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What is the Catholic Religion Actually For? A Monastic Answer

Do we really know when this “crisis” started?

Many of those concerned about our ongoing – and suddenly calamitously escalating – crisis look mainly back to the last 50 years for causes; it is certainly undeniable that the period immediately following Vatican II has seen the most precipitous drop in the relevant statistics in our history[1]. We’ve all seen the graphs, the little blue line climbing steadily through the early 20th century, reaching a peak about 1964, and then it’s as if the little invisible guy with the blue pencil suddenly lost the will to live and dove off a cliff, hit bottom, then kept on rolling down hill. And this is the graph for everything; baptisms, adult conversions, priesthood and religious life vocations, marriages.

The only statistics going the opposite direction – picture a little devil with a red pencil – are things like, “number of Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” “number of Catholics who think women/married men should be ordained,” “…who think they can be ‘good Catholics’ without ever going to Mass,” “…who accept legal abortion and support gay marriage.”

We all agree that Vatican II was far from the origin. We point fingers at the French Revolution, but where did that come from? Was it the Enlightenment taking Renaissance Humanism too far in the wrong direction? Was it Luther’s fault? We wonder who a time traveller would have to eliminate in the past in order to steer the future away from this universal cataclysm[2]?

The other day I had an email from an Important Monastic Personage that suggested that all our estimates about the origin of the current ecclesial crisis are way, way, WAY off. It got me thinking; what if we’re looking at all this completely wrong? Is it possible that even self-identified traditionalists are thinking without realising it like moderns?

And what if the solution is nothing like what we are thinking either? What if a great mass re-catechising of Catholics, or authentic Catholic action in politics, or a great revival of moral teaching on sex and the family, or even the complete reversal of the liturgical disaster, were all putting the cart before the horse? What if the “solution” is something completely different? Something that relies on us and our efforts in the natural realm not one whit?

And of course it goes almost without saying that the deadly disease that has infected Mother Church is the same that has so grotesquely deformed the rest of our civilisation. Nineteen years ago, when I started working in the pro-life movement, I knew dimly that something awful had struck in the 1960s and ‘70s. I had already rejected feminism – even at the tender age of fifteen I remember arguing against this poisonous creed with people twice my age – and I knew that nearly everyone had somehow been brainwashed to think abortion was acceptable. As of five minutes ago, it has suddenly become a universal human right, ordained by the very structures of the cosmos, that we ourselves determine, and from one minute to the next, whether we are male or female… or some other thing. The very principles of rational thought, without which no conversation is possible about anything, have been unmoored and tossed gaily aside.

Simply put, the secular culture and the Church are dying of the same disease. In the Church and the world we are all now living in Wonderland, a horrifying prospect.

Another one bites the dust

My conversation with the Important Monastic Personage came as the Catholic world received the news that yet another great, ancient, monastic tree has fallen. Vatican Radio reports that the Cistercian Abbey of Himmerod, founded in 1134 by St. Bernard of Clairvaux[3], will close. The 900-year history of Himmerod ends ignominiously with a dull thud: “The monastery’s property, near the village of Grosslittgen, will be transferred to the Catholic diocese of Trier, while the six monks will move to other monasteries.”

I’m afraid this news elicited from me not much more than a shrug. There is always a good reason when a great tree falls. I don’t know this one in Germany, but I’ve visited quite a lot of monasteries in Europe – mainly in Italy and Britain – and it’s always the same disease present in nearly all of them; the symptoms are spiritual apathy, indifference, a paralysing acedia[4]. If this old German tree has finally fallen, an examination of the carcass will invariably reveal extensive rot; there is usually little left of the heartwood[5].

In Italy the failure of the Novus Ordo “new springtime” to revive – or even to minimally sustain – monastic life is perhaps more palpable than anywhere else, because monasticism was omnipresent here. Every town of any size has its monastery of Benedictines or its house of Poor Clares and often Dominican or Carmelite convents all at the same time. Monastics are still revered by the local laity, but once inside what do we find? The architecture is still there; delicate stonework and frescoes – often of extreme antiquity – are painstakingly preserved usually with considerable help from the Italian government. Yet, while cold stone is conserved, in the monastic communities themselves, the great living organs of monastic life — the breath, blood, and heart that gives life to the community: the liturgy, the Chant, the vita communis, the single-minded pursuit of the Summum Bonum — are barely shadows of their former reality.

Visiting such places, you always get the same kind of response if you dare to ask how vocations are going; a kind of dull resentment that “young people can’t commit these days” and a blank, incomprehending stare if you ask, “Commit to what?” In those houses still clinging to life, the purpose of monastic life has simply faded away, attention turning to “social projects,” experiments with permaculture gardening, concerts, lectures, crafts and art history. A generic “spirituality” gets talked about a bit, if you trouble to bring it up[6]. But with all this new purpose of “community involvement,” “socially minded projects for the youth” and exciting ventures into online “virtual tours” the community itself is still six old Italian monks or nuns and two young transplants from Africa, India, or the Philippines. And those are the “healthy” and “vibrant” communities.

Many of the houses in Italy have turned themselves into a sort of “spiritual holiday” alternative, offering their guest quarters to people who want a medieval or monastic zing to their agritourismo[7] weekend getaway. In fact most monastic houses in this country are reduced to a sort of cross between a bed and breakfast and medieval re-enactment/living history re-creation group. As the even more ancient abbey of Farfa[8] put it on their website, “Today thousands of visitors admire the cultural and artistic heritage, spending some time or even days in this peaceful place in order to rest their mind and soul. Refreshments and accommodation are provided.”

I have visited some of these places, and it is clear that the problem in the monasteries is the same as it is in the rest of the Church: an illness of deadly apathy; a strange spiritual indifference toward what we have now combined with a hatred for what we had in the past[9]. This has created a spiritual cul-de-sac, a dead end that leaves the discontented, confused or spiritually thirsty with nowhere to turn except the next pseudo-spiritual novelty fad.

A few years ago my friends and I took a day trip to the exquisitely beautiful abbey of Fossanova, to make a small pilgrimage to the room in which St. Thomas Aquinas died. We found the room, that is now a little, indifferently maintained chapel, at the top of some precariously crumbling, winding stone steps, in a building that was once the guesthouse of the monastery. It was clear that no one had said Mass on the little stone altar in a very long time.

The beautiful orange grove for which the monastery was famous was still there, and the cloister garden with its unique twisty columns, its huge bird-bath-like lavatorium that the medieval monks used to wash in the mornings. But the whole place had an air of neglect, a sort of spell of sad nostalgia for former greatness – the absence of a confidence of meaning – that is common all over Italy. The church was used for (Novus Ordo) Catholic religious services only a few times a week.

