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Romano Amerio nails the problem with religious life…… April 18, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Interior Life, priests, religious, sadness, scandals, sickness.

……and, the Church.  Or at least those vast swaths of the Church which have fallen into all manner of error and disaster.

As a reminder, Romano Amerio was an Italian philosopher and devout Catholic who surveyed the changes the Church underwent in the 20th century in his seminal work, Iota Unum.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in the Faith, but most of all for those who feel or know that things are not right in the Church, and who wish to restore the Faith to its glory.  I below quote section 14o of Iota Unum:

As in the case of all parts of the ecclesial body[the Church], the crisis among religious is the result of an excesive conforming ot the world, and a taking up of the world’s positions because one has despaired of winning the world over to one’s own. [I can’t think of a single sentence that better encapsulates the collapse in the Faith over the past 50 years than that one.  Truly, that is the essence of the problem, a literal crisis of faith occurred, and many despaired, adopting the ways of the world in a desperate attempt to gain favor after they had lost that sense that WE – the Church –  are the agents of change, WE are the one’s who should be sought by the world, and not the other way around] The crisis is an alienation stemming from an incipient loss of one’s own essential nature, and from crossing over into what is other[It is a crisis of faith, a profound doubting that the Church is what Jesus Christ proclaims it to be.  Thus, souls embrace the world, and try to turn religious life and the entire Church into worldly affairs.  For, if the Church be not what Christ instituted it to be, there is nothing left but the world and its fallen ways] A by no means small or unimportant sign of this alientation is a change in the dress of members of religious orders, inspiried by a wish that it should no longer differ from that of secular persons. [pantsuits rule!] While it is symptomatic of the loss of the essence of religious life, or at least of the accidental qualities belonging to that essence, it is also a sign of servility. [Servility to what?  The world, and its ways]  It should not be forgotten that the sometimes extravagant singularity of religious dress was intended to show the singularity of the religious state, and was also an important sign of the Church’s liberty and its independence of styles and fashions.

Religious life is a style of living modeled on the evangelical counsels and is therefore objectively more excellent than common Christian life based on the Gospel’s precepts, since it is the option referred to by Christ when he says “If you would be perfect…..” (Matt 19:21). [YES!  There are different levels of Grace given, and there are forms of life that are higher than others.  The religious calling is higher than that of the lay life – but the responsibilities are also higher.  A priest bears an awesome responsibility for thousands of souls, responsibilities that a lay person does not have.  A religious similarly has higher responsibilities to go along with the greater gifts given.  I am sick of this false, revolution-inspired ‘egalitarianism’ that says “we’re all the same, no one is “better” than anyone else, we don’t want to make anyone feel bad or inferior!”  Bah!] The drift in reform in religious life today is parallel to the one governing the reform of the priesthood.  On the one hand there is the obliteration of the difference betweeen the sacramental priesthood and the priesthood of all believers;[a priest does not “preside” at Mass, he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  A lay person has no ability to do this whatsoever, no matter how many ‘lay pastoral associates’ prance around the altar] on the other, of the difference between a state of perfection and the common state.  What is specific to religious life is washed out or watered down in thought and behavior.

Since man’s life is a flux, and the human will perpetually wanders into opposition to the fixed and abiding requirements of the law, a state of life implies a fixed order within which that flux can be shaped.  A fixed character can then be given to life by the commitment whereby the will binds itself forever to that fixed order, through the triple vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. A falling away from that fixed state is produced by weakening the observance of those vows, and weakining them not by contingent and arbitrary decisions on the part of individuals, but precisely through a canonical relaxation laid down in general chapters called to effect reform.

————————————————– End Quote —————————————

Amerio then goes not to note the many ways in which religious observance has declined, and in many cases collapsed.  From replacing the great prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, with TV watching, or eating sumptuous fare instead of the severe fasting and dietary restrictions of the past, to the foresaking of common life for life in one’s or two’s (which is especially troubling, since some of these two’s are not chaste) and the abandonment of their prime spiritual mission for worldly ones, observance of religious life in many orders has been almost totally destroyed.  It is not a “reform” to live like a secular soul.  If that’s what you feel called to, fine, but don’t destroy the great gift of religious life, inspired by Christ’s own counsel as well as that of St. Paul, so you can live just like your secular neighbor.  That is the foundational reason for the collaspe of so many religious orders.  They are no longer sufficiently distinguished from “regular” life to make committing oneself to such a life worthwhile. 

'Modern' sisters

That is why so many of these orders who have gutted themselves since Vatican II are in the process of rapid suicide.  The vast majority of these worldly orders simply will not exist in 20 years or so – all the old members who did the wreckovation will be gone by then.  But there are other orders, who either never lost the essence of religious life or who have grown up since the destruction began, who do observe the traditional aspects of religious life and how are attracting many vocations, and who will be around in 20 years, in growing numbers.  We must pray for them, for as exciting and hopeful as their presence is, they are still very small in numbers.  The best way to help vocations is to pray for them and to live your faith very visibly for your children, making it the core of your and their life.  God will take care of the rest.

Sadly, Amerio’s initial point can be applied to many in the Church – due to a deficit of faith and religious sentiment, many have embraced the world and called it “reform” or “the spirit of Vatican II,” or whatever.  It is sad but also somewhat hilarious that all these “priest’s movements” sweeping parts of Europe (Austria, Germany, Belgium) are merely spouting the same tired heresies that have been brought up by those with a troubled faith for centuries, even millenia (and speaking of tired, most of these priests are near to retirement age – this is sort of a last gasp for them).  The demand for allowing lay people to host some kind of pseudo-Mass without a priest is not new – it’s at least 700 years old.  The demand for the acceptance of those in adulterous divorced relationships to the Blessed Sacrament is at least 1800 years old. 

There is nothing new under the sun, or Son – those whose faith declines tend to have difficulty accepting what the Church believes, then they lash out and demand that the Church change its beliefs to suit their preferences.   Such is as old as the Church itself – there were heretical segments of the Church who refused Apostolic authority as early as the AD 50s  – a mere twenty years after the Ascension.  The only recent change is that many in the hierarchy of the Church have seemed to accept the heretical movements as good, as some kind of reform.  It’s a crisis of faith among the bishops that is new in this latest period of scandal and division.  This is not my opinion – Amerio documents this extensively. 

The model



1. Wowzer! LCWR to get oversight and desperately needed reform « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - April 18, 2012

[…] of Vatican II and its ostensible “spirit” that led to all the grave abuses and problems I mentioned earlier today.  And speaking of, talk about Providence – I just read Amerio’s damning condemnation […]

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