Jump to content

Consecrated Virginity Question


Recommended Posts

Desert of the Secular World:

 

A thought which keeps coming back to me since more than a year is Pope Benedict's thoughts on ' Deserts of today's world'. I don't know much about diocesan hermits or lay hermits , but  sometimes I do think  a person can live a Secular life in the 'strict' sense and still be a hermit in the vocational /scriptural /spiritual sense .[ especially if one is not restricted due to illness forcing to live  a physically confined -Solitary life].

 

In fact  the 'separation from the world' as  adopted by Hermits, Monastic life , Religious life  -seems to have been influenced by Buddhism  during the times of the Early Church. Of course the seeds of the Spirit are present and active in all cultures and religions since all humanity is God's creation and dear to Him. In Asia for example , the witness of  consecrated life as a  'renunciation of the world'  is cherished and valued by people of all religions.

 

In Urban cities and countries that have become Post-Christian or Secularized ,  the experience of a solitary Christian can be one of a Silence of Solitude or in fact for  any human person  it may be akin to the experience of a Desert where  the heart is restless for  fulfilment and CRIES for God , to fulfill the deepest longings of the heart .The poor may cry for Justice , God's Intervention etc.  I think there are some  associations or movements who live the spirituality of the desert  strictly 'in the world'  by taking up  secular professions where one is  the 'only' Christian presence , being  one with the common people, experiencing their struggles and CRYING out to God like any other human person.  Yet it would differ from the desert experience of non-believers due to the Word of God spoken in this Silence of the desert to and by the Hermit living strictly in the world.

 

In the spirit of Vatican Council II which tried to reduce the gap between the understanding of the Sacred and the Secular and emphasized the vocation of Church as Presence in the world, I think  hermits and religious are also called to re-evaluate their  world-renouncing theologies which  seem to have 'not' worked as  people have left religious life in great numbers , realizing  that they can live Fully Christian lives as Lay people.

 

The Third Millennium  is said to be a millennium of the Laity , of vocations lived in the world. Seeing the direction in which the Spirit is leading the Church in general through the Vatican Council II ,  the stress on separation from the world  may acquire a new dimension in the sense of  being 'set apart for the desert of the secular world'  in the strict sense.

 

Especially in arenas where  the Solitary/ secular hermit in the world truly  takes up a job  as an ordinary , powerless employee, living poverty like anyone else and listening to the Spirit in these arenas where God seems to be Silent or  absent , thus becoming a gift the Church gives to the desert of the world. The ancient theology of 'separation from the world ' to live the silence of solitude may in fact be in conflict with the spirit of Christianity that lies in the Incarnation of Christ  as sent by the Father to the world that He loves so much.

 

Benedict XVI opens the Year of Faith on the 50th anniversay of the beginning of Vatican II
 

A pilgrimage
in the deserts of today’s world

The Pope insists on the need to “literally” return to the Council to find an authentic spirit and to rediscover the essential in order to live

 

http://www.osservatoreromano.va/portal/dt?JSPTabContainer.setSelected=JSPTabContainer%2FDetail&last=false=&path=/news/vaticano/2012/235q12-Benedetto-XVI-apre-l-Anno-della-fede-nel-ci.html&title=A%20pilgrimage%20%20in%20the%20deserts%20of%20today%E2%80%99s%20world&locale=en

 

“A pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world”. This is the suggestive image chosen by Benedict XVI to represent the Year of Faith, inaugurated this morning Thursday, 11 October, with a mass in St Peter's Square – exactly 50 years after the opening of the Vatican Council and 20 years after the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. papa.jpg

At the Homily that Pope underlined that the Year of Faith is “linked harmoniously with the Church’s whole path” over the last 50 years, “from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Saviour, yesterday, today and forever”.

Benedict XVI also insisted various times on the need to “literally” return to the Council in order to find an authentic spirit and rediscovering the essential to live. And “if today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization”, he explained, “it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago”.

In fact, the Pope observed that “recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. But it is “in starting from the experience of this desert” it is possible to discover again “the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women”. “In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life”.

“In the desert”, he concluded, “people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive”. At the end of the celebration Patriarch Bartolomaios I spoke and highlighted the progress that has been made in ecumenism.

 
October 12, 2012
 
 
I like the example of Charles de Foucauld.
 
 

Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld (15 September 1858–1 December 1916) was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for protection of the Tuareg and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on 13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.[1]

Charles de Foucauld was an officer of the French Army in North Africa where he first developed his strong feelings about the desert and solitude.

On his subsequent return to France and towards the end of October 1886, at the age of 28, he went through a conversion experience.

 

n 1890 he joined the Cistercian Trappist order first in France and then at Akbès in Syria, but left in 1897 to follow an undefined religious vocation in Nazareth. He began to lead a solitary life of prayer, near a convent of Poor Clares and it was suggested to him that he be ordained. In 1901 at the age of 43 he was ordained in Viviers, France and returned to the Sahara in Algeria and lived a virtually eremetical life. He first settled in Beni Abbes, near the Moroccan border, building a small hermitage for ‘adoration and hospitality’, which he soon referred to as the ‘Fraternity’.

Later he moved to be with the Tuareg people, in Tamanghasset in southern Algeria. This region is the central part of the Sahara with the Ahaggar Mountains (the Hoggar) immediately to the west. Charles used the highest point in the region, the Assekrem, as a place of retreat. Living close to the Tuareg, and sharing their life and hardships, he made a ten-year study of their language and cultural traditions. He learned the language and worked on a dictionary and grammar. His dictionary manuscript was published posthumously in 4 volumes and has become known among Berberologues for its rich and apt descriptions. He formulated the idea of founding a new religious institute, which became a reality only after his death, under the name of the Little Brothers of Jesus. (See also: Louis Massignon)

On December 1, 1916, he was shot to death outside his Tamanrasset compound, by passing marauders connected with the Senussi Bedouin; this act is to be seen against the general background of the uprising against French colonial power, World War I and famine in the Hoggar. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 13, 2005 and is listed as a martyr in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

Legacy

Charles de Foucauld died alone, and without the immediate fellowship of others sharing his practice of the life of "Jesus of Nazareth" and hospitality in the desert of Algeria. Yet he was successful at inspiring and helping to organize a confraternity within France in support of his idea. This organization called the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus consisted of lay and ordained members totaling 48 people at the time of his death. It was this group, and specifically the efforts of Louis Massignon, the world-famous scholar of Islam, and a best selling biography written by René Bazin in 1921 - La vie de Charles de Foucauld explorateur en Maroc, eremite du Sahara - who kept his intuitions alive and inspired the family of lay and religious fraternities that include Jesus Caritas, the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus among a total of 19 different religious congregations. Though originally French in origin, these groups have expanded to include many cultures and languages on all continents.

He is mentioned several times in Norwegian author Axel Jensen's 1957 novel Icarus.

 

 

I personally think Diocesan hermits who are not confined to Solitary life due to Illness  , would be a gift to the Church and world by considering how to live the Silence of Solitude in the deserts of the world , by striving to be the only Christian Presence in atheistic or post-christian environments. IN FACT THE CHURCH AND THE DESERTS OF THE WORLD 'NEED' THE  PRESENCE OF CHRISTIAN SOLITARIES AND DIOCESAN HERMITS.

