Monks new and old

Spot the differences with Los Angeles Cathedral. Source: ForestMurmurs.blogspot.com

Sincere, orthodox Catholics are all too frequently afflicted by the many signs of decadence and corruption that have contaminated – as so often in Her history: the Latin saying ecclesia semper reformanda is neither new nor without ground – a large part of the Church. We have reported on this blog some of the most striking recent episodes and will, no doubt, have to sadden you with many others.

Still, we are not left without blue skies. One of the most striking phenomena observable in the post “spirit of V II”-era is that the emphatically progressive religious orders are generally dying, whilst the clearly conservative ones – often heavily inspired by pre-V II spirituality, following traditional pre-V II rules and using pre-V II liturgy – thrive.

Today I’d like to introduce you – courtesy of the excellent Forest Murmurs blog – to one of these examples. A new community of Carmelite Monks has been recently constituted in Wyoming. They follow the traditional rule of their order and their liturgy is pre-V II. What is remarkable in this new monastic community is that if you visit their internet site and browse a bit around to discover what their plans are you have the distinct impression that the “aggiornamento” has been wilfully ignored and that those who think that way do not fare badly at all.

First, let us look at the community. Seven monks at the moment. Expansion planned up to forty. Huge interest with 500 (five hundred) enquiries of potential novices last year alone, people leaving in the middle of Obama-America and considering to spend the rest of their lives devoting themselves to work and prayer in an isolated place in the Rocky Mountains.

Secondly, observe that money seems not to be a huge concern, as you can clearly see from the scale of the proposed works. This is a huge task of course and one to be realised during many years of prayers for the necessary financial resources, but you won’t find any such confidence in the future in, say, those dying communities of new-age, diversity-appraising, soi-disant religious sisters so concerned with being “inclusive”, that they forget to be Christian.

Thirdly and lastly, please observe the appearance (at the same time ideological stance) of the proposed works. Nothing “modern” here, no trace of “spirit of Vatican II” whatsoever. If the entire place had been planned several centuries ago, the differences would have been rather secondary.

I will leave you to visit the internet sites for yourself. They exude a solid faith, a very clear idea about how to do things (that is: keeping “aggiornamento” out of the main entrance), a strong confidence in the future and an obvious resonance among sincere seekers.

This seems to me a clear sign that even in the middle of the orgy of feel-good, everything-goes, non-judgmental, fuzzy attitude of too many representatives of today’s Church, the Holy Ghost quietly attends to the repair works to the Barque of Peter made necessary by half a century of “aggiornamento” follies. This is a slow and often hidden process but not a timid nor, I believe, a reversible one. We see the same tendencies towards the “old religion” slowly emerging a bit everywhere, among religious orders as well as among the laity, in the pews as on the internet. At the same time, the Vatican hierarchy very slowly but, I think, irresistibly steer the course towards more orthodox, authentically and unapologetically Catholic waters. It is as if the geyser of Catholic Truth would start bubbling again below the layer of mud deposited since the Sixties, biding its time and gathering energy for the eruption of renewed spirituality that in the life of the Church always followed periods of corruption and decay.

We certainly have grounds for rightful indignation but we have no reasons for pessimism or, worse, despair.

Mundabor

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36 Responses to Monks new and old

  1. Benedict Carter says:

    ” … the Holy Ghost quietly attends to the repair works to the Barque of Peter made necessary by half a century of “aggiornamento” follies”.

    Nail hit squarely on the head.

    Signs of this are everywhere, in France, America, Germany, South America, pretty much everywhere (well, and then there’s England ….). And it is this that gives hope – no, certainty, that the Catholic Church is indeed protected by God and will never wholly fail.

    Thanks, Mundabor.

  2. glynbenedict says:

    “We certainly have grounds for rightful indignation but we have no reasons for pessimism or, worse, despair.”

    Exactly what I was trying to say on another thread the other day. Thank you for this, Mundabor: it is a most encouraging piece, full of hope and optimism. More, please!

