Author Topic: SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ: Report on Catholic Women Religious.  (Read 135 times)

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Offline Xavier

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Can we delve a little here into the theology of the SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ? Catholic Theology has ever held that Brides of Christ manifest and make visible the Church as Mother Herself, Who as we know is called the Beloved Bride of God's Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures. And She who was the Foundress of Consecrated Orders of Women Religious is without doubt the divine Mother, Mary Immaculate, Beloved Bride of the Holy Spirit, Mother of the whole Church, and of every Nun in particular. For, as all Tradition teaches, the Holy Theotokos was miraculously born to Her holy parents Sts. Joachim and Anne after long periods of sterility; St. Anne promised to offer Her in the Temple for a life of Consecrated Service and Sacrifice, Prayer and Meditation in the old Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

And at the age of 3, Mary Most Holy, exceedingly exceeding all other holy women gathered there put together by far, made the most perfect and most pleasing Sacrifice to God of Her Holy Life and Her Consecrated Virginity that anyone anywhere had ever made up until then; and as anyone anywhere, excepting Her Divine Son, would ever make until the end of time. She thus became the Mother and Model of every Bride of Christ.

What do Orthodox Christians here understand of the great dignity of Women Religious and their maternal role in the affairs of the Universal Church? Can someone please point me to similar reports on Orthodox Nuns, assuming similar studies have been done? The Catholic report here below:

(Edit: forgot the link - https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2011/05/12/nuns-worldwide/)

The Infancy Gospel that St. Matthew handed down through Tradition testifies of the Immaculate Virgin at age 3,

Chapter 5.

Then Anna, filled with the Holy Spirit, said before them all: The Lord Almighty, the God of Hosts, being mindful of His word, has visited His people with a good and holy visitation, to bring down the hearts of the Gentiles who were rising against us, and turn them to Himself. He has opened His ears to our prayers: He has kept away from us the exulting of all our enemies. The barren has become a mother, and has brought forth exultation and gladness to Israel. Behold the gifts which I have brought to offer to my Lord, and mine enemies have not been able to hinder me. For God has turned their hearts to me, and Himself has given me everlasting joy.

Chapter 6

And Mary was held in admiration by all the people of Israel; and when She was Three years old, She walked with a step so mature, She spoke so perfectly, and spent Her time so assiduously in the praises of God, that all were astonished at Her, and wondered; and She was not reckoned a young Infant, but, as it were, a grown-up person of Thirty years old. She was so constant in prayer, and Her appearance was so beautiful and glorious, that scarcely any one could look into Her face. And She occupied herself constantly with Her wool-work, so that She in Her tender years could do all that old women were not able to do. And this was the order that She had set for Herself: From the morning to the Third hour She remained in prayer; from the Third to the Ninth She was occupied with Her weaving; and from the Ninth She again applied Herself to prayer. She did not retire from praying until there appeared to Her the angel of the Lord, from whose hand She used to receive food; and thus She became more and more perfect in the work of God. Then, when the older virgins rested from the praises of God, She did not rest at all; so that in the praises and vigils of God none were found before Her, no one more learned in the wisdom of the law of God, more lowly in humility, more elegant in singing, more perfect in all virtue. She was indeed steadfast, immoveable, unchangeable, and daily advancing to perfection. No one saw Her angry, nor heard Her speaking evil. All Her speech was so Full of Grace, that Her God was acknowledged to be in Her tongue. She was always engaged in prayer and in searching the law, and She was anxious lest by any word of Hers She should sin with regard to Her companions. Then She was afraid lest in Her laughter, or the sound of Her beautiful voice, She should commit any fault, or lest, being elated, She should display any wrong-doing or haughtiness to one of Her equals. She blessed God without intermission; and lest perchance, even in Her salutation, She might cease from praising God; if any one saluted Her, She used to answer by way of salutation: Thanks be to God. And from Her the custom first began of men saying, Thanks be to God, when they saluted each other. She refreshed Herself only with the food which She daily received from the hand of the angel; but the food which She obtained from the priests She divided among the poor. The angels of God were often seen speaking with Her, and they most diligently obeyed Her. If any one who was unwell touched Her, the same hour he went home cured."
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 09:37:55 AM by Xavier »
"My dear Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with your most precious Blood and your sacrifice on Calvary, I hereby offer my whole life to the intention of your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Together with my life, I place at your disposal all Holy Masses, all my Holy Communions, all my good deeds, all my sacrifices, and the sufferings of my entire life for the adoration ... https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

Offline Xavier

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Re: SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ: Report on Catholic Women Religious.
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 09:52:21 AM »
I believe the Catholic World Report Article on Nuns Worldwide was written by an American mainly for Americans, as that's how it reads. As an Indian Catholic myself, it's good to see many new Orders of Nuns in India compensating well for the overall decline of Women Religious in the West.

