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The strictest orders


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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 guess my question was does it exist past hair shirts etc. And I'm guess it does and to just ask when I apply. 

And from the thing I have read a straw bed is far more common. 

I think i now need to talk to the order people have suggested. If there are any more people think I have missed out then just let me know. 

 

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3 hours ago, josephine said:

I remember an article of one of the franciscan sisters of the sorrowful mother, tor, about how her friend who is married lives a "harder"/stricter life than her ;)

http://franciscansisterstor.blogspot.nl/2015/05/womans-destiny-beauty-of-motherhood.html

" She began to recall the day that she canonized me and all that she had said. She laughingly began to take back her canonization as she said, “Do you realize that I now wake up not just at 5 AM, but at midnight, at 2AM, and at 4AM?  I never get a full night’s sleep since I have had children.”  She went on, “And I never get to leave my house because I have three little ones that I have to dress and bring with me.  There are days when my patience won’t allow it.”  She topped it all off by saying, “And do you realize that I haven’t had a glass of wine since my honeymoon because I have either been nursing or pregnant?”

 

Oddly enough, the physical side of child raising, the lifting, carrying, cooking, laundry, getting little or no rest, etc. is actually not the heaviest part of it.  The constant emotional support, the need to be alert for the slightest kind of problem, or illness, the constant need to be protective yet stand by when the child needs to develop independence, to encourage and educate, are often far more stressful and wearing.  You aren't really going to see the results until your children, in their turn, become parents and, by their actions, you see how well you succeeded.

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I share the concerns of others concerning focusing on physical austerities. But I also think that it's pretty meaningless to talk about the strictest orders or monasteries. Yes, Carthusians are strict, but they have a huge cell and oodles of solitude that many Cistercians would be positively envious of. Carmelites might sleep on straw mattresses, but they have a significant amount of time in their cells. Then again, they have recreation, which would be a positive penance to some, while others might long for it. And which is "strictest": Getting up in the middle of the night and going back to bed again, or getting up at 3 am and staying up?

In short, the greatest penance is living with other people, and living with yourself - especially as you hit up against your own weakness and don't have anywhere to hide from it.

 

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On 2/23/2016 3:23:12, Katie Bell said:

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....

I see those kinds of orders as based on a call to live a very hidden life with God, seen by Him alone, and the penance part of it helps to detach the heart to love God more exclusively. I.don't know my vocation yet but I have felt drawn to this sort of life for these reasons. I guess its up to the community to say if the reasons are good ones. The only thing I'd caution is penance simply for its own sake without thinking of virtue. One needs to be a called, as you said :)

On 2/23/2016 3:50:32, beatitude said:

'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. :)

From speaking to someone who tried Carmelite life, I agree its not always what you'd expect. The hardest part could be mortifying ones will in obedience or not being able to pray when you feel you need to - not abstinence from meat or another physical penance. I guess that's why we discern by visiting a place :)

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This is an interesting thread.. Many good points here that made me think. I teach little children and I've found one of the hardest things is just acting very cheerful and focusing on them when I'm having a bad day. I guess that's how its like for mothers too. I also.live with a friend and we follow a rule of life together with the permission of our priest. There is much silence and at first this was difficult. But now I see the most difficult aspect of it is having no one to speak to if I'm upset about something. I just have to ignore it and continue with the daily schedule and pray about it to God. I think this helped me the most to understand what religious life must be like - in a limited way of course. Now I'm grateful for these struggles because they've helped me to learn to rely more on God and mortify my desire to complain. One thing that must be very difficult is the obedience. You silently accept what you are told in a monastery - as Sr Marie said, it doesn't matter if you're right or think you're right or disagree. There's exterior penances that dispose to virtue too but interior mortifications can be the hardest.

On 2/24/2016 8:41:50, Katie Bell said:

I guess my question was does it exist past hair shirts etc. And I'm guess it does and to just ask when I apply. 

And from the thing I have read a straw bed is far more common. 

I think i now need to talk to the order people have suggested. If there are any more people think I have missed out then just let me know. 

 

Some orders have more penances but it depends on the community. I'd recommend not thinking too much about the penances yet and just asking yourself what charism are you drawn to? What is your attraction to? And then maybe just visiting and looking at it :) visiting would help to give more light. 

