As good an explanation for the collapse of religious life as I’ve read July 6, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, history, paganism, Papa, religious, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church.
It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me why consecrated religious proved so susceptible to the revolution that swept through the Church in the mid-20th century. From rapid growth and solid orthodoxy to embrace of all manner of heresy, childish mythology, bitter hatred of authority and finally, total collapse…….it is such a remarkable devolution that it beggars the imagination. Of all the segments of the Church, it is quite likely that no segment has experienced a more thorough and radical change than religious life. Collectively, religious have gone from being one of the greatest bulwarks of the Church to one of its gravest liabilities.
Of course there are exceptions. But how was it that hundreds of thousands of souls who had felt this great call from God, and cooperated sufficiently with it to pledge their entire lives to serving God in His Church (as it once was), over a period of a few years came to reject not just that call but the entire rationale behind it, going from lovers of traditional piety and devotion to radical leftist apparatchiks? Yes embrace of heresy and the wiles of the devil were key elements, but why did religious (and, to nearly the same degree, priests) prove so such easy prey to these age old temptations?
Donna Steichen offers some compelling reasons in her book Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. I think much of the below correlates with what faithful Catholics already know, but she does posit that the rot set in earlier than some may have thought, and she also offers evidence of why religious proved unusually susceptible to the revolution in Church and culture. All quotes below from Chapter 5 The Domino Effect (my emphasis and comments):
During the first half of the twentieth century, nuns were almost universally esteemed as living signs of Christian contradiction to the world. Though most women’s religious communities now seem to be in terminal decline, reverential awe toward nuns still lingers among lay Catholics, so indelible is their old image and so recent their transformation into religious revolutionaries. How did they get from there to here? [I can attest that I have long had a great admiration – I think “reverential awe” sums it up nicely – for orthodox, habited women religious. There is something amazing for me as a man to see women set their natural charms aside, not to mention their calling towards being a spouse and mother, and live a life of such enormous self-denial and offering of herself to Christ and the Church. I think we can have no idea in this life what an enormous gift such women make of themselves (and become), and how much the loss of each individual vocation is such an enormous wound to the Church and world. I pray fervently for more holy vocations to religious life, especially faithful, traditional nuns]
The feminism that is devouring them is an opportunistic disease, insinuated into congregations reeling in pain and confusion from encounters with “new theology.” And while their disintegration reached crisis proportions only after the Second Vatican Council, the original infection was contracted in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the Sister Formation movement began urging that American nuns earn the same academic qualifications as their secular peers. [It must be remembered, this initiative was strongly pushed by Pope Pius XII, as well] That plausible idea floundered in practice because American higher education, Catholic and non-Catholic, was increasingly contaminated with error, especially int he disciplines nuns usually pursued: education, psychology, catechetics and theology. John Dewey’s secularist theories, generic skepticism and a succession of popular psychological notions held sway at teacher’s colleges, while neo-modernism was sweeping into Catholic universities from Europe. First exposed to neo-modernist theology in college classes, nuns proved highly susceptible…….
……..When the sisters went back to school, qualities that had been among their virtues contributed to their undoing. They proved to be the same submissive, uncritical, naive, and assiduous students at State U – and, alas, at Catholic U – that they had been in the days of orthodoxy back at dear old Mount St. Swithin’s. But what they were taught was notably different, and few had the sophistication to strain out the camels. Along with educational theory and remedial teaching methods, many swallowed the neo-modernist reinterpretation of Scripture and catechetics, the new morality and new psychology, already prevailing among avant-garde professors. The result was a rapid group conversion in worldview, quickly translated back home into a new vocabulary, new policies and the new excuses that eventually became cliches in the deconstruction. Even before the death of Pope Pius XII, many Catholic grammar schools had ceased to require student attendance at daily Mass, explaining that routine is deadly; if the children attended less often, the Mass would “mean more to them.” [What a crock. It’s at least as likely they would come to think the Mass not very important, since their day no longer revolved around it. But silly, bald assertions like this were extraordinarily commonplace during that time, and the obedience that had – for many good reasons, and some not so good – been drilled into Catholics as pretty near the prime virtue left entire generations completely unprepared to fight for the Faith they have received. If some radical change came from someone they perceived as being in authority, the vast majority went along, no questions asked – lay or religious. I would say unquestioning obedience to human authority, rather than to the Doctrine of the Faith, played as big a part in the revolution’s spread as any other single factor. But in a hierarchical Church, and especially one that had been under siege to schismatic and heretical sects for centuries, unthinking, uncritical obedience was hardly surprising. It also points to the moral quandaries we are increasingly faced with as the revolution seems to determined to advance to a new level right now.] During the late 1950s, nuns in classes I attended were already beginning to refer to Scripture as “mythology,” explaining to questioners that “calling it ‘myth’ doesn’t mean it isn’t true, because a myth is a story that communicates a kind of truth.” [Again, what a crock. And something even a 5th grader could walk away from concluding: Church = myth, myth = fake, ergo Church = fake. Fulton Sheen noted nearly 50 years ago that Catholic schools and universities were where faith goes to die.]The Second Vatican Council was not the cause, but the precipitating occasion, for a revolution already under way. [I think that’s right, to a degree. But Vatican II codified, in many respects, revolutionary ideals, while also providing an awesome novelty: formal Church documents seeming at war with themselves, with nebulous, easily abused statements following statements of relative orthodoxy. As even many Cardinals have noted, various documents of Vatican II can be read in an orthodox or revolutionary manner, depending on one’s disposition. And when you have princes of the Church contradicting one another on the meaning of conciliar documents, what are the laity to do? This is an unprecedented characteristic of Vatican II compared to any of the preceding Church Councils, in that no Dogmas or anathemas were proclaimed and everything is left open to interpretation. The Council ultimately followed a Hegelian “thesis-antithesis” approach, with the “synthesis” to be worked out later. Cardinal Kasper is very clear that his own proposals attacking the moral edifice of the Church are an attempt at that “synthesis.”]
