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11

Ildefonso Moriones OCD

T E R E S I A N
C A R M E L

 Pages of history

Pages from its history translated by
S.C. O'Mahony   
Rome

 

THE LEGACY OF FATHER DORIA

C O N T E N T S

Introduction Bibliographic Note
I The Carmelite Order XI The legacy of Father Doria.
II Teresa de Ahumada, Carmelite Nun XII Break rather than Bend: the Discalced Split.
III St. Joseph's, Avila XIII The Spanish Congregation.
IV The Teresian Constitutions XIV A History that was difficult to write.
V The Radiation of a Charism XV Leading figures in the Italian Congregation.
VI Teresa of Jesus, Foundress of Friars XVI Reinforcements: Domingo Ruzola and Thomas of Jesus.
VII "Calced" and "Discalced" Carmelites XVII The Spread of the Italian Congregation.
VIII The New Province under Father Gracián. XVIII World-wide Expansion of the Daughters of St Teresa.
IX John of the Cross -The "Inner Man". XIX Restoration (19th Century) and Renewed Expansion (20th Century) of the Order.
X Change of Superior, change of Direction:
Father Nicholas of Jesus and Mary, Doria.
XX The Teresian Carmel and Vatican II Renewal.

 

 CHAPTER XI
 

THE LEGACY OF FATHER DORIA

On reaching the end of this rapid survey of Fr.Doria's nine years as superior, a period packed with events of major importance for the Teresian Carmel, some readers will no doubt feel it is time to sit back and evaluate what has happened to date. Yes, before we move on in time, it is perhaps a good idea to look back and see what marks he left on the Order, male and female. This chapter would like to be an aid to such a reflection.

When reading it, howevwe, one ought to bear in mind that the thoughts in it are offered by way of illustration; we are dealing here with a rapidly growing group, and generalizations could only lead to inaccuracy. At that time of Doria's death, the Order comprised about 1.000 friars in 58 houses, and about 400 nuns in 34 monasteries(1). We haven't got detailed statistics; we are not even in a position to identify all the members. Indeed, it is unlikely that we shall ever be able to do so, because quite a number of profession registers have perished over the centuries. From extant records we do know that 230 novices were professed at Pastrana up to 1594, and 146 at Los Remedios in Seville. Obviously, there is no way in which we can discover what kind of training each one of these novices received, or the extent to which the differing tendencies which struggled for supremacy within the Order influenced them throughout their lives. It is also clear that decrees and changes in the laws do not always bring about an immediate change in the people affected; that takes time. When we speak of Fr.Doria's lagacy, therefore, we refer both to the influence his government had on the formation of the mentality of his subjects (whether through personal contact, circulars read in the refectory, or the people placed in change of formation) and to the influence it exercized over the subsequent development of the Order, through changes in the system or structure. Obviously, a complete evaluation would require quite a long mongraph on the subject, and that, as we have said, is something which still remains to be done. The following thoughts will have to fill that gap for the present.

Looking at the Order as a whole, one can say that Doria's government signified a real change of direction. As we have seen in chapters 6 and 7, the friars, unlike the nuns, had many members who did not know the Mother Foundress and who had brought with them their own ideas about the religious ideal after which they were striving. Fr.Gracián's mission ought to have been, to some extent at least, to introduce these people gradually to St.Teresa's ideal. But in 1585 that work was rudely interrupter and a new and different task begun. It was now a question of teaching the Teresians that an emphasis on penance, strictness and eremitical life was closer to the thinking of the Fathers of old than their gentle, moderate, learned and apostolic lifestyle.

For the Carmelite nuns, as for Gracián and John of the Cross, Mother Teresa was always Mother Foundress, and through her they felt a sense of communion with the whole of earlier Carmelite tradition. But those who geverned in 1594 looked back to history in a different way: for them, Teresa of Jesus had founded the first convent of Discalced nuns in Avila, and Antonio de Jesús had founded the first Discalced friary at Duruelo. These friars, founded by Antonio to restore the original strictness of the Order, passed through a temporary phase of decadence because of the teachings and example of Fr.Gracián, and were then reformed and brought back to that original strictness by Doria. Hence the fact that at official level the term "Discalced" prevailed over that of Teresian.

