Friday, October 17, 2008

Dwindling Catholic Devotion is a Good Thing, Says Some Catholic

Leave it to Slate writer Harold Fickett to put a hopeful spin on a story about a dying breed. But behind the spin, this article reveals what I've been saying, and seeing, for years: Belief in religion is dwindling, and the importance of religion is also decreasing within the minds of its adherents.

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!


FrodoSaves said...

"Tell us over and over again that the way to worthiness in life is by believing yourself to be a worthless bum."

I never understand how people are supposed to get a kick out of feeling like they have no value? You might as well say "only through prostrating yourself on the ground and eating shit as your three square meals a day will Jesus love you." And also, Islam means 'submission'. Like that's supposed to be a good thing?

breakerslion said...

This has been going on for a long time. The Levi clan claimed they were cursed by God and therefore had to be Temple parasites with soft hands instead of doing real work. Then there was the whole hair shirt thing...

When you're begging for money, it really helps to look poor, or miserable, or both. Really gets the sympathy flowing. The trick is, to find some masochists that will take a vow of poverty or something because they have been taught to feel guilty about being alive. You let these types "front" for the church, and no one notices that the higher-ups are eating the good cake off the good china.