"Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call." - Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis)From the article:
...when the history of this part of the world is written, it may point to the recent establishment of a monastery amid the rolling hills and lakes of eastern Oklahoma as an event of momentous consequence for fostering a renaissance of Christian culture.
I asked Father Anderson whether the Clear Creek monks desired to rebuild civilization in America. He laughed and said that the Benedictines had “built Europe without even trying.”
“We focus on prayer,” he said. “We can only see the effects of our life indirectly like we see the ripples from a drop in a pond.”
According to Father Anderson, the work of the monks operates like concentric circles. Everything is centered on the interior life. But that has an effect on everything else, particularly the work of the monks. And the monastic way of life fosters a more contemplative way of being -- a life that explores the important questions and expresses itself through art, music festivals and literature -- that is, true culture.When I read comments like, "Everything is centered on the interior life," I cringe a bit because I sometimes wonder if I am picking up a whiff of 'new age' spirituality. But then Anderson went on to say, "But that has an effect on everything else, particularly the work of the monks." So when you read his whole message it merges well with what Pope Benedict XVI says in his encyclical on Christian Hope, that the Christian message of virtue is "not just 'informative' but 'performative.'" Informative not from a simple understanding of collecting bits of information, rather it refers to the shaping of a deep and abiding interiority. And performative is how we live - and we always live in the sight of God and in the sight of others*. (*I thank my friend Gil Bailie, in his Emmaus Road Initiative session #7, for this interpretation of 'informative' and 'performative'.)
As the author of the article prays that the fruit of this movement will foster a deeper Christian faith here in America, I hope we can find ways to support such efforts helping us to discern and act on our callings as persons of God.