gathered for spiritual change

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 20, 2006

Rich Leonardi calls our attention to a notice on the website of Cincinnati's Sisters of Charity -- not to be confused with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity -- announcing March 25th as the World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination.

Can't help but think there's a problem here somewhere.

What does it mean for professed women religious -- whose vows only make sense in, and only have validity in virtue of, the structures of authority of the Roman Catholic Church -- to pray for a change in that which the same Church has definitively declared to be unchangeable? The mental act required to make this prayer obliges them to hop outside the Church long enough to express the intention, and then hop back inside again when (as they conceive) the prayer would be granted. It can't be done. Yet we all know this continual flip-flopping of spiritual allegiance is the norm, not the exception, for a certain generation of religious sisterhoods.

Sisters of Charity photo: un-renewed pre-conciliar religious life

Notwithstanding the doctrinal incoherence, it's plain that these gals have come a long way from the sponge-on-the-fevered-brow model of the corporal works of mercy. Their structural justice page informs us that they're playing at the Big Table. The Sisters of Charity feel themselves challenged

  • To design methods of non-violent challenges to patriarchy
  • To empower the prophetic voices of those advocating alternative world views
  • To collaborate with other groups promoting transformation of dominant structures
  • To create alternative ways of being church e.g. alternative forms of liturgy

OK, one might find a residuum of good will in the midst of the progressivist cant, but it's so pointlessly squandered. Theological considerations aside, who would deliver more of a shock -- a needed shock -- to the complacencies of the materialist culture in which we live: the emancipated anti-patriarchal woman religious of 2006, or the low-profile, 1956-model Bride of Christ?

Sisters of Charity photo: fully renewed post-conciliar religious life

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 21, 2006 11:58 AM ET USA

    I wonder what card game the good nuns are playing. Some of the options make me shudder!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 11:36 PM ET USA

    Pete - I'm a sinner and I wouldn't hesitate pulling the "lever of suppression" to eliminate this organization. Religious orders exist to give glory to God and service to the Church. When these priorities are no longer served the religious orders need to be suppressed. It is perfectly clear that the doors of this and other similar orders should have been closed years ago.

  • Posted by: Sir William - Mar. 20, 2006 10:48 PM ET USA

    Thank God that they are as spiritually sterile as their married, contracepting counterparts are physically. Their shrill whining will drive away the young, who are attracted to the True Church and the order will die out. Poor Elizabeth Ann Seton is probably like Rachel, weeping for her children who are no more. Don't worry, St E, others in very traditional congregations are taking their places in growing numbers, in great faith, hope and joy -- oh yes, and in habits and veils.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 9:08 PM ET USA

    This notion that one can have one foot in the Church and the other outside is too prevalent among the laity. When we have nuns leading the way, they need to be reminded of the Lord's words about those who give scandal. After all, women religious have a privileged place in the Church and therefore have an obligation to give a good example. But leave it to nuns to tear down what their foundresses and predecessors labored so hard to build up.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 8:18 PM ET USA

    My big fat sinful mouth wants to shout, "Throw them out!" "Tell them to obey or leave!" But there is a soft, tiny, imperceptible voice saying, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." "Hate the sin, but love the sinner." We MUST pray for these nuns/women, and hope they will find the forgiveness of Jesus before their deaths.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 7:38 PM ET USA

    It's not too late to catch their "Labyrinth Spring Equinox Celebration" advertised on their "Spirituality Center" page.

  • Posted by: NonSumDignus - Mar. 20, 2006 6:46 PM ET USA

    I see that these Sisters, along with so many other congregations of women, have incorporated the "labyrinth" into their spirituality. There is a picture of women walking the labyrinth at their "Spirituality Center" on their Web site ( I'm afraid that rather than leading to spiritual enlightenment (or whatever the goal of such an exercise is supposed to be) it's become a sad and ironic symbol of a group which appears to have lost its way.

  • Posted by: Web Doctor - Mar. 20, 2006 5:19 PM ET USA

    As these orders struggle to drum up vocations, they might do well to remember that it is possible to be a member of a feminist, liberal action group and still have the money and the sex. Because outside of the money and the sex, what differences are we talking about here? Anyone who has the gumption to join this order must either be: a.) betting that they will inherit the order within 20 years, and restore it to its former glory; or b.) insane.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 5:05 PM ET USA

    How did those Virginia Slims cigarettes ads go... "You've come a long way baby!" That's right... We consider it good NOW when something has chosen to die.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 4:42 PM ET USA

    Perhaps we should recite the Prayers for the Dead over them.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 2:01 PM ET USA

    This is sad, in a riduculous way. It reminds me of the old grandmother who raised 7 children as a mother, loved her husband till his death, and then, near the end of her life, decided to make a move to the fast lane. Frequenting Las Vegas, drinking and gambling with old ladies. And even fancying herself with a younger man to have some fun. It's both ridiculous, but sad because of the likely direction of her soul. So much lost grace! Whoa to those who remain in obstinant sin at the end!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 1:53 PM ET USA

    RPP - It is unlikely that the "bishop" will contradict HERself. Please refer to: oh, by the way, their bishopry is valid because they got it notarized and everything!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 1:47 PM ET USA

    Gerda Lerner is quoted on that page. Check out the last bullet and last paragraph of this link: It is unsurprising that the sisters would look to a communist for inspiration on deconstructing the See of Peter. It will be satisfying to know such paths fail.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 1:34 PM ET USA

    Why is it that women religious in habit appear beautiful and feminine no matter what their age - and those out of habit look like old men? I cannot for the life of me understand why they would forsake thier beautiful veils and habits for such plain clothing. In forsaking the habit, one wonders...what else to they forsake? Obedience, humility, unworldliness are just the first things that come to mind.

  • Posted by: rpp - Mar. 20, 2006 12:24 PM ET USA

    Oh and hey, who is that Bishop who is going to speak at the "World Day of Prayer for God to contradict Himself"?

  • Posted by: rpp - Mar. 20, 2006 12:23 PM ET USA

    I think these people may need to read "Ascent of Mt. Carmel" or "Imitiation of Christ". Opps! Those were written by men. I guess, they are stuck with "The Way of Perfection" and "Interior Mansions" by St. Therese of Avila. Heck, even "The Story of a Soul" by St. Therese Lisieux would be good. The point is they need to learn detachment, as they are obviously attached to the sin of pride.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2006 11:31 AM ET USA

    "The archdiocese has offered no encouragement to this event and does not intend to do so in view of the fact that the Church's teaching about the ordination of women to the priesthood is clear and definitive." - Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk. This is exactly what a bishop should do as a shepherd of Christ! Archbishop Pilarczyk did not encourage "dialogue" or espouse "tolerance." He simply said you do not have my approval because ROME HAS SPOKEN! Roma locuta, causa finita est.