OPEN

BYPASS BIG TECH CENSORSHIP - SIGN UP FOR mICHAEL mATT'S REGULAR E-BLAST

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

OPEN
Search the Remnant Newspaper
Friday, February 2, 2024

Sister Wilhelmina’s Strong Determination to Do God’s Will As Evil Tries to Destroy the Church

By: 
Rate this item
(37 votes)
Sister Wilhelmina’s Strong Determination to Do God’s Will As Evil Tries to Destroy the Church

In God’s Will: The Life and Works of Sr. Mary Wilhelmina, Foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, Sister Wilhelmina’s religious community wrote of her “marching song”:

“She developed a deep and trusting abandonment to Divine Providence. As an old nun, she would walk the halls of the convent, beating time with her cane and chanting her ‘Marching Song’: God’s will, God’s will, God’s will be done! Praise be the Father! Praise be the Son! Praise be Divine Love, Lord Holy Ghost! Praised be in union with the heavenly host!” (p. 76)

 

This combination of seeking to do God’s will in all matters, and trustful abandonment to His providence, is a formula that we find throughout the lives of the saints because it is the only one that makes sense once we realize that God orders our lives and seeks our good. The Benedictines of Mary emphasized that this “Marching Song” reflected Sister Wilhelmina’s appreciation of this Reality:

“One year after the death of our beloved foundress, the above poem still rings in our ears as though our beloved Sister Wilhelmina were still thumping her cane in time to the unforgettable rhythm of her own creation. This little poem encapsulates her name, her life, her purpose: to show that there is another Reality, no less real than what can be perceived around us; that there is indeed a loving God Who seeks only our good, our ultimate happiness, and that for all eternity. Sister Wilhelmina understood that true holiness consists not in niceness or pleasant feelings, but a battle of wills; she was determined at all costs to surrender her strong will to an even stronger one: the will of God.” (p. ii)

Because God seeks our good, and ultimate happiness, we act against our own self-interest when we rebel against God’s will in our lives. Sister Wilhelmina’s life (and now death) shows the great work of God because she “was determined at all costs to surrender her strong will to an even stronger one: the will of God.”

Her sense of the Catholic Faith told her that the New Mass and the “various aberrations” following Vatican II were problematic. For the time being, though, she had to resist those errors without being able to escape their direct impact on her life, with all the suffering that entails.

How, though, did Sister Wilhelmina apply this determination to do God’s will in the face of the post-Vatican II changes in the Church? For years, she had to suffer much like most other Catholics who love the Church. When Sister Wilhelmina took the religious habit with the Oblates of Providence in March 1942, the world was of course full of turmoil but she could count on finding Our Lord in the same Mass that the saints had known for many centuries. As one of her reflections in God’s Will expresses, all of that changed in 1969 with the promulgation of the New Mass:

“In the old days the music was straightforward in style and dogmatic in substance. Hymns reinforced Church teachings. There was reverence, awe, majesty in them. Nowadays music is relaxed, formless, focused on self. I spent my youth studying diligently, striving to learn standard English as well as music, and now I am expected to be delighted with dialect and cornfield ditties. At Mass I want to give God my best, which broken or infantile English is not, just as various aberrations have been embraced in the name of ‘the spirit of Vatican II,’ so there have been numerous vitiations of the Novus Ordo. When the Novus Ordo began, with its choices of prefaces and Eucharistic acclamations, I had no idea that these would be bypassed for other expressions whenever there was felt to be a ‘need.’ I never dreamed that the beautiful Latin hymns and motets would be banned as ‘foreign to the culture’ or ‘beyond the understanding’ of the people.” (p. 114)

Her sense of the Catholic Faith told her that the New Mass and the “various aberrations” following Vatican II were problematic. For the time being, though, she had to resist those errors without being able to escape their direct impact on her life, with all the suffering that entails.

Her suffering increased with further innovations contrary to what the Church had practiced prior to Vatican II. For example, God’s Will shows the note Sister Wilhelmina wrote to John Paul II on May 9, 1994, in response to a news article reporting that the Vatican approved female altar servers:

“Most Holy Father: For several years, it has seemed to me that an evil force in the world is trying to destroy the Catholic Church. Much that this evil force does is under the name ‘the Vatican,’ just as this news article uses the name, ‘the Vatican.’ Your name, too, 'Pope John Paul II’ is used. I cannot believe that Your Holiness has approved of female altar servers anywhere. The evil force has acted over your head, or behind your back, and of course, used your name. Please act for the good of the faithful and refute this lie.” (p. 129)

These remarkably diplomatic words from 1994 reveal a profound appreciation for the nature of the spiritual battle — she saw that an “evil force” in the world is trying to destroy the Catholic Church, acting under the name of “the Vatican.” She could not go along with the evil force — for such could not possibly be God’s will — even if the evils were actually from the Vatican and John Paul II. This was the greatest service she could render the Church and the churchmen who were cooperating with those trying to destroy it.