In the book shop, run by the Franciscans who now hold the monastery, the books gave the game away. There we found very little that showed an interest in the Catholic religion or its great tradition of prayer, but a great array of squishy quasi-Catholic popular works and outright New Age nonsense; Enneagram this, Anthony deMello that, centering prayer the other thing. To be polite I bought a bar of lavender soap and a book on medicinal herbs.

Yet of course, this is normal throughout the Catholic world; monasteries are dying because they have rejected the thing they were founded to do and to be, and can find no alternative that has the same appeal for vocational prospects. 

Yes, yes, praying…so important… But what can we actually do?

We know the problem is universal; the New Paradigm rules the secular realm with an increasingly totalitarian spirit and almost completely infests the Church in every institution from the Vatican down to the parish ladies’ Thursday night Rosary group. The real actual thing that Catholicism is made of, its substance, has been abandoned. People still seek after its effects – they still want righteousness,[10] justice and all the other natural goods proper to a civilisation founded on absolute moral principles. We want the Sumum Bonum instinctively, even in times when we have forgotten what it is made of – or, more to the point, when we have been propagandized to believe it is made of something else.

Meanwhile, with traditionalists and “conservatives” arguing incessantly over the reason for this catastrophe,[11] very little is being offered in the way of solutions. Possibly this is for the same reason we can’t agree on the origin of the problem. Of course the quasi-official line one gets from prelates continues to be that all we need to do is “properly implement” Vatican II. But while most laymen are now, not to put too fine a point on it, and after 50 years of having it rammed down our throats, fed to the back teeth with “implementing Vatican II,” the possibility of a consensus on a good solution will often founder on disagreements over what caused the mess in the first place. 

While all this arguing was still going on, we had the advent of Pope Francis and the anti-rational doctrines of Bergoglianism being forced aggressively onto the universal Church, and our arguments have been rendered moot. We are now finally facing our helplessness in the face of a superior hostile force[12]. Part of the great revelation provided by this pope is the understanding of just how entirely out of our depth we really are. I can’t help picturing Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, thinking he was doing pretty well, when the Roadrunner glances back, sticks his tongue out, and tears away at light speed, the road behind him peeling out of its bed in ribbons, leaving poor old Wile E. realising he has been totally outclassed.

For fifty years our ideas, our projects, our work, have focused on this or that discrete aspect of the crisis: pro-life activism or “the fight for marriage”; some optimists thought the solution is a revival of catechesis in schools; some do vocation work; others try to bring back authentic sacred music. But we are now finally coming to understand that all these are as nothing to the enormity of the catastrophe we face, a scale that, once grasped, renders futile and absurd all activism. All our works, including the will to do them, as well as the desire on the part of the world to receive them, depends on something antecedent to them, something we are incapable of generating by our own efforts. We cannot work to bring back the Faith if the virtue of faith itself is what has been lost. All these works become pointless, like doing surgery on a dead body, without this first supernatural requirement.

Of course we know that the crisis in the Church is one of faith. For reasons that remain obscure, Catholics, en masse, have simply lost their faith. The saltiness has gone out of the salt. All these suggestions, all our activities, seem to me to be an attempt to restore salinity by pouring more good salt onto the savourless. The faithlessness of modern Catholics[13], for all that we can point to Vatican II and the deliberate orchestration of the de-Catholicisation of our liturgical lives, remains essentially a mystery. Why have Catholics become savourless salt? Why have monks forgotten why they are monks?

If Our Lord asked it as a rhetorical question “How will it be made salty again?” we have come to a time when we really do want to know the answer.

For a supernatural problem only a supernatural solution

What did my monastic friend say? Unless we’re living in a monastery, we tend to think of Catholicism as primarily about the “apostolic life,” the active works of the Church, the stuff you do on your feet. Certainly this is the view of the Bergoglians, who credit even the Spiritual Works of Mercy as a kind of irrelevant throwback. To we modern Catholics Bergoglio is perhaps the ideal pope, confirming us in our insistence that the most important thing about our Faith is its secondary material effects, not its spiritual causes.

But this Important Monastic Personage said,

The strength of the Church lies in the strength of her monastic life, and the ages of faith clearly show that the strength of the priesthood truly does as well.

We believe that the crisis of faith with which we are now dealing is not a fifty-year problem, but more like a seven-century problem when the Church began to neglect her contemplative stronghold in favor of external engagement with the world.

Now it seems the vision has been so lost as to have the apostolate be the defining element of the Church rather than her spiritual role, hence the questioning of contemplative life.

Having, essentially, abandoned the monastic mindset, the Church has pulled its own plug and cut itself off from the sources of its Divine energy. Was the last time we were doing it right really the Middle Ages? My friend did not elaborate further on this point but it made me start thinking. What started happening 700 years ago? Was that really the dividing point where we started to steer wrong?

For 700 years we have re-oriented not only the Church but our entire culture towards material ends. What has that 700 years brought us? The long slow shift in human value from intrinsic and derived from the Imago Dei to the totally materialist notion that a man is “worth” only what he owns. The invention and finally supremacy of the cash economy – the exchange of work for pay as opposed to the integration of work as part of the sanctifying life – has dehumanised labour. This has given rise to the great calamity of the Industrial Revolution, a Protestant invention that has scarred and disfigured both the planet and the human soul almost beyond recognition.

This shift paved the way for the 16th century invention of poverty: hopeless, insoluble, landless pauperism, as a kind of punishable moral defect, when the vicious Henry VIII made homeless, wandering beggars of huge numbers of formerly happy (and materially prosperous) monks. In a stroke, by his grand theft of the monastic lands and slaughter of monastic leaders, Henry the Ravener deprived his country of spiritual solace and moral guidance; material aid and help for the poor, elderly, disabled and sick; the main source of education and scholarship; agriculture and manufacturing; an ancient, stable social order that had given meaning and philosophical cohesion to the nation for a thousand years.

In the Dissolution and Protestantisation of England we certainly have a clear lesson of what the abolition of monasticism does to a nation, now we simply magnify that result for the rest of Christendom. In England it ushered in century of misery; ideological totalitarianism[14], internecine rivalry and conflict that finally dissolved into civil war as the various factions, deprived of the moral constraints of the Faith, fought like wild dogs over the treasures the mass-murdering apostates Henry and Elizabeth had looted from their rightful custodians. Sounds depressingly familiar.

