Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mormons and the Legion

When I was first married, we used to get a lot of Mormon missionaries. My husband and I always invited them in and talked to them. Not so much to try to convert them – we realized that was a lost cause. But we figured we could at least give them some lemonade and kindness, and let them see that Catholics were normal people. (Many of these kids had never met an actual Catholic before, and had all sorts of funny ideas about how we lived and what we believed.)

Anyway, one day a pair of them tried to use the formula “Well, Catholics believe x, and that’s not what the Bible teaches!” (I forget the exact argument – too many years and children have intervened.)

I said “No we don’t.”

They argued that we DID believe that. So I pulled out the Catechism and showed them what we actually believe. The guys were floored. They couldn’t believe we had this book that contained the essence of Catholic teaching. They asked if they could have it. I had to tell them ‘no’ (It was the copy my husband got for his confirmation and had sentimental value). I told them that if they went in to Borders they could pick up the paperback for 6.95. Or they could borrow it from the library.

They couldn’t believe that the Church would make our teachings available to anyone, even non-Catholics. They were shocked that everything we believe was out there, in bookstores and online, for anyone who cared. Mormonism has secret teachings. The Church doesn’t.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I keep hearing that I can’t really understand RC/LC, because I’ve never been on the inside. And ex-members have blogged about secret books (some plagiarized!), books only available to members, books that were supposed to be kept hidden in back bedrooms or at retreat centers.

THIS IS NOT CATHOLICISM. We don’t have ‘secret teachings.’ There are no ‘secret books of the Benedictines.’ Heck, even the ‘secret archives’ of the Vatican aren’t really secret—they’re just poorly catalogued and you have to make an appointment to work with them (like most archives). Heck, even the ‘secret’ parts of the Mass aren’t secret. Anyone can get a Sacramentary and see the parts the priest is supposed to say silently.

Our Church is from Christ, and we’re without guile. We don’t have secrets. We tell everyone the Truth about ourselves. We don’t hide our light under a bushel basket. We’re not Gnostics.

So… where does that leave the Legion, with its secret knowledge?


gto said...

"So… where does that leave the Legion, with its secret knowledge?"

Why, cutting bananas and spaghetti with forks and avoiding any discussion with families about the sexual predator that shaped every detail of their lives:

Norms of Urbanity and Human Relations

238. In the Legion, it is not the custom to eat spaghetti, macaroni, tagliarini, etc. rolled around the fork. They are cut in sufficiently small pieces so that they can be raised to the mouth without hanging from the fork.

262 All fruits except grapes and cherries are eaten with the appropriate knife and fork. Prepared fruits, such as fruit salads, are eaten with small spoons.

66. ... do not disturb [your family] with problems that relate solely to your personal relationship with God and with the Legion.

61. After visiting a center or apostolic work, always comment on the positive, stimulating and edifying aspects that you have been able to notice and never outwardly express to others the problems or negative aspects that you encounter.

142. Before permitting visits to the family home on those occasions predetermined by chapter communication, the superior should always analyze the family

Marcy K. said...

I believe you are talking about the four volumes of Maciel's "writings" called Envoy. When I first joined in 2004 I found them inspiring and challenging. When I discovered that they were only kept in the back office of our RC "house" and not available with other books I was surprised. I discovered from experience that:

A) You were not supposed to loan the books out to friends, they were only for members. I thought this was stupid and did it anyway. If it was so good that we should study it all the time then why not disseminate them?

B) You could not buy them online at Circle Press. You had to call Circle Press and ask for the volumes. You then had to give them your incorporation date.

C) When I asked the Section Asst. why they were not available to visitors she said quietly, "Well... they might be misunderstood." I took that to mean that the books (which are collections of letters supposedly written by Maciel from the beginning of the Legion to either seminarians, priests, or lay members of RC, to help them in their "vocation" to the Movement) could be used by those who might "persecute" the founder, who was still alive then.

D) When I was left the Movement a year ago I had somewhat of an "exit interview" with a highly placed woman who was assigned to be my latest "spiritual director." This person who had spent literally her life in RC and was educated in Mexico in RC schools from a young age, admitted to me that she always wondered if Maciel wrote Envoy! She also admitted that one of her teachers in high school (I believe,) and was one of the holiest people she had ever met, told her Maciel molested him.

I was astonished at both. How could you stay in a Movement that practically worships someone who you know to be a molester? That you think is dishonest?