Turning to the "projects" of 1585, we find that not only did the projected foundations in France and Flanders and the missions to India and China not take place; the mission already undertaken to Africa was suppressed and that to Mexico was reduced to houses of regular observance.

On the legislative front, Fr.Doria's contribution was even more far-reaching. Gracián remarked that if a superior made mistakes they could be corrected provided the legislation remained intact, but that if the legislation was changed the Order was ruined forever beyond recall. When St.Teresa died, she left behind a set of Constitutions which comprised 59 paragraphs; by the time Doria died, his Constitutions comprised 461 paragraphs.

Finally,I would like to indicate a few important details which changed the whole shape of Teresian religious life, for both nuns and friars.

Comparing St.Teresa's Constitutions to Doria's, one cannot help feeling that for Teresa the regular observance was at the service of the individual, while for Doria the individual was at the service of the regular observance. In the "new" conception of community life, Teresa's flexibility was entirely lost sight of and the priestly ministry, or any other service to the Church, was subordinated to the common life. This in turn was understood in a very literal kind of way: "Preaching and relations with one's neighbours must be such that the regular life is not perjudiced in any way". "Regular observance shall be preferred to other things".

The implications of even this one principle were to be felt throughout the entire course of the Order's history. In this context, the superior acquired an emphasis which made him more of an official who watched over the regular observance than a spiritual teacher charged with guiding the souls in his care. Perhaps that is why the first chapter of the Rule, St.Teresa's Constitutions for the nuns, and those of the friars in Alcalá (who followed the tradition of electing their own prior) were set aside, and the appointment of priors as well as provincials was reserved to the general chapter. The practical consequences of this change are easily surmised, and history would document them fully(2).

We have already seen how upset the nuns were at Doria's style of government; María de San José's testimony, though the most eloquent, is not the only one. We must bear in mind, however, that they too had to listen to the circulars in the refectory and the ideas in them were bound to exercise some influence. Here we shall confine ourselves to the more measurable effect his legislation had on them.

By forbidding the re-election of prioresses he broke the rhythm introduced by St.Teresa and changed the image of the prioress, bringing it into line with the model provided for the friars. He suppressed the freedom which the nuns had enjoyed in their choice of confessor, something to which Teresa had attached the greatest importance, and he limited the opportunities for contact with the friars.

When he made each provincial responsible for the nuns in his province, he destroyed the unity of command which the Mother Foundress had desired so much. He imposed on the nuns the system of canonical visitation in use for the friars. This reduced the role of the visitator to that of an emissary who reported back to the Consulta and emptied the visitation entirely of the efficacy it had in St.Teresa's conception of it.

Finally, the nuns had to lower their veils in the presence of anyone other than their parents or sisters; to raise the veil in anyone else's precence required the written permission of the Consulta. The penalty for disobeying this order was deposition from office for a prioress who permitted it, and deprivation of active and passive voice for a nun who disobeyed it of her own accord. This took away a prioress's freedom of action within her community, forcing her to have recourse to superiors in matters they might well have taken for granted. It also introduced an element of suspicion, even where the nuns's own brothers were concenred, which savoured more of narrow-mindedness that of the holy liberty of St.Teresa.

As I said at the beginning, all these laws probably had little influence on those who had already been trained in the atmosphere of the early years. But there is no doubt that they gave a different orientation to those who entered later, so that the nuns too received their share of Fr.Doria's legacy.

_____________________

1. Cf.BMC, 18, pp-350-351.
2. For further comparative study of the 1581 and 1592 Constitutions, see the excellent index prepared by Frs.Fortunatus and Bede for their edition, Constitutions..., pp.756-758.

     
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