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Rival Visions Of The Catholic Future

Traditional Carmelites in rural Pennsylvania bet on going back to the future
Traditional Carmelite nuns in rural Pennsylvania (video still from Jim Hale)

Father Alexander Santora, a New Jersey Catholic priest, is concerned about younger priests. He writes:

Today, ordinations are insufficient to replace those retiring or dying. And most are foreign born and from outside New Jersey. But most disturbing for the laity and the more seasoned clergy is the younger clergy’s ecclesiology or vision of church. Though having never lived in the pre-Vatican II church, they want to revive a clerical culture, Eucharistic adoration, Benediction, the Latin Mass, novenas and a “Father knows best” mentality. These made sense in the 1940’s because the church’s theology supported them. Not anymore.

Father Santora’s op-ed urges doubling down on the Vatican II “Disco Stu” model of priestly formation. Which has worked so well. More:

Happily, Joseph Cardinal Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, is the chair of the U.S. Bishops’ committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He is the former General superior of the Redemptorists, a 7,000-strong religious order serving in 70 countries, and knows the global situation. And his past history shows that he knows how to speak truth to power.

This is a turning point in 21st century Catholicism. Either the church ordains men who can be relevant or the church becomes irrelevant.

Wait, what? The Redemptorists have been in decline for quite some time. Anyway, Father Santora is really going to hate this news: a convent of traditional Carmelite nuns is building a medieval-style monastery in rural Pennsylvania. Follow that link to watch a beautiful four-minute video explaining the project. It’s really exciting! Jim Hale, a reader of this blog who made the video, writes:

I wanted to send along my just-produced video of some Carmelite Sisters in Pennsylvania who are growing so quickly with that they are now building a new medieval style monastery near Gettysburg.And I’m also happy to report that a religious community of men, the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is present in the area, living a religious life according to the example of the first Hermits on Mount Carmel, and they will be helping to provide Mass and the Sacraments for the Nuns. Three young men are already on the grounds and they are receiving inquiries daily.

I’m a recent Catholic convert, who after reading The Benedict Option last year, set out to see if I could find anything that came close to a real Christian community. The FSSP parish I’m now part of has three young women among these sisters of Carmel. One sees abundant family life, one hears authentic dogma from the pulpit, one senses the joy of people who are living in accordance with the commandments of God, and one catches sight of the uncreated light in the mystic ceremonies of the altar.

This is the future of the Catholic Church.

Either Father Santora is right, or Jim Hale is. That depends on God, of course, but also on the way the Catholic laity responds to these rival visions. To learn more about this community of Carmelites, visit the Fairfield Carmelites website. They could use help.

Again, the video link is here. I can’t get it to embed in this post.