Sunday, April 29, 2012

In The Midst Of My Doubts

Last week, on the day when the Vatican released the results of its investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80 percent of women’s religious orders in this country, I received emails from several Catholic sisters. All described themselves as saddened, stunned or demoralized by the Vatican document, which severely criticized the LWCR in a number of areas. Catholic sisters are my heroes. They have been my teachers, spiritual directors, mentors, bosses and friends. I can barely begin to describe the admiration I have for these women, many of them now in their 70s and 80s, and for what that they have done for God, for the church, for what Catholics call the “people of God,” and for me.
When I was a young Jesuit working in Nairobi, Kenya, for example, two elderly Maryknoll sisters patiently listened to my worries about living in the developing world, shared some of their own experiences of years in ministry in remote villages, and encouraged me to “push on,” as they say in East Africa. 
When my father was dying of cancer ten years ago, one Religious of Jesus and Mary sister took a four-hour train ride to visit him in the hospital for an hour, stayed overnight at a nearby convent, and the next morning took the train home, for another four-hour journey. When I thanked her, she thanked me for the “honor” of letting her come. And during a difficult spiritual crisis, one Sister of St. Joseph helped me to find God in the midst of my doubts, and was even able to get me to smile. “God did all the work,” she said, when I thanked her, “not me.”


Sawyer said...

Why, oh why, do so many commentators who dislike the Holy See's actions against the LCWR misinterpret it as an attack on the religious sisters in the US? The Holy See's document is aimed exclusively at the LCWR; in other words, it is aimed at the organized leadership of the conference, which in its meetings and through its featured speakers and agendas has objectively departed from and failed to support Catholic faith. The Holy See has not condemned religious sisters in the US in general. If the LCWR were to disband, while keeping all the member religious communities intact, the Holy See's recent document would be moot. That alone proves that the Holy See is not persecuting women religious in the US. Women religious are not the problem; the LCWR is the problem.

Maria said...

For anyone who might be confused about why some nuns do nothing but pray 24/7 for priests, Fr. James Martin, and the heretical notions to which he is wedded, ellucidates the concept.

St. Cyprian (210-258), Bishop of Carthage in Africa and Martyr, tells us how cunning and able the Enemy is:

“The Enemy, seeing his idols abandoned and his temples and haunts deserted by the ever growing numbers of the faithful, devised a fresh deceit, using the Christian name itself to mislead the unwary. He invented heresies and schisms so as to undermine the faith, to corrupt the truth, to asunder our unity. Those whom he has failed to keep in the blindness of their old ways he beguiles, and leads them up a new road of illusion. He snatches people away from within the Church herself, and while they think that coming close to the light they have not done with the night of the world, he plunges them suddenly into darkness of another kind. They still call themselves Christians after abandoning the Gospel of Christ and the observance of His law; though walking in darkness they think they still enjoy the light.”

Maria said...

He says to him again after the resurrection, “Feed my sheep.” It is on him that He builds His Church, and to him that He entrusts the sheep to feed. And although He assigns a similar power to all the Apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive any man his sins, they shall be forgiven him; if you retain any man’s sins, they shall be retained.” - yet, in order that the oneness might be unmistakable, He established by His own authority a source for that oneness having its origin in one man alone.”

“A primacy is given to Peter, and it is thus made clear that there is but one Church and one Chair.”

“If a man does not hold to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the truth? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?”

“Now this oneness we must hold firmly and insist on—especially we who are bishops and exercise authority in the Church—so as to demonstrate that the episcopal power is one and undivided too. Let none mislead the brethren with a lie, let none corrupt the true content of the faith by a faithless perversion of the truth.”

A heart felt thank you to St. Cyprian.

mcasey said...

It's not so much the shock of seeing the sisters attacked, but the bizarre choice to do this now when the male church hierarchy has so foully betrayed the trust of the people. The scandal of facilitating the abuse scandal over so many decades is a dreadful, dangerous blow to the Church. The pews are nearly empty because of it.
Why go after the few Church members not connected to child abuse instead of looking in the mirror at the actual problem that hurt so many people? It's a good red herring, but seems pretty sad in light of the depth of the real problem. What does St. Cyprian say to that level of self-deceit?

Anonymous said...

"one Chair"

Cyprian wasn't espousing infallibility.

Maria said...

The above excerpt is from his discourse on the THE UNITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Anonymous said...

Unity, not infallibility. That notion of infallibility would be quite foreign.