Hello all, I’ve just arrived in Bologna for tonight’s event here. I am scrambling to approve comments and post a few blogs before heading off. I just saw this from Reader MarkVA:

It is truly wonderful how God has arranged the chessboard so far:

(a) Admid the crisis in the Catholic Church in America and elsewhere, one thing that stands out crystal clear is that we, the laity, must take the initiative to preserve the Faith. For the time being our clergy is mired in ambiguity, suspicion, and investigations, and as a group not good for much other than the sacraments. We can keep the pressure up, but only they can sort themselves out;

(b) At about the same time, Mr. Rod Dreher has provided a strong and practical blueprint for us, the Catholic laity, on how to survive the general crisis of Faith, and rebuild it from its present ruin. It is a time tested, historically well grounded, and rigorously articulated argument that follows St. Benedict’s thoughts and actions, who himself followed the Holy Spirit;

(c) We now also have an implicit, but robust, Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat for The Benedict Option from a close associate of pope emeritus, Benedict XVI. This is as much as we could have hoped for!

In my view, these three things complete this circle. From now on we must begin the actual building of the Benedict Option communities – the planning phase is drawing to a close;

The position of the local clergy on this is auxiliary at best. We can start by extending the bonds of friendship and solidarity to an ever widening circle in our church – and go from there. At last we can meet a few times a month, bring food, and get to know one another.

This is exciting! I have talked on and off for over a year about the need for a Benedict Option website as a central clearing house for people interested in the Ben Op — ways for them to meet each other, to share resources, etc. But it costs money, and it would require time to administer it — neither of which I have.

Still, we have to get going, somehow. Thoughts?

I strongly encourage you to buy Leah Libresco’s great new book, Building The Benedict Option, which is full of practical advice. If you live in or near New York City, Leah is going to be presenting the book at a First Things event on Thursday September 13, 7pm, at the magazine’s offices. To listen to and be around Leah is really inspiring. Don’t miss this.

Archbishop Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s longtime secretary, said that The Benedict Option comforts him amid the Church’s  crisis, and inspires him. Read his remarks here. Judging by his extensive comments, that’s because the book acknowledges the depths of the crisis, and offers reasons for real hope (versus shallow optimism). Please don’t sit around and wait for the institutional Church to get its act together, or wait to be told what to do by your pastor (this is true for all Christians, not just Catholics). Gänswein said that “the hour of the sovereign laity has struck” — meaning that it’s time for the faithful laity to lead the Church out of this dark wood.

Let’s do it! I’ll be spending this coming Sunday with some young Italian families near Milan who are trying to do just that. I’ll report back.