 

If CV who  are an Image of the Entire Church  who is the bride of Christ  , ought to wholeheartedly embrace their secularity in the spirit of Vatican Council II ,  I'm sure  that religious and hermits  are also called to embrace  a different form of separation from  the world of power , economics etc.  by living  really among the poor of the world , incarnating themselves among the powerless and oppressed of the world.

 

 

Christifideles Laici :

 

Pope Paul VI said the Church "has an authentic secular dimension, inherent to her inner nature and mission, which is deeply rooted in the mystery of the Word Incarnate, and which is realized in different forms through her members"(30).

 

The Church, in fact, lives in the world, even if she is not of the world (cf. Jn 17:16). She is sent to continue the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, which "by its very nature concerns the salvation of humanity, and also involves the renewal of the whole temporal order"(31).

 

Certainly all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension but in different ways. In particular the sharing of the lay faithful has its own manner of realization and function, which, according to the Council, is "properly and particularly" theirs. Such a manner is designated with the expression "secular character"(32).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 247
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • SRLAUREL

    44

  • BarbaraTherese

    32

  • Sponsa-Christi

    30

  • God's Beloved

    30

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

ETA: This is not aimed at anyone- just to lighten the mood.  :saint2:

I ask one question and this happens.

I mean this as respectfully as possible, but the exact nature and extent of consecrated virgins’ secularity is far from a settled question. I’m saying this not because I want to debate (I truly do


At least in my own experience and from my own point of view, my efforts in trying to live my vocation in a radical way certainly haven’t seemed “silly or at best meaningless.” If anything, I’ve personally found that these efforts give my vocation a renewed sense of purpose and depth.
 
And, even if my lived expression of my vocation did truly seem silly and meaningless to most Catholics, I don’t think this necessarily means that it’s silly and meaningless in the eyes of Christ (or that it isn’t actually doing some objective good for His Church).
 
While naturally I’ve have my share of misunderstandings over the years, there are also many people in my life who have been very supportive of the way I understand my vocation. Often, even when I’m meeting someone for the first time, I’ll find that they have a sort of intuitive understanding of, and respect for, my calling. At the very least, I honestly don’t think that anyone has been scandalized by my less-than-total secularity.
Dear Sponsa-Christi, I don’t think Sister Laurel or anyone here thinks your earnest attempts to live your vocation are silly. I’ve read much of Sister Laurel’s blog and, if anything, I think what she is trying to do is encourage consecrated virgins, and those discerning the vocation, to live the vocation at its deepest level.

I would read the reference to “silly” above as frivolous, meaning, focusing on things that do not pertain to the heart of the vocation rather than those that do.

I think we all agree that every vocation, of each individual person in the Church, should be lived radically. The question is what does “radical” mean? I think if “radical” (and I’m not saying this is your position) is understood in an exterior, visible sense, then it could easily denigrate into something frivolous.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it is very common for devout Catholics to focus on living "radically" in the ways that are in fact easiest for them! I went to an undergraduate university where I noticed sometimes the women who thought modesty and simplicity should include wearing no makeup were the very women who had zero interest in wearing makeup!

The people who thought fasting often was the best way to make sacrifices were not uncommonly those who had no penchant for sweets and who were drawn naturally to a more rigorous lifestyle.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with decisions not to wear makeup or to fast or that God doesn’t ask for sacrifices of that type. But I do think each Catholic needs to dig very deeply, and consider in prayer what the Lord is really asking of him or her.

Often, this is something that is most difficult for him or her, and not the thing that most easily comes to his or her mind. We tend to gravitate toward that which we want to sacrifice, or the way in which we want to be radically devoted to Christ, and often we are simply baptizing our own personal preferences instead of really seeking what the Lord is asking of us.

When it comes to the vocation of consecrated virginity lived in the world, I would caution against defining “radical” in a way that is visible or demonstrable. I think it a mistake to think a public vocation must be radical in a visible way. It may be at times, it may not be at others.

I hope that helps.
Link to post
Share on other sites
I personally think Diocesan hermits who are not confined to Solitary life due to Illness  , would be a gift to the Church and world by considering how to live the Silence of Solitude in the deserts of the world , by striving to be the only Christian Presence in atheistic or post-christian environments. IN FACT THE CHURCH AND THE DESERTS OF THE WORLD 'NEED' THE  PRESENCE OF CHRISTIAN SOLITARIES AND DIOCESAN HERMITS.

 

If CV who  are an Image of the Entire Church  who is the bride of Christ  , ought to wholeheartedly embrace their secularity in the spirit of Vatican Council II ,  I'm sure  that religious and hermits  are also called to embrace  a different form of separation from  the world of power , economics etc.  by living  really among the poor of the world , incarnating themselves among the powerless and oppressed of the world.

 

Your post points to a perennial temptation for hermits: the desire to exchange eremitical solitude for a kind of ministry folks recognize as fruitful when they fail to see the pastoral fruitfulness or ministerial capacity of solitude itself. The desert Fathers and Mothers have several stories about this temptation. It is always hard to discern between two goods --- in this case the need to leave one's solitude and minister to atheists more directly or publicly (common usage) vs the need to maintain custody of the cell, for instance. This temptation can be even more keen if one came to eremitical solitude by way of chronic illness or has education and training the world seems badly in need of.  However, because something is beneficial does not mean it is beneficial in the way God wills nor is it the only way we determine a vocation's charism. At the same time, if we are trying to determine if and in what way a vocation is a gift to Church and World, we must look at the benefits it represents pastorally. This is certainly part of the equation --- but only part. My own sense is eremitical solitude is profoundly ministerial all by itself and the need for this ministry is at crisis proportions in today's world.

 

Inner AND Outer solitude:

 

Unfortunately, the call to the silence of solitude (eremitical solitude) requires not just an inner solitude of the heart, but an external one as well. In any case, most diocesan hermits ARE already living their vocations in what Merton called the "unnatural solitudes" of urban settings, etc. We are present in our separation and embrace both dimensions (separation and a paradoxical presence) so that separation might be redeemed not only in our own lives but especially in those of persons isolated for any reason whatever. Our lives say that authentic solitude is not mere isolation; they witness instead to the transfiguration and redemption of isolation through participation in God's love. For a multitude of people (the chronically ill, isolated elderly, bereaved, prisoners, etc) they need the witness hermits provide by the redemption of physical separation and its transformation into inner solitude and presence precisely in one's separation. In other words hermits ARE profoundly present and related to others but it is a paradoxical presence and relatedness achieved in separation and symbolized by prayer. THAT is the primary way hermits are called to minister in the Church.

