OK, maybe the sword stays beneath the bartop and my towel gets damper as I wipe the tables, but we each have our way of life. I have had many ways of life.These days I serve.
A cursory glance around shows so many people falling off the cliff.
Children are blown apart by a mad muslim boy while at a 'concert' given by a bad secular girl, both still children and both seemingly hateful of the western world and unwilling to live in any other. The son of refugees repays his samaritan country by killing innocents in the name of a creed that thrives on hatred and fear. The privileged feminist girl struts lewdly and curses on stage, poisoning the minds of innocents and extolling the anti-virtues of LGBT, promiscuity, moral destruction and rejection of anything 'good' that the western world has provided to her. The parents let their children, including an eight year old, pay good money to cavort and glorify mediocre mendacities and disdain put to song in almost adulation of that poor young creature.
Meanwhile God looks on and weeps. He gave us so much: we reject and curse.
The excuses abound in some sort of anti-pessimism. "Its nothing to do with Islam", say some people in power who know better. Or should. "If you don't support same-sex marriage, I don't want you as a customer", says a pervert CEO here and a CEO there, intent on ruining the businesses of making coffee and flying aircraft. Gordon Bennett.
While Islam spreads like a cancer, Christianity is failing.
It is enough to make a chap want to join a monastery. Hah ! Now there's an idea. It has been done before. And while monasteries can be of brick and stone, they can also be like the Tavern itself : of the mind. Rod Dreher was speaking almost softly about just that. I let him have the floor while I pulled pints and listened.
The Benedict optionHannah Roberts, an English Catholic friend, was once telling me about her family’s long history in Yorkshire. She spoke with yearning of what she had back home and how painful it is to live so far away. I wondered aloud why she and her American husband had emigrated to the United States from that idyllic landscape, the homeland she loved. ‘Because we wanted our children to have a chance to grow up Catholic,’ she said.
It’s not that she feared losing them to the Church of England — it’s that she feared them losing Christianity itself.
She and her husband Chris, an academic theologian, are now raising their four young children in Philadelphia, a city with a historically large Catholic presence. Even so, Philadelphia is no safe haven, as the Robertses freely acknowledge. Christianity is declining sharply in the north-east of the United States, one of the nation’s least religious regions. The most recent studies confirm that the country is, at last, firmly on the same trail of decline blazed by the churches of Europe.The collapse of (christian) religion in Britain has been perhaps the most striking feature of the last generation.
The sheer pace of the decline has been recorded by Damian Thompson in this magazine: church pews are emptying at the rate of 10,000 people per week. In 1983, some 40 per cent of the population declared itself Anglican. Now, it’s 17 per cent. To be a practising Christian in the West now is to belong to a minority.How, then, should believers adapt to a society that is not just unsupportive but often hostile to their beliefs?
In his influential 1981 book After Virtue, the Scottish moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre warned that the Enlightenment’s inability to provide a binding and authoritative source of morality to replace the Christian–Aristotelian one it discarded had left the contemporary West adrift. He likened our age to the era of the Roman Empire’s fall — a comparison that Pope Benedict XVI has also made.
Oddly, one 'sort' of chap that could benefit from Benedict is the MTGOW, who decry the pernicious influence of feminism and what it has done to turn so many men off women altogether - a difficult position to be in when women are so vocal and strutting the stages of our civilisation - and to whom I have before now said they might consider forming their own communities of men, if only they had a focus on Spirit. Unfortunately they too are in thrall to the image of the bad girl and desirous of much of the promiscuity that Mz Grande extols.The old believers, MacIntyre wrote, need to respond. Which means to stop trying to ‘shore up the imperium,’ and instead build ‘local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us’. MacIntyre famously concluded by saying that we in the West await ‘another — doubtless very different — St Benedict’.MacIntyre chose Benedict as his model because the 6th-century saint’s inventive response to a religious collapse had enormous historical ramifications. The monastic communities he founded spread quickly throughout western Europe, and over the next few centuries laid the groundwork for the rebirth of civilisation in the West.
What would a St Benedict for our day say now? What would best ensure Christianity’s resilience and long-term survival?
Christians do have to go back quite a long way to find a similar situation: by some estimates, Europe is more secularised now than at any time since Constantine’s conversion in the 3rd century.What I call The Benedict Option is a choice made by an increasing number of Christians living in the secular West: to build the resilient local communities MacIntyre calls for. You don’t have to be cloistered as monastics to learn from the structure and practices of Benedictine life. The early Benedictines were an example of what the historian Arnold Toynbee called a ‘creative minority’ — a small group within a larger society that responds creatively to a crisis in a way that serves the common good.Pope Benedict XVI was clear-eyed about the grim predicament facing European Christianity. Drawing on Toynbee’s analysis, he called on the Catholic flock to ‘understand itself as a creative minority that has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but a very living and relevant reality’.It’s a novel claim: that monks are modern, not outdated relics of a medieval past.
