Fortnight For Freedom: Nuns of the Battlefield

Wednesday, June 28, AD 2017

 

 

 

The Church is sometimes depicted as somehow an alien presence in this fair land of freedom.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Catholics, beginning with Christopher Columbus, have played a vital role in American history from the beginning.  Such was the case with the nuns who attended wounded and sick soldiers during the national nightmare known as the Civil War.

 

Visitors to Washington DC might be surprised at first to encounter a monument to nuns and sisters entitled Nuns of the Battlefield.  It was erected by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1924 to honor the some 600 Catholic nuns and sisters who during the Civil War nursed soldiers on both sides.  It bears this inscription:

THEY COMFORTED THE DYING, NURSED THE WOUNDED, CARRIED HOPE TO THE IMPRISONED, GAVE IN HIS NAME A DRINK OF WATER TO THE THIRSTY

Anti-Catholic propaganda prior to the Civil War often focused on alleged lurid misdeeds involving nuns, the completely fictional account written by Maria Monk being a typical example, thus combining both bigotry and near pornography.  A convent was burned by an anti-Catholic mob in 1834 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, their minds poisoned by just such allegations.

Nuns and sisters prior to the Civil War would not wear their habits outside of their convents for fear of insult or attack.  Then, in the words of Lincoln, the war came.

Nuns on both sides swiftly volunteered to served as nurses, and they proved superb at this task.  Mary Livermore, who served on the United States Sanitary Commission and who would later win fame as an early fighter for the rights of women, wrote this tribute after the War:

“I am neither a Catholic, nor an advocate of the monastic institutions of that church . . . But I can never forget my experience during the War of the Rebellion . . . Never did I meet these Catholic sisters in hospitals, on transports, or hospital steamers, without observing their devotion, faithfulness, and unobtrusiveness. They gave themselves no airs of superiority or holiness, shirked no duty, sought no easy place, bred no mischiefs. Sick and wounded men watched for their entrance into the wards at morning, and looked a regretful farewell when they departed at night.”

Soldiers were impressed both by the quality of the nursing they received from the nuns and their good cheer and kindness.  Generations of bigotry melted away by the ministrations of these women of God.  A Confederate chaplain recalled this incident between a soldier and a sister:

“Sister, is it true that you belong to the Catholic Church?”

“Yes, sir, it’s true. And that’s the source of the greatest happiness I have in this life.”

“Well, I declare. I’d never have suspected it. I’ve heard so many things . . . I thought Catholics were the worst people on earth.”

“I hope you don’t think so now.”

“Well, Sister . . . I’ll tell you. If you say you’re a Catholic, I’ll certainly have a better opinion of Catholics from now on.”

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4 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Nuns of the Battlefield

  • Thank you, Donald. Amid all of the mischief created by our current Pope, we tend to forget what real women in holy orders have done, and continue to do, for the faith. God Bless.

  • Good post.
    Thank you Donald.

    At our local Carmelite monastery I periodically go before the sisters to intervene on behalf of a sick or dieing soul.
    They are a cloistered community and as powerful as Michael the archangel and his legion. Embellishment? No. Their prayers are that strong.

    The invisible power is made tangible by our committed nuns through out the world.
    Seen or unseen, they are one of God’s great gift to mankind.

  • The Catholic nuns’ virginity and freedom from sin allows them to come and go freely. Jesus Christ, the Healer, their spouse guides their actions.

  • There are still nuns on the battlefield. A year ago I was on an army post grocery shopping and met a nun in a white traditional habit. Turns out she is an army reserve surgeon who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. On the civilian side she operates on charity patients in a hospital in an affluent neighborhood and periodically travels to Sudan under the auspices of doctors without borders.

Nuns of the Battlefield

Tuesday, September 3, AD 2013

Nuns of the Battlefield

Visitors to Washington DC might be surprised at first to encounter a monument to nuns and sisters entitled Nuns of the Battlefield.  It was erected by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1924 to honor the some 600 Catholic nuns and sisters who during the Civil War nursed soldiers on both sides.  It bears this inscription:

THEY COMFORTED THE DYING, NURSED THE WOUNDED, CARRIED HOPE TOTHE IMPRISONED, GAVE IN HIS NAME A DRINK OF WATER TO THE THIRSTY

Anti-Catholic propaganda prior to the Civil War often focused on alleged lurid misdeeds involving nuns, the completely fictional account written by Maria Monk being a typical example, thus combining both bigotry and near pornography.  A convent was burned by an anti-Catholic mob in 1834 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, their minds poisoned by just such allegations.

Nuns and sisters prior to the Civil War would not wear their habits outside of their convents for fear of insult or attack.  Then, in the words of Lincoln, the war came.

Nuns on both sides swiftly volunteered to served as nurses, and they proved superb at this task.  Mary Livermore, who served on the United States Sanitary Commission and who would later win fame as an early fighter for the rights of women, wrote this tribute after the War:

“I am neither a Catholic, nor an advocate of the monastic institutions of that church . . . But I can never forget my experience during the War of the Rebellion . . . Never did I meet these Catholic sisters in hospitals, on transports, or hospital steamers, without observing their devotion, faithfulness, and unobtrusiveness. They gave themselves no airs of superiority or holiness, shirked no duty, sought no easy place, bred no mischiefs. Sick and wounded men watched for their entrance into the wards at morning, and looked a regretful farewell when they departed at night.”

