Lax religious orders?


#1

I am now in the process of joining a religious order, and I feel strongly called to the religious life, but one problem that I seem to find with this order is that... well... They seem somewhat lax to me. Their conversation is about Catholicism in general, but hardly ever about God Himself. I don't ever hear of them practicing mortification except on Fridays when they don't eat meat, but they have loads of other 'non-meats' like crab and fish :(... When reading their constitutions and rule, I see that they have somewhat, actually greatly, deviated from their founder's rules, especially in the area of poverty. I feel very comfortable there, more comfortable than at home; the beds are nice and soft, the members of this religious order can throw off their habit at any time, there is hot running water and basically every modern convenience conceivable. They do not collectively pray the Rosary or frequently speak of Our Lady, despite their order's history of strong Marian Devotion. They haven't had a vocation in years. They freely handle money and can buy things. I have never seen them go out and help the poor, sick, or dying, or any other in poverty for that matter, besides themselves. I hear no emphasis on reparation, penance, or the conversion and salvation of sinners. Oh yeah, and some of them are in front of the TV all day, and I never see them show up for the Divine Office.

Call me hard to please, but I feel like this religious order is too lax for me... But there are no other men's religious congregation in my country, and all the others are either cloistered or far away in another country. I wanted to join an active order that does work with the poor and needy, lives a true life of poverty, and has a strong prayer life, but I see this only to a small degree.

I do enjoy my time there (maybe a little too much), but I want to join an order more devout and on fire with love for God and the salvation of souls. I see some who do seem to be devout, and they try their best to live out their religious vocation in a holy way, but I don't see this on a collective manner, and many of them I would describe as completely deviated from a religious vocation and seem to be no different than any other middle aged single Catholic man out in the world... If I do join, I'll be the youngest in the order at the age of 18... I don't know where to turn. If I do join, I'm sure that I would be able to join some of the more devout friars in devotions, and I know I shouldn't allow the lax to effect me, but I can't help but feel it's a little bit lukewarm.

Any advice?

Thanks and God bless!


#2

Oh yes, I forgot an extremely important detail that could change what you tell me:
Recently, a member of their order who died around 40 years ago was *Beatified. *...

Which comes as extremely surprising to me that this could happen, seeing their laxity of life. Maybe it's just that I'm over strict on myself? I don't know, but any advice or prayers would be appreciated.


#3

Can't you join a different order?


#4

[quote="Jimmygill88, post:3, topic:305478"]
Can't you join a different order?

[/quote]

Like I said before, there are no other active men's religious orders in my country. :/


#5

[quote="Oumashta, post:2, topic:305478"]
Oh yes, I forgot an extremely important detail that could change what you tell me:
Recently, a member of their order who died around 40 years ago was *Beatified. *...

Which comes as extremely surprising to me that this could happen, seeing their laxity of life. Maybe it's just that I'm over strict on myself? I don't know, but any advice or prayers would be appreciated.

[/quote]

40 years is a long time. Their life could have changed significantly since then. Perhaps 40 years ago they were more strict in their observance.

[quote="Oumashta, post:4, topic:305478"]
Like I said before, there are no other active men's religious orders in my country. :/

[/quote]

You do not have to join a community in your own country. Many people travel to different countries. If you do not feel comfortable with the observance of this community, then look elsewhere. You do not say where you are from, but from what you say joining this community would be a mistake. You do not want to enter somewhere because you're just settling.


#6

Reminder:
If someone can advise the OP of a religious order that more suits his spirituality and what he discerns as his calling that's fine. But do not let this thread spin into complaining about specific religious orders. Infractions will be issued if that happens...


#7

Some modern conveniences are not a bad thing as long as they are not going over the top and wasting money that could be put to better use. You don't necessarily need to suffer to serve God, but it sounds like you are saying this order may be a bit too cozy with some modern conveniences.

As for not attending to duties, that is definitely not good. Maybe if you join, you could help change things. It would probably be a bit difficult, especially being a new/young member, but I think you could do some good there.

You said they were not helping the poor. You could do this yourself or maybe you could try to get a couple other guys to go along with you to do charitable work of some kind. When others see the good that you do, it may inspire them to do good.

