As part of a very long post describing conference papers, I came across something that made an impression on me. Apparently, an academic has discovered that Cistercian nuns’ churches got just as many requests for Masses commemmorating dead folks as Cistercian monks’ churches did. And there was much be-puzzlement among the academics at this conference, because women can’t be ordained! And therefore must obviously have less pull with God!
*incredulous look from all people raised Catholic*
*incredulous laughter from same*
*simultaneous incredulous murmurs of “Art thou sh*tting me?”*
First of all, any priest in good standing, in any parish or no parish, is going to perform a perfectly workable commemorative Mass. You give him a nice stipend and don’t worry about it. In general, everybody capable of saying a Mass for the dead is saying as many of them as he can stand and farming out the rest to poor missionary priests. And that’s in today’s non-believing world, not the medieval world where everybody you’d ever met was probably Catholic.
Second, it’s a well-known Catholic fact that NUNS GET WHAT THEY PRAY FOR. They have pull. They get results. They sit there in their little cloisters and save the world. I thought everybody knew that!
I am not saying anything against monks, especially strong, silent, steel-making Cistercian monks from the Middle Ages. They are good singers, too. Sure, the prayers of a righteous man availeth much, and sure, the priest monks in their churches were very cool and had their own Form of Mass to boot.
But they are not quite the same as nuns, my academic friends. Sweet little nuns with sweet little voices to sing chant in their side of the church — they do not need to be ordained or ordainable. They don’t need to be in persona Christi, because they are sponsae Christi. (Or whatever the proper grammar might be.) You do not mess with the nuns; you want them on your side. (Which is how bits of St. Therese recently got to space, if you remember. Little cloistered St. Therese and her little cloistered Texas friends have big enough pull with NASA to get to Earth orbit.)
There’s also the geographic thing. Which church is closer? That’s the one you’ll likely pick, all else being equal.
So of course the nuns’ church got just as many Masses sung for the dead as the monks’ church did. If you’d said they got more sung, I wouldn’t have been surprised, because nuns are also pretty persuasive salespeople. Besides having pull.