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orapronobis

Strictly cloistered religious communities for men?

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orapronobis

So, this is only my second-ever post on Phatmass but I've finally built up the courage to ask a question...

I feel a very strong call to a strictly cloistered monastic life (as in grilles and turnstiles ;) ) but the only community I can seem to find are the Carmelites in Wyoming, and I don't feel a strong pull towards them at all (although I'm convinced that they live a very holy life.) I was just wondering if there were any other male communities out there that live in strict enclosure?

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Luigi

The only other community would be the Carthusians in Vermont. Very little information about them available online, but there is some.

Trappists are pretty cloistered, too, but the degree varies from monastery to monastery.

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nunsense

The only other community would be the Carthusians in Vermont. Very little information about them available online, but there is some.

Trappists are pretty cloistered, too, but the degree varies from monastery to monastery.

​You might want to think about joining a community where the potential is there for more solitude. My first SD was a Trappist in California (Vina) and he became a hermit on the grounds of the monastery with permission from his prior after 20 years in community. He spent another 20 years as a hermit and then his prior asked him to do spiritual direction, so he laughed with me that he is hardly a hermit these days (although technically he still lives as one). Not being a man, I haven't personally experienced any male communities, but I am sure that God will provide something for you.

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truthfinder

I don't think you'll find very many communities for men that have grilles. I wholeheartedly applaud their use but they were gendered in their application. Women needed to be protected, and separated, from those who wished to do them harm and from worldly influences. There is a community in Texas which are Carmelite hermits. No grilles that I'm aware of but pretty cloistered nonetheless. 

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superblue

The Benedictine order I am discerning with is cloistered , now what one means by strictly I don't know, they interact with the community in their own ways on the grounds and serve the poor in the area via the services provided that are made on premises an then shipped out..... an the Benedictine priests are allowed to say mass at other parishes in the near by area if asked by those in need.  

Silly as this may sound I didn't even realize they were cloistered till I got there and I have no problem with it because there is so much to do and there is enough solitude to pray an work yet I never felt lonely or alone.   I have no idea what is meant by a Grilles and Turnstiles if someone could explain that.

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Sr Mary Catharine OP

Men's monasteries never had grille's and turns. Those were legislated only for women mainly for their protection and for other reasons that are entirely obsolete! Over time the grille was "spiritualized" but that was not the original intention.

Until 1969 with the new norms for enclosure, enclosure was legislated for men's monasteries as much as women's. Then it was dropped entirely (except according to constitutions) and now the norms are only for women.

Enclosure is a very important value for a monastic/contemplative community but I wonder why it was dropped for men and not women?

We are expecting new legislation from Pope Francis this year so there could be some big changes or just a few small ones. Who knows?

Grilles and turns a contemplative doesn't make! Most of us are very rarely in the parlor so in our day-to-day life we don't even think about that! When I entered here one of our parlors still had a grille. The prioress took it down and it was THREE MONTHS before anyone even noticed!

For us it isn't the internet or email, etc. which people think is so invasive but it is THE PHONE. Especially now with a society in which most people have their own cell phones people call all the time with no consideration for our schedule. Many call for prayers, for enrollment and mass cards, for information and then there is the usual needs of running the monastery. We have  system of taking messages but our schedule doesn't work too well with the working world so it can sometimes be easier just to take the call the 1st time. When we return a message inevitably the person has their phone off, so we leave a message. Then they leave a message because we're at Office. So we call back and it starts all over again!

I hear before phones more people came to the monastery parlor for business. So, I guess everything is a trade-off. With email we can respond at a time good for us.

Carthusians and Trappist are probably the most cloistered of men's communities. They never go out and help at area parishes, etc. which many OSB monasteries do.

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beatitude

Grilles and turns a contemplative doesn't make! Most of us are very rarely in the parlor so in our day-to-day life we don't even think about that! When I entered here one of our parlors still had a grille. The prioress took it down and it was THREE MONTHS before anyone even noticed!

