Definitions

religious orders

Enclosed religious orders

Enclosed religious orders of the Christian church have solemn vows with a strict separation from the affairs of the external world. The term cloistered is synonymous with enclosed. The "enclosure" is regulated by Catholic church law, and prevents members from going out of the religious house, and also prevents strangers from entering the monastery, convent or abbey. The stated purpose for such enclosure is to prevent distraction from prayer and the religious life. The ecclesiastical penalties for disobeying the rules of enclosure include excommunication.

Enclosed orders of men include the Cistercians and the Carthusians and enclosed orders of women include the Augustinian nuns, Dominican nuns, Carthusian nuns, the Carmelites and the Tyburn nuns.

The English word monk more properly refers to men in enclosed life, while the term friar more properly refers to men in monastic life who are active in the broader world (like Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians). Although the English word "nun" is often used to describe Christian women who have joined religious orders, strictly speaking, female church members are referred to as nuns only when they live in enclosure, otherwise they are "sisters" or "female clergy." The distinctions between the Christian terms monk, nun, friar, brother, and sister are sometimes easily blurred because some orders (such as the Dominicans or Augustinians) include nuns (who are enclosed) and sisters (who work in the broader world), as well as friars (who are not enclosed).

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