Currently slogging through my 2013 backlog. Happy New Year by the way.
I didn't read this excellent piece by Erika Rudzis when Keith blogged it almost a month ago. It's a good summary of what is wrong with the so-called Benedict Option. It might be an essay responding to a comment Kathleen once made: "The Benedict Option is neither Benedictine nor an option. Discuss."
Reading the whole thing doesn't take long. She points out many problems with Bunker Christianity from a Catholic point of view and quotes Pope John Paul II on the mission of lay people in the world. She also writes this, something I can imagine our current Pope stating and definitely agreeing with:
Bunker-Christianity is ironically un-Christian because it’s unloving. It reflects a lack of interest in the salvation of those outside our safe faithful communities. Love of God has to extend to love of neighbor, which means desiring and working for our neighbor’s salvation. I’ve heard it said that the desire to evangelize is an indicator of a strong personal faith — the degree to which we love God, we must desire to share that goodness with others. But if we lock ourselves away from those who need to hear about the faith the most, we make ourselves incapable of laboring for the salvation of others as is appropriate to the vocation of a lay person.
God so loved the world, so we should, too. That doesn't mean we love the sin and disorder in the world. The founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva, points out that wanting to make the world into a cloister is itself a disorder. I always go back to the good ol' Letter to Digonetus to show how it has always been seen by true Christians way back in the days of AD 130. Here are a few excerpts:
Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
Wow, they eat the same kind of food as everyone else. Amazing. Who would have thought that?
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
It's actually very simple, although, of course, it is far from easy. So let's not complicate it. If you are called to be a monk, take a vow of silence. And if you are called to live a life of a regular Christian, don't build a church in your backyard.