 

When I wrote earlier that no matter how good making the eremitical vocation a secular one might seem, it is still contrary to the essential nature of the vocation and cannot be embraced without betraying the very nature of the vocation, this is what I was referring to. My own vocation speaks to everyone about the need for authentic solitude (a unique form of dialogue or communion) in a balanced life but it speaks especially vividly to those who are physically and often psychologically isolated and need to know their situations can be redeemed and made meaningful --- even if the physical separation of those lives cannot be changed. What makes my own life ministerial is its separation --- but only as a transfigured separation which witnesses not only to the truth that God alone is enough for us, but to my own profound paradoxical relatedness to everything in God. Thus my life does not minister to the world in the way many others do, but it ministers profoundly and uniquely in its "silence of solitude". It speaks to the fear of solitude which is rampant today, to contemporary isolation, to our phobia for silence and our inability to find life meaningful unless it is productive in all the ways the world demands (including a kind of ministerial activism which many cannot participate in), and especially to the human fulfillment and relatedness to all of creation each person can only find in God.

 

The Church Defines Eremitical Life as non-secular and CV's living in the world as secular vocations

 

The point you are missing is that the Church very clearly defines the eremitical vocation as non-secular (and this is true whether we are speaking of lay or consecrated hermits). Not only does canon 603 state that non-negotiable foundational elements of the life include "stricter separation from the world" and "the silence of solitude," but in the Rite of Profession, this is underscored by the Bishop's questions about readiness to embrace not merely an inner solitude but an external one as well. It is underscored by the vow formula which includes a statement that one earnestly desires to accept and live the grace of solitary eremitical life and it is underscored by clothing the hermit with the cowl besides the habit as a prayer garment which sets apart. It is framed by public vows which separate from the world of power, prestige, economics, and relationships along with a Rule of life which spells out the way this intense non-secularity is lived daily. It is underscored by a process of discernment and personal formation which MUST include the transition from living merely as an isolated person to being a hermit living the silence of solitude itself BEFORE one is admitted to vows of any sort. Meanwhile CV's consecrated under canon 604 are women "living in the world", that is women living secular lives. It eschews all the things which set such a woman apart from others also living secular lives except consecration which radically transfigures her secularity even as it calls for it. Just as I cannot alter the nature of a vocation in which God makes my separation fruitful or calls hermits to live such a fruitful separation, CV's living in the world cannot change the way God makes their secularity distinctly fruitful or calls them to allow him to do so --- at least not without betraying the very call God has mediated to them via the Church.

 

No Hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness"

 

By the way, no diocesan hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness". That puts the cart before the horse and mistakes the defining element of the life as the isolation of illness rather than the relatedness of solitude. Chronic illness may be one of the reasons some of us find ourselves isolated from and out of sync with the world around us, but actual solitude is a good deal more than this and it is freely chosen. It is solitude which defines our lives, not illness, as you would have it in this passage. Solitude is a living reality witnessing to the love of God made fruitful in isolation and to isolation transfigured and made fruitful in the love of God and of others. We may begin to consider that we are called to a life of eremitical solitude in part because of chronic illness (as I myself did), but that is only the very first part of discerning an actual call;  a call to eremitical solitude is never merely the result of one's illness any more than living a relatively pious life alone is automatically the same as "the silence of solitude" or being a hermit.

 

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Edited by SRLAUREL
Link to post
Share on other sites
Dear Sponsa-Christi, I don’t think Sister Laurel or anyone here thinks your earnest attempts to live your vocation are silly. I’ve read much of Sister Laurel’s blog and, if anything, I think what she is trying to do is encourage consecrated virgins, and those discerning the vocation, to live the vocation at its deepest level.

I would read the reference to “silly” above as frivolous, meaning, focusing on things that do not pertain to the heart of the vocation rather than those that do.

I think we all agree that every vocation, of each individual person in the Church, should be lived radically. The question is what does “radical” mean? I think if “radical” (and I’m not saying this is your position) is understood in an exterior, visible sense, then it could easily denigrate into something frivolous.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it is very common for devout Catholics to focus on living "radically" in the ways that are in fact easiest for them! I went to an undergraduate university where I noticed sometimes the women who thought modesty and simplicity should include wearing no makeup were the very women who had zero interest in wearing makeup!

The people who thought fasting often was the best way to make sacrifices were not uncommonly those who had no penchant for sweets and who were drawn naturally to a more rigorous lifestyle.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with decisions not to wear makeup or to fast or that God doesn’t ask for sacrifices of that type. But I do think each Catholic needs to dig very deeply, and consider in prayer what the Lord is really asking of him or her.

Often, this is something that is most difficult for him or her, and not the thing that most easily comes to his or her mind. We tend to gravitate toward that which we want to sacrifice, or the way in which we want to be radically devoted to Christ, and often we are simply baptizing our own personal preferences instead of really seeking what the Lord is asking of us.

When it comes to the vocation of consecrated virginity lived in the world, I would caution against defining “radical” in a way that is visible or demonstrable. I think it a mistake to think a public vocation must be radical in a visible way. It may be at times, it may not be at others.

I hope that helps.

 

Thanks, Laurie. You have characterized what I have both said and meant accurately. Your comments on penance and the choices we each and all tend to make are wonderfully illustrative as well. Again, thanks.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal.Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
Your post points to a perennial temptation for hermits: the desire to exchange eremitical solitude for a kind of ministry folks recognize as fruitful when they fail to see the pastoral fruitfulness or ministerial capacity of solitude itself. The desert Fathers and Mothers have several stories about this temptation. It is always hard to discern between two goods --- in this case the need to leave one's solitude and minister to atheists more directly or publicly (common usage) vs the need to maintain custody of the cell, for instance. This temptation can be even more keen if one came to eremitical solitude by way of chronic illness or has education and training the world seems badly in need of.  However, because something is beneficial does not mean it is beneficial in the way God wills nor is it the only way we determine a vocation's charism. At the same time, if we are trying to determine if and in what way a vocation is a gift to Church and World, we must look at the benefits it represents pastorally. This is certainly part of the equation --- but only part. My own sense is eremitical solitude is profoundly ministerial all by itself and the need for this ministry is at crisis proportions in today's world.

 

Inner AND Outer solitude:

 

Unfortunately, the call to the silence of solitude (eremitical solitude) requires not just an inner solitude of the heart, but an external one as well. In any case, most diocesan hermits ARE already living their vocations in what Merton called the "unnatural solitudes" of urban settings, etc. We are present in our separation and embrace both dimensions (separation and a paradoxical presence) so that separation might be redeemed not only in our own lives but especially in those of persons isolated for any reason whatever. Our lives say that authentic solitude is not mere isolation; they witness instead to the transfiguration and redemption of isolation through participation in God's love. For a multitude of people (the chronically ill, isolated elderly, bereaved, prisoners, etc) they need the witness hermits provide by the redemption of physical separation and its transformation into inner solitude and presence precisely in one's separation. In other words hermits ARE profoundly present and related to others but it is a paradoxical presence and relatedness achieved in separation and symbolized by prayer. THAT is the primary way hermits are called to minister in the Church.

 

When I wrote earlier that no matter how good making the eremitical vocation a secular one might seem, it is still contrary to the essential nature of the vocation and cannot be embraced without betraying the very nature of the vocation, this is what I was referring to. My own vocation speaks to everyone about the need for authentic solitude (a unique form of dialogue or communion) in a balanced life but it speaks especially vividly to those who are physically and often psychologically isolated and need to know their situations can be redeemed and made meaningful --- even if the physical separation of those lives cannot be changed. What makes my own life ministerial is its separation --- but only as a transfigured separation which witnesses not only to the truth that God alone is enough for us, but to my own profound paradoxical relatedness to everything in God. Thus my life does not minister to the world in the way many others do, but it ministers profoundly and uniquely in its "silence of solitude". It speaks to the fear of solitude which is rampant today, to contemporary isolation, to our phobia for silence and our inability to find life meaningful unless it is productive in all the ways the world demands (including a kind of ministerial activism which many cannot participate in), and especially to the human fulfillment and relatedness to all of creation each person can only find in God.

