Update on the LCWR Assembly of the Great Swirly

We need an update on the Assembly of the Great Swirly, the LCWR annual confab at the Hyatt Regency in Houston.

They had a speech by one Fr. Stephen Bevans, SVD.  No, he’s a priest.  He couldn’t be bothered to dress like one to talk to the sisters, however.  He’s from CTU, after all.

These neck-tie priests… how pretentious!  If you are not going to wear a Roman collar, why wear a tie? Why not just wear a polo shirt?  Because you are… what… a professional?  You are… German?

He has the Great Swirly before him but he has Katsushika Hokusai’s Wave behind him.  It’s watery there.

What is it with nuns and water?

Isn’t water a 60’s and 70’s thing?

No, really… what’s this all about?

Anyway, the LCWR site says the assembly is reflecting on a theme:

The assembly theme, “Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth: Meeting the Thirsts of the World,” comes in part from the account of the creation of the world in Genesis 7:11. As the Israelites named the enormous reservoir of water that they believed was beneath the surface of the earth “The Great Deep,” so we use the same name for the reservoir of wisdom that we believe can be accessed through living a life of contemplation.

Genesis 7….?  They want to access… the “great deep” which they say is “wisdom” (which is really thinly-disguised Gnostic “Sophia“.  Some Christian Gnostics (there was zillions of variations) juxtaposed antithetical figures Christ and Sophia, male and female.  She was, for them – and perhaps for the sisters – the world-soul,  spiritual principle which sank down into the primal chaos.  You know.. the usual Gnostic B as in B, S as in S.

What is Genesis 7 about? Noah goes into the ark with his family and the flood overflows the earth and kills everything.  A distinction is also made between clean and unclean animals.  Here is some of the chapter in the Douay version:

[9] Two and two went in to Noe into the ark, male and female, as the Lord had commanded Noe. [How sexist of the Lord to make discriminate against the other sexed and transexual animals which He left outside to die!] [10] And after the seven days were passed, the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.

[11] In the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month, all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the flood gates of heaven were opened: [12] And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. [13] In the selfsame day Noe, and Sem, and Cham, and Japheth his sons: his wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, went into the ark: [14] They and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle in their kind, and every thing that moveth upon the earth according to its kind, and every fowl according to its kind, all birds, and all that fly, [15] Went in to Noe into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein was the breath of life.

[16] And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in on the outside. [17] And the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased, and lifted up the ark on high from the earth. [18] For they overflowed exceedingly: and filled all on the face of the earth: and the ark was carried upon the waters. [19] And the waters prevailed beyond measure upon the earth: and all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. [20] The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains which it covered.

[21] And all flesh was destroyed that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beasts, and of all creeping things that creep upon the earth: and all men. [22] And all things wherein there is the breath of life on the earth, died. [23] And he destroyed all the substance that was upon the earth, from man even to beast, and the creeping things and fowls of the air: and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noe only remained, and they that were with him in the ark. [24] And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

This is an odd thing to celebrate and contemplate… the forces of nature through which God destroyed every living thing but Noah and his own.

Back to Bevans… what does Fishwrap think important?  A sample with my emphases:

Divine Word Fr. Stephen Bevans told approximately 800 members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious gathered here for the group’s annual assembly that only by focusing on the Holy Spirit can they quench the thirsts of the world.

To live God’s mission, Bevans said, the church must live in what he called “prophetic dialogue” — “an openness in contemplation to discover the thirsts of the world and a determination in humility to work for the slaking of those thirsts.”

Bevans said the world longs for the water of integrity, the wine of hope, the nectar of justice and the elixir of beauty, adding that the spirit’s awakening of those longings requires us to try to meet them.

sandra schneidersHe talked of those leading the charge in integrity, such as Malala Yousafzai[young female Pakistani activist] and Nelson Mandela, and hailed as prophets Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders [who on occasions writes as if she believes that Christ had a human intellect that wasn’t illuminated by His divine nature. Rather, we Christians believe that Christ’s human intellect was never not illuminated by His divine intellect.] and Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister. [who suggested not long ago – when the CDF was watching – that the LCWR be disbanded]

The thirst for justice, [and apparently thirst for global death by flood] he said, is why people are part of Call to Action or protest annually at the School of Americas, now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, in Fort Benning, Georgia. And the thirst for beauty is great because of the violence in the world, he said.

One of the sisters was moved to say of Bevan’s reflections:

“We can’t meet [the world’s needs] personally, but we can in spirit,” she said. “If we keep operating out of that spirit and we share that spirit, then there can be that hope.”

