This is a decades-old recounting of the five Carmelite nuns who “barricaded” themselves in the Monastery of Most Holy Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel Monastery in Morristown, New Jersey, awaiting a Vatican ruling that never came. The “barricade” consisted of a clothes pin on the Infirmary latch. The five, who were not novices but newly avowed, were separated from the others in resisting a Prioress, Mother Hewitt, appointed by Bishop Rodimer after he had elections suspended. Mother Hewitt ignored the Horarium, the various scheduled prayer times, and the nuns were pressured into staying up to all hours, and watching junk movies via VCR like “Babes in Toyland.” This sounds like “Catholic News” but I suggest the issue is secular in nature as the real reason for the convent crashing was to get the property sold with a standing offer of $21 million having been made to the diocese.
The dissolution of religious communities to cash in on the elevated property values of the eighties and nineties was repeated in so many venues that today there are exiled nuns who were faithful to their vows, their modest habits, and more contemplative lifestyle. Given permission to be out of their cloister, or exclaustration, was generally used as a punishment but now is increasingly used as a response to those who have no place to call a spiritual home, often rejecting a liberalization of an order. Ousting these more conservative religious who were resisting the rampant materialism of the late twentieth century succeeded because they generally refused to fight the calumniation of their reputations necessary to dissolve their monasteries and convents.
**Does capitalism eat its own young? A parallel is bouncing the federal Hoof & Mouth Disease lab off of Plum Island to relocate it–dangerously–into the middle of Kansas under Republican Governor Sam Brownback, where any contamination error cannot be isolated by the sea but, hey, Plum Island is pricey land now; and a lab complex will bring jobs to Kansas…A government lab fail was what gave us the Reston, Virginia, strain of Ebola. “Buy wisdom…” **
**So, was this late-twentieth century maneuvering a foretaste of the secular tolerance of government policies that widely contravene the freedom of conscience and religious rights of Americans? Did we sow the seeds of our own destruction? Did we undermine our own balance of majority rule/minority rights? Are we hoisted by our own petard? Did we sell our birthright for a bowl of lentils? [Insert your mixed metaphor here.] Will there be more wandering religious whose convents and monasteries were sold to pay the exorbitant health insurance tax non-compliance fines for refusing to underwrite the death culture? **