much so, that even though he was never a priest, he is always called Father Francis. He remains very much alive in our memories. Everything is done and decided against the backdrop of how Francis lived the Gospel.

In other words, all of us, religious and secular Franciscans, imitate Francis' manner of the living the Gospel. He is our teacher and the inspiration for our Gospel Life. We learn how to love and how to serve Christ from Francis. I believe that this is very unique to the Franciscan family. Every religious family has a founder. But I notice that the Franciscans have a very strong and open attachment to our founder. To the outsider it may even look idolotrous. But it's not. He is seen as the man who achieved what we want to achieve. He became the perfect reflection of Christ. That's what the universal call to holiness is about, to become mirror images of Chist. So when you find someone who has achieved that, you stick to them like glue.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#4

Br. JR,
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I definitely understand that it is a lifetime commitment, that’s why I’m willing to wait quite a while to find out which one I feel called to. I want to learn as much as I can about each, especially what a typical day for each would be like. On top of asking that (typical day), I was wondering how I know which orders are canonical, I know for example that the Secular Franciscans are and I’m assuming the Dominicans? But I don’t know which are outside of those. Before joining the Franciscans did you look into others?
Trust me, I understand the connection, Francis is my confirmation saint.
God bless,
B


#5

[quote="PaschalCatholic, post:4, topic:194330"]
Br. JR,
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I definitely understand that it is a lifetime commitment, that's why I'm willing to wait quite a while to find out which one I feel called to. I want to learn as much as I can about each, especially what a typical day for each would be like. On top of asking that (typical day), I was wondering how I know which orders are canonical, I know for example that the Secular Franciscans are and I'm assuming the Dominicans? But I don't know which are outside of those. Before joining the Franciscans did you look into others?
Trust me, I understand the connection, Francis is my confirmation saint.
God bless,
B

[/quote]

Canonical means approved. An order or institute can be of either Pontifical Right or Diocesan Right. Both are canonical. The difference is that an institute or association of Pontifical Right answers directly to the Holy Father and one of Diocesan Right answers to the bishop of the diocese where they were founded.

Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Missionaries of Charity, and Franciscans of the Immaculate all have secular branches and all have canonical approval either by the Holy See or by a Diocesan Bishop.

I'm not a Secular Franciscan. I'm a Franciscan Brother of Life. Our initials, OSF, mean: Order of St. Francis. The Secular Franciscans use either SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) or OFS (Ordinem Franciscanus Saecularum). I never thought of being anything but a Franciscan. I was educated by Capuchins from grade 1 - PhD. After graduating from middle school I deliberately sought out their schools and went there. I first became a Capuchin and then we were given permission to begin this new adventure, the Franciscans of Life.

My comrades in arms were such men as: Cardinal Sean O'Malley, with whom I worked for several years, Archbishop Charlie Chaput and Fr. Benedict G. That's the line where I come from.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#6

Cool!
I appreciate the fast responses. More questions, sorry. What about groups like Opus Dei who have secular followings/members. I ask this because I know Scott Hahn is in Opus Dei. Are there other groups like that? What’s the difference? I’m just trying to see all the options, learn more about each, hopefully a lot more, and then do some long term prayer (whatever His will is). If you don’t know about others, do you know someone on here that might? Thanks again!
God bless,
B


#7

Opus Dei is not an order or religious family. They are a secular society. They come under the title of Public Associatioins of the Faithful. It’s not a way of life. St. Jose Maria Escriva founded the society under the name of the Holy Cross. The vision was the sanctification of the ordinary life by doing the work of God in whatever environment ones finds onself. The focus is in sanctifying your environment by doing your best to achieve holiness.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#8

Wow:eek:

I did not know you became a… Capuchin.:eek: Great!! All the while, I thought you were once a Secular Franciscan who became a religious.

And you worked with… Archbishop Chaput!..and…Fr. Benedict!! WOW!!! This gives me the goosebumps! :D:D:D YES!

