Today is St. Benedict’s Day, and I am at a monastery in the middle of a vast cornfield. The monastery is the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, situated among the rolling green stretches of Nebraska, the only state of the Union that has managed to run its politics from a “unicameral” legislature (meaning they trust each other enough not to need two houses looking over each other’s shoulders). Every state in these United States is beautiful in its own way, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the serene farmlands between Omaha and Lincoln….
The sisters in this monastery chose to leave San Francisco 25 years ago for the “flyover” state of Nebraska (with a stop in Las Vegas, which didn’t work out!). They wanted to return to the more traditional forms of worship, and they are bursting with novices: over forty sisters, most of them under 35. If Church leadership really wants to renew parishes and religious orders, it need look no further than the healthy inclusion of the more traditional forms of worship in the Church’s liturgical life. No one can deny the numbers: more traditional parishes and religious communities have been growing for 60 years while less traditional communities are dying out. When Hollywood wants to portray “Catholic,” it portrays parishes and schools and nuns who look Catholic!
But it is not only in the monastery that Catholicism flourishes near Lincoln. Yesterday I got invited to a “pig roast” at a local home. Backyards are spacious in Nebraska, so when I got to the picnic about 150 people had already arrived. Parents were chatting in small groups, six or seven of the local priests stood about in their cassocks, and hordes of children were chasing each other over the lush green grass. I had a good talk with the party’s hostess, a mother of twelve, one of whom was a priest that I had worked with in years past.
At 6pm her husband, who serves as physician, mentor, and all-around elder to the neighborhood, called out for one of the priests to lead the Angelus. Everyone knew how to pray it, when to kneel, and when to stand. It was a beautifully Catholic picnic: smiling parents, racing children, venerable priests, delightful food and drinks and games, barking dogs and heartfelt prayers. No one was left out. If the Vatican, or any diocesan chancery, wants to know how to evangelize, it need look no further than the joy and the love flowing through some of our more traditionally-minded communities.
The above comes from a July 11 posting on Father Illo’s Blog. Father Joseph Illo is pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.
Thanks for this article.
This is the kind of uplifting content that is so necessary in the world today.
I have never experienced a picnic like this. What a beautiful story — keep them coming. It is sometimes difficult to not get bogged down with all that is happening in the world.
Reminds me of my youth in a small town.Sadly, those kind of things don’t even happen there anymore.
The nuns of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, located in a rural farming area of Valparaiso, NE, about 20 miles from Lincoln, near Agnew, follow the complete, traditional old Tridentine Latin Mass, Divine Office, and Sacraments. Their beautiful church was built in 2001, in the Calif. Revival Mission style. The priests of the FSSP seminary in nearby Denton, NE, helped the nuns with the new church, and they often say Mass there. The nuns also have a chaplain who lives in an apt. there. He is a distinguished canonist, and is Vicar General of the Diocese. You can find some delightful videos of the monastery on YouTube. Any Catholic girl interested in a Carmelite vocation, walking in the traditional spiritual path of St. Teresa of Avila?
About 20 years ago, I spoke with a retired man who had decided with his wife, to move away to Denton, NE, to live in a wonderful, devout, traditional Catholic community, near the FSSP. He luckily found a part-time job helping at the FSSP Seminary there, and he and his wife were totally happy! He said he would advise any devout Catholic who desired to live in a good Catholic community like that, to cone and join them! They have families, retired people, and Catholics of all ages! Rural farming communities, all around Lincoln, NE, lots of cornfields! And none of the sinful, urban West Coast life exists, there.
Those Catholic people are all totally Pro Life and family-oriented, with many large families. The traditional Carmelite monastery is very full, and flourishing, with 40 nuns. Many Catholic girls are interested in joining them. They have a good Bishop, Bishop Conley. Nebraska is mainly a Republican state, and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is Pro Life, and wants to make his state Pro Life. The village of Hayes Center, and city of Blue Hill, are Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn.
California is a rich agricultural state, too– it is often referred to as the “breadbasket of the world,” due to its rich agricultural economy. Over one-third of all vegetables, and two-thirds of all fruits and nuts, that feed our entire nation, come from California. We are also the most populous state in the Nation. Much of our state today, is heavily urbanized and corrupt, with tragic disintegration of Marriage and Family, corruption of values, and degeneration of our American culture. What a shame.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has his ridiculous State law, with a “hate-list” of “red” Republican, pro life, “anti-LGBT” states, that prohibits state employees from paid travel to, for work-related business. But Newsom’s in-laws are wealthy horse ranchers in Montana, a “red” Republican state. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is also a Republican, and is “proudly pro life,” as he says. The Newsoms often make trips to Montana, to see family. And they bring along CHP security agents to protect the governor and his family, and may bring along some staff members, too. Newsom says that the ridiculous Calif. law, banning travel to states that are pro life and “anti-LGBT” (etc.) does have an exemption– it allows for paid out-of-state travel for state dmployees, for public health, welfare and safety reasons. And that includes security protection for the governor and his family. Anyway, news outlets poke fun at Newsom for hypocrisy. I think he should get rid of his stupid “ban,” and make good, friendly alliances with all other states, to benefit all citizens. How many other State employees have mixed family-related travel, plus perhaps some work-related business, in states on Calif.’s ridiculous “hate list?”
Isn’t it amazing, how in one generation (those now in their 70s – 80s) so much of the beauty of our Faith has been lost or prohibited. What a sad legacy. It is heartening to see this kind of Catholic family life is still possible today. God bless them
Sounds like a bunch of home schooler picnics I’ve been to.