Jump to content

Dietary restrictions in cloistered life?


Recommended Posts

Michelle_christi

Hey all - I just have a super quick question: does anybody know if the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles have blockers towards individuals with dietary restrictions? I have major issues with both dairy and gluten, and I feel like as they self support with cows... and rely on donations.. I don’t think that would be a good thing. I love them so much, and as much as I feel drawn to them, I think I idealize their life too much. And I feel like having no dietary restrictions is important for cloistered communities, but I don’t know. Does anyone know? Obviously I could ask them, but was wondering if anyone has a quick answer. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Totally Franciscan

Sorry, I don't know about the Benedictines of Mary regarding dietary restrictions, but just an FYI, I was in a Carmel and had hypoglycemia.  I needed to have more protein and low carbs to keep my blood sugar level.  This posed no problems in the community, and I could take or leave foods that were a problem for me.  As a matter of fact, other sisters had problems, so a "diet kitchen" was set up to meet the needs of those sisters.  

I also know that the Poor Clares of Cleveland take care of sisters with dietary needs.  Of course, it would depend on the community.  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
profer_lumen_cæcis

+J.M.J.+

@Michelle_christi, Blessed Palm Sunday and welcome to phatmass! Unfortunately, because the Sisters are a monastic order they rely heavily on bread. I am not too sure about the dairy aspect, as I am sure they could substitute eggs instead of cheese, but I do know for a fact that a gluten allergy is challenging to them (I know a couple of the sisters very well). That being said, without giving too much information (I want to protect one of the sisters' privacy :)) I know that certain food allergies/intolerances can be overlooked if it is determined that there is, in fact, a vocation. :) May God reward you as you discern!

 

In Corde Regis!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

As sisters age, various dietary restrictions become inevitable in every community.  I would suggest contacting any community you are seriously discerning with, and simply asking them if your particular problem is one they can deal with.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

That's really a question you would have to pose to them as part of your discernment process. Lots of things can be worked around in a cloister (I had my dietary issues worked with easily) but that is part of the discernment process...so, as you acknowledge that you have idealized a lot of their life, don't put the cart before the horse :)

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know them at all, so this is a general statement. It would be very important to ask outright. Though there may be cases where a congregation would accommodate dietary needs (or other concessions) for the health of a long-time member, they might not do so for those in formation. 

Most people could never take the austerity of the Poor Clare Colettines, yet, when I read Mother Mary Francis's "A Right to be Merry," which was about a Colettine monastery, I saw it was rather a 'valentine.' Their fasting was extremely strict. Yet she wrote a sweet passage, where postulant Kathy says, "Dear mistress, I'm starving!" - Kathy is given something to eat, and St Francis once got up and ate with a friar who was hungry during the night... Though I never have been cloistered, when I read this sweet little book (in middle age, I believe), my immediate thought was, "It's fortunate that Kathy didn't have (Soandso - a superior of mine at one time) to whom she said that - she would have torn her to shreds, and gone on about how this was against poverty."

Link to post
Share on other sites

A book you might enjoy is  Barefoot Journey by Sister Felicity another Poor Clare nun where a similar scene is described. Sister Felicity, a postulant.  at the time, had been out gardening on a cold, damp dark wintery afternoon.  She was feeling utterly miserable when one of the senior nuns said are you hungry. Sister said starving. All the postulants and novices were given a treat of fried eggs tomatoes and fried bread. It was a nice touch I thought.

Edited by GraceUk
Correction
Link to post
Share on other sites

My only real frame of reference is the kibbutz, where meals are all prepared in a communal kitchen and eaten in a common dining room.  Technically, if enough members wanted caviar, and there was a vote to go and buy it, the kibbutz would have to buy enough for all the members, but of course, in practice it doesn't work like that.  An awful lot depends on the revenues of the kibbutz as to the extent of nutrition on the kibbutz.

What happens is that the kibbutz will send a member or two to study dietetics, as a first step so that dietary [and catering] needs will be addressed by an expert.  Then, the major dietary needs will be considered: some will want a vegetarian diet, for example.  Others may need a diabetic diet, or a soft, or even a liquid diet [especially the elderly, and on many kibbutzim the proportion of members who were founders from the Thirties, when they fled the Nazis, is now quite high].  Some may have specific food allergies.  Children have specific food needs.  But it's rare that anyone is so incredibly difficult to accomodate that an entire separate meal has to be prepared for that member alone.  A diabetic simply restricts carb intake and has a bit more of the protein and veg; a person on a soft diet has his food chopped or put in a blender.

The kitchen in a kibbutz is therefore often divided into several food preparation areas.  Most members [and of course, remember that kibbutzim are usually larger than convents today] take their food from a buffet; those on special diets go to the diet kitchen where trays with their names on them wait for them.

It's not impossible, or even very difficult, most of the time.  But it does need to be discussed, not left until it's a "whoops, I forgot to tell you..." moment arrives.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, gloriana35 said:

Kathy says, "Dear mistress, I'm starving!"

"Kathy" actually became my Dear Mother in my short stint with the Poor Clare Colettines. I was just thinking of her the other day, specifically, on the days when it was customary for the superior to serve everyone else (example, Thanksgiving Day), she would pile up my dish so high I would have a very hard time eating it all and had to actually stay late to do so. So this is particularly humorous for me! 

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...