Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Covenant versus the Convent

Above is a picture of a convent. The following url sends to you a website that clearly demonstrates the committedness of a group of people when it comes to convents.

The following url leads one to the Anglican Covenant, at least the last draft of this document.
Here is at least one definition of a convent.

Originally signified an assembly of Roman citizens in the provinces for purposes of administration and justice. In the history of monasticism the word has two distinct technical meanings:

•A religious community of either sex when spoken of in its corporate capacity. The word was first used in this sense when the eremitical life began to be combined with the cenobitical. The hermits of an Eastern laura, living in separate cells grouped around that of their common superior, when spoken of collectively, were called a conventus. In Western monasticism the term came into general use from the very beginning and the technical phrase abbas et conventus signifies to this day the entire community of a monastic establishment.
•The buildings in which resides a community of either sex. In this sense the word denotes more properly the home of a strictly monastic order, and is not correctly used to designate the home of what is called a congregation. In addition to these technical meanings, the word has also a popular signification at the present day, by which it is made to mean in particular the abode of female religious, just as monastery denotes that of men, though in reality the two words are interchangeable. In the present article the word is taken chiefly in its popular sense. The treatment, moreover, is limited to those features which are common to all, or nearly all, convents, while peculiarities due to the special purpose, rule, or occupation of each religious order are explained in the pertinent article.

That definition is from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Here is another one:

“Convents” generally refer to houses where Roman Catholic women live under religious vows. They became common in Chicago and other industrial cities early in the nineteenth century. The first ones, like that established on Chicago's Wabash Avenue by Mother Agatha O'Brien and four other Sisters of Mercy in 1846, resembled the settlement houses of the 1890s. But before Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr were born, the Mercys and several other communities had begun building a network of services for the urban poor that included elementary and Sunday schools, orphanages and hospitals, employment bureaus and industrial schools, as well as the city's first Magdalen Asylum. Some of these mid-nineteenth-century institutions, such as Mercy Hospital and the House of the Good Shepherd, still exist. Thus, when Hull House opened in 1889, most Chicagoans would not have considered it extraordinary to see a group of women living among immigrants and working selflessly on their behalf. By 1889, Chicago had over 60 convents.

This is from the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Here is Christopher Wells definition of a covenant:

The notion of covenant is, of course, familiar not only from scripture but also from the vows we make at baptisms and ordinations, the various agreements between Anglican churches for purposes of mission, and from our ecumenical commitments with other Christian churches. In every case, to “covenant” with God and with one another means that we accept basic facts about the faith and the consequences of how we live according to shared principles, texts, and traditions. This fits with the literal meaning of the word covenant, which has two connotations: (a) to agree about something, and then (b) to act on that agreement by coming together or assembling in a visible way. (The origin is a Latin word, convenire, from which our English word, convene, derives.)

After reading all of both of these items what would YOU rather do? We could, as the ABC, Ridley Mr. Wells and a host of men want us to do. That would be to come together on a semi-regular basis and judge each other. Those provinces found wanting, you know, the ones that include the marginalized groups such as LGBT, handicapped, socio-economically downtrodden, most women, would be punished. Those provinces that are living the "godly life" like Nigeria, Uganda, Sydney, CANA, Fr. Kennedy, Archbishop Duncan would all get rewarded by becoming bishops and popes and things. Then, for a couple of days we could explore the scripture as written by "proper authority once given for all" and then go about our business all feeling much better about how we slew Satan.

That would be the covenant.

Or we could all form convents. We could come together in Christian communities all over the world to pray, to form schools and hospitals and orphanages and food shelters and single room occupancy homes to help those less fortunate than we. We could come together sometimes to pray and to worship God. We could pass the peace and receive the Eucharist all together and all for the love of Christ. We could be known by our faith through our good works.

The following is a picture of me in a nun's habit. Wouldn't the world Anglican Communion look better (and perhaps more stylish) if we all dressed like this?

So, now the question is back to you? Wouldn't you rather be in a convent than in the covenant?

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