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The Discalced Carmelite Nuns - 1990 & 1991 Constitutions


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#21 alicemary

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 03:00 PM

you brought up a interesting side topic, are some communities a little too rich living? I am often distressed at how fine some monastreries are. I am not sure how that can possibly be keeping with the vow of poverty.
Now, I believe the convent should be warm, and have some creature comforts, but some are rather opulent.
Very interesting to me, what are your thoughts?
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#22 Totus Tuus

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 03:10 PM

Interesting topic, I could be wrong about this but I have talked to a couple of Mother Superiors at various Carmelite monasteries who where actually against associations. One of the main objections was that they don't get alot accomplished at the association meetings and also the time, energy and money to travel to the various monasteries for a meeting. Don't get me wrong associations can be helpful at times but one must look at the other side as well.


There are similar reasons for which OLAM is not part of the PCPA association. I have heard, marieteresa, the same complaints about Carmelite associations. They don't seem to always be beneficial, although I am sure there are good situations in which they are :)

#23 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 04:22 PM

Just to weigh in on the whole association/meeting thing. First, the Holy See encourages federations/associations (same thing, different name). Recently 9 of our Dominican monasteries in the US were approved as the Association of the monasteries of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers in the USA. Originally, all our monasteries were connected under a losely formed "conference" but with Verbi Sponsa we had to change what we had been doing for over 25 years.

Our experience has been that meetings among the monasteries have been extremely beneficial but again it could be the structure and content of our meetings. We have a novice mistress meeting yearly and the temp professed have a "theological formation program for 4 years for 2 weeks. Every 4 years we have a general assembly and every 4 years the prioresses meet.

Each meeting is structure around theological lectures on a specific theme and the sharings are based on these lectures. All are taped and brought home to the monasteries who listen and have chapter discussions on them. These meetings have helped the monasteries come together to have a coherent vision of formation rich in the Dominican tradition. For example, the next assembly in 2008 will be on our life of Liturgical prayer.

Poor Clares I know have told me that they have too many meetings and not much gets accomplished. We're always amazed at how much DOES get accomplished at our meetings and how it strengthens the bonds between our monasteries. We are truly Sisters!

Although Dominican monasteries can seem different in regard to externals (mainly the veil; we all wear the habit) we are united in our vision and understanding of what the vocation of the Dominican contemplative is in the Order and the Church. We are united under ONE constitution and a theology that is true to the Church.

Perhaps meetings have had such a positive effect on our monasteries is because the basic rule we live is that of St. Augustine which tells us to live in "one mind and heart in God". That is the basis for our coming together: to grow in our love of God and be united in Him.

Alice, you would be happy to see that our monastery is not opulent! It is small, very simple and nothing fancy! Only our choir is really beautiful!

#24 Marieteresa

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 04:39 PM

Thanks Sr. Mary Catherine for weighing in on the matter....I have a question though. Is it expensive to send so many sisters to the various meetings? Also how do the smaller communities deal with the loss of manpower (sorry nunpower) when the professed have to attend meetings and what not.

#25 alicemary

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 05:11 PM

Thank you Sr. Catherine. Your Chapel and Choir are indeed simple in design, and in my opnion simply beautiful. Dominicans just seem to do it right! But then, I am very much prejudiced in this!

#26 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 06:35 PM

Thanks Sr. Mary Catherine for weighing in on the matter....I have a question though. Is it expensive to send so many sisters to the various meetings? Also how do the smaller communities deal with the loss of manpower (sorry nunpower) when the professed have to attend meetings and what not.


Well, it is an expense but for Dominicans the most important expenses are for our theological, spiritual and intellectual formation.
The Assembly is only every 4 years and usually only 2 nuns go. The prioress meeting only the prioress goes (and that every 4 years), the novice mistress, only the novice mistress.

Because most of the monasteries are on the east coast most of the nuns drive to the meeting and often go first to another monastery to go together. Or they might fly to one monastery and drive the rest of the way with that monastery. The monasteries are pretty creative about it and getting good deals. Sometimes it means a flight at an inconvenient time or with extra stops but it's OK.

