Questions about religious life by those who are not interested in becoming religious


#1

I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#2

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:207019"]
I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I think people are curious. Religious life is still seen as almost a different culture. Just like when people encounter a new culture, they want to know "Why do you do that? What does that mean?". Sometime it's something from "normal" life and they're not sure where it fits in religious life (it looks like some have asked about finances or property). Interestingly enough, these latter questions seem to be centred around things that people would not normally think about.

Maybe some people have trouble getting past the appearance of a person. Say a Franciscan, so someone thinks of a man in a brown habit, but they aren't quite sure what the man in the brown habit does. That might actually go back to people's younger days when, for example, they'd be shocked to see their teacher at the grocery store. People know the big things, but they have trouble seeing a religious doing normal people things.

I guess people could be curious by what's around them too. They might have a friend who is interested in a certain order/congregation or they might see a stranger who is a member, but are too afraid or embarrassed to ask the these questions (I would think especially the "normal life" type of stuff). It's in people's nature when they see something strange that they want to explain it (things go from chaos and unknown to organized and ordered).


#3

The possibility of entering religious life is now a reality for all ages. I started coming to this forum after hearing Rosalind Moss announce at a Catholic breakfast meeting that she was going to start a religious community for all ages. I am presently married and heaven only knows who will die first....me or my husband. If my husband should die before me, I will have had plenty of time to read about Sister Rosalind's community and what life as a sister would be like for an older woman. It would not be a snap decision if I decided to join her community. Also, I am very supportive of a community of teaching nuns in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If I were a young gal I would definitely join their order. I enjoy hearing about people's vocation stories and I am presently praying for a young man who is seriously considering the priesthood. I know there is another older gal from Australia who also reads these forums who is constantly praying for people on this forum.
There are active players and there are cheerleaders. At this time I am a cheerleader.
Also, when you were very sick many of us cheerleaders were there to pray for you. Aren't you glad we were reading your threads!!!!


#4

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:207019"]
I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

well, i thought it was pretty understandable to have curiosity, especially about things that have nothing to do with our lives, because in our daily lives, we have absolutely no contact with such matters, and hence no chance of discovering it by experience, and hence all these questions. maybe im just born inquisitive...=p


#5

I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

Reasons probably could be almost endless. Perhaps asking some random question from a person not having a vocation to the life themselves may inspire a reader who does. The Holy Spirit is never wasteful I dont think. Perhpas these same lay people with no interest in entering religious life, may at some later point find that they are interested. Who knows!

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

Perhaps single minded, perhaps lack of curiosity - perhaps some other reason.

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

I think we as lay people need to be a little bit careful about applying the strict dynamics (if that is the word) that apply to a religious life to our lay vocation unless of course we have a call to such imitation within our lay state. Of course the call to contemplative prayer applies to all the baptized and hence the virtue of not wasting one's time, or sheer curiosity for the sake of it ,need be avoided.

Actually, I find it really quite surprising that so many religious are spending time on the internet at all and contributing in forums and probably a reflection of pre V2 concepts of religious life. I am interested to find out about religious life where I can for my own information which may become useful in a situation I cannot as yet anticipate. As I said, The Holy Spirit is never wasteful. Pre V2 there tended to be a certain secrecy/hiddenness about religious life that nowadays does not apply and as a pre V2er myself, I find it interesting to insight religious life as it is lived out nowadays. I dont think there is anything intrisincally wrong with being informed on matters Catholic no matter the subject and do not consider it wasting time.

TS


#6

I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

How can an individual be interested in a thing they do not know about; through the intellect (that is).

It is entirely the case that it may be that individuals who are not through thought drawn to the religious life; but through some yearning distinct from their heart or soul - and it is through here that they are able to come to more fully understand what it may be to have the religious life. For; the individual cannot know that he does or does not want it until he knows what it is that he does or does not want!

Moreover; it is entirely plausible that these individuals do not say they want what indeed they do; and entirely plausible that they do not even know what indeed they feel they want to do. I have seen a substantial number of posts in which people claim their parent's somehow try to pressure people "out" of vocations; and in fact it seems the case that many people who have vocations are not even aware of them - this is certainly the case with at least one Priest I know - the transition between a yearning in the heart and a true and full knowlege of a vocation necessarily entails an fuller understanding of what that entails; through some experience or other - our inner feelings are drawn out and made manifest in a particular form; but it is the case that many people who claim they are not interested in the religious life might be; but not know they are.

