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Chiara Joy

traditional vs modern communities?

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Chiara Joy

Hi all! I am new to Phatmass and have been lurking for a bit. One thing I have noticed come up frequently is the concept of more traditional and more modern religious communities. I do not want to start a debate, but I was wondering what some examples of traditional and modern communities would be? What are some criteria that you would use to categorize communities as traditional or modern? When I hear modern, I think of communities with younger vocations, with a clean online presence/nice website, a certain youthfulness and joy even in the older sisters, etc. but I don't think that that's what many of you think of! For example: Sisters of Life, Salesians, Daughters of St Paul, DSMME, Nashies -- traditional or modern? Some of each? Please help me understand :) I am so excited to actually post here for once - should I make a post introducing myself or just leave it? Can't wait to hear what you all have to say!

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Sponsa-Christi

I think sometimes "traditional" is shorthand for: "wearing a habit and living in community," but a lot of "traditional" communities are actually quite modern. For example, the Sisters of Life were founded in the early '90s to meet a distinctively contemporary need (i.e., a loss of the sense of the sacredness of life due to the legalization of abortion.) And actually, even the concept of active Sisters--as opposed to cloistered nuns--is a fairly modern development in the life of the Church. Sisters weren't even formally recognized as "religious" until the early 1900s!

On the other hand, sometimes people assume that consecrated virginity is a purely modern vocation, but this form of life is actually the oldest form of consecrated life in the Church. 

So looking at communities as being either traditional or modern probably isn't especially helpful in terms of personal discernment. Probably best just to be specific about what you feel called to (e.g., "I feel called to wear a visible habit as part of religious life," or "I feel called to a community that is open to evangelizing through a strong web presence and social media"); or at least to be more specific about exactly what you mean by "traditional" or "modern" in a given context (e.g., "I feel called to the traditional Dominican apostolate of teaching" or "I feel called to some form of consecrated life that is committed to developing creative new apostolates focused on meeting the spiritual needs of modern society"). 

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sr.christinaosf

I guess I have a little problem with the labels of traditional vs. modern.  There can be so much buried in the labels, that may or may not be intended.  For some people, the word "traditional" has connotations, positive or negative, depending upon their point of view.  

What is key?  What is important?  Fidelity to Christ and His Church, certainly.  The document "Essential Elements of Religious Life," released under the papacy of St. JPII may be helpful.

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JHFamily
2 hours ago, Chiara Joy said:

but I don't think that that's what many of you think of!

I think that you are correct. Generally speaking, I think when people use the word "traditional", they are referring to communities that have retained the habit and work mostly in a specific apostolate such as teaching or nursing. So, with that particular use, all of the communities you listed I think would be lumped as "traditional". However, "traditional" may also have another connotation in that it is an Ecclesia Dei community which uses the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and pray the older Office in Latin. In this case, none of the listed communities would be "traditional", rather this would refer to communities such as the Benedictines of Mary, most of the JMJ Carmels, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart, etc. 

"Modern" will typically refer to those communities in which the individual decides whether to wear the habit and is given the opportunity to choose how she, individually, is going to serve the church.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that there is no real definition, but that's the gist of how the terms are typically thrown around.

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Chiara Joy
2 hours ago, Sponsa-Christi said:

I think sometimes "traditional" is shorthand for: "wearing a habit and living in community," but a lot of "traditional" communities are actually quite modern. For example, the Sisters of Life were founded in the early '90s to meet a distinctively contemporary need (i.e., a loss of the sense of the sacredness of life due to the legalization of abortion.) And actually, even the concept of active Sisters--as opposed to cloistered nuns--is a fairly modern development in the life of the Church. Sisters weren't even formally recognized as "religious" until the early 1900s!

This is so helpful! I think the distinction between modern and contemporary is what I was missing. I do think that based on VS ideals, many of the orders I listed would be traditional, but also contemporary. Thank you for your thoughtful response! As to discerning personally, I totally agree!!! I was just interested in the meaning of the phrases - while I don't see myself entering an order that doesn't wear the habit or live communally (although it is all up to God :)), I wouldn't base my discernment off of the categories of modern or traditional. 

2 hours ago, sr.christinaosf said:

I guess I have a little problem with the labels of traditional vs. modern.  There can be so much buried in the labels, that may or may not be intended.  For some people, the word "traditional" has connotations, positive or negative, depending upon their point of view.  

What is key?  What is important?  Fidelity to Christ and His Church, certainly.  The document "Essential Elements of Religious Life," released under the papacy of St. JPII may be helpful.

Sister, I tend to agree! Definitely as a member of Gen Z discerning, the words traditional and modern would sway me towards more modern communities - even though through this thread I have realized that my heart is drawn to communities that are more "traditional" in the VS definition!

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Sister Leticia
On 7/14/2020 at 12:55 AM, Sponsa-Christi said:

I think sometimes "traditional" is shorthand for: "wearing a habit and living in community,"

We don't wear a habit. We do, mostly, live in community (some sisters don't, for specific reasons, but community is the default)

And we're not what anyone would describe as "traditional", though, of course, we do have our traditions!

So Chiara Joy, welcome, and as you can see, it's complicated! As you say, best not to use these labels as a basis for any discernment. 

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Nunsuch

And, as Sister Leticia's congregation exemplifies, "tradition" can also be understood as meaning long-lived or well established. The Benedictines have been around for 1500 years. Franciscans have been around almost a century, as have Dominicans. Many other congregations that might appear "modern" are 2 or 3 centuries old (or older). Are they not "traditional" in their own ways? Whereas, a community that is only a few years old is hardly "traditional," even if its members wear a habit or whatever. I agree with what Sister Leticia says: these terms ultimately may not be very descriptive or helpful. 

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HollyDolly

I guess what matters is do you feel attracted to the community and what they do and how their lifestyle reflects Christ,s teaching.The Franciscans have been around since the 12th or 13th centuries. The Dominicans  were founded around the same time as well.

They were founded by St.Dominic to preach to the people. He founded them as a counter to a group called the Cathars. The Catholic Church even though they were Christians considered them heretics.St.Dominic and St. Bernard of Citexau both engaged in debates with them.You can Google them. Their religious priests the perfects went about in pairs of two ,preaching and had no material wealth.They tried to imitate the apostles in manner of life.The had women perfects too.These women often lived in community and did teaching and nursing.The first Dominican nuns were three women Cathar perfects St.Dominic brought back to the Church.

The Franciscans too were a response to the Cathars but in Italy.The group was in Mainly Southern France and Northean Italy but they were also in the Rhineland and a few other places.

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