Question about being a nun


#1

Hi,
I will be graduating from college in Dec and like most people have student loans. On some websites I have read that in order to become a nun you are not allowed to have any debt but on others have not seen anything regarding this. Is this true?


#2

Yes, often it is a problem. But, there are some organizations you can apply to and pray they will accept your case and pay your bills. You have to be accepted to an Order first, though.

Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations fundforvocations.org

labourefoundation.org/


#3

Yes, you will have to get rid of the debt first.

Live with your parents (or other close family) for low rent or in exchange for services (cooking, cleaning, childcare).

Get the best-paying job you can get using that college education – yes, there are jobs out there, so have faith :smiley:

Sock as much money into those loan accounts as possible.

Don’t give up hope. You can get this debt paid off faster than you think if you live as simply as possible, always with the mindset that you are “building up your dowry” to become the Bride of Christ.

God bless you, dear one.

Gertie


#4

To become a nun, you must be debt free. However, sisters do not have the same stringent requirements.

The Knights of Columbus have several programs for women who want to become sisters, only. To the best of my knowledge, they do not support nuns. Though a local council may do so.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#5

It depends on the country too. I don't know about the system where you live, but in England many communities of nuns will accept women with a student loan since the loan will never need to be paid off. It's not as simple as saying they definitely will disregard the loan, but they often will.


#6

[quote="Batfink, post:5, topic:244779"]
It depends on the country too. I don't know about the system where you live, but in England many communities of nuns will accept women with a student loan since the loan will never need to be paid off. It's not as simple as saying they definitely will disregard the loan, but they often will.

[/quote]

I can only speak of the USA. I never had loans from another country. In the USA they can sue you. Nuns don't do external apostolic work; therefore, they don't generate an income to pay off these loans.

Sisters, on the other hand, are usually allowed to hod a job while in formation, until they begin their canonical year, at which time they usually go into partial enclosure and they can no longer hold a job that generates income. While you're an aspirant and postulant, it MAY BE possible to hold a job and pay off those loans. A lot will depend on the community and the amount of your loan too. If the amount is so large that you cannot pay it off before it's time to stop working, then it's problematic.

I would suggest that the candidate contact a group like the Knights of Columbus. I know they help men who are going to be brothers or priests. However, these are men who are going to be working in the larger community. I do not know how involved the Knights are with enclosed communities, if at all.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#7

[quote="JReducation, post:4, topic:244779"]
To become a nun, you must be debt free. However, sisters do not have the same stringent requirements.

The Knights of Columbus have several programs for women who want to become sisters, only. To the best of my knowledge, they do not support nuns. Though a local council may do so.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Huh? What's the difference between a sister and a nun?


#8

A nun is a female monk, a sister is a female friar :)

That answer may not help you either: the main difference is that nuns are cloistered, and live contemplative lives dedicated primarily to prayer. Sisters are out in the world (perhaps nurses, teachers, or social workers), and have a lighter rule of prayer. Most sisters no longer wear the habit; most cloistered nuns do.

Not everyone makes the distinction between the two in common speech, but they are very different vocations. (Cloistered nuns also address each other as 'sister', just to make things confusing!)


#9

My sister graduated from college in May 2006, and she definitely had debt. I don’t know whether my dad took it upon himself to pay those loans off, or some type of organization did, but she was able to enter Valley of our Lady Monastery in Wisconsin only 5 months later. I honestly have no idea, but I think that perhaps if the responsibility of loan payments are taken by another organization/person, then she can enter when she is still in debt. However, again I do not know this, but I would suspect different orders have different rules about it.


#10

[quote="TuAutem, post:8, topic:244779"]
A nun is a female monk, a sister is a female friar :)

[/quote]

Nooooooooooooooooo :p

Nuns and monks are both monastic. This correct. Friars do not have female counterparts. Friars are mendicants who make solemn vows and belong to religious orders. This way of life is forbidden to women.

Sisters never make solemn vows and may never join a religious order. Sisters belong to congregations and make simple vows. They're the counterparts of active male religious such as the Christian Brothers, Salesians, Passionists, Redemptorists, Fathers of Mercy, Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers, etc.

That answer may not help you either: the main difference is that nuns are cloistered, and live contemplative lives dedicated primarily to prayer. Sisters are out in the world (perhaps nurses, teachers, or social workers), and have a lighter rule of prayer. Most sisters no longer wear the habit; most cloistered nuns do.