We know that a big part of the methodology to install the New Paradigm has been the re-writing of history, and the popular view of that long period between the fall of the old Empire and the rise of the new Humanism is still dominated by the heavy hand of the Victorian anti-Catholic writers[15]. Serious historians have long ignored the fanatical anti-Catholic bigotry of Edward Gibbon but it is this mindset that has informed our picture of the Ages of Faith and remains the default opinion of the ordinary non-academic person. Because of the global supremacy of Protestant-informed, materialist, Anglo-Saxon outlook since the rise of the British and American Empires this is the view that prevails nearly everywhere in the western world[16].

But if we pull back the curtain of lies generated by Protestant revisionist historians, what do we find? Monasteries. Lots and lots of monasteries. How many monks were there in England in the year of grace, 1525? The Wikipedia page on the Dissolution tells us there were close to 900 monasteries, priories and friaries in England just before his massacre, housing about 12,000 people. This was for an estimated total population of about half a million. As a Christian nation, unified in an identity granted by a common faith, England was founded, built and maintained by monks[17].It is easy to look back at the material advances brought by monasticism. If you like beer, if you keep bees, if you went to university, if you’ve ever been treated in a hospital, thank a monk.

But from the 6th to the 13th century, Christendom and Benedictine monasticism were almost interchangeable, and the monastic understanding of the purpose of Christianity is the precise inversion of the modern understanding. To a monk, the faith is about sanctification, and it is this sanctified – as the eastern monastics put it this “divinised” – person who has the strength and energy to produce all the material benefits of Christian civilisation.

A long time ago, an elderly nun whose community I was considering joining issued the challenge that was, until the end of the Ages of Faith, understood by every Christian to be the purpose of life: “Well, Hilary, you’re going to have to become a saint eventually. Easier to do it in this life than to have to do it in the next.” I think this is what my friend the Important Monastic Personage meant. For 700 years we have aimed our civilisation – and our own lives – at the secondary goods of Christianity. We want a civil order founded on universal, absolute principles of justice and goodness; we want material prosperity, security and a guarantee that our sovereign personhood will be respected by our governments. We even want “inner peace,” however that is understood. The one thing we have been taught not to want is the only possible means to get these things, the antecedent requirements that make them possible.

We think of sanctity – the bi-locating, stigmatic, raising-people-from-the-dead kind – as the exception, and of course by the numbers it is. But for the God who was crucified, it was intended as the norm. The extraordinary manifestations of the saints – granted as signs for the rest of us – are products of what the great sanctified thinkers have called the Transforming Union. And they call it that because it changes you, it makes you into a radically new being.

In its description of Padre Pio, EWTN offers this description of the Transforming Union, or the Unitive Life, as it has been described for 2 millennia:

According to the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the progress of growth in holiness and union with God in prayer rises together. Beginning with the most simple and human practices the person is transformed, supernaturalized, in their exterior life with man and in their interior life with God. This progress can be summarized as being emptied of self and being filled with God, or putting off the old man (Adam) and putting on the new man (Christ), or simply, conformity to Christ. It involves acts on the part of the Christian, but even more so the initiative and grace of God to raise the person to the heights of holiness, to which all are called but which few seem to achieve.

A while ago, I proposed to some friends, “What would the world look like if one in ten Catholics achieved the Transforming Union?” The answer? A total transformation of our entire world; a world set alight. All humanity would be changed. What is wrong with the world? We are. Human sinfulness and disordered desires are – after 700 years increasingly deprived of moral restraint – now rampant, and raging across the globe. What is the only solution?

I think we cling to the material answer – our works – because we know how much harder the supernatural solution would be. Ours is the easy way, the way of politics and activism. But here’s the rub: to make it work we ourselves would have to cease to be products of this seven-century long corruption. There is a way to do this, but it is the project of a lifetime. The only thing human beings have ever come up with to solve it is the monastic life; the intense boiling away of impurities provided by this total, 24-hour a day focus on God.

This is the monastic solution, and it is not dependent on our Bright Ideas, our campaigns, our activism. It is the cessation of these things, in fact, and the radical opening of the self to the designs of God.

My monastic friend closed her letter, saying,

“So these are my thoughts to be added to yours, but please know they are joined by my prayers. May the Lord soon restore monastic life to its central place in the heart of the church. While it may mean a return to the deserts and clusters of pious women known before the monastic age, we hope and pray that He might call women to stand in the breach and ‘rebuild His church.’ May He bless you abundantly ~”



[1] We can of course immediately dispense with the notion that Pope Francis is the source of our troubles. He is, in fact, with all his anti-rational, anti-Catholic nonsense-blithering, merely the embodiment or the personification of the crisis. As though God in His permissive will, has allowed all the world to see what kind of creature the New Paradigm of the Church and the world will produce. “See? Repent! Return to the Faith! Don’t let this happen to you!”

[2] If I had a TARDIS, my personal favourite candidate for temporal relocation – perhaps to some uncomfortable place in the middle of an ice age – would be William of Ockham, the 13th century intellectual fraud who first injected the poison of Nominalism into Catholic thinking.

[3] As if we needed another little tidbit of evidence: the report from Vatican Radio declines to grant the founder his correct Catholic identity. The Pope’s news service calls this great saint, mystic and Doctor of the Church, merely “the French abbot Bernard of Clairvaux.” Oh, well, if that’s all…

[4] Acedia: “sadness at holy things” – the spiritual illness to which monks tend to be prone. Called “sloth,” for the torpor and indifference it produces, it is much more akin to envy, and often manifests itself in the younger monks as a desire to leave the silence of their cell or cloister and go about the world doing “more important things.” The Desert Fathers always offered the same cure: “Stay in your cell.”

[5] Also, we need to not get ourselves too worked up about these stories. Monastic buildings are meant for monks, and monks will always be around to take up the life in them again. Good ideas don’t die; only communities that abandon them. If these monks-of-a-certain-age failed to keep the fire alight, plenty of young people are ready to pick up the torch. Catholic history is jammed with monastic re-foundings and revivals.

[6] But whatever you do, don’t ask why the monks don’t use Gregorian Chant.

[7] A countryside B&B.

[8] Farfa is so old that their foundation is quasi-mythical, said to have been in the 4th century – built on the ruins of a pagan temple – by a saintly bishop known only as Lawrence the Syrian who came to Italy with a group of desert monks to transplant monastic life here, and to civilise Italy that was in danger of falling into pagan barbarism. Farfa has been founded, destroyed by Vandals, re-founded, become rich and famous, been sacked by Saracens and re-built. It fell into moral depravity when its abbot was poisoned, twice, by wicked, corrupt monks. It was reformed and fell into depravity again in a time when the monks looted their own sanctuary and lived lives given over to vice. And all this before the end of the 10th century. The original monastic community was all but extinct by 1920 when a group of monks went there from Rome to get it started again. Farfa’s longevity as a  Benedictine house, through all the ups and downs of the last 1600 years of European history, is legendary and at least once has been attributed to a direct intervention from the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its incredible staying power tends to lend hope that even the current state of desuetude is only another passing phase, a hope we might dare to extend to the rest of the Church.

