Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nuns and their Bishops - not always a good fit.

"The bishops would have no lien on a purely autonomous, lay-run, civil entity..."  -  Most Diligent Mother: Angelica
No matter what one thinks of the charismatic Nadine Brown and her Companions, one ought to be very careful in passing judgements on her - I include myself in this as well.  Is this woman any different than some of the 'good girls', or for that matter some of the 'bad girls' that have caught the public attention in the history of the Catholic Church?   Brown's 'mission' or spirituality does not attract me in the least - before or after the inquisition - and to be sure, I am not qualified, nor eligible to assess her spiritual state or purpose, but in a way, it seems to me she is not so unusual among the 'sisterhood'.
Take St. Mary MacKillop for instance.  Excommunicated.  She cooperated and the excommunication was eventually lifted.  She like several other women religious saints suffered from the decisions of churchmen as well as members of their own communities.  I'm not defending Nadine Brown here - I'm just reminding everyone that such things have happened to better people than ourselves in the history of the Church.
More recently, Mother Angelica of EWTN took some pretty defiant stands against the country's bishops and at least one flaming cardinal in LA.  I wonder if Nadine Brown is not trying to emulate Mother Angelica on some level - convinced of what she perceives as her own divinely inspired mission?  (Be assured, I am not suggesting Nadine Brown is another Mother Angelica.)  Excerpt from A Most Diligent Mother: Angelica:
It was never easy. Every time Mother Angelica thought she was in the clear, another bishop would raise objections to her venture. Indeed, the bishops tried to outdo her by launching their own effort, the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America (CTNA). It was clear from the beginning that Mother Angelica was seen as a threat: EWTN had a traditional orientation and CTNA took a modernist stance. EWTN won. CTNA collapsed. 
It was not easy for the bishops to watch their own creation flounder while EWTN won the admiration of Pope John Paul II. Adding to their chagrin was their inability to get Mother Angelica to switch to a new interfaith satellite network. As to her own operations, Mother Angelica did not take kindly to those clerics who questioned her authority to showcase some bishops, but not others. "I happen to own the network," she instructed. When told that this would not be forever, she let loose: "I'll blow the damn thing up before you get your hands on it."
While she survived in the end, Mother Angelica had to ward off attempts by the bishops to take control of EWTN (one archbishop allegedly told her that certain bishops "want to destroy you"). To make sure this would never happen, Mother Angelica resigned from the network in order to save it: the bishops would have no lien on a purely autonomous, lay-run, civil entity. - Free Republic
Then there are the 'bad girls' - who do and say exactly as they please, and never seem to get in trouble.  Take the madams of the LCWR for instance, and don't forget Obama's nun, Sr. Carol Keehan.  Many progressive sisters staff retreat houses promoting New Age mysticism.  Colleges run by religious women are often bastions of radical feminism which condone choice and equality issues in defiance of Catholic teaching.  Few, if any of these ladies get so much as a reprimand from bishops.  Oh sure, they are undergoing a visitation these days - but I doubt any of them will be suppressed.  I may be wrong of course.


  1. Just for further clarification; the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels (Mother Angelica's community) is now under a Benedictine Nun as superior...the two "Mother Vicars" have been away on "sabbatical"...whatever that means.
    This is not gossip; their newsletters have given this info.
    They are presently "studying" what their "charism" is as Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration...hmmmm...methinks something is up here.
    As holy as Mother Angelica is (and I do not doubt this), the visitation of her monastery by the Holy See was not just because of EWTN...R. Arroyo documents what happened and it looks accurate.
    I'm no canon lawyer and I am not privvy to the "inner workings" of the Monastery, but something is just not right here.
    Maybe things have changed since I last read or heard what was going on.
    "Messing" with a bishop is not going to be a happy thing...whether you're right or you're wrong; Padre Pio was obedient even in the face of horrid injustice, slander, calumny an downright nastiness.
    It's the Way of the Cross...and it ain't pretty or nice.

  2. BTW - Excellent point about Padre Pio. Thanks!

  3. Excellent points, Terry.

  4. It's really scary to read about the problems that some of these new, post V2 orders have been having. And I hear rumors, too, about local ones.

    We may still be a long way from being out of trouble.

  5. Anonymous11:48 AM

    The Poor Clares at OLAM are going through some problems. 23 sisters have left. One of the Sisters was elected Vicaress and it caused problems. The Holy See had a visitation and the elected was considered invalid.

    The Sisters are happy with the Benedictine Sister currently serving as their superior and the Poor Clare Colettine acting as novice mistress. However, still a lot of sisters have left. Supposedly a group of them are going to found something else with Sr. Mary Catherine.

    None of this is surprising because you can't build a monastery on 1 person's charisma or with externals. I think we will see more of this as time goes on.

    Just pray for them because they are doing the best they can to keep the community together.

    Nadine Brown wasn't a nun...or a sister.

  6. 23 out of approximately how many vowed and professed sisters?

