“Sisters” and “Light of Love”

I’m writing this mainly because I think there is a need to say something about the state of women’s religious life today, and I though it would be good to comment on two documentaries that came out at almost the same time concerning this.

Each documentary comes out of its corresponding “group.” One called “Sisters” is clearly LCWR oriented. One called “Light of Love” is obviously from a CMSWR perspective. Apparently, the two productions were not aware of each other, but there are some unusually striking similarities. Each interviews five sisters, and each is about an hour long. “Sisters” focuses on each of the sisters in ministry while “Light of Love” tends to show each sister in the context of ministry and community.

If you take away the habits/no habits difference–the most obvious visual one, the biggest difference I saw was the way the sisters talk about God, and in particular about Jesus. Here we have to allow for editing to play its role, but irregardless, the difference is quite noticeable.

I think each film tries to move “toward the center” in perceptions of the LCWR/CMSWR divide, which is quite a deep divide. The LCWR sisters are not portrayed as radical feminists (although they never refer to God as Father, but that would be practically an LCWR heresy) and the CMSWR sisters shown tend to be active rather than contemplative, although a strong spiritual element is clearly present. I was surprised that no contemplative sisters were highlighted in “Light of Love,” but that could be a separate film in the future.

There are a lot of things I could talk about concerning the two films, but I think my main point would be “Where are the youth?” Overwhelmingly, the youth that are interested in religious life are with “Light of Love.” You simply can’t deny the obvious reality. “Sisters” tended to avoid scenes of communal life, perhaps unconsciously. The next generation is clearly CMSWR driven. This is still an unpopular and “inconvenient truth” in certain sectors, but, hey, demographics don’t lie.

By the way, both movies are out on Vimeo. Sisters and Light of Love

Palms by Anna Hanson Dorsey

I would like to recommend the novel Palms by Anna Hanson Dorsey. It’s the story of St. Nemesius of Rome and his daughter Lucilla. The book is based on the account that can be found in the book The Victims of the Mamertine by Augustine O’Reilly. This novel is a moving fictional account, something like Cardinal Wiseman’s Fabiola. It may be slow-moving at points, but it gives an excellent perspective on how the persecuted Church was seen in those days when Valerian was Emperor.

The book Palms is available as a free Google e-book or through archive.org, while Victims of the Mamertine can be found as a text at the link provided to archive.org.

Lucilla is called Claudia through most of the novel because Lucilla was her baptismal name.

LCWR Buzzwords

What are some examples?

“Prayer experiences”
“evolving consciousness”
“global unity”
“generate a force that has transformative power”
“positive energy”
“energizing actions”
“deep integrity”
“expansive sense of self”
“facilitate the connectivity”

In other words, New Age.

Note to sisters: young Catholics don’t talk this way. Note to young Catholics: in case you didn’t notice, this isn’t Catholic stuff.

Certainly not all LCWR sisters are in this scene, but there are some major leaders that are indeed!

Mother Elvira

The thoughts of Mother Elvira (foundress of Comunità Cenacolo) have not been available in English for the most part, but now, a book of some of her catechisis has been printed in an English translation called Sparks of Light: From the heart of Mother Elivra. Here’s a sample:

Since we are so different, every so often I ask myself how God can love every single one of us with a unique, specific, and personal tenderness. He can, because He even knows every cell in our body. He created us and wanted us. He calls us by name, and we must discover who we are in His eyes: risen, new creatures, who have welcomed the love of God in that grandiose space that is our life. He comes, because He is a God who loves to be welcomed. He stands outside the door of our freedom and knocks. Let us not leave Him outside like a beggar; let’s open that door so He can enter!

from “Meeting Jesus is Our Feast Day” in Sparks of Light, pg. 42.

Mary Foreshadowed

Book: Mary Foreshadowed; or, Considerations on the Types and Figures of Our Blessed Lady in the Old Testament
Author: Rev. F. Thaddeus, O.S.F. (Francis Hermans)
R. Washbourne
London, 1885.

