Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Last one out turn off the lights."



I read a piece today in the NYT about the death of active religious orders in the US.

Some of it is pretty poignant
with this standing out:
Sister Mary Jean’s order has dwindled to about 100 from a peak of more than 500. Most moved out of their convent last year and into a retirement and nursing home. There has not been an initiate for 25 years, and several years ago the sisters reluctantly stopped looking.

“It was painful,” Sister Mary Jean said in an interview in her modest apartment, “but I think it was also courageous to say we’re just not going to recruit any more. Let’s just live out the rest of our lives to the fullest that we possibly can and thank God for what we’ve been able to do. And when the time comes, as they say, the last person turn the lights out.”


But the thought occured, why haven't they had a vocation in 25 years? What could it be? Sunspots?


Well, here they are, in all their reformed glory. And we've got to love their courageous stand "that bottled water, however convenient to tote around, is environmentally, economically and politically wrong".

We commit ourselves to:

* promote the sacredness of life through all its stages and expressions
* support legislation to curtail the availability of weapons
* oppose military aggression and the continued build-up of nuclear weapons and promote economic conversion
* support legislation and other advocacy efforts which provide protection, safety, financial assistance to survivors of domestic violence and child abuse
* speak out against the use and glorification of violence in our media and culture
* work for just and human solutions in criminal justice and oppose the death penalty
* reverse the waste and destruction of our natural environment


Any more questions?

Well, yes, actually. I have a couple.

The NYT solemnly rings the bell for religious orders administering Catholic health care in the US, asking "Why did they disappear?"

But I have a slightly different question: "Why were they in administration in the first place? Is that what they were founded for?"

I have spent a few years studying the history and development of the active religious life in the US and Canada (almost wrote a book) and came to a few unorthodox conclusions.

When they came to the US in the 1870s, these ladies, pictured at the top, took care of the sick in their own homes, "sheltered single mothers-to-be, protected young working women and embraced the care of orphans".

Then comes the slide. "As years passed, the sisters increased their knowledge and skills, developed technology and established institutions."

This was the same story with nearly all the active religious I looked at. They started with a few saintly pioneers who braved nearly everything the 19th century had to throw at them, from cholera to Wild Indians to Know-nothing anti-Catholic bigotry to lawless gunmen. They always started small and ended up after 70 or 80 years with huge establishments with hundreds of lay employees in gigantic hospitals around the country. It was argued in one book I read that the entire establishment of institutionalised health care in the US was the result of the work of Catholic sisters.

And that was when it all fell apart for them. The sisters, even when they were still in the habits, had turned to the work of maintaining this institutionalised health system, leading them inexorably into administrative work that became the sole focus of the communities' efforts.

But I ask, aren't nuns supposed to be religious specialists? Isn't it their focus in life to be religious? We all know the story of how the communities started focusing too much on the works and not enough on their own religious lives. The un-reformed constitutions of more than one of these groups stated that the first purpose of the community was the sanctification of its members in prayer, penance and the practice of the sacramental life. Only secondarily was it to perform (mainly corporal) works of mercy. We all know by now that the downfall of these orders was to abandon this primary purpose, to invert and eventually completely pervert the reason for their existence.

And of course, in these times, as the "progressive" sisters will always tell you, no woman in our modern enlightened world needs to join a religious community in order to get an education or enter a profession. So the question that should have been asked, "What do we have to offer as religious experts within the modern, secularised health care institutions?" was replaced with "How can we become 'relevant' in this world in which religion is getting squeezed out of health care?"

But what if instead of abandoning religion, the sisters had instead said, "It's OK that we can't keep up with the secularisation of the institutions because that really wasn't our main purpose anyway. Why don't we go back to the founding charism of our commmunity and start offering our religious, our spiritual expertise to the sick and needy?"

When I was in the hospital for the first chemo, I was expertly cared for physically by a team of highly trained professionals and I felt quite safe and looked-after. But everyone who was doing the medical work was far too busy to sit with me, to stop and pray a Rosary with me for 20 minutes. That work was left largely to my little band of friends (and a fine job they did). I asked for a visit from the chaplaincy and in due course, was visited by three Franciscan priests (in habits) who blessed me, heard my confession and brought me Holy Communion.

People in hospital are often frightened and depressed, or confused or simply bored and lonely. Wouldn't it have been lovely if there were someone there whose job it was to offer spiritual solace? To just sit and chat, pray the Rosary, listen to fears and lift depression. Sisters in habit who would come to see you each day, when friends couldn't be there, to wheel you into the chapel for a visit or a Rosary.