[9] This hatred is not natural to believers, but has been carefully manufactured and maintained through concerted propaganda by those who injected the ideology of the New Paradigm into the Church.

[10] This includes those campaigning for such immoral objects as homosexual “marriage”. These campaigns invariably use moral language, demanding their objectives on the grounds of absolute right and wrong. Those who object are cast as villains trying to suppress the natural rights and dignity of the person. However twisted and corrupt its object may be, the campaign’s success always rests on exactly the same desire for a life according to the moral law, ordered to absolute and indisputable good. Unfortunately, those upholding the traditional sexual morality are the only ones who see the irony.

[11] Anyone trying to maintain, at this stage, that there is no catastrophe may go and sit at the children’s’ table while the grownups are talking.

[12] One thing I’ll say for this pope, he’s certainly created a great sense of unity among the remaining believers; and, thank God, put a stop to quite a lot of this tedious bickering.

[13] It seems like a harsh judgment, but what else can we call the statistics showing the nearly universal support among Catholics for legal abortion “in limited circumstances” if not faithlessness? Indeed it would not be too far to stretch to call this appalling statistic a sign of savage barbarism not seen since the fall of the Roman Empire. Even in those times, when the Paterfamilias decided, upon the birth of a child, whether he would be “accepted” as part of the family, the child was not sucked from its mother’s womb already shredded into sausage meat. The comparatively civilized Romans at least bundled the child up alive and left him to the care of the gods or fate. These “exposed” children were often picked up and taken home to be baptised and raised by the lowborn Christians. Or given a decent Christian burial. A tour of the catacombs of St. Sylvester will reveal dozens of tiny tombs for these foundling infants.

[14] I have heard there are still people out there who do not understand that Elizabeth I was a vicious, illegitimate tyrant who terrorized her own people by the creation of the western world’s first modern, ideological police state. I am astounded by this. St. Margaret Clitherow, martyr and hider of priests, pray for us. Our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for the conversion of England, thy lawful dowry.

[15] That the incredible mathematical precision and astounding engineering artistry of Chartres Cathedral seems to make no impact on this opinion about the “primitive” and “barbaric” Middle Ages is a clear signal that their disparagement has nothing to do with reality and is in fact a product of their ideology.

[16] A good place to start dispelling the brainwashing is the wonderful series of art history programmes for the BBC made by Sir Kenneth Clark in 1969. “Civilisation” was the first place I learned that the exclusively Catholic civilisation of the Middle Ages was what saved the world from the pagan barbarism and chaos that swept into the void when the disorganized and disheartened Empire could no longer keep the Pax Romana. Later it was only this (already badly weakened) civilisation that saved the world from the appalling threat of Islamic supremacy. The videos are all uploaded to YouTube, and can form the basis of a whole mind-altering, life-changing course that makes rubbish of mendacious Protestant revisionism of “the Dark Ages. In fact it did form the basis of a course in history for my grade 12 year of high school. I don’t know if “Western Civ 12” is still offered to students in the British Columbia public schools, but it would perhaps not be a bad idea for, say, homeschoolers to apply to the BC government for a copy of the syllabus for that course. Even if the course can’t be found, a copy of the companion book, containing the entire script, is easily findable from second hand book dealers, and it contains an extensive reading list, including an entire course’s worth of Sir Kenneth’s own books on Gothic art, Leonardo da Vinci, the art and architecture of Westminster Abbey… indeed an entire programme of study on the history of western art.

[17] Elizabeth II, as probably the last Christian monarch of Britain, was crowned by an ancient monastic rite in the church of one of the greatest monasteries in Christendom. Thank God it was recorded for posterity, since we will not likely ever see such a thing again in this life. After her, the deluge.

110 thoughts on “What is the Catholic Religion Actually For? A Monastic Answer”

  1. “The Wikipedia page on the Dissolution tells us there were close to 900 monasteries, priories and friaries in England just before his massacre, housing about 12,000 people. This was for an estimated total population of about half a million.”

    Try 4-5 million.

    • Actually, it was about 2.5 million.

      The Wiki article notes that the adult male population of England was about half a million, sourcing it to G.W. Bernard. Even that seems low, but it seems closer to the mark, and that might have been what threw Hilary off.

      Either way, it means that a pretty astonishing percentage of English men were in religious life.

      • Yes, there’s some debate about it. Margaret Spufford, perhaps the period’s greatest economic historian, argued for the higher figure.

          • “So what?”

            Thank you Brian for your useful comment. Useful, because we one sees displayed the worst of Traditional Catholics, just as hostile to historical fact and to scholarship as the very Modernists we oppose and rail against for their lack of same.

            If Hilary White can get the population of England wrong by several hundred per cent, then she can get many other things wrong too. A mistake is a mistake, fair enough – but an attitude of “so what” from you is hardly helpful.

            Are we rational and logical beings or just ideologues? If the latter, then we are no better than the enemy.

          • First, I attend a No parish. Second, the “so what” is that clearly other credible people put the population at 500,000 men and as we are talking monks–last I heard women cannot be monks–what she cited is correct based on the data sources she had. As there are clearly no agreed upon numbers, whose arbitrary decision on what is correct is definitive? Yours?

            I say again, so what?

          • Exactly what I thought: you do not have an intelligent reply so you resort to sarcasm. You’re a clown with a dictionary.

          • You can snap at my shins as much as you like Brian, the population of England in the 1530s still wasn’t half a million.

          • The male population has been cited by some as half million. And, again, when one is referring to people who can be monks, one can only be referring to males. I must disagree with whomever said patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels. It’s semantics. And the authors points still stand. And you still haven’t given me a reason to think whichever demographer you prefer is superior to the others who have provided different estimates.

          • Could the above petty back-and-forth be part of the problem? Where is charity? Where is tolerance? Where is humility? So Hilary’s stat might be correct in part, and it may be mistaken…truly, so what? I get so sick of reading comment after comment like these above. For God’s sake, get on your knees you fools.

            God hears every word, and knows every thought. Did it never occur to you that part of our suffering is because charity has gone cold? Our Lord Himself told us to learn of HIM. He is meek and humble of heart. Any restoration in our hearts must start there.

            When we get to the judgement God will look into each heart to see a reflection of His Son. What will he see in yours?

      • No, she’s right. If the population was only half-a-million men and only men can be monks then it was correct to identify the demographics of 12,000 out of 500,000.