This has some great examples and great quotes, including a number from Raymond Jordan (Idiota).

Here is an example in the comparison of Our Lady to Esther:

There are many points of resemblance between Esther and the Blessed Virgin Mary; but we will confine ourselves to the most conspicuous among them.

Esther pleased Assuerus so much that he loved her more than all other women; he took her for his spouse, and made her queen. Similarly, our Blessed Lady was so pleasing to God, that He blessed her above all other women; He chose her to be the Mother of His Beloved Son, and consequently made her Queen of the whole universe. St. Bernardine expresses this thought in the following terms: ‘Mary is the true Esther, whom the King, that is, God, loved above all other women, above all other creatures. He placed the royal crown upon her head, and made her Queen.’ Oh! what an advantage, what a privilege it is for us to have so great, so excellent a Queen! Let us with all our heart dedicate ourselves to the service of this Queen; let us honour her, and love her to the utmost of our power; for, as Richard of St. Lawrence says, she is not like other sovereigns who oppress their subjects with burdens and taxes; our Queen, on the contrary, enriches her servants with graces, merits, and rewards. (pages 216-7)

Denis the Carthusian on the Blessed Virgin

Many great works about the Blessed Virgin Mary exist in Latin, and one I recently discovered is by Denis the Carthusian. He lived in the 15th century, dedicated much of his life to prayer, study, and writing, and wrote a number of profound theological works.

One of his works on Our Lady is a treatise called De praeconio et dignitate Beatae Virginis Mariae. I think one could say “Of the proclamation and the dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” It consists of 4 books, and they are contained in volume 35 of his Opera Omnia, which is, like many old books these days, available free online. The work begins on page 477.

A few headings: Of the enmity which has arisen between the Woman and the serpent.
What then is the enmity this Lady has toward the serpent?
That the same Son eternally begotten of the Father was born of Blessed Mary in time.
That the glory, dignity, and grace of Mary is indescribable, and in some sense infinite.
Of the incomparable fruitfulness of Mary
A comparison of the fecundity of the Holy Virgin to the fecundity of the Eternal Father…

Would that someone could translate these works….

Vocations — We Got ‘Em

There is definitely a renewal of vocations in the Marians. When I entered as a postulant back in the 1990’s, there were 4 men in temporary vows, 3 postulants, and 4 novices.

Today there are 2 students in perpetual vows, 17 men in temporary vows, 4 novices, and 2 postulants.

Here’s a picture of this year’s renewal of temporary vows:

The Marians do not advertise for vocations in outside publications. I believe that the combination of individual apostolates (i.e. Fr. Seraphim, Fr. Calloway, Fr. Gaitley, and others) and other apostolates relating to the Divine Mercy message have helped bring in vocations.

Idiota: Contemplations on the Virgin Mary

This is from a work by Idiota (Raymundus Jordanus)

Now… an improved translation!

This is actually the beginning of a longer tract on Our Lady. The text that is traditionally called the “contemplations of the Virgin Mary” is much shorter. A complete translation of it exists in English, and I hope to “bring out” this text at some point.


1. Draw me after you, Virgin Mary, draw me after you, so that I might run in the odor of your ointments. (Song of Songs, 1:3) Draw me after you, because the weight of my sins detains me. Draw me after you, because the pleasures of carnal concupiscence bind me. Draw me after you, because the malignant cunning of the perverse enemy ensnares me. Draw me after you, so that I might more quickly come to you; for just as no one comes to your blessed Son, unless the Father draws him; so in a certain way it could be said that no one comes to your glorious Son, unless you draw him by your most sacred prayers. Therefore, draw me who am petrified, so that you might render me a runner; draw me, a sinner, so that you may render me a penitent; draw me, who am ignorant, so that you might render me full of knowledge.

