Sunday, April 19, 2009

La Salette Attleboro: The Fallout Spreads...

There has been much fallout since my Blog post exposing the emergence of New Age spirituality at the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Michael Brown carried the piece at his website Spirit Daily and the Medjugorje Forum initiated a discussion thread. A Catholic woman posed a question for the experts at EWTN which may be found here.

For a little more background on Joyce Rupp from Donna Steichen (the author of Ungodly Rage, a favorite of mine which is published by Ignatius Press), go here. Ms. Steichen, writing about New Age influences upon St. Andrew's Parish in Fort Myers, Florida, notes how:

" was the school principal, Sister Elizabeth Dunn, who did most to reveal how deeply alien feminist theology had penetrated into St. Andrew's when, for Christmas in 1994, she gave each school staff member a copy of Sister Joyce Rupp's little book of self-centered feminist mediation, The Star in My Heart: Experiencing Sophia, Inner Wisdom. Rupp's bibliography cites notorious feminist authors from Merlin Stone (When God Was a Woman) through New Age pioneer Jean Houston to Rianne Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade) and Elizabeth Dodson Gray, keynote speaker at the annual Massachusetts WomenChurch meeting a few years ago.

Like many current feminist writers, Rupp personifies the figure of Divine Wisdom in the Old Testament Wisdom books as 'Sophia,' a name used because it is the Greek word for wisdom. Rupp echoes standard feminist rhetoric when she says:. . . it seems evident that Sophia is the feminine face of God. This aspect was eventually lost due to a highly male-dominated culture and a church that was very fearful of the goddess traditions of the past. That feminists seek to make a goddess of Divine Wisdom is ironic, since they have so noticeably failed to acquire even mere human wisdom, for which their need is clearly desperate. Surely some feminist scholars must know that the use of the feminine pronoun in Scriptural references to Wisdom is a matter of grammatical gender; in Hebrew and Greek, all abstract nouns are feminine. Divine Wisdom is not a Person but a perfection of the Holy Trinity, traditionally attributed to the Son because He is the Word of God."

Like most of feminist theology, this exercise is simply a propaganda campaign, exhibiting less intellectual honesty and scholarly objectivity than one might find in a public-relations campaign by the advertising council. The rising tide of feminist spirituality at St. Andrew's crested with an Earth Week observance in late April. All-school events are not routine at St. Andrew's. No services were held during Holy Week, for example, nor after Easter in celebration of the Resurrection. There was no all-school May crowning of the statue of the Blessed Virgin. The school does not assemble for May rosary devotions. Yet the faculty pulled out all the stops for Earth Week, a purely secular media event invented by members of the 1960s counter-culture to draw attention to their environmental concerns. Classroom teachers were urged to implement specific activities for each day of the week, and two major all-school 'prayer services' were scheduled.


Michelle said...

The more I learn about Sister Joyce Rupp and her New Age occultism, the more disturbing I find it that the La Salette Missionaries would offer discussions of her work at their shrine.

Good for you Mr. Melanson! Keep up the great work here. God bless you for your tireless defense of the Catholic Faith!

Ellen Wironken said...

Steichen writes (in Ungodly Rage, p. 162), "Gnosticism, too, venerated Wisdom as Sophia, the feminine principle of androgynous Divinity, or its daughter, trapped in creation by disobedience. She was the fallen creator of earth, air, fire and water and mother of the evil demiurge who was the God of Israel."

Instead of traditional Catholic spirituality and veneration of the Saints, the La Salette Shrine is offering this sort of claptrap. The faithful are hungry and the La Salette Missionaries are offering chaff instead of wheat.

Have mercy on us dear Jesus on this, the Feast of your Mercy.

Betty said...

New Advent Encyclopedia has an interesting entry for the Sophia Myth:

Sophia myth

In the greater number of Gnostic systems an important role is played by the Æon Wisdom -- Sophia or Achamoth. In some sense she seems to represent the supreme female principle, as for instance in the Ptolemaic system, in which the mother of the seven heavens is called Achamoth, in the Valentinian system, in which he ano Sophia, the Wisdom above, is distinguished from he kato Sophia, or Achamoth, the former being the female principle of the noumenal world, and in the Archotian system, where we find a "Lightsome Mother" (he meter he photeine), and in which beyond the heavens of the Archons is he meter ton panton and likewise in the Barbelognosis, where the female Barbelos is but the counterpart of the Unknown Father, which also occurs amongst the Ophites described by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.7.4).

