The prophetic witness of religious sistersFATHER GEORGE RUTLER
The cycle of decadence and renewal is part of the organic life of the Church and, while exacting a sad cost to souls, is also the engine of great hope.
One recent consequence was the ill-advised decision of some Religious to ignore our bishops by endorsing the present government's health-care legislation. Groups such as Network and the Catholic Health Care Association preferred Caesar's coin to maintaining a prophetic witness to the dignity of life according to Catholic principles. Thirty pieces of silver in inflation-adjusted dollars are still thirty pieces of silver. That great reformer of conventual life, St. Teresa of Avila, once prayed, "How is it, Lord, that we are cowards in everything, save in opposing Thee?" Actually, the number of Religious who lost their way is not as great as some publicity has claimed, and the orthodox Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, established in 1992, has said that they "believe the bishops' position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church."
The closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, the last Catholic hospital in our city, reminded me of how that great institution impressed me when I visited there as a child in the 1950s, with the Sisters of Charity in their distinctive habits like ministering angels, and the Angelus and Rosary broadcast on the intercoms in all the sick rooms. The closing of the hospital doors, for many reasons including the high cost of contracts for staff, was also the closing of a priceless witness of consecrated Religious life in our urban culture.
Happily, if there is a natural selection in biology, there is certainly a supernatural selection in Religious life. While communities of Religious who opted for some vague New Age spirituality are aging and looking more like decaying infirmaries themselves, new Orders are forming with young and vibrant vocations. The cycle of decadence and renewal is part of the organic life of the Church and, while exacting a sad cost to souls, is also the engine of great hope. The saint of Avila said:
Father George William Rutler. "The prophetic witness of religious sisters." From the Pastor ( May 9, 2010).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 16 books, including: Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Copyright © 2010 Father George W. Rutler
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