But Father Martin Bernhard, a young American Benedictine in Norcia, stakes it with confidence. ‘People say, “Oh, you’re just trying to turn back the clock,”’ he told me. ‘That makes no sense. If you’re doing something right now, it means you’re doing it right now. It’s new, and it’s alive! And that’s a very powerful thing.’Yes, but in the contemporary world, it also means being different.
Take note, MGTOWs !!In order to be faithfully Christian now and for the foreseeable future, believers will have to become more like Orthodox Jews and Muslims in the way they live out their religion. They will have to recognise themselves as outsiders, and cease to care about conforming to the norms of secular society. They will have to live with far more spiritual discipline regarding prayer, worship, study, work, and asceticism, radically re-ordering their lives around the faith. This will look somewhat different depending on their particular tradition — Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox — but it will have to be taken on with rigour.
When one's neighbour deserts and joins the enemy, you really know that we have reached a point. Mind you, he was a protestant. One has to take quite a few steps to move from one side to the other.Some Christians will have to cut ties. Earlier this year, the Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden left the Church of England having previously been a chaplain to the Queen. ‘I’m not sure I see much point in a church that just wants to be accepted as a sort of not-too-irritating chaplain to a secular and hedonistic culture, which is what it seems to be becoming,’ he said.The last straw for Ashenden was the Church’s milksop reaction to a Quran reading at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow — a recitation that explicitly said that Jesus was not the son of God.
Hmmmm. Perhaps. But fear is their driver and hatred their steed. They are a far cry from Love and Mercy.Europe and the UK face a tremendous threat from radical Islam. Whatever else might be said of radical Islam, one cannot deny that its followers know what they believe, and are not ashamed of it.
But wait, comes the protest. Secular democracy has served the West pretty well. We are doing better in many measures of social health and wellbeing than we have in decades. What’s the problem?It’s a fair point. What many don’t understand is the extent to which secular liberalism has fed off Christian teachings and virtues. The Enlightenment secularised Christian teachings about the sanctity of life and the dignity of the individual human person. But it could not come up with a stable grounding for those teachings in reason alone. For a long time, the West has been coasting on the residue of its Christian faith. But without basing our morality in transcendent values, how will we recognise threats to our humanity in the future (from, say, genetic manipulation), much less resist them?Jonathan Sacks, formerly the chief rabbi, has called on Christians to learn from Jewish people how to be a creative minority in the contemporary world.‘You can be a minority, living in a country whose religion, culture, and legal system are not your own, and yet sustain your identity, live your faith and contribute to the common good,’ he said. ‘It isn’t easy. It demands a complex finessing of identities. It involves a willingness to live in a state of cognitive dissonance. It isn’t for the faint-hearted.’He also argues that Jews and Christians in Britain face two common enemies.
On one side, a militant secularism that wishes to eliminate religion entirely. And on the other, a fanatical form of Islam that seeks a barbaric theocracy. It is a strange paradox and characteristic of our time: Christians will have to turn to modern Orthodox Jews, such as Lord Sacks, to learn how to live more faithfully as Christians.The kind of faith that survives catastrophe is one that can perceive victory even in apparent defeat. This is the message of the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. It is the message of Christianity: the Saviour’s death is not the final word. It is the message that the believing Christian remnant in the West can make incarnate in their daily lives, in concrete and sacrificial ways.This is no grim, white-knuckle counsel.
Not to anyone who has met the Tipi Loschi, a merry confederacy of Italian Catholic families living in San Benedetto del Tronto, a small city on the Adriatic coast. They are counter-culturally orthodox in their Catholicism, but not angry.
They draw inspiration from two English Catholics they regard as heroes: G.K. Chesterton and J.R.R. -Tolkien. The community school is called Scuola Libera G.K. Chesterton, and the Tipi Loschi fancy themselves as ‘hobbits in the shire’.These are Christians who are not deceived about the long odds facing Christianity in the West. They are filled with light, hope and joy. I asked Marco Sermarini, the middle-aged lawyer who heads the group, to divulge their secret. ‘We invented nothing,’ he said. ‘We are only rediscovering a tradition that was locked away inside an old box. We had forgotten.’If a small flock of Italians perched on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic can rummage through the old curiosity shop of western Christianity and found a local Christian community on the writings of St Benedict, Chesterton, and Tolkien, who’s to say that the dusty crates in Christian Britain’s treasury don’t contain the seeds of that faith’s resurrection?