    Once again, we see what a difference we can make, when we turn aside from the mean, carping, cynicism of Another Place, and begin to set out a different vision, rooted in faith and hope – and, above all, charity. If we keep our eyes on such things we will thrive. GB

  3. Mundabor says:

    “we see what a difference we can make, when we turn aside from the mean, carping, cynicism of Another Place..”

    Was thinking of that just today, GlynBenedict.
    Here we find an ample variety of themes, some of them very touching, some other very instructing, other still presenting various events of the Catholic world at large.

    On that other site, today you have the umpteenth rant about what the PR people at the Vatican have allegedly done wrong, again. I strongly suspect that he couldn’t get a PR or press job there and has been throwing the toys out of the pram since.

    M

  4. churchmouse says:

    Yes, Mundabor, everyone’s posts here make this an outstanding blog. I really enjoy checking in everyday for hope, inspiration and information.

    I take it that, by ‘the other site’, you mean your erstwhile host? I haven’t been back to check since you folks inaugurated your blog. 🙂

  5. Mundabor says:

    Churchmouse,
    yes, I mean that site. You haven’t missed a lot, it has become a festival of back sctratching between atheists and pagans, with discussions about indian spirituality and the like.

    One poster is particularly obnoxious: the homosexual vicar posting abominations like “the Pope has been much accused about the paedophile priest scandal and some could say that where is smoke there is fire” and “Jesus as we know (sic!) did not mention homosexuality”.
    Chap hasn’t even read the Gospels, but he finds Eastern spirituality oh so fascinating….. this is modern Anglicanism for you and rather representative of the people you’ll find there today.

    M

  6. Gertrude says:

    Another traditional community – a bit nearer are the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (F.SS.R,) at Golgotha Monastery on Papa Stronsay – (http://papastronsayblogspot/) who like the Carmelites in Wyoming, seem to be flourishing, these dear priests and monks against many odds have a stable community and no shortage of vocations.
    These, as you say are all small steps but certainly show that tides are undoubtedly turning.

  7. misericordia2 says:

    The traditional orders themselves seem very optimistic about their future. They are
    not afraid of spending money and seem, rightly, confident of being able to raise it. The FSSP have recently built a beautiful chapel at their seminary in Nebraska,USA which was recently consecrated by Bishop Slattery and the ICKSP have spent a lot of money renovating their seminary and chapel in Florence.

    The ICKSP have an Apostolate in the North Westof England and priests from that order celebrate Mass every Sunday in my parish, Deo Gratias. I am sure that the future of the Church lies with the traditional orders, but it is hard not to be impatient. We could be looking at a century or so.

  8. afcote says:

    “well, and then there’s England”

    so there is. Whilst it is not a “trad” monastery, at least one quite conservative monastery is doing very well in England:

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/catholiclife/2010/07/08/priest-ordained-and-two-professed-at-belmont/

    I think it is important that, sympathetic to the EF and the pre-VII ways as we all are, that the “reform of the reform” does not exclude houses which do not have much EF activity but which are reverent and still do things properly, for from them grow potential future great things. I know the young monks of this house well, and they are to a man conservative in inclination. A couple of the more senior monks celebrate the EF, one weekly although not “in house”. Such “drift” towards reform of the reform is to be encouraged, rather than scorned as not being wholly EF.

    PS another major English monastery is clearly not unsympathetic:

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/catholiclife/2010/07/15/learning-the-mass-at-downside/

  9. afcote says:

    PPS thank you very much for this post. Monasticism is my especial interest, and this foundation is fascinating.

  10. lutonia says:

    Many thanks for that post Mundabor – we all need a bit of encouragement.

    One thing we need to remember, when we consider the state of the Church today, is that the liberals never appeal to the pronouncements or documents of Vatican II. No, they appeal to the ‘spirit of’ that Council. Because if they tried to defend what they were doing by appealing to the Council itself they would not get very far. But to say you are acting in some nebulous spirit is far harder to disprove.

