Friday, September 7, 2018

The West That Could Have Been, Part 1: A Monastic Foundation

Since the West began to abandon the Orthodox Faith in the ninth hundredyear under Charlemagne, the sundering from which became official in 1054, her life has been very troubled:  war after war, brutal colonialism, mammon-worship, loss of Christian faith and cultural identity, and so on.  But repentance for the West is always possible, and along with it, the restoration of a truly Christian society. 

What we would like to do in the coming days is to look back at some of the key elements of Western society prior to her abandonment of the Orthodox Faith, to see what the First Europe was built from and how that differs from the Second Europe, post-Schism Europe.  If these elements are restored in the West, we may expect, through His mercy, the blessing of God and the spiritual renewal of her peoples.  Here, then, is the first of those foundational elements:  monasticism.

The simple fishermen [i.e., the Holy Apostles--W.G.] converted the philosophers and senators of the Empire, but after the fall of the Empire in the West, there was no such civilized enclosure in which the Word could be spread.  A whole new approach was needed, one that both preserved the teachings of the Faith and yet could physically bind together a society which had no real root of its own, no image to strive for that was higher than the temporal glory of warrior-kings and the dead idols they served.  This new approach was missionary monasticism, which found its inspiration in the Egyptian desert but was adapted to the opposite extremes of the frigid north.  Monastic centers in Ireland, especially, were to have an enormous influence on Christian civilization on the European continent.  The raw material of this missionary activity was individual ascetic sacrifice which was so attractive that it drew the best and the brightest into the wilderness.  The basic pattern was straightforward:  after a period of temptation, struggle and absorbing the deep ascetic principles of other-worldliness, these individuals would in turn depart into distant lands to risk life and limb in proclaiming the Gospel amongst the various and often violent pagan peoples of Northern Europe.  These ascetics, both men and women, not only gave Christianity to a warrior race by preaching and giving their blood in martyrdom, but they also gave the high ideals and learning needed to channel primitive passions into a burning selflessness in the service of Christ which was capable of preserving for later generations the whole of Apostolic teaching.

--Thomas J. Hulbert, Saint Herman Calendar 2000: Saints of the Low Countries, Platina, Cal., p. 2


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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