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Nuns, monasteries, blogs and brownie theology

More young women are entering convents, and that's good news for older nuns, whose average age is 69, says a Time Magazine article, Nov. 13.

Anglican monasticism also seems to be on the rise. The Order of St. Julian was established in Wisconsin in 1985. It's a Benedictine double monastery, much like the monasteries of the early English Church.

While the Church doesn't recognize orders in other denominations, I'm heartened, as a former Episcopalian, to see Anglicans returning to their Catholic roots and the veneration of the English saints--Hilda, Werburga, Etheldreda, Cuthbert, Aidan, Guthlac, et. al--who were instrumental in establishing Christianity in England, but are not well-known in Roman Catholic circles. 

Many young nuns are wearing habits and keeping blogs (the Time article links to some), which is no surprise to me if the ones I met at an Up North Michigan rest stop last summer are typical. They were wearing Nikes under those habits, giggling over the funny post cards, and slurping up Cokes at the Taco Bell concession.   

My favorite nun blog, though, is "Ask Sister Mary Margaret," written by the astringent sister of the same name, whose motto is, "Life is tough, but nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice, ask Sister Mary Margaret. She'll help you. Just don't expect any sympathy."

I suspect Sister Mary Margaret isn't really a nun, but she comes pretty darn close to the real thing. Sister offers information about Catholic teaching, most of it pretty sound and no-nonsense, and riffs on life in general. If you browse the site, don't miss recent posts on "Brownie Theology" and "All Souls Day," which offers excellent guidelines for praying for the souls in Purgatory.

Thanks to my friend, Sister S.M., LSHP, for linking me up with some of the above info!

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As some of our old dear friends who are nuns of many years become ill or unable to function, I wonder just how well they are cared for, especially from outside their orders as say, opposed to diocesan priests.As to young religious, I would hope those who are making xcellent contributions in the community by day do not return to the convents of pre-Vatican II with the strictures of blind obedience with little input for gifts.

That photo reminded me of the once-obligatory annual photo of Cardinal Cushing beaming at nuns playing tennis, volleyball, etc. All parties were, of course, kitted out, no matter what the weather, in full clerical and nunsensical drag.

>>As to young religious, I would hope [they]... do not return to the convents of pre-Vatican II with the strictures of blind obedience with little input for gifts.<

Fellas! Why is a nice little story about more nuns turning into a food fight?Consider that there is probably a convent in just about every timezone on earth, and when you get up nights beset with worries or taking care of a sick relative, there are nuns, somewhere, up with you and praying for you, even though they don't even know you.Perhaps we could return that favor by praying for THEM once in awhile. As I think Robert meant to do by hoping that their gifts were recognized and they were being well cared for in their elder years.

The problem with religious life is that it can now and has been an indirect affront to the other Christians, especially non-celibate ones. The reform of Vatican II was to stress that ALL were called to holiness not just a select few. The other side of that is that the non-celibates were not required to take the gospel as seriously,Becoming a nun has historically been an opportunity for women not to be mired down by subjection to a husband and, we should acknowledge, that was the main motive for many entering. The reality is the nuns had much more freedom than their counterparts who were married to macho men.Many fathers sent their daughters to convents so they could not claim their inheritance, leaving it all to the sons. Remember i promessi sposi.Nevertheless, nuns have been a greater example than priests and other religious by about a thousand to one. I would suggest this trend needs to be looked at as to whether it is a fad or not. Some of it looks like just differing with those in the past. Certainly more time is needed to give a fair assessment.

Bill, I gotta tell you. I don't see any "problem" with religious life being an affront to other Christians, non-celibate or otherwise.If you choose to interpret religious life as an affront to your own personal level of holiness, then that would be your problem, not theirs. Certainly I have met the pompous types who were under the impression that their lifestyle was inherently superior to others, but just because they acted superior doesn't mean I had to accept them as superior or be offended.Mostly I acknowledge them as the pompous windbags that they are and move on to someone else whose commitment is more genuine. And I have met many, many more of the genuine than the pompous.

My prayer for these religious is that they are where they are and doing what they are doing because God wants them there.I hope that none of them wakes up one morning and says, "I'm here because my parents want me here." or that they act in any particular manner because they believe that is what they should do.What every person in formation needs is a good novice master who makes sure that a disciple does not seek to live a life of role-playing.

Donna,My point is that religious life developed when the Christian community got more worldly and lost its focus. It went from being the church of the martyrs to the church of the privileged with the emperor giving patronage especially to Christians.That is the first point. The second is that bishops and popes have used relgious orders and congregations to fight their battles which have not always been the most noble.As for your point, I agree with you.

I share Bill's observation that the jury is still out.

Well, if Diogenes is a woman - the voice is not that of a woman that's for sure - then I suppose he is less like an "Uncle Di" and more like a "Mommy Dearest" insanely screaming at her daughter for putting her expensive dresses on wire hangers. Ah, but Joan Crawford, like "Uncle Di," was just engaging in one of the traditional works of mercy - instructing the ignorant and converting the sinners, wasn't she? True "teachable moments" for the daughter's (and our) edification.In all seriousness, Diogenes' theological road-rage cannot be truly nourishing for the soul. Even, when he is correct, Diogenes' poison-pen does not correct a single abuse that he decries, does not convert one sinner, does not make one bishop more competent, but does jack up the emotions of highly strung people. If Diogenes is who I think it is, he would serve the Church - and the causes which he supports - much better by faithfully carrying out his duties where God and his superior has placed him, rather than writing late nite screeds on a blog.

Whoops. Wrong post. Sorry.