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The strictest orders


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Hi. 

I guess this comes from a conforsation I had on a Facebook group and also talking with karla before she left us to join her new order a postulant. 

What are the strictest ordered in the world?

I have been told pre Vatican two, penance practicing, straw beds, etc. orders do exist. 

How ever no one can ever tell me who they are. 

One lady on facebook said “there was one in France and one in Italy“. 

Karla told me she expected very limited contact with her family and she thought would sleep on a straw bed. How ever she didn't know too much past that and she said her time as a postulant would help her learn what was involved. How ever she said she was drawn to the strict convent life too help her become closer to God and it was part of her calling. 

Which I find inspirational! As she knew it was going to be a shock and shanghai from what she was used too but she trusted in God's plan for her and that she would find true happiness she had never know! 

So well I'm kind of here to ether prove or disprove all this once and for all. Karla seamed to confirm most of it but had never asked. 

 

Any thoughts welcome. 

 

Katie 

 

 

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Physical penances certainly seem radical when we speak about them and they can be good for the spiritual life but if you are looking for real penance life usually provides what you need. I would

I have to be honest with you - this sends off big alarm bells for me.  Thinking in black and white is something that doesn't go well with community living.  It's something that most psychologists woul

Yes, I wasn't referring to silent acceptance of everything and especially not of big decisions.  I was thinking of more mundane conversations.  For example, one sister might insist that the temperatur

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I think probably as a general rule you're going to want to zoom in on particularly strict communities rather than orders in general.  There are always going to be some variations within an order.

So, among Carmelite nuns, those who follow the 1990 constitutions are stricter than those who follow the 1991 ones, in the big picture.  But not all 1990 Carmels are the same and not all 1991 Carmels are the same.  For example.

That having been said, some of the stricter Carmels may be what you're looking for.  I've heard of the Brooklyn Carmel as particularly rigorous.  Also for those with a Franciscan spirituality you may wish to explore the Poor Clare Colettines.

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You're probably talking about the Carthusians. They slept on straw beds and had no electricity or running water (or was it hot water? maybe it was just hot water...) before VII. They're in France and Italy. VII forced them to "modernize".

That being said, the Cistercians can be quite strict as well.

Edited by Gabriela
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It can be romantic  and 'noble' to think of submitting oneself to the rigors of a very strict order, but to my way of thinking, the Middle Way as practiced by the Buddha, is the most balanced. A violin string tightened too much will eventually snap, and a violin string left too loose will not create the optimal sound. Moderation in all things seems to me to be the best way to promote longevity in any committed lifestyle. The renunciation of attachment as an interior practice and the turning of one's mind and heart to God with singleminded focus can occur without severe physical deprivation of basic comforts.

Edited by Swami Mommy
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Oh, the irony:

"Yet why dwell on such things as these? The man of true insight has other delights, far more useful and attractive, because divine. It is true, though that our rather feeble nature is renewed and finds new life in such perspectives, wearied by its spiritual pursuits and austere mode of life. It is like a bow, which soon wears out and runs the risk of becoming useless, if it is kept continually taut."

—Letter of saint Bruno (founder of the Carthusians) to his friend Raoul-le-Verd

http://www.chartreux.org/en/texts/bruno-raoul-le-verd.php

In other words: St. Bruno didn't think his austerities were too much. This bow-too-taut analogy is now a commonplace among Carthusians, who constantly refer to it when explaining why they have weekly walks, recreations, feast days, etc.

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The Victim Adorers of the Sacred Heart (I think that's their name, they are in France) is very strict and i heard its like going back to mediaeval times. Also the Carmels with the 1990 Constitutions especially those with the Latin Mass may be stricter. 

Regarding the discussion on how strict is too strict and balancing... I think the Carmelite life is very well organised. I think often we think we need comforts but with God's grace we can indeed live a life of penance, and its not so extreme as to be unrealistic in these orders :) they still get breaks with recreation etc. I think maybe some want it all because its "romantic" (actually living the life might help with that :)) but some feel a call to living a life giving up all those things for God :) it needs to be based on love and God's grace, though, we are not stoics 

33 minutes ago, Gabriela said:

Oh, the irony:

"Yet why dwell on such things as these? The man of true insight has other delights, far more useful and attractive, because divine. It is true, though that our rather feeble nature is renewed and finds new life in such perspectives, wearied by its spiritual pursuits and austere mode of life. It is like a bow, which soon wears out and runs the risk of becoming useless, if it is kept continually taut."

—Letter of saint Bruno (founder of the Carthusians) to his friend Raoul-le-Verd

http://www.chartreux.org/en/texts/bruno-raoul-le-verd.php

In other words: St. Bruno didn't think his austerities were too much. This bow-too-taut analogy is now a commonplace among Carthusians, who constantly refer to it when explaining why they have weekly walks, recreations, feast days, etc.

I don't really understand what he is saying? Maybe I'm missing the context...

Edited by MarysLittleFlower
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I knew a young girl who had been a carthusian postulant before entering the Victims of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she found the Victims stricter thant the carthusian. For exemple, the carthusian have a wood-burner in their cells, while the Victims have no heating system, etc... 

