Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Tale of Two Nuns

(with apolgies to Charles Dickens)

They were the best of Nuns
They were they worst of nuns


it was the age of wise virgins,
it is the age of foolish virgins,
it was the living out of belief,
it is the living out of heresy,
it was their season of letting their Light shine,
it is their season of spreading Darkness,
I am sure by now you recognize that I have taken the opening of this post from Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities. I am also sure you recognize the Nuns on the Bus that were referenced by the purple lines. What you may not recognize, unless you are an opera fan, are the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne (referenced by the brown lines).
They were the 16 members of the Carmel of Compiègne, France. There were 11 Discalced Carmelite nuns, 3 lay sisters, and two externs (tertiaries) of the Order. They were martyred on 17 July 1794 as a apart of the Reign of Terror.  Their story was told in the 1957 Francis Poulenc opera, Dialogues of the Carmelites (with the usually adaptations that don't do full justice to their faith.)
By now I think you can see why the Dicken's reference. & maybe even a bit of the reason I chose the Nuns on the Bus as a contrast. I am also sure that you are asking another question about the martyrs, "Why do I bring them up?"
The answer has to do with the homily that Fr. Parker gave at Mass on Tuesday at St. Mary's Church in E DBQ. Since it was their feast day in the Carmelite calendar, he brought them up to compare how things were then to now.
Fr. Parker pointed out how the attack on religious liberty during the French Revolution is paralleling what is going on here in the United States under the Obama administration.  Thoughout the whole time of increasing attacks & persecution, the Carmelites daily offered themselves as victims to God for the restoration of peace to France & the Church. After their arrest & condemnation they were sent to the guillotine. At the foot of the scaffold, the community jointly renewed their vows. Then they began to chant the Veni Creator Spiritus This hymn is sung at the ceremony for the profession of vows. They continued their singing as, one by one, they mounted the scaffold to meet their death. The 1st to die was the novice of the community, Sister Constance. Next were the lay Sisters & externs. Then the nuns were executed, ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, O.C.D. They were the last peoplle to be executed as the Reign of Terror ended a few days later. From the start, their willingness to die for the faith has been credited as putting an end to the bloodbath.
The point Fr. Parker was making was that we are heading in the same direction. Slowly biut surely, step by step, our religious freedom is being attacked. Just like then, we are heading to a point where to publicly live out our faith could be dangerous. When the time came, the Carmelites chose to keep wearing their habits & publicly profess their faith. They did so because they were solid in their faith. We need to be solid in our faith as the Carmelites were. We need to be ready & willing to suffer & maybe even face martyrdom should it come to pass.
As Father was sharing this, I couldn't help but think how said it is that we have nuns like those of the LCWR who are rebelling instead of being faithful to the magesterial teachings of the Church. They are working to destroy the Catholic Church, not build up & encourage the faith. But I have to add I am thankful that there are plenty of Nuns who wear their habits & are faithful to the mageterium & the Pope. I don't know if they, or even I will ever have to face martyrdom in this country. I do know that it is very possible if we keep heading the way we do, I only pray that, should the time come, God will give me the graces I need to follow the example of these Carmelites & the other martyrs throughout the centuries.

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