Becoming a Nun in the Late 50s/Early 60s

I wonder where all these Sisters are now, and what they're doing:

It almost hurts watching when you compare it to what you see today. My mother once asked me where the nuns had gone, since she remembered at least a couple of them in her childhood, and one of her most profound exposures to Catholicism was when she helped out at a Catholic hospital run by nuns.

I think part of it is this lack of belief in heroic living among people now a days.

We had a conversation about marriage between the young pious catholics in our congregation. We have a prayer group that meets weekly for mass in the chapel and catechesis afterwards. When the subject came to marriage one of the younger jesuit seminarians said that the Church has always taught that celibacy and the religious life was greater than marriage... practically everyone was shocked. One young man who had recently been married became fairly agitated, and many of the younger women defended their intentions for marriage by saying things like "But you have to understand, Jesus was married to the Church."

Most of them were fairly convinced that getting married was just as good as the religious life, it was just a question of which one was good for you.

Some said that getting married was the right thing for them, and therefore it was the best thing. Which is technically true in that if you don't have the calling, you shouldn't become religious, but there's something wrong and relativistic in saying then that marriage is just as good as being religious.

I think a reason (among many) we don't see many more women in the religious life, is that's its no longer held in the high esteem anymore. Or its considered impossible remote from ordinary life. In contrary to the saints who said that undoubtedly that among those that give one fold, ten fold and a hundred fold of fruit, the religious were the ones to give a hundred fold. Also that believing this is no lack of humility as Theresa of Avila said that her faith in that had only grown after becoming a nun.

Though to be honest I don't blame people who look at a collection of brothers from a lax order, who dress in casual wear, don't practice much fasting and who's prayer life hardly looks different from that of a regular pious catholic, and go... why is that superior to my life?

I've heard the Dominicans and Cistercians got started as an alternative to the decadent Benedictines of that time. Perhaps its time for new religious orders to get moving?

This is also not to say that being a religious is the only thing that has value. In fact it depends entirely whether a religious lives up the standards they're called to. Considering how lax many religious orders have grown, I don't blame people for looking at them critically and going "Are they really earning a greater glory than the sufferings I go through at home trying to raise kids?"

Also there are many women and men who serve the Church without getting married, or ending up in the religious life. They have great gifts that would waste away within an order, and wouldn't come to fruition in a marriage.
"With the acceptance of the holy habit, I’ll be looked upon as a spouse of Christ, a faithful, loving soul ready to give my all for his greater honor and glory.  I realize though, that a religious habit does not mean a miraculous transformation, rather, it will mean a hard, continual struggle with myself and with other temptations, if I want to persevere in my ideal.  The future may even hold difficulties and sufferings, yet all this can become a joy, and bring piece- if it’s done for love.  His guiding hand has led me to take this step, and if I’m willing, I know he’ll lead me all the way."

Beautiful words- spoken with childlike humility and innocence.  Things turned so quickly.  The craziness happened in less than a generation from the time this video was made.  I've seen a Dominican vocations video from the early-mid 60's (they reference the Second Vatican Council as something that's currently in session).  The degree of structure, the sense of decorum was unheard of just ten years later..  This means that not only did the young ones change and get rebellious, the people who were promoting this older, more traditional way and who had apparently loved that way themselves at one time, abandoned it very quickly.
It's a mystery to me just how things seemed to simply collapse like a house of cards in the Church so quickly after the Council.  I was reading a book of sermons by one of Thomas Mertons Trappist comrades at Gesthemani Father Matthew Kelty and can catch a glimpse of how rapid and radical the changes were based on some of his reflections.

"The dearest thing to me in my monastic life I came to was the Latin Office. I make no bones about it. It had everything. And one morning, I woke to find that it was gone. And they did not even bother to ask me first. What we have in its place is something else, but a poor thing to what it replaces, for all its beauty.      From the sermon Expectations Overturned, 3rd Sunday of Advent, in the collection entitled My Song is a Song of Mercy"

From the sound of it,things changed radically almost overnight. I've heard stories of there being actual bonfires of old theology books at seminaries and about how class was often started with " forget everything you thought you knew, as this is what the Church now teaches..." followed by the latest in Karl Rahner, Hans Kung,Andrew Greely, Richard P. Mcbrien, and the latest Jesuit scripture scholarship.