That sounds like a sin against the Holy Spirit.

Another said:

“We can’t meet [the world’s needs] personally, but we can in spirit,” she said. “If we keep operating out of that spirit and we share that spirit, then there can be that hope.”

Hope for what?  More water?  Maybe she’s from California.

This reminds me of what Peter Kreeft has his demonic character suggest as a way to distract people from true godliness.  The demon wants their “patients” to be concerned about “poverty”, in the abstract, rather than actual poor people.

In any event, they are quenching and slaking there in Houston these days, as they ponder the life-annihilating global-killer Flood of Genesis 7.


Did the nuns choose this Genesis 7 Flood theme because of the new movie about Noah?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dans0622 says:

    I think I had a class with Fr. Bevans at CTU…can’t remember for sure and I’m not surprised that I can’t remember. There is something about the content of these sorts of presentations that leave me totally empty and…”thirsty.” I can’t find anything practical in them. It seems like one platitude after another. Platitude cookie writers should review the LCWR presentations and take notes.

  2. WmHesch says:

    Swirly-nautilus logo is reminiscent of Reiki’s “cho ku rei” symbol…

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    Ah, the nectar of justice and the water of integrity (a fail there): Age of Aquarius all over again!

    Sadly, I do not notice that these aging ones have brought much water, nectar, wine, etc. Have noticed the dissent though.

    My cousin went to the Divine Word seminary back in the 70s; he did not stay. There was an infiltration there. My cousin no longer practices the faith and is estranged from his loving brothers and sisters. My holy and very dear Aunt would say, “Here is Timmy, our priest!” Did not work out that way.

  4. pseudomodo says:

    Ah. the flood! Well apparently it didn’t destroy EVERYTHING and not even ALL the unicorns.


  5. APX says:

    If you stare in to the brown part of the swirly, it takes on the appearance of liturgical dancers swirling.

  6. benedetta says:

    Ponderously fascinating. I offer a mini point for the LCWR’s opportune consideration while conventioneering: newborn babies, just emerged from their mothers’ wombs, immediately begin to root, smacking their lips, using first and foremost the olfactory sense which is already ready to be used and fully developed, to sense their mother and immediately suckle at the breast. Therefore, from scientific observation we may conclude that the unborn, tens of millions, or just one, however many we are talking, experience a very profound and deep thirst throughout their time of protected gestation, which they naturally act upon for relief from the mother immediately upon their changed environment which occurs in a brief time, from within to outside, the womb. This is such an intimate experience known to so many women which I believe our sisters at the LCWR convention will truly appreciate. May their prayers and their works seek to satisfy the thirsts of our children, of the next generation of human life!

  7. yatzer says:

    “We can’t meet [the world’s needs] personally, but we can in spirit,” she said. “If we
    keep operating out of that spirit and we share that spirit, then there can be that hope.”

    Say what? Was something actually said here?

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “‘We can’t meet [the world’s needs] personally, but we can in spirit,’she said. ‘If we keep operating out of that spirit and we share that spirit, then there can be that hope.'”

    Compare this “meeting the world’s need in spirit,” with the article, Ave Crux, Spes Unica, by St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross ((Edith Stein), who had a thing or two to say about commitment in Sept. 14, 1941, less than a year before she died (as did St. Maximilian Kolbe) at Auschwitz (excepts and link to full article):

    Our holy Order has us begin our fast with the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. And it leads us to the foot of the cross to renew our holy vows. The Crucified One looks down on us and asks us whether we are still willing to honor what we promised in an hour of grace. And he certainly has reason to ask. More than ever the cross is a sign of contradiction. The followers of the Anti-Christ show it far more dishonor than did the Persians who stole it. They desecrate the image of the Cross, and they make every effort to tear the cross out of the hearts of Christians. All too often they have succeeded even with those, who like us, once vowed to bear Christ’s cross after him. Therefore, the Savior today looks at us, solemnly probing us, and asks each one of us: Will you remain faithful to the Crucified? Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Anti-Christ has broken into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise. Taking and renewing vows is a dreadfully serious business. You make a promise to the Lord of heaven and earth. If you are not deadly serious about your will to fulfill it, you fall into the hands of the living God…

    Before you the Redeemer hangs on the cross stripped and naked, because He chose poverty. Those who would follow Him must renounce every earthly possession. Stand before the Lord Who hangs from the cross with His heart torn open. He poured out the blood of His heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow Him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.

    The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity. The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the cross: from His open heart the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows you make your heart free and open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.