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

I may be being bold here; but you seem to be equivocating interest in a thing; with interest becomming a thing. For example; I am interested in Music; but have no interest in pursuing a career in music. Likewise; many people may be interested in the religious life; without wanting to become a religious.

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

I am curious; then - if you follow this rule wholly; which I do not doubt you do - how is this question to do with your life? It seems to be the case; that every endevour cannot solley be that of the pursuit of God prayerfully; it cannot be solley to acheive internal silence and to hear the voice of God - for this specifically would be contrary to our commandment to pursue good works and to preach the Gospel. No doubt you do these things; but it seems the case that indulging in study allows us to come to be able to contextualise the things we do know; and deepen and broaden both their meanings and our understandings.

When Fransiscans *such *as William of Ockham ask "Is a universal a true thing outside the soul, really distinct from the individual, really in it and really multipled" I cannot see how this is aidful in pursuing an inner silence to hear the voice of God. That; however is not to say that it is a fruitless pursuit; merely that it is not wholly directed in the pursuit of an inner silence.

Likewise; when an individual asks about the religious life; the gearing of that question may not be to some specific function or goal per se; but instead might be a general curiousity; a deeper yearning; a confusion or doubt - or for that matter it may be anything else.

I shall leave it on this note; not all people know what they want to be; and a general curiosity may plant a seed in an individual that may come to blossom in the future; that they are not even aware of now. That is to say; remember that before St Francis deepend himself spiritually; he pursued a military expedition; and that is not to even mention the extreme changes in individuals such as St Paul; St Augustine and so forth.

The best thing is that when a person is interested; is not to judge that their interest springs from this or that mild curiosity; or for that matter; this or that deeper yearning - but to instead impartially impart knowlege on the seeker.

-John


#7

The bold is mine.

Here is a very interesting point. I believe that’s the major difference between a religious order and a religious congregation. Religious congregations were founded to DO. The Holy Spirit raised up many religious congregations to respond to material needs in the world. Whereas religious orders were raised up to BE, not do. We don’t do anything in particular. We ARE. If you’re a women who belongs to a religious order, you’re a nun. You’re a person whose life is consecrated to Christ and you live day in and day out for one reason alone, to be in his presence. Nuns don’t do anything, other than some odd job here or there to make enough money to pay their bills. The same is true about monks. They don’t do anything in particular, because they belong to an order. Orders were not founded to do anything. Other men who belong to orders are the friars.

Friars are an interesting lot, because we are also called to BE, not to do. We are men of prayer and brotherhood. Our lives revolve around the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours and around each other. We’re called to be brothers to each other. The difference between monks and us is that we do not live inside a monastery. We live in friaries or priories. These are houses iin the middle of the secular world. However, while unlike the monks who live away from the secular world, the friars do not, but very much like monks, the friars avoid contamination with the secular world. We strive to be obedient to our superiors and to our brothers, especially our founders. We strive to be detached from material porperty by not owning anything or very little, depending on the order to which we belong. We strive to be totally consecrated to loving and serving our brothers instead of a biolocial family, hence our vow of chastity is much more than not getting married (celibacy). It is a solemn vow to be a brother to others in our community. All the above are the things that we are, nothing is about what we do. Friars can preach, teach, do retreat work, do priestly ministry, do healthcare or nothing at all as long as they persevere in the things that they vowed to be: prayerful, penitent, obedient, poor, chaste and brothers to each other.

Religious who belong to congregations are bound to DO. Congregations were founded for the care of the sick, elderly, student, child, family, and much more. They do certain kinds of work, depending on the vision and mission that the Holy Spirit gave to their founders.

These are some interesting replies. I hope that you folks don’t mind my responding in no particular order.

PS. Most Franciscans do not wear brown habits. Most wear grey. The brown habit became very famous because it’s worn by the Friars Minor Observants, which is the largest group of Franciscan men. Most communities of Franciscan men wear grey. These other communities are smaller and not as well known. If you go to Oxford you will still find a hall named after the Franciscans called Grey Friars.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#8

Are these the Dominican Sisters of Mary? They are a good group of teaching sisters.