I am resolved to return to the traditional Latin Mass, so that I can pray to God without distraction. In the old days, before the Novus Ordo, my eyes were always wide open as I watched the mysterious, endlessly fascinating actions of the priest. With the Novus Ordo, I find myself sometimes obliged to close my eyes so that I can’t see the priest. –Sr. Wilhelmina

Still, however, she had few options other than to pray, suffer, and try to find a way to incrementally improve matters within her religious community that had followed Vatican II’s winds of change:

“For many years, Sr. Wilhelmina persistently petitioned her fellow Oblates to allow her to start a traditional branch of the community, adhering more to the old practices and habit which had been put aside.” (p. 119)

From 1973 onward, she suggested traditional reforms at each chapter meeting of the Oblates of Providence, each time being denied. In 1993, she proposed the following:

“I, Sr. Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster, O.S.P., remembering my initial formation and early training as an Oblate Sister of Providence, desire to bolster the infrastructure of the practices of genuine religious life. I desire to pass on to others the traditional practices which formed the infrastructure: The wearing of a uniform habit, The surrendering of all monies to a common bursar, The obeying of lawful authority in all departments, The guarding of enclosure and of times and places of silence, And the living together [of] an authentic fraternal life.” (p. 120)

Although thirty-three of her sisters supported her, none would officially join her proposal. As Sister Wilhelmina described, she met with the same disappointment that so many other faithful Catholics have felt since Vatican II:

“Sister Wilhelmina described the disappointing conclusion to her initiative: ‘Sr. Claudine Sanz, the superior general, announced to the whole community several months later, ‘We are the traditional house.’ Although humiliated, I was happy to be finished with the work of trying to reform the OSP. I saw nothing ahead of me but silent perseverance in the community until I died.’” (p. 122)

She had done her best to restore some semblance of tradition but apparently failed — so she resigned herself to God’s providence, believing she would suffer the rest of her life in the same religious community, which had abandoned the practices it held when she had joined decades earlier.

Sr. Wilhelmina drafted a letter to a priest of the newly formed Fraternity of St. Peter, whom she had heard was interested in forming a traditional group of religious sisters: Although I have been professed fifty years as an Oblate Sister of Providence, I am ready to begin anew serving Mother Church, having no desire whatsoever of being relieved of my perpetual vows but rather to persevere as a true religious and child of Mother Mary.'

Despite this trustful surrender to God’s providence, she continued to seek a way to fulfill His will by returning to Catholic tradition. To this end, she regularly attended the Latin Mass in the late 1980s and early 1990s at former Redemptorist parishes in Baltimore and Washington, DC:

“I have finally come to my senses. I am resolved to return to the traditional Latin Mass, so that I can pray to God without distraction. In the old days, before the Novus Ordo, my eyes were always wide open as I watched the mysterious, endlessly fascinating actions of the priest. With the Novus Ordo, I find myself sometimes obliged to close my eyes so that I can’t see the priest. In the old days my neighbor seemed just as intent as I was in watching the altar. Now my neighbor seems to be focused on me, and the others around him. I never could stand the hand-shaking, hugging and kissing that goes on just before Communion. Out of sheer justice and charity, there should be, at all Novus Ordo Masses, some portion of the church reserved for the use of persons who do not care to exchange greetings during Mass. Kissers and huggers should stay out of the area and not molest the persons there.” (p. 137)

Few comparisons of the Latin Mass and New Mass are more accurate and persuasive than this. Sister Wilhelmina wanted to pray to God without distraction and could not endure the “hugging and kissing” of the New Mass that replaced the sacred silence of the Latin Mass. After years of suffering, she resolved to return to the Latin Mass.

As often happens, this return to the Latin Mass brought her into contact with Catholics who had managed to resist, or in some measure escape, the Vatican II revolution. As related in God’s Will, this led to an unexpected struggle:

“Sister Wilhelmina’s personal notes during these years, 1993–1995, reveal the struggle in her soul as she sought to discern whether to persevere unto death in the order to which she had been faithful for more than fifty years or to start anew. She had recourse, as always, to the Blessed Mother of God: ‘March 13, 1994 Because I want to persevere in the one true faith and witness for it, please help me to break whatever human ties I must in order to do so as a true religious and your most devoted child.’ The following day, March 14, she drafted a letter to a priest of the newly formed Fraternity of St. Peter, whom she had heard was interested in forming a traditional group of religious sisters: ‘Although I have been professed fifty years as an Oblate Sister of Providence, I am ready to begin anew serving Mother Church, having no desire whatsoever of being relieved of my perpetual vows but rather to persevere as a true religious and child of Mother Mary. Please let me know what is going on.’” (pp. 141-142)

This communication set in motion a process that would lead to the 1995 formation of the Oblates of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Scranton, PA, which would ultimately become the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Gower, MO. God had rewarded her fidelity and perseverance, as we can see from the Spring 1996 issue of Sursum Corda:

“It would seem I’ve done a very foolish thing. After fifty years as an Oblate Sister of Providence I am starting the religious life anew — as foundress of a new community affiliated with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. We will serve them in their own apostolate of offering Mass and the sacraments according to the traditional Latin rite, in conformity with the Holy Father’s moto proprio, ‘Ecclesia Dei.’ To those who say that my leaving my old community to found a new one doesn’t make sense, I reply that it is understandable only in the light of faith.” (p. 151)

For the majority of religious houses in the world, the light of the faith had been extinguished by “evil forces” after Vatican II. Because Sister Wilhelmina knew that she must always protect the light of her faith to do God’s will, she suffered, struggled, and trusted in God’s providence.