Later, another "highly integrated" person told me her husband has thought too that perhaps a different priest wrote the Envoys. It is still amazing to me that if you distrust an organization that you could stay in it.

gto said...

"THIS IS NOT CATHOLICISM. We don’t have ‘secret teachings"

Augustine (Contra Julian. iv, 3):

"every virtue not only has a contrary vice manifestly distinct from it... but also a sort of kindred vice, alike, not in truth but only in its deceitful appearance.

This is the ultimate scandal of the Legion. It's "obedience" is a deceitful appearance that simultaneously obstructs and discredits true obedience and freedom.

The more the Legion binds its members the more they imagine that the Church is a command and control center in the image of the Legion.

This false notion of the Church Militant as a command and control center is the great scandal of the Legion.

"Rome hasn't TOLD us, so business as usual". "I'm waiting for Rome". "I'm not leaving, because I am obedient". "Whatever Rome want us to change we'll change it" "Our charism is whatever Rome wants"

What could be more destructive to the authority of the Church than this mockery of it?

1) The Legion binds where the Church doesn't.

2) Thoughtful freedom is replaced with the Legion's whim.

3) The Legion hides from its members the freedom that is fundamental to the life of the Church.

4) The members see the Church in the image of the Legion.

5) The Legion's obedience is like a blank check to a fictitious entity. Rome does not proscribe like the Legion does, so Maciel knew his imaginary check would never be cashed.

6) Maciel's survivors imagine they are bound to implement what never existed.

7) Those outside the Legion conclude that this all proves that christian obedience is unhealthy.

Deming said "You can not inspect quality into the product; it is already there." You can not obtain a charism by removing the "defects" of a system that was created to destroy what you are trying to create

Jeannette said...

Marcy K,
Actually, after I read Envoy II, I was able to make the decision which side to believe-ReGAIN or the Legion, vs I found Letter 70, and 95-98 to be frighteningly non-Catholic. I immediately understood "They wouldn't understand if they read our books" to actually mean "They WOULD understand if they read our books".

Pilgrim Friar said...

It's worth mentioning that gnosticism is one of the earliest of the Christian heresies (present by the 200's AD for sure, possibly even earlier) and something Christianity (as a whole) and Catholicism (in particular) still fight against up to the present day.

While there have been many flavors of the gnostic heresy throughout history (and quite a lot of variation among them), the key idea to the heresy revolves around there being a "secret" knowledge that is not possessed by "the many" but only by the "select few." Because they possess this secret knowledge, these select few are more pleasing to God, they live a better Catholic/Christian lives than others, etc. Basically, they become (in their own minds at least) a "better" and "elite" subgroup of the Church as a whole. Gnostic heretical groups tend to (usually selectively) recruit other members, but in general they work very hard to prevent their secret knowledge (writings) from being widely disseminated lest those who are unfit/unworthy of this precious knowledge get their hands on it. (This is a twisted variation on the "don't throw pearls before swine" idea, where the majority of Catholic/Christian believers are lumped into that "swine" category).

Sounds strangely (and disturbingly) familiar, doesn't it?

The Monk said...

Marcy K - I am ex-LC but long before "Envoy." I have no idea what that is about. During my time, Maciel was a bit obsessed by "secrecy." For instance, when we were first told about Regnum Christi becoming an integral part of our apostolate and given the first edition of the RC "Manual" we had to make an oath on the Bible that we wouldn't tell anyone about it. I always thought that was mostly due to the early-times rivalry with Opus Dei.

The LC has almost always favored secrecy - and that is unhealthy - but I don't think of it so much in terms of secret knowledge or writings. It, in my time, was more in terms of "control." I remember myself and my peers thinking it was ridiculous... every Manual had a registered number, my 2 cents is that the unhealthy secrecy has to do with a narcissistic need for absolute control rather than with some sort of privileged content. Meanwhile, many of us helped write MMs letters. I didn't write many - but he did read them, critique them and then sign them. Most of his letters are harmless and boring - I think he was quite insecure about his ability to write... and, as far as I can tell, the least educated LC had a better grounding in philosophy and theology than he did.

Anon out of RC said...

Monk - wow, did not realize how incompetent Maciel was and that many knew others were writing for him. How could the LC in good conscience pass off his letter and Envoys with his name on them and have us RC read them like he was a saint? How come more people did not call him out on this?