Why we needed Summorum Pontificum: Reason #746589

A reader alerted me to this. I am not making this up.

From Inquirer.net of Luzon in the Philippines:

Nuns dance to get recruits in Baguio City
By Elmer Kristian Dauigoy
Inquirer Northern Luzon

BAGUIO CITY—Never too old for “Toyang.”

Catholic nuns on Saturday night danced to this Eraserheads hit inside Baguio Cathedral as part of a vocational drive to recruit new blood.


You can read the rest over there.

I know that some communities of women religious aren’t on average 72 years of age… but… still…

Is this how we do these things?

Read.  Think for a while (before posting).  Discuss (after thinking).

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  1. sejoga says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t get the article to load for me, so I can’t read it all.

    But from what little I am able to comment on, I’m thinking about this…

    I’ve been reading a book called “Teen 2.0” by a Harvard psychologist about the infantilization of teens and how adolescence is more or less a 19th-20th century social construction. It mentions how most “teen problems” are largely problems of foisting “teen culture” on people who are essentially adult (bearing in mind that even large numbers of older adults are incompetent, irresponsible, dangerous, etc.).

    I can’t help but think that this “recruitment” technique is part of the same large trend of assuming that young people are idiots who have to be appealed to in the most crass and patronizing of ways. It’s amazing how the religious orders that acknowledge that young men and women are fully developed human beings with spiritual needs, a thirst for righteousness and truth and beauty, and something substantial to offer to their congregations (other than numbers and youthful agility to take care of them as they get old) are the ones that get new recruits.

    And can I ask, is it typical to refer to young people discerning a vocation to the religious life as “recruits”? It seems militaristic/corporate to me. “Recruiting” sounds like something the Church of Scientology would do, but I admit that I don’t know a better way of referring to seeking out vocations.

  2. andycoan says:

    “‘But there is also another kind of calling, which is the religious life, giving up a part of themselves for God,’ she said.”

    If one is only looking to give up *a part* of themselves to God–whether in religious life, or in another vocation–I suppose this is the result we get.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Saw this, as well. How many vocations were lost because of goofy nuns? My generation is full of ladies who would have been nuns, except at the time, they were surrounded by such orders of dancing ladies, who were either constructing mazes in their country retreats, pushing yoga, reike, etc. or teaching heresy at CCD? Thank God for the resurgence of the new orders of traditional nuns, such as the Carmelites at Denton, the nuns of the Community of St. John, and those at Ephesus, Our Lady Queen of Apostles. Why is this behavior allowed to continue under our present, dear Pope?

  4. Elly says:

    Ha, I’d like to see some pictures!

  5. Jason Keener says:

    There is nothing as lame as when the Church tries to be hip by pandering to the spirit of the age. Young people want an authentic and timeless Catholicism, not nuns who dance around or liturgists who turn the Holy Mass into a rock concert, etc.

  6. Centristian says:

    “The sisters are not just there to pray in church. We can still be ourselves. Through dancing we can show the people that the life of sisters [is also fun],”

    Right, because the primary concern of a woman with a vocation to the religious life is, of course, whether or not the lifestyle will be “fun”. I sometimes think that if marketing agencies were in charge of vocations, rather than religious and clergy, there would be more. Marketing agencies would know to exploit that which is “sellable” about the product to a target demographic.

    In this case, the sellable aspect is a life of profound dedication to the Gospel (much more so than one can find leading a secular lifestyle) and the target demographic is comprised of pious young Catholic women who discern within themselves a calling to a lifestyle that is more profoundly religious.

    Instead, these (well-meaning) sisters seem to be attempting to market a product (fun) which a convent cannot really produce in any satisfactory quantity to “girls who wanna have fun”. They’re selling the wrong product to the wrong demographic.

    If “girls who wanna have fun” wanna have fun, they aren’t going to join the convent to get their kicks. And if young Catholic ladies who want to pray and contemplate want to pray and contemplate…then they’re most likely going to reject this particular order, since there, the girls just wanna have fun (so it might seem to them).

    I’m not saying that this order is actually all about having “fun” all the time; I’m not even familiar with these nuns. I only mean to say that they’ve really got things the wrong way around as far as going about encouraging vocations. In a day and age wherein one would be hard-challenged to prove the relevance of religious communities, this seems like the least successful way to go about it.

    I’m not sure how Summorum Pontificum would remedy this sort of thing, however. It’s common sense that’s needed.

  7. People are attracted by authenticity, beauty, joy…. and the truth. They are attracted to faithful lives by a person: Jesus.

    They are not attracted by circle churches, jam bands, liturgical dance, tambourines, or any church music written between 1960 and 2000 by Fr. so and so S. J.

  8. Stephen says:

    You know, things from the early 1990’s totally appeal to women born in the early 1990’s… If you think that “young people’s music” will attract young people, which it won’t, you need to use something current, but please don’t.