When a Sisters is absent she puts up a sheet with her charges and within 5 minutes everyone has taken one of them for her. It is a sacrifice but it's only for a short time and we realize that we will all benefit from the meeting.

#27 she_who_is_not

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 06:43 PM

When a Sisters is absent she puts up a sheet with her charges and within 5 minutes everyone has taken one of them for her. It is a sacrifice but it's only for a short time and we realize that we will all benefit from the meeting.


That is so sweet. I guess a monastery really is a "school of love" :love:

#28 alicemary

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 07:41 PM

"When a Sisters is absent she puts up a sheet with her charges and within 5 minutes everyone has taken one of them for her. It is a sacrifice but it's only for a short time and we realize that we will all benefit from the meeting."






How I wish we had the same attitude at my job. What a better world it would be if we all would help each other out.

#29 Totus Tuus

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 08:43 PM

Poor Clares I know have told me that they have too many meetings and not much gets accomplished. We're always amazed at how much DOES get accomplished at our meetings and how it strengthens the bonds between our monasteries. We are truly Sisters!


I almost mentioned this in my post! I was going to say that the Dominicans seem to have exteremely beneficial federation meetings ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ And you're right, Poor Clares do have a tendency not to hone their attention in on really pertinent subjects at their federation meetings... which is why some communities have opted out of the federation.

Hopefully in coming years this will not be the case :)

We are united under ONE constitution and a theology that is true to the Church.


I had a feeling it was the fact that Dominican contemplatives never split into branches which helps you to keep the same focus. Obviously God has other plans for different Orders (splitting into branches), but this probably does make a difference in simplifying the vision of the contemplative branch of the Order.

Edited by Totus Tuus, 28 January 2007 - 08:45 PM.


#30 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 12:03 PM

Interesting topic, I could be wrong about this but I have talked to a couple of Mother Superiors at various Carmelite monasteries who where actually against associations. One of the main objections was that they don't get alot accomplished at the association meetings and also the time, energy and money to travel to the various monasteries for a meeting. Don't get me wrong associations can be helpful at times but one must look at the other side as well.

Yep, this is what this thread is all about. Pretty much all the Carmels I visited were against the associations/federations, except for the St. Joseph's Association, which does not have meetings. But yeah, that's the main issue that the split was really about. Because from the beginning St. Teresa wanted her Carmels to have strict enclosure. They worked very hard to have the old constitutions kept, especially many of the Spanish Carmels with St. Maravillas, and the Holy Father approved them in 1990.

But still, many under the 1991 Constitutions have also decided to not join a federation/association, like Ada Parnell, MI, which is supposed to be a great Carmel! But I'd say the main difference between the 2 are that the 1990's answer directly to the Holy Father, and the 1991's to the Father General of the Discalced Carmelite Order. And one of the main issues the 1990's had was the insecurity of being under the OCD Friars, as many had become liberal, and because their wanting them to form federations and have meetings.

But I think it's great the contemplative Dominicans greatly benefit from federation meetings, don't get me wrong. That's amesome how they are all under ONE Constitution, and are very united in a common goal. Each order is different really.

I absolutely love the Srs of Bethlehem, who are incredibly orthodox and faithfully living the contemplative vocation, and they do have general chapter meetings, with some of the Superiors I believe and the Mother Prioress, who will meet at one of the monasteries I believe. And then they have the annual retreat at Les Montsvoirons for discerners and the sisters, of which one or two from each monastery is invited to attend each year (though it's up to them if they want to go). But for the OCD nuns, many really opposed going out for meetings, because it wasn't what St. Teresa intended for her Carmels, and the Holy Father recognized this and approved their old constitutions.