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55 minutes ago, MarysLittleFlower said:

 One thing that must be very difficult is the obedience. You silently accept what you are told in a monastery - as Sr Marie said, it doesn't matter if you're right or think you're right or disagree.

Im not sure Im able to express this well but for the community Im interested in I didnt find that to be the case from what I saw.  The sisters listen to the superior of course, however, if they had a idea, suggestion, or even a bit of an objection  they did express it if they thought it was necessary  The superior would consider it and might change or keep her request it jsut depended.   I found it to be a healthy and respectful exchange.

 

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52 minutes ago, vee said:

Im not sure Im able to express this well but for the community Im interested in I didnt find that to be the case from what I saw.  The sisters listen to the superior of course, however, if they had a idea, suggestion, or even a bit of an objection  they did express it if they thought it was necessary  The superior would consider it and might change or keep her request it jsut depended.   I found it to be a healthy and respectful exchange.

 

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 temperature tomorrow is going to be 46 and I might know she is wrong... Refraining from commenting is a penance and when you live with 20 other women you end up practicing it a lot!   

On the other hand, we live under a superior but we make community decisions together and there is a very healthy and respectful exchange of opinions and perspectives.  Sometimes its more difficult to have the healthy exchange than it is to keep quiet.  It isn't always easy to share what we think in front of a group of women for discussion.  Some dialogue is a good and necessary part of healthy community life though.  You could think of this as a penance in the sense that it is a necessary but uncomfortable part of life too.

MLF, you are right that one of the most difficult parts of religious life, while we have the companionship and support of the sisters with whom we live, is that at night we are alone with ourselves in the silence.  This is fine when we feel successful and good, happy and satisfied.  However, feelings of sadness, regret, pain, insecurity, and frustration are part of every life and often we can't share those parts the way someone might share with a spouse or even with a friend after a bad day or a huge failure.  I am grateful for my sisters but the reason we've come together in this life is to rely on God and that empty space is where God meets us.

So, if you told me I could sleep on a straw mattress for the rest of my life and be free of the sleepless restless nights that accompany those feelings - I would say the straw mattress was like a king size bed with the softest sheets and warmest blankets!  But it is definitely in my warm, normal bed through sleepless nights that I do major penance.  

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This varies so much from community to community!  The community I was in to the outside world looked pretty strict (plank beds, begging, etc.) and that was totally fine by me because I was used to a rugged lifestyle, but many of the sisters said they could never be Sisters of Life (who bake cookies, go rollerblading, and do other things that might look luxerious) because they couldn't have coffee until breakfast time while our pot was on before Office of Readings!  For me (and most of us there) the greatest poverty was surrender of will and not of a physical thing.  I believe though that the Lord gives us the grace to handle whatever life we are called to, even if there is no coffee at all! (haha)

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56 minutes ago, He is Risen! said:

This varies so much from community to community!  The community I was in to the outside world looked pretty strict (plank beds, begging, etc.) and that was totally fine by me because I was used to a rugged lifestyle, but many of the sisters said they could never be Sisters of Life (who bake cookies, go rollerblading, and do other things that might look luxerious) because they couldn't have coffee until breakfast time while our pot was on before Office of Readings!  For me (and most of us there) the greatest poverty was surrender of will and not of a physical thing.  I believe though that the Lord gives us the grace to handle whatever life we are called to, even if there is no coffee at all! (haha)

For the record:

I dont drink coffee.jpg

Does that make me badder than a Carthusian? ;) 

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6 hours ago, Sister Marie said:

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 temperature tomorrow is going to be 46 and I might know she is wrong... Refraining from commenting is a penance and when you live with 20 other women you end up practicing it a lot!   

On the other hand, we live under a superior but we make community decisions together and there is a very healthy and respectful exchange of opinions and perspectives.  Sometimes its more difficult to have the healthy exchange than it is to keep quiet.  It isn't always easy to share what we think in front of a group of women for discussion.  Some dialogue is a good and necessary part of healthy community life though.  You could think of this as a penance in the sense that it is a necessary but uncomfortable part of life too.

