LCWR and Me

Pretty much staying out of this whole LCWR thing, for my own sanity. If you want to read something intelligent about it, try the Anchoress.  Here’s just a little personal story:

Like so many Catholics, I had a front-row seat to the spectacle of the effective dissolution of several religious orders – in my case, the Sisters of Mercy, out of Burlingame, CA.  About the time I was born, one of my older sisters joined that order – circa 1959. At that point, the Mercy Sisters were a large, flourishing order running numerous schools and hospitals. They wore a full-on head-to-toe habit like the one on the left in this picture:

When I was a small child, the family would drive up to Burlingame to visit my sister – it was an amazing experience for me, as little more than a toddler, to walk about in what seemed like a sea of long skirts peopled by cheerful young women – that’s the picture I have still in my mind.

Then, when I was around 10, things began to change. As a little boy, I knew nothing about the back story, I just saw that the sisters dressed differently. Every time I saw them after that, they had shed more of the habit. By the time I got out of high school, my sister asked me to help her coach her grade school girl’s basketball team – she had gone into teaching, and had become principle of a Catholic school in the LA area. By then, there was little to distinguish a Sister of Mercy from any other somewhat conservative working women with poor taste in clothes.

Within a few years, my sister had left the order, like so many of her peers. Unlike too many of them, she didn’t just stop playing dress-up while continuing to  live off the gifts given to the Sisters over the years – she left left, like went and got a job.

My sister was a poor lost soul – she had gone into the order as a teenager, grew up there, and then, when it dissolved around her, found herself basically a teenager in her late 30s. Rather than having a career or a family, she was stuck wondering what to do with her life, and, like a child, wanted to do something exciting and different, not realizing, at first, that the world is not too kind to lost souls. She also wanted a man to fall for her, sweep her away, again, not realizing, at least, not on the emotional level, how unlikely that was to happen.

Finally, as she entered her 40s, she came down with cancer, fought it off, had a recurrence, and died at 46.  She was terrified to die. While our family was there through all this, in some sense she died all alone – at least, whatever companionship we offered didn’t seem to be enough or the right kind.

Maybe I could make some sort of poignant metaphor out of this, but to me, it’s just a personal story. But it is the lens through which I see the whole issue. I feel now like my sister was in some sense betrayed – that she, a timid but good soul, would have lead a better, more fulfilling life had the order reinforced and supported her decision to become a Bride of Christ, to fulfill a vocation of teaching, and to die in the arms of her Order and her Sisters. Instead, she died alone in some cosmic sense, with all those women she had intended to be a Sister to questioning and, ultimately, disparaging the very life she had chosen, and nowhere to be seen.

Maybe I’m kidding myself. We’ll never know.

 

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2 thoughts on “LCWR and Me

  1. LCWR Sisters could have asked the CDF to introduce them to those saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has explained that the purpose of the doctrinal assessment had been to “assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ” and also on “the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.”

    The assessment had found serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the Leadership of Catholic Women Religious(LCWR)’ annual assemblies in recent years, with many showing “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.”

    The rebellious American sisters who have still not been excommunicated, probably because of their leftist sources of power, and are privileged, unlike the SSPX bishops, cannot tell Cardinal Levada, “You first affirm the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and set an example for us”.

    At their last meeting on Wednesday the sisters could have asked Cardinal William Levada Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) “Why don’t you affirm the literal interpretation of the centuries old dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, ‘as was faithfully taught through the ages’ ”

    Or, why don’t you issue a Doctrinal Notification to Cardinal Kurt Koch a member of the Vatican Curia and Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, who on May 16 said Jews do not have to convert into the Catholic Church in the present times, contradicting the Bible and the Creed.

    They cannot tell the CDF to endorse the dogma since the Sisters reject the dogma and this is a cause of their rebellion, heresy and free thinking.

    It is because the Sisters have rejected the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus that they have gone into New Age etc.

    Otherwise when the Sisters were at the CDF office they could have asked the Secretary of the CDF, Cardinal Luiz Ladaria S.J: “How can you claim that there are known cases of non Catholics saved with the baptism of desire ? Who are these cases, exceptions to the literal interpretation of the dogma? “

    “How can we know a person saved in invincible ignorance and a good conscience (LG 16) who is in Heaven? How can we telephone them or meet them on earth?”. The CDF Secretary says we can meet them. He makes this claim in two papers of the International Theological Commission (ITC).It is because he believes that we can meet these people on earth, he assumes that they are defacto exceptions to the literal interpretation of the dogma.

    Also he writes on the ITC website that the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, corrected Fr.Leonard Feeney for rejecting the baptism of desire etc. If this is true then the cardinal is saying that the Letter made an objective mistake. Since the baptism of desire etc are not exceptions to the literal interpretation of the dogma. They are in a sense irrelevant to the dogma and its centuries old literal interpretation.

    The Sisters could have asked the CDF to introduce them to those saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire

    The Sisters have been rightly criticized for reported distortions of faith in Jesus and the structure of sacramental life, as well as undermining the doctrines of “the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”.-Lionel Andrades

  2. I beg to differ with the words of Joseph Moore and Lionel Andrades both! I speak as a 66 yr. single, poor, celibate woman who entered. The Sisters of Mercy in 1967. My years in formation were awesome, to this day my Spirituality though finding no Mercy, Compassion and the Loving Kindness of Jesus, which the U.S. Sisters follow instead of Good Old Roman Boy’s Club. I have no longer been a nun since 1983. However, to this day, I have blessed dreams in my sleep of the beauty of Burlingame Mercy. I had NO desire to marry a man, though I have male friends and my lovers, partner has been women! I remain friends with Mercy and Providence nuns and others as well as with a huge Lesbian Community, who are as beloved to my heart as were and remain my Religious Sisters.

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