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As good an explanation for the collapse of religious life as I’ve read July 6, 2015

Posted 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.  

———-End Quote———-

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.



1. virtuouscitizenship - July 6, 2015

You have now stepped in large unsolidified cowpies with both feet – on a hot clear day. Good luck. Some communities are flourishing – but they don’t chant me-me-me-now-now-now-non-serviam; and they accept that God revealed Himself as Father and was incarnated as Son. Those saintly ones who do renounce self and renounce the world today are to be revered and prayed for. My aunt served as a vowed nun for over 60 years. Near the end of her life her order was taken over by feminuns and she told me she felt she was a prisoner in her own community; one of those communities whose nuns refused to even use the word “Lord” in the Mass. She is resting in peace. Guy McClung, San Antonio

2. Branch - July 6, 2015

One of the great mysteries to me is how the Society of Jesus has undergone such a collapse. I am not sure if Ignatius or Francis Xavier would recognize a Fr. Jim Martin or a Fr. Jorge Bergoglio if they fell over them.

3. Branch - July 6, 2015

“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?”

I think so. Personalism has a lot to do with this, too.

4. Woody - July 6, 2015

Equality seems to be the culprit.

5. Branch - July 6, 2015

Just saw this at One Peter Five: “Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the death of priestly and religious vocations.” From Our Lady of Good Success


6. Magdalene - July 6, 2015

Here is another article to read: http://www.culturewars.com/CultureWars/1999/rogers.html

This is how Carl Rogers corrupted the IHM nuns.

And, yes, with obedience being vowed, many followed their superiors–bit by bit into sinful things such as heresy, new age, modernism, lesbianism, and even wicca. When you have ‘nuns’ as deathscorts at abortion mills or a ‘nun’ earning over 6 figures and being praised by the man in the white house, you can think that something is terribly wrong. The ex-nuns I know left with broken hearts but their charism had been usurped. About 15 years ago a friend was entering a convent. The original charism was beautiful and the grounds, and convent and church were beautiful. But the women were not–at least not the ones who ran the place. From dedicated nursing sisters they had become administrators, dressing like the seculars. They came to hate my friend and of course she did not stay. There were some older sisters who would quietly meet to pray a rosary: they had had years of being ridiculed for it. The modernists were NOT brides of Christ; they divorced Him.

7. Kathleen - July 6, 2015

Society has developed a compulsion about feeding every young person into the university system in general. It’s a malignantly greedy racket that is feeding upon masses of young people, many if not most of which would be far better served pursuing other paths to getting their families established.

That said, yes, the entire mess is especially problematic for females.

In a Catholic society the *norm* should absolutely be that young non-religious women set a good Catholic marriage and family as their goal. As part of that there would be emphasis on helping their parents before marriage which develops domestic skills and appropriate shorter term work to build nest eggs.

And as far as religious women — education should absolutely be tailored to their calling. They are a treasure of the Church and should be as protected as parents protect their children.

There are always exceptions to any rule/norm, but standards must be set based upon the norm — we’re living through what happens when every exception screams to be set up as the standard.

And those guiding young people through this mess just have to find the best solution they can.

Tantumblogo - July 6, 2015

Very good comment. I haven’t much to ad, but I do appreciate it. Thanks and God bless you!

Judy - July 7, 2015

I have to agree with this. I think that much of my college education has turned out to be something that I had to undo and overcome. Definitely it was not worth the price tag or the damage to my soul. My plan is to make sure that each of my children receives a Catholic liberal arts homeschool education. I don’t think that each of them will be suited for college. I would prefer that my daughters stay living at home until marriage and build up a nest egg that will help them to be able to stay home with their own children. I’ve known too many women who looked at that degree on the wall (and the debt that came with it) and thought that it meant they HAD to be in the workforce. Also, I would strongly advise my daughters not to marry anyone who does not see wife and mother as being full time jobs. My sons are being taught that, barring a life in the priesthood, it is their job to protect, guide, and provide for their family. None of this two-income family, toss the kids in day care so we can go to Disneyworld business.

8. RC - July 6, 2015

I guess the one area of good news is that within our lifetimes, and even within the next 10-15 the LCWR/liberal nuns will be extinct as their average age is 80 or more. A large part of the episcopate around the world will also be dead in this time frame, including Pope Francis. The biological solution that has long been awaited has already started and will speed up in the next few years, modernism and liberalism within the Church has failed to produce any vocations; in contrast, I know many young seminarians and am extremely hopeful for the future of the Church. I think we too often look at the Church in a pessimistic view, largely due to the current situation we fun ourselfs in. But keep in mind that this will soon come to pass. Kasper will be dead, Francis will be dead, and the Church will eventually get back on track. I know worrying about the future is only human nature, I do it constantly, but I converted to Catholicism for a reason, and that being that Christ promised never to abandon His Church. So let’s just keep playing the waiting game, it’s almost over

Tantumblogo - July 6, 2015

There are more over 90 than there are under 60. That’s horrific. They are losing about 1500 a year right now and that will only accelerate. Looking at the numbers, in about 15 years there will be about 12-15000 women religious in this country. About half will be in relatively orthodox communities.

