I’ve written a lot in this space about how much I love the Benedictine monks of Norcia, who have created a fastness of light, beauty, and grace in the Umbrian mountains, over the childhood home of Saints Benedict and Scholastica. What they are doing in their monastery is spiritual and cultural work that is vital to all of us. I’m sure of it. Making a pilgrimage last fall to Norcia to pray where St. Benedict lives, and where the traditional Latin liturgy is chanted, was one of the highlights of my life. Here is the monastery website, where you can learn more about them, including their first-ever album of chant. They also do something there that’s unusual for Benedictines in Italy: they brew beer!
Well, I’ve learned that next month, on October 7, there will be an event in New York City to raise funds for the Norcia monastery. The speaker will be Ross Douthat, whose talk is titled, Religion and the Fate of the West: Being Catholic in a Secular Age. Father Cassian Folsom, the prior of the Norcia monastery, will also be there; he’ll be talking about the work of the monastery and its role in restoring Christianity. Fr. Cassian is bringing with him some of the delicious beer he and his men brew.
I wish it were possible for me to be there. I know, like, and respect both men very much. I am not overstating things when I say that I think of them and their work as important to the future of Christianity in the West. The idea of Ross and Fr. Cassian meeting delights me. The idea of both of them speaking at the same venue about the faith, culture, and living it out in the post-Christian West is really about as good and evening of thinking and fellowship as this Benedict Opter can imagine.
And I don’t overstate things when I say that Birra Nursia is very good stuff. The commercial clip at the top of this post gives you a brief view of what life is like in the monastery, and also at its tiny brewery. I’ve been to both places, and let me tell you, it’s graced, all of it.
If you are a Christian who lives in or around New York City, I exhort you to buy an advance ticket and go hear Fr. Cassian and Ross talk. Tickets aren’t cheap, but the money is for a good cause — that precious monastery — and I can all but guarantee it will be worth it. I especially urge any young Catholic men who think they might have a vocation to the monastic life to go listen to and meet Fr. Cassian. It could change your life.