Credo

The following are the core insights around which Another Benedict revolves.  They all presuppose a publicly professed belief in the Nicene Creed, the active practice in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, and the conscious and deliberate adherence to one’s Baptismal vows to reject Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises.  

  • “Our culture labors in an advanced state of decadence.”  The late Russell Kirk, one of the most insightful commentators on modern Western culture, made this statement in the early 1990s in his lecture Civilization without Religion.  Kirk’s words are more true today than ever, and they have been true for decades, if not centuries, prior to him uttering them.

    “…it appears to me that our culture labors in an advanced state of decadence; that what many people mistake for the triumph of our civilization actually consists of powers that are disintegrating our culture; that the vaunted “democratic freedom” of liberal society in reality is servitude to appetites and illusions which attack religious belief, which destroy community through excessive centralization and urbanization; which efface life-giving tradition and custom.

  • Religion is essential for the formation of culture.  Culture historian Christopher Dawson spent his near 50 year career arguing for the necessary relationship between religion and culture.  The problems of our modern culture are essentially spiritual and it is the business of religion to remedy spiritual problems.  The dominant religion of the United States, Protestantism, has provided the seeds for our “advanced state of decadence,” along with the rationalism of the Enlightenment.  The twin epistemological solas of Sola Scriptura (Protestantism) and Sola Ratio (Enlightenment) are the defining epistemological elements of modern Western culture.  This recipe has proven itself to be a moral disaster, as Alasdair MacIntyre illustrates in After Virtue.  The historical aspects of this moral disaster and outlined in Brad S. Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society.  It should be no surprise that our culture today is incapable of imparting a vision of the good life because there is no basis for agreement on what that good life should be.  The disaster has been centuries in the making.  We need to start repairing the damage now.

 

  • The fullness of truth about Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.  I embraced the fullness of Catholic faith and truth as a 23 year old college student, fully aware of the previous three points of the Credo.  Many of our modern Christian cultures, including that of the United States, are founded on partial and often erroneous elements of Christianity.  The Church’s authority, tradition, and sacramental life provide the necessary foundation for a renewed Christian and fully human life.

 

  • The monastic tradition provides a necessary antidote to the scattered and frantic pace of modern life.  I had the tremendous blessing of encountering the lived monastic tradition among the Benedictine monks at St. Martin’s Abbey soon after being received into the Church.  I fell in love with the Liturgy of the Hours and monastic liturgy, with all of it’s deliberate slowness and ardent focus on God.  While other neophytes were cutting their teeth on the rosary, daily Mass, and other parish activities, I was soaking up the humane rhythms of monastic liturgy at the Liturgy of the Hours and daily Mass at the monastery.

 

  • Contemplative Prayer is a powerful force for change.  Deeply traditional spiritual practices of Lectio Divina and Contemplative Prayer are being adopted by people outside of monastic enclosures more and more every day.  There is an inherently contemplative dimension to the Gospel, the liturgy, and authentic discipleship that has long been neglected.  The Second Vatican Council sought to revive this contemplative essence of the Faith and we still have a long way to go.

 

  • Asceticism–especially fasting–is essential for a contemplative renewal.  Fasting has almost disappeared from many areas of the Church today.  A renewed sense of fasting is needed to counteract our decadent culture.  Reviving a healthy practice of fasting, based on centuries of precedent and practice, as well as incorporating modern insights into nutrition and lifestyle will also be key.  This renewal should take place on the traditional fasting days of Wednesdays and Fridays along with fasting in advance of the Eucharistic liturgy.  “Deny yourself, take up your cross–and follow!”

 

  • The family as Domestic Church is a foundational element to renewing our culture.  Parents are the primary teachers of the Faith to their children–not parishes, schools, or religious education programs.  The Sacrament of Marriage is the foundation of the Domestic Church.  Married couples need to be well formed for their profound sacramental vocation, just as priests and religious are well formed for their chosen vocations.  Once married, couples need ongoing formation as their marriage grows into a family and to meet the eventual challenges every marriage faces.  Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body provides a comprehensive modern theological foundation for married life.  The Benedictine vows of stability, obedience, and “conversion of life” perfectly compliment and deepen the vows married couples make to one another.
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