[quote="Cominghome89, post:5, topic:286880"]
haha, thank you for the correction. Now that I think about it I'm pretty sure you're correct. I very recently reread Thomas Merton's journal "The Sign of Jonas" that he wrote as a young monk, so I guess that's how the term "lay brother" got stuck and put into use. Forgive the slip!
In Christ through Mary,
There are still lay brothers, but not in every order. The vocation to be a lay brother is real and is a valid vocation. The problem is that the vocation to be a brother and a lay brother have been confused and the terms used interchangeably. It's the same thing that happens with sisters and nuns. All nuns are sisters, but not all sisters are nuns.
All lay brothers are brothers, but not all brothers are lay brothers. Communities that have lay brothers are:
Dominicans (called cooperator brothers or coadjutor brothers)
In these communities the ordained vocation is essential to the identity of the community. You can't have a Dominican order without priests or a charterhouse without priests. At the same time, you can't have either order without lay brothers. The two need each other.
Among Franciscans, Cistercians, Carmelites and others, that's not the case. The Carmelite Order would be the same order with or without priests or if everyone were a priest. The Carmelite vocation does not depend on the priesthood.
Among the Franciscans, the order can exist without priests. In fact, many Franciscan communities have no priests or have a small number of priests. However, there would be no Franciscan order without brothers. The brothers are essential to the order, the priests are not. The Franciscan vocation does not depend on the priesthood, but it does depend on brotherhood. The founder would be lost, since Francis was not a priest. It is the non-ordained Franciscan who best presents the image of Francis of Assisi to the world.
Br. JR, FFV :)