A “Benedict Option” would undermine clericalism in a positive and creative way. There would be natural renewal of worship, religious education and service based on the needs of the local community rather than top down “good ideas” by diocesan bureaucrats.
What might a “Benedict Option” parish look like? The pastor and people would decide priorities based on the immediate needs of the parish members. As hostility grows from those outside the Church, relationships of trust would be developed within the family and parish. If an aggressive secular agenda is promoted in public schools, the parish school and religious education program will become a main priority. As classical education disappears, the parish school will become a repository for the ancient learning. As such, a “Benedict Option” parish would see itself as countering, rather than accommodating, the surrounding culture. Such a community would be distinctive, clear in its purposes and principles — even odd. Members might be distrusted by those outside the community — including other Catholics who have compromised with the prevailing culture.
Is the Benedict Option the way of the future? I believe it is already here. Even now we are seeing a separation evolving in the Catholic Church in the United States. Large numbers of Catholics are already more American than Catholic. They see no problem with divorced and re-married couples coming to Communion, they accept same-sex “marriage” and want the Church to “get with the times” over many other issues.
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