In Christ,
albertziggy:rolleyes:


#9

Haha, once again more questions, sorry, I’m full of them. So I’m assuming that there are other secular societies like that? Are they regulated by the Pope/bishops?
Once again I really appreciate your answers.
God bless,
B


#10

Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. It is thoroughly lay and akin to a military ordinariate, as the prelate of Opus Dei has jurisdiction over persons incorporated, yet each lay member does not cease to belong to the diocese where he or she is. You can learn more about Opus Dei at the official website: www.opusdei.org. The aim of Opus Dei is to seek sanctification of the world, oneself and others through ordinary life without leaving one's place in the world or changing one's status.
You can also contact Opus Dei through the addresses posted on the website.
BTW, most of Opus Dei members are married (around 80%).


#11

As I have stated in the past: our Secular Franciscan Order produced 2 priests and a permanent deacon and a nun. They were involved in the spirituality and were called to these vocations. The priests and deacons were able to remain Seculars. The nun had to be dispensed to join her new community.


#12

I’m a little confused by this post…
I don’t remember reading anything by you on this thread, did I miss something?
I’m also a little confused because this didn’t help with what I was looking for. Maybe I’m misunderstanding?
God bless,
B


#13

[quote="PaschalCatholic, post:9, topic:194330"]
Haha, once again more questions, sorry, I'm full of them. So I'm assuming that there are other secular societies like that? Are they regulated by the Pope/bishops?
Once again I really appreciate your answers.
God bless,
B

[/quote]

As Jaaraf pointed out, Opus Dei is a personal prelature. In plain English, they are under the jurisdiction of the Holy Father. They have a bishop who serves their needs and represents them before the Holy See.

Yes, there are many secular societies like this. Canon Law calls them Public Associations of the Faithful. The Church deliberately avoids the word "lay" when referring to the Opus Dei or the Secular Orders and secular societies. Lay means someone who is not ordained a deacon, priest or bishop. Many of these organizations have clerics (ordained members). But these clerics are not religious. They are secular clerics. That's why they can join these societies and orders. It does not interfere with their ordained status.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#14

There are also lay oblates, who are secular members of monastic orders(e.g. the Benedictines).


#15

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:14, topic:194330"]
There are also lay oblates, who are secular members of monastic orders(e.g. the Benedictines).

[/quote]

Yes there are. The difference is that oblates do not make a public professioin as do members of secular orders. Their canonical status is different. They are associated with the order. But they are not canonical members of the order. For example, a Secular Franciscan is as much a member of the Franciscan order as I am, even though I'm a friar. The difference between us is that I'm a religious and he's a secular. But I have no jurisdiction over him nor him over me, because we are equals.

An oblate is subject to the abbot of the monastery or abbey where he or she is an oblate and the abbot has jurisdiction over the oblate. The oblate and the monks are not equals.

In a secular order, they have their own superior general who is of equal rank and equal canonical authority as the superior general of a religious order. For example, when the Franciscan Council of Ministers General meets, the superior general of the Secular Franciscans sits on the council with the superiors general of the friars and has equal voice and equal vote. He can even be elected President of the council. Oblates don't have this same place in the Benedictine tradition.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#16

[quote="JReducation, post:15, topic:194330"]
Yes there are. The difference is that oblates do not make a public professioin as do members of secular orders. Their canonical status is different. They are associated with the order. But they are not canonical members of the order. For example, a Secular Franciscan is as much a member of the Franciscan order as I am, even though I'm a friar. The difference between us is that I'm a religious and he's a secular. But I have no jurisdiction over him nor him over me, because we are equals.

An oblate is subject to the abbot of the monastery or abbey where he or she is an oblate and the abbot has jurisdiction over the oblate. The oblate and the monks are not equals.

In a secular order, they have their own superior general who is of equal rank and equal canonical authority as the superior general of a religious order. For example, when the Franciscan Council of Ministers General meets, the superior general of the Secular Franciscans sits on the council with the superiors general of the friars and has equal voice and equal vote. He can even be elected President of the council. Oblates don't have this same place in the Benedictine tradition.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Interesting. For the record, there are many secular orders, but for some reason, they tend to be affiliates of mendicant ones(Carmelites, Discalced Carmelites, Servites, Dominicans, etc.). However, Jesuits do not even have nuns(so it is truly a boys' club!)..