And, as a result, the unmistakably Catholic light of the Benedictines of Mary shines forth to the entire world today. For years they have spread the beauty of Catholicism with their recordings, and today the Abbey at Gower is overflowing and they are building a daughterhouse in Ava, MO.

And, as a result, the unmistakably Catholic light of the Benedictines of Mary shines forth to the entire world today. For years they have spread the beauty of Catholicism with their recordings, and today the Abbey at Gower is overflowing and they are building a daughterhouse in Ava, MO. As with other centers of Traditional Catholic religious life in the United States, young families are making sacrifices to move near Gower and Ava to raise their children in the midst of Catholic beauty, which would be a precious pearl even if the world was at peace.

But, of course, even those of us who cannot relocate to such a center of Catholic beauty can follow the saintly path of Sister Wilhelmina. One of the books in the bookstore of the Abbey of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is Fr. Edward Leen’s In the Likeness of Christ, which expresses the views of God’s will and providence that we see so clearly in the life and poetry of Sister Wilhelmina:

“It is only if we take up our cross daily, that is, face each task that each day brings with courage, intent only on doing it rightly and well, striving to succeed, but not making success the condition of our efforts, doing it because it is God’s bidding, and not because it holds out a prospect of ministering to our egoism — it is only on this condition that our life will produce its transforming effect on us, and make us like to Jesus Christ, Who ‘having joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” (p. 205)

For Sister Wilhelmina, as with so many of us, the anti-Catholic forces that have attacked the Church from within since Vatican II have contributed significantly to our daily crosses. And yet, as Sister Wilhelmina wrote, our Loving God “seeks only our good, our ultimate happiness” (p. ii). And so we must try to follow God’s will in each moment by trustfully embracing those crosses.

If, as Fr. Leen wrote, our will rebels against these crosses, we frustrate God’s plans for us:

If our will rebels against the dispositions of Providence, and betrays us into anger, irritation, repining, or cowardice in face of these dispositions, then we frustrate God’s action. Oftentimes we do this; we give way under opposition; we relinquish the struggle; we refuse to endure being thwarted, on the vain plea that this ‘opposition of sinners to us’ makes us incapable of fulfilling God’s work.” (p. 205)

When we act this way, it is almost as though we imagine that God has been outwitted by the devil or that He is somehow unaware of our trials. On the contrary, God uses these trials not only to purify and perfect us but also to transform the entire world, as Fr. Leen wrote:

“God knows full well that if we become what He intends we should, through the action of life’s events on us, then our passage through this world will become in a mysterious way a most potent influence in the diffusion of God’s Kingdom on earth, and in the extension of the reign of Jesus Christ in the souls of men.” (pp. 205-206)

We see this in Sister Wilhelmina’s life and in the lives of all the saints. By seeking to do God’s will at every moment, and trusting in God’s providence, they became “in a mysterious way a most potent influence in the diffusion of God’s Kingdom on earth.” In this light, the crosses imposed on us by false shepherds and godless globalists are not obstacles on our path to salvation and spreading God’s kingdom, but rather the means by which God wants us to accomplish His will.

Sister Wilhelmina’s life — full of the same struggles we face, although amplified and concentrated — shows us the way that God wants all of us to take. Her community saw this firsthand:

“We firmly believe that Sister Wilhelmina is the most timely and timeless to witness to an increasingly self-centered and narrow minded world. Her beautiful life led to a beautiful death after 95 years, 75 of which were vowed to God’s service and glory. The staggering length of time was a simple composition of daily embraces of God’s will at each moment, in a deep spirit of faith and loving perseverance. . . She shows that holiness is possible even in this life, that saints are real, and that miracles do happen. And in her constant battle cry of “GOD’S will!” she attests to the infinite value of each passing moment for storing up treasures in heaven.” (pp. iii - iv)

“God’s will!” was Sister Wilhelmina’s battle cry and it will be the battle cry of everyone who contributes to God’s victory over the evil forces that attack the Church today. In the words of the saintly nun’s community, “In the short time that we have been given on this earth, may we all endeavor to imitate Sister Wilhelmina, and seek above all else “GOD’S will!” Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

Latest from RTV — GOD 2024: Globalism & the Plot to Cancel Christianity

[Comment Guidelines - Click to view]
Last modified on Friday, February 2, 2024
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.