9. Brian - July 6, 2015

Women Religious are the embodiment (icon) of Mary, the Spouse of The Holy Spirit. This is just about the greatest priviledge on earth. When they leave their Love, Jesus Christ, and pursue an adulterous affair with the spirit of the world, Modernism, they then reap the consequences in full.

Nuns are the highest expressions of spousal love, which is why they are so admired even by those who don’t fully understand why. But when they are unfaithful to their Spouse, just as when a wife or husband whores against their own spouse, the bond of communal love is broken, and the human soul is degraded and deformed, especially when the betrayed is Jesus.

The anger and hatred and degradation that flow from such betrayal is as incandescently bad as their first virginal love was joyful and good.

I have been privileged to see faithful, cloistered nuns briefly during an Order’s move to a new location and can attest to the transcendent joy that emanates from a pure vocational bond. It is unlike anything I have ever seen and it was palpable, even from a distance. I can only describe it as a light in their eyes and their smile beyond the mere physical description; something that bordered on an emotion you could feel. I am thus not surprised that Nuns who have betrayed their state and this high priviledge are bitter, angry and full of self-centered resentment.

Tantumblogo - July 6, 2015

“I have been privileged to see faithful, cloistered nuns briefly during an Order’s move to a new location and can attest to the transcendent joy that emanates from a pure vocational bond. It is unlike anything I have ever seen and it was palpable, even from a distance.” Yes indeed. We have a very good group of Carmelites in this Diocese and it’s the same with them. We’ve been able to see them through the grill more than usual the past few years as they’ve been growing so much, they do open the parlor whenever there is a clothing, first or final profession, etc. We just had another one recently. And that’s how I feel, even more than with monks, even very good ones, there is something other worldly about a really strong group of nuns, that radiance about them is supernatural. Really good comment, thanks.

10. Mary - July 6, 2015

Ok I will make a comment. Just for perspective, I was a lawyer 30 years ago and quit after a couple of years to rear my children. Loved being a SAHM, hated being a lawyer.

I don’t think it was harmful per se to encourage some of the nuns to pursue higher degrees of education, but it was a dereliction of duty to send those nuns to secular or liberal Catholic colleges, which are just seminaries for leftism and paganism. Think of the souls that have been lost because of it!

(But why were they not inoculated against this? Did they not know? Most of my orthodox Christian and RC friends attended college, as did my children. They are Christians and Catholics still even though we are probably the worst catechized people in history. What kind of tissue thin preparation was there?)

Don’t forget also that certain psychologists targeted entire orders of nuns and were permitted to experiment on them with psychological techniques which enticed them into immoral behavior, which then separated most of them from the church forever. This was horribly reckless of their superiors to allow this.

As to women and their vocations:
Today , women are pushed in to the workforce as women were once pushed out. We are losing many wonderful mothers to jobs which are vastly inferior to the work of forming the next generation.
So , even though I won’t say women should exclusively be homemakers and/or educators, I think the emphasis away from the home has been harmful to both women and their families and society.

As an Aside : laughable that attending mass once a week would make children appreciate it more. HA! What if they took the same approach to physical nourishment as they took to spiritual nourishment? “You just need lunch once a week, it will make you appreciate it more.” Perhaps, but more likely they will just be starved four days a week!

11. Margaret Costello - July 6, 2015

For certain brainiacs like me, I certainly hope I merited further education:+) The concept of learning should be a lifelong ideal for it is our intellects that make up one half of our immortal spirit. What is needed is proper formation in a safe, traditional setting. And I totally agree that motherhood, being a good wife etc. should be required courses:+) If we are going to promote homeschooling, then moms need to give their brains a workout. We’ve dumbed down our culture and Church…God made us smarter than we think:+) God bless~

12. Doragoon - July 7, 2015

I place the blame closer to 1880 and the creation of the parochial school system itself. After that, nuns were calling for more active charisms, then relaxing the hours, and changing their habits. And that’s all before the 1920’s. There needs to be discussion about the purpose of religious life (and religion in general). Too many people I talk to think nuns were always teachers or such. But Sunday school classes used to be taught by priests, which makes sense since they had the Office, teaching authority of the church, and a masters degree in theology. Were confirmation classes really expected to have been taught by a nun with nothing more than a high school diploma?

13. Guest - July 7, 2015

I think women in general are more concerned about niceties and feelings. For example, it the truth is offensive they might not speak it. However, men will speak the truth, even if it is offensive. How many women would be contrarian to politically correct sentiments?