​This is true. I am close to the Little Sisters of Jesus (I would have entered with them if my disabilities didn't preclude it) and they're contemplatives. At first I didn't understand how they could call themselves that, as they go out to work in the same jobs as the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the societies where they live - one sister I know was sent into a jam factory after her novitiate. But after I had stayed with them several times and got to know them better I saw how they do it. They don't work purely to support themselves, or even to minister directly to the people they work alongside - they do it just to be with people, in the same way they're with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. They are always aware of his presence in their houses, which are always small and just like the homes of the people they live among. Adoration is at the heart of their communities and their spirituality is all about making Jesus known through presence.

I think it tends to be people outside the religious life who place the most value on external things like grilles and turnstiles, perhaps because to an outsider these are prominent in a way that they wouldn't be to someone who lives in the community. This is not to say that I think grilles and turnstiles are a bad thing; there are people who are called to that kind of strictly cloistered life. But I think once they enter the novitiate they may find that the things they set so much store by when they were discerning may not be the things that keep them in the monastery. I was once speaking to a novice mistress at a fairly traditional Carmel who told me that young nuns (she meant those new to religious life, not young in terms of age) tend to put far too much emphasis on externals such as the type of habit and the outward signs of enclosure, and that one of their greatest challenges in the novitiate is to move past this.

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krissylou


For us it isn't the internet or email, etc. which people think is so invasive but it is THE PHONE. Especially now with a society in which most people have their own cell phones people call all the time with no consideration for our schedule. Many call for prayers, for enrollment and mass cards, for information and then there is the usual needs of running the monastery. We have  system of taking messages but our schedule doesn't work too well with the working world so it can sometimes be easier just to take the call the 1st time. When we return a message inevitably the person has their phone off, so we leave a message. Then they leave a message because we're at Office. So we call back and it starts all over again!
 

​And you never know who's on the other end of the line!  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-leaves-message-for-carmelite-nuns-on-new-years/

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Pia Jesu

The only other community would be the Carthusians in Vermont. Very little information about them available online, but there is some.

Trappists are pretty cloistered, too, but the degree varies from monastery to monastery.

​Ora...while most of us have seen the 2005 documentary "Into Great Silence" (about the monks of the Grand Chartreuse, France), it is an informative and incredibly worthwhile film to watch. Today, a UK news source published a "recruiting" article about the Carthusians of St. Hugh's Charterhouse (Parkminster).  See http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/how-to-become-a-monk-1341846.html (with a direct link to the monks at http://www.parkminster.org.uk).

I also just finished reading An Infinity of Little Hours:  Five Young Men and their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order by Nancy Klein Maguire (Public Affairs/Perseus Books Groups, NY) 2006.  It is wonderfully written--and a definite "must read" for anyone desiring a life of solitary prayer and meditation.

Prayers!

 

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oratefratres

Gents - I am interested in mens enclosed monasteries. But, is it true that there is a high prevalence of homosexuality? If you are enclosed, and some take a vows of enclosure, and someone does this to you, what do you do? What is the superior does this to  you, you have no one to tell?

And, how do you have spiritual direction or confession in enclosed comminites?

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Luigi

Gents - I am interested in mens enclosed monasteries. But, is it true that there is a high prevalence of homosexuality? If you are enclosed, and some take a vows of enclosure, and someone does this to you, what do you do? What is the superior does this to  you, you have no one to tell?

And, how do you have spiritual direction or confession in enclosed comminites?

​I have no idea the prevalence of homosexuality in monasteries. But I do know that, by the time you enter, you're no kid any more. You should have some idea what to look for in that regard, and you should be able to fend off any unwanted advances.

If you suspect that kind of thing is going on, or if you experience unwanted advances, I should think you'd stop discerning with that monastery and move on to another.

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superblue

Gents - I am interested in mens enclosed monasteries. But, is it true that there is a high prevalence of homosexuality? If you are enclosed, and some take a vows of enclosure, and someone does this to you, what do you do? What is the superior does this to  you, you have no one to tell?

And, how do you have spiritual direction or confession in enclosed comminites?

