Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WHEN LEGITMATE RENEWAL TURNS INTO DISASTEROUS DISINTEGRATION

Okay, I can see why some religious orders were called to update their habits, especially those that were non-cloistered and worked in schools, hospitals, and with the poor:

Mother Angelica prior to the Vatican II renewal:

Mother Angelica in the disintegration of Vatican II renewal:

Mother Angelica and the recovery of Catholic sensibilities:

Mother Angelica's temptation to join the LCWR:

Mother Angelic becomes a pirate:


MY COMMENTS FIRST: Dr. Jeff Mirus gives a good, brief account of why some women's religious orders needed renewal and Vatican II encouraged it. He also shows how a goodly number of these orders went from one extreme to the other and disintegrated into a post-Catholic feminism that legitimized "disloyal dissent" from not only the good of the order but from the faith, morals and canon laws of the Church. Of course even a 5th grader knows that there is no such thing as loyal dissent when it comes to the truths of God and the legitimate authority of the Church. In the areas of faith and morals of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church all dissent is disloyal.

There are parallels with this disintegration in women's religious life and in the seminary programs of the 1960's and 70's. Most of the problems can be traced to a grotesque iconoclasm of all things Catholic and substituting a post-Catholic ideology vapid and uninspiring. Hence the loss of new candidates uninspired by the stark ugliness of what so-called renewal replaced.

Even today, parishes that are leaning toward post-Catholicism may have lively parishes and worship like Unitarians do, but they aren't Catholic, they've become something else with a veneer of Catholicism. Just because there are pockets of post-Catholic (gnostic/pelagian)parishes is no indication of their success. Success in Catholicism is fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, living and deceased, Ordinary and Extraordinary.

Sisters in Crisis: The Definitive Guide

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( August 27, 2013 5:38 PM


Among the more important books released by Ignatius Press recently is an updated edition of Ann Carey’s Sisters in Crisis. Originally published in 1997, the initial study closed before the more dramatic efforts of the Vatican to reform women religious in the United States. The new 2013 edition, Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal, brings the chronicle up to date, including the Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious and the response to it, and the investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Carey’s work is no mere overview. It does not simply summarize the conclusions reached long ago by knowledgeable Catholic insiders. The author has done both comprehensive and meticulous research into the patterns of religious life in the United States between about 1950 and the present, enumerating the stresses and strains caused both by explosive growth in the mid-20th century and by the revolutionary secularization of religious culture as the century wore on. The reader gains a clear idea of why the Vatican was talking about the renewal of religious life even before the Second Vatican Council, why that renewal was very slow to be undertaken, and how a spirit of rebellion and dissolution overtook many religious communities after the Council, during the last third of the century.

Sisters in Crisis is divided into three parts. The first, “Post-Vatican II Sisters: Ready for Renewal or Revolution?”, portrays the state of religious life at the close of Vatican II. The second, “How Did All of This Happen”, explores the progressive indoctrination of women religious, the rise to dominance of those in rebellion against the Church, the first efforts of the Vatican to redirect this process through the spectacularly unsuccessful Quinn Commission in the 1980s, and the ultimate ideological transformation of mainstream religious leadership organizations. The third, “Where Do Sisters Go from Here?”, explores the triple crisis of contemporary female religious life in America (vocations, finances and the elderly), the apostolic visitation, and the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR—the text of which is included in an appendix...

...A juxtaposition of passages from earlier and later portions of the book will serve to illustrate the importance of the theme. First, religious life at the time of the Council:

…change was resisted by most women’s orders, which continued to follow practices needing reform. For example, in many orders, even in the early 1960s, sisters were required monthly to ask their superiors for permission to perform routine tasks such as bathing, obtaining toothpaste and soap, doing assigned work, and even praying. Some sisters needed permission for normal adult activities such as using the telephone, even when doing so was an implicit part of their job. Behind this practice of requesting permission was an interpretation of the vow of obedience in which everyday activities didn’t have merit unless they were done as acts of obedience. Thus, all actions, even daily routines that every adult must perform, came under the authority of the superior. (p. 30)

After this, some religious communities eventually began the long process of renewal called for by the Council and by subsequent popes. Carey identifies these groups as following a “traditional” model.