  2. Thank you Hilary for an excellent article. “For a supernatural problem only a supernatural solution”

    It’s no new’s, the deluge of SIN world-wide is unprecedented and it’s not defeatist but realistic to believe
    that a Divine correction will ensue…..

    A welcome chastisement that will be a terrible day for all of us ” Oh Lord have pity on us for we avoid the cross”
    We avoid that which unlock’s the gate’s of Heaven to us, the KEY of pain and suffering and violence to self-love.

    Else we live with pain and suffering in the vain pursuit of self and suffer eternal loss and pain without GOD.
    One thing we need to remind our selves is that throughout this history you have richly condensed of our (spiritual) poverty
    there is WAR in the Heavenly realm’s the reality of which we can scarcely fathom with our finite mind’s.

  3. How grim! But how true. ???? I am 70 years old and have been a Catholic for 47 years. What do I do now? My Church has been destroyed and I am supposed to honor Bergoglio as my Pope. NO! I became a Catholic in 1970, but we still had altar rails, received Communion only kneeling and on the tongue, were encouraged to go to confession weekly, my large parish had three to five priests, sisters in habits still taught in our school … but it’s gone, all gone!!! There is not enough time left for me to see the re-monasticization of the Church. I think I will make my home my own little Church where prayer is primary, where the old traditions are respected … and with the help of EWTN I can hear Mass mostly in Latin even if it is the NO (without the disgusting handshaking and senseless blather). There I will now live and die in peace and hope the Good Lord understands I tried.

    • Persevere. There is no alternative. I do have a special empathy for converts and the often difficult crossing of the Tiber.

    • You must receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ our Lord. Walk, crawl to the nearest valid Mass and attend, even if you have to hold your nose.

        • When loving Christ and wanting to be with Him daily to receive His very Self, when that becomes an “obligation,” you have lost it.

          • The reason I am there is because I am “a worm and no man.” Actually, I’m a woman. But no matter – the shoe fits. Where can I get that holy medal?? The one I wear is the one Jacinta of Fatima wanted so badly – she pleaded with Lucia one day, “If only I had a medal with the Sweet Heart of Jesus on one side and the Sweet Heart of Mary on the other, I would be so happy.” Well, there is just such a medal in existence. Available from Brother Alphonsus Maria at St. Benedict Abbey, Box 67, Still River, MA 01467. Doctrinal accuracy is the reason for this Abbey’s existence. And the reason we began a book store many years ago with the name Catholic Treasures. I am a convert, so everything about the Faith makes me excited and happy! Joyful!

          • I’m sorry for being so snarky, but I was going for doctrinal accuracy and was not offering you or the original commenter any spiritual advice. I hope it goes without saying that I am very much in favour of increasing in devotion to The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God bless you.

    • Lady Katherine, I do not know if this helps you. I’m a little bit younger than you but recently have been speaking up against the nonsense / abuses as and when possible. Most people take it badly but at least it’s done and it doesn’t infiltrate my mind as much. I hope that what is written above doesn’t sound arrogant because that is not the intention. It’s about not being a coward and trying to have courage whilst helping others.

    • Katherine, I am a few years older than you, and have had similar feelings. How to fight back? Become a Benedictine Oblate. Join yourself to a thriving monastery or priory and pray with them. The Benedictines of Clear Creek, or the Priory of Our Lady Of Ephesus in the US are accepting applications. Both have fairly new programs for lay men and women to become part of the re-taking of Christendom. It’s NOT too late. Go to the best Mass you can find. Pray the Rosary. Join the Benedictines and savour the joy.

      Both the communities I mentioned are completely Traditional, and they are both bursting at the seams with young men and women.

        • Yes, you don’t need to live near to be an oblate. Also, don’t forget the Monestary of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Vermont. The are in the same congregation as Clear Creek. Their resident priest is a Priest from Clear Creek

  4. Wonderful post. Thank you so much. I never thought of the crisis in that time frame and the link to monasticism. It seems so right! Much to think about. And, I couldn’t help but chuckle on this one, “If you like beer, if you keep bees, if you went to university, if you’ve ever been treated in a hospital, thank a monk”. Classic.

  5. Thanks for this article, I find very much wisdom in it.

    Fr. Thomas Dubay, may God rest his soul, wrote a book called the Fire Within based on the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. He wrote it so everyday Catholics might rediscover the great treasures of our Contemplative tradition. He asked the same question – what would the world be like if even a small percentage of Catholics were to be supernaturally transformed through an intimate prayer life?

    Apparently we are all called to the heights of the Transforming Union, if only we would allow God to do what He desires within our souls.

  6. I am among those who are deeply concerned about the current state of ecclesiastical affairs and its effect on our witness to divine truth. I’ve been searching recently for a suitable metaphor for the current assault on the Church, and am considering shingles. A kind of spiritual herpes zoster has been lurking in the Body since the beginning, and periodically inflicts the Body with pain of one sort or another, sometimes merely annoying, sometimes debilitating. The present manifestation, I think, is in the eyes. The reassuring news is that shingles, spiritual or otherwise, is not fatal. Your article reminds us that this disease is long-standing and that our role in its eventual cure is renewed trust in and love of God.

  7. This article is not just excellent, it is truly prophetic. In the great adventure of prayer and theosis recommended here, might I suggest that we follow some of the indications of monastics that Hilary knows and look East to incorporate at least some of the spiritual practices of our Orthodox brethren, such as the Jesus Prayer, Fr. Cassian Folsom told me they do at Norcia, and the Byzantine Daily office, as the Monastic Family of Bethlehem do, adding some biblical and patristic readings, I presume. And turn to the Fathers, especially the Desert Fathers, the Philokalia, as I have heard it quoted by a great Norbertine prior, and a prominent Catholic singer and New monastic, and to more recent fathers of the same mind, such as Saints Tikhon of Zadonsk, Theophane the Recluse, and of course, Seraphim of Sarov. For lighter reading of an especially edifying kind, I would also recommend “Everyday Saints”, by then-Archimandrite Tikhon ( Shevkunov).

  8. “What is wrong with the world? We are. ” Is that not Chesterton? Or rather his reply was “I am”.

    I read this article as being a call to personal sanctification which is achieved by being a practising Catholic trying with God’s grace channelled through the sacraments – confession in particular – to slowly correct one’s faults. Everything else follows from that.

    I watched the programme on Belmont Abbey last night and looked at their website. “Confessions on Saturday morning from 10a.m. to 10.30a.m. and on request”. That is the same as what our Parish Church offers although it is from 10a.m. “until done”. When I go there, there are perhaps two or three others. I seriously wonder how many Catholics actually practice their faith. When I read some of the rubbish produced by some Catholic theologians, such as those who lectured at the Shadow Synod on the Family, I feel almost certain that they are not practising their faith.

