Definition: Living a life of permanent separation from the outside world according to a solemn vow. The cloister is the enclosure or structure that restricts the movement of the monk or nun, and is often referred to as a monastery or convent. The purpose for this separation is to live a life of prayerful contemplation apart from worldly distractions. Typically, an area of the residence is set apart for the reception of visitors. According to the Council of Trent, those cloistered were permitted to leave the compound only in the case of fire, leprosy, or contagious diseases. Many religious orders do not require a vow of separation.
Discussion: God is very serious about the performance of vows. Vows must be lawful, must not hinder godly living, and must be able to be performed. It is not possible for a person to know if they are able to maintain a vow of lifelong celibacy or separation. It is a sin to enter into such vows. Also, the Church has historically emphasized that membership in religious orders contributes to the merit necessary for salvation. Since we are saved through faith in Christ alone, this is an erroneous idea. There is also the danger of homosexual attraction inherent in lifelong unisex separateness – even more likely to occur in an atmosphere of required submission with no means of escape.
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