  9. Gregory DiPippo says:

    It would appear that “resourcemente” doesn’t go quite so far back as, say, Tertullian’s De Virginibus velandis…

  10. At least the young women with authentic vocations now know where not to go!

    Of course, one doesn’t want to project an image of of the religious life as one of pharisaical gloom. But there are ways to shine a light on the lighter side. For example, the videos of the sledding Dominican nuns of Summit, New Jersey and the Dominican snowball fight in Ireland were quite charming.

  11. Precentrix says:

    1) Why do old people think that stuff from when *they* were young is what young people today like?

    2) Why do religious think that they have to present their life as ‘fun’? Yes, they should have fun, they should ‘be themselves’… but young people – and older people too – can have ‘fun’ anywhere. Those considering vocations to religious life aren’t looking for fun, but for the opportunity to offer themselves completely to God. They don’t necessarily want ad orientem worship, plainchant, the traditional Mass (though many do), but they want to see that religious are living their consecration. It’s what attracts them/us.

    Poor marketing. Very poor marketing.

    p.s. http://www.xanga.com/ldominican

  12. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Jason Keener says:
    1 February 2011 at 1:55 pm
    There is nothing as lame as when the Church tries to be hip by pandering to the spirit of the age. Young people want an authentic and timeless Catholicism, not nuns who dance around or liturgists who turn the Holy Mass into a rock concert, etc.

    So in aggrement! My current generation seems to have regained the inherent “pile of crock” detectors that our parents’ and grandparents’ generations threw out when they found the “Spirit of Vatican II”. Besides, why go to rock concerts at mass when the youth can just go to the next door megachurch with their Protestant or Evangelical friends who already have them? Don’t believe me? See “Jesus Camp” documentary on Youtube for footage of a megachurch after the kids come back from Bible camp.

    The only reason I can see them doing this is to appeal to the little girls (not “ladies”) that are obseesed with having fun all their adolescent life by partying and such. Those girls don’t even care about religion at all, save when it’s time for family on the holidays. I say let the nuns dance themselves to their graves and their radical orders die out. Keep on doing the cha cha, ladies.

  13. Cricket says:

    Sad, but true. This kind of thing seems to be common to the Catholic Church in many parts of Asia, where “liturgical” dance is regularly used to promote vocations to religious life.

  14. APX says:

    Sadly the first thing to come to mind before reading the entire article was Sister Act. Then I read, ” The nuns also danced to “I Will Follow Him,” which became a household tune courtesy of the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg starrer “Sister Act,”” and did a facepalm.

    I remember watching a video online that was produced to help encourage young males to enter into the priesthood. It was very well-produced and informative. Why not do something like that instead of trying to convince people you’re hip with a song and dance number? IMHO, this takes away from the vocation, and seems somewhat misleading to those who do choose it.

  15. Kate says:

    I’m one of those women who just might have joined a convent if I saw something other than older hippie types. Even as a child, I was turned off by felt banners and guitar music. I couldn’t understand why they got rid of “all the good stuff” before I was born.

    I am so encouraged by the resurgence of traditional orders; they weren’t in my area back in my youth, so I didn’t know about them, but I have great hope for the future…

  16. Dorcas says:

    My parish is made up almost entirely of Philippino expats, and I can say that this would probably not seem as cuckoo to them, in the context as Philippino life, as it sounds to us. Dance is very important on a folk level in many parts of Asia. Actually, group dancing is used throughout Asia in contexts that North Americans would find totally ludicrous–for example, during the past election year in Korea, I saw all kind of dance performances (usually older ladies, 50+ years) that served as a backdrop for campaign speeches and public appearances for politicians of both genders. This kind of dance communicates something different than what it might back home. It is not supposed to be meaningful or interpretive in itself. Rather, it seems to communicate a feeling of festivity and togetherness. However, whether this is really going to help vocations…I can’t guess. My feeling is that Asia has remained relatively traditional with regards to the faith these last 30 years, and their time for getting ‘wacky’ is just being entered into these days. When I talk to Korean seminarians, they are all about ‘change’. I hope they can learn from the mistakes of the West.

  17. aspiringpoet says:

    My first thought when I read it was, “I wonder what St. Margaret Mary would have thought of this.” You could replace her name with the names of quite a number of other saints who were religious and get pretty much the same answer.

    I’m a young Catholic (early twenties) and my experience of other Catholics around my age who are actually serious enough about their faith to consider something like a vocation is that they are attracted to serious theology and prayer and this usually includes an affinity for the Latin Mass. Consequently, I doubt that this “drive” will do anything other than discourage those with genuine vocations from joining that particular order.

  18. aspiringpoet says:

    One more thought. In her book “The Writing Life,” Annie Dillard says, “I cannot imagine a sorrier pursuit than struggling for years to write a book that attempts to appeal to people who do not read in the first place.”

    Seems applicable to this situation, and in general to all the efforts to make Catholicism “hip” for young people.

  19. jflare says:

    I’m glad to read this, though I must admit, I’m at grave risk of simply griping about all that I hated about what our elders did–or not–throughout my teens.