Not everyone makes the distinction between the two in common speech, but they are very different vocations. (Cloistered nuns also address each other as 'sister', just to make things confusing!)

What made it confusing was that when the first communities of apostolic women religious were founded, bishops did not know what to do with them. They gave them the habits of the nuns and the titles of the nuns. To the man in the pew, they looked like nuns so they referred to them as nuns. That's why many congregations of sisters dropped the habit. It was not part of the original design of the founder. It was given to them to make them more "nunny".

Some sisters avoided the image such as the Phillipini Sisters, Daughters of Charity, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, Missonaries of the Most Blessed Trinity, Medical Mission Sisters and Maryknoll Sisters. Their garb was very distinct from that of nuns, so was their formation.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#11

Wow, harsh! In the UK loans come from the government and you don’t pay them back unless you’re earning over a certain threshold of money. If you’ve stil got debt left at 65, or 25 years after graduation, or if you become permanently unfit to work, then it gets written off. Therefore, since religious will de facto (almost) never earn over the threshold, their loans stay on the books until retirement age and are then cancelled. Most congregations/orders that I know of over here will accept people with a student loan debt, some won’t or say that it’s decided on a case by case basis.


#12

I went back and looked up the Canon Law regarding entering into the novitiate. This is from the Vatican's website (just go to vatican.va and search Canon Law) "Can. 644 Superiors are not to admit to the novitiate secular clerics without consulting their proper ordinary nor those who, burdened by debts, cannot repay them." (Emphasis added)
In light of this many orders ask that their postulants also be debt free. There are many organizations out there that can help out with paying off student loans. Though basically you have to be no longer legally responsible for the loans. So if your parents or someone else is willing to take on the loans that is perfectly fine. Overall it is best to try to pay off as much of your loans yourself.


#13

[quote="JReducation, post:10, topic:244779"]
Nooooooooooooooooo :p
Sisters never make solemn vows and may never join a religious order. Sisters belong to congregations and make simple vows.

[/quote]

What would you say of the FI Sisters that make final profession? (I went to the ceremony in January of one of the Sisters.) Sisters of Mercy of Alma Michigan? Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, Alabama? Etc. As far as I understand it, they make final profession and are "Religious Orders."


#14

[quote="JoyfulLife, post:13, topic:244779"]
What would you say of the FI Sisters that make final profession? (I went to the ceremony in January of one of the Sisters.) Sisters of Mercy of Alma Michigan? Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, Alabama? Etc. As far as I understand it, they make final profession and are "Religious Orders."

[/quote]

Final profression means that the vows are perpetual. Most religious make vows for life, at the end of their formation period. There are two kinds of final vows: solemn and simple. Sisters always make simple vows. Only nuns make solemn vows.

Among men, monks, friars and the Jesuits make solemn vows. Other religious make simple vows.

The effects between simple and solemn vows are not observable to the outside. They are only observeable to those inside the religious life and to the Church.

As to the type of community, the sisters that you mentioned are all congregations, not religious orders.

To be a religious order the community must make solemn vows.

The problem is the way that we use language. We tend to call all religious community an order. However, they are not. The last order to be founded was the Jesuits. Afterward, Rome prohibitted the establishment of new orders. Every religious community that followed had to be a congregation with simple vows.

However, there are situations when an order subdivides and in effect two new communities come out of it. However, since they are part of the same root, they are both orders. A great example of this are Franciscan men. The Friars Minor subdivided into three: Capuchins, Conventuals and Franciscans. They all came from the same community. They are all orders, each with solemn vows, but with their own government. The Third Order of St. Francis also subdivided. After the subdivision there were seculars, who belong to a true order and there were friars or brothers, who also belong to the same order, but we make solemn vows, whereas the seculars make no vows. They make a solemn promise of obedience to the rule.

Here is another example. In the Dominican family you have the friars. They make solemn vows and are an order. They also have the nuns. They make solemn vows and are an order. Finally, you have the Dominican Sisters. They are not orders and do not make solemn vows. They are congregations and make simple vows.

The distinction between solemn and simple really applies to the vow of chastity. In the past it also applied to the vow of poverty, but many congregations live the same ascetical poverty as do orders. The distinction concerning poverty was dropped.