Good luck. I pray you soon get a clear answer from God.

JK


#8

Why don't you follow the creator of the orders model yourself and set an example? You don't have to sleep on the bed they provide, you don't have to use hot water when bathing, you don't have to throw off your habit, etc. Maybe the example you set will refocus the group.


#9

Personally, I would speak frankly and specifically with the orders director, some of what concerns you may have an explanation. On the other hand, perhaps you will surprise and enlighten him in a way that needs to happen. Sometimes when you live a certain way with the same people over a long time something's just become normal and you loose sight of what should be going on. Frankly, God can and will lead you regarding your next step, focus your prayer life on being open to what He wants.


#10

I would join and give all an example by following the rules of your order.


#11

[quote="Oumashta, post:4, topic:305478"]
Like I said before, there are no other active men's religious orders in my country. :/

[/quote]

Oh sorry I don't notice that bit. Which country are you in?


#12

Jimmygill88- I wouldn't want to reveal that online, since with a little bit of googling, one could easily find out about the order that I'm speaking about, but I wouldn't want to degrade or give the order a bad name.

Sorry if I seemed to be complaining about the order; I was only trying to list some things I didn't like about it.

Thanks all for your advice, and I will continue to pray for clear direction about it :) I guess it is true that not all the friars in the order are lax, it's only some of them. If all else fails, I can just make another branch off :p haha! The order's spirituality attracts me very much, but it's just the lack of conformity to it that bothers me. I will talk to the vocations director about it. Thanks once again everyone, God bless!


#13

Everything you mentioned would raise a lot of red flags for me. Community prayer is crucial to an active prayer life. Having members stay in front of the TV instead of coming for prayer is a no-no in my department. I would encourage you to follow your "gut feeling" and look elsewhere. This community sounds like they have gotten away from the founder's original concept. While a little updating is OK and sometimes necessary, doing away with so many of the constitutions is cause for concern. Sounds like they are in need of reform... :(


#14

If you are called to the spirituality I highly suggest talking to the vocations director. It is highly probable you are only seeing a small portion of what goes on in that Order. Also you view on what is being said could be tempered by your expectations or incorrect views of what the Order is all about.

Some people view an Order as being traditional if they celebrate the Latin Mass. For many Orders to do that would violate their constitutions. As for whether they still follow their poverty as the founder intended. That can be addressed on multiple levels. First, it depends on which founder you are talking about. If you are addressing St. Francis. Except for the Order as a whole, no groups have been successful at following St. Francis exactly as he wanted because it is almost impossible to not own ANYTHING and still be able to provide for your members. There is currently only one group that is trying this (the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance) that with God's help they will survive, but many in the past have failed.

In the rest of the Order, many of his ideals are still followed, but not to the extreme the Saint himself did. Another thing to remember is that depending on the Order, once you start formation you may not even remain in your country. They may send you elsewhere for formation and your actual assignment after final vows may be somewhere else.

I highly suggest talking to the vocations director of the Order. Attend a retreat at the location. Ask your questions of them. Be forward and sincere with your concerns. You have to determine if the calling is for you and they have to determine the same thing. They also may be able to point you to people in other Orders that are assisting in your country that you didn't even realize was there. I personally know a friar that is in formation for OFM Conventual from another country that found his calling with OFM Conventual after first exploring OFM friaries in his native country. Determining that it wasn't the best fit, then exploring OFM Conventual and finding the perfect fit. The region was more then willing to fly him where he needed to go to explore his vocation.


#15

[quote="Marauder, post:14, topic:305478"]
If you are called to the spirituality I highly suggest talking to the vocations director. It is highly probable you are only seeing a small portion of what goes on in that Order. Also you view on what is being said could be tempered by your expectations or incorrect views of what the Order is all about.

Some people view an Order as being traditional if they celebrate the Latin Mass. For many Orders to do that would violate their constitutions. As for whether they still follow their poverty as the founder intended. That can be addressed on multiple levels. First, it depends on which founder you are talking about. If you are addressing St. Francis. Except for the Order as a whole, no groups have been successful at following St. Francis exactly as he wanted because it is almost impossible to not own ANYTHING and still be able to provide for your members. There is currently only one group that is trying this (the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance) that with God's help they will survive, but many in the past have failed.