The sheer speed and the magnitude of the changes in the Catholic Church following Vatican II just blow the mind. There is no ecclesiastical about face and whitewashing of its own patrimony in history quite as devastating as the post conciliar 20th century one. The worst part is the lack of care for souls that the leadership had, I mean,they undermined the faith of millions, they dropped the bottom out of Catholicism and despite the evidence of their failure they celebrate it and call it "maturity", "spiritual adulthood" and "renewal".

I can't think of any religious Order that has thrived or that will have any chance of survival that chooses to abandon its habits, rituals, and other signs of its specific patrimony. Ironically Vatican II called for a return to the charism of the founders of the various Orders and the specific houses that are doing that like the monks of La Barroux, Norcia, Clear Creek or the Wyoming Carmelites are actually thriving.

(11-11-2014, 11:19 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: It's a mystery to me just how things seemed to simply collapse like a house of cards in the Church so quickly after the Council.

It's very easy to understand.  Those of us born pre-Vatican II were taught one major thing in our childhoods:  OBEDIENCE.

We obeyed.  That's all there was to it.  No questions.

Your parents told you to do something; you did it.  Sister X told you to do something; you did it.  Father Y told you to do something; you did it.  Bishop Z told you to do something; you did it.

The pope told you to do something.  There were no questions asked.  You did it.  What lay Catholic in his/her right mind would even think of disobeying the pope?

We were told that all the changes came from the very summit of the Church and had to be obeyed.  We did so.

Obedience, in many cases blind obedience, was the vehicle that accomplished the collapse. 

The irony is that, within a few short years DISOBEDIENCE was the order of the day.  The Church is currently a devastated vineyard.

And, yes, many of the changes were quite abrupt.  One week we did things one way; the next Sunday we did them the opposite.  This is true for things like standing for Holy Communion, the priest facing the people, et cetera.
Awhile back I was in the religion section of a local bookstore and I saw a book about three religious sisters who were also biological sisters (I can't seem to find it mentioned anywhere online. I didn't read it, but the picture on the cover told the story: the first picture showed them in the 1950s, young and in full habit--they were smiling and really emanated sincere joy.  The next picture was of them more recently, in tracksuit-type outfits protesting some political issue or another with faces that just emanated anger without any interior peace.  It was so sad to look at.

The best explanation I have seen of the collapse all around is in the link at the end of my post.  This priest lived the before and after.  His view is pretty much from the perspective of a boy, a seminarian, and a priest, but I think it probably applies to religious life too.  He explains how much pressure there was on boys to enter the priesthood and to say the right things to get there, etc.  He saw plenty of seminarians get ordained who didn't want to, but saw no way out. It created a kind of artificial bloat. 

All of a sudden, the pressure was lifted and the whole thing exploded.  He compares it to the Wizard of Oz where the faithful servants of the witch suddenly rejoice in thanksgiving when the witch is defeated.  The same old disciplinarian priests in cassocks who ran the seminary and expected parishioners to report students even seen having a conversation with a girl returned one summer wearing love beads and turtlenecks and encouraged dating--and even dated themselves--because the law of celibacy was expected to go. 

Here's the whole thing.  He actually starts in the 1300s and works his way through various epochs which all influenced what was to come (Lutheranism, Americanism, etc.).  If you want to skip to the most directly related part, I recommend starting on page 63.

(NOTE: this priest is not a trad, but would probably be considered conservative or something similar; nevertheless, I think his account of what was going on on the ground at the time goes a long way to help one make sense of what went wrong, even if one does not agree with all his conclusions).
In the days before Vatican 2 is was very prestigious to have a daughter to become a nun, unfortunately many girls who didn't have a calling entered, when troubles came they bolted. Also as in the priesthood many lesbians found their outlet in these religious orders and there were iincidents behind the scenes  and after Vatican 2 out of the closet they came. Another thing was that these sisters put their political views above God's commandments as we see in many instances today. Also the Church taught pre-Vatican 2 that there were no changes in the church, when church discipline changed and dogmas were watered down obedience fell also.
Better humble matrimony than virginity with pride. - St John Chrysostom
(11-13-2014, 01:24 AM)Poche Wrote: Better humble matrimony than virginity with pride. - St John Chrysostom

Ah, but better a virgin who humble submits that the Church considers this the better of the two, and does it for that reason, than a married woman who did it to avoid anyone thinking she was proud or vain.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)