Wouldn't it have been lovely if these sisters above, instead of focusing on gathering professional credentials, on going to conferences, on establishing themselves as big-time professional players (with seven digit salaries) in the American Health Care Industry, had focused instead on their religious contribution.

What would the world have looked like then, I wonder.



~

39 comments:

Mike Walsh said...

When I was a seminarian I once asked a priest why he was not in parish work (he was doing "justice and peace" advocacy). He replied that "he got tired of hearing confessions of girls who wondered if tongue-kissing was a sin." In other words, their problems were not big enough for him; his ego demanded world-class "issues" proportional to his outsized self-image. He is now an ex-priest.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Well said, Hilary. You should probably write that book.

And I do not know what to make of the priest who got tired of listening to teenage girls sort out their most private and painful feelings. I suppose the fact that he abandoned his vocation says it all.

Sue Sims said...

I found this quotation from the article both blackly amusing and rather telling:

"But her legacy also extends to preaching about the dignity of patients, paying blue-collar workers above scale, making her hospitals smoke-free, banning the use of foam cups and plastic water bottles, and insisting on gender-neutral and nonviolent language. There are no “bullet points” in SSM presentations, and photographs are “enlarged,” never “blown up.”

Even Sister Mary Jean can struggle to define precisely what the nuns brought to their hospitals."

While I don't suppose for a moment that the order has been killed by political correctness, the latter should certainly be mentioned on the autopsy report.

Steve T. said...

"I have spent a few years studying the history and development of the active religious life in the US and Canada (almost wrote a book)...." Miss White, please do write the book. We need one such that's written by an author who isn't totally bought into the same gibberish that has brought these orders down, and so are absolutely incapable of offering a meaningful explanation.

My very dear, dear Auntie Theresa was a nun for 63 years, until her death last summer. She suffered a white martyrdom in a teaching order that went all VII-looney. She was seen as a stick-in-the-mud over keeping her professed name, but she insisted, and was mourned by the kindergarteners as Sister Damien (after [now St.] Damien of Molokai, who inspired her vocation).

Deo gratias, her order went all VII-looney only in the U.S. and Europe. And even then, the few Western sisters that remain are the habited nuns, who are keeping their teaching orthodox.

My aunt was in an echoing convent with one active and one retired sister. As she lay on her deathbed, she had the joy, in her last few weeks of agony, to be surrounded by eight young, habited sisters of her order who have been sent up from Brazil not to turn out the lights, but to reinvigorate the North American province.

Please, Miss White. Tell the story. The nuns who fought to cleave to their orders' charisms and refused to bow down to the abomination of the enneagram deserve it, and I can't think of some better equipped to tell it than you.

Al the Engineer said...

When my mother was dying in a nursing home, she was regularly visited and prayed for by a lovely habited nun (from her accent I guess from the Carribbean). Seems like now these countries send missionaries to us (Canada). (p.s. my family is protestant, but we were happy to have the visits.)

Mrs Doyle said...

I used to get sad when I heard that certain religious orders were dying out.
But then, when you think about it, it could be seen that the reasons why the orders were founded don't exist anymore, or that the time for them has come to an end.

For example, before the State provided health care (to everyone), or education (to everyone), it was up to certain religious orders to heed the call and 'fill the gap' so to speak.
Now that the State has for the most part assumed responsibility for these traditional areas (nursing and teaching), these orders aren't needed anymore. They've run their course.
There's never a guarantee that these orders will last until the end of time. Maybe they were only meant to serve their purpose for a particular time.
I think that is why some of these orders have lost their way, they've ceased to become relevant for the reason they were founded.

Maybe that's why other orders are flourishing - like the Sisters of Life - areas where there is still a great need.

Perhaps I'm being too nice, but when you see why God allowed the founding of certain orders at particular times in history, it makes sense.

Catherine said...

"...making her hospitals smoke-free, banning the use of foam cups and plastic water bottles, and insisting on gender-neutral and nonviolent language. There are no “bullet points” in SSM presentations, and photographs are “enlarged,” never “blown up.”"

What a hellish, dull, pastel, flowery mess that workplace would have been. I think would have snapped and started running around yelling "Pyoo pyoo!" and making explosion noises within the hour.

Catherine said...