2. So that I might run in the odor of your ointments, that is, in the fragrance of your virtues, which, just as they smell of ointment and are fragrant, they soothe anguish and heal wounds; your most fragrant ointments are, for example, heavenly wisdom, spiritual grace and unfading glory; for by your words and example, you teach true wisdom, because you are the teacher of the wisdom of God; you obtain grace for sinners and you promise glory for those who honor you. Hence, obtain by your assiduous intercession, that I might praise you, glorify you, bless you, recount your virtues, announce your wonders, and preach your holy and exemplary life, elucidate what is written about you, so that I might have eternal life: for, it is written about you, those who explain me, will have eternal life. (Cf. Sir 24:22)

First Part – Contemplation I – On the Head of the Virgin Mary

1. Your head is like Carmel, most merciful Virgin Mary, because Carmel is a high and fruitful mountain: whence, your head, that is, your intellect, which resides within the head, was high on account of the eminence of [your] contemplation; since your intellect was always elevated toward God on account of your continual contemplation, and you were more clearly contemplating God, because you reached into the heavens while stills standing upon earth: and (as it is piously believed by many) and while still a pilgrim, your blessed soul more frequently comprehended and enjoyed things heavenly and eternal than all the other Saints. And although you displayed all the works of the active life to your blessed Son: nevertheless, interiorly, you never departed from divine contemplation, for you possess in this matter the perfection of the Angels. For the Angels, since they are sent unto us, as they minister exteriorly, nevertheless interiorly do not depart from their contemplation of God.

2. Your blessed Head you humbled before God; your Head is Carmel, that is, on account of the most generous fertility of singular graces, you excelled the dominion of your members; just as through the head, the entire body is ruled. From this follows the manifold fruit of good works; for from your virginal substance, the Supreme Pontifex [High Priest] assumed, as a victim, you flesh, which, upon the altar of the Cross for the salvation of the world, was elevated upon the Cross and with his hands offered the evening sacrifice; whose most sweet odor consoled the wrath of God the Father: and from you he drew, not the heat (fervor) of the wounds, but the matter for healing.

3. Truly, I am the most miserable sinner; and full of all misery, and worth of all punishment, by not contemplating what was said above, and by not responding to the graces to any extant I have not united to the head of my most kind Lord Jesus Christ, my own head, by humbling itself, through devout contrition, confession, and true and meritorious satisfaction; but my sinful head I have dared to raise through pride, by not knowing you nor your blessed Son, spurning the graces given to me, by committing so many sins, harming my neighbor or having the will to harm. Oh, most clement Virgin Mary, deign to have compassion upon me, a miser, incline your head toward your blessed Son and pray that my proud and ungrateful head might be worthy to become humble; so that I might know how to love Him and you, amend my sins, not harm but love my neighbor, persevere in good works, and having finished the course of this present life, I might rest with my head, the most glorious Jesus Christ, for all eternity. Amen.

Anybody want more translated from this?

Some translation from Cardinal Berulle’s “Life of Jesus”

The powerful thoughts of Cardinal Berulle (founder of the French School of Spirituality, which included St. John Eudes and St. Louis Marie de Montfort) are, for the most part, not translated into English. I’ve put together a rough translation from an Italian text concerning a reflection on the Annunciation:

In Nazareth is a small house that contains the treasure of heaven and earth, and the secret love of the Father towards the world. In this small place there is a Virgin greater than heaven and earth, chosen by God to comprehend the incomprehensible. In her is a greatness and light that exists neither in Rome, nor Athens, nor among men nor among the angels. A virgin named Mary, as her name says, is an abyss of grace, an ocean of grandeur, a universe of wonders. This is the Virgin that God looks upon. She also looks at God, staying with Him. To this Virgin God sends his angel.

God is everywhere. He works in all things in a way so worthy, powerful, sweet. There is a correspondence between His being and His works, so as He is in heaven, so on earth is, how He acts up there, so here for us. As He acts in the angel, He acts in Virgin, and indeed acts more in Our Lady than in the angel.

