In closed session or out and about

The first "Open Monastery Day" is intended to give outsiders the opportunity to get to know the facets of monastic life. Answers to questions about religious life.

Is order equal to order?

Certainly not. In Germany alone, there are around 330 registered women's orders and 110 registered men's orders or congregations. The brothers and sisters live in a monastery or a convent according to the rules of the respective community. In most cases, this includes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the wearing of a religious habit and obedience to the superior, the head of the community.

What do religious do all day??

Religious sisters working in hospitals or kindergartens are a common image. In addition, religious are involved in a wide variety of social and societal areas, for example in schools, in youth welfare or as missionaries in worldwide outreach. These so-called active orders include, for example, the Jesuits, to which Pope Francis also belongs.

On the other hand, there are contemplative religious communities. The members, monks and nuns in the classical sense, have dedicated themselves entirely to prayer and contemplation. They live in strict enclosure, that is, isolated from the outside world. The enclosure is also the part of the monastery that is reserved exclusively for the members of the order and where traditionally silence is kept, including the dormitories, the cloister, but also the chapter house, where meetings are held.

Today there are also religious congregations that have both contemplative and active branches.

Who can become a member of the order?

In principle, any Catholic Christian can become a member of a religious order. The prerequisite is a stable physical and psychological condition. In addition, the candidate must be willing to become part of the community and to engage in the goals, tasks, prayer, and contemplation. Excluded are married aspirants. Often there is also a minimum age of entrance, for example 25 years, or a maximum age of entrance, for example 35 years. In the end, however, the community decides whether the candidate is admitted to the temporal and perpetual vows. A refusal is quite possible.

What is the process of admission to the monastery??

At the beginning of religious life, after a short probationary period, the so-called postulate, there is the novitiate (Latin "novus" – new). This period of welcome for new members often begins with a ceremony during which the newcomers are also clothed. According to canonical regulations, the novitiate must last at least one year. Then the applicant takes a vow for a limited time, usually limited to three years. Later, the perpetual or solemn profession follows, with which the member of the order commits himself forever to his community. Leaving the order is impossible in itself after that and can only be achieved by means of a lengthy process that goes all the way to Rome. In 2012, there were 83 male novices and 104 female novices in Germany.

Sister Aloysiana, Brother Paul, whence the names?

Traditionally, in many religious communities, new members take a different name when they enter. This is to clarify a break in life. In this sense, the entrance into the order is like a second baptism, with which the original baptismal name is discarded at the same time. The name, mostly in reference to saints, can be suggested by the member.

What does "temporary monastery" mean??

Many monasteries and ecclesiastical houses of education offer retreats, days of reflection and retreats. In many religious communities it is also possible for individuals to spend some time living in the community.

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