 

The Church Defines Eremitical Life as non-secular and CV's living in the world as secular vocations

 

The point you are missing is that the Church very clearly defines the eremitical vocation as non-secular (and this is true whether we are speaking of lay or consecrated hermits). Not only does canon 603 state that non-negotiable foundational elements of the life include "stricter separation from the world" and "the silence of solitude," but in the Rite of Profession, this is underscored by the Bishop's questions about readiness to embrace not merely an inner solitude but an external one as well. It is underscored by the vow formula which includes a statement that one earnestly desires to accept and live the grace of solitary eremitical life and it is underscored by clothing the hermit with the cowl besides the habit as a prayer garment which sets apart. It is framed by public vows which separate from the world of power, prestige, economics, and relationships along with a Rule of life which spells out the way this intense non-secularity is lived daily. It is underscored by a process of discernment and personal formation which MUST include the transition from living merely as an isolated person to being a hermit living the silence of solitude itself BEFORE one is admitted to vows of any sort. Meanwhile CV's consecrated under canon 604 are women "living in the world", that is women living secular lives. It eschews all the things which set such a woman apart from others also living secular lives except consecration which radically transfigures her secularity even as it calls for it. Just as I cannot alter the nature of a vocation in which God makes my separation fruitful or calls hermits to live such a fruitful separation, CV's living in the world cannot change the way God makes their secularity distinctly fruitful or calls them to allow him to do so --- at least not without betraying the very call God has mediated to them via the Church.

 

No Hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness"

 

By the way, no diocesan hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness". That puts the cart before the horse and mistakes the defining element of the life as the isolation of illness rather than the relatedness of solitude. Chronic illness may be one of the reasons some of us find ourselves isolated from and out of sync with the world around us, but actual solitude is a good deal more than this and it is freely chosen. It is solitude which defines our lives, not illness, as you would have it in this passage. Solitude is a living reality witnessing to the love of God made fruitful in isolation and to isolation transfigured and made fruitful in the love of God and of others. We may begin to consider that we are called to a life of eremitical solitude in part because of chronic illness (as I myself did), but that is only the very first part of discerning an actual call;  a call to eremitical solitude is never merely the result of one's illness any more than living a relatively pious life alone is automatically the same as "the silence of solitude" or being a hermit.

 

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

Let me also add that the CCC refers to the essential hiddenness of the eremitical vocation --- something which also underscores the non-secular nature of the call. At no point does the Church call hermits apostles as she does with consecrated virgins living in the world. Further, at no point does she point out that hermits are given over to the things of the Spirit AND THE THINGS OF THE WORLD as she does CV's living in the world. Stricter separation from the world, as an essential and foundational element of the vocation, says it is precisely NOT apostolic in the way a CV's life is meant to be nor is it given over to the things of the world.

 

Sometimes God calls us to vocations we would not have chosen for ourselves in a million years. For me that is eremitical solitude and a vocation of extremely limited and qualified access to the world. For some CV's it seems to be a truly, exhaustively secular vocation which is ALSO consecrated. Once we have accepted the call while we can explore the limits and nature of the vocation, we are not free to change the nature of the vocation to accommodate our original desires or use our gifts in other ways.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
The word lay is used in the Church in two distinct ways. The first is hierarchical. Everyone in the Church who is not also ordained is lay. In this hierarchical sense Religious, CV's, Hermits, etc are lay persons. The second way is NOT hierarchical but vocational. In this non-hierarchical sense members of the Church may be in the lay state, in the consecrated state, or in the ordained state. In Church documents one needs to read the context to see whether the term lay faithful is being used in the hierarchical or the vocational senses.

 

I hope this is helpful.

 

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

Is it correct to state that a priest in a religious order for example is a cleric in the religious state?  All others in the consecrated and/or religious state are laity in the consecrated or religious state?  

 

Seems to me: that there are only two states of life in the Church, clerical and lay.  There are however three vocational states within those two states - clerical, consecrated and laity.  The consecrated are thus laity in the vocational state of consecrated life.

 

Christifeles Laici " "The term 'lay faithful'" -we read in the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium-" is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state sanctioned by the Church."

 

By "religious state" my understanding was that it is those who have made canonical vows to the evengelical counsels in a Church sanctioned religious family/order.  But is it meant to be more all embracing of those in a consecrated state of life?  Why does The Church use "religious state" and then in other places "consecrated state".  What is the difference?  Are there two unique definitions, or are they interchangeable?

 

As far as being "in the world" which we all are and for the world, the secular dimension of The Church is addressed in different ways in the different vocations and calls.  For example a lay person in secular life is called to work within the world and for the world and as missionary (Latin: missio sent from which the word "Mass" is drawn)  The laity also have to my way of thinking a revolutionary character or aspect - since revolution is to strive for change from within the world.   A world which might SEEM (deception) to offer fulfillment (in reality does not where certain problems such as secularism are afoot).  A contemplative nun, for example, addresses the secular dimension of The Church by prayer and penance for the world (for one) while called to a stricter separation from aspects of the world.

 

The world per se and the secular is not something to be disdained nor to be categorised as anything but  beloved by God and destined for Him and for which we are all working each in our own way according to our personal call.

 

None of the baptised are of the world.  We are all in the world, but not of it.  We are a totally new creation in Christ in baptism and each called to address the secular dimension of The Church in different ways.  Religious and hermits are called to live a stricter separation from aspects of the world per se and peculiar to the world per se, but are called still to address the secular dimension of The Church.  Lay people are called to address this secular dimension of The Church and from within this secular dimension.  Hence lay people in secular life have a "secular character"***.

 

I think it is something more than "to address" the secular dimension of The Church. It is more than addressing something exterior to oneself which "address" might/could infer. "Address" may seem to put (for example) me here and The Church over there somewhere else.  But The Church is all the faithful. I am The Church, we are The Church. For if The Church has a secular dimension (Christifedels Laici), then every baptised person has a secular dimension.  A lay person in secular life also has a "secular character" and dimension -  while all other baptised (priesthood and consecrated life) have a "secular dimension".

 

Making head and tail of Church Documents is often no easy exercise for a very ordinary Catholic and yet most often if not every time, they are addressed to us also.  My take is that The Holy Spirit will lead me to understand what I need to understand and in His own way and time.

 

________________

***Secular Character: "Certainly all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension but in different ways. In particular the sharing of the lay faithful has its own manner of realization and function, which, according to the Council, is "properly and particularly" theirs. Such a manner is designated with the expression "secular character"(32)." (Christifedels Laici)

Edited by BarbaraTherese
Link to post
Share on other sites
  A lay person in secular life also has a "secular character" and dimension - while all other baptised (priesthood and consecrated life) have a "secular dimension".