You know, I think we need some other examples of non-violent SSM language.

Target is known as "the Red and White Hugging Circles Store"

GSWs are referred to as "localized hate-based lack of flesh integrity"

"Explosive decompression" is "sudden air multiculturalism."

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I'm not really especially interested in nuns any more, so would probably not be interested in writing a book unless someone were to offer me money.

Which is unlikely.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Mrs. Doyle makes a very important point, which touches on the final conclusion I came to in my research. A lot of these little active orders, nearly all of them started by pious ladies in the 19th century, were addressing a material, corporal need that has been taken over, for good or ill, by the state. Their original purpose no longer exists if we are only talking about the active work end of things. And as for being religious specialists, many were so poorly formed, with a very shallow and childish spiritual and doctrinal training, that it is hardly a wonder that they hadn't the spiritual fortitude to withstand the onslaught of secularism.

I finally came to the somewhat outrageous conclusion that only orders that have an essentially contemplative, monastic foundation are feasible in the Church, and that the whole experiment of "active religious life" as it was started in the late 17th century, was an error.

In the early days of St. Francis de Sales' female order of Visitation nuns, he had asked for permission from Rome to have them work outside the cloister, and the pope refused. The Visitation was cloistered by papal order and still flourished, and remained active, running boarding schools for girls, while maintaining (until recently) a strong spiritual life. And now the Visitation is one of the few that is still holding on, mostly because of its solid religious and monastic-style of foundation. A lot of them in the US have gone wiggy, but there are quite a few that have survived.

I also came to the conclusion that most of the new "conservative" orders have very serious problems of their own, in their foundational premises and that they are very far from the great white hope they are made out to be, despite the flocks of young girls attracted to them. I can't say anything about the future, but I do not put much stock in this 'revival' that is happening now. I think it is mostly being born of the streak of political conservatism that is prominent in the US Church and will cause a lot of problems down the line.

The Church needs to do some serious thinking about the religious life, but I think in the current atmosphere, does not have the intellectual and spiritual resources to do so.

I think it will be a long time yet, if ever, that we see anything like a flourishing religious life in the Church. The problems within are too corrosive to be conducive to creating an atmosphere in which such a thing could grow and not end up hopelessly deformed.

Not a very happy conclusion, but it is what I came to after examining the evidence.

Ingemar said...

I am not a Catholic, but I think the life of Peter is instructive and illustrative of the Church Catholic and Christian life in general. Not for nothing is he my patron saint.

I remember specifically the Gospel where Jesus walks on water. Peter, when his gaze is fixed on Christ can do what He does, but as soon as he gets distracted by his circumstances, he begins to fail.

So it is with Peter, so it is with the Church. The goal of the Church is to lead souls Christward and preaching, miracles and charitable deeds are a means to that end. Just as walking on water, at that time, was Peter's means of reaching Christ. However, as the means became the end, the Church and/or the Christian faltered. We saw it with the post-Nicene Church (at times) becoming a bureaucratic arm of the Roman/Byzantine Empire. We see it with these religious communities, shifting from lives consecrated to God to being a bloated health care bureaucracy.

One predictor of the decline of a religious organization is a softening of its emphasis on Christ, salvation and remission of sins. It shifts to becoming a cultural enforcer of the status quo. See how well that turns out (i.e. Anglicans).

Corey Huber said...

Let me counter your what-if with another: What if hospital-founding sisters had managed to BOTH acquire the professional wherewithal to administer their hospitals AND retain a full understanding of the true purpose of religious life? Then maybe Catholic hospitals in more than name would be thicker on the ground and making a valiant witness to the dignity of life. I personally know of one such order: Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, IN.

I would suggest that becoming over focused on the administration of their hospitals was more a symptom than a cause of the dying of orders whose original apostolates were the corporal works of mercy. A more proximate cause was that they forgot why they did works of mercy. Namely to know, love, and serve God and work towards personal holiness.

The corporal works of mercy will only result in drawing grace into our world when they are done for the love of God. When done for the love of those served, or any other purpose, growth toward God is very much hindered.

Anonymous said...

Miss White, the history of the active orders for women is quite complicated. Most of the early ones had to fight an array of enemies, from their families to their bishops to their city councils, in order to become accepted and established. In the Middle Ages, most such groups did not even bother seeking official recognition, as this was safer (see the "Beguines").

