"Life in the wide world goes on much as it has these past age, full of its own comings and goings, scarcely aware of the existence of hobbits..."So said Gandalf right before the great race to Mount Doom, right before he discovered the treachery of Saruman and the dire state his enemies had wrought. Similarly, we stand on the edge of a great precipice, made plain by the events of the past year, rumored at and hinted for years before that.> Perhaps Leo XIII saw truly; perhaps the many, many Marian apparitions of the past century have warned accurately; perhaps we stand on the edge of unimaginable times. If we do, then a return to a certain historical institution is in order.
Our current Holy Father took the name Benedict XVI, bringing back memories of an ancient Benedict, one who was a true blessing to the Church and to the world. But for him and the monasteries he founded or inspired, Western Christendom could not have arisen. The immense contributions of the monastic system to human civilization have been mentioned rather less emphatically than they deserve. Like the ancient Benedict, we are confronted with a dramatically corrupt civilization, one that has surrendered to the lures of greed, lust, and a hedonistic materialism that enervates the soul and drags down its adherents in a deathly sloth, ;destroying both Christian and natural virtue. I speak as one who has experienced these temptations--indeed, almost any child of the modern age could say the same.
Like the ancient Benedict, a person watching current events through the eyes of faith can realize that much of what we see is sin punishing sin--that is, when one breaks natural law, natural consequences ensue. When one breaks the fundamental moral laws of economics in the name of profit, the system will break down. These laws run deeper than an imperative to Christian charity or anything demanding supernatural grace. Laws as basic as "give the customer what they pay for," "do not advertise falsely," and so forth have been broken in a systemic way.
The consequences are likewise systemic. The same applies to the breakdown of marriage and the family, to the human relationship with the environment, to the relationships within the Church. Anyone reading of Catholicism before Vatican II and living it after Vatican II will recognize a deep rift between the depth and luminosity of the Catholic mind then and the massive fog of confusion now. There needs to be a restoration of the monasteries as centers for the preservation of learning, for self-sufficiency through crisis, for stable links to the past preparing for the future and living the Christian vocation in the present.
For the love of God and of truth, for the healing of the present society and preparation for what dreams may come, the Church needs the Benedictines and the like to take up once again the ancient call of being life boats for the world following the Barque of Peter.