Jump to content

Reasons To Leave A Monastery


Recommended Posts

I personally have come to the conclusion that I cannot, in conscience, recommend my former community because of the unhealthy things I experienced when I was there. It would be, as you stated, "putting someone at risk," I really believe that. However ... I always question myself on the degree of severity of what I experienced. Sure, there were red flags, but were these red flags ALL that bad? They certainly weren't as dysfunctional as some other communities I've heard of, and they did do many things right. But there were (and could still be, from what I've heard) some serious issues. Do I have a moral obligation to at least write the Bishop about what I experienced, and then leave it in his hands? Or do I have a moral obligation to at least bring it up to the community first, without "going over their head" to the Bishop? Or should I even say anything at all to begin with, as an ex-member who has removed myself from all of that, making it "none of my business"? Plus, were those things even bad enough to warrant mentioning them to someone in authority (whether that be the Superior, or bishop, etc.) It's something I've grappled with for a while, actually, and I don't have a clear answer.


I think, if your conscience is stinging you, you should say something. You shouldn't have to live with guilt or wonder the rest of your life if someone experienced the same things you did that they did not need to. As for who to tell first, that is a good question which i dont have an answer for. :(
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 110
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • NotreDame

    21

  • Cherie

    11

  • AnneLine

    9

  • littlePaula

    7

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Friar John Paul, this thread is about the experiences of people who have left monastic life.  I don't know whether you have had the experience of leaving a religious community but I don't think it is

Very interesting thread! I was a postulant and will share some experiences I’ve had, in hopes it will be of service. In advance, forgive me please if I am verbose.   I’ve been in three communiti

Dear Sr. Madeleine Marie:   I have read this thread carefully, and maybe I missed it.  If your community was specifically mentioned in this thread please hit the report button and we (mods) will cor

It would be, as you stated, "putting someone at risk," I really believe that.

 

If that is indeed true, then IMHO informing others is not only the moral thing to do, but the Christian thing to do.  What about the Office for Religious (0r some such bureaucratic entity) in the Diocese the Order is located in (whew....that was pretty bad grammar!).  A copy to the Superior of the convent, the Arch/Bishop, and the Vicar for Religious seem to be the route to go.  If you believe a person is or could be truly in psychological, emotional and/or physical danger, it behooves one to report it - especially if the one doing the reporting has first-hand knowledge.  I would encourage you to write that letter!

Link to post
Share on other sites

quick question for now, does anyone know if there was anything in the 1917 Code that protected this privacy of conscience in any way also?

 

p.s. I'm looking it up myself too :like: just wondering if anyone has any insights on this, and if it was something specifically added to the new Canon to address previous problems in seminaries/religious houses, etc. 

Edited by Chiquitunga
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes there is. The superiors may not in any way force the members to open their conscience to them. But the members are free to open their souls to the superiors with the trust of a child.

Here the original text:

 

Can. 530. § 1. Omnes religiosi Superiores districte vetantur personas sibi subditas quoquo modo inducere ad conscientiae manifestationem sibi peragendam.

§ 2. Non tamen prohibentur subditi quominus libere ac ultro aperire animum suum Superioribus valeant; imo expedit ut ipsi filiali cum fiducia Superiores adeant, eis, si sint sacerdotes, dubia quoque et anxietates suae conscientiae exponentes.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some questions I'm wondering...

 

Does spiritual direction = manifestation of conscience? Can we define what a "manifestation of conscience" exactly is? Isn't this what takes place when one goes to Confession?

 

I've always thought of the "internal forum" as including more than just manifesting one's conscience, but also everything going on in one's interior life that one would discuss with a spiritual director.

 

I think Lillabett might have answered your question above.  Thought I'm not an expert by any means, I'd add that I  think SD under normal circumstances definitely involves the conscience.  Confession can be as simple as listing sins.  SD is where you'd talk about how you feel (consolation vs desolation) what you think are spiritual trials that you might be suffering through, how to deal with them personally, specific temptations you are facing, etc.  SD is also where you might talk about your discernment.  How the heck would you do that with a superior?  It just wouldn't be appropriate.

 

Thanks! Yeah, I remembered her helpful post and definition there, but still had questions as to what exactly a manifestation of conscience is (although the wording is pretty explanatory.. revealing one's conscience... I think I need a good definition of the word "conscience" to understand this better) and if that can be equated with spiritual direction. But yes, I agree with you there that spiritual direction definitely involves one's conscience.