In the rest of the Order, many of his ideals are still followed, but not to the extreme the Saint himself did. Another thing to remember is that depending on the Order, once you start formation you may not even remain in your country. They may send you elsewhere for formation and your actual assignment after final vows may be somewhere else.

I highly suggest talking to the vocations director of the Order. Attend a retreat at the location. Ask your questions of them. Be forward and sincere with your concerns. You have to determine if the calling is for you and they have to determine the same thing. They also may be able to point you to people in other Orders that are assisting in your country that you didn't even realize was there. I personally know a friar that is in formation for OFM Conventual from another country that found his calling with OFM Conventual after first exploring OFM friaries in his native country. Determining that it wasn't the best fit, then exploring OFM Conventual and finding the perfect fit. The region was more then willing to fly him where he needed to go to explore his vocation.

[/quote]

Oh thank you for this advice. I'll talk to the vocations director during the next 'come and see' weekend. Please include my intentions in your prayers. God bless :)


#16

I would not join a luke warm order, and from what I have been told it the same advice holy men would normally give you. Many have joined fallen orders in order to create change, but it is not the way.Very often it ends up with the enthusiastic one being changed him self, not the order!

Why would you have to stay in your country? Leave some place else and try to become holy with the help of good brothers. If it is you vocation, you could perhaps go back to your mother land on a mission once you have grown spiritually, learned to observe the rules etc.

Anyway, the best of luck to you!


#17

[quote="Oumashta, post:15, topic:305478"]
Oh thank you for this advice. I'll talk to the vocations director during the next 'come and see' weekend. Please include my intentions in your prayers. God bless :)

[/quote]

I will be praying for you.

Pax et bonum


#18

[quote="Nils, post:16, topic:305478"]
I would not join a luke warm order, and from what I have been told it the same advice holy men would normally give you. Many have joined fallen orders in order to create change, but it is not the way.Very often it ends up with the enthusiastic one being changed him self, not the order!

[/quote]

One should never go into an Order to effect change on the Order. That is not the purpose of a vocation. You must discern your own vocation and if you find the group isn't a perfect fit then it probably wasn't meant for you. Yes there will always be doubts and things that might not be exactly what you like, but you must not be forcing a vocation, it must feel right.

All of the official Orders within the church are orthodox. Within every organization there will be some members and some groups that push the boundaries. Discernment is finding your proper place. Once you find your proper place, MAYBE God will inspire you to help reform the order, but it must be done remembering obedience and humility.

One thing you learn after awhile when dealing with 1st Order religious is that most of the perceptions people "outside the walls" have of religious life are usually wrong.


#19

Dear Oumashta,

Congratulations on discerning religious life!

I don't have any concrete answers for you but if I would love to just share a few of my own thoughts as a religious on what you are saying.

I think that sometimes we are so used to hearing the stories of the saints and all the hardships and penances they faced we think that we need to do the same to be saints. The thing is that all their holiness was shaped by the culture and time period in which they lived. The same will be true for us when, hopefully, we are saints in heaven one day. Holiness today will not look the same as it did fifty or one hundred years ago - and not because its easier - each time period has its own struggles.

I can hear in your questions an authentic struggle and want for holiness and that is the greatest thing! Sometimes in religious life though we look at the external and think that there isn't that much happening... but... there are other parts of religious life that are now more difficult than they were before. For instance, community life is extremely difficult because it has become so much more counter cultural than it was in the past. Society is increasingly individualistic and it is more difficult to live community now. As a sister, it would be much easier for me to wear a motification than to balance prayer, community, and the apostolate. The latter is much harder for me!

I don't know your community or your circumstances but I just wanted to give another perspective on religious life. I'd be glad to share more but I think religious life is really in a time of change, as is the world, and it makes things a little more confusing, especially in discernment! It is a great life though!

Its my prayer that you find where God desires for you to be!

SM


#20

Maybe God is calling you to this religious order so He may reform it through you. Whatever order you join try as much as possible to obey and do deeds of charity. Reform it through your works of faith


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