  9. Yes. The simple truth is that all doing comes from being and that the doing will always resemble to being. Being is utterly dependent on God and if the doer’s being isn’t united to God in and truly transformative way all of the doing will be defective. The further the doer is from the Perfect will of God infusing the soul and moving it to His intended ends/end of the doer the further the actions of the doer will be from the Perfectly Willed end to which God intends.

    Being needs to be transformed by Grace, not just the absence of Mortal Sin, but the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Soul being the principle activity of the soul and therefore of the all of the actions of the Person in the world. Jesus does everything in Union with the Will of the Father and that Will of the Father is the Holy Spirit.

  10. What is the Catholic religion actually for?

    In the Gospel, a young man comes to Jesus and asks….”Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is the fundamental question which lurks in the hearts of all men, whether they acknowledge it or not and the purpose of the Catholic religion is to answer that question for men of all generations. It is to tell men “what they must do” in order to inherit eternal life. The Catholic religion exists to shine a light on the pathway, the narrow pathway, which men must take in order to be saved. And not only to shine a light on the pathway but to provide men with the means to complete this journey, through the provision of the Sacraments.

    That is what the Catholic religion is actually for.

    • My teenage son came home once wearing a T-shirt that asked: “What is the minimum I have to do to get into heaven?” I think the Pope is wearing that shirt now.

  11. St. Benedict’s economic system (working the land for a fair share of its bounty and trading by barter),
    within the moral precepts of the Church, remains close to the ideal.

    But the C16th German (and then English) nobility wanted a bigger slice of the ever-growing pie.
    Since slavery/serfdom wouldn’t fly, they knew two ways to live at the expense of others, ie privatise land (not just the usufruct) and usury.

    The Church held a lot of land and forbade usury, so it had to go.

    They were a hammer poised to crack the Church’s moral authority, and they only waited for their chisel to appear…which he did at Hallowe’en 1517.

    • Yes, Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in Rome and closed the monasteries. To help him in his “struggle” with the Catholic Church, Henry needed help from Protestants ( And the money-changer’s). He split away from Rome because he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.

      But of course there is much more to it than the simplified divorce issue……
      which you have pointed out.

  12. Great article Hilary, thank you! Could you please develop these/other ideas even further over more articles? My son is a monk, and one can witness how it is not they who live, but Christ in them. God bless!

  13. Highly recommend “The Silent Spire Speaks,” by Fr. M. Raymond, OCSO of Gethsemane Trappist Abbey – 50 years ago saw rise in monastic life against the grain of society that was already sown with seeds of destruction.

    Explains fundamentals of monastic life and then explains how it is fundamental to our spiritual survival.

    Still available on Amazon.

  14. Masterful!
    An internet friend who I met here a 1P5 and I engaged in a discussion about this several weeks ago. This reflection is absolutely at the core of the decay which has grabbed the Church at its heart.
    The monastic life is the canary in the ecclesial mineshaft.

  15. Deeply contemplative article, ironically. I’ve been sitting here digesting it… such Truth. Would’ve never occurred to me. What good is the body when its heart is no longer beating? It will decay.

    A dear friend’s daughter recently joined a cloister of traditional Carmelites; we were shocked, but I see we’ve been brainwashed to think of things like that as less important- works first, prayer second. How ridiculously backwards. We need the heart to start beating again; Christ can yet revive us.

  16. Loss of faith as the cause of our woes isn’t exactly a new thesis. Nietzsche did in fact point this out some years ago, observing that the Christianity of his era amounted to the flag minus the goods, which is exactly the author’s point in the example of the monastery and the bookstore. I don’t disagree with the substance here, just the imputation that this is all somehow a mystery which is just now becoming obvious.

    • To be fair, have you ever been to ANY parish where monastic life was even remotely on the consciousness of the community? Even if the parish does pray for vocations, it’s generally about the diocesan priesthood (and maybe the permanent diaconate) for men, and active religious orders for women. Contemplative life and the apostolic simplicity that goes with it is completely foreign to most Catholics.

      • I don’t disagree with that at all, I think maybe I’ve been to one such parish. My only point was that the diminishing faith that generates such acedia has a pretty long pedigree that should by now be less than mysterious.

        • We have had the great privilege of being closely associated with the local cloistered Carmelites.
          In fact, it might not be an exaggeration to say we owe them our continued existence. For nearly
          two decades, they hosted our Sunday Masses, until we were allowed to buy our own church.
          We are blessed to have monasticism as a constant in our lives, through our mutual support of
          each other.

    • As an enemy of Christian faith who very clearly had an agenda, I don’t ascribe much value to Nietzsche’s observations about the Christianity of his error (yes).

      • Who cares if he had an agenda? Arguments stand or fall on their own merits. If such an enemy as Nietzsche can see that modernity carries the trappings of faith without the substance, then I think we can safely conclude that there is little new here.

        • We care if had an agenda because there is nothing that definitely tells us–from neutral or even pro-Catholic sources–that his observation is correct within his limited geographic area, no less in the Catholic world at large.

          • You mean besides the sum total of Western history since Nietzsche was writing? Or is that an insufficient pool of evidence? The realities detailed in this article are themselves part of that evidence. Mahler was a bad composer because he was a jerk, then?

          • Wow! False equivalence 101: I say you cannot trust the claims or conclusions of a person writing and opining on a topic on which he had a very strong opinion and you compare that with a hypothetical claim that somebody’s music is bad by virtue of his being a bad person? How does that follow?

            Yes, that is an insufficient pool of evidence because human beings change during their lifetimes. There are several apostate Catholics today who were practicing Catholics five, ten, 15 years ago. So, no, his opinion is meaningless and he was quite obviously writing as somebody with an agenda, not as an independent observer simply commenting on his observations of society.

          • I think we thought we were talking about the same article, but somehow, along the way, decided not to. Read some intellectual history.

  17. Excellent article! The focus on worshiping and thanking God, on adoring him with our whole being, on loving Our Lord Jesus intimately and in every moment, seems to have disappeared almost everywhere. The only encouraging thing is that contemplative monasteries are starting to receive new postulants who are looking for precisely this. Many consecrated virgins also lead such a life, and many in the new movements also understand this. There is some reason to hope, especially as we know that Christ has promised that the gates of hell would not prevail…

    Nevertheless, I have the feeling that things may very well get worse before they get better. The only real solution is to be faithful to God precisely where we are, and to intensify our life of prayer, especially if we have become lukewarm.

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Ms. White. This article hits the bulls-eye.
    I think I am most edified by your ‘you don’t have to live like they tell you’-type posts, and I’m glad to see your blog is back up.