If I were a young gal I would definitely join their order.

They are not an order. Sisters have never been allowed to form religious orders. They are a congregation. Only nuns can belong to a religious order. The vows made by sistes and nuns are very different and so is their way of life. Sisters DO and nuns ARE.

I enjoy hearing about people’s vocation stories and I am presently praying for a young man who is seriously considering the priesthood.

The priesthood is not part of religious life. They are very different vocations. It is easy to get the two confused because the priesthood belongs to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, whereas religious belong to Religious Orders. People often get sidetracked by the word “order”. But they are not the same.

The priesthood is not necessary for the religious life and the religious life is not necessary for the priesthood, but both are necessary for the life of the Church. That being said, there are some men who have two calls in one “bundle”. They are called to be priests and to be religious. In those cases, their call to be religious takes priority. They must live out their lives as directed by the rule or constitutions of their religious community. If that rule or constitutions allows them to do priestly ministry, they may do so. If it does not allow it, they may still be ordained, but do not do priestly ministry. A good example of this are monks.

Some men are called to be religious monks and to be priests. But priests who are monks do very little priestly ministry. About the only priestly ministry that they do is celebrate mass when their superior and their brothers allow it. They never witness a marriage, baptize someone, annoint the sick, confirm and rarely hear confessions, except that of their brothers in the monastery. Even this can be limited by the superior.

Some priests are called to orders of friars. They too are religious first and priests within the religious life. They are restricted in the amount of priestly ministry that they do. Some friar priests are assigned to parishes where they have many priestly duties. Others are assigned to houses of study, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, street ministry, manual labor and other ministries that does not require the sacraments or very rarely requires the sacraments. We have one friar priest who celebrates mass for his brothers and then leaves to work as a maintenance man at a school. Then we have several friars who are not priests and they work in parishes, pregnancy centers, archdiocesan offices, seminaries and other ministries. It’s really up to the superior to assign them. The superior assigns them according to the charism of the founder and the order.

For example: the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word do not do parish ministry. They have very few ordained friars, because they do not need them. Their ministry is to adore the Blessed Sacrament. They earn their living by working for EWTN and doing retreat work and spiritual direction at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament where the Poor Clares live. The Franciscans of the Renewal do not serve in parishes either. They do street ministry, shelters, soup ktichens social justice work, pro-life work, youth ministry and a lot of manual labor. The friars that they ordain would not hear confessioins, baptize, witness weddings, bury the dead or the other typical ministries of a priest. They usually celebrate mass, when it’s their turn or when they go some place where there is a need or it’s appropriate to do so. They would hear confessions of the people in the places where they find themselves. But they will not be found in parishes.

We’re really speaking about realigious life here, not the priesthood. The priesthood is a very different vocation from the consecrated life. Though, as I said, many religoious orders and congregations of men do ordain men to the priesthood. Some do not. In any case, those men who are ordained and who are also religious must be called to the priesthood by Christ. Who decides this? The major superior and the individual do. However, the superior is the sole voice of Christ. If he says that you have a calling to be a priest, you do. If he says that you do not, then you do not. No superior can force you to accept ordination. Nonetheless, all superiors of men can deny a request for ordination. That does not mean that you do not have a call to be a consecrated religious. In fact, the question is not fully decided until after you have made perpetual vows. This way, if the superior decides that you do not have a call to be a priest, you are still a permanent member of the religious community. You may not leave without permission from the Holy See or the pope himself. This permission is rarely given, if you’re only reason for leaving is because you want to be a priest and your superior has denied your request. His voice is final.

There are active players and there are cheerleaders. At this time I am a cheerleader.
Also, when you were very sick many of us cheerleaders were there to pray for you. Aren’t you glad we were reading your threads!!!

I’m certainly glad that we have cheerleaders. This makes many of us feel very loved and supported.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#9

I think it’s a fair answer.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#10

[quote="TiggerS, post:5, topic:207019"]
Reasons probably could be almost endless. Perhaps asking some random question from a person not having a vocation to the life themselves may inspire a reader who does.

[/quote]

That is very true.

The Holy Spirit is never wasteful I dont think.