Ht fills the spirit, guided her contemplation, prepared and disposed this soul to what He wants to accomplish in her, to that mystery which the angel will soon announce. He gives her thoughts, motions, as the provisions for the work that must be accomplished.

Mary yearned for the presence of the Messiah on earth Her feelings are conquered by the powerful desire to see him and to serve him during his days. She hope to see him, to worship him and serve him on earth. God pours out in her a new grace, a divine quality, a heavenly gift. This grace is the last measure before the perfect form, the divine being, I mean to say the eternal Word, is introduced into the world.

A further text:
The Virgin being so occupied, the angel comes in a heavenly state and surprises her. He comes into this small room as a sanctuary, more holy and venerable than the place called the Holy of Holies in the temple. He comes full of respect and light, and he appears in the form of man, for he takes to her what he announces, and he announces a God-Man. He greets her in very deep humility, because he is dealing with the highest mystery and the most humble that will ever be, and we had read in his face and his comportment, the impression of the dignity, the purity of the humility of this divine mystery of which he must speak. He said great words to the Virgin, because she will go into such a great state, there is nothing like it. This mystery, this conference, they are divinely represented by the Paintbrush of the Holy Spirit in the tableau of the Gospel. (from Chapter 8)

More from chapter 8
This angel, sent for this great and extraordinary commission, is called Gabriel, this one St. Luke mentions (and this is the third time in these few words), his name translates to Strength of God because he announces the mystery that God has set his strength and his power to save men, to vanquish the demons, and establish his grace in the earth, his glory in heaven and the terror of his name in the underworld. There are even some great and ancient doctors, who say in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, that name Gabriel means, God and Man, as if to say the name of this angel corresponded to the great weight of his embassy, and that portended in this name the perpetual sign of the greatest diplomatic representation he will ever have.

WYD 2013 Archived Video

Ok, now that it’s over, where are all the hours and hours of videos?

Youtube has Hi-Def videos but without any added translations at the Vatican Channel.

For videos with some English translations, but other times no translations, go to the archive at WYDCentral. The last half of the Canadian Gathering is actually an international gathering of Catholic musicians from around the world, and it continues into the Papal Welcoming Celebration. Some things overlap from one video to the next.


Quotes from “Idiota”

Raymundus Jordanus, or Raymund Jordan, styled himself “The Idiot,” or in Latin “Idiota.” He lived in the 14th century. Yet this author had some profound reflections. Let’s look at a few:

Here’s one about the Blessed Virgin as a Spring.
Thou, O most pious Virgin, art properly called “a Spring”; for as a spring issues cool water at all times, so by thy kindness the fire of our passions is cooled, and the cold hearts of the sinners are warmed. From thee, O blessed fountain, flow abundant streams of grace, refreshing all those who draw water with humility.

O fountain of love and mercy, fountain of sweetness and clemency, water the dry and sterile soil of my heart! May thy stream of grace flow towards me, a most guilty sinner! May it wash out the stains of my sins, that, being made pure, I may for ever rejoice in the happy fruition of the inexhaustible Source of Life!

Here is another about honoring Mary:
It is the will of thy Most Blessed Son, O Mary, that we should bless thee, His Mother and our Lady, at all times; and that thy praise should be in our mouth and heart day and night in prosperity and adversity; that we should constantly meditate upon thee, invoke thee, work in thy honour, give thee thanks, relate thy life, and proclaim thy greatness!

Another profound thought from Idiota:
Amongst all the works of the Great Creator, after the wonderful operation whereby the Son of the Eternal Father was united to our nature, thou, O Blessed Virgin, wast the special work of God, Who made thee in order that what had become deformed of His first production might be reformed through thee.

The Bibliografia Mariana is Online!

I didn’t realize this, but this important tool in Mariological research is online. It’s sometimes called the “Besutti,” after the name of the main editor for many years. Ok, most people reading this have never heard of it, but, trust me, as far as a reference to what has been done in the 20th century concerning Mariology, this is probably one of the most complete. It covers many languages, also.

Bibliografia Mariana