On the other hand, my generation (generation Y) males generally will try to be nice and spare feelingsby not speaking the truth. So many are so politically correct you wonder if it’s just an act or if they’re that out of touch with reality.

Tantumblogo - July 7, 2015

My questions were posed as hypotheticals. I have five daughters, and I want only what is best for them, which may or may not include college. My second oldest who has an obvious aptitude for college and analytical work in general feels called to religious life. So this has serious implications for my family, which is why I thought to ask the question.

Women, even more than most men, do not like to be shamed. Social ostracism is extremely painful for a woman. This may be neither here nor there, but I have been approached by several women at my parish about their own interest in putting out a blog, but every one of them felt they could not handle the contradiction and hostile comments that would almost inevitably result. As for me, that’s never bothered me too much. There have been a couple of painful episodes where differences have developed between myself and long-time allies and even collaborators in certain work, but it doesn’t ruin my day to have to part ways with these folks. It is what it is. I’m not saying I’m better by any stretch, or that I am a spectacular male, I’m very aware of my own limitations, but I think it does point up a fairly common difference between men and women, which is that few women constitutionally can stand much contradiction, opposition, and especially social ostracism. Some ladies may disagree, and OK, I’m open to reconsider my blatant misogyny, I’m just relaying my own experience.

The theory is this, and it’s not just mine, it’s really Donna Steichen’s: naive, overly trusting young religious in the 50s and 60s were sent into the wolves den completely unprepared and were converted to sexular paganism as a result. That development led directly to the near total collapse of women’s religious life.

Brian - July 7, 2015

The problem is that we Americans are immersed in a false culture of distorted equality. The virtues of God have been replaced by this cultural imperative that demands that equality displace all traditional Christian virtue.

BUT, God made His creation with differences built in and an hierarchy of value. Our American heresy cuts through all of that and replaces it with “equality” in which everything God made (rocks, trees, animals, humans) is the same value, every choice is of the same value; and every moral preference is of the same value. We live in the cult of the SAME.

That is a demonic lie. It does not elevate what was lower, It degrades what was higher. Humans are at the level of animals and plants. “Hetero” marriage is at the level of “homo” marriage / bigamy / bestiality. Satan is all about degradation.

In God’s order of things, women have very specific skills and character that are not possible in men. They are different. Thanks be to God. Same goes for men. It is good when God’s creatures fully express their innate nature as God intended. It is quantifiably insane when nature is twisted into something it is not.

Only in our age and in our culture do we feel shame in defending nature as God intended. But we should know that true feminine glory is perfectly lived by Mary and patterned after her. Perfect male glory is lived by Jesus Christ and patterned after Him.

Mary is not Jesus. Mary is not a man, or the Redeemer. What she is, is every bit as important IN HER OWN WAY, and only in that way. That should be the Catholic evangelical message to the women of the world. Look to Mary if you want to be happy and complete.

Tantumblogo - July 7, 2015

Awesome comment. I very much agree. But you’d be surprised how many even regular denizens of traditional parishes would take great offense at a comment like that. I’ve actually been presently surprised I didn’t get blasted for even posing the hypothetical. I guess my readers are just awesome.

Judy - July 7, 2015

I’ve been on the receiving end of those blasts. I’m seen as a traitor to my sex, trying to get us all barefoot, pregnant, and back in the kitchen. But it would be far worse to be a man putting forth the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, we were better off before women entered the work force en masse. I’m not against learning. I consider myself to be a student for life. I just don’t want to pay tuition or sit in a classroom.

14. richardmalcolm1564 - July 7, 2015

I think that Steichen’s analysis helps convey the hollowing out in the Church that was occurring in the supposed final glory days of the 1950’s – and how the last “traditional” pope of those days contributed to that. Pius XII may not have been a liberal, but he was certainly a *modernizer* – and he appointed and encouraged more than a few churchmen who were, in fact, liberals – not least one Archbishop Montini. The rot was far advanced, especially in Catholic academia.

This is not the place to form a critique of Pius XII and his failings, but to see what we can learn from it all. We are a hierarchical Church – we can’t be anything else. And hierarchy requires some respect for authority. But we are being forced to learn anew the limits of that authority, and the higher cause that authority serves. Too many religious sisters and priests were not able to make those distinctions in the mid-20th century. And we can see the tragic results of that failure all around us. What we need principled and holy bishops and priests – we can’t afford the regiments of careerists that predominated in the 20th century.

Tantumblogo - July 7, 2015

Yes, that was Bouyer’s point, made with typical Gallican flamboyance and lack of tact, but that was his point. The Church prior to VII was not filled with really believing, orthodox priests and bishops, but careerists who toed the line, whatever line that was, that emanated form Rome. When the perception was that orthodoxy or “integrism” was demanded, they were integrists, when the sea change occurred, they became raving progressives overnight.

I really think your comment says what I wanted to say more clearly and concisely. Many thanks!

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