I agree with this 100%

Of course the call to contemplative prayer applies to all the baptized and hence the virtue of not wasting one's time, or sheer curiosity for the sake of it ,need be avoided.

The call to inner silence is about much more than contemplation. But it is true that it begins with contemplation. However, I would add that all people are called to be contemplatives.

Actually, I find it really quite surprising that so many religious are spending time on the internet at all and contributing in forums and probably a reflection of pre V2 concepts of religious life. I am interested to find out about religious life where I can for my own information which may become useful in a situation I cannot as yet anticipate. As I said, The Holy Spirit is never wasteful. Pre V2 there tended to be a certain secrecy/hiddenness about religious life that nowadays does not apply and as a pre V2er myself, I find it interesting to insight religious life as it is lived out nowadays. I dont think there is anything intrisincally wrong with being informed on matters Catholic no matter the subject and do not consider it wasting time.

TS

I don't believe it's wasting time. Learning is always a good thing. What can be a dangerous thing is when you transition from asking questions to demanding that another person live the religious life as you believe that it should be lived. This is dangerous, because the religious life is something that most people do not understand. It is easier for a religious to understand marriage than the other way around. To be celibate, you must understand marriage. Otherwisie the vow of consecrated chastity makes no sense. That being said, there are people who come on these fora and argue to death with religious about how to live religious life. That is a waste of time, because you can't tell someone how to live a specific way of life, unless you are in the shoes of the founder who had the vision and mission.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#11

[quote="JReducation, post:8, topic:207019"]
Are these the Dominican Sisters of Mary? They are a good group of teaching sisters.

           Yes, they are my favorite.  They remind me very much of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who taught me many years ago.  Sadly, my former teachers are no longer orthodox and consequently their community has dwindled.  We always referred to them as "nuns" when we talked about them as a group.  During class, however, they were addressed always as Sister.   When we raised our hands and really wanted to be called on we would beg....Sssttttrr as we pumped our arms for attention.  We could never just say, "yes" or "no".  It would have to be followed by Sister......Yes, Sister!  So, you can understand why we old timers considered the word, "sister" to be used as a title like Mam and the word nun to be used when we referred to what they were.

They are not an order. Sisters have never been allowed to form religious orders. They are a congregation. Only nuns can belong to a religious order. The vows made by sistes and nuns are very different and so is their way of life. Sisters DO and nuns ARE.

Some men are called to be religious monks and to be priests. But priests who are monks do very little priestly ministry. About the only priestly ministry that they do is celebrate mass when their superior and their brothers allow it. They never witness a marriage, baptize someone, annoint the sick, confirm and rarely hear confessions, except that of their brothers in the monastery. Even this can be limited by the superior.

          I have a dear friend who went to boarding school in Ireland and was taught by the Cistercian Monks.  The monks worked very hard running the school and also the farm.   All of the able-bodied monks did the farming, maintenance, and the teaching.  They got up very early to pray.  Amazing!!

I'm certainly glad that we have cheerleaders. This makes many of us feel very loved and supported.

        Indeed you are!

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]


#12

You’d be surprised. The last thing that I ever expected was to be a Francisan Brother of Life. I had no idea what this was about. I knew the Capuchins and entered that way. Suddenly, the Lord pointed me in this direction.

but it is the case that many people who claim they are not interested in the religious life might be; but not know they are.

This may be true. I’m not sure if I would call this an interest. But I would say that many people do not know that they are being called and they are suddenly struck by a brick. LOL

you seem to be equivocating interest in a thing; with interest becomming a thing. For example; I am interested in Music; but have no interest in pursuing a career in music. Likewise; many people may be interested in the religious life; without wanting to become a religious.

That’s interesting. You call it equivocating and we call it discipline. You’ll find this more common in communities of monks, nuns and friars, because discipline plays a major part in our way of life. I believe that more so than in active congregations. Not that they do not have discipline, because they do. But their discipline focuses on the work that they are called to do. In the case of monks, nuns and friars the discipline is geered to becoming a very specific kind of person, not particularly achieving anything that is visible or measureable.

I am curious; then - if you follow this rule wholly; which I do not doubt you do - how is this question to do with your life?

I’m a religious superior. My role is to govern the community and to understand what goes on in the world around us so that I can sort out what my brothers should know and not know. The Franciscan superior is a mother. His job is to guard his brothers and what affects them.

