Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Sisters" of St Joseph?

Well, it is raining buckets here in Melbourne, the birthplace of (very soon to be) Saint Mary of the Cross (aka Mary MacKillop). God must be very confused at the moment: for years we have been praying for rain, but not a few are now praying for fine weather for Sunday's festivities (see here for full details).

The Catholic Weekly (Sydney) has this picture in their 17 October edition:

At first I thought "Isn't that nice? Some Sisters of St Joseph have decided to celebrate the canonisation of their founder by donning the habit that she gave them to identify them and their mission."

Silly me. The youthfulness of the "sisters" should have been a dead give-away. (In the early years of the order, most of the members were under 30, and in fact many of them under 21. Not anymore.) In fact these "sisters" are the cast of the Mary MacKillop musical stage production, on an outing on the "Mary MacKillop" ferry in Sydney Harbour. You must agree though, that their happy smiling faces and the instant "brand" recognisability of the habit are a good advertisment for more than just the musical. (BTW, did you pick up in the Compass program on Sunday the business about the "Black-" and "Brown-Joeys" working to bury the hatchet on their ancient division - with the consideration that perhaps they might now call themselves the "Green Joeys"? Thankfully that idea went in the waste paper basket.)

Still, wouldn't it be a nice thing if on Sunday all Josephite sisters were to dust off the old habits and don them in honour of the canonisation of their founder?


At Saturday, October 16, 2010 1:21:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

As soon as I saw numbers 3 and 4 on the right I realised that this was a group of actors.,or else the cast of Australia's next top model had all decided to take vows of poverty,chastity,charity and humility .

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 2:18:00 am , Anonymous Fr John Fleming said...

The question of the wearing of the "habit" is an interesting one. There is nothing to say that the habit of a religious order can not and should not be altered. After all, when habits designed for the Northern European climate are brought to Australia, a good deal of suffering and hardship was needlessly afflicted on the Sisters. But common sense, including a good commercial common sense, should have dictated a modification which retained the essential identity of the old habit while making it more apt for modern conditions. The effect of the abandonment of the habit (I don't regard a broach as a habit) has, in my view been catastrophic just as the abandonment of distinctive clerical clothes (again a cross doesn't do it as many laypeople wear crosses too). It seems as if the Church has gone underground, is no longer visible in the way she once was. So it is not a surprise to me that the abolition of the habit (which seems to have gone hand in glove with the embracing of a 'comfortable' lifestyle - convent out, well appointed flats in) has not brought with it increased respect or an increase in vocations. The reverse seems to have happened. It can't all be blamed on the loss of the habit per se. It is more what the abandonment of the habit signifies as an attitude to the religious life. If the religious life is not counter cultural, why would you bother to get involved?

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 3:28:00 am , Anonymous An Liaig said...

My one of my aunts also was Sister of St. Joseph and she wore the habit until she died in the 1980s, resisting all attempts to take it away. She was a woman of transparent and luminious goodness and for her, and for all the other holy Josephite nuns who will never be canonized but are nonetheless saints with God, I will rejoice on Sunday.

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 3:44:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

Hi Tony,

Can I ask a question:

If the Pope was to appear dressed in a wooly old jumper or a business shirt with a tiny little cross on the sleeeve, would you recognise him or what would you think of him?

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 3:47:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

Yes, I would recognise him.

What would I think of him? Depends on the context.

But we're not talking about the Pope, are we? Surely, you don't want priests to dress like the Pope ... do you?

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:13:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

I think we need to be clear that the Church is canonising Mary MacKillop, not the order she founded, Gareth. And we can't hold Mary responsible for the things that have happened in the last forty years!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:15:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

[i]". . . besides a useless cross . . ."[/i]

Careful there, Gareth. Already I hear the crackle of the Holy Inquisition's flames licking about your feet!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:15:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

That's the spirit, Doctor!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:47:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

True, but it is also wise to remember a saint and their order go hand in hand and the order's flourishing is traditionally taken as a sign of God's blessings. Canonising a saint says to me that the Church approves of that order and wants it to continue its good work for the Church.

Do you really think the Church would canonise St Alphonus if the Redempotorists wear rebellious little things?

If the Jesuits had no vocations, would the Church had looked upon Saint Ignatius in the same light?

Would the Church have raised St Josemaria to the altar if it did not think Opus Dei had a worthy mission/aposolate for the Church?

What I was trying to say in the above is that I find the whole process of Mary Makillops canonisation rather odd in that it seems to have invoked and inspired people's interests in making musicals or stage productions about her, or making her into an 'Australian icon' with Phar Lap and all sorts of oddities where the heart of the matter is all swept under that carpet: ideally these great events should inspire the SSJ to carry out its mission more zeal - which is all a bit hard when that order is on the brink of self-destruction.