But a great many institutes flew off on an immense tangent of feminism and Modernism. Sadly, this won them the praise of the world while putting them at odds with the Catholic Faith and causing their numbers to plummet as dramatically as has ever been seen in history. Carey, who deliberately avoids unattractive labels, calls these groups “change-oriented”. Thus:

…the institutes of women religious that carried experimentation and renewal to extremes that were neither intended nor authorized by the Second Vatican Council are in decline. Statistics show that these change-oriented institutes have lost a greater percentage of their membership than the traditional institutes, for their average age is in the seventies. In these institutes, the lifestyle of the sisters evolved to a point at which it became impossible to distinguish sisters from their lay professional counterparts…. A myriad of problems have arisen in aging orders, including retirement funding, building maintenance, and even decisions about continuing the existence of the institute. Still, as these problems escalated in the twenty-first century, many leaders of women religious continued to be more willing to accept the inevitable demise of their institutes than to admit that they had made mistakes. (p. 325)

In between these two snapshots, an overworked and under-appreciated workforce of women religious lost nearly 75% of their numbers overall, including a whopping 96% of sisters who taught in schools. The path through this sweeping destruction was marked by countless horror stories, deliberate indoctrination in modern ideologies, a crushing loss of faith, and direct defiance of ecclesiastical authority.

And yet there is great hope for the institutes which, whether early or late, have followed the authentic path of renewal, and for new institutes founded upon the principles of renewal the Church has set forth. Almost uniformly, their vocations are growing rapidly. Their apostolates are, once again, expanding into the world.

It is all thoroughly chronicled and explained in this remarkable book. If you want to delve more deeply into the history of the life of women religious in the United States over the past sixty years, do not be deceived by propaganda from any other source. Ann Carey knows the real story, the complete story, and she tells it extraordinarily well.

16 comments:

Heywood Broun said...

How Ironic that you run this story today as I just received my copy of The Southern Cross last night with a lead story provided by Catholic News Service about the LCWR Assembly in Kissimmee Florida. It features a photo of a woman with tightly cropped hair in lay clothes raising her hand with a troubled expression on her face, and she is identified as a "Franciscan Sister."

The story simply regurgitates some polite remarks made by the Vatican Nuncio, who was in attendance and by bishop Sartain, the Vatican-appointed overseer of the LCWR. It also quotes her remarks, which concerned "Larger questions such as the ongoing implementation of the Second Vatican Council."

It wasn't really news. All it did was add to the ongoing liberal nun fatigue so many of us are stuck in. No one seems to get it: These "sisters" are on the fast-track to extinction while younger orders embracing tradition and fidelity to the Church are multiplying and attracting lots of young vocations. Do we hear about THEM in our diocesan newspapers? Why not?

Just look at any photos of the "Vatican II Nuns" and you see lay-clad embattled women still living out their sixties fantasies. Look at the new, younger nuns and you will see serene, joyous faces happy to serve the Church, instead of trying to usurp it. They attract us. These other sisters continue to be a vocations repellant.

Not trying to be rude. It's just the way it is. I wish our diocesan papers would quit trying to sell us a product that no one wants to buy any longer.

Gene said...

Well, I posted a couple of weeks ago a quote from one of the Sisters who spoke: "There is no cosmos without God and no God without cosmos. " And this gem, "...God is future...we give birth to God."

Anonymous said...

When I see stories like that in diocesan newspapers, I feel like someone in the editorial department is sending us a message:

THIS IS WHAT NUNS ARE. PERIOD.

YOU WILL ACCEPT IT.

THE DEBATE IS OVER.

Sounds kind of desperate to me.

Henry said...

In Tennessee we hear more about the younger vigorous orders like the Nashville Dominicans and a couple of other rather quite orthodox orders that have recently entered our diocese. Sounds like you're lagging behind the times in Georgia, at least regarding women religious? (Of course, we're behind in our own ways.)

