In the habit of praying

The Baltimore Sun has an interesting series at the moment on “Hidden Maryland”, various cultural aspects that would normally be overlooked. It has a piece up at the moment on the Carmeltie religious order, which I think is a nice way of showing how certain institutions can stay close to their historical roots while at the same time finding ways to make themselves more relevant to the current day:

For 185 years, the nuns practiced strict seclusion. They wore habits and veils, stayed behind grates when interacting with the public and rarely left the grounds.

Then came the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, which sought to modernize Roman Catholicism.

Baltimore Carmel, like many others, adapted. To some, it was a relief.

“I was fine with the old ways at the time, but the habits were heavy and hot, we looked like penguins, and I still have bald spots from the veils,” says a chuckling Sister Barbara Jean LaRochester, 80, who joined in the 1950s. “I’m glad we left those days behind.”

I have a fondness for monasteries, though it doesn’t have anything to do with Bede. It’s something to do with the quietness and pace of life, which may be a quietness and slow pace that exists only in my head for all I know.

2 thoughts on “In the habit of praying

  1. I remember a Carmelite Convent in Ranelagh when I was growing up in 60’s – 70’s. We used to go there for the Holy Week devotions. Just before the devotions you could here a hustling of feet and if you looked over to the grid you could see the nuns coming in. Then at Communion time, the priest would go over to the grid to give Communion to them. As a child it was fascinating.Now I feel privileged to have experienced this.
    My Mum lost an umbrella one year and thought she might have left it in the Convent Chapel.
    So went called to the convent and spoke to a nun whom we never saw through a grid. She said that they had found an umbrella and she gave it to us by means of a device that was like a upright cylinder where she put the umbrella in and then turned the cylinder around so it’s opening was at our side of the petition. This would have been in the 60’S or early 70’s. Sadly they moved out in 1975 after being there since 1788.

  2. Hi Eamon,

    Thank you for sharing your story. We’ve run a couple of pieces about enclosed orders in the Examiner in recent years but for the most part the congregations have either merged, closed, or moved away so it’s nice to know that some part of their history is living on.

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