#17

Please understand, secular orders are not attached to the mendicant orders. They are completely autonomous. They are part of the family.

The reason that there are mendicant secuar orders is because the first secular order ever founded was by St. Francis in 1221. He founded the Secular Franciscan Order, which at that time was known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. The name was changed to honor the founder. At the same time that Francis founds his three orders, the Carmelites arrive in Europe. They had come from the Holy Land just a few years before. They switch from being hermits and become friars. They attracted the attention of many secular priests and married people who wanted to live the Carmelite life, but could not enter the priory. The Carmelites followed the example of St. Francis and erected a secular order.

St. Dominic did things in a different sequence. He founded the Dominican Nuns first. The nuns were an order of preachers. But they were enclosed. So he founded an order of brothers, The Brother Preachers, just a year before Francis founded his order of friars. After Francis founded his secular order and it was canonically approved as a real order, St. Dominica also founded a secular order and had it canonically approved.

That’s why the mendicants have secular orders, because we are contemporaries. The Jesuits came much later. The Jesuits are not monks or friars. They are clerks regular. This means that they are an order of priests. The monks and the friars are not orders of priests. We have priests who are monks or friars. But the focus is always on the monastic life or the fraternal life, not on priestly ministry. To the monks and the mendicants, the priesthood is an accident, not essential. We existed without priests. For the clerks regular, the priesthood is essential. If you stop ordaining Jesuits, the order disappears. They were meant to be priests That’s why they do not have a secular order or a congregation of sisters. The focus of St. Ignatius was not on the spirituality of the order, but on the education of the clergy in order to combat heresy. You did not need sisters for this. Sisters were not allowed to teach in seminaries back then.

The Jesuits have founded may teaching orders and congregations of sisters. The largest and most well known group are the Sisters of St. Joseph. They follow the same life as the Jesuits and their mission is the same. They were founded in France by a Jesuit. They spread all over the world, as did the Jesuits.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#18

[quote="JReducation, post:17, topic:194330"]
Please understand, secular orders are not attached to the mendicant orders. They are completely autonomous. They are part of the family.

The reason that there are mendicant secuar orders is because the first secular order ever founded was by St. Francis in 1221. He founded the Secular Franciscan Order, which at that time was known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. The name was changed to honor the founder. At the same time that Francis founds his three orders, the Carmelites arrive in Europe. They had come from the Holy Land just a few years before. They switch from being hermits and become friars. They attracted the attention of many secular priests and married people who wanted to live the Carmelite life, but could not enter the priory. The Carmelites followed the example of St. Francis and erected a secular order.

St. Dominic did things in a different sequence. He founded the Dominican Nuns first. The nuns were an order of preachers. But they were enclosed. So he founded an order of brothers, The Brother Preachers, just a year before Francis founded his order of friars. After Francis founded his secular order and it was canonically approved as a real order, St. Dominica also founded a secular order and had it canonically approved.

That's why the mendicants have secular orders, because we are contemporaries. The Jesuits came much later. The Jesuits are not monks or friars. They are clerks regular. This means that they are an order of priests. The monks and the friars are not orders of priests. We have priests who are monks or friars. But the focus is always on the monastic life or the fraternal life, not on priestly ministry. To the monks and the mendicants, the priesthood is an accident, not essential. We existed without priests. For the clerks regular, the priesthood is essential. If you stop ordaining Jesuits, the order disappears. They were meant to be priests That's why they do not have a secular order or a congregation of sisters. The focus of St. Ignatius was not on the spirituality of the order, but on the education of the clergy in order to combat heresy. You did not need sisters for this. Sisters were not allowed to teach in seminaries back then.

The Jesuits have founded may teaching orders and congregations of sisters. The largest and most well known group are the Sisters of St. Joseph. They follow the same life as the Jesuits and their mission is the same. They were founded in France by a Jesuit. They spread all over the world, as did the Jesuits.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Oh, I know, Brother. I was just making a comparison. Thank you for sharing all of this intriguing information, though. Also, I do not think that actual orders(whether religious or secular) have been allowed to form after the 16th century for some reason.


