They smiled a lot, and to me they will forever epitomize Catholicism and femininity. They did not tell us, they showed us. They were young and happy, and during the rest of my life, in times of suffering and doubt, when I looked through my memories to find someone who represented happiness to me, someone whose example I could follow albeit stumbling, Sister James Clare was the beacon not only of holiness, but of happiness and the possibility of happiness in this world.
We all know what happened to nuns after the 60s. My last encounter with a nun was Sister D, the ex-nun who headed our CCD program, who declared openly that she did not believe in transubstantiation, whose business card offered her services in the areas of Enneagrams and Reflexology, and who,although she'd been kicked out of her order, like to be called "Sister".
There have been, of course, countermeasures since then. There is a delightful new crop of young sisters in different orders across the country wearing habits and living their vows. The Wild Ones are getting old, and they are tired, and they are dwindling in number from attrition, death, and the complete indifference of most young catholic women to what we must, for lack of a better term, call their various "charisms". And at last, the Vatican is publicly addressing their behavior.
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith,gave them a talk.
The Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the church,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told four members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Mueller said the LCWR — which represents about 80 percent of the more than 50,000 Catholic nuns in the U.S. – is dependent on the Vatican for its bona fides as a church body. He indicated that the group’s status, and the Catholic faith of the sisters, was at risk if they did not heed Rome’s directives.
“Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase … we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” Mueller said.
It's time. My son's first communion was orchestrated by a nun of indeterminate origin who banned communion veils and had them bake their own bread. (This necessitated a panicked call to a priest to verify the suitability of the bread--if it doesn't have the right ingredients, the communicant is performing an act of idolatry.)
It seems these women have their disciples throughout the parishes of America, and that is sad. Because they don't need unconditional acceptance or hero-worship or sympathy. They need to be disciplined, and they need our prayers.