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Cardinal Sarah’s Benedict Option

The Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah has released a new book, titled The Day Is Now Far Spent. He gave an interview to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, in which he said some very Benedict Option things. Excerpts:

The title [of the Cardinal’s new book] is dark, but it is realistic.Truly we see the whole of Western civilization crumbling. In 1978, the philosopher John Senior published the book The Death of Christian Culture. Like the Romans of the fourth century, we see the barbarians take power. But this time, the barbarians are not coming from outside to attack the cities. The barbarians are inside. They are those individuals who refuse their own human nature, who are ashamed to be limited creatures, who want to think of themselves as demiurges without fathers and without heritage. That’s the real barbarity. On the contrary, civilized man is proud and happy to be an heir.

We convinced our contemporaries that in order to be free, we must not depend on anyone. This is a tragic mistake. Westerners are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of the person. However, civilized man is fundamentally an heir; he receives a history, a religion, a language, a culture, a name, a family.

Refusing to join a network of dependency, inheritance and filiation condemns us to enter the naked jungle of competition from a self-sufficient economy. Because he refuses to accept himself as an heir, man condemns himself to the hell of liberal globalization, where individual interests clash without any other law than that of profit at all costs.

However, the title of my book also contains the light of hope because it is taken from the petition of the disciples of Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke: “Stay with us, Lord, for it is nearly evening” (24:29). We know that Jesus will eventually manifest himself.

Our first reason for hope is therefore God himself. He will never abandon us! We firmly believe in his promise. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Holy Catholic Church. She will always be the Ark of Salvation. There will always be enough light for the one who seeks the truth with a pure heart.

Even as everything seems to be in the process of being destroyed, we see the luminous seeds of rebirth emerging. I would like to mention the hidden saints who carry the Church, in particular, the faithful religious who put God at the center of their lives every day. Monasteries are islands of hope. It seems that the vitality of the Church has taken refuge there, as if they were oases in the middle of the desert — but also, Catholic families who concretely live the Gospel of life, while the world scorns them.

Christian parents are the hidden heroes of our time, the martyrs of our century. Finally, I want to pay tribute to so many faithful and anonymous priests who have made the sacrifice at the altar the center and meaning of their lives. By offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily with reverence and love, they carry the Church without knowing it.


The West was at the root of the crisis. It is up to it to implement the antidote. To do this, we must start from the experience of the monasteries. They are places where God is simply and concretely at the center of life. God is the Life of man’s life. Without God, man resembles a huge and majestic river that would have cut itself off from its source. Sooner or later, this river will dry up and die permanently.

We must create places where virtues can flourish. It is time to regain the courage of non-conformism. Christians must have the strength to form oases where the air is breathable, where, quite simply, Christian life is possible.

I call on Christians to open oases of gratuitousness in the desert of triumphant profitability. Yes, you cannot be alone in the desert of society without God. A Christian who remains alone is a Christian in danger. He will eventually be devoured by the sharks of the trading society.

Christians must gather in communities around their churches. They must rediscover the vital importance of an intense, continuous and persevering life of prayer. A man who does not pray looks like a seriously ill man who suffers from total paralysis of the arms, legs, and has lost the use of speech, hearing, sight. … This man is cut off from all essential relationships. He is a dead man. To renew our relationship with God is to breathe, to live fully.

We must create places where the heart and mind can breathe, where the soul can turn to God in a very concrete way. Our communities must put God at the center of our lives, our liturgies and our churches.

In the avalanche of lies, one must be able to find places where the truth is not only explained but experienced. It is simply a question of living the Gospel! Not to think of it as a utopia, but to experience it in a concrete way.

Read the whole thing.

If you’re in the Boston area, come out to hear me and some other Christians discuss the Benedict Option on Saturday at the Festival of Faith at St. Paul’s, Brockton. More information, including registration information, is here.

And, if you haven’t yet, please buy my book, The Benedict Option. With each passing season, it’s becoming a more vital guide to understanding our times, and what we Christians should do.

I would like to mention today, as an aside (but a related one), that today is the 75th birthday of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. He will be submitting his resignation letter to the Vatican, as canon law requires of all bishops upon reaching this milestone. I congratulate him on his birthday, though I regret that he will now be moving into retirement. Pope Francis doesn’t have to accept his resignation, but given Chaput’s conservatism, there’s no doubt that the pontiff will. It says something about the politics of the Catholic Church now that Chaput is retiring from a traditionally cardinatial see without a red hat. I hope that when he does at last leave office — the Philly-based Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo says that the new archbishop will be named around the first of 2020 — that Archbishop Chaput continues to speak out on issues of concern to the Church and the world.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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