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Friday 21 August 2015

What You Freely Have Been Given...

Christ calls many people to Himself, but few listen. We are entering the era of the dearth of sacraments in areas of the West. Not since missionary days has the Church witnessed so few priests for so many people.

When God calls men and women to Himself, He says, "What you have been freely given, give freely," especially in the West where people have been given so many opportunities for financial stability and comfort.  The LIttle Flower is an example of freely giving what she received.

But, few respond to this radical call today.

The lack of vocations is not because God is no longer calling young men and young women, but because those people are either saying "no", or are not encouraged. Even trads are not encouraging their children to become religious. I am not sure why, but have some ideas why.

Encouragement from families needs to be part of the discerning process.

Too few youth have been taught how to discern decisions in their lives. Too few know how to pray, reflect, think. One thing the saints have in common is that they prayed.

We are coming to the end of the year of celebration for the birth of St. Teresa of Avila. Born in 1515, this great saint had to discern her own call, and for a while, got it wrong. She was called to renew the Carmelite Order which had fallen into laxity.

Nuns were talking too much with visitors, poverty had been set aside for comforts, endowments meant that the various houses did not have to rely on Providence for daily needs, prayer was lacking.

Her call was not merely to become a Carmelite, but to bring the Order back to its roots, the clean, pure roots which had been established by St. Simon Stock.

I have been to Aylesford in Kent, the oldest site of the Carmelites, and there it is obvious that the Order needs purifying again. But, few have answered God's call to follow Teresa and put the radical love of God, silence, and real poverty as priorities, rather than temporary "causes", large gatherings, and banal liturgies.

One senses the demise of the spirit of the Order in the Midwest as well.

Where is the energy in this order and others to bring saints into the world, or to pray for the chaos in the Church to change into a new focus for holiness?

Reading about the life of Simon Stock, one is struck by his great energy, always a sign of holiness, and one is struck with the ebb and flow of charisms within the order

from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

St. Simon obtained from Innocent IV an interim approbation, as well as certain modifications of the rule (1247). Henceforth foundations were no longer restricted to deserts but might be made in cities and the suburbs of towns; the solitary life was abandoned for community life; meals were to be taken in common; theabstinence, though not dispensed with, was rendered less stringent; the silence was restricted to the timebetween Compline and Prime of the following day; donkeys and mules might be kept for traveling and the transport of goods, and fowls for the needs of the kitchen. Thus the order ceased to be eremitical and became one of the mendicant orders. Its first title, Fratres eremitæ de Monte Carmeli, and, after the building of a chapelon Carmel in honour of Our Lady (c. 1220), Eremitæ Sanctæ Mariæ de Monte Carmeli, was now changed intoFratres Ordinis Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmeli. By an ordinance of the Apostolic Chancery of 1477 it was further amplified, Fratres Ordinis Beatissimæ Dei Genitricus semperque Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmeli, which title was rendered obligatory by the General Chapter of 1680.

Having obtained the mitigation of the rule, St. Simon Stock, who was altogether in favour of the active life, opened houses at Cambridge (1249), Oxford (1253), London (about the same time), York (1255), Paris (1259),Bologna (1260), Naples (date uncertain), etc. He strove especially to implant the order at the universities, partly to secure for the religious the advantages of a higher education, partly to increase the number of vocations among the undergraduates. Although the zenith of the mendicant orders had already passed he was successful in both respects. The rapid increase of convents and novices, however, proved dangerous; the rule being far stricter than those of St. Francis and St. Dominic, discouragement and discontent seized many of the brothers, while the bishops and the parochial clergy continued to offer resistance to the development of the order. He died a centenarian before peace was fully restored. With the election of Nicholas Gallicus (1265-71) a reaction set in; the new general, being much opposed to the exercise of the sacred ministry, favoured exclusively the contemplative life. To this end he wrote a lengthy letter entitled "Ignea sagitta" (unedited) in which he condemned in greatly exaggerated terms what he called the dangerous occupations of preaching and hearing confessions. His words remaining unheeded, he resigned his office, as did also his successor, Radulphus Alemannus (1271-74), who belonged to the same school of thought.