    If you watch the Rosary video that was done 5 or 10 years ago, there weren't a heckuva lot more than 23 in view.

    Pray for them. They have a pretty large mortgage, one would think, on the new shrine.

  7. Just a general observation about life.

    A lot of women are finding out that it is not as easy to manage people than they thought it would be when they were on the outside pounding on the door to be let into management.

  8. Just a general observation about business:

    A large percentage of family businesses fail when the first generation passes the baton on to the second generation.

    It seems to be happening in a lot of religious orders that sprung up after Vatican II

  9. We all know about the wonderful large religious orders of men and women that have been with us from 100 to 1,000 years.

    But if you'd look into the dusty pages of history, you'd probably find records of thousands of religious orders that failed, too.

    Maybe it would show that those failures generally happened after a brief spurt of early growth.

    A graduate student should study religious orders from an organizational point of view.

    People are fallible and human organizations can't be run on prayer and good intentions alone.

  10. Anonymous, I'm very sad to hear that about Our Lady of the Angels - I hope everything is resolved peacefully. Isn't there a daughter house in another state in the Southwest that just built a large monastery as well? How are they doing?

  11. Anonymous: Wow!
    This monastery has been making new foundations all over the place (in Texas, Arizona, S. Carolina--I believe--)
    this sounds dreadful.
    Prayers for all involved.

  12. Mr. Terry: The "Desert Nuns", originally from OLAM in Birmingham, are building this whole complex...I mean complex...
    the church itself rivals any parish church and there will be a whole "settlement" of a monastery for the Nuns, a retreat center, guest houses, etc.
    WTH does the money come from for this kind of endeavour?
    I mean really?
    I'm not jealous (it's good to be poor and obscure, yeah!) but what I can't figure out is how a group of twenty-something Sisters can pull off an endeavor costing millions of dollars in three short years?
    I know the Bishop of Phoenix is behind them; that is good and all;
    but MILLIONS of dollars???
    My pea brain can't get around that one (maybe I don't circulate in the right circles:-)!)

    1. They have a spouse with deep pockets! :) The Lord can do miraculous things for those that serve him with faith. The shrine down in hanceville was built from the donations of just five families.

  13. Anonymous3:00 PM

    S.C is not a new foundation of OLAM but a PCPA monastery from OH that relocated.
    TX and AZ are the 2 new foundations.
    I think the Sisters at OLAM will be OK and that this is probably the best thing for them because they will be rooted in something deeper than an attraction to externals and to the personality to Mother Angelica. I'm not saying that it was wrong to be attracted to Mother Angelica but a community has to grow beyond that.
    So, pray for them. They are going through a difficult time but new communities usually do and it's not necessarily a bad thing. What isn't so good is that because of the internet, etc. we watch these communities carefully and tend to judge them according to NUMBERS and SUCCESS in the same way that the world judges how a business is growing.

  14. Anonymous:
    I agree; wholeheartedly.
    The beautiful life of Perpetual Adoration that these Sisters are attempting to make present is a great gift for the world, for our Church.

  15. Anonymous8:14 PM

    Most successful monasteries go on to found extensions elsewhere. Mother Angelica sent her sisters out just for that purpose.

    I think EWTN has lost its loving personality since Mother is in the background and unable to influence things. I miss the various personalities from the simple people, friends she introduced to the rest of us. She wasn't afraid of the mystical and prophecy of the times. Now it's like a regimented order where the Holy Spirit Himself appears to be afraid to make a move!

    The "former" Mother Nadine was and is a beautiful person. What a swift and punishing move against her and all that she sacrificed for, with the help of the Holy Spirit. She immediately obeyed and I believe sees in this a deeper meaning of the cross that she had already said yes to - now truly living out those Beatitudes.

    Yes these are the times when the Faith will diminish as far as outward displays go - the prophets are being gagged over and over by the authorities of the times. And the necessary prayer groups/meetings, numbering in the thousands, universally, are being snuffed out by fiat of authorities too worried about image than being open to the full deposit of the faith. Now, just who might wish for that to happen when his time is getting short??? Fr. Gobbi said that the religious authorities/clerics are the Hors d'oeuvres for the evil one - once they're gobbled up, he can go for the main course!! He was often time guest of Mother A's too ... of course!

  16. Anonymous12:59 PM

    It was good to find this information regarding OLAM. There is natural curiosity as to what is happening in the monastery, due to the fact that the nuns and their monastery life was made public on EWTN. I think it's a genuine concern also, since because they were so visible on EWTN and essentially sat in our living rooms via EWTN, they almost became friends and family albeit through the TV waves. I personally would love to see Sr. Mary Catherine succeed in starting a new order if that's indeed what she is pursuing in her vocation. I pray for them and hope that all succeed in their endeavors. They are noticably quiet when asked what is happening. Might be good for them to comment on some of these changes. In Jesus Name and Mary's Love...


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