Saint Benedict Center's main site is An online Journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From Gate of Heaven

By Catherine Goddard Clarke

[ Gate of Heaven Note: These words were written in 1951]

It gives me happiness to write, for those who have wanted to know, of what has become of us since October 28, 1949, the date at which our story ends in The Loyolas and the Cabots. I am happy to tell you this further story, even though briefly, because it is a recounting of the bounty and the protection of us by the Blessed Mother of God.

We who took part in the so-called Boston Heresy Case are, thanks to Our Lady, still together and intact. “Heresy,” by the way, was an accusation made by us, not of us. Our accusation was substantiated by Father William Kelleher’s reply in the newspapers to the charge of the four professors.

We have lost of our number only six. Two dropped out, and four were dismissed, because, though we are not strict without reason, we do have our rules and decorum, which must be lived up to.

At this point a reader may ask, “But are you a religious group?” The answer to that question reveals our secret. Yes, we are a religious community. We are indeed a religious order – perhaps more technically a religious congregation. Each of us has, by vow, dedicated his life to the preservation of the truths of his Holy Faith under the title of Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We took our vows and became Slaves of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart on the first of January, 1949, three months before we were disciplined by our Archbishop for continuing to profess the defined doctrines of the Church on salvation. It was while Father Feeney was in correspondence with Father Vincent A. McCormick, S.J., the American Assistant to the General of the Jesuits, and while Father was pleading for a doctrinal hearing before his superiors. It was while three of the professors were under severe pressure by Boston College to give up both the Church’s doctrine on salvation and their support of Father Feeney in upholding it.

We were beginning to realize the character of the battle before us, not only for the preservation of the sacred dogmas of our Church, but actually for their restoration. It was to prepare ourselves by prayer and discipline, and to secure graces enough to enable us to face such a battle, that we became a religious order.

It will be asked of us, “Who are you that you should take responsibility for the Church’s doctrine?” Our answer to that, I hope I have brought out in this book. The answer is, as I wrote in the second chapter, that the sacred doctrine of our Holy Church is the responsibility of each Catholic, be he powerful or lowly, learned or unlearned, clergy or laity, rich or poor. Each of us is the Catholic Church. God’s Truth belongs to each of us, and we are each responsible for it.

We live a community life, as Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with hours of prayer, hours of study, and hours of work. Father Feeney and the young men who someday hope to be ordained priests live in one of the houses known to us as Sacred Heart Hall. Our girls, who have dedicated their lives in singleness to Our Lord and Our Lady, live in a house which we call, among ourselves, Immaculate Heart Hall. Our families live in houses just below Sacred Heart Hall.

We are, during this interval, under fire, waiting for the time when we can present our order to the Holy See, as all other orders must eventually be presented. We know that many of the orders in the Church whose work was most lasting and fruitful began under circumstances similar to ours. We know that many men and women who were later placed upon the rolls of the saints were at some time in their lives under the ban of interdict, and even excommunication. St. Joan of Arc died excommunicated; St. Ignatius of Constantinople died under threat of excommunication. [Editor’s Note: Blessed Mary McKillop (soon to be canonized Australia’s first saint) was also excommunicated by her bishop.] We are not saints – though we pray we may be – and we are not excommunicated. We have offered our lives to God, and have consented to die, if need be, for our Holy Faith, in the saddest way (to our minds) that it is possible to die – under the ban even of excommunication.

We are waiting then, to present our order to the Holy See, to secure the blessing of our Holy Father, and to ask the Holy Father to foundation us as a permanent and abiding battalion in the army of our Holy Faith.

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