#19

You are right. After the foundation of the Jesuits, the Church closed the door to new religious orders. To understand, we must go back into the 13th century. The Church had said that there would be no more new rules. At the time there were the following rules: Carmelite, Benedictine, Augustinian, and Basilian.

When Dominic approached the Holy See with his new order in 1208 he was told that he must take the Rule of St. Augustine. So the Dominicans became part of the Augustinian family, though they are autonomous. In 1209 Francis of Assisi approaches the same pope with his rule for his order. The pope was going to deny the request and ask the brothers to take one of the existing rules, but he had an intervention from heaven. He had a dream that the Church was collapsing and that the papacy could not save it, only Francis could. He saw hundreds of thousands of Franciscans following Francis to the gates of the Kingdom. When he awoke he consulted with his cardinals who told him the following. “If you deny this rule, you will be denying the Gospel; for this rule is a perfect summary of Christ’s teachings.” Pope Innocent lifted the ban on new rules and approved the Rule of St. Francis. In 1223 Pope Honorius issued an encyclical in which he proclaimed that the Rule of St. Francis could not be touched by anyone except by another pope. To this day the rule has never been edited. We have constitutions that are comments on certain portions of the rule or that speak about points that are not in the rule.

Now, fast forward the 16th century. The Carmelites and the Franciscans were being reformed. The Capuchin Franciscans came from a merger of several friars from the existing Franciscan order. The Discalced Carmelites came from a merger between St. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and several Carmelite nuns and friars. Eventually, these two groups grew so large and there was so much debate between their members as to how to live their rules, that the pope gave the Capuchins and the Discalced Carmelites their own governments. While all of this was going on, Ignatius of Loyola had founded the Society of Jesus, which is also an order, even though its name says society. After the debates among the Franciscans and the Carmelites, the Holy See decided that not only would there be no more rules, but there would be no more orders either.

Governing orders is very difficult. Orders are governed by the rule. After the rule, they are governed by their founder, even after the founder is dead. Whatever the founder commanded in the rule must be obeyed. Since these rules are protected by Papal Bulls, you can’t change them that easily. When the members of the order disagree on a point, they can’t have a democratic process and change the laws to please the majority. They are bound by their founder to follow the rule. But if there is ambiguity or different understanding on a point in the rule, how do you determine who is right? It was much easier to have communities that had constitutions, instead of a rule. The constitution can be changed by the community without the permission of the founder. The community gathers in a democratic chapter and rewrites its constitutions according to its needs and the times. Then they submit the constitution to the Holy See for approval.

There was another issue, that of solemn vows. Orders make solemn vows. Therefore, it is almost impossible to leave an order. The only one who can dispense from solemn vows is the Holy Father. There was an issue with inheritances and estates. Many men and women who wanted to enter religious life were wealthy. But the solemn vow of poverty says that you cannot own anything, nor can you give it to the order when you enter. The times were harsh. There were too many orders and they depended on begging to survive. The Church had to find a way of allowing religious communities to provide for themselves, one way was to allow those with wealth to bring it to the community. Another was to allow the community members to inherit. Whatever they inherited, would also belong to the community. The canon lawyers got together and came up with simple vows. This allowed for the major superior to dispense with the vows when someone wanted to leave. It also allowed the religious to bring their wealth and inheritance into the community for the benefit of the community. These new communities were then called congregations.

The only way that you can have a new order today is if it is an off-shoot of an existing order. For example, the Franciscans of the Renewal are originally Capuchins. They are an off-shoot of the Capuchin Franciscan Order. They are not a new order. They are a new community inside the Franciscan Order. The Franciscan Brothers of Life, which I have been commissioned to found are also coming out of the Capuchin-Franciscan and Secular Franciscan orders, because I came from the Capuchins and the Secular Franciscan have been supporting the project. When all is said and done, the Franciscans of Life will not be a new order, but a new community inside of a larger order. It will be part of the Franciscan family, because it traces its roots back to St. Francis. When the founder or founders have succession, there is no interruption. Does this help?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#20

[quote="JReducation, post:19, topic:194330"]
You are right. After the foundation of the Jesuits, the Church closed the door to new religious orders. To understand, we must go back into the 13th century. The Church had said that there would be no more new rules. At the time there were the following rules: Carmelite, Benedictine, Augustinian, and Basilian.

