Dear Andrew –

I don’t want to take much of your time, but feel compelled to respond to your email.  While much of what Dreher says is correct, he is wrong on a few key matters that make all the difference.  I too read his book.  

I believe it keeps you up at night.  It once kept me up at night.  Then, having discovered the true vision of how society can be transformed, it no longer does.  This is not my idea (my collaborators and me), but an ancient one that is proven, arguably responsible for the fastest spread of Christianity, and must be regenerated.  

Dreher’s intent with the Benedict Option lies in creating a separate society; a parallel society as you mentioned.  This is a mistake for a number of reasons.  The most significant is that it is not possible to isolate a community the way the first Benedictine Communities were isolated.  And in fact, even they were not completely isolated.  Their exceptional hospitality became known far and wide and travelers who were right concerned for their safety when it came to lodging, regularly stopped at Benedictine monasteries because they knew they would be treated like Christ.  Groups of Christians have tried to set up such communities, but within four or five years, for reasons Fr. Chad Ripperger has explained in one of his lectures, they fail.  

The solution is not to escape from this society, but to transform it by engaging with it in a powerful way that is IN this world, but not OF this world.  This approach was also done before by other Catholic monks; the Irish monks.  Not only can the Irish (i.e. specifically the Irish monks), lay a legitimate claim to having saved Western Civilization, it was the rule of life adopted by the families and ‘businessmen’ (i.e. craftsmen), that started businesses within the walls of those Irish monasteries, that engaged the surrounding towns and transformed them.  Those times were very similar to our own.  Extensive research has lead me to believe that it is THIS monastic lifestyle that inspired the birth of the Dominican and Franciscan Third Orders that took a completely secular run city (i.e. Florence, Italy) and transformed it into a Christian model; without ever ‘escaping’, as Dreher proposes.  

Please take a moment to review this simple one-page web presentation.  There are links at the bottom with additional information if you are intrigued by what you read and would like to know more.  You can email me here anytime.


Mark Wilson

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Charles Molineaux says:

    Mark W makes sense.  Too bad he closed with A M D G, currently an unhappy reference😞!

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

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