**Simple and solelmn vows:

Canon law at the present day does not recognize any vow as solemn except the vow of chastity, solemnized by religious profession in an order strictly so called. The vows taken in religious congregations, like the simple vows which in religious orders precede the solemn profession, and also the complementary simple vows which follow the profession in some institutes, and lastly the final simple vows taken in certain religious orders in place of solemn profession, are, strictly speaking, private; but they derive a certain authenticity from the approval of the Church and the circumstances in which they are taken. **

**Religious Orders and Religious Congregations

The reforms of Cluny and Cîteaux prepared the way for the religious order in the present sense, by making all the monks subject to the authority of one supreme abbot. A century later, St. Francis and St. Dominic united their disciples in one vast association with an interior hierarchical organization of its own, and recognizable even outwardly by the identity of rule, dress, and life. From that time forward, each religious order has been a corporation of religious approved by the Church. And since we distinguish institutes bound by solemn vows and approved by the sovereign pontiff from institutes with simple vows, the expression "religious order" has been naturally applied exclusively to institutes with solemn vows.**

For more information see Catholic Engyclopedia

It's really a hierarcy in the religious life. The orders are reserved for the exclusive approval and governance of the Holy Father. The Congregations are self-governing and are overseen either by a bishop or by the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. They have very little contact with the Holy Father and little access to him. Whereas the Orders are often assigned a Cardinal Protector who cares for them in the name of the Holy Father.

This practice stopped around the 1600s. Those communities that were already orders under the protection of the Holy Father continued to be so. St. Ignatius of Loyola introduced a novelty ino the Church, that no one else had done. He founded a Society with all of the privileges and rights of the orders, but none of the obligations. That's why the Jesuits are very free. This was approved by the Holy See.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#15

Br JR,

Excuse me for going off-topic here, but I don't quite understand all you have said about simple and solemn vows. I understood that the distinction was more or less nominal in Canon Law with few practical applications, and from what you have said this appears to be the case.

My question concerns the Domincans (as a Lay Dominican they always get me interested!). The friars are, according to your post, an order both in the technical and the ordinary sense. And yet how can they take solemn vows? If the only vow called solemn is chastity and Dominicans do not vow chastity, only obedience, then do they not make solemn vows? And, if so, are they really an order in the technical sense?


#16

The Dominican Friars an an order. Theyr’e vows are solemn. The current Canon Law of 1983, makes the distinction between a solemn vow of chasity and a simple vow of chastity. However, the Dominicans and all of the orders, were founded before 1983. The Canons do not go backward. They only go forward. It would onlly apply to any orders making solemn vows from that point forward. Those orders that existed prior to 1983, do not lose their status as orders of solemn vows.

There are a number of orders that make what I call a comprehensive vow of obedience. In other words, they vow to obey the rule and constitutions that govern them. The Dominican Friars vow to obey the Rule of St. Augustine. In the Rule of St. Augustine the three evangelical councils are demanded of the Augustinians: obedience, poverty and chastity. The same is true of the wording of the act of profession of the Benedictines. They ony mention obedience and stability, but Benedict commands chastity and poverty in his rule.

Even though the terms chasity, poverty and obedience are not mentioned in the rite of profession, it does not mean that the religious has not vowed to observe them. As long as he vows to observe the rule and all that it contains, he is vowing the three evangelical counsels. The Church requries the three evangelical counsels for the recognition of the consecrated life.

If you read the wording in our (Franciscan Rite of Profession it’s also very interesting). When I made profession I siad

“I, Brother Jason Richard of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, vow and promise to observe the Rule of the Friars Minor, as it is written by our Holy Father Francis, approved by our Lord, Pope Honorius, living without property and in chastity.” The words of the ritual say that I vowed and promised to observe the rule. However, that vow includes chastity, poverty and obedience, because the rule that I vowed to observe commands it.

Aside from the vows, there are other canonical and theological differences between congregations and orders that are not as easily observeable.

An order is always under the protection of the Holy Father and a congregation is not. Both are under the authority of the Holy Fahter, as are we all. But the popes explicitly chose certain communities to shelter under their wing to this day. These are the orders.

Therefore, the orders never answer to a bishop, the laity or a civil authority, unless they commit a civil crime. They only answer to a bishop if they choose to work for the bishop in a diocese, such as taking on the adminsitration ofhis parish. A bishop may not enter the house of an order, without the permission of the major superior. He may not correct a religious who belongs to an order. Only the major superior can do that. The bishop submits his concerns to the major superior or to the Holy Father.

