Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Religious Communities: The Bigger Picture

Michael, I also read the essay by Sister X, thanks for that link.  I was especially touched by her striking last image of burying her follow sister and wondering who would be at her own gravesite.  I realize there are a lot of procedural and fairness concerns about the current investigation, and will not comment on that at all. But I wonder if it might also be helpful to look at this through a broader cultural lens.  This might tie in with our previous conversations some time ago about generational differences: eg, why younger generations are less focused on dissent / authority structures, and more concerned about the basics of discerning their own religious identity and formation.  It seems that many of the new vocations to religious life today tend to gravitate toward a clear identity and structure, which can translate into a habit and more structured community life.  I don't think that's because of a lack of commitment or fidelity on the part of other orders, but I do think it might have something to do with where young people are today.  It's also interesting to think about this in light of how options and opportunities for women have shifted over the past fifty years.  For example, the way that the daily life of some of the religious orders is structured now, with less emphasis on community life, women may ask themselves whether it's so different from the kind of justice or service orientation and commitment that they might be able to cobble together on their own.  I remember an interesting conversation with a friend of mine from a beautiful order which is part of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious - looking at the changes and challenges of her own order and the question of new vocations, and she boiled it down to the question "why community?"  I wonder if that might be the question at the heart of the current soul-searching - not an easy question. 


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