Friday, October 12, 2007
HBO had a special on about some young women of today deciding whether or not to join the cloister. I saw the listing in the newspaper. I would like to see the program to see if any of them joined, but we don't have HBO.
Nor would I have HBO if it was free. Not only would it be indulgent, I don't have that much time to spend watching television. The news is pretty much it for us. I read the papers, but I prefer the television news because it's the pulse of the news. It's what most people rely on for information, for better or for worse, so watching Wolf Blitzer shout out today's headlines gives me a feel for what people are interested in, which stories they are following, even if the audience is being spoon fed what happened to Miss Britney Spears today. It gives me an idea of what people are thinking about.
Which, oddly, brings me to today's question:
Sister, could you explain the difference between Benedictine, Augustinian & Franciscan monks/nuns? Thanks.
No. I don't have time. It would take me all day. Different orders follow different sets of rules and have different missions and goals. You seem to have the internet. Look it up.
Because now you can go online and be a virtual nun. Many orders have websites that you can visit and the orders set the websites up so you can see what it's like...sort of...to be one of them. I'm not sure you can be a virtual monk. I've never visited those sites to find out. Monasteries are for boys. I'd feel like I was trying to get into to the boy's locker room. OUT OF PLACE.
The interesting question to me is, "Why are there different orders of religious?" And for that answer you have to look at the history of monks. It isn't as though a group of men got together one day and said to each other, "Let's all wear robes and be brothers!" (Although I guess that did happen at one point in time in the deep South.)
What happened was certain saintly individuals found it was impossible to be saintly around other people. Way too much temptation. So an individual would go away and live in a cave, but because he was saintly, other people would follow him and before you can say, "Wow! Let's make home made beer!" you have a make shift monastery. This was going on all over that place.
The thing about leading an austere life is that one austerity leads to another. You give up meat, next you give up that meal. Then that seems indulgent...or you're looking forward too much to the next meal, so you give that up and the next thing you know you're eating a teeny crust of dry bread and feeling guilty that you enjoy it so much.
I don't enjoy Wolf Blizter, so he'll never lead me to HBO. Where was I?
Anyhow, things were getting out of hand on the austerity front until St. Benedict came along. He made up rules for people to follow so that they could live an austere and holy life away from the temptations of the world and not end up wearing barbed wire and eating rocks.
Most orders were founded around a person who makes up the rules. And a lot of those people, the founders of orders, are people who took exception to the way people in an existing order were bending the rules. The Cisterians, the Discalced Carmelites, the Capuchins...all orders who wanted more order.
Or, like St. Dominic, they found the order too restrictive to do the mission they had in mind. For example, St. Dominic was fighting a big heresy that was going around at the time, especially in big cities and he wanted his brothers to still live an austere life as an example, but to be very mobile and active in preaching against the heresy.
Some orders are mendicant, like the Augustinians and the Franciscans. Some are discalced, like the Franciscans and the Carmelites. Althought the discalceds have always confused me, since they almost all wear shoes these days, as far as I can tell. They should call themselves Disdiscalced, perhaps.
It's how they live, how they pray, what they do, that separates them.
And their outfits. Black, brown, gray, scapular, no scapular, hood, no hood, belt, rope, knots, shoes, sandals. Like the Bloods and the Crips, except of course they are not gangstas.
So if you want to know more about any particular order, don't wait for Wolf to shout about them. That won't happen unless they commit a crime. Head for your monitor and keyboard, visit the order's website and give the religious life a whirl. Take your shoes off, wear something brown and visit the Franciscans, get out your black hoodie and pop over to the Benedictines.
It beats sitting in front of Taxicab Confessions.