What is the layity's views on the consecrated religous?


I am currently a postulant with the Clerics Regular Minor, and was wondering what were the various views the layity had on religious orders and their members.

What do you think their purpose is in the church?
Why do you think men and women join the orders?
What do you think the men and women of the religious orders do on an average day?
Why are there so many different orders?
Why would a person choose one order over another?
What is your overall opinion of the men and women of religious orders?

I know how the Catholic Church answers these questions, but I am curious about what the individuals think on these topics. I welcome anyone to answer these questions, Catholic, Christian, or non-Christian, even if it is just to say that you have never really thought about it.

God Bless,
Br. Ben

For the Greater Glory of the Risen Christ!


Purpose? Each order has it’s own charism, it’s unique way of serving God. The Carmelites, for example, pray for priests while the Salesians bring God’s love to underprivileged youth though education and other means.

Opinion? It is probably the highest calling anyone can have in this life- a religious vocation.

Why join? Because God calls them to be religious and to a specific community similar to the vocation of marriage.

They join because they love God and seek to do his will.

They do all sorts of things on an average day. They pray and they work. Some more of one and less of the other, but they do it in diverse ways.

Why so many orders? Because in one sense they are facets of the Love of God which are many. God loves diversity, and he gives a diversity of gifts to each unique person. A religious community is the same idea yet one level higher. Each one is unique sign of God’s Love and a slightly different fashioned arrow pointing to Heaven.



I confess … I’m clueless on these except that they vow: poverty, obedience, and chastity.
I tried to look it up on USSCB, but my system failed after I learned that “This is the year of Conceceated Life”. Wiki gave a brief overview, and reminded me that we knew a couple who talked about making vows in Conceceated life years ago. I don’t believe they made it due to challenges like divorse.

I ponder what a life of poverty means. Does it mean that they rely solely on the charity of the whole Christian community? Does it mean they work minimum wage at McDonalds? As a laity, I wonder how we fit in to the giving because we give to so many different places. Again, I confess, I’m clueless what any if these do. My husband seems to know, and that’s good enough for me … But there is a point where I run low on charity; especially when we give 40-60% to other people/organizations (primarily to in-laws). I guess when that couple we knew we talking about their organization, they seemed zealous to ditch their jobs (which they detested) and came across as slothy. This is probably why they never took their vows/why their marriage didn’t make it.

I have been to a beautiful monistary near McMinniville Oregon, and found that to be one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. We went to a Christmas Eve Mass and I was overwhelmed. Granted this was the same year my dad passed away, and I made peace with my step-mother after a life of strife with her. It was the crowning moment of those events in that transformation of my life. I do hope to get back there someday soon.

Again, for the most part, I am clueless.


Not necessarily. Benedictines, and Cistercians, vow obedience, stability and inner conversion. Chastity is written into their rule and is covered by the “obedience” par (obeying the Rule and their abbott. They do not make a vow of poverty but according to their rule, no individual monk or nun can possess anything in private, so again covered by obedience. Everything is the property of the community. The monks I’m affiliated with are worth a fairly substantial amount of money largely because of the value of their beautiful property on a stunningly beautiful lake surrounded by mountains (which they acquired for peanuts in 1912). But it belongs to the community, not to any individual.

Each order is different of course. Mendicant orders live off of charity, but monastics of the Benedictine flavour (which includes Cistercians) live off the fruits of their labours. At our abbey, that is apple orchards from which they sell apples and make apple cider, and their cheese factory from which they make award-winning cheeses. They used to have their own dairy herd to make their cheese, but they got too elderly and few in number so they sold off the herd and now buy the milk to make the cheese. They also make maple syrup and maple products. Each house will make things that can be produced from the local geography.


Are you a Cistercian, Ora Labora?


I do have trouble grasping Conceceated life because there seems to be little on the macro picture of how these pieces do fit together. I have a small grasp on how arch dioces and dioces work, but am still very confused over the micro fitting of these individuals. I thought that monestary in Oregon looked like nice property, and would imagine this may be similar to yours. Secularly, I did see how different orders vary through the movie, “Sister Act”, but again, I often get lost in the micro of the niches.

BTW, your order sounds like it does well in Glorifying God.:blessyou:


I see the religious as being enormously blessed by having a vocational call.