When Dominic approached the Holy See with his new order in 1208 he was told that he must take the Rule of St. Augustine. So the Dominicans became part of the Augustinian family, though they are autonomous. In 1209 Francis of Assisi approaches the same pope with his rule for his order. The pope was going to deny the request and ask the brothers to take one of the existing rules, but he had an intervention from heaven. He had a dream that the Church was collapsing and that the papacy could not save it, only Francis could. He saw hundreds of thousands of Franciscans following Francis to the gates of the Kingdom. When he awoke he consulted with his cardinals who told him the following. “If you deny this rule, you will be denying the Gospel; for this rule is a perfect summary of Christ’s teachings.” Pope Innocent lifted the ban on new rules and approved the Rule of St. Francis. In 1223 Pope Honorius issued an encyclical in which he proclaimed that the Rule of St. Francis could not be touched by anyone except by another pope. To this day the rule has never been edited. We have constitutions that are comments on certain portions of the rule or that speak about points that are not in the rule.

Now, fast forward the 16th century. The Carmelites and the Franciscans were being reformed. The Capuchin Franciscans came from a merger of several friars from the existing Franciscan order. The Discalced Carmelites came from a merger between St. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and several Carmelite nuns and friars. Eventually, these two groups grew so large and there was so much debate between their members as to how to live their rules, that the pope gave the Capuchins and the Discalced Carmelites their own governments. While all of this was going on, Ignatius of Loyola had founded the Society of Jesus, which is also an order, even though its name says society. After the debates among the Franciscans and the Carmelites, the Holy See decided that not only would there be no more rules, but there would be no more orders either.

Governing orders is very difficult. Orders are governed by the rule. After the rule, they are governed by their founder, even after the founder is dead. Whatever the founder commanded in the rule must be obeyed. Since these rules are protected by Papal Bulls, you can’t change them that easily. When the members of the order disagree on a point, they can’t have a democratic process and change the laws to please the majority. They are bound by their founder to follow the rule. But if there is ambiguity or different understanding on a point in the rule, how do you determine who is right? It was much easier to have communities that had constitutions, instead of a rule. The constitution can be changed by the community without the permission of the founder. The community gathers in a democratic chapter and rewrites its constitutions according to its needs and the times. Then they submit the constitution to the Holy See for approval.

There was another issue, that of solemn vows. Orders make solemn vows. Therefore, it is almost impossible to leave an order. The only one who can dispense from solemn vows is the Holy Father. There was an issue with inheritances and estates. Many men and women who wanted to enter religious life were wealthy. But the solemn vow of poverty says that you cannot own anything, nor can you give it to the order when you enter. The times were harsh. There were too many orders and they depended on begging to survive. The Church had to find a way of allowing religious communities to provide for themselves, one way was to allow those with wealth to bring it to the community. Another was to allow the community members to inherit. Whatever they inherited, would also belong to the community. The canon lawyers got together and came up with simple vows. This allowed for the major superior to dispense with the vows when someone wanted to leave. It also allowed the religious to bring their wealth and inheritance into the community for the benefit of the community. These new communities were then called congregations.

The only way that you can have a new order today is if it is an off-shoot of an existing order. For example, the Franciscans of the Renewal are originally Capuchins. They are an off-shoot of the Capuchin Franciscan Order. They are not a new order. They are a new community inside the Franciscan Order. The Franciscan Brothers of Life, which I have been commissioned to found are also coming out of the Capuchin-Franciscan and Secular Franciscan orders, because I came from the Capuchins and the Secular Franciscan have been supporting the project. When all is said and done, the Franciscans of Life will not be a new order, but a new community inside of a larger order. It will be part of the Franciscan family, because it traces its roots back to St. Francis. When the founder or founders have succession, there is no interruption. Does this help?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Yes, it does; thank you.


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