Sunday, January 16, 2011


If you made the rounds on the Catholic blogosphere last week, no doubt you ran across this ad for the Sisters of St. Benedict out of Indiana.

Now, obviously, the Church doesn’t micromanage every religious order’s membership drive, nor should it, but the Catechism does have a few things to say regarding nuns and sisters in general.

“Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior's bride.” Admittedly, I know next to nothing about The Sisters of St. Benedict in Indiana, so if their website claims they are a monastic community whose members “are teachers, social workers, parish ministers, counselors, nurses, youth ministers, chaplains, librarians, and more (there's even a firefighter among us!),” then I’ll take their word for it. Those activities definitely offer the opportunity to show Christ in the world.

“Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time.” Okay, so slacklining is relatively new, but is it really the language of our time? Maybe not, but at least it’s not pagan in origin (I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any Druidic slackliners), so it’s basically harmless. Let’s be charitable and give it a pass. Besides, for all we know, potential sisters worldwide are clamoring for more slacklining.

“All religious, whether exempt or not, take their place among the collaborators of the diocesan bishop in his pastoral duty.” Um, well, okay, we may finally have a problem here. While I didn’t read every page on the community’s website, I read a lot of it, and only once did I run across the word Catholic. And that’s in reference to the original settlement of Ferdinand, Indiana, not the monastery or the religious order itself. You would at least expect to find the word Catholic on their “guiding principles” page, but it’s not there either. With that being the case, you can probably guess how many times the words bishop, pope, or anything else related to Church authority appears, can’t you?

So, alas, I’m a bit torn. Due to having known a couple of hard working non-habited sisters, I’m always a little reluctant to jump to judgment when something silly like this ad appears. But the lack of Catholic identification on this particular group’s website is troubling. With no profession of their commitment to the teachings of the Church, what’s to prevent them from slowly drifting further and further away from the original intentions of religious orders? Oh sure, they’re just into harmless slacklining today, but what about tomorrow…


Anonymous said...

quite apart from the (most important!) Church perspective, this ad is idiotic in the most secular terms. Overweight, middle-aged people on roller blades look completely ridiculous! HE-LLOOO?! How many young women looking for a community are attracted to looking completely ridiculous in 20-30 years?

Anonymous said...

that's me, above.
Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

No argument from me, I just thought I would play nice in the post itself. That's why I didn't even mention the picture on their website of the meditation garden with a big sign declaring it a NUCLEAR FREE ZONE! Stuck in the sixties much? It may sound weird coming from a guy who writes about juvenile movies all the time, but please Lord, let me age more gracefully than the baby boomers.

(former) rocket scientist and reluctant baby boomer said...

Hey, I resemble that remark!

EegahInc said...

I wouldn't take it too personally. After all, I and my fellow Gen-Xers are the ones who brought you M-TV, crack, and disaffected slackers, so you know, I've got that whole beam in my own eye thing going on.