Friday, November 25, 2011

History Repeats Itself With a Community of Catholic Brothers in Texas ( Hermits )

I have often pontificated on this blog that in the urge to get more Catholic men in the Priesthood we are ignoring having people explore a Vocation to being a Brother.

This is one reason why I am thrilled with this article that highlights some dynamic communities of Brothers in the United States. See Surprising Revival for Men in Religious Life

One of the communities that is highlighted is in Christoval Texas. I love this part of the story because it shows a dynamic we saw all over the World and indeed in my State in the Colonial days. That is a bunch of brothers would show up in the middle of no where and start reciting the hours and make Converts. While Christoval Texas is not like Spanish Spain 1780 it's still not the big city and well perhaps not all that Catholic compared to other parts of Texas.

CHRISTOVAL, Texas — Father Fabian Rosetti had a dream. The Cuba-born Carmelite wanted to build a hermitage on land that would provide monks with the necessary isolation they needed.
He found a suitable tract in central Texas, but the man who owned it made it clear that he was not willing to help.

“He was very blunt,” Father Rosetti recalled of the encounter he had with the landowner in 1991. “He said to me, ‘I don’t like you, and these are my reasons why: One, you’re Catholic. Two, you’re a priest. And three, you’re Hispanic.’ He had no plans whatsoever of helping me.”
Yet, this outspoken Protestant would eventually soften and agree to let Father Rosetti use 200 acres of his property.

“When God wants something to get done, it gets done, and he uses whomever he pleases to get it done,” the priest surmised. “St. Thérèse of Lisieux said that her invincible arms were prayer and sacrifice, and that continues to be true for Carmelites today.”

And that, perhaps, is the case with religious life today, particularly the Catholic religious brotherhood. Once almost as omnipresent as women religious, religious brothers have become almost an endangered species. Their numbers in the U.S. have declined sharply in recent decades. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), there were 22,707 religious priests in 1965, but only 12,629 in 2011. The center reports 12,271 religious brothers in 1965, with the number falling to 4,606 in 2011.

But new religious communities such as Father Rosetti’s Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel have emerged in recent years, offering signs of hope. From Wyoming to Connecticut, men are being drawn to lives of intense prayer and labor within the framework of poverty, chastity and obedience, and to communities that are overtly faithful to Church teaching.
The breakthrough with the landowner in Texas was only the beginning of a witness to the local Christian community. Through the deep commitment to prayer and work displayed by the Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, local Protestants gradually became less hostile and more willing to help.

In fact, the assistance needed to build a hermitage chapel was given mostly by non-Catholics.
“We had about 50 men working together to build our chapel, and almost all of them were Protestants. Can you imagine that?” said Father Rosetti. “Now, about half the people who come to our Mass in the chapel on Sunday are Protestants
. I don’t give them holy Communion, but they attend Mass, and I preach pure Catholic doctrine............

Read it all.

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