The life of the Little Sisters of the Lamb is also very hard, with real poverty : no personal bedroom, no mattress, no running water in the WC, no heating system, and they feed themselves only by begging. It's very hard for the body. I was really surprised to learn that, because they don't "boast" about it, they will just say to you that they're living poverty, like Christ, St Dominic, and St Francis. 

The carthusian website is so well done !

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1st thanks for all the imput. 

Some great point have been raised. 

I would never look at the kind of life's people are describing for a romantic reason. You have to be called too it. I think you would have to look at your reasons and motivations if you didn't have a strong calling from God to live that way. 

When talking with karla, she had had that calling.  Saying she loved fashion her phone and modern life. But had been called at a very young age too go on a path that lead her to her cloistered life she now leads. 

Ever since she has gone in i have looked more and more into this sort of life and trying to learn what it is that drives the people into it.

How ever of late I admit to looking at them as a positive way forward for my life as well. I love my phone, creature comforts. But yet for the last two months I have been trying to learn about strick community's. 

I guess it's hard to contact these places though....

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2 hours ago, Gabriela said:

In other words: St. Bruno didn't think his austerities were too much. This bow-too-taut analogy is now a commonplace among Carthusians, who constantly refer to it when explaining why they have weekly walks, recreations, feast days, etc.

Indeed. I think it is important to keep in mind that people differ in this. What is too much for one person may not be so for another. As long as you are able to have "other delights, far more useful and attractive, because divine" (as St Bruno put it in the above cited letter) and your austerities do not distract you from that.
 

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'Strict' is very difficult to define, because as editharmon says, what's difficult for one person might not be difficult for another. The hardest Lenten penance I've ever undertaken was stopping complaining - I fell into complaints without noticing before midday on Ash Wednesday, my quickest tumble yet! An intense physical fast honestly wasn't so hard compared to that. My experience made me think of the words of the novice mistress in Rumer Godden's book In This House of Brede, which she based closely on Stanbrook Abbey:

"They are dear, good girls," Dame Ursula often said of the novitiate - it did not matter which novitiate - "if only they wouldn't be so ardent. They want to sleep on planks, go barefoot, which isn't necessary, but they won't use up a reel of thread, or make a pencil last, or darn and patch, which is necessary..."

Some people are called to a life with more physical austerities. Those communities still exist. But I think anyone who is drawn to that way of life needs to remember that what looks most difficult from the outside may not be what she finds most difficult when she's actually there, and that a way of life that looks easy and cushioned from the outside may be much more challenging than she realises. The community Carla entered, for example, is not some extreme example of austerity - it's about typical for a Carmel, no more and no less. If that's the way of life you're drawn to, you shouldn't have to look far for it. :)

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3 hours ago, MarysLittleFlower said:

I don't really understand what he is saying? Maybe I'm missing the context...

Click the link and read the whole letter.

 

2 hours ago, NadaTeTurbe said:

I knew a young girl who had been a carthusian postulant before entering the Victims of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she found the Victims stricter thant the carthusian. For exemple, the carthusian have a wood-burner in their cells, while the Victims have no heating system, etc... 

The life of the Little Sisters of the Lamb is also very hard, with real poverty : no personal bedroom, no mattress, no running water in the WC, no heating system, and they feed themselves only by begging. It's very hard for the body. I was really surprised to learn that, because they don't "boast" about it, they will just say to you that they're living poverty, like Christ, St Dominic, and St Francis. 

The carthusian website is so well done !

I discerned with the Carthusian nuns of Reillane, France, and they have heaters in the cells. This type of thing depends upon the community and is usually determined by building construction. Even the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, which attempts to imitate the Carthusians in some ways, have wood burning stoves in their older hermitages, but central heat in their newer hermitages.

I'm not surprised some orders are now more strict than the Carthusians. The Carthusians really changed after VII. Personally, I think it's sad.

As enitharmon states above, what one finds "especially strict" depends a great deal on one's own temperament and limitations. If one never had one's own bedroom (because one has, say, 15 siblings), then that's probably not really an austerity. If one is from rural India, not having a mattress is probably no big deal. Etc.

 

30 minutes ago, Katie Bell said:

I guess it's hard to contact these places though....

Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. The Carthusians of Reillane are very quick to respond (by email). The Monastic Family in NY only uses letters. I've heard of some Collettines who are very hard to reach, but once one knows where they are and writes, they make themselves available. So probably it's not as hard as you're thinking.

Edited by Gabriela
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I should think that in choosing how strict of an order one might wish to join, it would be useful to consider one's long-term capacity for a rigorous life of deprivation, realizing that the stringency of the austerities one may be able to bear as a younger person might be considerably more difficult to manage in old age as the body begins to weaken in its energy reserves and one's health begins to decline.  Personally, I can't imagine sleeping on a straw mattress in a cold bedroom with bones aching from arthritis!  

(Said from a 63 year-old perspective.  LOL!)

Edited by Swami Mommy
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The Trappistines are generally strict, but some moreso than others. There is more flexibility in Redwoods and in Iowa, for instance, than in Massachusetts. So, as with others, you need to check particular houses. For example, the Baltimore Carmelites have lay people mingle with them in chapel and, on visiting a friend there, I was invited in to the kitchen for brunch. That would be unheard of in some Carmels. I made a retreat at another Carmel and was entirely within the enclosure; others would not allow that. So you need to check particular houses, and not just orders. 

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