    Do you hear the groans of the wounded on the battlefields in the west and the east? You are not a physician and not a nurse and cannot bind up the wounds. You are enclosed in a cell and cannot get to them. Do you hear the anguish of the dying? You would like to be a priest and comfort them. Does the lament of the widows and orphans distress you? You would like to be an angel of mercy and help them. Look at the Crucified. If you are nuptially bound to him by the faithful observance of your holy vows, your BEING is precious blood. Bound to him, you are omnipresent as he is. You cannot help here or there like the physician, the nurse, the priest. You can be at all fronts, wherever there is grief, in the power of the cross. Your compassionate love takes you everywhere, this love from the divine heart. Its precious blood is poured everywhere- soothing, healing, saving.

    The eyes of the Crucified look down on you- asking, probing. Will you make your covenant with the Crucified anew in all seriousness? What will you answer him? “Lord, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

    Ave Crux, Spes unica!

    The Chicken

  9. Matt Robare says:

    I think they’re subconsciously realizing that they’ve sunk.

  10. VexillaRegis says:

    Matt Robare, exactly what I think too.

  11. Chrissin says:

    Who pays for all of this? Look like quite an upscale production.

  12. chantgirl says:

    Chicken- I think you’re onto something with that quote. I often sense a bizarre erotic component to the LCWR’s materials. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’ sacrifice of celibacy (and later her very life) was offered to Christ and bore much fruit, and she comes across as being at peace with her purpose and place in the universe in her writings. These conferences of the LCWR rarely reference Christ as bridegroom – odd for a group of women who have sacrificed the chance to marry and have children. If celibacy is not offered to, for, and through Christ, I wonder if the natural desire to pair and procreate comes out in bizarre ways. For all of their speaking about the “thirsts of the world”, I wonder if they aren’t really expressing their own unfulfilled desires? St. Augustine’s reference to restless hearts comes to mind.

  13. The LCWR is holding their confab in Houston? Houston, Texas? Now I understand why I was sensing a disturbance in the The Force, even though I am almost three hours away in San Antonio.

    Pax et bonum (and I pray that God will quickly cleanse the region once they have departed for their respective homes).

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  14. Sonshine135 says:

    Meeting the needs of the world with more vague generality than you can shake a stick or swirly at! Those that seek to feed and nourish without focus on the cross are left starving. It’s just that simple- do as the Master commands.

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    While none of this stuff does anything for me, and I think Sandra Schneiders is bad for religious life and Joan Chittister more nefarious than most of her fans realize, I do see this as a step back from the clearly post-Catholic Barbara Marx Hubbard. Sure there is an ambiguity going on between the “age of Aquarius” water theme and devotion to Jesus Christ, bearer of the water of life, but there’s nothing very wrong with this: “Bevans said the world longs for the water of integrity, the wine of hope, the nectar of justice and the elixir of beauty, adding that the spirit’s awakening of those longings requires us to try to meet them.” And even when he brings up Call to Action, it isn’t about something that breaks the Communion of the Church. Is it faint praise to appreciate the LCWR for stopping short of breaking the Communion of the Church? Very well, then, I praise them faintly. But this is the commitment they affirmed in a new way through their work with the CDF and it is a most crucial one.

    I would sure like to see them talk more explicitly about Jesus though; I would like to see some kind of idea of religious life as a personal love relationship with Jesus. The vague language is actually a kind of cowardice that keeps the peace with those sisters with post-Catholic sort of beliefs.

  16. AnnTherese says:

    I am so grateful to God for the service, passion, intelligence, compassion, courage, faith, and love Catholic sisters and nuns have shared with our Church and our world.

  17. Benedict Joseph says:

    Good to see Joan Chittister orbited one good idea in her life. Too bad she didn’t land on it.
    Sad to recall St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in this context. There was a real nun. There were real sisters and nuns — in our lifetime — whom we were privileged to be taught by and know, and this crowd subsists as parasites on their pedigree. Tragic.
    But there is hope rising in the new communities, if they are not suppressed. Who knows what is ahead.

  18. acardnal says:

    It would be a great sign if the sisters upon adjourning their meeting all stood and recited the Creed.

  19. Kerry says:

    My wife, (the Fair Penelope), hearing that the Man in the Tie called the Holy Spirit “she”, asked, “What about the Immaculate Conception? Does he think the Holy Spirit is a Lesbian…?”

  20. WYMiriam says:

    An unnamed sister said, “We can’t meet [the world’s needs] personally, but we can in spirit. If we keep operating out of that spirit and we share that spirit, then there can be that hope.”