Soldiers were impressed both by the quality of the nursing they received from the nuns and their good cheer and kindness.  Generations of bigotry melted away by the ministrations of these women of God.  A Confederate chaplain recalled this incident between a soldier and a sister:

“Sister, is it true that you belong to the Catholic Church?”

“Yes, sir, it’s true. And that’s the source of the greatest happiness I have in this life.”

“Well, I declare. I’d never have suspected it. I’ve heard so many things . . . I thought Catholics were the worst people on earth.”

“I hope you don’t think so now.”

“Well, Sister . . . I’ll tell you. If you say you’re a Catholic, I’ll certainly have a better opinion of Catholics from now on.”

Continue reading...

13 Responses to Nuns of the Battlefield

From Harvard To Her Religious Calling

Sunday, July 25, AD 2010

Mary Anne Marks graduated from Harvard University at the top of her class.  You may have heard of her, she is the one that gave the salutatory address all in Latin.

She received a standing ovation.

In addition to graduating with a Classics and English double major with honors, she will be entering the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

You may remember these nuns from their appearance on the Oprah Show earlier this year in February and how they dazzled the audience as well as Oprah Winfrey herself with their simple devotion and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The following video is Mary Anne Marks being interviewed by Net New York‘s Outstanding Anchor Francesca Maximé on the Currents program.

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5 Responses to From Harvard To Her Religious Calling

Booming Traditional Religious Orders!

Friday, May 21, AD 2010

What has been an open secret is now backed by empirical evidence:

The most successful institutes in terms of attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of religious life in which members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together. They also wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today.*

As I have been reading through the website of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) I came across this nugget of information [Emphases Mine]:

Myth #4:  Women entering religious life want to wear habits.Fact:  Both men and women seem to be drawn to habited communities. About two thirds of the newer members say they belong to a religious institute that wears a habit. Among those that responded affirmatively, a little more than half indicate that the habit is required in all or most circumstances.

Interestingly, almost half of the men who belong to an institute that does not wear a habit say they would wear it if it were an option [and those that don’t wear habits are obviously being disobedient and committing a mortal sin], compared to nearly a quarter of the women respondents.

Ann Carey of The Catholic World Report wrote that the study found several “best practices”:

  1. Involving membership and leadership in concerted vocation promotion efforts.
  2. Having a full-time vocation director.
  3. Using new media like the Internet.
  4. Offering discernment or “come-and-see” opportunities for potential members.
  5. Exposing young people to the idea of religious life from grade school through young adulthood.

What stuck out and confirmed what I’ve always thought in attracting people to religious vocations, as well as bringing in converts to the Catholic faith is:

“the example of members and the characteristics of the institute…have the most influence on the decision to enter a particular institute.”

Sister Elsa Garcia Practicing a Pagan Ritual

When you see a habitless nun walking around in her pants or muumuu’s you wonder what the attraction is when you could lead the same life without living in poverty.

As Saint John said in his epistle:

Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 Jn 2:15-17)

The rest of this posting will be an excerpt of Ann Carey‘s article on The Catholic World Report where she sights some examples of booming traditional religious orders:

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8 Responses to Booming Traditional Religious Orders!

  • God is clearly blessing these traditional orders with growing numbers of vocations, and His grace is abundant in the rebounding orthodoxy of the Gen Xers like me and even among many Millennials of this latest generation.

    From the perspective of a man discerning his vocation to Holy Orders as a religious priest (God willing!), I can vouch personally for the holiness, orthodoxy and zeal for souls of both the CA Norbertines and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. I visited the OMVs at their beautiful shrine and seminary in Back Bay, Boston and met some amazing men: priests, seminarians, and novices. I would have been thrilled to join the Norbertines, but they have an upper age limit for men who enter of 28, and I surpassed that a few years back! 🙁 Nevertheless, God’s grace and the wisdom of a wonderful spiritual director (himself a religious priest/friar for many years) and a great vocations director have all led me to pursue a vocation as a postulant with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception later this year, also known as the “Divine Mercy Priests” for their ministry of spreading devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the messages Our Lord communicated to St. Faustina Kowalska. They are also a very orthodox and faithful order of young men whose vocations are booming (I attended a discernment weekend there wherein 4 of the 8 of us visiting applied for admission as postulants to the order–50% of us!)

    God is faithful if we remain faithful to Him!

  • You definitely have my prayers Kevin!

    Ora pro nobis!

  • The Father responds to those who are Faithful, Humble and Obedient – as His Son was.

  • I’m blessed to live near an order of very holy and orthodox priests, The Fathers of Mercy. They are going to ordain one priest and two deacons next Saturday.

  • You are blessed, Ellen. The Fathers of Mercy are a great order. Fr Louis hails from my old parish in Detroit and said Mass there every time he was in town. Very reverent and awesome sermons – his presence was always a great treat for the parish.

  • When these orders embrace the traditional Mass instead of the fabricated Mass (i.e., the Novus Ordo, even in Latin), then we’ll know that they’re serious about tradition.

    “What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it – as in a manufacturing process – with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”

    -Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Preface to the French edition of Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

  • My friend is with the Nashville Dominicans, and see loves it! 🙂 I am entering formation with the Salesians come end of August and in four years, I could be in the habit! It is exciting. Traditional orders are finding more members, there has to be a reason as you have proved.

  • Ash,

    You and your friend have my prayers!