Also I know a few people mentioned a couple of monasteries which are actually good but there were 2 mentioned that if one where looking for a more traditional place not to look there. One is considered a "rich monastery" and the second one is doing something that isn't the "norm". I have heard this from several Mother Superiors so my sources are credible. Just my ten cents

Yes, I have heard this too. I think one of these would be the Carmelites in St. Louis, as their bishop asked them to put daily adoration in their schedule, which actually isn't part of the charism of the Discalced Carmelites. I certainly don't really think this change to the traditional Carmelite horarium is really a bad thing, personally - I mean it's adoration of Blessed Sacrament. But actually, this Carmel is not as traditional in a few other ways also, though they wear the full habit. But really, I don't know for certain, as I've never lived as a Carmelite nun there. But in little things that I mentioned before, and I think they do not observe the silence as strictly. I remember the Novice Mistress telling me that if they are both working in the kitchen for instance, they will talk, whereas a Carmel like Buffalo is much different. I'd say it's best to ask other good Carmels first about this, and then make a visit yourself, if any one believes God may be calling them to this Carmel.

I'm not sure which Carmel is considered a rich Carmel though. Hopefully, it isn't one that is under the 1990's .. but I don't know. Maybe was it possibly the Des Plaines Carmel .. I have visited there several times, and it is very plain and stark. But I know a very very rich lady did enter there as a widow, so maybe this is why they are considered rich, I don't know. But all the Carmels I visited always had good things to say about Des Plaines, that they are really living the charism well. When I talked on the phone with Mother Rose in Lake Elmo, and she was telling me that their Carmel is very plain, she said we are very similar to Des Plaines, in being plain - so I'm not sure it would be Des Plaines ...

Edited by Margaret Clare, 29 January 2007 - 12:40 PM.


#31 HeavenlyCalling

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 04:18 PM

I am not really sure what a 'rich' convent would be considered, I have never really heard of that, all though I was a little surprised to see how many convents have things like TV's and stuff. But :idontknow:

#32 Marieteresa

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 04:41 PM

Iam just wondering what you guys think about some Carmels being advised against using the internet by priests and confessors. I don't know if there is a trend following this (meaning most of the Carmels using the 1990 and 91 constitutions dont have internet) Just wondering what you guys think.

Also there is a such thing as a "rich" convent...If a convent can afford a 5 star chef for example It might be a rich convent. ok Iam going to get off my soap box now.

#33 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 08:16 PM

Poor Clares I know have told me that they have too many meetings and not much gets accomplished.

I actually didn't know any of the Poor Clares had federation meetings. I sort of always thought they couldn't because they do have the solemn vow of enclosure, while I know the Carmelites do not have that vow in particular.

Which Poor Clare federation has meetings? Does the PCCs Federation of Mary Immaculate have federation meetings?

#34 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 08:44 PM

I actually didn't know any of the Poor Clares had federation meetings. I sort of always thought they couldn't because they do have the solemn vow of enclosure, while I know the Carmelites do not have that vow in particular.

Which Poor Clare federation has meetings? Does the PCCs Federation of Mary Immaculate have federation meetings?


Yes, they do every year and they were the first federation formed in the US, way back in the '50's.

Papal Enclosure is observed according to the norms of the Holy See and this includes egress for reasons such as Federation meetings. Verbi Sponsa also legislates for common novitiate formation among the same monasteries of an Order, etc.

#35 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 08:51 PM

Yes, they do every year and they were the first federation formed in the US, way back in the '50's.

Papal Enclosure is observed according to the norms of the Holy See and this includes egress for reasons such as Federation meetings. Verbi Sponsa also legislates for common novitiate formation among the same monasteries of an Order, etc.

Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I do remember reading something about federations in Verbi Sponsa, so I'll have to read it again. I just had the idea that Poor Clares didn't have meetings outside the enclosure. Thanks for clarifying this. I hope their meetings become more fruitful, like the Dominicans.


Do you know if Mother Angelica's PCPAs go out for annual meetings? Also, do you know about the Federation of Mary Immaculate of the PCCs. I will ask the ones here in Lemont, too.

#36 brendan1104

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 09:02 PM

The Hanceville PCPA's don't go out for meetings.

#37 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 09:38 PM

But I wanted to ask forgiveness for saying anything negative about the St. Louis Carmel , because it really is a lovely place and the sisters were so incredibly nice in welcoming me there. Their monastery is beautiful too. I am just an outsider, so I really don't know. Again, I would ask other good Carmels and go there for yourself.