​I would also throw this type of idea into a gossip column; the same can be said if one wanted to about women and their religious communities, and there are plenty of trash sites on the internet that claim such things for seminaries.  Common sense usually prevails over such things.

as to spiritual direction and confession in communities , spiritual direction is nothing more than confiding in someone else on your personal journey , so that can be a friend, and that friend can be a male or female, a priest , brother, sister , or nun. or a lay person.  As for reconciliation if a community of religious brothers does not have a priest ( which i would find surprising ) they would go to the nearest priest for the sacrament of reconciliation i seriously doubt they would deny themselves that sacrament.

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Pia Jesu

While Superblue notes that "common sense usually prevails over such things," the psychological testing and multiple interviews that a candidate undergoes before entering religious life--would seem to be the perfect time to discuss your concerns, Orapronobis.  There are several VS threads that address the process.  Knowing (well) a vowed, celibate homosexual, I'd say they are represented in some, perhaps most communities.  Gethsemani Trappist Fr. Matthew Kelly (one of Thomas Merton's novices and later confessor) was openly gay--accepting his orientation without acting (sexually) upon it.  Google his homiletic remarks.  This is the challenge that the sexual revolution presents to modern religious communities.  Are we to look at the vowed life (with regards to one's sexual orientation) as repressive?  Hardly.  As my friend once told me, the vow of celibacy (fully understood and freely chosen) is liberating!

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orapronobis

Thank you so much for this reply Pia Jesu. I have always worried about the generally held idea that many homosexual Catholics choose the seminary or the cloister in an attempt to escape from their inner selves and from their homosexuality. It is really heartening to see that there are still many Catholics who acknowledge that God calls a person into union with Himself regardless of sexual orientation. :)

 

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orapronobis

Thank you everyone for your very informative and in some cases thought-provoking responses to my post. I feel very pleased that so many of you took the time to advise me and/or assist me in my search for the monastery to where God is calling me. I do often wonder if my feeling of vocation to a strictly cloistered community will/has become clouded by the fascination with "externals". I have spent an awful lot of time in adoration this week and I have managed to just spend a bit of time with Jesus. I realise fully that it doesn't really matter whether or not I have strict enclosure as long as I acknowledge him to be the centre of my life in all things. I'm about to finish school and go on to Sixth Form (I'm British) and I just can't wait to see where life and my search for God will take me :)

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beatitude

Orapronobis, it is nice to see other British discerners here. :) I'm from the UK too. Be assured of my prayers.

I think you've hit on something very important. I once asked a priest what he thought the most important thing was for a convert to know as they prepared for baptism. He replied, "Their need." This applies to monastic life as well - it is designed to instill perfect trust in God and awareness of your need for him, if you let it. Grilles can be a part of that, but it can be done without grilles. For me, as a woman with a secular institute, I sometimes struggle with how ordinary and undistinguished my life looks from the outside - no beautiful habit, no ancient customs. But then I remember that Jesus' life at Nazareth looked much the same, and that he spent thirty unseen years in love, prayer, and deep contemplation there with few things to mark him out.

I presume you're already know about UK discernment events such as Invocation? It wouldn't hurt to go along, as you would have the chance to talk to a lot of priests and religious. Good luck with your GCSEs and many prayers for whatever comes after!

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TheresaThoma


For us it isn't the internet or email, etc. which people think is so invasive but it is THE PHONE. Especially now with a society in which most people have their own cell phones people call all the time with no consideration for our schedule. Many call for prayers, for enrollment and mass cards, for information and then there is the usual needs of running the monastery. We have  system of taking messages but our schedule doesn't work too well with the working world so it can sometimes be easier just to take the call the 1st time. When we return a message inevitably the person has their phone off, so we leave a message. Then they leave a message because we're at Office. So we call back and it starts all over again!

I hear before phones more people came to the monastery parlor for business. So, I guess everything is a trade-off. With email we can respond at a time good for us.
 

​Oh yes the phone! Right now I don't work a normal 9-5 job, I work 3:30-midnight. So I'm either asleep, at work, at Mass or getting ready for one of those when most people think to call. I much prefer texts and emails because I can get back to those when it is best for me and not worry about disturbing them at odd hours of the night.

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