It seems to be the case; that every endevour cannot solley be that of the pursuit of God prayerfully; it cannot be solley to acheive internal silence and to hear the voice of God - for this specifically would be contrary to our commandment to pursue good works and to preach the Gospel.

There is no better work of mercy than to live a life of prayer and there is no better way to preach the Gospel than to be present in a community. That’s why St. Francis commanded the friars to preach always, but to use words only when necessary. That’s why enclosed monks and nuns never preach with words, but they certainly preach by their presence in the world. In fact, the Church considers their form of life the highest form of Gospel living. This is not contrary to the Christian vocation for holiness. In fact, it is the highest and most noble calling. Only very few very special souls are called to live this way; that’s how special it is.

When Fransiscans *such *as William of Ockham ask “Is a universal a true thing outside the soul, really distinct from the individual, really in it and really multipled” I cannot see how this is aidful in pursuing an inner silence to hear the voice of God. That; however is not to say that it is a fruitless pursuit; merely that it is not wholly directed in the pursuit of an inner silence.

You have to be very careful here. It is true that Br. William said this. But there is another side to this story. He was never allowed to teach this to the Franciscans, because there is a conflict between his position and that of St. Clare. Conflict with Francis and Clare is not allowed to be taught within the community. It may be wholly good for the laity, but not for the friars and nuns. No one may hold an opinion different from the founders

Many of these things that you read today, have never been endorsed by the order. They were the writings of individuals and these writings were studied much later.

Likewise; when an individual asks about the religious life; the gearing of that question may not be to some specific function or goal per se; but instead might be a general curiousity; a deeper yearning; a confusion or doubt - or for that matter it may be anything else.

Most religious founders, have always discouraged idle curiosity, because it’s idle. Questions for the sake of understanding, be they to clear a doubt or confusion, are good and encouraged.

remember that before St Francis deepend himself spiritually; he pursued a military expedition;

This is not true. Franciscan theology is very clear that Francis’ military career was an essential part of this religious vocation. Had he not gone into the military he would have been unable to found the order as it is today. We have to look at the book from chapter one, not from the last chapter. Francis introduced something radically new into the military, something very Franciscan. He was a brother to the enemies of his country and to the enemies of the Church. While in prison, he was often thought of as being insane at best or a traitor at worse, because he insisted that a good war had to be fought for a good reason and had to be fought fairly. He also insisted that every prisoner of war owed obedience, respect and charity to his captors, because Christ was obedient to and respectful of his captors when he was arrested.

Every writing by the early brothers, and many documents that are not available to outsiders, indicate that he began his journey to becoming Brother Francis at birth, when his name is changed from John to Francesco. The name change was not an accident. It was an act of God, just as the name change of Abram, Simon and Saul. The writing was on the wall that this child was destined to be a great man and to save the Church by converting Catholics to the faith.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#13

[quote="onetruechurch, post:11, topic:207019"]

[/quote]

This is a common experience. Most Roman Catholics don't now these differences. Other Catholics seem to have a better handle on this. I'm not sure how the Roman Catholics lost their understanding of these differences and the importance of each in the life of the universal Church. Oriental Catholics seem to have a better understanding, even though some do get confused.

sisters v. nuns

friars, monks, and clerks regular

religious vs secular

consecrated man vs ordained man

religious congregation vs. religious order

institute of consecrated life vs society of apsotolic life

secular order vs. lay order

religious life vs. holy orders

solemn vows vs. simple vows

religious ordinary vs. diocesan ordinary

It's true that some of them you can combine, because some people are called to more than one. But each is very unique and has its own attributes, origins, purpose, and manner of living and working.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#14

I don't believe it's wasting time. Learning is always a good thing. What can be a dangerous thing is when you transition from asking questions to demanding that another person live the religious life as you believe that it should be lived.

Agreed and I think this applies to all vocations - demanding of another that it be lived out as I think it should be lived out. Within religious community life, I think probably leadership and The Rule spell it all out for those within the community. Criticism coming in from outside may have value, may not. If not, ignore it.

This is dangerous, because the religious life is something that most people do not understand. It is easier for a religious to understand marriage than the other way around. To be celibate, you must understand marriage. Otherwisie the vow of consecrated chastity makes no sense.