MLF, you are right that one of the most difficult parts of religious life, while we have the companionship and support of the sisters with whom we live, is that at night we are alone with ourselves in the silence.  This is fine when we feel successful and good, happy and satisfied.  However, feelings of sadness, regret, pain, insecurity, and frustration are part of every life and often we can't share those parts the way someone might share with a spouse or even with a friend after a bad day or a huge failure.  I am grateful for my sisters but the reason we've come together in this life is to rely on God and that empty space is where God meets us.

So, if you told me I could sleep on a straw mattress for the rest of my life and be free of the sleepless restless nights that accompany those feelings - I would say the straw mattress was like a king size bed with the softest sheets and warmest blankets!  But it is definitely in my warm, normal bed through sleepless nights that I do major penance.  

I was just reading St Therese of Lisieux, and how she learned to have a type of joy about those times of emptiness - and her long "dark night" of dryness.. I liked her approach because she didn't try to just be courageous about it, but to simply suffer with love.

I've noticed how having more silence seems to sometimes cause this human loneliness - it's not possible to speak to anyone about things or to distract oneself if things aren't going well. St Francis de Sales wrote about "great silence" being a time only for God, sort of like how when we die, we leave all things and are alone with God. I think on a natural level it can be difficult - naturally, it's easier to for example have a human spouse to talk to when you're lonely/sad/etc.

But I think it's very beautiful that there is only God. Then He becomes as a Spouse. Some of the most special times for me with Him have been when I seemed to have no one else, and even if He gave no consolation, there's some type of intimacy in this.. which would be lost if I had an earthly spouse or a friend to speak with.

In a way choosing "God alone" in religious life is choosing the cross, but there's no regret about this, only love :) it brings us closer to Him in the end I believe... I haven't ever experienced religious life though. If I ever do I'll see what it's like.

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I have to say. With out a doubt one of the bigest things I have had to come to terms with is, my role in the great plan has for men and women. 

It was extremely hard for me to settle down and understand that as a women Gods plan is different for me. And i need to suport and take a role under men. 

Scripture and experience has taught me though that gods plan needs to be listened too and respected absolutely. 

I guess for some people this could be the hardest thing about going to this sort of level religious life. 

Also again, the submission to a community leader. I struggle to read people. As it's been said I'm mind autistic. It has been hard to take instructions and read people who were giving it. How ever i have learnt to read and control my self. 

The thing is this. Not having to read people and just follow and keep my mouth shut might just be bliss for me. As long as some one is clear to me and not lace it with anouther meaning, I'm fine. I could be free of worry, free to just be with God and not worry about getting it wrong. 

I feel that Extreme honesty when in a order is crucial! And this can be hard for people. God sees all you can't hide from God. And the one thing I am is black and white honest. I find it hard to lie so i dont lie or manipulate truths. 

Do you know what excites me about religious life. 

Freedom.

The ability to be black and white with a group of people who are in turn black and white. I know I have asked about strict and tough things. But that's not the core. 

I want. A closed cloistered group. Where I can begin to learn as a postulant gods grace and light. Where I can work with a group of people in a plane simple way. Where I can pray though the night. Get into a routine of prayer. And explore all his wonder. White as little destruction from the outside world as possible. 

I belive that physical hardships help you become closer to God and also it can be offered up to a world that needs it. How ever if i find a order that did not have this and God pointed me there. Then who am I to say no. 

You know righting this has got me so excited about what's the future holds for me. 

 

 

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On 2/23/2016, 10:27:42, Luigi said:

Beat me to it. I'm partial to the Carthusians, as I share Saint Bruno's feast day.

On 2/23/2016, 10:28:28, Gabriela said:

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.

The Carthusians are still strict post-Vatican II. So far as I am aware, they are the only Order which completely abstains from meat year-round save for medical necessities.

 

Francis lived in a cave, and even he indulged in meat. :|

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10 minutes ago, PhuturePriest said:

Beat me to it. I'm partial to the Carthusians, as I share Saint Bruno's feast day.

The Carthusians are still strict post-Vatican II. So far as I am aware, they are the only Order which completely abstains from meat year-round save for medical necessities.

 

Francis lived in a cave, and even he indulged in meat. :|

Nah, there are other orders that abstain from meat entirely. The Collettines, for example.

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1 minute ago, Gabriela said:

Nah, there are other orders that abstain from meat entirely. The Collettines, for example.

Stop ruining how I explain the dramatically radical lives of the Carthusians with your pesky facts. :|

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