Most Important in a Religious Order?


#1

Are you searching for a religious community? If so, which factor is most important for you: Whether the community is cloistered or active? Their charism or ministry? Their liturgy and prayer life? Whether they wear habits? Or add your own answer!

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You may not be interested in the religious life, but which factor would stand out as most important?

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#2

What’s most important to me is that most of the day is spent in prayer.


#3

What should be most important is whether or not Christ calls you to that particular community. They may dress in a way that you like, with or without a habit. They may pray as you like. They may do work that you like.

But it’s like a marriage. There is much more to it than what you like. There is an internal affinity. I call it an affinity of the spirit. When a man comes looking at my community, I look for that affinity. We may like each other very much, but if that affinity is not present, then it’s not the community for you.

We all begin looking at the externals, but as we proceed down the journey of discernment, the externals lose their importance, just like any other love affair. As my wife gets older, fatter, grayer, sicker, the affinity does not change. I first noticed her beautiful legs at the high school prom, which led me to ask her to dance. Then there were other externals that led me to ask for a date and so forth. But as time goes forward, I come to realize that those things are not what make me happy. It’s all about the spirit. If it’s not there, I will never be happy. If there is an affinity of the spirit, the externals will not make much of a difference.

One falls in love with a way of life, not the pieces that make up that way of life. I know what I’m trying to say, because it’s my experience; but I can’t put it into clear terms. I can honestly say that I fell in love with Francis of Assisi, not the habit, the prayer life, the friary, the ministry or any of those other things. In fact, some of those things were annoying as all heck. But the Franciscan way of life was made for me and I for it. We were a match.

To this day, even as I move into a new community, it’s still the Franciscan way of life. That does not change. The change is in the focus of service. I guess the most important thing is the Gestalt. I have to feel that I fit in.

This last point is very important. The community is not joining me, I’m joining the community. The community is what it is. It may meet all of my requirements and when I try the life, I don’t fit in.

I guess that’s what one must look for, a place where one belongs. All those externals: habit, prayer schedule, ministry, infrastructure, location, etc can change and will change over the years. I can’t define my vocation by those things. Their important to me, but I must also be willing to give them up if God asks me to do so.

A wonderful example of this is Ven. Mary Ward.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:


#4

[quote="JReducation, post:3, topic:281075"]
What should be most important is whether or not Christ calls you to that particular community. They may dress in a way that you like, with or without a habit. They may pray as you like. They may do work that you like.

But it's like a marriage. There is much more to it than what you like. There is an internal affinity. I call it an affinity of the spirit. When a man comes looking at my community, I look for that affinity. We may like each other very much, but if that affinity is not present, then it's not the community for you.

We all begin looking at the externals, but as we proceed down the journey of discernment, the externals lose their importance, just like any other love affair. As my wife gets older, fatter, grayer, sicker, the affinity does not change. I first noticed her beautiful legs at the high school prom, which led me to ask her to dance. Then there were other externals that led me to ask for a date and so forth. But as time goes forward, I come to realize that those things are not what make me happy. It's all about the spirit. If it's not there, I will never be happy. If there is an affinity of the spirit, the externals will not make much of a difference.

One falls in love with a way of life, not the pieces that make up that way of life. I know what I'm trying to say, because it's my experience; but I can't put it into clear terms. I can honestly say that I fell in love with Francis of Assisi, not the habit, the prayer life, the friary, the ministry or any of those other things. In fact, some of those things were annoying as all heck. But the Franciscan way of life was made for me and I for it. We were a match.

To this day, even as I move into a new community, it's still the Franciscan way of life. That does not change. The change is in the focus of service. I guess the most important thing is the Gestalt. I have to feel that I fit in.

This last point is very important. The community is not joining me, I'm joining the community. The community is what it is. It may meet all of my requirements and when I try the life, I don't fit in.

I guess that's what one must look for, a place where one belongs. All those externals: habit, prayer schedule, ministry, infrastructure, location, etc can change and will change over the years. I can't define my vocation by those things. Their important to me, but I must also be willing to give them up if God asks me to do so.

A wonderful example of this is Ven. Mary Ward.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

I agree with you on most of what you said; the most important aspect in choosing a religious order is that you are called to it by God, however one can feel that God is calling them to a specific kind of order and there can be evidence to back that up. For instance I already spend most of my day praying and would like to be able to continue spending my days that way for the rest of my life. This has been the case since March 2010.


#5

What you’re saying fits into what I wrote. Maybe I was not as clear as I thought. You feel a draw to the quiet life of prayer. The next step is to visit communities that live such a life. They are going to differ.

Let me give you some examples. You have the Benedictine family. That family is divided int congregations. Those congregations differ from each other and are in constant state of change. The one thing that remains consistent is the life of prayer. How they pray, how they work, how they dress, where they life and what apostolic work they do and how much of it is decided by the abbot. Abbots come and go.

There is the Cistercian family which follows the Benedictine Rule. There are the original Cistercians and the Trappists. They too differ from each other and from their Benedictine ancestors. Each house differs from the next. Because they all belong to the Cistercian tradition, does not mean that they all live the same way. There are subtle differences. Again, because they follow the Rule of St.Benedict, the abbot has the final word on how they will live the live of prayer. You may have one abbot that wants a classical Latin Divine Office to be replaced by an abbot who wants the Divine Office in the vernacular. The external changes according to the wishes of the abbot, but the essential remains the same,which is the life of silence and prayer.

That’s my reason for saying that the externals are not as important. When you’re speaking about a life of continuous prayer, that’s not an external. That’s the essence of the monastic life. The external would be what breviary they use, the language they use, do they teach or farm, do they have contact with the outside world are are totally removed, dot hey wear a habit or not or do they wear it sometimes. Those things are external and they change from one generation to another. In monastic life they change form one abbot to another. Even the breviary changes. The abbot has the authority to rewrite the missal and breviary for his house. There is another external. The essence remains the same, The monks pray and pray always.

Does that help?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:


#6

I know exactly what you’re saying. I’ve been mostly happily married for over 40 years. To the same guy. :stuck_out_tongue:


#7

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