"Over the past 45 years, women’s religious communities in the United States have suff ered a freefall in membership. There were 181,241 American nuns in 1965, 153,645 in 1970, and 92,107 in 1995. According to the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (the Vatican’s statistical yearbook), the number fell even more between 2002 and 2007, from 73,704 to 63,250. The number of American nuns has thus declined by more than 65 percent since 1965.

The United States is not alone. According to a 2000 study by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke, between 1965 and 1995 the number of nuns plummeted by 46 percent in Canada, 44 percent in France, 48 percent in Germany, 43 percent in Great Britain, and 51 percent in the Netherlands, fi gures on par with the 49 percent decline in the United States during the same time period. Between 2002 and 2007, the total number of professed women religious in Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands further declined by a combined 19,797.

The nuns dying in these nations are not being replaced by large numbers of postulants and novices undergoing the initial stages of religious formation before the profession of vows. In 2007, there were only 198 postulants and 267 novices in the United States in women’s institutes of pontifi cal right—that is, institutes ultimately under the authority of the Holy See rather than the local bishop, typically because they have a presence in more than one diocese. (72 percent of the world’s women religious belong to institutes of pontifi cal right.) Likewise, in 2007 there were only 14 postulants and 18 novices in institutes of pontifi cal right in Canada, 107 postulants and 136 novices in France, 25 postulants and 51 novices in Germany, and 15 postulants and 19 novices in Great Britain. There were three postulants and no novices in institutes of pontifical right in the Netherlands.

The decline of women’s religious life is not restricted to the United States and fi ve other nations. In all, between 2002 and 2007, the number of professed women religious declined by 37,947 in Europe, 14,686 in North America, 5,880 in South America, 1,012 in Oceania, and 358 in Central America.

The collapse of women’s religious life in these parts of the world is not the entire story. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of professed women religious increased in 99 nations. The numbers of nuns increased by 13,542 in Asia, 7,906 in Africa, 370 in the Middle East, and 1,947 in the Caribbean, though missionaries who have served in the Caribbean questioned the official statistics in comments made to CWR.

The gains in the 99 nations, however, were not enough to offset the declines elsewhere. Between 2002 and 2007 the number of professed women religious worldwide fell from 782,932 to 746,814—a decline of 4.6 percent.

WOMEN RELIGIOUS TODAY

As some religious institutes collapse— according to the Annuario Pontificio, the number of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas fell by nearly 9 percent between 2006 and 2008—the surge in vocations elsewhere has led other orders, largely unknown in the United States, to assume greater importance in the life of the Church.

By far the largest women’s religious institute, with 14,665 members, is the Salesian Sisters (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians), founded in 1872 by St. John Bosco and St. Maria Mazzarello. Particularly devoted to the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Mother, and the pope, the Salesian Sisters educate and otherwise work with youth in 92 countries. Three quarters of Salesian Sisters serve in Europe, North America, and South America, with a strong presence in Italy, Brazil, Argentina, and Spain. The institute’s membership declined by 445 between 2006 and 2008. (Not counted by the Vatican’s statistical yearbook is the Daughters of Charity, which has 19,436 sisters. They take their vows yearly and thus are not classified as a religious institute.)

Numbering 9,857, the Order of Discalced Carmelites is the second largest women’s religious institute. With convents in 70 nations, the Carmelite nuns follow in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross by pursuing the contemplative life while offering prayers and penances for the Church’s missionary efforts. With the strongest presence in nations where religious vocations are on the wane—there are 81 houses in Spain, 73 in Italy, 65 in the United States, and 56 in Brazil—the ranks of the Discalced Carmelites declined by 245 between 2006 and 2008.

Founded in Cuba in 1855 by St. Anthony Mary Claret and the Venerable María Antonia París, the Claretian Missionary Sisters educate youth, engage in missionary and parish work, and serve in a wide variety of other apostolates. The 7,463 sisters work in two dozen nations—most in Central and South America—and gained a remarkable 541 members between 2006 and 2008.

Almost unknown in the United States, the Indian-based Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, founded by Blessed Mary of the Passion in 1877, number 7,050. Combining Eucharistic contemplation with missionary activity, they serve on six continents and are most active in Asia and Europe. Unlike other leading women’s religious institutes, the institute displays on its website numerous pictures of members without habits. The institute’s membership declined by 189 between 2006 and 2008.

