As Ireland votes overwhelmingly for same sex marriage and the rest of the Western world, it seems, can’t wait to follow their example, is it time to throw in the towel in the cultural slugfest?
As radical Islam advances giving us nightmares and as the economic “recovery” looks increasingly shaky is it time to hunker down?
This is the idea that the church will follow the pattern of St Benedict. To understand what this means we have to understand the social conditions in Benedict’s day.
It was the end of the fifth century. The once mighty Roman Empire was collapsing. Economic decline was forcing a retreat of the Roman armies across the empire. Famine and plague decimated the population. Moral decay ate away at the family and robbed the population of energy and ambition. In the vacuum the barbarians were invading from the North and the East.
Benedict headed for the hills.
He established small monastic communities of prayer, work and study to survive the social upheaval.
These Christian communities went on to become little havens of peace and lighthouses in the storm. Before long they became the only centers of education, health care, social justice and learning. They preserved the remnants of the earlier classical civilizations and went on to be the kernels of what would be medieval Christendom.
The Benedict Option is the idea that this is where we are headed. It’s not a new idea. T.S.Eliot predicted the continued decay and disintegration of Western civilization and that a new monastic movement would arise and carry the flame and become the nexus of a new Christendom. Cardinal George’s famous prophecy considered the same.
I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
The classic novel, Canticle for Lebowitz is set in a future where this has already happened.