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 4:55:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

If the Holy Inquistion wants to stoop so low as to defend priests identifying their vocation by wearing a 1 c.m. minute thing on their sleeve that one could only see if you get a microscope out - then bring it on.

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 5:40:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

Biggles, fetch the ... cushions!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 6:08:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

Tony: Why?

Gareth: Because they have been chosen by God amongst the multitudes to dedicate their life to Him and therefore the Church should treat clerical dress as a badge of honour that their clergy are not off this world, but symbolically represent and belong fully to the Lord.

A priest once told me that sometimes when he wears a dog collar in public, he is identified by members of the public and they are moved to ask the priest to atke their confession - could this ever happen if they were in clerical or lay dress.

Anther priest that I know of who has never stepped out in public in his fifty years as a priest without clerical dress told me that the day he is ashamed to belong to the Lord is the day he will stop wearing his clerical attire - what a beautiful witness!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 6:12:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

You dont have much idea do you Tony thinking that a priest dressed in track pants or shorts just to 'get with the times' would inspire men to the priesthood.

How many Sisters with their permed hair and flowery blouses have inspired young women to take up religious life?

There is a book at the library called Catholicism for dummies that might suit you Tons but it might be a bit advanced

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 6:28:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

No! No! Not the comfy chair!

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 6:30:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

I am starting to worry about you Tons?

At Saturday, October 16, 2010 11:35:00 pm , Anonymous Peter Golding said...

Virtually all the teaching orders of nuns have all but disappeared from the post concilliar church.
They ditched their habits,disciplines and their teaching vocation and moved into social justice,feminism and earth worship.Needless to say,vocations quickly dried up.
I doubt that even a damn good thrashing with the fluffy cushions would have made any difference.

At Sunday, October 17, 2010 1:06:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

Because they have been chosen by God amongst the multitudes to dedicate their life to Him and therefore the Church should treat clerical dress as a badge of honour that their clergy are not off this world, but symbolically represent and belong fully to the Lord.

It's what follows the 'and therefore' that I have a problem with.

At Sunday, October 17, 2010 2:19:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

Thanks for the story An,

Despite my negativity about the SSJ order in its present form, after some deep prayer and mediation, I join in the chorus that the raising of Blessed Mary means and does something for me.

Over the past two to three years, my involvement in the Catholic Church has been a somewhat miserable experience and has shaked the very core of my beliefs.

My own church that I loved so much was closed down, I have lost two of my relatively close Catholic friends to suicicde, one of my best friends who was a devout Catholic marriage broke up and he left the Church and a distant relative whom 'attended Mass' that I previously respected had an abortion.

Having attended Mass close to daily for five years, I took a look around the Church (full of old people) and asked God what on earth was I doing here or why do I support the Church so much?

The Church where I live is dying, so I am not sure what I am doing anymore.

But the story of Blessed Mary's ex-communication (which would have been a heart-wrenching experience) and ability to perserve and fight on gives me hope.

This is not a sugar-coated saint, but someone that suffered intense blows throughout her life and remained true.

For this I thank God and join in with Australians across the country in which this event brings them renewened spiritual energy and hope.

At Sunday, October 17, 2010 4:51:00 am , Anonymous Tony said...

First thing, Gareth, I'm sorry to hear about the tough times you've experienced recently.

so according to you – how should priests and religious dress.

I wouldn't be proscriptive about it. How they dress is much less interesting to me than how they act.

Because if you give an answer along the lines of ‘as they have done over the past thirty years’ – surely this has already failied.

Depends on your definition of success I suppose, but mine has very little to do with appearances.

"The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life ..."

I'll defer to your recent position on the personal views or 'recommendations' of Popes!

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:31:00 am , Anonymous Peter Golding said...

I missed that Gareth.Which channel were you watching?I started on Sky News but when they started to ramble on about Mary's life story during the litany of saints I moved to the ABC's 24/7 news channel which,to it's credit,kept commentary relevant and to a minimum.
It was a great liturgy though.You cannot beat a Missa Solemnis with all the main prayers sung in latin.

At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:59:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

Thanks Tony, maybe, just maybe, we have found something in common now...

No-matter what one's faith background, experience or beliefs - it is always a challenge to trust in God.


At Tuesday, October 19, 2010 3:57:00 am , Anonymous Gareth said...

LOL - It must have had a rub-off effect on me, although in fairness there is nothing subtle about me.


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