If the little groups of women who were active in works of corporal mercy became too prominent, they were in danger of pressure to become "enclosed" and thus lose a part of their mission. So most tried to be as invisible as possible.

Part of the reason for this hostility was that respectable women, in those days, did not apart from men *except* if they were cloistered. "A husband or the cloister", as the tag went. But another and perhaps more important reason was that female cloistered religious were regarded as legally dead and thus could not claim a part of their fathers' estates. Many families put girls in the cloister for precisely that reason. But the legal status of active orders was very unclear.

So cloistered orders were both more respectable and more convenient for the families of young women in the early modern era. The "active" orders, the ones performing corporal works of mercy, got no respect and had to pretend to be just ordinary girls doing nothing in particular, in order to avoid the wrath of the authorities.

The women who became involved in these groups of sisters, as they came to be known, without solemn vows or a house of their own, were generally exceptionally dedicated: their vocation may have been strong, but it was not supported by social and religious "norms".

L.Legault

p.s. It was not the Pope but the archbishop of Lyon, as far as I recall, who objected to allowing the Visitation to have a more active role in the world. This was a great pity, for Francois de Sales had founded it, on behalf of Jeanne de Chantal, for precisely that reason: to allow her and women like her to go about in the world performing works of mercy for women in the world, and to allow the latter a temporary refuge within the Visitation's walls. That was indeed why the name "Visitation" was chosen; it implied women who could come and go as they saw fit on other women's behalf.

Zach said...

Hilary, I do hope that you will actually finish a book some time.

peace,
Zach

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

L.Legault,

I did actually do the research and I am familiar with this interpretation. It is the accepted understanding in academia, often even more strongly tinged with feminist theory (and anti-Catholic rants). I was this theory that I rejected when I had examined the evidence myself.

berenike said...

That would be a book worth writing, SteveT.

"The poor you will always have with you". And the young, the old, the sick ... I wonder if it is not sensible, as sometimes happens, for small local congregations of similar apostolate and spirituality to join up, or move, as the kind of work needed in an area changes. A well-thought-out definition at the beginning must make things easier. So the MCs and the CFRs both have an element in their constitutions that means they have to go where the poor people are. If an area becomes well-off, the CFRs are to leave. The MCs may not run hospitals, teach above a certain basic level, etc.

But then St Dominic's first female foundation was for the education of the well-off or well-born. Seems a reasonable job, if carrying some dangers for religious life.

St Thomas was a university professor. I don't suppose there's anything against a female religious doing the same thing.

Etc. The point is that, while I quite understand your point of view, religious going out and doing stuff is perhaps harder to get right than monastic religious life, but it's not a bad thing. You might like br Paul Coleman's observations on the "religiousness" of religious life:
Brother and Priest.

Anonymous said...

The only form of religious life that will persevere to the end is the monastic form. I have always believed this. What is really lacking in the Catholic Church is an understanding of, and appreciation for, the monastic life. We really should look to the Orthodox to see how much monastic life is valued, even amongst those who live a completely secular life. It is not uncommon for the Orthodox to go and visit their local monastery on Sundays for the liturgy, and for spiritual guidance from the resident nuns or monks, or to visit for a longer period of time, in order to recharge one's "spiritual batteries" so to speak. And you find this is common amongst young and old. If it comes up in conversation that some young man or woman has entered a monastery, eyebrows are not raised and it is not a conversation killer. Becoming a monastic is seen as an acceptable vocation in life, not an aberration as it has become in the West. The Church needs to foster a better awareness of monastic life, especially among the young. The world needs prayer more than anything else.
Lydia

Anonymous said...

Well, as the subject of female religious (in early modern France) was my speciality as a researcher, I "did the research myself" too, working from primary sources, and those were the conclusions I reached. I would be interested to know what you read.

I am not certain, however, what it is precisely that you disagree with in my comment, or what makes the interpretation I laid out above vulnerable to feminism. If anything was to blame for the struggles of the active orders, it was women's families, especially in France, and not Rome or the Popes. I had thought this was a rather Catholic-friendly view, if anything. Also, I assure you that, although female, I am not generally regarded as much of a feminist.

In any case, I have read the letters of Francois de Sales and those of the bishops of Lyon relevant to this case, and can say with some certainty (as much as is ever possible for a historian) that the history of the Visitation and the reason for its restriction to the cloister was as I have described it.

L. Legault

Gregory said...

