Friday, November 21, 2014

Roberto deMattei: How Vatican II had a real and lasting effect on religious sisters

The Following is an excerpt from the fantastic work "The Second Vatican Council - An Unwritten Story" by Professor Robert deMattei:

The “Updating” of religious life

“… Cardinal Spellman, as he opened the debate on November 10, asserted that, with the introduction of some modifications, the text could be accepted. Spellman denounced the risks of the so called modernization or “updating” of religious life, in an implicit polemic against Cardinal Suenens who in a book devoted to the Apostolic Development of the Religious Women (published in English as the Nun in the world), had proposed a radical reform of women’s religious life and saw in Vatican Council II the opportunity to carry it out. This reform, for the primate of Belgium, would have to redefine the role of women religious, by giving them an adequate “social training” and by making them spiritual directors of lay women. To this end it would be necessary to eliminate mercilessly certain “out of date” and “redundant” devotions that tended to “make the life of prayer mechanical and to atrophy it,” and to transform the “spiritual exercises of women religious so as “to amend and simplify them, to give their piety a a more biblical, liturgical, ecclesiastical and apostolic basis.”

Cardinal Suenens invited nuns to be more sincere and open in their mutual relations and to engage in “constructive self-criticism” of their religious practices.” He added that women religious must avoid giving the impression of “living outside the world they are trying to save,” as though isolated in a ghetto; the religious habit will have to be completely adapted to relations with the world and dispense with forms and rituals that no longer are part of our era. The concept of “obedience” also will have to be revise: the renunciation of one’s own will must not be placed before the service of the common good. The common good sometimes requires that subjects assert their point of view before superiors make a decision…

Bishop Guilly found it “truly surprising” that the schema on religious contained “so little about the other orders and congregations that are dedicated strictly to contemplative life.” It is precisely ‘these men and these women who with their prayers and their austeritites, their silence and their sacrifices, contribute more than all the others to the advancement of the Church’s apostolate.”

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