I dont quite see how you have arrived at the above but am prepared to accept your opinion as your opinion. We are all called to chastity, not all to consecrated celibate chastity however. And however and wherever God may call one, His Gratuitious Grace is present always asking humble praise and thanksgiving.

That being said, there are people who come on these fora and argue to death with religious about how to live religious life. That is a waste of time, because you can't tell someone how to live a specific way of life, unless you are in the shoes of the founder who had the vision and mission.

The best way, I often think, to diffuse a difficult person especially perhaps in a discussion forum is to deny feedback, else often proves a complete waste of time prolonging an obvious often need to agree to disagree and move on.

One last comment, I think that religious life is a very special vocation and that the Grace to live it is a very special Grace gifted gratiuitiously to those so called to fulfill this call. The Spirit blows where He May. Marriage and parenthood is also a very special vocation for example I think, and the very special Grace to live these vocations is also gratuitiously gifted to those so called - and so on and so forth. All and any glory is God's alone for without His Grace there is nothing at all. All is Grace (St. Therese of Lisieux).

TS


#15

[quote="JReducation, post:9, topic:207019"]
I think it's a fair answer.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I think so. To me it's akin to non-Catholics coming to CAF who have no interest whatsoever in becoming Catholic but are curious about Catholic belief.

Maybe because there's a faint unrecognised spark inside them of being drawn towards Catholicism.

Maybe because they simply want to compare and contrast Catholic beliefs with their own and see if there's anything that they might profitably learn from us (or perhaps teach us?).

Maybe just idle curiosity - we're by far the biggest branch of Catholicism, after all, and that alone might make people curious as to the reasons why an the appeal of Catholicism?


#16

JR,

I mean no disrespect, but your statements regarding religious orders versus congregations are not consistent with my experience and I would appreciate any help you may be able to offer in correcting any misunderstandings I have. I see people in religious orders all the time who DO things, rather than simply BE. What you are describing sounds far more like the distinction between a contemplative order and an active order. Take the OFM, for example. There's plenty of DOING in their lives. Or, the Dominicans - they DO as well.

On another note, one of the things that is key to understanding your original question has to do with the particulars of the various states in life. You said that you were taught "not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives." The thing is that the state of life of a married person - or even of a diocesan priest for example - is different from the state of life of a religious. A religious has a very... "narrow" life. He has a structure to his time, to his actions, and to virtually everything in life. It's a "limited" life in one sense, the purpose of which is of course to free the religious from all limits in his pursuit of God. His life is to live outside of the world, for he has left the world and entered into religion.

On the other hand, the lay person or diocesan priest has a very different life. Such people are called to remain in the world and to bring Christ to it. Those things which pertain to them are much broader, a parish priest most of all, who must be able to understand anyone and everyone in virtually any and every circumstance. These people are called to know about all kinds of different things, because they must deal with all kinds of different things in life, but above all because they must bring the light of Christ into all of these things. This can include the religious life. After all, if only those in religious life understand anything about religious life, who will share the message of religious life and thereby introduce others to it, possibly leading them to enter into it as well? If a lay woman has never asked about religious life, how will she will explain the misunderstandings her worldly friends may have about it?

And finally, the religious exist not only for themselves, but also in a certain way as an example to others. While we are not religious, we can learn from and be inspired by the lives of religious so as to live our lives with greater holiness.

God bless


#17

Nice post Brother.

My issue goes a bit deeper. I do not mind questions it is when those who are not religious wish to impose their views of what they thing religious life aught to be upon religious or judge religious by their views.

It is the Rule and Constitution (and for most orders the vision of the founder/s) on how religious life is lived for each order.

I know there are some who are upset that we are present here on an internet forum in the first place.


#18

[quote="Lazerlike42, post:16, topic:207019"]
JR,

I mean no disrespect, but your statements regarding religious orders versus congregations are not consistent with my experience and I would appreciate any help you may be able to offer in correcting any misunderstandings I have. I see people in religious orders all the time who DO things, rather than simply BE. What you are describing sounds far more like the distinction between a contemplative order and an active order. Take the OFM, for example. There's plenty of DOING in their lives. Or, the Dominicans - they DO as well.

