Monasticism

The Virtue of Piety: The Catholic Response to the Alt-Right

Last week, in the pages of Crisis, Jerry Salyer diagnosed the pagan roots of the growing movement known as the “Alternative” or “Alt-Right” in the writings of French political theorist Alain de Benoist. Salyer’s implication that Catholics should avoid the Alt-Right because of its paganism and innate hostility to Christianity is correct. Moreover, his call [...]

Remembering Monte Cassino

February 15 marks the date of one of the most regrettable episodes in the history of World War II, the bombing and destruction of the abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944. The Battle of Monte Cassino has been described as one of the longest and bloodiest engagements in the war, and the destruction [...]

How Monasticism Testifies to God’s Reality

Over the years, I have become acquainted with various logical arguments for the existence of God—some I find more convincing than others. Of course, the strongest evidence comes from direct experience, for God is a person to be mystically encountered, not an abstraction to be logically deduced. This should not be taken to imply that [...]

Hope in the Eternal Word: The Silence of Cardinal Sarah

Earlier this year I completed another silent retreat at a Trappist monastery. Such is the monastic emphasis on respecting silence that retreatants are surrounded by signs that read “Silence spoken here.” Even the refrigerator magnet I bought at the gift shop is emblazoned with this declaration. My mother remains astonished that her talkative son was [...]

Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins.” ∼  T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land One of the happy discoveries I’ve made while traveling around Europe is that Cervantes was surely right: The road is better than the inn. The way along which the Mystery would have us go—i.e., the circumstances that color and condition the journey—is [...]

Norcia Monks Rebuild the Foundations of Christian Culture

“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the just do?” (Ps 11:3) Walking up the narrow streets of Norcia, the smell of the local delicacy, wild boar, wafting through the air from hanging limbs in shops and restaurants, three times a year University of Mary students make their way toward the historic basilica of St. [...]

Seeking God in the Silence

"Where shall the word be found, where will the word Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence…" ∼  T.S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday One of the truly awful torments of modern life, from whose myriad aggressions no one is entirely safe, is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence [...]

A New Direction in Church Design

One day fifteen years ago, I happened to be channel surfing past the Eternal Word Television Network when I was greeted by a momentary flash of heavenly beauty across the screen. Quickly flipping back, I realized that it was a Mass being celebrated in an unusually majestic church with an extensively gilded and marbled interior. [...]

The University Needs the Monastic Spirit More Than Ever

In one of her last stories, “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” Flannery O’Connor told a story of miscomprehension between mother and son. The story retells communication problems between generations by contrasting two valuations of life. Walter and his mother are at odds for reasons which are perfectly comprehensible within the mental world of each but [...]

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Medieval Psychologist

Modern popular culture prizes the role of the therapist, whose services, we are assured, can aid a troubled marriage, heal an addicted psyche or get an unruly (almost always male) child to behave better. The saint whose feast-day falls on August 20 was the greatest Christian psychologist of the Middle Ages. In St Bernard of [...]

The Benedict Option: What Does It Really Mean?

 “Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: ‘Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?’” (Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict, quoting Psalm 34:14-15). The Benedict Option—what does it really mean? In my mind, it is [...]

Cause for Mirth: The Return of Abbey Brewing to the United States

Beer is another one of those testimonies to how the Catholic Church built European civilization. It is true that brewing was widely practiced in the ancient world, but the process was very primitive, even as simple as soaking a loaf of bread in water. Modern brewing practices grew up within Benedictine monasteries, where beer provided [...]

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