Learning more about religious orders


#1

Can anyone here can point me towards some information on the differing approaches of the varying religious orders within the Church?
I have found some great info. by searching online - but I am still quote confused about how much variance there can be within each order. E.g - I hear that Franciscans are usually active, but can also be more on the contemplative side. Would the opposite be true of other orders, for instance, the Benedictines?
I know that those with “deep-seated” SSA are discouraged/banned from becoming Priests - would the same be true of becoming a part of a religious order? What about those who have never been a part of a “gay lifestyle” or can control temptation to some degree?

Hope someone can help.


#2

Can anyone help me?


#3

Your question is pretty vague. More specific questions might get answers.

As for the two you listed. Franciscans are mendicants so they are active. How contemplative they might be depends on which group of Franciscans you are talking about. There are a lot of groups within the Franciscan family.

Benedictines are monks and attached to a monastery, They are not considered active though some monasteries do staff parishes or run schools, again it would depend on the monastery.


#4

OK, here are more specifics:

I like the idea of helping people and the part that would play in religious life. Feeding the poor, and just generally following Christ’s orders to “be in this world, but not of it”. All these kinds of activities would be possible within mendicant orders such as the Franciscans.
However, I also like the idea of the contemplative life - being completely tied to one community and living a life of prayer and work within that religious community.
I have heard that different monasteries and groups put the emphasis on different parts of religious life- you may find Franciscans who don’t have much to do with teaching and preaching. I wonder whether it might be the same for the Benedictines and other contemplative orders - that you may find those involved in teaching, preaching and feeding the hungry.

With regard to SSA, this is something I have had since my early teenage years and I am completly repentant, although I have never actually acted on such desires, it has been a part of my life. I would not dream of my acting on SSA, and with prayer and the grace of God, I hope it is something I can overcome or at least keep under control. Will I still be excluded from taking vows to live a consecrated life?


#5

I still do not really see what you are looking for.

I suggest that you get a spiritual director.

I can tell you that my Order, the Carmelites, while we are mendicant friars we view ourselves as active contemplatives. This is one of the many things that drew me into the Order.


#6

You might want to look into Orders that are “Canons Regular”. They’re in-between Monks and Friars because they take a vow of stability to a monastery, and tend to be very contemplative, but their work is outside the monastery, like a Friar.

Also, the Benedictines sometimes have a seminary or college attached to the monastery, they tend to provide priests for surrounding parishes, and they hold retreats at the monastery too. All these offer quite a bit of opportunity to teach and be active, although it still isn’t the same as a friar.


#7

Like Brother David said, you should get a spiritual director or at least talk to your parish priest. They can tell the info you need. A spiritual director helped me with my vocation search.:thumbsup:


#8

Thanks for all the advice.

With regards to a spirtual director: I’m not yet a baptised catholic! But how would I go about getting one once I am Catholic?

I hope someone can answer my questions on SSA. If it’s going to be a problem then I don’t want to get my hopes up just to realise that I don’t have a place in Consecrated life.


#9

Spiritual direction isn’t confined to Catholics or even to the baptised. Approach your parish priest or contact the diocesan vocations office for resources local to you. It may take a while to find the help you need, but its worth persisting.

Having sexual feelings or a sexual past does not bar one from consecrated life, although it will inevitably be discussed in any application procedure, and as with all applicants they would want some evidence that you can live a celibate life. But I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself: although a pull towards religious life can be nurtured and engaged with, take things one step at a time rather than worrying too much about 10 steps down the line. There are no guarantees, but where God is concerned there are no insurmountable barriers, either.

A popular aphorism tells us that if we want to hear God’s laughter, we should tell Him our plans for the future. Pray hard and and accept that His will doesn’t always become apparent quickly. I entered religious life in my 40s, which isn’t ideal in some respects but was certainly right for me: I didn’t bring youth and energy (!) but I did bring professional and personal experience. God will tell you where you’re meant to be in good time, and you can rest assured there is a place for you in His church.

Best wishes and I’ll be praying for you.


#10

I’m not sure if my diocese has a vocations office, but they certainly have a website. I’ll try and contact them there and see if they know of any resources that might help. Do you think it would be a good idea to bring up SSA now or wait further down the line? I’ve really no idea how this kind of thing would work. From what I’ve read online there are conflicting messages about whether homosexual attraction presents an obstacle for Consecrated life - from: ‘anyone with SSA will be banned from consecrated life’, to ‘if you can remain chaste then it is OK’. I’m still a little confused about how far this would prevent me.

You are right about me getting ahead of myself. I’m not yet Catholic, and I’ve read that it is advised to be a practicing Catholic for at least a few years before seriously thinking about this kind of thing. I also have university to think about - I hope that will at least give me lots of time to get to know what I am really called to do.

