{    Cnytr   }

{Tuesday, August 03, 2004  }


Back in the world

I'm back from my short little stay at the monastery. It ... was beautiful! Having Mass every morning and the entire liturgy of the hours (and some of the little hours are my favorites) kept us in the chapel for 4-5 hours a day. That was amazing. In addition to the silence, solitude, short little presentations by the sisters on the Cistercian order, saints, spirituality, and monastic use of scripture, I have a much better idea about not only contemplative/monastic life but also the Cistercian order in general.

The retreat was both a retreat and an aid in discernment. As a reatreat it was perfect. As an aid in discernment, it's given me some small handle on what I think God may have in store for me: that is, probably not the cloistered life, and most likely not the Cistercian order (more probably in the Dominican order).

An ideal though possibly silly scenario would be as follows: a dorm (or two) at [insert perfect college here] for men and women in the third order (if one dorm; men on the bottom floor, women on the top; if two, men in one building and women in another). The dorms would be set up like a monastery with a chapel and cloisters (i.e: the halls; I considered a garden, but college students don't really have time for that sort of thing). Additionally, there would be silence in the cloister and a grand silence after compline and one or two communal meals a week where someone would read while the community ate. The three main hours would always be sung in the chapel (since third-order laypersons are bound to say the liturgy of the hours), and the little hours would be optional for whoever is around (some leeway must be given for class, but almost nobody has class at 7:30am, noon, and 9pm).

Obviously people in the dorm(s) wouldn't *really* be cloistered. The dorm(s) would be a place for serious prayer and study. That's not to say college students can't be college students -- go out and party (responsibly), the operational word being *out*. Play music, but not loudly after the grand silence. It shouldn't be a problem if one plays music with the doors closed or something. Stay up late, skip chapel, whatever, but since the student is also a third-order, they'd have to make up what they skip on their own. I just figured the community aspect of it would encourage more people to say the hours when the hours are supposed to be said.

This seems to me an ideal situation for those enamored with the monastic life though not called to it, and living as a lay third-order. It strikes me as something St. Rose of Lima or St. Catherine of Siena would do if they went to college (I mean, they wore the habit although they were tertiaries).

I wonder how possible, how practical this would be. It's almost such an odd thing that it would require a Catholic college with a large, diverse body of (Catholic) students.

I wonder if I could initiate something like this at Catholic U. I wonder if it would *last*. The housing would probably not be possible, or at least very difficult ... hm.

Furthermore... I wonder if something like this would survive in a non-college atmosphere, some boarding place/apartments/community/whatever for the third-order anybodys (i.e. Carmelites, Dominicans, etc; I realize they all have their own liturgy... we'll fight over whose would be the norm later) and their (immediate) family.

Who else thinks I'm nuts? Who thinks it's a good idea?

The other option, I suppose, would be to board at a convent, but not all convents have that kind of room, and it might be a violation of the cloister.

Just some thoughts.

This needs a HUGE practicality check.
posted by Lauren, 1:50 PM

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