 

I think that probably those in Secular Institutes of consecrated life probably have both a secular dimension and something of a secular character.  CV's may do so also, although this seems to be what is under debate in this thread.

 

The ability to edit a post vanishes quickly and in my case, this is a good thing. :)

Edited by BarbaraTherese
Link to post
Share on other sites
In the sense canon law uses the term "the world" in some situations it can have a very narrow meaning of "that which is resistant to Christ"  or even "that which offers fulfillment apart from Christ". As the word's other and wider meanings come into play the term can mean "the ordinary world of power, economics, and relationships" which the hermit is also separated from --- sometimes,  as in cases of reclusion, completely. When the term is used in this sense Religious and hermits do not live "in the world" (that is, they do not structure their lives around nor exercise responsibility in terms of the dominant realities those with secular vocations do) except in highly qualified ways. Finally, the term can mean "God's good creation, the realm of space and time." Everyone does indeed live in the world in this sense. In the passage you cited "secular" refers to the ordinary world of space and time as well as to the dominant dimensions of that world: power, economics, relationships.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

The above is as I understand it I think, Sister.

 

Religious and hermits (laity called to live in a vocational state of religious life or the state of perfection i.e. poverty chastity and obedience).  They live in and as The Church (as do all baptised) and with a secular dimension - however they do not have a secular character and are called to live in a consecrated state (religous life and the eremitical life) which does not have a secular character but does have a secular dimension.  Their own secular dimension asks a response/living out according to their own vocation.  "Secular Dimension" and "Secular Character" are both terms used in Christifedeles Laici

 

There is an excellent explanation on the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology site of SecularCharacter and from the same site an excellent explanation of SecularDimension although I dont have time to read them just now in full (I glanced and skimmed through it and think it will be relatively easy for me to grasp).

 

To live the eremitical vocation I have noted from the CCC it is not strictly necessary to be canonically vowed to the evangelical counsels.  Does this mean that the eremitical vocation asks that the evangelical counsels if not vowed publicly and canonically are vowed privately? Or does it mean that a lay person can "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance" and without being canonically nor privately vowed to the ECs?  This is for my info only - while not my vocation.

 

At some point, I know that all these questions and non understandings will click into place and all make sense and in my overall picture of The Church - the wood, if you like, not just the trees.  The 'wood' of course is the 'trees' - and all of them.  This understanding has not yet happened as yet, but it will of this I am entirely confident.  When I was studying, our tutor in Modern History especially encouraged us to ask all and any questions, even if they did seem to have probably a very obvious to all type of answer.  I often had my hand up! :)  I not only wanted the answer, but the dynamics of how the answer came to be the answer.

 

The eremitic life

920 Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."460

921 They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it correct to state that a priest in a religious order for example is a cleric in the religious state?  All others in the consecrated and/or religious state are laity in the consecrated or religious state?  

 

Seems to me: that there are only two states of life in the Church, clerical and lay.  There are however three vocational states within those two states - clerical, consecrated and laity.  The consecrated are thus laity in the vocational state of consecrated life.

 

Christifeles Laici " "The term 'lay faithful'" -we read in the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium-" is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state sanctioned by the Church."

 

By "religious state" my understanding was that it is those who have made canonical vows to the evengelical counsels in a Church sanctioned religious family/order.  But is it meant to be more all embracing of those in a consecrated state of life?  Why does The Church use "religious state" and then in other places "consecrated state".  What is the difference?  Are there two unique definitions, or are they interchangeable?

 

As far as being "in the world" which we all are and for the world, the secular dimension of The Church is addressed in different ways in the different vocations and calls.  For example a lay person in secular life is called to work within the world and for the world and as missionary (Latin: missio sent from which the word "Mass" is drawn)  The laity also have to my way of thinking a revolutionary character or aspect - since revolution is to strive for change from within the world.   A world which might SEEM (deception) to offer fulfillment (in reality does not where certain problems such as secularism are afoot).  A contemplative nun, for example, addresses the secular dimension of The Church by prayer and penance for the world (for one) while called to a stricter separation from aspects of the world.

 

The world per se and the secular is not something to be disdained nor to be categorised as anything but  beloved by God and destined for Him and for which we are all working each in our own way according to our personal call.

 

None of the baptised are of the world.  We are all in the world, but not of it.  We are a totally new creation in Christ in baptism and each called to address the secular dimension of The Church in different ways.  Religious and hermits are called to live a stricter separation from aspects of the world per se and peculiar to the world per se, but are called still to address the secular dimension of The Church.  Lay people are called to address this secular dimension of The Church and from within this secular dimension.  Hence lay people in secular life have a "secular character"***.

 

I think it is something more than "to address" the secular dimension of The Church. It is more than addressing something exterior to oneself which "address" might/could infer. "Address" may seem to put (for example) me here and The Church over there somewhere else.  But The Church is all the faithful. I am The Church, we are The Church. For if The Church has a secular dimension (Christifedels Laici), then every baptised person has a secular dimension.  A lay person in secular life also has a "secular character" and dimension -  while all other baptised (priesthood and consecrated life) have a "secular dimension".

 

Making head and tail of Church Documents is often no easy exercise for a very ordinary Catholic and yet most often if not every time, they are addressed to us also.  My take is that The Holy Spirit will lead me to understand what I need to understand and in His own way and time.

 

________________

***Secular Character: "Certainly all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension but in different ways. In particular the sharing of the lay faithful has its own manner of realization and function, which, according to the Council, is "properly and particularly" theirs. Such a manner is designated with the expression "secular character"(32)." (Christifedels Laici)

 

A religious priest is in the ordained and consecrated states both. He is also therefore NOT a secular priest. Vocationally we can also speak of lay states, and secular states. The Church tends to equate religious life with publicly vowed consecrated lives which are also lived in community. (Diocesan hermits living solitary eremitical lives are a new exception here, but they are rare enough not to trouble folks.)  Hence all Religious are consecrated but not all consecrated persons are religious.

 

Generally the Church uses the term state to refer a constellation of characteristics and relationships which structure and define the nature of a life in stable and enduring ways. The resulting reality is a "state." In the religious state, public vows structure and define how the person relates to the dimensions of power, economics, and relationships. Community life, Rule and constitutions and Canon Law will also define and structure these.  Thus the freedom a Religious has within these areas and others will differ from that of those in the secular state. For the diocesan hermit public vows, stricter separation from the world and "the silence of solitude" help define and structure a life which is fundamentally religious or non-secular as does her Rule and Canon Law.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
I think that probably those in Secular Institutes of consecrated life probably have both a secular dimension and something of a secular character.  CV's may do so also, although this seems to be what is under debate in this thread.

 

The ability to edit a post vanishes quickly and in my case, this is a good thing. :)

 

My computer has been more or less down for the last few weeks which is why I have not really participated a whole lot in this thread.