In an order, individuals may never own property. If Bill Gates were my father and he died, I cannot inherit. Before making vows, I must sign a legal document where I give up the right to inherit, the right to make a profit from my work, the right to keep any assets that I already have. I cannot give them to the Church or to the order. I must assign them to someone outside


#17

In a congregatoin, because the congregation makes simple vows, the law allows the religious to own propery and to inherit. A wonderful case of this was St. Katherine Drexel. She had millons of dollars. She never had to give up that money. A religious in a congregation may not use those assets for his or her personal advantage, but he can retain ownership and adminster them as he sees fit. Katherine administered that money to build schools and clinics for Black and Native American children, but not for her own comfort or that of her sisters. The constitutions of the congregation may dictate that no religious may own anything. That's up to them. The Church does not require that of them. For example, the Missionaries of Charity may not own anything, because it's in their constitution, not becasue it's in Church tradition as is the case for the orders. Congregations in simple vows are free to be as austere or moreso than the ordes, but the Church does not demand this of them. They simply cannot use their assets for themselves. They can choose to leave those assets in a trust until they die. Then they become the property of their benediciary. In an order, you may not have assets.

Also, with the exception of the Jesuits and Carthusians, all orders are governed by a rule. Franciscans are governed by the Rule of St.Francis. Dominicans are governed by the Rule of St. Augustine. Benedictines are governed by the Rule of St. Benedict and Carmelites by the Ruleo of St. Albert.

The founders of the Jesuits and the Carthusians did not write a rule. They wrote statutes. A statute is a series of laws that are not etched in stone, because they were never sealed by a Papal Bull. That leaves the community room to change them, if the vote to do so. Once they vote, they must submit their final draft to the Church for approval.

If you have a rule, the rules are sealed by Papal Bulls. You cannot vote to change anything in the rule. It is what it is. You can write statutes to address points that are not in the rule and you can write commentaries to clarify points in the rule. These are called constitutions. They too must be approved by the Holy See; but the rule remains as it is and must be observed.

Finally, it is easier to leave a congregation than an order. If you leave an order that makes solemn vows, you are still bound to certain things such as the recitation of the Divine Office, and you are bound to obey the local bishop of the diocese into which you are incardinated.

*Profession is either simple or solemn. Solemn profession exists at present only in the institutes approved by the Holy See as religious orders. It is always perpetual, and dispensation from it is difficult to obtain; a religious who has been dismissed from his order is still bound by the obligations of the religious life; the same is the case with one who obtains from the Holy See the indult of perpetual secularization; professed who have left their order owe to the bishop of the diocese in which they reside the obedience which they formerly owed to their religious superior. * Catholic Encyclopedia newadvent.org/cathen/12451b.htm

If a sister is dismissed or is granted a dispensation, the obligations of the vows do not go with her. She is like all other lay women, free to put aside all of the rules and obligations that were once part of her life.

If a nun, friar or monk leaves, the laws above apply. He takes his obligations with him or her. The is free to maryy and to own property, but his will is still in the hands of the local bisohp. That's why the vow of obedience is the most important of the three evangelical councils, because it binds you to the superior and if you leave, to the bishop where you reside.

The code of 1983 does not include this. However, there are no new religious ordes. The founding of religious orders was stopped in the 1600s. Only the pope can erect a religious order and this has not been done since the founding of the Jesuits. It does not mean that it will never happen. It just means that it is not happening now. All of these communities of nuns are really congregations of sisters.

They were founded that way to allow them freedom to do apostolic work without the duties and obligations that come from being a nun. For example, they are not obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. They may do so if their constitutions require it. But they can also write it out of their constitutioins. In the past, most sisters never prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, only orders did. Many sisters prayed the Little Office of the BVM, which is not an official liturgical prayer. However, it is prayer. For example, Mother Teresa never instituded the Liturgy of the Hours in the Missioanries of Charity, not a fast and abstinence other than what the Church requires of every Catholic. Their wya of life is hard enough, without imposing more things on them. Congregatioins of sisters, brothers and priests have these freedoms. They can pick and choose what they want to take from the orders and what does not fit their way of life.

As I said before, today, we use language very loosely. We call sisters nuns. We refer to congregations as orders. We refer to all people in vows as religious, which is not the case. Now, with the coming of the SSPX and the FSSP, we're calling societies of apostolic life orders and referring to their members as religioius. They are neither orders nor are their members consecrated religious. They are priests, but they remain in the secular state.

We use language incorrectly all the time, not only for religious matters, but everywhere.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


closed #18

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