Friday, September 03, 2010

The main difference between a mendicant friar and a monk.

Friars or mendicants professed poverty and did not possess property.  Later on the orders did own property communally.  Nevertheless, the friars were free to move about outside cloister and evangelize or teach or work in an apostolate.  Though they were assigned to different friaries or convents, they did not promise stability to a particular place.  Originally mendicants lived on alms and the generosity of the faithful. 
Monks and hermits on the other hand are characterized by their stability in one monastery, abbey, priory, or hermitage.  The particular congregation or community usually maintains ownership of their property and are generally self-governing and self-sufficient.
I think that's about it - if I missed anything, feel free to add to it.
Oh!  Oh!  BTW - If you are a young man and thinking about monastic life, try entering a monastery in Europe where they make beer...  It may be more comforting than coffee during dark nights.  ;)

Of the world’s 171 Trappist monasteries seven produce beer (six in Belgium and one in The Netherlands).


  1. No, you "nailed it"...once again!
    And if I may be so bold:
    contemplative men religious, according to the Western tradition, have either lived in abbeys, priories, or "convents" (the mendicant Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites)...
    this business of strict papal enclosure has only been for the women monastics (for various political, social and religious reasons)...the recent papal document on the enclosure of Contemplative Nuns speaks of the "radical" nature of this "ascetical" practice for Nuns completely devoted to the contemplative life" as a part of their feminine vocation as "enclosed gardens"...
    Carthusian monks and other kinds of eremetical/anchoritic groups have lived a very radical separation from the world;
    but most contemplative communities of men are, in some ways, because of the nature of the priesthood,
    open to caring for the needs of souls.
    Just my two cents.
    You're doing a great job educating us all in these the East, monks are monks...but in our Western tradition, all kinds of delineations have been made, both canonically and theologically.
    It's important to understand these things.
    Especially if you're benefactors to monasteries; stability is most important in all of this...we have to be so careful about how the money, hard-earned and precious to the faithful, is spent.

  2. Thanks Father - I added a piece since you posted your comment. May I suggest your community begin to brew beer or something harder? I saw a piece the other nite on home distilleries. LOL! (I'm actually serious.)

  3. Beer...something "harder"...I'm on it:<)!

  4. NP--good point...

    At our local Trappist men's monastery--the priests do offer confession and spiritual direction to "outsiders," and we are welcome to join them in Mass and their Chants. They also have a small gift shop but every time I have been there there is a priest running the cashier--I think mainly because folks often would like their purchased items blessed. There is very little outside interaction with the brothers. About the only time I have been able to speak with a brother was at the small reception given at the conclusion of one of the monk's funerals...

    I do remember a few years back I was in the gift shop...I was the only one there and I was chatting with the priest for a was a hot summer day and one of the brothers was returning from his work in the barn and stepped inside the gift shop to cool off in the air conditioning and get a drink of water before the Chant. He had on his work habit, but did have a 49ers football team baseball cap to protect his shaved head from the hot sun. I remarked that the 49ers was my dad's favorite team, and he smiled and said his too, and that he now followed them by the paper since he couldn't watch tv or listen to the radio. I think the priest made a face to him as he then said "I'm not supposed to be chatting with pretty young ladies," got a bottle of water out of the fridge and departed. I felt bad for getting him into trouble.


  5. Sara - that's a cute story. It is also monk-speak for getting out-a-there. Aren't they polite and charitable. I should have entered there. Those guys are very practical - it is the hallmark of trappist life.

  6. Sara: Wish you coulda met Fr. Pius at New Melleray Abbey, Iowa (Terry can vouch for this)...he would have fed you Caramels (from the Trappistine Nuns), told you saints' stories and given you relics for you to venerate! And he would bless everything you bought in the giftshop...
    What a loving monk! Jesus give him eternal light and rest!

  7. Yep - Father is right - he was incredibly kind and humble. A tear, tracing my finger down my cheek. He makes me love Irish people.

  8. Terry: Fr. Pius makes me love the Irish, as much I'd like to smack the hell outta 'em:<)!

  9. We have a wonderful Trappist priest--Fr Pat...unfortunately he is getting rather thin and frail, and has the very soft "monks' voice" which sometimes makes it hard to hear what he says..but what a doll. Very holy priest, and they way he handles everything during Mass--very kind and loving.

    Fr--yep my 1/4 Irish does get me in a peck of trouble..between the 1/4 Irish (temper) andthe 1/4 Norwegian (stubbornness) I sure am a piece of work...

    That's why I like Irish priests...all I have to do when I set foot in the confessional is say "Irish"..and the priest nods his head in understanding.. :) "Ah, yes..."

    But I can put away a glass or two of good whiskey without any ill effects :)


  10. Sara: I'm afraid I can put "away" four or five shots of "whatever" and not feel the effects...don't tell my Vicar of Priests...I'll be off to "Guest House" before you can say "Bob's your uncle"...
    :<)...but I digress...
    the Trappist/Benedictines are a great lot (unless they're pederasts...sheesh!)...anyway...theRule of Saint Benedict is not only a "school of prayer" but also the the "school of sinners"...
    it is really a compilation of the Gospel and the early teachings of the monastic life; the Carmelites...well the women are great; the men...won't comment;
    stick with the Benedictines in whatever form...
    that's my take on it;
    and take it for whatever it's worth.
    After all,
    well. anyway...:)!

  11. Terry: Many of the posters at Fr.Z's aren't "getting it"...
    I wish you could have some kind of "influence" there...
    "traditional-looking"="authentic"...I have no idea what exactly is going on in Wyoming; I'm not the Bishop nor the Vicar for Religious;
    but this absolute "acceptance" of whatever looks traditional as being the "real thing" just bugs the shit outta me...
    I could be VERRRY wrong, here;
    God knows, I've been very wrong before...but this just makes me wonder what is going on here?
    I know Fr. John Mary Burns...

  12. bugs me too...

    I like Fr Z's entries...I learn lots from them..I'll read the comments and try not to take them too personally..I was flamed on the blog a couple of years ago from the RadTraddies saying that since I was a "convert" and not raised a "cradle Catholic" that I had no idea what "real" Catholicism is..and that my only place in the church is to iron altar linens..

    Yeah many holy saints and holy priests nowadays were/are converts?? (I actually hate that word).

    I serve my parish, my priest, my Carmelite community, and my Pope. Maybe what makes it a bit easier is that us Catholics are small minority here in the American West of Utah and you take what you can get. RadTraddies who don't like what I do can get bent. It saddens me to see and read the division. Good natured joshing is one thing--like the Jesuit jokes--but when it turns mean-spirited that's when cooler heads need to step in.


  13. Sara: Don't let the bastards get you down;
    You just go, girl! (Don't mean this in an inappropriate way)...
    I get so disgusted and absolutely discouraged by a LOT of the RadTrad goin's on...we live in the freacking' Twentifirst Century , for heaven's sake...we do what we can with what we gots...get a life!

  14. I know Fr. John Mary Burns too!

  15. Thanks, Terry.
    Fr. John Mary Burns is a good man and priest.
    I was directed to him in 1978 by Sr. Immaculata (where SHE is, I have no idea...)...
    I visited the Amery Carmelite hermitage of Sisters in 1981(then under Sr. Immaculata's charge) superior offered Holy Mass there...a Sister from the Sioux City Carmel, which I had met was there...she's no longer there, I guess) we're still in contact with Sr. Christine (a diocesan hermitess)...a really sound gal.
    Carmelites, as Thom indicated of Franciscans, are a really "different" bunch.
    That's why we have embraced Benedictine spirituality and Rule...'stabilitas'...otherwise, it's just crazy!!


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