Martha White said...

This is sort of like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Concerned Women for America. Concerned Women for America has at least as many members as NOW, and probably more. But if you watch any "mainstream" media outlet, they only report about NOW and their pro-abort at all costs agenda, as if Concerned Women for America didn't exist. The established "mainstream" Catholic diocesan media seems stuck in a similar vein. This probably isn't going to change until the biological solution is completed.

ytc said...

Most Southern dioceses in my experience are quite orthodox, especially when compared with their west coast and New England counterparts. For some reason, dioceses in Georgia and Florida tend to be the exceptions to that rule.

Pater Ignotus said...

ytc - I share your experience of the Church in the South. We are very middle-of-the-road when it comes to Catholicism.

It wasn't until I got to seminary (3 miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line, thanks be to God) that I started hearing about liturgical silliness from the Left and reactionary Right Wing groups.

Marc said...

Go to the Diocese of Biloxi Mississippi. The silliness from the left definitely took over there... I am dreading this Sunday's visit to that cesspool of error and abuse.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, don't mince your words, say what you really think!

Marc said...

It's really terrible there, Father.

As an example, during what purported to be the Offertory, the priest had all the children return from "Children's Church", come to his presider's chair, and hug him.

Then, the teenagers held hands with him around what purported to be the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer.

This is in addition to the usual suspects: stole outside the chasuble, shaking hands during the precession, Father's stand-up comedy bit as an introduction...

I did like how he had some woman get up at a microphone to introduce him like a rock star just before his entrance: "Ladies and Gentlemen! Today's celebrant is...!"

The second parish to which I went was only marginally better. The priest did a pretty long improvisational Eucharistic Prayer, left out some words...

A few years back, in a completely different part of that diocese near a university, we prayed for the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well, at least he's not celebrating the EF Mass!

Marc said...

Yes, that terrible Mass that we all must fight against or else we are Pelagians!

It seriously puts my faith in jeopardy to have to go to these sites masquerading as Masses. Someone should maybe look into fixing this situation. I think my parents would probably convert based on their experiences with us at St. Joseph, but this sort of thing keeps people away. There are real consequences to these shenanigans...

Sidenote - There was a brave priest saying the Traditional Mass in a very rural part of the diocese, but not anymore. I don't think that lasted very long unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Broun and had the same reaction when I received my copy. There was a mention on the front page about a month or so ago regarding summer camps with a photo of one of the Sisters of Mary from Ann Arbor, MI. I donate to them regularly and mailed them a copy. I would love for them to be invited into the Diocese of Savannah.

rcg said...

Marc, what does the bishop know of that situation? What is attendance like? Finally, have you thought of standing in the middle of that travesty and calling the preist out? What could they do but kick you out?

Marc said...

rcg, it isn't my diocese, so I don't really see it as my fight. Considering every parish has these aberrations, I assume the bishop has explicitly or implicitly approved of it.

Attendance is high at all three parishes to which I've gone. But, I am unsure of the effect the high tourist numbers might be having on the numbers I've witnessed.

I know at the main parish I described, the priest appears to be much loved for his efforts during Katrina, which is laudable. So I'd have a fight on my hands confronting him!

Again, it's not my fight. I meet my obligation and go about my business.

Joseph Johnson said...

Marc,
Some of the features that you described in that Mass are still happening in the Diocese of Savannah. An even more sad note is that there are still laypeople who think that Vatican II has not been implemented in their parish unless things such as you described are happening.

How do you counter the promotion of such practices when very few people are knowledgeable about the EF and about "reform of the reform" in the OF and Sacred Music? The very thought of too much continual exposure to such things really gives me a sick-hearted, hopeless feeling and makes me wish that my 13 year old child was already Confirmed so I could just "opt out" and resign to driving two hours each way every Sunday to the EF in either Savannah or Jacksonville (and give them my collection money as well . . ).