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BarbaraTherese

New Papal Document on Contemplative life

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passerby

That is a fair point, certainly. I'm not trying to stir the pot, but perhaps I just hope that people are aware that, in the end, the ones that will know the best how this will affect their lives, are the ones living it now (although others may have valid concerns and insights.) That is all.

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Graciela

In reading the Vatican approved English translation, it seems to me that the first year of aspirancy that is included in the minimum of 9 years of initial formation, does not need to be full time living with the community.  If I am interpreting it correctly,  the year of visits and maybe a live-in (allowed by many but not all contemplative communities) and the time of completing one's application may well be included.

I also was under the impression that, in Carmel at least, the years of temporary profession gradually included more integration into and greater responsibility in the community, including moving to a cell with the solemnly professed nuns in the year before solemn profession.  Granted, that is not the same as being a member of the chapter governance.  Probably, as always, these customs vary by individual monastery.

I am concerned that some of these critical comments miss the bigger picture worldwide.  Few contemplative cloisters are full to overflowing with novices. Just the opposite is the more frequent  problem, from what I have read: Very small communities with no new vocations for years (or decades), and aging members for whom keeping the observance and caring for one another's health issues  is untenable.  Having an association for support and assistance seems a prudent and charitable thing to me, and remaining isolated (unaffiliated with an association) unto the demise of the community seems unwise.  I remember reading in St Teresa's life about her sending nuns from one monastery to another when help was needed, following St Albert's Rule that "necessity overrides every law".

But hey that's just my three cents.

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Graciela

For some alternative perspective and some indication that nuns did have input into this process, please see this article.

https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/05/16/vatican-okays-social-media-autonomy-for-contemplative-nuns/

I think it is positive that the superiors of monasteries of nuns are now recognized as major superiors.

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JHFamily

I have to admit that I am eagerly awaiting to read some commentary by those who are in a better position to comment on it than me.

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Digitaldame

I'm very interested in reading everyone's opinions. I should say that our community was never invited to contribute/consulted by CICLSAL but, like many small communities, we do have some grave concerns. It's not just the loss of autonomy for some (which is a Benedictine characteristic and will be very hard and difficult) but how we deal with potential vocations. We ourselves have already had to put on hold some overseas candidates because of the uncertainty regarding visas here in the UK (complex and expensive to obtain) and our exiting the E.U. (a further complication, with implications for healthcare). Asking an older candidate to wait nine years before she knows she is definitively accepted strikes me as putting a lot of unnecessary strain on her. It's bad enough waiting five and a half! There's a lot more one could say, but I think the important thing at this point is to pray. Please pray for small communities that find the prospect of having an Administrator appointed to run things and being assigned to a Federation a bit daunting.

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JHFamily

Communities have fought and fought against many of these developments over many years.  It's sad that all the agreements that have been made in the past have been undone by the stroke of a pen.  But as a priest friend of mine says, "Bishops come, and bishops go."  I'm hoping that some of the issues will be resolved in the future.

 

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Sponsa-Christi

I've only given the document a cursory reading so far, but speaking as a canon lawyer, it's truly not outrageous.

Granted, some of the points are debatable (like, do you really need nine years of formation? etc.), but there's nothing in it that screams: "Pope Francis is out to get cloistered nuns!"

Even if it's not perfect, this document does genuinely seem to be motivated by real concern for the well-being of the women who have a vocation to cloistered life. It is possible for monasteries to dwindle and become isolated, with the individual nuns suffering and eventually becoming helpless because they have nobody to "check in" on them. The document is obviously seeking to prevent this kind of terrible scenario, which unfortunately is becoming increasingly more common. 

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ChiaraEstrella

As someone discerning with a cloistered community, and currently 5 months into Aspirancy, I have mixed feelings about it. Partly it further confuses things for communities, as in my situation, when I asked to apply to my community right after the document came into effect for them. They had no idea how the Federation of monasteries were going to handle the new changes to the candidacy process, and even further how their individual monastery would. So I am a guinea pig. Add to that, I'm older, and so now will likely have to wait 8 years after entrance to make solemn profession if, God Willing, everything is still going that direction. 

The other side of it for me is what someone above mentioned...you're already intending for this to be for life, and if you've made it 6 years, you can make it 8 (the old vs new time required once you enter postulancy). My community would spend usually close to a year getting to know candidates before admitting them for postulancy, so that didn't really change it, it just formalized the process. And I now have the benefit of cloister tours/small entries when I visit (like an hour of recreation or work with the Novice Mistress) that I would not have had before because it wasn't their custom. I will also have a week live-in in the cloister, which has the downside of removing *some* of the mystery of it, but I think overall will be a huge benefit to have experienced prior to entrance as a postulant. 

For communities like the Carmelites, I could see added difficulties with large numbers in the novitiate, but for my community, where I will be the only postulant most likely for a while, that aspect doesn't really affect them (yet). It's also a bit rough, as others mentioned, to think of not being able to participate in Chapter for an additional two years. But when it all comes down to it, for those entering with the new requirements not much will change. It's all I will have ever known. But for religious who were preparing to make final vows and then had to push their date back, I could see that being very difficult. Especially as my order allows you one final hug with you family in the public part of the chapel on that day. It was planned for some, and highly anticipated, and then postponed for years. I personally think there should have been more consideration to grandfathering in some of the sisters already in a certain milestone of formation.

That's my two cents. I'll update as things get closer for me!

Edited by ChiaraEstrella

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