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Monday, February 1, 2010

Carmelite Nuns Pray with Hindu for a "better world"

I'm on the email list of a Hindu named Rajan Zed. I have no idea how he got my email address, but sometimes his posts give me the opportunity for a head-shaking laugh. Today's was a case in point. Here's the email in part:
In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Carmelite nuns and well-known Hindu statesman Rajan Zed prayed together in Reno (Nevada, USA) today for making the “world a better place”.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, prayed from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world...with lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. The nuns prayed from Songs of David and Intercessions, and read from Gospel of Luke in New Testament.

According to Sr. Susan Weber, Prioress of Carmel of Our Lady of the Mountains was always nice to share the prayers and have dialogue....Sr. Rosey Klupfel led the prayers.

Rajan Zed started and ended his prayer with “OM”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work....Reciting from Taittiriya Upanishad, Rajan Zed said, “Om saha naavavatu, Saha nau bhunaktu, Saha viiryan karavaavahai, Tejasvi naavadhiitamastu, Maa vidhvishhaavahai”, which he then translated as, “May we be protected together, May we be nourished together, May we work together with great vigor, May our study be enlightening, May no obstacle arise between us”. Nuns repeated after Zed—“Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” (Peace, Peace, Peace be unto all).
My mind's picture of the event is priceless. Sr. "Rosey" leading the pack of nuns in jeans and jerseys closing their eyes swaying and intoning "om" as they repeat after Zed, "om shanti, shanti, shanti." Maybe they taught him to sing, "Peace is flowing like a river." Did they end with the coke song, "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." Can't you see them all arm in arm swaying back in forth in a living metaphor of unity. It's so nice to share.

I had to check the website to see if they are real nuns, but they seem to be and recently hosted an international Carmelite meeting. I checked out the rest of their website including a "transfer celebration" welcoming a new member with this prayer poem:

Flame-dancing Spirit
Come sweep us off our feet
and dance us through our days.
Surprise us with Your
dare us to try new steps,
explore new patterns
and new partnerships.
Release us from old routines
to swing in abandoned joy
and fearful adventure.
And in the intervals,
rest us in Your Still Center.


This seems to be one more group of holdovers from the sixties who traded their tie-dyed t-shirts for the "habit" of the Amchurch nun. There is something particularly bizarre about joining in the "holy word" that "contains the universe." Sorry, Sr. Rosey, but the universe only exists because the WORD MADE FLESH, Jesus Christ, called it into being. Intoning "om" seems blasphemous to me. No surprise, then, that these "nuns" all have gray hair and only seventeen vocations after fifty plus years. But, hey, they're having a good time even if they are contemplating their navels.

N.B. In 1996 Pope John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Exhortation, Vita consecrata which included this paragraph:

§25 … The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ. Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable. Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation.
What don't you understand about the virtue of obedience, sisters?


Anonymous said...

How do we spell "pathos"?

Anonymous said...

With "sisters" like these - who needs Wiccans?

Dymphna said...

Carmelites.... I'm speechless.

Sister Patrick said...

They give authentic Religious a bad name! Check our website:
if you want some hope for the future of Religious Life in the Church. God help these Carmelites.

Anonymous said...

They all drive subarus and shop at the co-op. Imagining their choices of bumper stickers is terrifying.