 

I wanted to point out that the Church specifically teaches that vows for the evangelical counsels do not require separation from the world in and of themselves, and that in fact a person can be truly consecrated and yet be in the world.  As a matter of fact, the Church teaches that members of secular institutes give themselves over totally to God.  Interesting, is it not, in this discussion where secularity is questioned in terms of whether people living a secular lifestyle can be truly said to have given themselves completely over to God?   In discussing vocations in consecrated life, it is interesting that she pairs hermits with cloistered religious, secular institutes with consecrated virgins, religious with their corporate apostolates, and societies of apostolic life with missionaries.  In case you're wondering, I'm simply paraphrasing from the different documents on consecrated life available on www.vatican.va under the Roman Curia's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  Don't have the time to look up the specific quotations, but they are there should anyone care to look them up.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The above is as I understand it I think, Sister.

 

Religious and hermits (laity called to live in a vocational state of religious life or the state of perfection i.e. poverty chastity and obedience).  They live in and as The Church (as do all baptised) and with a secular dimension - however they do not have a secular character and are called to live in a consecrated state (religous life and the eremitical life) which does not have a secular character but does have a secular dimension.  Their own secular dimension asks a response/living out according to their own vocation.  "Secular Dimension" and "Secular Character" are both terms used in Christifedeles Laici

 

There is an excellent explanation on the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology site of SecularCharacter and from the same site an excellent explanation of SecularDimension although I dont have time to read them just now in full (I glanced and skimmed through it and think it will be relatively easy for me to grasp).

 

To live the eremitical vocation I have noted from the CCC it is not strictly necessary to be canonically vowed to the evangelical counsels.  Does this mean that the eremitical vocation asks that the evangelical counsels if not vowed publicly and canonically are vowed privately? Or does it mean that a lay person can "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance" and without being canonically nor privately vowed to the ECs?  This is for my info only - while not my vocation.

 

At some point, I know that all these questions and non understandings will click into place and all make sense and in my overall picture of The Church - the wood, if you like, not just the trees.  The 'wood' of course is the 'trees' - and all of them.  This understanding has not yet happened as yet, but it will of this I am entirely confident.  When I was studying, our tutor in Modern History especially encouraged us to ask all and any questions, even if they did seem to have probably a very obvious to all type of answer.  I often had my hand up! :)  I not only wanted the answer, but the dynamics of how the answer came to be the answer.

 

The eremitic life

920 Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."460

921 They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

 

Actually this section of the Catechism is not referring to lay hermits at all. The context of the passage is "Consecrated life" so we are dealing with publicly professed and consecrated hermits and the meaning of the sentence you call attention to is less obvious than it seems. Hermits under canon 603 may use sacred bonds other than vows.  (cf canon 603) They are the only instance of consecrated life which may do so. It is this alternative paragraph 920 is referring to.

 

However, this aside, lay hermits may may private vows just as any lay person may. The Church does not say whether or not they SHOULD do this. In fact the Church does not say much about lay hermits at all.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
My computer has been more or less down for the last few weeks which is why I have not really participated a whole lot in this thread.

 

I wanted to point out that the Church specifically teaches that vows for the evangelical counsels do not require separation from the world in and of themselves, and that in fact a person can be truly consecrated and yet be in the world.  As a matter of fact, the Church teaches that members of secular institutes give themselves over totally to God.  Interesting, is it not, in this discussion where secularity is questioned in terms of whether people living a secular lifestyle can be truly said to have given themselves completely over to God?   In discussing vocations in consecrated life, it is interesting that she pairs hermits with cloistered religious, secular institutes with consecrated virgins, religious with their corporate apostolates, and societies of apostolic life with missionaries.  In case you're wondering, I'm simply paraphrasing from the different documents on consecrated life available on www.vatican.va under the Roman Curia's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  Don't have the time to look up the specific quotations, but they are there should anyone care to look them up.

 

Not too sure what all of that means.

The Church is urging and with considerable existential urgency that those of us who are living in the world in the lay state and with that secular character are in fact given over completely to God and as a new creation in Jesus at the moment we were baptised.  We are being urged to live this spiritual reality and the Gospel out quite consciously and in also the very ordinary and mundane in our lives as well as those in the lay state also involved in specialist type involvements and careers and therefore more complex matters.  Every baptised person is called to the perfection of Charity and to holiness each in accord with his or her vocation and including those in the lay state in secular life with that secular character often moving in many communities within the general community and not all of them Catholic secular communities of lay people.

 

Undoubtedly there may be many who would not even know what the evangelical counsels are who are living them out and without knowing and deeply in the spirit of the Beaitutudes - just as those who might be consecrated publicly to the evengelical counsels may not be living out their vocation as it is meant to be lived out.  I work voluntary for St Vincent de Paul in their Head Office and the holiness and unselfish generosity and Charity of many of our volunteers out in the field are the warmest of joys and indeed humble joy.  We cannot limit The Holy Spirit to a particular state in life and a particular vocation.  He just wont have it and Graces and encourages to the perfection of Charity and a holy life right across the whole jolly board and some may not even be Catholic at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually this section of the Catechism is not referring to lay hermits at all. The context of the passage is "Consecrated life" so we are dealing with publicly professed and consecrated hermits and the meaning of the sentence you call attention to is less obvious than it seems. Hermits under canon 603 may use sacred bonds other than vows.  (cf canon 603) They are the only instance of consecrated life which may do so. It is this alternative paragraph 920 is referring to.

 

However, this aside, lay hermits may may private vows just as any lay person may. The Church does not say whether or not they SHOULD do this. In fact the Church does not say much about lay hermits at all.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

 

Thank you for the above, Sister.

This is why being Catholic and striving to be one in the full sense of the word as a lay person in secular life can be such a headache and can turn people even Catholics 'right off' - trying to understand what our heirarchy is actually stating and being able to answer questions with a feeling of confidence if one is asked.  This new evangelization calls us to be wholly committed to Jesus and His Giospel and part of that commitment is to understand to what we are committed.  I have heard some hair raising stories about what people are told as Catholic teaching - and at times in RCIA programs of all things.  Its a worry.



We in the lay state of life with a distinctly secular character either in the vocation to the sacrament of marraige or that of single celibacy are called to the perfection of Charity and holiness and are Graced to do so - not despite our state in life and all it means -. but intrinsically because of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
SRLAUREL, on 23 Jan 2013 - 15:35, said:A religious priest is in the ordained and consecrated states both. He is also therefore NOT a secular priest. Vocationally we can also speak of lay states, and secular states. The Church tends to equate religious life with publicly vowed consecrated lives which are also lived in community. (Diocesan hermits living solitary eremitical lives are a new exception here, but they are rare enough not to trouble folks.) Hence all Religious are consecrated but not all consecrated persons are religious.Generally the Church uses the term state to refer a constellation of characteristics and relationships which structure and define the nature of a life in stable and enduring ways. The resulting reality is a "state." In the religious state, public vows structure and define how the person relates to the dimensions of power, economics, and relationships. Community life, Rule and constitutions and Canon Law will also define and structure these. Thus the freedom a Religious has within these areas and others will differ from that of those in the secular state. For the diocesan hermit public vows, stricter separation from the world and "the silence of solitude" help define and structure a life which is fundamentally religious or non-secular as does her Rule and Canon Law.

 

best,Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

 

The above is much as I understand things. 

