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In light of the recent rebellion by certain US religious women against the Pope and Church teachings, it is opportune to recall two particular warnings made in the 1970s that some religious were misinterpreting the reforms of Vatican II.
One was by Cardinal Danielou, who was prominent at the Council, and his warning was recently published in The Wanderer.
The other one was by the famous Benedictine and historian, Dom David Knowles.
We have all seen the Tudor-like devastation of empty convents, monasteries and seminaries in some Western countries. We have also encountered wandering religious who seem to have no faith left at all.
Having abandoned the regulated life of prayer and penance some have become captivated by pantheistic nature worship, radical feminism, enneagrams, sexual liberation, etc.
Dom David Knowles wrote in 1974, in his definitive work Bare Ruined Choirs that "when once a religious order or house ceases to have its members abandon all things that are not of God and ceases to show them the narrow way that leads to an imitation of Christ, it sinks to the level of a human institution." Whatever its works may be, they are of the world and not of eternity.
"A Rule given by its founder with an acknowledged fullness of spiritual wisdom, approved by the Church, tested and experienced by the saints, is a safe path and for the religious the only safe path. If one follows this path, one walketh not in darkness."
To which I would only add that this means the full Rule and not a minimalist modern free-and-easy version.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 25 No 10 (November 2012), p. 14
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