Many people have no particular vocational call; they fall into the work they do, and they may like it or not.

The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side of the fence. As a father and husband, I’m just pushing through each day. I don’t know whether my life sums up to much of anything. Consecrated religious are in a better position there.

Some will get into discussions about celibacy, but I think the prominence of this discussion reflects to a large part our current social obsession with sex (violence is another thing it promotes; perhaps this makes it difficult for some to understand men who wish to promote peace and civic concord).

The vast majority of pew sitters have no idea of the different religious orders. But they really don’t have much need to know the difference. We need the sacraments.


Good post. But I think the laity have vocations of their own, just not religious one. For example, your vocation in part is to be a husband and a father and that is holy in itself and ordained by God.

I wonder sometimes about the work we choose or fall into in life. I read that more than half of Americans are not happy with the work they do. Therefore, it makes me wonder about the world of work and the choices we make. One thing that comes to me just now is that there is greater merit in heaven for the man who works at a job he basically hates to provide for his family than the man who really loves his job and provides for his family.

My problem is that I really want to love my job. But sometimes we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. I suppose sometimes we have to let our desires go if we discern that something is not God’s Will.


Benedictine Oblate.


An oblate is almost like a 3rd order or not??

Do you live at the monastery?


I realize your questions were more of an academic nature, but as soon as I saw the question, I knew my answer. GRATITUDE. My birthday is October 15, the feast day of St. Theresa of Avila, and, at every Mass I attend, part of my pre-Mass ritual is to ask St. John Vianney to intercede on behalf of our priests; St. Teresa of Avila to intercede for our consecrated women and men; and St. Stephen to intercede on behalf of our deacons.


It’s similar to a 3d order, yes. The major difference is that we are attached to a specific monastery, and not the order in general. That comes from the nature of the order, where individual houses are rather independent from one another. There’s a loose confederation but it has, essentially, no authority over individual monasteries.

I live at home with my wife; I’m a secular oblate and I’m also father to 3 now grown boys. Regular oblates live in the monastery, “regular” comes from “regula” or “rule” in Latin. Regular oblates live under the Rule of St. Benedict, while we secular types are free to adapt the Rule to our life circumstances.

I live fairly close to the monastery however (35 minute drive) so I attend Mass there every Sunday and usually also on solemnities and some feasts during the week (including Ash Wednesday and all the Triduum services) and I make weekend retreats there once or twice a year.


Thanks. Sounds like you’ve found a great way of life…maybe I should become a regular oblate. I’m not married or anything like that. But it’s a calling and not a choice. Right?


In a perfect world it is a calling, yes. But sometimes monks make the choice and grow into it. Sometimes they make the choice for the wrong reasons and leave.

Becoming a regular oblate is one thing but if you’re going to go through the trouble, consider becoming a fully-professed monk. We need more vocations! The difference of course is that a monk makes a vow, and an oblate (regular or secular) only a promise, so it’s easier to leave if you’re an oblate.


I have male and female relatives who are religious, so I am somewhat familiar. I think most laypeople at least in the USA, which historically was a “doing” country, tend to consider religious in terms of their jobs, rather than who they are, or “becoming”. The whole concept of “perfection” is misunderstood; it really refers to ongoing conversion, rather than some people thinking they are (completed) perfect. The concept of poverty is sometimes abused; I read too much about religious who don’t live a life of personal luxury, but travel around the country to speak at justice seminars, take time off to pick up that third Master’s degree, and seem to focus a lot on “empowerment”, including empowerment of themselves. (Is that CNN calling me to quote a response to what the Vatican did yesterday?) Most laity can’t afford to do what these “vow of poverty” people do.

The vow of obedience was clearer in the past, when religious communities were more hierarchical; there were lottttsss of opportunities to have to sacrifice your self-will, and saints have mentioned humility as a path to holiness. Some of today’s communities are more egalitarian, I don’t know how the obedience charism works; including how it works with their local bishop.

I have been speaking about many of the older religious orders, where many of the sisters or priests I have known grew up right before Vatican II, later said they felt “transformed” often after reading Teillard de Chardin or some other thinker, and then spent the next 50 years reliving the 1960s. These orders aren’t getting vocations and are disappearing. Other orders are more in tune with what happened before, during and since the 1960s. They are getting all the vocations.


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