Friday, January 22, 2016

Moynihan on the Renewal of Christian Humanism - and myself (offering an alternative)

Robert Moynihan proposes that the renewal of Europe (and the world) will come from a return to the spirituality and transcendent humanism of the Benedictine Cloister

The Renewal Begins...

The renewal of Europe will come from the tiny town of Norcia, Italy.

It will not come from a secular humanism which has lost all sense of, or belief in, the transcendent.

That "de-transcendentalized" humanism offered no consistent impediment to the rise of savage regimes which destroyed human dignity in what St. Pope John Paul II in 1990 called a "regression without precedent" in the 20th century.

And it is not offering a vision to the Europeans of today which will enable them to maintain their cultural and religious heritage -- from the Atlantic to the Urals (that is, including Russia).

The renewal of Europe and the West will come from a renewal of that Christian humanism which saved Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. That Christian humanism was incarnated in the life of the Rule of St. Benedict and in the lives of the Benedictine monks who for 1,000 years kept the light of learning burning in the West, through their profound love of the transcendent, all-holy God who had become visible in Christ.

And this renewal has already begun.

It has begun in Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict, at the exact geographical center of Italy -- the heart of Italy -- in one of the most beautiful of all the Italian hill towns.

It is a renewal which will restore faith in Europe, the West, and the world.

It is a renewal based on the fundamentals: prayer and work ("ora et labora," the motto of the Benedictine order).

It is a renewal based on the vision of the Patron Saint of Europe, St. Benedict of Nursia. (Nursia is the old Latin name for Norcia.)

Fittingly, on the very site where he was born, a Benedictine monastery has come back to life during the past 15 years. It is called The Monastery of St. Benedict of Norcia.

Here, the spirit of Benedict is alive again in the monks who bear his name.

It is a spirit that, just as in the Middle Ages, will give a soul to Europe, and from Europe, to the world.


   Rather, I believe that the renewal will come from America (not from Europe) beginning in the south and spreading to the north (and from there – globally), as the papacy for the Church now and in the future is from South America in the person of Francis.

 It is the thought of Alberto Methol Ferre, philosopher from Uruguay, and Bergoglio himself. The human existential incarnation of this renewal will not be monks living in the religious state with vows of poverty, chastity (celibacy) and obedience, but the Christian people themselves [not with celibacy but with matrimony] whose faith has formed culture. (By the way, if faith does not become culture, it is not faith). This faith was transported from Spain to South America, and in 500 years has formed a people with a cultural identity that continues to develop. It is a more powerful identity (though economically and technologically poorer) than the Anglo-Saxon culture of the north that has been weakened and vitiated in person and family by Pelagian and Gnostic  ideologies. North America is a diminished culture in that we understand “culture” to be the cultivation  of the human person. The North has been left with a savage, sad and lonely individualism with each turned to self and the relation to the other is competitive and ontologically accidentaI. The North has arms and legs to work; the South has head and heart to know and love. The latter comes from a lived faith forming a people. The successful economic and industrial development that has occurred in the North (and still rules the world) due to an unredeemed individualism and naïve Christian life, will wane, and is waning. Profit for self can never be the defining dynamic of a burgeoning humanism and culture since it contradicts the very meaning of the human person revealed in the God-man, Jesus Christ.

    But then, there is migration. The Latin comes north to advance professionally and runs the risk of contamination by northern individualism and selfishness and thus damage to his Christian culture of giftedness and family. But having a stronger culture qua culture because of an imbedded sense of Christ as the meaning of man, the Latin culture can – and does with appropriate formation– assimilate the truth of the working and competing individual and turn him into a working person for others (beginning with the family), and as such (the working person as opposed to profit) develop the true Christian/Catholic spirituality of becoming another Christ in the very exercise of secular work.

                Thus, as Italy and Spain were “originating” Churches  for all the other churches at the time of the Protestant Reformation (16th c.), and Germany and France were “originating” at the time of Vatican II (20th c.), now (21st c.) it will be the “Cono Sur” of South America who has cast off the Marxist dimension of the personalism of “Liberation Theology” and is positioned with this profound, discerning and contemplative pope, Francis, to reform the global culture after he reforms the Church herself into her pristine figure of “Communion” (having shed the monarchical trappings of the 16th – 20th centuries). The pope continues to be the pope, but as vice Christ, ruling from his knees and creating oneness” by washing the feet of the apostles.

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