The Franciscan Clarist Congregation, founded in 1888, is based in Kerala, the southwestern Indian state that has been the nation’s center of Catholicism since its evangelization by St. Thomas the Apostle. Canonized by Pope Benedict in 2008, St. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception (1910-46)—a Franciscan Clarist, and the nation’s first canonized saint—combined the spirituality of St. Francis with that of the Easternrite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The congregation, which serves the elderly, orphans, lepers, AIDS patients, and others in need, has 6,984 members—a gain of 62 between 2006 and 2008.

The Congregation of the Mother of Carmel is another Indian religious institute largely unknown in the West. Founded in 1866 by Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the congregation is the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church’s first women’s institute. These active Carmelite sisters work in 500 schools and run 18 hospitals; their membership increased by 29 between 2006 and 2008 to 6,428.

Unlike other large Indian religious communities, the Missionaries of Charity are renowned the world over because of the sanctity of their founder, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-97). Serving the poorest of the poor in 133 countries, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to 5,046 members, an increase of 154 between 2006 and 2008.

Founded in Italy in 1832, the Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa serve in the fields of education, health care, and catechesis. Though present in 20 nations, the majority of the institute’s houses are in India and Italy. Membership in the order stands at 4,967, a decline of 186 between 2006 and 2008.

Benedictine nuns, characterized throughout their history by devotion to the liturgy, work, and hospitality, live in 299 communities around the world, the majority in Europe. Their numbers have fallen to 4,613, a decline of 119 between 2006 and 2008.

Rounding out the list of the 10 largest women’s religious institutes, the Syro-Malabar Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry in 1908, have spread to 100 dioceses. Centered upon Eucharistic adoration, the sisters also serve in the areas of education, health care, missionary work, and publishing. In the past decade, they have begun to staff missions in Kenya and Tanzania. Their membership now stands at 4,583, an increase of 64 between 2006 and 2008.

THE ROME OF THE EAST

With five of the 10 largest women’s religious institutes now headquartered in India—where only 1.6 percent of the world’s Catholics live—India has become the worldwide center of women’s religious vocations. The number of professed women religious in India grew by 9,398 between 2002 and 2007. While India has nearly 50 million fewer Catholics than the United States does, it has over 30,000 more women religious."
"My dear Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with your most precious Blood and your sacrifice on Calvary, I hereby offer my whole life to the intention of your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Together with my life, I place at your disposal all Holy Masses, all my Holy Communions, all my good deeds, all my sacrifices, and the sufferings of my entire life for the adoration ... https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

Offline Alpha60

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Re: SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ: Report on Catholic Women Religious.
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 03:58:25 PM »
It is deeply offensive, after 600 years of Roman Catholic aggression, subversion and trickery against the St. Thomas Christians of India, and 230 years of similiar Anglican treachery, to see a Catholic article boast of India, a country that I would say, thanks to Roman Catholic interference and British misrule, is still Pagan, when, if Portugal had supported rather than sought to seize control of the Indian churches, would probably be predominantly Christian now, as “new Rome.”

India is in the apostolate of St. Thomas, and his disciples Sts. Addai and Mari, not St. Peter of Antioch and Rome.  It is not Roman ecclesiastical territory.  Strictly speaking, it should not even be Antiochene ecclesiastical territory; historically, it was presided over by an archdeacon appointed by the Catholicos of the East and/or the Maphrian, the successor on the throne of St. Thomas in Seleucia-Cstesiphon and Tikrit, respectively,  although since the Catholic takeover of the Syro-Malabar church and the suspicious drowning of St. Mar Ahatullah, the Catholicos and/or Maphrian have been based in India directly.

How would you like it, if, on account of the large number of thriving Syriac Orthodox parishes of the Maphrian and the Catholicos in Europe, largely, indeed I daresay primarily, located in disused former Roman Catholic parishes, Europe was referred to as “The New Malankara”?  Because that is.

Also, the Bride of Christ has historically referred to the Church, which in a mystical way is both the Body of Christ and also the Bride of Christ; using the term to refer generically to nuns, or more specifically, those poor women like St. Catharine of Sienna or the “Little Flower” who considered themselves to have been uniquely supernaturally wed to our Lord are very tragic cases of prelest, and several of the most questionable RC doctrines like the quasi-Nestorian veneration of the Sacred Heart, and worse, the devotion to the “Immaculate heart” of the Theotokos (an idea that in the 18th century was actually used by the pious Pope who rejected the Sacred Heart devotion as an argument ad absurdum) come from the mystical experiences of these poor, suffering women, whose unusual circumstances distract us from the majority of extremely excellent Western nuns of heroic virtue, such as St. Monica, St. Scholastica, St. Barbara, St. Brigitta of Sweden, and others.

