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A Portrait of Life in Norcia

corpus-domini-norciaMy long-time Internet pal Hilary White has an article up at The Remnant about her life as a Benedictine Oblate in the Italian town of Norcia. It’s beautiful:

For me, as a Benedictine oblate and a rather halfhearted do-it-yourself unofficial hermitess, the whole town is a monastery. St. Philip Neri was said to carry around with him a little bag of copper pennies. Asked why, he pulled out a beautifully shiny coin, and said that it reminded him what community life was for; all that bumping up against each other as we amble along shines us up nicely. I live alone, but I have constant streams of guests and every day, I walk down to the monastery for the Office and am greeted by nearly everyone I pass.

The guys at the garden centre deliver my tools and pots and bags of soil because they know I don’t have a car. In March, Fabio from the ferramenta brought up the trestle table and shelves for my studio in his car and stayed to watch the solar eclipse through my pinhole camera. The baker and his wife have invited me to dinner next week when they take their post-Christmas holiday. On a sunny, chilly New Year’s day the beautiful and stylish Teresa who runs the antiques shop and has been painstakingly renovating our side altars, greeted me in the street outside her shop with a hug and heartfelt “Auguri, buon anno!” She wanted me to help her with some lines of English in a play she will be in. Luca, the realtor stopped me in the street the other day asking how my latest article turned out and when could he read it online – practicing his reading English. Michele, the waiter at the enoteca told me where to go to get my bike fixed and offered to take me to the local emergency room when he heard I had been hit by a car (nothing damaged but the bike’s brakes.) I’m forgiven regularly for my crummy Italian. I have never lived in a town where I am known by so many people. I’m a straniera, but I’ve been adopted into the Nursini family.

As I was tramping down the hill this morning to join in on Br. Gregory’s big day, I totted it up: 20 years in Victoria, population about 125,000 in the ‘70s; 11 long, miserable damp and grey years among the miserable, damp and grey-minded hipsters of Vancouver, population about 2 million; 4 rather jolly years in Halifax Nova Scotia and the obligatory-for-Canadians 5 years in Toronto. 40 years in cities, all together. 40 years in which I unconsciously absorbed the modern urban message; sneak through life as anonymously as you can, be noticed by no one, attach yourself to no one, expect nothing from anyone, be a part of nothing and don’t get too attached because no one is going to stick around – everyone around you is transient and you are ultimately on your own. Cities do not exist to create community. I’m not sure what they are for in a positive sense, but I know from long experience that they provide an ideal place to hide for people who fear commitment and accountability. It’s a way of life I’ve had my fill of.

I’ve been reading Hilary for about a dozen years now, and I will say without hesitation that this is my favorite thing she’s ever written. It is obvious to me that her new home in the Appenine mountains — and the people she has discovered there — are changing her for the better. There is an effortless happiness, a joie de vivre in this relatively short essay that may, if you’re not careful, turn you green with envy. There’s been a decided shift in her approach to things, with a lot less time spent as a writer on the Internet, and a lot more time spent as a human being living life in the real world. As I wonder how many hours I’ve spent at my desk today tinkering away at websites, I am not ashamed to tell you how appealing that is.

It’s a wonderful life she’s found — something truly special — and I’m very glad she did.

9 thoughts on “A Portrait of Life in Norcia”

  1. You too can enjoy Hilary’s life.

    I’m truly happy for her. Wait… I think the “Benedict Option” is another word for “ghetto.” As in, we love multiculturalism so much, that we as SWPLs, can’t stand the thought of ending it, yet… yet, we need the status signaling that diversity provides.

    From the bottom of my heart, the pining for white European values and environment is wonderful. Until you can shed the multi-cult thang, it ain’t gonna happen. Yes, that all white women were single and could escape to scenic villages steeped in history and faith. Le sigh. That all white bachelors like me could follow them. Le sigh.

    I read a few times a week about a Catholic school or diocesan office selling out to diversity. You would all kill yourselves if you were called a racist for wanting your own homeland, your own space, your own way of worshiping God. Instead, many of you will blather on about diversity and how it’s been abused but is still pretty okay, then flee to your gated communities. Hilary has her own gated community. See if you, the average white European-American Catholic who still practices the Faith, can reproduce it in your own home town.

    See, in America, those who can flee to the gated community to escape diversity do. When Hilary does it, it’s quaint, charming and very Catholic because she’s a white single woman. Individual, unencumbered and no, it’s not a criticism because I am the same, only male, who has family ties and a love of my country here. She’s Canadian, but the instinct to flee is still there, even more so because Canada is just that bad in the multi-kult department. If I could, I would flee too, but I have family here.

    Hilary reminds us of what’s been lost and I’m a little bitter myself. Not towards her. It’s the praise and adulation that anyone made it out alive, to a landscape that is beautiful, where there are real Europeans and they worship the way that our fathers and mothers did until very recently, without turning into cowards and building “prayer rooms” for some stupid Jihadi immigrant who wants to whine about diversity.

    Hilary is a great writer. I’m not picking on her since she’s a testifying to the love of God, country and hearth. What I take issue with is the defeatist mentality of those who reader her, the one that says, unless you too can make off to a quaint remote European village… you are stuck with what? Capitalism? Diversity? Strip malls and burger joints and violent crime and coarse behavior?

    As Catholics, we can all sit around pining for the Christianized Downton Abbey version of life. (And no, the Church of England isn’t Christian.) We can all feel catharsis that someone, anyone, escaped diversity and liberalism. (Hint: diversity will find Hilary, one way or the other. Angela Merkel and the EU are already on the case.)

    Hilary writes about white nationalism and may not even be aware that she does so. Having read her for the past several months, she is what is termed an “implicit white.” Someone who loves her roots (northern England and Canada), her Faith and other things besides, but would be horrified — horrified— if it was pointed out that she is basically a fingernail clipping away from going full fash.

    To Hilary White, I say, may God continue to show his graces to you.

    To you Europeans and European-Americans I say, may God give you the balls to fight for the Faith and the living spaces that your ancestors gave you, in Europe and elsewhere. Stop bowing to the Jew and his Holocaust story. Stop groveling when the capitalist says he needs cheaper labor from overseas. Stop pandering to the usurer and the politician.

  2. Do professionals from North America have any chance of landing respectable employment in a town like that? Many of us are indeed green with envy!

  3. Read her great work many times in Lifesite. I wish and pray her all the best. An excellent decision on her part, that will indeed make many of us envious.


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