St. Teresa brought the Order back to the foundations of contemplative prayer and a more eremitical life. But, these gifts to the Church have been set aside in too many convents for active ministry.

We need contemplatives, as well as "actives".

Today, I ask young readers to consider following Christ by joining and renewing the religious orders which need renewal. What you have been freely given, give away freely.

I suggest young women look at the Carmelites in Denton, Nebraska. I also suggest young women looking at the Benedictines in Kansas, Our Lady Queen of Apostles, as well as the Benedictines at Clear Creek.

Young men have more options in places where there is renewal: Clear Creek, Wyoming Carmelites, Order of St. John in Princeville, Il., (there are nuns there as well-I have visited this very interesting place), the Institute of Christ the King, the Fraternity of St. Peter, and more.

Any Readers from Wisconsin?

If so, please contact me privately in comments and send me your email, if I do not have it.


This Is Fantastic

Calling Good Evil and Evil Good

Catholic Taliban

I am very concerned about some Catholic parents, most likely not anyone who reads this blog, who have decided that their home schooled girls do not need academic training or education.

I consider not teaching your girls classical education as child abuse. Western education was created by the Catholic Church through the Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, and many other orders featured on this blog.

The great heritage of liberal arts education was created by the members of these orders, as were the great colleges and universities of Europe. Catholic girls should be educated so that they can attend the great Catholic colleges of our day: Thomas Aquinas, Wyoming Catholic, Christendom and so on.

That Catholic parents choose anti-intellectualism alarms me, as to be a Catholic is to be educated in the glorious disciplines created and fostered by Catholics throughout the history of the Church.

Why would parents not want their girls to learn the classics? Disciplining the mind by studying grammar, music, math, art, literature, history, geography, and, of course, religion, have been part of our Catholic culture for over a millennium.

Do these anti-intellectual Catholics, many of whom are trads and charismatics, (sharing an odd ideal which they have in common), think that God does not intend us to use our intellect?

The intellect must be developed not only for skills, for logic, for rational discourse, but for prayer. The worse sins happen in the intellect, and all Catholics must learn to fight these sins in that part of our being.

Intellectual purity does not mean the absence of intellectual studies, on the contrary. Purity of the intellect does not mean emptiness, but a working with knowledge in grace, in appropriate studies, in the virtue of studiosity. In fact, this virtue cannot be ignored without sinning.

Recall my series on the Maritains, intelligence and prayer; recall my many posts on classical education. Follow the tags.

Virtue training involves the mind, not merely the hands. Virtue training comes with developing one's intellectual gifts, which we all have at various levels as God has given us, of intellectual abilities.

To ignore the disciplines of learning to is actually interfere not only with God's plans for one's life, but essential for coming to know God.

Few saints had infused knowledge. Most learned about God through the hard study and meditation, first of Scripture, and then of reading and studying the Doctors of the Church, and the writings and sermons of the great saints.

To deny children, especially high school age girls of the beauties of knowledge is, simply, child abuse. Some parents think that these girls or young women who only know how to sew, cook, take care of children will be good wives. Absolutely not. The Catholic husband needs a help-mate even in the area of intellectual discussion.

We do not need ignorant girls and ignorant women. We need savvy women, who can teach their children all the subjects in home schools. Of course, the skills of cooking, sewing and so forth can also be accomplished. All these skills can be learned well easily. Getting a higher degree does not mean one does not know how to cook or sew or can tomatoes. Many of us did all these things, and more. We made candles, soap, went back to the basics in household duties, and still managed to learn various academic subjects.

We learned how to properly entertain for visitors, and we learned womanly manners. We also learned that to be a woman meant learning our heritage, culture, faith.

Look at the writings of the great Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena.

We have in the Church, these women,  who are Doctors of the Church, not because they could cook and sew, but because they could pray, write, advise people, even popes. They knew the Scriptures, and much theology, as well a music.

To ignore the glories of our own culture, the Catholic culture, amounts to choosing anti-intellectualism and becoming a Catholic Taliban. Ignoring the intellect of young women does not prepare them for sainthood, but for stunted growth, and possibly, rebellion.