    The fuzzy approach never really had a day – except that in a time of change they were the ones who knew what they wanted and made the running. It never really took off among ordinary Catholics. The same is true of other religions – what people seek is certainty. As the Psalmist says – if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
    Perhaps a renewal of the religious life is the First Blast of the Trumpet in this century.

  11. afcote says:

    Er, sorry for the repeat posts, but one’s brain doesn’t always think of everything at once.

    Does anyone know of any similar EF Cistercian houses, by the way?

    For the Benedictines, there are many thriving EF houses, such as the magnificent Fontgombault with 100 monks and also Le Barroux which had to found a daughter in Toulouse as it had too many vocations.

  12. Brother Burrito says:

    As always, God’s work will not appear first in the high street, or in the mainstream media, but hidden away in His womb’s of perfection, His Holy houses.

    His clarion needs special ears, to hear it. His standard needs special eyes, to see it.

    Renewal of the religious life, everywhere, is where it’s at!

  13. Mundabor says:

    “I am sure that the future of the Church lies with the traditional orders, but it is hard not to be impatient. We could be looking at a century or so”.

    Agree with every word, Misericordia. What I think will happen is that the traditionalist (both in perfect and imperfect communion) will gently but irresistibly attract the Vatican on their side; the demographic reality will do the rest.

    M

  14. Mundabor says:

    “that the liberals never appeal to the pronouncements or documents of Vatican II. No, they appeal to the ‘spirit of’ that Council.”

    I agree, father Hill.
    Still, I allow myself to believe that without V II we wouldn’t have had the “spirit of V II” in the first place.

    Cardinal Lefebvre signed all the conciliar documents and I think that no stronger argument can be brought about their being, on the whole, “not unsound”. Still, V II was like opening the Pandora’s box of the Modernist tendencies still more or less burning under the ashes; it went along with the spirit of “doing things in a new and modern way” so pervasive in those detente years; it incarnated the idea that everything had to change, even the Mass!

    If you ask me, Vatican II is the idea that one can start an avalanche and stop it when it has become uncomfortably big saying “hey, we didn’t want *that* much snow!” Every kind of revolution takes its own dynamic, that’s why they shouldn’t get started in the first place.

    Furthermore – and more disgracefully – Cardinal Lefebvre himself had warned (and how prophetic are his warning today, how totally shaming the Conciliar Fathers) of the dangers hidden in the unlucky formulations and in the entire atmosphere of the council. The revolution had already started and those with eyes to see very well knew what would come, already during the works.

    I do not accept the theory that Lefebvre was the only one intelligent and the others naive old men unable to see what was coming. They all knew, they all could see it as clearly as Lefebvre himself. But they preferred to go on and to ignore Lefebvre’s warnings, the syren of easy popularity now too tempting to resist, the expectation of “change” too strong that weak men may oppose it.

    I liked very much your citation about the trumpet with uncertain sound, but I see exactly the same problem happening with V II. The old and trusted trumpet, beautifully sounding, was suddenly declared old and inadequate and a new trumpet brought in. The new trumpet is in carbon fibre and looks horrible. It also has a strange synthetised sound based on an Eminem tune. The generals assure that this is the best trumpet ever. But when the new trumpet emits its synthetised Eminem sound, how many soldiers will charge?

    M

  15. Mundabor says:

    “It never really took off among ordinary Catholics”.

    How true, and how sad.
    Many Catholics simply started to lose respect; in time, they started not to attend anymore. Why should have they done so, with no one even insisting with them that they should? Why should they have clinged to Catholic tradition, with no one to defend and transmit it?
    This has been a demolition work from the inside, carried on with ruthless, smiling determination for decades.

    Isn’t it a sad contrast that this “reform” should fail (and failed it has, big time, the discussion is now only about the speed of the repair works) because not the clergy, but the laity withdrew its support in such a dramatic way?

    Sincere Catholics want the old religion. They want to live and die as their ancestors did. They are not conned by shiny new horrible looking and worse sounding carbon fibre trumpets.

    I wish you good night with some simple words. I read them, and read them again. And then again. I couldn’t find any fault in them. I can’t see how any sincere Catholic could.