[/quote]

The orders, including the Franciscans and Dominicans DO what flows from what we ARE. For example, a Dominican is a Brother Preacher. The preaching is part of his identity. If he stops preaching and teaching, he is something other. A Franciscan, of any obedience, is a Friar Minor or in plain English, a Lesser Brother. If we cease to serve, then we are neither lesser nor brothers.

Religious orders organize their ministry around their life. Congregations organize their lives around their work. This is the reason for the big renewal that is taking place in the orders. Many orders adopted the same behavior as the congregations. Franciscans took on many ministries and then organized their community life, schedules, living arrangements, use of material things, the defintion of poverty and community to fit the ministry.

Now, there is a rude awakening. We were wrong. Now we have renewals to go back to the original way that the life was founded in the 13th century. The friar's life is organized around prayer and community. Ministry is built into it in a way that does not require one to change or adapt the life of prayer or the community life to the ministry. This renewal is going on even among the OFMs.

There are several members of religious orders out there who are fighting this, because they joined the orders when the focus was on the ministry. These guys joined to do a particular ministry. Now, we have a mandate that says that we must order our lives according to the original ideals. This means that we have to change what we DO, do it differently or not do it at all.

On another note, one of the things that is key to understanding your original question has to do with the particulars of the various states in life. You said that you were taught "not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives." The thing is that the state of life of a married person - or even of a diocesan priest for example - is different from the state of life of a religious. A religious has a very... "narrow" life. He has a structure to his time, to his actions, and to virtually everything in life. It's a "limited" life in one sense, the purpose of which is of course to free the religious from all limits in his pursuit of God. His life is to live outside of the world, for he has left the world and entered into religion.

On the other hand, the lay person or diocesan priest has a very different life. Such people are called to remain in the world and to bring Christ to it. Those things which pertain to them are much broader, a parish priest most of all, who must be able to understand anyone and everyone in virtually any and every circumstance. These people are called to know about all kinds of different things, because they must deal with all kinds of different

When the question is helpful to one's life, be it the ministry or some other function in life, then it's not inconsistent with the original statement. The question become necessary.

And finally, the religious exist not only for themselves, but also in a certain way as an example to others. While we are not religious, we can learn from and be inspired by the lives of religious so as to live our lives with greater holiness.

God bless

Religious certainly exist for the benefit of the world. There is no argument here. The point is that most lay people do not want to learn from religious. Just look at some points on the vocation forums and look at what Brother David posted above. It is one thing to ask religious questions about our life and our ministry. It is quite another to try to tell religious that they are wrong in how they understand their life on how they minister.

This raises the question among religious. Why ask us about our lives, if you (not you) do not want to take something from it?

I like seeing the secular person learning about religious life. In fact, I teach a course on religious life for diocesan seminarians. They want to understand. Like you said, they often have to answer questions when they become diocesan priests in a parish. But the difference between them and many other people is that the seminarians accept religious life on its terms. In other words, they don't challenge and critique religious life because it's not what they believe what it should be. As one seminarian once said, "I just want to know why they walk on their hands not because I care, just so that I can explain it. Afterall, it's not me who is walking on his hands. If it were that important to me, I'd be instead of a secular."

The same applies here. I work with men and women in crisis pregnancies. I ask many questions about pregnancy, child development, male-female relationships. I ask many questions about brith control, abortion laws and many things related to people who are in crisis pregnancies. I'm interested, because it's part of my life. When someone comes and tells me that they are jugglers, that has nothing to do with an unwanted pregnancy, so I just pass it up. That's what we were taught to to do in novitiate.

Every human being has to remain focussed, regardless of his call in life.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#19

[quote="ByzCath, post:17, topic:207019"]
Nice post Brother.

My issue goes a bit deeper. I do not mind questions it is when those who are not religious wish to impose their views of what they thing religious life aught to be upon religious or judge religious by their views.

[/quote]

I believe that many people have a sense of entitlement. I go to the first chapter of the book to see where it came from. We have developed a great deal in two areas: economic and political. The two are difficult to separate.

To you remember in Church history when the Pontifical Orders were created? The idea was to keep bishops and lay people out of the monasteries. By taking the monks out from under the jurisdiction of the bishops and the economic control of the laity, they were protected from the impositions that came from outside. This allowed for religious families such as the Benedictines to reform and you had the birth of the Cisercians, Camadolese and Trappists.