_______________________

 

I do think that it is risky (and contrary to our theology) to put what is religious and non-secular and then what is secular as non-religious in two different 'pots/worlds' as it were and never the twain meet. The Church has a SECULAR DIMENSION and therefore every baptized person has a SECULAR DIMENSION but not necessarily a SECULAR CHARACTER. In other words, the religious and non-secular still has a SECULAR DIMENSION, just as the secular has a RELIGIOUS and SPIRITUAL DIMENSION. These dimensions are not mutually exclusive - ideally they are united. Because one has a SECULAR DIMENSION AND CHARACTER does not exclude the religious and spiritual and must not - ideally there is rather the RELIGIOUS and SPIRITUAL SECULAR DIMENSION AND CHARACTER (in fact this is just what the heirarchy is urging with considerable existential urgency and for the laity)

 

A read of the text from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (link stated in previous post) on the Secular Dimension (*** see below) indicates those things destined to have their conclusion on earth which nonetheless were created and ordered for the glory of God. The secular has gone astray with original sin.  No baptized human being no matter their vocation in life can escape the content in their life which is the secular dimension, nor should they desire to so.

 

Just as those in religious and non-secular life still have a RELIGIOUS and SPIRITUAL SECULAR DIMENSION in accord with their particular vocation and hopefully a living and active one. In Grace the baptized are all united in Christ who incarnated, lived and died out of Love for the whole world "take up your cross and follow Me". Our universal and all-embracing call is to perfection of Charity and holiness in all states and vocations in life. Each grows towards the perfection of Charity and holiness in their particular lifestyle with its duties and responsibilities, accountabilities.  And every state in life has a secular dimension.

 

All vocations regardless in fact are rooted in baptism and the lay state per se from whom they originated and are formed by the Holy Spirit and who invites out of the laity to the particular vocations as He may.   All vocations exist for the whole world since our universal brief is “go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature”.  We all share in some way each according to his or her own vocation in the Priestly, Kingly, and Prophetic Offices of Jesus.

All the baptized in both the ordained and lay states no matter their particular vocational role are called either into the world for the world (but are not of the world), or are called out of the world for the world, (and are not of the world)  (***“Profane” can only be used from a Catholic perspective in relation to the limited to this life.  It can never be used with the word “secular” to imply “profanation”).


I have prayerfully read a few texts and things are falling into place for me – with still a few more texts, some lengthy, yet to be read.  But a clearer overview of The Church as ‘the wood’ is apparent and in particular a clearer understanding of my own lay vocation as ‘one tree in the wood’.

Just in passing comment, nothing in my life to me is mundane nor ordinary - just as a religious monastic may go about her duties washing the cloister floor (secular dimension of her life) knowing it was a duty from God and to be accomplished with love as a duty from God, so I go about the duties in my own life (secular dimension and the unique secular character of my own life).

 

***Dominical School of Philosophy and TheologySecular: “What, then, are we to understand by "secular"? Even apart from any theological consideration, the word is descriptive of human acts, human initiatives. The very idea is Catholic in its origin and connotes the fact that human acts which are bounded and limited by time nonetheless have their own proper dignity and require their own proper competence. As such, as actions of men and women who are in the divine image and likeness, they possess a transcendent or sacred value in their own right. Real secularity pertains when created things possess their full and proper dignity through being ordered to the supernatural (in contemporary language, “transcendent”) destiny of the human person through the power of the Risen Christ. “  http://www.dspt.edu/19781089174923220/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=276846&C=55859

 

 ***Fr Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary: PROFANE. The secular or merely human as compared with the sacred or divine. "Profane" does not, of itself, imply profanation, since the whole created universe, including human beings, is technically profane in contrast to the Creator, whose essence is to be holy precisely because he is the "totally other" who transcends the world that he made and continually sustains. (Etym. Latin profanus, lying outside the temple, ordinary, not holy.)   http://www.therealpresence.org/dictionary/adict.htm

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your post points to a perennial temptation for hermits: the desire to exchange eremitical solitude for a kind of ministry folks recognize as fruitful when they fail to see the pastoral fruitfulness or ministerial capacity of solitude itself. The desert Fathers and Mothers have several stories about this temptation. It is always hard to discern between two goods --- in this case the need to leave one's solitude and minister to atheists more directly or publicly (common usage) vs the need to maintain custody of the cell, for instance. This temptation can be even more keen if one came to eremitical solitude by way of chronic illness or has education and training the world seems badly in need of.  However, because something is beneficial does not mean it is beneficial in the way God wills nor is it the only way we determine a vocation's charism. At the same time, if we are trying to determine if and in what way a vocation is a gift to Church and World, we must look at the benefits it represents pastorally. This is certainly part of the equation --- but only part. My own sense is eremitical solitude is profoundly ministerial all by itself and the need for this ministry is at crisis proportions in today's world.

 

Dear Sr Laurel,

 

Please don't take my post  about the 'Desert of the world' personally , but as genuine reflections which search clarification. I do a lot of reflection on the New Evangelisation as you will note from the very name of my blog. Am just trying to have new ideas how the Church can make concrete efforts in this regard. I did note that the Holy Father took up this topic at the beginning of the Year of Faith and 50th anniversary of the Vatican Council II.

 

In fact, the Pope observed that “recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. But it is “in starting from the experience of this desert” it is possible to discover again “the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women”. “In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life”.

“In the desert”, he concluded, “people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive”.

 

In his Wednesday general Audience in Rome today, the Holy Father has again taken up the topic of the Faith of Abraham.

 

We see the journey of God's chosen people through the desert [ Old testament] , culminating in the  Paschal Mystery of Christ  / the Eucharist in a way signifying the Promised land/ the New Commandment.  In today's globalized  world we have a New kind of Desert . Today , once again like Fathers of the Old testament - we need to start off on a journey. Christians  are the  manna / hidden Presence of Christ in this desert of the world.

 

When i speak of hermits embracing a life of 'Silent Leaven in the world' , it is similar to Secular Institutes but  in a different way. While Secular Inst. members usually witness with their lives in the economic, cultural, political spheres  to transform them ,  the hermits in the world  can make the difference through the Silence of Solitude  , as a hidden Presence , even without active ministry. I think like every other vocation in the Church,  some hermits have to earn their own living in some way , which can lead to interaction with people who CRY to God , thirst for God, for justice  , in their own deserts. A Christian  hermit can bring meaning to this void.

 

When  the Eremetical life  , monasticism developed in the early centuries of Christianity,  it was a movement to the desert in response to the cessation of persecution , to embrace  a different kind of martyrdom.  In those times  society was communitarian and traditional , so  some persons chose to move to real deserts or to embrace lives of Solitude by separating themselves from the world of relationships.Today's world is itself thirsting for relationships.

 

We know that Christianity is based on the Incarnation of Christ in the world that God Loves.  Hermits/ Monasticism   do not seem to fit in well with the Christian spirit of  incarnaton in the strict sense. Why did the Vatican Council II revive the order of hermits ? Perhaps the Holy Spirit could foresee  the deserts of the world today.