    And yatzer asked, “Say what? Was something actually said here?”

    Unfortunately yes, something was actually being said there, yatzer. To wit, “I don’t want to go out personally, all by myself, or with one or two like-minded people, and find out for myself what the people around me are thirsting for, and help them find that. After all, personal responsibility is so messy — and pre-Vatican II, too! On the other hand, if we go out to them in spirit, operating out of that spirit [note: “spirit” is not defined by her], and sharing that spirit, then some sort of nebulous unspecified “hope” might be, indeed can be “there”!

    Tell you what, dear LCWR sisters! If you will put aside for a moment your apparent unwillingness to get dirty in the Church’s field hospital by being personally responsible for seeking solutions to the thirsts of the world, I will put aside my reluctance to complain about one of MY thirsts, and give you a chance to quench my thirst.

    Ready? Yes? Yay! Here we go:

    I thirst for the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and for orthodox, reverent priests to offer it and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to us, and for orthodox, reverent nuns and sisters to teach the Faith to us and to our children.

    Oh! Where did everyone go???

    Masked Chicken, that was a stupendous quote from someone who didn’t just pen extravagant flowery thoughts, but went out and lived them. Thank you.

  21. Gail F says:

    “and apparently thirst for global death by flood” — best thing I’ve read all day!!!!

  22. Aquinas Gal says:

    Too bad they missed the boat–the theme of thirst could be developed so many ways in reference to Jesus and the Eucharist, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” Jn 7:37 “..whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn 6:35).
    That’s the saddest thing about this LCWR meeting; it could have been a great Catholic topic.

    I think they’re past their high-water mark, and from here on out they will fade out more and more quickly.

  23. majuscule says:

    Bevans said the world longs for the water of integrity, the wine of hope, the nectar of justice and the elixir of beauty, adding that the spirit’s awakening of those longings requires us to try to meet them.

    I had mental images of a different sort of “spirit” when I read this. Perhaps something you’d have a glass of before (or with) dinner…?

  24. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Am I the only one who is puzzled by the fact that there is no movement of Catholic dissident men who want the right to become nuns?

    Wouldn’t James Carroll, E.J. Dionne, Garry Wills, and Michael Sean Winters all make ugly-looking nuns?

  25. jameeka says:

    Astute piece, Father Z. It IS a very ODD thing to contemplate and celebrate the weird metaphor going on there re: “the Great Deep”. I am wondering about sins against the Holy Spirit as well as other diabolical longings.
    They probably should have you vet the next assembly theme first.

  26. oldconvert says:

    “Springs of the Great Deep Burst Forth: Meeting the Thirsts of the World….” and that logo! The Great Swirly – if Lovecraft were alive today, he’d sit down and write a new chapter for his Mythos, I think.

  27. SanSan says:


  28. SanSan says:

    thank you Chicken for posting the beautiful spiritual quote from a great NUN.

  29. benedetta says:

    My knowledge from the subject area of Looney Tunes cartoon physics tells me that the trajectory of the above pictured shell is just endlessly spinning in its own circle till it sputters out of whatever is making it shoot out sparks or fumes or whatever that is that is powering it.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Aquinas Gal – Yep, and Mother Teresa’s whole sisterhood and mission was founded on Jesus’ words, “I thirst.” So there is a powerful lot they left unused. It is a pity.

  31. Benedict Joseph says:

    The nautilus shell connotes the vortex of self-hypnosis, the pilgrimage in the unending maze where the mystery of the enneagram is continually consulted. The good father could be thought rightly vested given the nature of his presentation and his listeners, though I wonder that such a display of primate maleness could be tolerated by such an audience. I guess it all depends on your hermaneunich.

  32. avecrux says:

    Bl. Mother Teresa resolved to slake the thirst of Christ (present in His members).
    That was hard, though – so they probably aren’t interested.

  33. These nuns need to catch up and forget the 1970’s and 80’s. They are so ou of touch with anything outside of their atomized little world.

  34. kiwiinamerica says:

    See the Star Trek galaxy map (scroll down) for an explanation of the “Great Swirly”. Note, in particular, the position of the Klingon Empire in the “Great Swirly”.

    “They’re dead, Jim!” (the nuns, that is).

  35. Andreas says:

    I seem to recall that one of the results of the 4-year doctrinal assessment carried out by the Vatican was that LCWR publications, presentations and the content of such conferences had to be approved by a responsible Vatican-appointed authority. Based on what has been discussed about the current conference and speakers to-date, can one assume that such oversight has not taken place, the result being that everything is as before the Vatican’s assessment of the LCWR?

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