  19. I also wonder if the whole modern paradigm of “every state in life is a vocation” contributes to driving away young people from monastic life. Everyone from St. Anthony to St. Benedict to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus is unanimous that religious life is a free,conscious choice, and superior to secular life, and doesn’t require the super-special-divine seal of approval before it can be pursued.

  20. I tried to donate $50 just now but your configuration will not accept my valid numbers. Can someone phone me so I can pay over the telephone?

  21. So – UNION WITH GOD is the whole purpose for our existence. Let’s begin with a baby who might be expected to die very soon. He will achieve the purpose for his existence at the instant he dies in the water of the Sacrament of Baptism, and rises again to NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. He will have the infused virtue of FAITH, without which it is impossible to please God. Incapable of thinking about Faith, – FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY will be his because of the mark, seal and character of Christ which is imprinted upon his soul as he is transformed from a “son of Adam” to “sonship in the Son.” He will bear the image and likeness of Christ. Adopted into the Sonship of God, he is also adopted as a child of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is given an application of the merits of Christ and has a right to all the Sacraments. Sanctifying Grace has been conferred upon him in that instant. Membership in the Body of Christ, the Mystical Body, the Church has been achieved in this newborn soul. Original sin has been eliminated. His soul has been espoused to Christ. The seed of Glory has been implanted in him. His soul has been configured to Christ. Inserted into the Body of Christ in the sacred waters, the newborn is made one with Christ, with His Precious Blood and Flesh, he becomes the Image and likeness of Christ. This little soul shars in the Kingly character of Christ, he is an Alter Christi, which means Christ Himself. He is incorporated into the Holy Roman Catholic Church militant on earth and upon death in a state of sanctifying grace, he will be a member of the Church Triumphant and see the Holy Trinity face to face, and the Queen of Heaven, whose child he is. He will achieve, if he dies immediately following baptism of water and the Holy Ghost, the purpose for which we are all created. UNION WITH GOD for all eternity. See! The faith is so simple, a child can understand it! “Wonder not that I say you must be born again.” Jesus Our Lord.

  22. Your descriptions of the fading and decaying monasteries sadly reminds me of Tolken’s descriptions of the derelict, empty and abandoned portions of Minas Tirith. Life imitates art.

  23. I partially agree and disagree to an extent Hilary. Without doubt the contemplative orders and congregations are the powerhouses that underpin not only The Church but entire nations. Yes this has been in decline since the medieval times and pre-disposed use to Luther’s revolution which accelerated us towards the Apocalypse. But to address the most immediate crisis of Faith we have has a very specific remedy. Not to be flippant but Our Lady at Fatima outlined the conditions very clearly. Without compliance there is no restoration of grace which has been withdrawn bit by bit from The Church, and grace is required for Faith. Without grace we cannot sustain our Faith let alone increase it or pass it onto others. The obedience must be from the bottom to the top. The faithful must perform the daily Rosary and other sacrifices and the clergy must not only observe their duties but they must work towards the eventual consercration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart to bring back grace. Man in his perversion has opened the portal to hell both in a general way (the long march of modernism, liberalism etc through the Church) and in a concrete way (see the Luciferian enthronment in 1963). Once these events are set in motion God does not act immediately and correct it. In His justice he respects our free will and allows the consequences to play out for a time.

  24. “we hope and pray that He might call women to stand in the breach and ‘rebuild His church.’ “ That’s Written like a True Feminist, typical , The problem today stems from women wanting to be men, women want to be priests, the fact that God has not called women to be priests is irrelevant to Feminists and Feminist nuns. Men stopped going to church with Vatican 2 because the Mass became focused on the personality of the priest,what better example of mans arrogance towards God than the Tabernacle containing the REAL presence of God being moved into a corner of the church. Women have done enough damage in the church and in society, what happened when they got to vote? They pushed Feminism and Abortion and with it have wrecked society. Not happy being mothers not happy being wives, no they want God to make them the “breach to rebuild his church “ What’s needed is the return of Masculine Catholic Leadership in the church not the lame feminine wimps of Bishops and priests we have today. I am not a Sedevacantist but what these people say about the blaring need to call Pope Francis a heretic as St Paul has commanded is the real elephant in the room. What God wants is for our Cardinals to be real MEN OF GOD and not the yellow bellied feminine wimps of excuses for men that they are.

  25. I love this piece. I truly look forward to essays from Miss White. This one in particular rings true. I have thought, since my conversion, that Monasticism was the foundation supporting the structure of Christendom. The hidden pillars that held up the true world. Thank you for writing this.

  26. You got it right Hilary. Now the issue is how to get others to get it right? Below is the idea that we must get into people’s heads.


  27. The Activism promoted in the Church h as taken its toll, the push to get everyone so busy, without the proper focus. Bishop Fulton J Sheen warned of all the going and doing without first going before the Lord in prayer and he meant a lot of prayer. The ideas in this article I think tie into the message Of Fatima of being faithful to your station in life, prayer and reparation.

  28. ““Civilisation” was the first place I learned that the exclusively
    Catholic civilisation of the Middle Ages was what saved the world from
    the pagan barbarism and chaos that swept into the void when the
    disorganized and disheartened Empire could no longer keep the Pax

    I really must watch that.

  29. Clark’s films were part of my Western Civ course at San Diego State back in the seventies. His work is probably condemned as ethnic and male centric.

  30. I think this chick Miss White and I are on the level. I was waiting for her to use these words, indeed saying them at the stove in my kitchen over and over while anticipating reading this article, “Here’s the rub.”

  31. If I understand the author correctly, she seems to be arguing that only monks and nuns are capable of sanctity. If so, she is of course dreadfully wrong. Then there was the earlier tangent regarding the loss of faith as the source of the world’s problems. But that argument seemed to burn out pretty quickly. Correct me if I’m wrong. What am I missing here?

    • I think the author was essentially stating that sanctity comes from the top down within the Church rather than arising through through some vaguely defined democratic process or “dialectic” as is the prevailing sense nowadays.

      A monastic (contemplative) life IS a higher calling than a secular (active) life because it entails abandoning most worldly concerns for the worship of God. That this is the highest thing a person in this life can do is hard for most people these days to grasp because, whether one consciously realizes it or not, there is a lack of distinction and understanding pertaining to WHAT SANCTITY IS and IS NOT and moreover an essentially Protestant understanding of grace and works prevalent today, even among well-meaning and “orthodox” Catholics (and not a few Tradition-minded ones).

      This is, I admit, a pretty massive gloss on my part, but nevertheless it is essentially the situation we find ourselves in today.