 

I just ordered Therese Ivers book, http://www.amazon.com/Canonical-Protections-Unwarranted-Intrusions-Conscience/dp/1490386351  :like: To answer your question before about accessing her blog, I would send her a private message through it, which you can do in the Contact Us section on the bottom, http://doihaveavocation.com/blog/  I am not in current contact with her, but I did speak with her once a few years ago, and she was full of so much valuable information and advice! CherieMadame, I would recommend contacting her actually to ask what might be the best thing to do for reporting problems in your previous community. She has much experience, and is also very good about discretion I noticed. Looking forward to reading her thesis on this!

Edited by Chiquitunga
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes there is. The superiors may not in any way force the members to open their conscience to them. But the members are free to open their souls to the superiors with the trust of a child.

Here the original text:

 

Can. 530. § 1. Omnes religiosi Superiores districte vetantur personas sibi subditas quoquo modo inducere ad conscientiae manifestationem sibi peragendam.

§ 2. Non tamen prohibentur subditi quominus libere ac ultro aperire animum suum Superioribus valeant; imo expedit ut ipsi filiali cum fiducia Superiores adeant, eis, si sint sacerdotes, dubia quoque et anxietates suae conscientiae exponentes.

 

Thank you very much for finding and sharing that so quick! It sounds/is basically the same, as what the new Canon says.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just ordered Therese Ivers book, http://www.amazon.com/Canonical-Protections-Unwarranted-Intrusions-Conscience/dp/1490386351  :like: To answer your question before about accessing her blog, I would send her a private message through it, which you can do in the Contact Us section on the bottom, http://doihaveavocation.com/blog/  I am not in current contact with her, but I did speak with her once a few years ago, and she was full of so much valuable information and advice! CherieMadame, I would recommend contacting her actually to ask what might be the best thing to do for reporting problems in your previous community. She has much experience, and is also very good about discretion I noticed. Looking forward to reading her thesis on this!

 

 

Good, let us know what the book says and, if you run across it, how to properly define "conscience." 

 

I did contact her via the blog, but haven't heard back.
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sister Madeilene,

 

I thought the discussion here was pretty general and no orders were mentioned specifically, so in actuality no accusations have actually been made against your community (we still don't know what community that is btw, nor should it be mentioned.)

 

I'm sorry if you feel that this discussion might be discouraging people from a vocation.  I don't see it that way at all.  I know from my own experience I had great concerns about various communities and seminaries (for good reason) and didn't have a place to discuss and ask questions.  Being able to ask questions freely and get honest responses would have given me a lot more confidence to move forward, not the opposite.

 

Now I would like to address two of the points you brought up which we had been discussing through the thread:

 

#1 - correspondence - As we've already said, there's nothing wrong with reading letters/email as they go out and come in as long as this is explained before someone enters.  Otherwise, it's a big problem and unfortunately there are communities that don't share this information prior to entering and others that deny it while doing it.  So I really hope your group tells people about it before they decide to enter.

 

#2 - Spiritual Direction - So you are saying you've been in religious life for almost 8 years, but you've never in your life had a spiritual director?  Do at least any of the sisters there have spiritual directors? 

 

 

Edited by NotreDame
Link to post
Share on other sites

Maggie, I don't know what's official protocol on telling formation staff that you think their program stinks, but I've done it.

 

I remember one weekend where one of my closest friends was having a bit of a breakdown because of his finals. The priest for our formation group told him to take the weekend off and sent him home. While he was away, the priest had the rest of us guys pack his things for him, and when he returned he was told he was being let go.

 

Once my friend was gone I looked my RA and that priest in the eye and cussed them out for a good 10 minutes. Nobody else said a word.

 

I do not suggest you attempt this method of giving feedback. :hehe:

 

What went wrong in this priest's formation? It's ultimately cowardice that results in such behavior. He couldn't handle a "scene" so he presented your friend with his dismissal as a fait accompli.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was training to be a nurse one thing was drummed into us, the need for 'informed consent'. This has to be given for every single intervention no matter how trivial. Even touching a patient to wash them. It is one reason why medical staff continuously tell patients what they are about to do. If the patient does not object then consent is considered tacit.

 

 However, there is a fine line between what is tacit and what is informed. Informed involves a detailed clear laying out of the procedure, its benefits, reasons, and, of course, any risks, IN ADVANCE.

 

I have often had the thought that there are some practices by some religious communities that would be well to be considered in the same way.

The issue is blurred because of practicality in the first place - one does not need to be told every nuance and aspect of a community before one enters, it would be time consuming, wasteful and an abuse of privacy.

In addition, being willing to give up one's will in order to practice Obedience offers opportunity for further difficulty. This is sometimes, IMO confused with having given tacit consent to just about everything/anything.

When one is a newbie, confused by conventual culture, homesick, with a miriad of contradictory emotions floating around ( e.g. joy at entry, grief at loss of family), etc, it is easy to be bamboozled into ending up tacitly agreeing to a whole raft of stuff without thinking too much about it. I am not saying this happens in every community, but I do think any practice which is contra the usual ways we operate in society (privacy of mail for example) does and should be made clear prior to entry.

 

Or maybe in the very early days of Aspirancy/Candidacy.

I think that last word is interesting. Candid - acy.

Who needs to be candid, and about what?

 

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

When one is a newbie, confused by conventual culture, homesick, with a miriad of contradictory emotions floating around ( e.g. joy at entry, grief at loss of family), etc, it is easy to be bamboozled into ending up tacitly agreeing to a whole raft of stuff without thinking too much about it. I am not saying this happens in every community, but I do think any practice which is contra the usual ways we operate in society (privacy of mail for example) does and should be made clear prior to entry.

 

 

Good points.  In secular society, we are conditioned into certain expectations that are simply cultural and accepted as 'the way things are' and universally as it were.  On entering religious life, all of these cultural conditionings can be thrown into confusion and just as it takes time for conditioning to develop, it is going to take time to decondition and develop new conditionings.  Sometimes these factors, which can be quite a traumatic and unanticipated (in their severity) - and newbie difficulties are not understood and appreciated and those responsible for formation unaware and unsympathetic and guiding them through this very difficult period with understanding and empathy.  Sometimes the focus of leadership especially can be to test whether the candidate has the necessary dispositions and very often with emphasis on obedience, failing to appreciate the trauma being undergone.  This can leave the candidate with doubts about whether they should have entered in the first place, even precipitate leaving especially if their dilemma is not appreciated.  Rather than question and be able to openly discuss the interior confusion (transition process) in their personal situation, a newbie can come to doubt their vocation especially if formation leadership is not understanding and empathic and is applying even more pressure and stress in a testing process.

Entering religious life can be a totally unexpected tremendous jolt and shock, meaning that it is the intense degree experienced that is the fully unexpected trauma more so perhaps than the fact of experiencing such things.  Some enter religious life and I have heard it described as "like being in Heaven" - others can experience the complete opposite.  Yet both may have valid vocations.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have often had the thought that there are some practices by some religious communities that would be well to be considered in the same way.

The issue is blurred because of practicality in the first place - one does not need to be told every nuance and aspect of a community before one enters, it would be time consuming, wasteful and an abuse of privacy.

In addition, being willing to give up one's will in order to practice Obedience offers opportunity for further difficulty. This is sometimes, IMO confused with having given tacit consent to just about everything/anything.

When one is a newbie, confused by conventual culture, homesick, with a miriad of contradictory emotions floating around ( e.g. joy at entry, grief at loss of family), etc, it is easy to be bamboozled into ending up tacitly agreeing to a whole raft of stuff without thinking too much about it. I am not saying this happens in every community, but I do think any practice which is contra the usual ways we operate in society (privacy of mail for example) does and should be made clear prior to entry.

 

These are some great points. Particularly since many of these aspects that are such a "culture shock" (censored mail, not being able to write to certain friends, for example), as per some of the experiences mentioned in this thread and as per my own personal conversations I've had with members who have left communities where these practices are the norm but are not disclosed beforehand, they are often cited as factors in someone's decision to leave; or, in the case of someone whose decision was made for them, a factor which had always made them uncomfortable/uneasy. I know many people who, if they had been aware of these practices, would have reconsidered entering.

 

One knows that when they enter religious life, they are to expect a certain degree of "culture shock," for sure. But there are certain practices that are not universal to every community, even among traditional communities, and even between cloistered/contemplative and active communities. Particularly when they are so outside the norm of the usual ways of operating in society, it seems to make sense that these practices would be disclosed beforehand to a serious candidate. Otherwise, how is a candidate to know whether or not this is something normal and healthy, or something secretive and dysfunctional? To be bombarded with such things when, like you mention, a person is going through a miriad of to-be-expected contradictory emotions at entering religious life to begin with, seems to do unnecessary violence to a potential authentic vocation.

 

There was a thread or a pair of threads here a while ago; I'll have to search for them and maybe bump them. They were, basically, a list of universal "red flags" to look for in communities, and I think another list of questions that a candidate should ask a community before entering. They had some great information, and I do wish more discerners had access to it! However, is the onus on the discerner to ask these questions, or on the community to disclose them beforehand? In any case, I think knowing the "red flags" and being aware of them are very important; that has been mentioned numerous times in VS by those who have the wisdom and experience to know how important it is.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found this thread very useful.  It has not discouraged me or stopped me from discerning.  Now I just have a few more questions to ask and more information to help me. Sr. Madeline, I, too, reread the posts and no community is mentioned so I have no idea to which community you belong.  I also realize that not every person who leaves is going to have pleasant memories - the community they left may not have pleasant memories of THEM.  Perspective is important.

  • Like 3
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...