Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry believes his fellow Louisianans need high school football to comfort them in their afflictions. He said, ‘We need some enjoyment and kids need something to do. Sports is a language that speaks to the young in ways that we can’t.’
--Kevin Barnhart, https://louisianaradionetwork.com/2020/09/01/13242/
Is this really what it has come to in post-Christian, COVID-obsessed Louisiana: If we can’t be entertained by teenage athletes, our society will crumble?
Dear friends, there are much better supports for Louisianans than high school sports. As we emerge from the material and ghostly carnage caused by a destructive hurricane and the unnecessary COVID lockdown, we need to rebuild on a solid foundation, which should exclude the exploitation of our youth.
(There is nothing inherently wrong with sports, but we need to play them for the right reasons. Making them a balm to heal the soul of Louisiana is not one of those reasons.)
When looking back through Christian history (including Louisiana’s), we will notice that one of the key foundation stones in Christian countries is monasticism. A group of Ursuline nuns became part of New Orleans’s life in 1726 and has remained there ever since:
However, despite this early presence, monasticism has never put down deep roots in Louisiana. And this has been much to our misfortune. For it is precisely the monks and nuns who show us how to live a truly Christian life, one dedicated entirely to the life in Christ. Likewise, monasteries give the young and the old the very best way to ‘pass the time’ - in the worship and contemplation of God. Former Bishop Jonah, in explaining the benefits of the monastery he is trying to build in Virginia, put it this way:
‘The Monastery will be of great benefit to the ministry of the regional parishes, an encouragement to the faithful in their spiritual lives. The Monastery will be a place where people can come and experience a much fuller experience of Orthodox worship, come for spiritual direction and confession, and come to change their lives. In particular, the Monastery will offer lectures and seminars on spiritual life, and provide a context for people to immerse themselves in lived spirituality. Most importantly, it will provide a context for young men to receive direction in their lives, work out their repentance, and find the healing of their souls through time spent in the monastic discipline, whether they stay for a week or their whole lives.’
As Louisiana and the rest of the South confront the decline of Christianity and the rise of demonic substitutes (violent political protests, various cults, etc.) the priest-monk Father Aidan Keller in his Pocket Church History reminds us of the indispensable role monasticism played in bringing violent, heathen Europeans into the Orthodox Church:
‘Evangelism at this time [7th-8th centuries] was conducted mainly by monks, and their principles were very sound and are relevant today. They would found a monastery in a lonely place, away from human habitation in a pagan area. Some among them might preach to the people, but only if they had a special gift for this. The other brethren would simply live their Gospel lifestyle to the fullest. With the passage of time, the local inhabitants would discover the true nature of the Christians' lives, and when they liked what they saw, they would be near to Baptism. The compunction and orderly beauty of the church services also warmed the hearts of these peoples, and served to convert them as much as any conversation or reasoning.’
Louisiana can live without high school sports, but not without monasteries. As we rebuild, if we want a Christian Louisiana, we need to found as many as we can, remembering the example set by Louisiana’s illustrious Patron Saint, Martin of Tours (+397), who played a vital part in establishing the monasticism of the African Desert Fathers in France. May he bless our efforts with his holy prayers!
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!