You might have heard of the big fundraising dinner the Benedictine Monks of Norcia are going to have in Dallas on May 27. Father Cassian, Father Benedict, and Father Martin are all coming in from Norcia to meet American supporters and appeal to them for help in restoring the monastery and the basilica there, which were destroyed by the earthquake last October. I’m going to give the keynote address. It is a great honor for me, and the very least I can do to repay the kindness of the Norcia monks. Plus, I have written The Benedict Option to tell the world what a priceless treasure the entire church has in that little monastic community high in the Sibylline Mountains of Italy. To meet them face to face in Dallas, and to give to the restoration of their monastery and basilica, is a rare privilege. I mean that. That’s why I’m donating my time and words to the building-up of the Norcia monastery, which I, though not a Catholic, deeply believe is a light for the entire Christian world, not just the Catholic one.
And look at this! Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is giving his support to the event. From a letter the Norcia monks have now released:
In the six months since the first devastating earthquake hit central Italy, the monks of Norcia have lived in the forests of that region, first in tents, then in wooden houses, following their predecessors in their attempt to bring order back into the chaos of a ruined society.
The destruction of the thousand-year-old basilica built over St. Benedict’s birthplace is an icon of the end of an epoch. These monks now find themselves at a crossroads of European history.
It’s a moral and cultural crossroads we too have arrived at as Americans.
Against the odds, they must now rebuild from the ruins not just a buiIding, but a vision of the world where God is once again at the center, where the cross of Jesus Christ is the only answer to society’s crises. The needs of the monks are too many to list. But the duty (and the privilege) to engage in the work of rebuilding belongs to us all.
I consider it a great blessing for the monks of Norcia that Rod Dreher will offer the keynote address at their Dallas fundraiser this May. Rod’s new book, The Benedict Option, makes a vital contribution to our understanding of a confused age. Rod’s work in reclaiming the example of St. Benedict for our times — a form of witness that’s at once ancient and new — is a gift to all who take their faith seriously. The Benedict Option is not the only Christian approach to the issues of our day, but in its exceptional insight and sincere reach across Christian divisions, it can’t be ignored.
I urge you to consider meeting the monks at this venue and taking to heart Rod Dreher’s words. Though I can’t join you in Dallas because of pastoral demands here at home, this fundraiser is crucial to the monks of Norcia in their important efforts. Please be there to support them, and please be as generous as you can.
With best wishes in Jesus Christ,
Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
That means a lot to me. I’m proud to stand with Archbishop Chaput alongside the dear monks of Norcia. And let me urge you to buy the archbishop’s new book, Strangers In A Strange Land: Living The Catholic Faith In A Post-Christian World, which is essential reading for all Christians trying to understand the times, and how to be faithful in them.
Come out in Dallas for a night of hope and prayer, and participate in the rebuilding of the Benedictine monastery and basilica in Norcia. It will be one of the most important and life-affirming things you will do this year. Christian people, this is the time help our brothers in Norcia. Archbishop Chaput is doing his part. I’m trying to do mine. What about you? I really want to see you in Dallas in May. It’s important.