Small communities, families, which raise their children in separation and seclusion while still engaged with the world - but on their own terms - are not unfamiliar to me. I am privileged to 'belong' to such a group. The Traditional Latin Mass group in Southern Tasmania ( there is one in the north too) is built around several staunch, traditional Catholic families. It is growing.As Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man: ‘Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a god who knew the way out of the grave.’
One does not have to build an edifice atop a mountain, although, frankly, that ain't a bad idea. There were many and are still some around. The EU - oddly again - has a special dispensation for a Monastery in Greece that has its own passports and forbids women even stepping foot inside.
They are 'Greek Orthodox' Monks, and I am not suggesting you become a monk. Not that it is a bad idea. Also down here not far from the Tavern a new Benedictine Priory is forming with an American priest from a French Monastery leading the way.
Tasmania’s first Catholic monastery
......is to be established this month, under the Prior leadership of Fr Pius Mary Noonan of the Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey of Flavigny, France.
The Notre Dame Priory will follow the Benedictine Rule, and it will initially be located in Hobart. The priory will welcome a small number of young men from around Australia, and Archbishop Julian will provide guidance and leadership to the new religious order in Tasmania.The Tavern Keeper is a 'supporter'. But then I am, after a long time away being a warrior and healer, a Traditionalist Catholic.
The priory will teach the Benedictine life, which focuses on living a common life while praying and working together. Fr Pius Mary will initially be the only monk on a permanent basis at the priory.
“Essentially we can say that a monk’s life is about looking for God, seeking God as St Benedict says.
“Seeking God is going to obviously manifest itself in many ways, primarily through the sacred liturgy. Benedictines are known for their attachment to the celebration of the liturgy with great solemnity,” Fr Pius Mary said.
Fr Pius Mary first started visiting Australia to provide retreats in 2007, and it was through this experience that he encountered a number of men wanting to engage more in the monastic lifestyle.
“I must say that from the first time I began really to meet Australians, I was attracted and very happy to get to work with them.”
The monks of Notre Dame Priory will wear white habits in a sign of piety to Mary.
“It is a distinctive trait of devotion to our lady, and I see it as being a profession of our faith in her protection,” explains Fr Pius Mary.
Fr Pius Mary is originally from Kentucky in the USA, and he joined the abbey in Flavigny in 1984, after receiving the call to monastic life while studying at university.
Laramie can tell you more about what that entails than I have time for. What with me having to pull pints and wipe tables. So I shall let his speak.
Being A Traditionalist CatholicIn recent months, I've been chit-chatting with a new convert to Catholicism. I was not the one responsible for the evangelism, mind you. I've never been good or successful at evangelization (though, I just keep on trying).
Laramie gave a link to his fellow's blog, which you can find by clicking on Laramie's link.Nevertheless, this fellow came to me after he came into the Church. He had a few questions about what was going on in the Church Militant. Anyone familiar with the problems stemming from Pope Francis, Vatican II, the priest pedophile scandal, and Freemasonic modernist infiltrators and the like will be familiar with the kinds of questions he asked.Ultimately, my friend was having a moment of psychoanalysis. And, in the end, he had to ask the question: What Does It Mean To Be A Traditionalist Catholic?
I wish my friend all the best in taking his new-found faith in Christ and His Church seriously, in spite of all attacks from modernists.And one thing I must repeat to him and everyone who reads my writing: this stance I've taken with Traditional Catholicism has taken almost a decade to realize.
The problem with the Catholic Church right now is complicated.
I had to move along to another bar, but I do recommend you follow his link. He has much to say that can benefit.There's a lot of history and a lot of factionalism. To make it even more complicated, the axioms of this stance are also built on some rudimentary knowledge of dogma and moral teaching that a lot of people do not look into. And I think that this is the reason that Traditional Catholics are rare and often pedantic.But I recommend Traditional Catholicism to everyone.It's a shame that we are left to fend for ourselves in the social jungle to find out the truth about Jesus Christ's Church. There's deception and confusion all around us. Gone are the days when graces were an easier thing to attain, and the realm was ordered in such a way as to foster the liberty of your faith. Now, the converts are comprised of stragglers who may or may not find their way to what is going on.
We need Grace.
My Supplier gives it, freely, and often unasked-for.
Pray for Mz Grande.