Lastly, it is in my opinion completely wrong, and frankly gross, to refer to the Theotokos specifically, the perpetual virgin who was the Mother of God, as being specifically and individually the Bride of Christ, nor it it true that sacred scripture explicitly refers to her as the Bride of the Holy Spirit, except as an implicit analogy in Isaiah 62:5; the Theotokos can be referred to in the hymnody of the Orthodox Church as “O Bride Unwedded” because of her perpetual virginity, and the miraculous conception of our Lord within her did not violate her perpetual virginity.

Offline Eamonomae

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Re: SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ: Report on Catholic Women Religious.
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2019, 05:00:21 PM »
It is deeply offensive, after 600 years of Roman Catholic aggression, subversion and trickery against the St. Thomas Christians of India, and 230 years of similiar Anglican treachery, to see a Catholic article boast of India, a country that I would say, thanks to Roman Catholic interference and British misrule, is still Pagan, when, if Portugal had supported rather than sought to seize control of the Indian churches, would probably be predominantly Christian now, as “new Rome.”

India is in the apostolate of St. Thomas, and his disciples Sts. Addai and Mari, not St. Peter of Antioch and Rome.  It is not Roman ecclesiastical territory.  Strictly speaking, it should not even be Antiochene ecclesiastical territory; historically, it was presided over by an archdeacon appointed by the Catholicos of the East and/or the Maphrian, the successor on the throne of St. Thomas in Seleucia-Cstesiphon and Tikrit, respectively,  although since the Catholic takeover of the Syro-Malabar church and the suspicious drowning of St. Mar Ahatullah, the Catholicos and/or Maphrian have been based in India directly.

How would you like it, if, on account of the large number of thriving Syriac Orthodox parishes of the Maphrian and the Catholicos in Europe, largely, indeed I daresay primarily, located in disused former Roman Catholic parishes, Europe was referred to as “The New Malankara”?  Because that is.

Also, the Bride of Christ has historically referred to the Church, which in a mystical way is both the Body of Christ and also the Bride of Christ; using the term to refer generically to nuns, or more specifically, those poor women like St. Catharine of Sienna or the “Little Flower” who considered themselves to have been uniquely supernaturally wed to our Lord are very tragic cases of prelest, and several of the most questionable RC doctrines like the quasi-Nestorian veneration of the Sacred Heart, and worse, the devotion to the “Immaculate heart” of the Theotokos (an idea that in the 18th century was actually used by the pious Pope who rejected the Sacred Heart devotion as an argument ad absurdum) come from the mystical experiences of these poor, suffering women, whose unusual circumstances distract us from the majority of extremely excellent Western nuns of heroic virtue, such as St. Monica, St. Scholastica, St. Barbara, St. Brigitta of Sweden, and others.

Lastly, it is in my opinion completely wrong, and frankly gross, to refer to the Theotokos specifically, the perpetual virgin who was the Mother of God, as being specifically and individually the Bride of Christ, nor it it true that sacred scripture explicitly refers to her as the Bride of the Holy Spirit, except as an implicit analogy in Isaiah 62:5; the Theotokos can be referred to in the hymnody of the Orthodox Church as “O Bride Unwedded” because of her perpetual virginity, and the miraculous conception of our Lord within her did not violate her perpetual virginity.

How do you feel of the fact that such sentimentality of the Nuns being wedded to Christ is found directly in the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great? See Book 4, Chapter 13 - a good 800 years before Saint Catherine of Siena.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 05:04:23 PM by Eamonomae »
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Offline Eamonomae

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Re: SponsaChristi, Bride of Christ: Report on Catholic Women Religious.
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 05:14:25 PM »
Also, while there are some seriously questionable things in Saint Margaret’s life, and I don’t like how the Sacred Heart adds to the Gospel and the Book of Genesis (see Book of Revelation), how is the Sacred Heart Nestorian when the humanity and Divinity are permanently connected? Wouldn’t it be Nestorian to venerate any icon of Christ, logically? Unless you want to be daring to presume that the Divine Essence can be painted.

Also, the Virgin Mary is, in fact, a Type of the Church - this can not only be clearly seen in Revelation 12, but it’s seen in most Orthodox Churches where, above the altar, there is usually an icon of the Virgin Mary with Christ in her womb - as the Church literally contains Christ via the Eucharist in her (the Sanctuary)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 05:22:02 PM by Eamonomae »
“As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”