……..Collapsing orders have tended to follow a standard sequence. First, exposure to neo-modernist theology produced a counter-conversion, away from religious conviction (the belief that God is absolute Truth, that the Roman Catholic Church is His agent to reveal that Truth), to acceptance of secular values (autonomy and self-definition, freedom, commitment to secular issues, affirmation of themselves as “change agents” [which, Steichen shows, really means worship of the self] ). Laxity in community prayer, especially Eucharistic prayer, soon followed. Next came permissive new rules and refusal to obey ecclesiastical authorities. [On those few occasions when ecclesiastical authority has intervened, instead of trumpeting and championing the revolution] Finally, feminism flowed in to fill the void where faith had lived. “I will not serve” has become their common message. Examples can be cited in a wide range of communities.
As I said, I think that’s about as good an explanation as I have read, and could apply equally well to male as female religious, though in reality, most of the men’s orders never really overcame the original infection of modernism and were generally (Jesuits) the leaders in the revolution.
Readers are probably aware of St. Alphonsus’ old adage (perhaps borrowed from Aquinas): “one bad book can ruin a monastery.” In the pre-conciliar period, Church authorities were encouraging, and in some cases even demanding, religious be exposed not just to one bad book but to entire libraries full of them. It must be said that Pius XII, who many view as the “last good Pope” (simply because he had nothing to do with the Council, I reckon), was a prime promoter of women religious’ exposure to Catholic and secular wolves. He certainly did so with good intentions in mind, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with. Vatican II could not have happened without the steady erosion of orthodoxy (especially in academia) and increasing tolerance of abuse that occurred on his watch (in his defense, he did have a number of other pressing matters to occupy his attention, such as WWII and opposing communism, the latter of which became virtually the sole concern of the last 10 years of his papacy). History has shown that the women’s religious education initiative was a catastrophic experience for most of the religious concerned and for the Church at large. Good and obedient students always, these former nuns obeyed their modernist instructors and became quite willing disciples of this “synthesis of all heresies.” It will take generations for Catholic religious life to recover.
It’s probable, however, that the general trends in society would have gradually infected some of the religious communities eventually, especially those with active apostolates, even without the forming of nuns in modernism. But I doubt the rot would have set in so quickly and deeply in that case. Most of the women religious sent for the highest education, and thus exposure to the most revolutionary, anti-Catholic ideals, were leaders in their communities. Obedience being what it is, they then turned entire orders over to neo-modernist paganism.
So here’s a question: was education turned into a form of idol, and the destruction of so many religious orders (and their baleful influence on so many souls) a form of punishment from God for that idolization? What need does a contemplative nun have for a master’s or PhD, especially when virtually the entire higher education apparatus in the Western world is implacably hostile to God and any form of orthodox Christianity?
I could go full-provocative mode, and ask if women really possess the critical-thinking skills and ability to stand out from the herd to merit college education? Why is radical feminism experiencing a huge resurgence in recent years, as young millenial women, who make up 60% of the college student body at present, are radicalized on campus in their fluffy soft majors? I should add that I feel quite strongly that college has become not the realm of a relatively few truly bright individuals, but just one more hoop everyone is supposed to jump through. As such, it has become watered down, both in terms of the education received and the value of the degree. I would rather see the ranks of the college educated in general shrink tremendously in size – I think we would be amazed the degree to which leftist influence in society waned if such were to occur. I see little point in going $200k in debt for a degree in queer theory or English.
Put another way: is it possible that God really does intend primarily for women to be wives, mothers, and homemakers, and any large scale deviation from that plan will only bring pain and suffering? In response to these last hypotheticals, I hope some ladies respond.