They’re not stupid questions. I’ve been asking them myself, especially in the case of the Passionists, who are still relatively small compared to other congregations founded in the 1700s.
The first form of any kind of consecrated life were the consecrated virgins. Then there was the precursor to the canons regular. Then St. Augustine wrote his now-famous Letter 211, which codified community life based on that of Acts in the Bible. Adherents were known as Augustinian Canons.
There were also the Desert Fathers & Mothers – the hermits. St. Pachomius received the Angelic Rule, and built what was considered to be the first cenobitic community.
At the fall of the Roman Empire, St. Benedict cobbled together his “rule for beginners” and its 72 (73?) points.
Many congregations and orders were founded using the Augustinian and Benedictine rules. The great orders like the Norbertines, Trinitarians, Mercedarians, Dominicans, Servites, and others use the Rule of St. Augustine. The Cistercians and Camaldolese use the Benedictine. The Carthusians wrote their own rule.
Francis came along around the same time as Dominic (who was an Augustinian canon). Francis wrote his own rule, which is now protected by Rome because it was given by Divine Revelation. Both Francis and Dominic were mendicants, which means they were itinerant begging preachers.
During the 1700s, the Passionists, Redemptorists/Redemptoristines, and Nuns of Perpetual Adoration were all started as a result of revelations to their founders. Look at what was happening in the world at that time. As America was being born, the Passionists were being founded. The Servites had already been on the ground for 500 years. Why another charism devoted to the Sacred Passion? Yet, when St. Paul of the Cross approached the pope about his new charism, the pontiff exclaimed, “It should have been the first!”
I grew up Baptist in KY. How do you think I felt when I learned there was an “orthodox” convent of Dominican nuns in Nashville, TN? Of all places! The home of the Southern Baptist Convention!
Why are we staring new charisms? If you ask the founders my organization supports, they will say that they are being led to do what they’re doing because there is a crisis in the world, and they are being called to give a good example. One is developing a farm. And he’s not the only founder seemingly drawn to farm life. At least two others have contacted me, as well, who feel they are to live out their charisms on farms. Another is to start an eremitical community comprised of bedridden nursing home patients.
Mrs Cloisters OP