Monastic vocations for the married‽


The Second Nicene Council (787) endorsed “the possibility of monastic vocations for the married” (Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church by Roman Cholij, fn. 15):

Canon 20 reads in part: «If there are persons who wish to renounce the world and follow the monastic life along with their relatives, the men should go off to a male monastery and their wives enter a female monastery, for God is surely pleased with this.» N. Tanner SJ (ed), *Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, *vol.1 Sheed & Ward —‘Georgetown U.P. 1990, pp. 153-4.

Does this still happen today?


See if this helps:


How about monastic VACATIONS for the married?:smiley:


John Micheal Talbot keeps popping up everywhere I go with his "new monasticism." He is married to a nun, and they both live a monastic life in a monastery that welcomes celibates, marrieds and families. I personally would not be interested, but it might be right for some.

It is not in keeping with the text of the canon you have provided, going separate ways. I would miss my spouse, but I also think I would miss a feeling of authenticity in my monastic lifestyle if I was living as a married person at a coed monastery.

I am curious what kinds of answers will come up in this thread. It does seem a bit like renouncing your sacramental marriage, but it is not as though you are moving on to marry someone else or break your vows per se.


I’ve heard of one case of this. Nothing ever came of their desires, though. With the resurrection of the Order of Hermits, more laity are embracing a lay form of monasticism. Speaking as a married lay recluse, I can certainly attest to the fact that such a life does happen.

The cloister is within, the building is irrelevant. If the devotion makes one turn against one’s married state, then it is not true devotion, and needs to be discussed with one’s spiritual director.

As St Francis de Sales says, devotion can fit into any container. For the laity, the Personal Prayer Rule is written, and amended, as necessary.

Many women followed the example of St Clare of Assisi and some built cloisters onto their houses.

Lay monastics/eremites are usually synonymous with secular institutes.



There have been husbands and wives in modern times who have agreed to seperate and enter the cloiser.



I dont know much about it all and only speculating. Marriage is a Sacrament and for life "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" and if a man enters monastic life and is married, his wife would still have marital rights that could be asserted. If the male entered monastic life and the female religious life (which cannot be done today without the death of the other or an annulment of marriage by The Church) and either decided to leave, that person would still have marital rights over the other.
When I decided to make private vows after my then husband had divorced me, I was adivised by a theologian to apply for annulment (he felt I had grounds) to enable me to be "completely free" to make private vows. I made private vows for a year only each year until my annulment actually came through. An annulment is a declaration by The Church that a valid marriage never existed in the first place. When I received my annulment notifaction (still on file here), it stated that "you are now completely free of the bonds of marriage" and this then enabled me to discern perpetual private vows, which was why I had applied for annulment - or to enter religious life. With the annuolment, my ex husband had no marital rights over me and our supposed bond of marriage was declared as non existent.

As I understand things in religious life for example, a person who had been married cannot enter the life unless they have an annulment. If they did, it would be invalid. They are not free in Church Law to make the vows of religious life as the bonds and vows of marriage and their Sacramental marriage and all it implies is for life and remains so for life. Unless one or other in the marriage is deceased and/or the marriage has been annuled by The Church.

At the time of the Nicene Council, the understanding of marriage was not understood as it is today I dont think.
Today, Third Orders and other types of spiritual organizations exist in The Church for the married and both may enter these; however, their marital bonds and all it means remains.

I dont think it impossible under Canon Law (while being no Canon Lawyer in any way whatsoever) that a married couple could lead a monastic type of lifestyle and perhaps with other couples; however they would not be able to make the religious vow of celibate chastity, rather they are called by their marriage vocation from God to the bonds of marriage and for life and all that that bond implies. They could make a private vow to marital chastity. This would not be religious life per se and at this point anyway not a consecrated life (which is a public consecration by a bishop) Rather it would be a life dedicated to God under private vows.
Approval of new forms of religious life is reserved to The Holy See, although I think that a bishop could approve of such a way of life for his diocese only. Unsure.



Sacrae Disciplinae Leges **

Canon Law

Can. 643 §1. The following are admitted to the novitiate invalidly:
1/ one who has not yet completed seventeen years of age;
2/ a spouse, while the marriage continues to exist;


Monastic life per se is marked by a lifestyle lived in community i.e. with others. The hermit or eremitical life is a life of solitude, lived alone.
Some groups of hermits do live in part a community life. Carmelites, for example, are “hermits in community”. It involves a community life as well as an eremitical type of life of solitude. Some other hermit organizations live in groups and with some degree or other of solitude and aloneness.
The Catholic Catechism mentions specifically those living a strictly eremitical lifestyle alone but without public vows (remaining in the lay state). Public vows is a public consecration to the eremitical life under Canon 603 i.e. consecration by a bishop.

Catholic Catechism: "920Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."460 "

If one makes private vows, often to the evangelical counsels, and thus remains in the lay state, it is not adviseable nor wise to adopt this way of life as one’s vocation without spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis. One is free with private vows to adopt the type of lifestyle “for the sake of The Kingdom” to which one feels called - and again ideally under spiritual direction.

Private vows are covered by Canon Law. Private vows in the celibate lay state by their very nature remains open to a further call from God. One may receive a further call, or one may not. Under Canon Law one can without any sort of dispensation commute one’s private vow or vows to a greater good but not to a lesser good. Canon Law does state who can dispense from private vows and this most commonly one’s parish priest and also one’s bishop. Private vows may be made during Mass with the agreement of the celebrant. Private vows to God are also a very serious matter and never to be made lightly.

One does not have, of necessity, to make any sort of private vow or vows. One can remain in the lay state and simply live a particular way of life “for the sake of The Kingdom”. In this instance also, one may or may not receive a further call from God. One may do this in the lay celibate state - or as a married couple, while the bonds of marriage remain and for life.

It all depends on one’s circumstances provided by Divine Providence and that call and vocation of which one is aware - and again ideally with spiritual diretion on an ongoing basis.

Note: “Private” and “Public” vows are classifications within Canon Law. Even if a person makes a vow or vows during Mass, that vow or vow remains under Canon Law a private vow. The public vow under Canon Law is always consecration by the bishop.


[quote="Chiltepin, post:4, topic:291637"]
coed monastery


There's such a thing as a "coed monastery"‽


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