    I won’t bore you with horror stories of what I more or less expected vs what I actually witnessed; I suspect most people in here have a good idea of dances where noone dances, campfires where noone does anything fun, or similar difficulties.

    All I can really say is this: If religious orders, Catholic schools, or Catholic parishes wish to resolve some of their problems with teen activities, they can make one very simple, but very key step:
    Make it plain you take the teens seriously and expect them to be ADULTS, even if they’re only 12.
    Give them some worthwhile stories to give them some good ideas, then let THEM discern how best to make things happen.

    The harder you work to entertain them, the more you’ll push them away.

    (In case anyone from Boy Scouts reads this: DON’T water down the program to satisfy the education crowd! Boys and girls will actually respond favorably if you expect great things from them.)

    I wish the nuns luck. They’re gonna need it…..

  20. I was shaking my head in embarrassment when I read this story in the printed edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer the other day. I could accept something like this if it was part of a program held in an auditorium or some such place, even though I doubt that it would entice anyone to enter religious life if ‘recruiting’ were its purpose. But it was totally inappropriate being done in the sanctuary of the cathedral in Baguio.

    The Sisters in the photo in the printed edition of the PDI were all wearing the habits of the different congregations they belong to and I’m certain that they live their religious lives joyfully and faithfully. But I think that they short-changed themselves here, or let themselves be led by someone with more enthusiasm than sense.

    Many young women in the Philippines are entering religious life and contemplative orders of nuns have flourished in recent decades. The vast majority of Sisters wear a religious habit and the average age is much lower than in Western countries.

    At least this wasn’t an example of ‘liturgical dancing’. I come across that occasionally here but it seems to be experienced by the congregation as a performance that is followed by applause and it has no apparent connection to the Mass. There is no tradition of dancing as part of worship among Christians in the Philippines. The idea is an imported one. The traditional dances of Christians are joyful and recreational in character and reflect aspects of rural life, courtship, etc. Those of Tribal Filipinos and of Muslim Filipinos have a more ritual character. But you usually see these only at programs in schools or in shows for tourists. When young people here dance recreationally it is to modern music.

    When I was considering entering the seminary I was encouraged by the ‘Notes’ written by the seminarians in the Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Ireland and Britain. I saw that the seminarians, and by extension, Columban priests, were indeed ‘human’. But it was the conviction that God was calling me to be a missionary priest that led me to the seminary. And the stories of missionaries facing all kinds of difficulties overseas in the service of the Gospel, including jail, spoke to my heart. I believe that it is the experience of priests and religious who are people of prayer, who are truly joyful and ‘get on with the job’ that awakens the call in the lives of young people.

    jflare writes ‘Make it plain you take the teens seriously and expect them to be ADULTS, even if they’re only 12’. I’m not certain that I would expect them to be adults but I wholeheartedly agree with taking them seriously. One of my confreres when only 7 or 8 wrote a letter to the editor of Far East saying that he wished to become a Columban priest. The editor, a wise man, took him seriously and wrote him an encouraging letter which sustained the desire of the young boy to be a missionary priest. The editor was somewhat like Francis Pharcellus Church who wrote ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ in response to the query of 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. The Columban editor and Mr Church of The New York Sun both took the children who wrote them seriously.

    I wouldn’t be too harsh on the Sisters in this story. But I really don’t know why they were allowed to dance in the sanctuary.

  21. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    @ sejoga and Samwise Gamgee –

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

  22. anilwang says:

    sejoga raises a good point. Teens *want* to be treated like young adults and they *want* to be challenged, but society, and unfortunately some inside the Church want to treat them like 5 year olds. Results: teens get disaffected by both society and the Church. Very often the attempts to “be relevant” and “cool” are so corny, poor quality, and transparently manipulative, that they even disgust teens who are flattered by the attempt at reaching them (e.g. “Christian music stations” more often than not have poorer quality music than the secular world, since most “Christian music” is just adding Christian words to hand-me-down secular romantic music). Result: teens think the older generation has nothing to offer.

    I don’t know how to fix this, but I suspect there’s a natural law at work. “Communities where the average age is 72” are this way precisely because they became worldly, and thus they offer nothing society doesn’t offer in a better form. I strong suspect that “Communities where the average age is 35” are closer to the Church and will as a consequence grow and thrive.

  23. jflare says:

    Fr Coyle,
    My apologies, I didn’t mean that we should treat 12-year-olds and teens exactly like adults in every single way. That isn’t possible and probably isn’t wise. In the interests of brevity, I didn’t go into more detail.
    I think others have summed up the point nicely though: It’s never good to treat a 13-year-old as though the youngster has the intellect of 8. They’re more “advanced” than that and will lose interest quickly.

  24. jflare, no apologies whatever called for! I thoroughly agree with the point you were making. One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me was by a then young single woman, now the mother of a large family and a very committed Catholic, whom I have known, along with her family, since she was a child. She said that she really appreciated that when she was a child I had always taken her seriously. This, of course, is quite different from being always serious with someone. God bless.

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