Here I am going to post something I said in the Britain's Youngest Carmelite thread, here:

Hey, that's great! I visited that Carmel and really liked it there. I thought the adoration and the beautiful chapel were amesome!

I just want to say a big sorry to all, if I've been rather annoying at times with my talking so much about the 1990/1991 Constitutions. No one said anything, I just thought this to myself. I just wanted to share this information with everyone, as it's a pretty big piece of recent Carmelite history among the nuns. But really St. Louis is a great community! Again, the special thing about their adoration is so great - to have a true Carmel, but also a lot of adoration.

They have a beautiful old chapel and monastery. Actually I don't believe their adoration is perpetual, (someone mentioned this before) but from 7 am - 8 pm daily, which is a lot! I talked for a while with a sister there from RI, Sr. Mary Grace. She was a very inspiring, and fervent soul! They make the most beautiful looking Christmas enrollment cards that I've ever seen! Each one is handmade and they're incredibly old-fashioned looking. I'm sure they make other enrollment cards too. If you ask them, they'll show you a display of all their different cards. They also harvest honey, and sell it there (the Srs of St. John do too, in Princeville ^_^ )

I just found a new site of their's. They had a different one, but maybe this is their new one - Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Louis, MO

And here are a couple scans of postcards from there:

Posted Image
The public & private sides of the church with expostition.

Posted Image

And an aerial view, wow!



#38 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 09:55 PM

But actually, this Carmel is not as traditional in a few other ways also, though they wear the full habit. But really, I don't know for certain, as I've never lived as a Carmelite nun there. But in little things that I mentioned before, and I think they do not observe the silence as strictly. I remember the Novice Mistress telling me that if they are both working in the kitchen for instance, they will talk, whereas a Carmel like Buffalo is much different.

But, please forgive me, I could be off about this. Maybe it is just that they are allowed to talk to each other when needed to help in work, for example. Whereas I remember in Buffalo it was really very strict about this. Another sister was trying to tell me that confessions are now being heard, and tried with a few hand signals, and then went to the bookshelf to show me a book, and then I understood what she was saying. But I think this is really a good thing .. They are of course allowed to say something in different instances outside recreation .. like in formation and different things ..

#39 Chiquitunga

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 10:46 PM

Iam just wondering what you guys think about some Carmels being advised against using the internet by priests and confessors. I don't know if there is a trend following this (meaning most of the Carmels using the 1990 and 91 constitutions dont have internet) Just wondering what you guys think.

I'd say it'd be a good idea for those Carmels being advised against using the internet to follow their advice. I think it's nice when a community has a website though, or is featured on the IRL site, so people can see the monastery and read about them, for discernment.

But I'm really of the opinion that a lot of times the old fashioned way of writing & calling, and visiting the place, is the way to go. It's nice to be able to see a few pictures on the web though, if you're considering a far away place ..

Edited by Margaret Clare, 29 January 2007 - 10:54 PM.


#40 Sr. Mary Catharine

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:37 AM

Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I do remember reading something about federations in Verbi Sponsa, so I'll have to read it again. I just had the idea that Poor Clares didn't have meetings outside the enclosure. Thanks for clarifying this. I hope their meetings become more fruitful, like the Dominicans.
Do you know if Mother Angelica's PCPAs go out for annual meetings? Also, do you know about the Federation of Mary Immaculate of the PCCs. I will ask the ones here in Lemont, too.


Yes, the Federation of Mary Immaculate is the first federation formed in the US. You can read about their first meeting in "No Strange God's Before Me" by Mother Mary Francis (back in the late '50s). They have a yearly meeting at their different monasteries and elect a federal prioress.

A Federation/Association is free to determine the extent of participation, meetings, etc. Again, not only are federations encouraged by the Holy See but Verbi Sponsa spells out rather clearly that Federation meetings for the purpose of mutual aid and theological formation of the member monasteries is not contrary to enclosure. Enclosure is not an end but a means.

Actually, with email and internet a lot more can be done without leaving the enclosure than before we had this technology. It really has helped the spirit and living of enclosure.




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