For someone who isn't really interested in nuns, you do seem to have a great deal to say on the subject. You should write up a precis of a book and shop it around.

Gregory said...

I meant to add "all of it" (i.e. what you have to say) worthy and interesting. Seriously, shop the book around.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Mostly I just don't feel like writing a book right now.

Maybe in ten years. If the Lord spares me.

The Falcon said...

The modern enemies of the Church and those who seek its destruction, whether within and without, have the same proposition for its "survival":

"Out with all the religious mumbo jumbo, evangelisation and the moral crap and just concentrate on the social work".

In their view that is all Jesus was about and his "love" has been redefined as the modern "lurve" where he would approve of and affirm everyone in whatever their proclivities and feelings, but particularly their feelings, lead them to.

Mark Scott Abeln said...

Unfortunately politics in the U.S. is so polarized that an individual is often forced to stand on one side of the fence or the other. It is nearly impossible to propose another way without attracting hordes of propagandists from the two parties.

During the American Civil War. individuals had to choose one side or the other or face death. Archbishop Kenrick however, remained neutral during the war and faced brutal attacks by both sides, with many neutral Catholics being murdered by roving gangs. It was during this war that the great religious hospital orders grew tremendously. We still have a few around here, fabulously wealthy, but with few Sisters.

Hilary, if you have the time and inclination, I'd like to hear your views of how American-style conservatism is harming the new religious orders.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear your views of how American-style conservatism is harming the new religious orders.

You didn't ask me but I have an opinion.

I don't know what our hostess would say, but what I see going on is that conservative subcultures in the US have put young women in a hopeless bind: they've made marriage and motherhood completely unattractive, but demonized honorable careers. They've made it clear that if a young woman wants anything, anything at all, and also marriage and children, she is entirely on her own, just as women are in the outside, mainstream culture.

Being a good wife and mother in conservative circles means years of inadequate sleep, sometimes dangerously inadequate. It means being left completely alone with small children for hours and hours on end, often with no transportation in a suburb where you can't walk anywhere. It means, very often, complete selfabnegation, to the point where young mothers don't have the resources to get personal grooming done, go to the dentist, or eat a meal with both hands *for years.*

Now sure you can make a case that this is sanctifying, but at that point... why not just be a nun?

Anonymous said...

Oops that was me! And also, the answer to this is domestic service, understood as an apprenticeship to housewifery. But I don't know how we're getting there from here because the conservativesphere is full of people who think they're extra awesome for never showering without infant accompaniment and having no life. It's kind of like the probability of reforming medical school. - Karen

Mrs Doyle said...

Karen, I think you make a good point here.

I was going to get a bit huffy at the suggestion that the new-conservative wave is dangerous to the new religious orders in the US, but I can see the link now.

I will certainly not assume that all young women who join the convent in the States do it for the same reason, but I remember when Oprah had those sisters (was it the Nashville Dominicans?) and hearing the different reasons as to why some of the young sisters joined was a bit odd.
I remember quite a few of them saying that they had been very successful in their careers but felt that there was something 'missing'.
Now, if it is that they actually had a calling to that vocation, all well and good.
But I did get the impression that they found a secular career in compatible with being a 'good Catholic' and having the ability to have a very deep spiritual life at the same time.

Maybe, I'm reading into this and being slightly unfair, seeing as though I have a particular lay vocation which emphasizes this.

Seeing as though I don't live in the US, it's hard for me to comment specifically, but I do recognise that same attitude to a woman's life that Karen mentions in some majorly trad circles in Australia.
I find myself wondering if some people I know (from these 'subcultures') think that because I've been at uni for years getting a few qualifications, that would automatically mean that I wouldn't be interested in getting married and having children.
Maybe that's why none of the men speak to me?!

Mark Scott Abeln said...

Karen,

When I was a child, there were lots of families nearby and the adults and older relatives all looked after us. Nowadays you can't just trust people as much, and they may not be available.

Of course, the socialists would just have all the children in day care and the public schools all day while the mother does some activity specifically approved of by the State.


Mrs Doyle:

It is difficult living in the world and having a deep spiritual life. Wasn't it for this reason that monasteries were developed?

Mark Scott Abeln said...

Mrs. Doyle:

Oh, and multiple degrees are probably intimidating to most men. Please note how relatively few men are in higher degree programs these days, so it will likely get much worse. However, I've noticed that women with multiple degrees often seek the same in their men, making the situation doubly worse. My experience with female medical students at parties is dismal in this regard; however, female law students were always willing to date me.