 

 

 

 

Inner AND Outer solitude:

 

Unfortunately, the call to the silence of solitude (eremitical solitude) requires not just an inner solitude of the heart, but an external one as well. In any case, most diocesan hermits ARE already living their vocations in what Merton called the "unnatural solitudes" of urban settings, etc. We are present in our separation and embrace both dimensions (separation and a paradoxical presence) so that separation might be redeemed not only in our own lives but especially in those of persons isolated for any reason whatever. Our lives say that authentic solitude is not mere isolation; they witness instead to the transfiguration and redemption of isolation through participation in God's love. For a multitude of people (the chronically ill, isolated elderly, bereaved, prisoners, etc) they need the witness hermits provide by the redemption of physical separation and its transformation into inner solitude and presence precisely in one's separation. In other words hermits ARE profoundly present and related to others but it is a paradoxical presence and relatedness achieved in separation and symbolized by prayer. THAT is the primary way hermits are called to minister in the Church.

 

When I wrote earlier that no matter how good making the eremitical vocation a secular one might seem, it is still contrary to the essential nature of the vocation and cannot be embraced without betraying the very nature of the vocation, this is what I was referring to. My own vocation speaks to everyone about the need for authentic solitude (a unique form of dialogue or communion) in a balanced life but it speaks especially vividly to those who are physically and often psychologically isolated and need to know their situations can be redeemed and made meaningful --- even if the physical separation of those lives cannot be changed. What makes my own life ministerial is its separation --- but only as a transfigured separation which witnesses not only to the truth that God alone is enough for us, but to my own profound paradoxical relatedness to everything in God. Thus my life does not minister to the world in the way many others do, but it ministers profoundly and uniquely in its "silence of solitude". It speaks to the fear of solitude which is rampant today, to contemporary isolation, to our phobia for silence and our inability to find life meaningful unless it is productive in all the ways the world demands (including a kind of ministerial activism which many cannot participate in), and especially to the human fulfillment and relatedness to all of creation each person can only find in God.

 

Religious life emphasizing 'separation from the world' although  sanctioned by the church law ,  is still showing significant decline in most parts of the world. I don't see this as something negative , but  something that has helped Laity realise their own vocation and call to Holiness and mission. This seems to show that the Vatican Council II has succeeded in its mission . Most religious today are moving closer to leading authentic lives in the midst of the world, closer in style to the Laity. It is  even said that Religious life with its world-renouncing  theology  will gradually decline and  there will be increase of the Lay associations and movements of consecrated life.

 

 

 

The Church Defines Eremitical Life as non-secular and CV's living in the world as secular vocations

 

The point you are missing is that the Church very clearly defines the eremitical vocation as non-secular (and this is true whether we are speaking of lay or consecrated hermits). Not only does canon 603 state that non-negotiable foundational elements of the life include "stricter separation from the world" and "the silence of solitude," but in the Rite of Profession, this is underscored by the Bishop's questions about readiness to embrace not merely an inner solitude but an external one as well. It is underscored by the vow formula which includes a statement that one earnestly desires to accept and live the grace of solitary eremitical life and it is underscored by clothing the hermit with the cowl besides the habit as a prayer garment which sets apart. It is framed by public vows which separate from the world of power, prestige, economics, and relationships along with a Rule of life which spells out the way this intense non-secularity is lived daily. It is underscored by a process of discernment and personal formation which MUST include the transition from living merely as an isolated person to being a hermit living the silence of solitude itself BEFORE one is admitted to vows of any sort. Meanwhile CV's consecrated under canon 604 are women "living in the world", that is women living secular lives. It eschews all the things which set such a woman apart from others also living secular lives except consecration which radically transfigures her secularity even as it calls for it. Just as I cannot alter the nature of a vocation in which God makes my separation fruitful or calls hermits to live such a fruitful separation, CV's living in the world cannot change the way God makes their secularity distinctly fruitful or calls them to allow him to do so --- at least not without betraying the very call God has mediated to them via the Church.

 

It is in the  context of signs of the times  that I see the Order of hermits  actually called to  re-evaluate its theology  [although church directives mention 'separation from the world' in the strict sense]. The Church does not need one more vocation that emphasises separation from the world.  Hermits in habits   can be a counter sign to say that the Solitude of Laity in illness, old age etc. can be redeemed only by separating oneself from the world and by wearing habits. It seems to say that the struggles / battles of the Laity in the deserts of today's world  are  inferior compared to the life and experience of  Hermits.

 

 

 

No Hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness"

 

By the way, no diocesan hermit is "confined to solitude due to illness". That puts the cart before the horse and mistakes the defining element of the life as the isolation of illness rather than the relatedness of solitude. Chronic illness may be one of the reasons some of us find ourselves isolated from and out of sync with the world around us, but actual solitude is a good deal more than this and it is freely chosen. It is solitude which defines our lives, not illness, as you would have it in this passage. Solitude is a living reality witnessing to the love of God made fruitful in isolation and to isolation transfigured and made fruitful in the love of God and of others. We may begin to consider that we are called to a life of eremitical solitude in part because of chronic illness (as I myself did), but that is only the very first part of discerning an actual call;  a call to eremitical solitude is never merely the result of one's illness any more than living a relatively pious life alone is automatically the same as "the silence of solitude" or being a hermit.

 

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

I fully respect the vocation of the  chronically ill  in today's world and how the suffering can be redemptive and of great salvific value to the Church and World.  It does not matter to me  whether illness leads to solitude  or  Solitude is freely chosen and embraced by a hermit. According to my opinion this kind of life is unnatural  in the anthropological / psychological/ social  sense and even theologically appears counter to the spirit of the Incarnation of Christ which the Church is called to live in the world. It seems to me the Church might have made a mistake  several centuries ago by  encouraging lives of separation from the world . This has indeed led to depreciation of the 'secular character' and  vocation to holiness  , of the Laity. The gap  between the Sacred and the Secular needs to be reduced and not increased by another vocation that emphasizes  separation , habits etc.

 

In fact I believe  Hermits in the deserts of the world can  act as 'Silent leaven in the world '  simply by their Hidden Presence  , even without active ministry.  Paradoxically  this vocation can really serve the New evangelisation as well as the First evangelisation  if  it embraces  the Desert of the world / its secularity in the strict sense  and  allows God to redeem it  through  them.

 

In a way Secular Institutes and Hermits can act as  Silent and Hidden Leaven in the World , without betraying  God's plan in the purpose of their charisms , in two distinct ways , one strictly as Presence to redeem  solitude or desert of the world and the other as involvement in the temporal sphere thus redeeming it. I do not see this as something impossible. Charisms do have their inner nature , but how they  fulfill God's purpose today needs re-evaluation. The nature of the vocation in the deepest sense will remain the same IT IS THE 'DESERT' THAT HAS CHANGED !

 

Even the Fathers of the Church spoke of CV in terms that  stressed on the vigilance to Christ's Second coming and futility of engaging in the temporal world , but  2000 yrs passed and we are still living  His middle coming  in the Eucharistic community that lives in the world. I think CV and Hermits are parallel diocesan vocations  called to re evaluate ancient theology and adapt to the signs of the times according to the spirit of Vatican Council II.

Edited by God's Beloved
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



It costs about $850 a year for Phatmass.com to survive–and we barely make it. If you’d like to help keep the Phorum alive, please consider a monthly gift.



×
×
  • Create New...