I have a further question on religious orders which concerns the difference lay and ordained monks. Is it only ordained monks that would pray the Divine Office, while lay brothers would devote themselves more to manual work? I have no desire to be ordained, and it would seem SSA would stop me from doing so anyway, but it is something to think about if that is the case.


#11

I don’t think it’s the first thing you need to mention, but ultimately it’s your choice, most especially in terms of what assistance you’re looking for right now.

I think this merely indicates how church law has left this matter largely to the discretion of appropriate authority - bishops and religious superiors are left to determine whether a candidate has the right disposition with regard to their sexuality, although they are required to consider whether this will be a problem. There is no universal canonical ban on candidates who have experienced homosexual urges from the consecrated life.

It is often required that people lead a secular (non-consecrated) and lay (non-ordained) life before they apply to a diocese or religious institute; and this is generally a very good idea. You’re a young man, and it’s not only good but necessary to be careful in discerning God’s will for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t begin looking into it!

A quick lesson in terminology here, just in case you don’t know the difference: some religious men are monks, who live in a monastery and lead a monastic life; some are friars, who lead a mendicant life; some are clerks regular, or priests who live under a religious rule; and some are active brothers who follow particular apostolates like teaching or nursing. (And there’s overlap between those groups, just to make things even more confusing). *All *religious men and women, clerical or lay, are required to say the divine office, unless they have a particular dispensation from doing so.

Lay brothers more commonly do brain work rather than manual work today, although perhaps I’m setting up a false oppostion there: most probably do both.:slight_smile:

Best wishes again, and try not to worry too much: God has many plans for you, and is always with you on your journey.


#12

Before the Second Vatican Council there was a separation between choir monks (those who are Ordained) and lay monks. Lay monks prayed the Divine Office in the vernacular, only prayed part of it (probably only Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, but I’m sure it varied), and focused on manual labor. However, the choir monks focused on priestly studies, education, and tending to nearby parishes. There was even a physical separation between the lay and choir monks, with them each having their own set of tables in the refectory, and usually not allowing them to intermix for long periods of time, unless it was for work, confession, etc.

Now days most all of the separation has been done away with, and the only remaining difference is that lay monks usually tend to manual labor, although in a lot of monasteries they are allowed to pursue intellectual pursuits, and if they have the talent, artistic ones are quite common too.

About your SSA, that is not something we can answer, and it is the decision of a specific Diocese or Religious Order to accept you with SSA; there isn’t really a hard and fast rule, and you’ll have to speak with a spiritual director and/or a vocations director about this.

Also, since you are not yet Catholic, you should be focusing on joining the Church, and understanding Her Teachings; it’s wonderful that you are thinking about your Vocation, but just be aware that most Dioceses and Religious Communities (if that is where you end up being called) have a period of 2-6 years that converts must wait after being initiated into the Church to even be considered as a potential member. And because you are a convert, and your view of SSA may have been different before your conversion, they may decide to discount it, but that would be the decision of an individual community.

Finally, I want you to know that you are in my prayers, and that we are in similar situations. I have a slight disability that could bar me from some Religious Orders, I converted to Catholicism when I was 15 (I’m now 17), and I’ve been discerning a call to the Benedictine Order almost since I converted. So I know how frustrating it can be having to wait and not be sure if you’ll be accepted. Just make sure to ask Our Lord to give you the Grace to serve Him in everything you do today, tomorrow, and forever, and if it is His Will, show you your vocation. But if it is not, then be content in waiting, and rejoice because you have been allowed to serve Him in your daily life.


#13

Thanks everyone for all the help :)

Finally, I want you to know that you are in my prayers, and that we are in similar situations. I have a slight disability that could bar me from some Religious Orders, I converted to Catholicism when I was 15 (I'm now 17), and I've been discerning a call to the Benedictine Order almost since I converted. So I know how frustrating it can be having to wait and not be sure if you'll be accepted. Just make sure to ask Our Lord to give you the Grace to serve Him in everything you do today, tomorrow, and forever, and if it is His Will, show you your vocation. But if it is not, then be content in waiting, and rejoice because you have been allowed to serve Him in your daily life.

Thank you for your prayers. Know that I am also praying for your disernment, and I hope that one day you will find your vocation.
At the moment it is the Benedictines that spark my interest. I am in love with thier order - I have started reading the Rule of St. Benedict and I find it full of wisdom. In fact, it goes back to something my Dad told me when I was very young. He has a passion for medieval architecture, and he took us to a Benedictine monastary once. He said that thier founder believed that our purpose on this earth was to worship God and thank Him for putting us on this earth to worship him. At the time, I thought it was stupid, but now it fills me with joy. :thumbsup:


#14

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