Moreover, the Eucharistic prayer in the Acts of Thomas (chapter 1) seems addressed to this supreme female principle. W. Bousset's suggestion, that the Gnostic Sophia is nothing else than a disguise for the Dea Syra, the great goddess Istar, or Astarte, seems worthy of consideration. On the other hand, the Æon Sophia usually plays another role; she is he Prouneikos or "the Lustful One", once a virginal goddess, who by her fall from original purity is the cause of this sinful material world.

One of the earliest forms of this myth is found in Simonian Gnosis, in which Simon, the Great Power, finds Helena, who during ten years had been a prostitute in Tyre, but who is Simon's ennoia, or understanding, and whom his followers worshipped under the form of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

According to Valentinus's system, as described by Hippolytus (Book VI, 25-26), Sophia is the youngest of the twenty-eight æons. Observing the multitude of æons and the power of begetting them, she hurries back into the depth of the Father, and seeks to emulate him by producing offspring without conjugal intercourse, but only projects an abortion, a formless substance. Upon this she is cast out of Pleroma. According to the Valentinian system as described by Irenaeus (Against Heresies I) and Tertullian (Against the Valentinians 9), Sophia conceives a passion for the First Father himself, or rather, under pretext of love she seeks to know him, the Unknowable, and to comprehend his greatness. She should have suffered the consequence of her audacity by ultimate dissolution into the immensity of the Father, but for the Boundary Spirit. According to the Pistis Sophia (ch. xxix) Sophia, daughter of Barbelos, originally dwelt in the highest, or thirteenth heaven, but she is seduced by the demon Authades by means of a ray of light, which she mistook as an emanation from the First Father. Authades thus enticed her into Chaos below the twelve Æons, where she was imprisoned by evil powers.

According to these ideas, matter is the fruit of the sin of Sophia; this, however, was but a Valentinian development; in the older speculations the existence of matter is tacitly presupposed as eternal with the Pleroma, and through her sin Sophia falls from the realm of light into Chaos or realm of darkness.

This original dualism, however, was overcome by the predominant spirit of Gnosticism, pantheistic emanationism. The Sophia myth is completely absent from the Basilidian and kindred systems. It is suggested, with great verisimilitude, that the Egyptian myth of Isis was the original source of the Gnostic "lower wisdom". In many systems this Kato Sophia is sharply distinguished from the Higher Wisdom mentioned above; as, for instance, in the magic formula for the dead mentioned by Irenaeus (I.21.5), in which the departed has to address the hostile archons thus: "I am a vessel more precious than the female who made you. If your mother ignores the source whence she is, I know myself, and I known whence I am and invoke the incorruptible Sophia, whois in the Father, the mother of your mother, who has neither father nor husband. A man-woman, born from a woman, has made you, not knowing her mother, but thinking herself alone. But I invoke her mother." This agrees with the system minutely described by Irenaeus (I.4-5), where Sophia Achamoth, or Lower Wisdom, the daughter of Higher Wisdom, becomes the mother of the Demiurge; she being the Ogdoad, her son the Hebdomad, they form a counterpart of the heavenly Ogdoad in the Pleromata. This is evidently a clumsy attempt to fuse into one two systems radically different, the Basilidian and the Valentinian; the ignorance of the Great Archon, which is the central idea of Basilides, is here transferred to Sophia, and the hybrid system ends in bewildering confusion.

Let's all pray that the La Salette Missionaries will return to fidelity and leave New Age Gnosticism behind them. Attleboro is such a beautiful shrine. What a real tragedy.

Anonymous said...

She was a keynote speaker at the November 2007 Women's Conference at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, sponsored by the Worcester Diocesan Commission for Women. She spoke on "Seeing With the Inner Eye," and Bishop McManus of Worcester offered Mass at the conference.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thank you all for your comments on this Divine Mercy Sunday. Mrs. Kreitzer, I have emailed you via the CMC website. I am most interested in your work. Ellen, chaff indeed. This represents a real prayer need.

ShrewsburyCatholic said...

The Worcester Diocesan Commission for Women, at their official website, have a link to Joyce Rupp's website which promotes her New Age ideas and books. I have long suspected the Commission for Women of being influenced by New Age spirituality.

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