Don Edwards Literary Memorial

June 7, 2006



Your vision story is wonderful. Is this a revised version from the one you sent a year or so ago? Perhaps it just catches me in a more receptive mood, but it seems more understated and more carefully drawn than I remember. Whether revised or not, this story sheds a great deal of light on the state of religious monasticism in the 1950’s.

First point: the absolute role of the religious superior. We were taught that a religious vocation was a calling from God for service but what your story illustrates is a different reality. The religious superior stood in God’s place and based upon his own individualized vision – or even lack of vision – of the purpose of the religious order, and therefore the candidate’s potential contribution to achieve that purpose, he culled out those who did not conform to his own interpretation, and he did so with absolute impunity. His decision was final, not in any sense appealable and even worse, the monastic religious tradition held that his decision was not even to be questioned – blind obedience, it was called. Amazing, when you consider the number and variety of personality-types of religious superiors we were sworn to obey: Edward, Michael, Pius, Xavier, Gabriel. This helps to explain, I think, why the mission purpose of so many religious orders of that era was so mushy and undefined – of course, the original purposes for which they were founded had been mostly abandoned or watered down decades earlier.

Second point: the secretive and mysterious role that spiritual mysticism played in religious life of the 50’s. The mystic, Cora, seemed to have captured a certain sector of the religious-life market, but there were others too. I forget just who, but one of Cora’s followers allowed me to read some of her writing, but only on condition that I was to keep it very hush-hush. Frankly, I could not understand what she wrote but, on the other hand, what is there to understand about religious rapture? You’re raptured or you’re not, and I wasn’t.

Loved your story, very well written with good detail.


Filed under: LEROY POSTS — LeRoy @ 11:06 pm

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