    “What Catholics once were, we are. If we are wrong, then Catholics through the ages have been wrong.
    We are what you once were. We believe what you once believed.
    We worship as you once worshipped. If we are wrong now, you were wrong then. If you were right then, we are right now.”

    M

  16. Brother Burrito says:

    Before I enter into my magnum silentium, may I just say that this blog is becoming a Friary!

    Posters and commenters, mendicants all, here assemble to give witness to God through the day and the night.

    Long may peace and truth and beauty and goodness find their outlet here. Amen.

    Good night to you all.

  17. toadspittle says:

    TWO days ago, my wife and I were in the Carmelite convent in Avila. My wife, who had been there before some twelve years ago, asked the custodian if there was still an American nun there whom she had met at the time. No, she’s gone back to Wyoming to found a community there, said the woman.
    El mundo es un panuelo, innit?

  18. The Raven says:

    Hold on, why are we all despairing of England? Two good reasons to be cheerful:

    One of the greatest traditional orders is firmly resident here at Parkminster;

    The English Dominicans are rediscovering their heritage (my closest regular TLM is a Dominican rite Mass in Leicester) and have a load of vocations from young men.

  19. Mundabor says:

    “No, she’s gone back to Wyoming to found a community there, said the woman.
    El mundo es un panuelo, innit?”

    No idea what a panuelo is, but this is certaily good news…. 😉

  20. toadspittle says:

    A pañuelo is a hankie, Mundabor. (I left off the squiggly bit on the ‘n’ by mistake.)
    It’s how they say, ‘small world.’

  21. afcote says:

    Mundabor, great as Archbishop Lefebvre was he was alas never created a cardinal.

  22. Frere Rabit says:

    Hello from Rouen! Very good article, Mundabor, thank you. I agree with the general idea here and I have observed for some time now the way in which traditional orders attract vocations. I have already written about Parkminster here, and it is certainly true that a traditional life there has attracted so many vocations that they have virtually a full house now. A saying that is sometimes heard, regarding Carthusian life, is “never reformed because never deformed”. In fact, as I understand it from my time in Parkminster, reading the history of the order, ecclesia semper reformanda also applies here; so “never reformed because continually adjusted” might be closer to the truth. The life and the Rule nevertheless remains what it was in the 12th century.

    I shall be posting on Joan of Arc later! Just to whet your appetite, I’m making a connection with her beatification and that of Cardinal Newman… Wait and see!

  23. Mundabor says:

    Thanks Omvendt and you are obviously right, for some reason I keep thinking “Cardinal Lefebvre” from my childhood recollection, which are obviously wrong.

    M

  24. Mundabor says:

    “A pañuelo is a hankie, Mundabor”.

    Ahh….
    Il mondo e’ piccolo! 🙂

  25. Benedict Carter says:

    Frererabit:

    Would you have no chance on your travels to visit Le Barroux Abbey and give us a write-up?

  26. Benedict Carter says:

    A question from a priest friend:

    As the Cistercians had their own rite before Vatican II, are they using it, or just the normal 1962 Missal?

  27. Benedict Carter says:

    Sorry, these are Carmelites.

    Well, same question applies. Do the Carmelites have their own rite?

  28. afcote says:

    Yes, the Carmelites do have their own rite. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were using it?

    Also I have to plug another traditional order purely because I have just accidentally been to a Solemn High EF Mass celebrated by them at the Birmingham Oratory:

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2009/03/franciscans-of-immaculate-predilect.html

    Franciscans of the Immaculate Predilect the Usus Antiquior
    by Gregor Kollmorgen

    The Franciscans of the Immaculate, who for some time now have increasingly been celebrating the usus antiquior, have now declared their predilcetion for the Extraordinary Form and explained their reasons for this. This was done by a letter to the editor of the Italian newspaper La Stampa by the Procurator General of the Order, Fr. Alessandro Maria Apollonio, of which messainlatino.it gives some excerpts. Here is an NLM translation of these:

    The Franciscans of the Immaculate avail themselves, with joy and grateful appreciation, of the initiative taken by Pope Benedict XVI with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. […] The choice to predilect the “extraordinary form” corresponds to a legitimate internal choice of the religious family, as foreseen in the same motu proprio, in a Catholic spirit of fidelity to the Pope and to the liturgical tradition of the Order founded by St. Francis of Assisi. […]

    The spirit of St. Francis, in fact, tends to the greatest possible glorification of God through the good and beautiful things of the world and has always led us to seek what most helps to elevate the mind and heart to the “Most High, Almighty and Good Lord” to whom alone are due “praises, glory, honor and all blessing”(Canticle of the Sun). The extraordinary form of the liturgy of the Vetus Ordo – which is accompanied by that of the Novus Ordo (Missal of Paul VI) – offers, indeed, the happy possibility to live more intensely the vocation and mission of St. Francis of Assisi, within the universality of the Church and its wealth of expressions.

    http://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2009/08/franciscan-friar-no-longer-homeless.html

    The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been looking for a home in England for ages, they found one at long last at St Joseph’s in Burselm, Stoke on Trent. Their new Marian Friary opens next Sunday with Mass at 4.30pm celebrated by Bishop Gough.
    I can’t help being surprised that it has taken them so long, especially as so many Churches are closing for want of a priest. It would seem some bishops would prefer to see closures rather than inviting the new communities into their dioceses.
    The Church is huge and the house is large enough for a community of half a dozen friars, say a prayer for them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franciscan_Friars_of_the_Immaculate

    http://tradvocations.blogspot.com/2009/03/franciscans-of-immaculate-in-england.html

    The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were founded in 1970 and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate some years later. Both are now of Pontifical Right and belong to the First Order of Franciscans. Recently they have begun to move back towards the Usus Antiquior, or “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite.

    Here are a selection of articles about this – the second includes practical ways in which you can help them at Lanherne in mid-Cornwall, UK:-

    NLM: Franciscans of the Immaculate predilect the Usus Antiquior
    NLM: More encouraging News from the Franciscans of the Immaculate – their House in Lanherne, England
    What Does the Prayer Really Say?: Brick by Brick in Cornwall
    Holy Smoke: Wonderful contemplative nuns bring traditional Latin worship back to Cornwall

  29. afcote says:

    Yes, the Carmelites do have their own rite.

  30. afcote says:

    Other good news:

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2009/03/franciscans-of-immaculate-predilect.html

    I have to plug them as I have just accidentally been to a Solemn High Mass in the EF celebrated by them at the Birmingham Oratory, and they have a house in England, at Stoke on Trent of all places!

    The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been looking for a home in England for ages, they found one at long last at St Joseph’s in Burselm, Stoke on Trent. Their new Marian Friary opens next Sunday with Mass at 4.30pm celebrated by Bishop Gough.
    I can’t help being surprised that it has taken them so long, especially as so many Churches are closing for want of a priest. It would seem some bishops would prefer to see closures rather than inviting the new communities into their dioceses.
    The Church is huge and the house is large enough for a community of half a dozen friars, say a prayer for them.

    http://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2009/08/franciscan-friar-no-longer-homeless.html

  31. Benedict Carter says:

    If the Carmelites above are using their own old rite, then they are Traditionalists. If they are using the 1962 Missal, then they are not. May seem like nit-picking, but to be genuine Carmelites, surely they should use thir own ancient rite?

  32. afcote says:

    “May seem like nit-picking, but to be genuine Carmelites, surely they should use thir own ancient rite?”

    I wuld agree with you. I wonder if they do use it. Does anyone know? I do hope so.

  33. afcote says:

    A video of our Carmelites in Wyoming.

  34. afcote says:

    This is the same video but with sound as the last one unfortunately didn’t have it.

    I think – although I am no expert on liturgy – that this video answers Benedict’s question as the flinging of the arms wide by the celebrant is not something which occurs in the Missa Tridentina, I think.

  35. Brother Burrito says:

    Great vid. I like them Mystic Monks. Great coffee, I hear.

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