Our summer updating seminar was on the vow of obedience, and was led by Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, a former member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission (kind of a theological think-tank at the service of the Pope). Sister Sara is also a member of the Academy of Catholic Theology, a fairly new organization of high-level scholars. I was happy to learn about it! It was fascinating to hear from a scholar of her rank about the origins of a great deal of confusion in religious life during and after Vatican II. I think her findings are going to be released soon in a book form, so I will not break any implicit embargo by trying to express them here, other than to say I was surprised to learn that the upheaval in religious life that I witnessed as a child and young person was not at all inspired by the document on religious life ("Perfectae Caritatis"), but was from a proposed set of interpretive notes on "Lumen Gentium" in a phrase that had been "voted off the island" by the bishops!
My retreat started the second day after the seminar, and that's when the back trouble also roared to life, causing me to spend approximately half of my retreat week in the chiropractor's office. I even found a doctor in the neighborhood of the retreat house to cut down on the time I had to suffer the Boston traffic in my search for relief. Since the time not spent in the chiropractor's office was spent with an ice pack, my retreat was characterized by the recitation of many, many rosaries and a lot of reflection on the mystery of suffering. I am in much, much better shape now, thanks be to God and the good doctors, whose caring spirit was so obvious.
|Singing before the Vow Day Mass.|
I had to miss choir practice a couple of times in order to share with our junior professed sisters a study I did years ago on a contribution of our Founder to our manual of prayers, a 30-station "way of humanity" (like the way of the Cross, but covering the entirety of Salvation History; the Founder's favorite word was "tutto: everything!"). It was good revisiting the notes and beginning to update them. Sister Donna thought there was something in there worth publishing; we'll see--eventually!
|Sister Charitas (left) gets her first glimpse of Sister Carly Paula|
wearing the habit. Sister Chelsea Bethany is just behind the two.
Over the past two weeks, six of our sisters were visited by bereavements. I knew only one of the deceased, the father of the sister who runs our IT works. He was a delightful, genuinely loveable man, a father of seven married 68 years. I remember him telling me the role his then-girlfriend had in his conversion to Catholicism. He had jokingly (and confidently) asked which she would choose, if it came to that: him or her Catholic faith. "Why, my faith of course!" That's when he realized that if he wanted her hand, he had better take a look at her Church. He became a daily communicant and, as the old poem goes, "the Daddy of a nun." May he and the loved ones of all of our mourning sisters, rest in peace!
As I shift back into "ordinary time" in the Lord's service, my first task is to pull together our autumn fund-raising "webathon." I'll also be preparing a talk for a quick trip to Cleveland in early October: more details when I get them. And get ready for those Christmas concerts if you live in the areas of Staten Island, Piscataway, Rahway, Philadelphia (St Katharine's), Marshfield or...Jamaica Plain!