Then we came along: the mendicants. Again Rome ruled zero interference from bishops and laity. We were all Pontifical and answered only to the pope.

Today we have a revival of that era. As people become more economically influential they seek to extend their influence into areas where they are not allowed to do so. Most of our ministries depend on financial support from the faithful. For this, we are grateful. But they don't depend on the faithful for guidance. They are guided by internal decisions made at our chapters. Many people have a difficult time drawing the line at the chapter hall door.

Why? Because we have made great progress in democracy. But as Pope John Paul II said, "Democracy is a means, not an end." Democracy can be very bad too. This is a perfect example. In a democratic state we have a right to hold our leaders accountable, because we pay their salaries. But the failure here is not understanding that the Church is not a democratic state and that religious order and religious congregations are not government agencies run by the tax payers. They are divinely instituted families run by the vision and mission of the founder or founders. The financial support that they receive from the faithful is not a salary or a tax. It is a charitable contribution. Sometimes it's payment for services rendered, such as tuition payment at a school. But that is not to say that a school run by the Carmelites must operate outside of the Carmelite vision and mission. Those who do not agree with the Carmelite vision and mission need not send their children to their school or attend their colleges, unlike a state public school where you must support it, because the law requires it.

It is the Rule and Constitution (and for most orders the vision of the founder/s) on how religious life is lived for each order.

With the exception of the Carmelties, the rule that governs each religious order is its highest law, because it reflects what the founder received directly from Christ. There is no distinction between the rule and the founder.

In your case, St. Albert was not the founder. He wrote your rule to reflect what your brothers had embraced as revealed to them by God.

In both cases, the issue of revelation is the same. Whether the rule flows from the hand of the founder or the rule was writtent to spell out what the founders handed down by word of mouth, it is still revealed truth and there is no democratic way to get around that.

The Constitutions were created to fill in the gaps in the rule. For example, the Dominicans do not have a rule of their own. They live by the Rule of St. Augustine. They needed a constitution to fill in what St. Augustine did not have in his rule abour the life of a preacher.

I know there are some who are upset that we are present here on an internet forum in the first place.

Yes, there are some who are. I don't thnk that it's many people. This again goes back to a false sense of democracy. If we lived democracy as it was lived by someone like Francis of Assisi, this would not be the case. Francis not only understood the equal dignity of all men, but he also understood the differences between men. He also saw these differences as the most natural thing. He never set out to make everyone externally alike. On the contrary, his teaching to his brothers and to the people of the time always pointed out to the fact that the differenes among us was of Divine origin. Therefore, it ws sin that had to be chalenged. Observe that he never tried to change the Carmelites, Benedictines, Carthusians, Cistercians or even the corruption in the Church. He saw all of that as part of the differences between people and he saw how these differences could often lead to destructive activity. His goal was to change how people thought, not what they did. In his mind, if you changed your way of thinking, the rest would follow.

But he changed people's way of thinking by focussing on him and his brothers. Each of them had to become the person that God meant for them to be. We often have a tough time allowing religious to do that.

Fraernally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#20

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:207019"]
I have real question and there is no disrespect intended, just genuine curiosity. Why do so many lay people who have no interest in entering religious order or a religious congregation ask so many questions about religious life on a vocation forum?

Allow me to explain myself. I have no interest in rocket science. I really don’t. If we had a forum on rocket science, I would pass it up and go to the one that interests me. Am I being to single-minded or just not curious enough?

When I was a novice, we were taught not to ask questions that have nothing to do with our lives, because such a pursuit only takes away from the mental cloister that is necessary for prayer and the things that are important for our daily lives. In other words, the goal is to achieve absolute internal silence to hear the voice of God.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

Brother, I have a question that I was hoping you could answer: how did you come to know so much about the Church? I understand--of course--that you have dedicated your life to this subject, and spent a great deal of time with similar men and women, but I wonder how I too could learn as much.

In one of your posts, you mention having a doctorate in theology--I am wondering if classroom instruction is the source of your knowledge?

Also, are there any books that could explain these important distinctions? I have been looking for a sweeping, 'Encyclopediast'-approach to Catholic organization and practice but have only been disappointed.

Thanks again!


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