The current sense of unease regarding the status of the church in China reminded me of this quote from Mother Mary Francis, PCC — one of the foundresses of Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery (Roswell, NM) in her great book A Right to be Merry:

The children of light walk heedless of the source of their light. The children of darkness know better. And when the hour of darkness is at hand in any country, the first act of the powers of evil is invariably to throw the switch. They raze the cloisters. They turn the contemplatives out of their monasteries with loud speeches about the good of the state and about contributing to the social need. […]

By a strange paradox, the persecutors of religion are always far more spiritual-minded than the common run of humanity. It is a perversion of spirituality, but it is a kind of spiritual vision, nonetheless. One has to be very spiritual-minded to grasp the true meaning of the cloistered contemplative vocation, very convinced of the supernatural values to understand its supreme significance for the universal Church. Those who hold power in communist-dominated countries have a very comprehensive grasp of it. They understand its significance quite perfectly. If they sometimes draw red herrings of “national churches” across their atheistic paths, they dare not deal even in half-measures with cloisters. We shall grow old and die waiting for Russia or (Communist) China to set up “national cloisters.”

It’s a terrific, often laugh-out-loud read in and of itself, but A Right to be Merry has some stunning insights to ponder about the need for and nature of monasticism.

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