viernes, 24 de julio de 2015

The Escrvia Option calls men and women to become contemplatives in the middle of the world

The Escriva Option: An Alternative to St. Benedict


Nostalgia lurks always in the near corners of the human imagination. It often takes very little to bring it to life; a sunny day, the wind blowing the grass, a taste of food, a smell, a picture. They all bring us back to sweet and sweeter times, childhood, courting, weddings, childbirth.

These are all nostalgic times from our own lives. But sometimes we grow nostalgic for times we have only read about. This comes particularly when the present age disappoints us. And who is not disappointed in the present age? Pornography rampant. Marriages and families disintegrating. Adultery websites with millions of members. The rise of faux and ever fauxier marriage. The persecution of Christians even in Christian countries like our own.

Who doesn’t long for times when the culture was on our side, when religion was respected and had a dominant say in society, when seminaries were bulging and they had processions in the streets? Some long for the 1950s. Others long for the Middle Ages. Some long for the early Church. Rod Dreher is one of those, maybe.

Rod Dreher, whom I knew slightly when we were both in New York City though our nascent friendship faltered badly during the Long Lent of 2002, has a truly remarkable knack for marketing his intellectual ideas.

Crunchy Cons, what we discussed briefly back then as “conservative bohemianism,” became a sensation for a good long while and blends perfectly into his new project—“The Benedict Option”—one of the hottest of topics among religious intellectuals.

Rod believes the speeding cultural collapse that threatens all we hold dear, including and most especially the souls of our children, requires that we withdraw, at least slightly, from the sturm und drang and create intentional communities either near a monastery or with a monastery in mind, there to protect ourselves from the outside world, though still in some ways to engage it, to protect, defend and grow authentic culture, and to bide our time until we or our ancestors can reclaim the wasteland inevitably to come at the hands of the new barbarians.

Dreher’s most trenchant critics went after him for suggesting that orthodox believers should largely drop out of society including a withdrawal from politics. Though he has noodled inchoately on this topic for years, a recent essay from 2013 certainly points in this direction. As examples of the Benedict Option, he featured two communities only, one that has grown up around a traditionalist Benedictine monastery in rural Oklahoma and another created in rural Alaska.

That so many have considered this kind of withdrawal to be his aim, including Damon Linker on the left and John Zmirak on the right, Dreher owes his critics a debt of thanks for sharpening his thinking. Dreher now says that is not what he meant, that such withdrawal is really a kind of gathering together and mutual strengthening of the like-minded that could happen anywhere, including the inner city.

The question becomes: is St. Benedict a proper model for the laity? Whether there is withdrawal to the mountains or not, the implication of the Benedict Option is that laymen can somehow follow a monastic model. Certainly there are third order Benedictines, there are even third order Trappists, though I suspect they are chattier than those behind the walls. But, laymen need not ape the practices of those we may think are spiritual athletes to live out our vocation as laymen.

I am reminded of one of the reasons I do not care for St. Thomas More (heretical, I know). More longed to have been a Carthusian, who are tougher even than the Trappists, and he imposed Carthusian practices on his family including, cruelly I think, interrupting their sleep at 1 a.m. to chant the Night Office. Such a thing is not natural for someone in the lay state.

In one of his many sharp-elbowed columns about Dreher and his Option, writer John Zmirak said something quite insightful. If you want a saint to model for the lay state, why not St. Josemaria?


Read more:

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario