“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” – The Rule of St. Benedict
Since I’ve started blogging here at South, I mentioned in a post regarding my first Korean church service that I am a third-order Benedictine postulant, on track to become a third-order nun. Since that post, I’ve received a few comments and questions regarding what it means to be “third order.” Since most people tend to associate monks and nuns with cloistered communities and Catholicism, it can be difficult to understand what it means to be a nun in the world outside of both a convent and the Catholic Church.
What? This is usually the first question. Long story short: In the olden days, there were first orders (for celibate, cloistered men), second orders (for celibate, cloistered women), and the third-order (celibate single or married individuals outside monastery walls). Currently, I am a third-order postulant (Latin for to ask) within the Benedictine charism (in theology, this is a good gift from God). In a phrase, I’m a non-cloistered, celibate/chaste (pick your poison) female seeking the monastic life and may marry if the occasion arises. As a Benedictine, I strive to live a life of obedience, conversion of life, and stability.
Who? This is the second question: Who is running this show? I am a postulant with the Company of Jesus, a Benedictine/Franciscan monastic community that “holds to the teachings and forms of the Anglican Church.” If I am correct, we are currently affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). However, one does not have to be Anglican to join the Order. One may come from any denomination, but must first review a Credenda or list of beliefs held by the Order.
When? I’ve been asked, “When did you make this decision?” I’ve been enamored by the idea of monastic life: working, praying, and worshiping in a set community. However, as a Protestant, these options aren’t as available to me as they are to discerning Catholics. You don’t go out and find Protestant monasteries all over the place. So, last fall, I had many discussions with friends and after Easter Vigil in April 2012, I decided to make an application as a Benedictine postulant to the Company of Jesus.
Where? The Order has brothers and sisters all over the world.
Why? Because I love Jesus. Not in the “he’s my boyfriend” way, but in a “Jesus is Lord” kind of way. I want nothing more than my life to be molded to the shape of Christ. The monastic life, with it’s ordered ways of prayer and service, offers me a way to do just that. Honestly, I’ve never experienced such joy in my religion since joining the Order. It has given my faith a body in which to act and serve.
So, like, how are you going to be a postulant in South Korea? Sure, there’s no one here making sure I’m accountable, but I’m accountable to the Lord. I make a habit of saying my morning and night offices (using a virtual Book of Common Prayer) which supplements my already existing prayer life. I also make a habit of reading Scriptures each day and studying the Rule of St. Benedict. When I return home, I’ll then be ready to become a third-order nun. However, the training doesn’t stop there. Each day requires growth in Christ.
Are you a missionary in South Korea? No, I’m working with the US Department of State, but I do try to live my life in a Christ-like manner. My mother always says that I might be the only Bible that anybody reads.
You know that if you observe Lent and use prayer books that you’re not sincere, right? Wrong. Go read this post.
Are you changing religions? I think you mean “Are you Catholic now?” The answer is no, but I do follow several Catholic organizations on Twitter.
Pax (and back to your regularly scheduled programming).