Though the number of young people entering monasteries, convents, and the priesthood has drastically dropped from the mid-20th century, some new approaches to religious vocations have inspired some young people in America to embrace this idea, replenishing several of the older religious orders and filling new ones.
In other words, a smaller proportion than ever of faithful youths are trying to keep the old gray mare alive. But she ain't what she used to be.
The growth in these orders provides a striking contrast to the continuing decline in Catholic monastic and religious life generally. In 1965, there were twice as many religious priests and brothers as today. There are just one-third as many nuns. According to Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, the average monk is in his early 70s, the average nun in her mid-70s. The mission of many orders has become simply caring for their aging populations as they sell properties and consolidate with others.
The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles are the most famous example of the combustible combination of the times and the dissatisfaction of many religious. In 1966, humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers led a series of "encounter sessions" with the sisters, urging them to seek personal fulfillment. Within the next several years, the order nearly vanished. In many orders at the time, the vow of chastity was widely ignored.
I especially like the idea of nuns abandoning their chastity vows. How deliciously blasphemous. It's like a bird unbinding its wings and, ignoring the demands of the invisible bird cage, taking flight into the clear blue sky.
Father Anderson says, "We were only a bunch of bums, but by becoming nothing, you can be a part of something great."
Way to go, Father Anderson. Tell us over and over again that the way to worthiness in life is by believing yourself to be a worthless bum. And after that, maybe you can explain to us why drenching oneself in blood will result in a "cleansing." Down is up, and up is down, and like Mr. Fickett says, there is hope for Catholicism in it's current withering on the vine of society. Yeah, right!