This, of course, is a commie plot to reduce birthrates and to break up traditional culture.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Mr. Albeln. When you were a child, that is how it was. It isn't like that now. The only two available answers are:

1) put your kids in daycare so you can have a career, and also, get to use a bathroom with a door on it alone

2) be a martyr homeschool mommy who gets made fun of for not dyeing her grey by Kathy Shaidle

Nobody is coming up with any other ones. Occasionally some jerkwad like John Reilly will point out the creepy, isolating, antisocial nature of many religious homeschoolers, but they seem to believe we're all keeping out kids out of school because of some kind of feminine nonsense, not so that they can learn to read or anything important like that.

I think there is another really weird and creepy thing going on, which is that adults in conservative circles are unwilling to accept that children grow up and become adults themselves. I do not know of one single marriage among the young religious people of my acquaintance that was not opposed by their parents. And these are good marriages between people who were ready. Nobody is *really* interested in getting young people married, because that means they'll have to accept that they have stepped off the stage. So I wonder if this is going on with the new vocations also - it's a way to not have to defy your family.

Anonymous said...

SORRY THAT WAS ME AGAIN - Karen

Catherine said...

Mrs Doyle, I apologize for the bluntness. But from my experience inside Australian TLM circles, the young men aren't avoiding you because you intimidate them, but because they wouldn't know dating-related assertiveness if they were hit in the face with a censer full of it.

Mrs Doyle said...

Nice one Catherine! I knew there was another more sensible reason! Why is that?

M.S Abeln:
Reason why monasteries were founded?

I don't know enough about the history of monasteries to comment, but I do know that we need a much better understanding of a lay vocation, which actually incorporates elements of the other vocations - for instance, the idea of spiritual motherhood/fatherhood (from marriage), the need for detachment, contemplation and obedience to God's will whilst living in the world (learning from the vows of some religious) - obviously properly understood in the lay context.
Do you ever hear priests talk about this in terms of lay vocations? Nup. We always get the impression that unless you've got a tick next to one of the recognised vocations - the ones on the posters - everyone else is sort of let off the hook and left to fend for themselves.

Anonymous said...

That's because the content of "lay vocations" are booooooring and involve things like checking up on your actual neighbors. Everyone wants to be a star in their own little religious movie instead.- Karen

Catherine said...

Mrs Doyle, the mens' non-assertiveness seemed like just one aspect of the unfortunate passivity and fatalism I saw in the Australian TLM community. "God wants me to accept my suffering and we're nothing like those self-improving Protestants, so I'll just sit here until He throws a wife/job/money at me." I kept attending TLM masses there until I left the country, but I never really got involved with the community socially, because I found the attitude quite damaging both to my mental health and to my faith. Yes guys, God wants you to trust in Him, but I'm sure He wouldn't be opposed to you politely introducing yourself to the unmarried 32-year-old woman who's still living with her parents and four adult sisters.

Anonymous said...

Catherine
In one week's time I am due to marry such a man: from an Australian TLM parish. He was anything but passive!

Lydia

Catherine said...

Lydia, I am so happy for you! Hopefully I have been over-generalizing here and there are many more TLM men like your future husband.

M. Alexander said...

Do you think that Traditional Catholic mothers make motherhood and wifehood look unappealing because of their constant complaints about their "sacrifice" and their "suffering" and their "martyrdom" instead of just enjoying it.

I mean a few generations ago we were burying 50% of our children before they reached adulthood. Vis a vis that modern day mothering doesn't look so bad.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone raising children has enough time to make anything look unappealing. I'm sorry I'm not spiritual enough to enjoy the vigor of my healthy children from the time the first one arises 6am until the last one drops off at 12am. Perhaps you could come over and take them for a run around the block so I could go to the dentist or take a nap? I'd be happy to give you my address. - Karen

Anonymous said...

i joined the ssm's(now fsm's) quite a few years ago & left after 3 years. the 1st thing that set me on my road to leaving was that i wanted to bring one of the girls i was working with ( i worked with prostitutes)home to the convent for dinner. this was met with looks of horror - she's a prostitute!. i said no one would know or would they likje her to wear a sign. really, would Jesus have said that?
all the women in my class left (all 4 of us) as did the 1 woman in the class after us. one of my classmates is now an episcopal priest.
i have a feeling we were one the last classes.