      • I doubt that being a monk is a “higher calling” than being a father and husband, say. Abandoning the world isn’t what Jesus asked us to do in any case. He specifically called us to remake the world, and that can be done from a monastery but it can also be done from the assembly line or the office. Read St. Josémaria Escrivá’s most famous sermon: “Passionately Loving the World,” which is Ch. 8 of his _Conversations_ which you can read at

        • Devoting one’s life to prayer within the walls of a monastery is, objectively speaking, higher than a secular lay life. For that matter it is also a higher calling than a secular (diocesan) priestly vocation.

          The objective reality as opposed to the subjective condition of an individual is the one which is of primary concern here. I repeat- objective. It’s to no avail to concern one’s self with what cannot be known with total certitude: namely the disposition of another’s will and what is in their intellect- which is to say where their heart truly is.

          Look at it this way: one couldn’t possibly say with certitude that, for example, a brother in the Grand Chartreuse in France is more in the life of grace than a stay-at-home mom in the United States with 3 little kids. That is between each of them respectively and God. Now certainly, manifestly, objectively though the former has more time for contemplation (I’m sure any young mother reading this would agree) and again objectively, complete devotion to contemplating Almighty God all day and night is a higher activity than child-care (perhaps the same young mother might disagree 🙂 ). That being said, it frankly is of no concern to one what graces God might bestow on either the monk in his contemplating Father, Son and Holy Ghost or the mother in her contemplating the poop in baby’s diaper because, again, only they respectively and God know such with certitude.

          So again, that’s the one distinction which has to be made clear here: objective and subjective. Josémaria Escrivá and certain others of the Opus Dei in essence did what every other modernist-addled Catholic has done to one degree or another: he either failed to make the distinction between objective and subjective or blurred such distinction.

          We see the fruits of such error now in gross manifestation with the number two member of the prelature Msgr. Fazio recently failing to distinguish three things: namely Pope as a man, the office of Peter taken as such, and the errors and objective (at least) heresies within Amoris Laetitia

          • One could just as convincingly argue that a mother or father in a typical employment situation, who strives to sanctify their work under conditions that are far more strenuous and demanding than your monk, will “objectively” have achieved much more in overcoming the obstacles that the monk will never face. The monk, in other words, has it easy. What’s the merit in that? Objectively speaking.

          • However their state life is not conducive per se to the highest act a human person this side of heaven can do; sustained contemplation of God.

            You are correct when you say that such is made easier in the monastery. That is the very purpose of the existence of such: to make it easier. In fact, one could even say that the monastic orders and individual congregations CARRY those in the world on their backs in their contemplation. In other words, they make up for the lack of contemplation in this fallen world and make reparation for those who do not.

            We NEED and must have monasteries. There is no future for the institutional Church and no possibility of a true Social Kingship of Christ unless the monasteries are rebuilt and flourish more than they ever did in previous centuries. I will wager everything I am worth and on that statement. They ought to be the very hub around which local communities are built. Not in some antiquarian, idealized, forced sense of “the way things were” but quite literally as the concrete venue through which Christ’s Church dispenses grace, learning and material support to given unified communities in this world. This happens first and foremost by the monastics carrying the community on their back through their self-sacrifice, prayer and contemplation of God.

          • However their state life is not conducive per se to the highest act a
            human person this side of heaven can do; sustained contemplation of

            You are correct when you say that such is made easier in the
            monastery. That is the very purpose of the existence of such: to make it easier. After all, there’s nothing meritorious per se in something simply because it is arduous. That’s a common misconception- “it was hard to do therefore it was better”. Not so. In fact, one could even say that the monastic orders and individual congregations CARRY those in the world on their backs in their contemplation. In other words, they make up for the lack of contemplation in this fallen world and make reparation for those who do not make such because of the ardor involved.

            We NEED and must have monasteries. There is no future for the
            institutional Church and no possibility of a true Social Kingship of
            Christ unless the monasteries are rebuilt and flourish more than they
            ever did in previous centuries. I will wager everything I am worth and
            on that statement. They ought to be the very hub around which local
            communities are built. Not in some antiquarian, idealized, forced sense
            of “the way things were” but quite literally as the concrete venue
            through which Christ’s Church dispenses grace, learning and material
            support to given unified communities in this world. This happens first
            and foremost by the monastics carrying the community on their back
            through their self-sacrifice, prayer and contemplation of God. After
            all, if the very center, focus and teleological end of any true
            community (as opposed to the artificial, forced sense of such which
            abounds in these times) isn’t the contemplation of God, then what is

          • I would never question the necessity of religious communities; what I am questioning is the idea that a religious community is necessarily a superior means for achieving personal sanctity.

    • You’re missing the entire thing; ALL people are called to sanctification. Sanctification first, and only from that “divinising” effect can come the benefits of the “active” end of the Christian life. The modern Church – and by that word I mean the Church since the end of the Middle Ages – has inverted this hierarchy of priorities for human life. What is the purpose of life? To know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next. You will note that the active part of those three priorities come last.

      • You are right. I totally missed that and would not have been able to find it had you not just pointed it out. However, I did notice the preposterous claim that the Church has had it all backwards since the end of the Middle Ages. I am sorry you called attention to it. I was willing to pass over it.

      • “ALL people are called to sanctification”??

        Except for William of Ockham which you wished had never been born or better yet aborted.

        Really? You desire to rid the world of a Catholic Priest?

  32. “To a monk, the faith is about sanctification, and it is this sanctified –
    as the eastern monastics put it this “divinised” – person who has the
    strength and energy to produce all the material benefits of Christian

    “The saltiness has gone out of the salt. All these suggestions, all our
    activities, seem…to be an attempt to restore salinity by pouring
    more good salt onto the savourless.”

    Well said, Ms. White. These are of the essence here, and it is precisely THE
    INVERSION OF THE FORMER OF THE TWO which is an essential part too of the
    overall gnostic character of the modern world.

  33. Elizabeth II, as probably the last Christian monarch of Britain,

    Well she was, of course, never a monarch of Britain. She was only Queen of England. The judgement that she was the last Christian monarch of Britain seems a bit harsh. James VII of Scotland and II of England (same person) became a Catholic and was forced to flee the country for trying to be more tolerant towards those who were not adherents of the state-run Church. I would imagine that various Protestant monarchs post-1603 might also have objections. eg Queen Victoria and the present Queen, for example. As Prince Charles wants to be a Defender of Faiths rather than Defender of the Faith Queen Elizabeth II might more accurately be given the description of last Christian monarch of Britain.

  34. It really started with the Council of Trent. When the laity could no longer receive the Precious Blood of Jesus. The laity also need to receive the Precious Blood. To help us to become saints.
    And the closing of the monasteries was done by non Catholics. Essentially lay people not receiving the Blood of Christ.


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