What a joy it is to be here in the hills of Eastern Oklahoma (yes Oklahoma does have hills!) at Clear Creek monastery. I am here on a week’s retreat–not only enjoying my own time with God, but also leading the monks’ annual retreat.
I was once visiting Buckfast Abbey in England where the monks re-built a monastery on the ruins of a medieval foundation. When I commented on this the monk smiled and said, “We’re like weeds. We come back.”
The story of Clear Creek is remarkable, and I will blog further on it during my stay here, but for now suffice it to say that a group of very traditional Catholic Benedictine monks obtained some land here in Oklahoma and are building a monastery complete with a magnificent and austere Romanesque Abbey Church.
The community is blessed with about 50 monks–most of them below the age of 40. What a joy to see these young men working hard and praying hard! The other joyful thing about this place is that although all the rituals are according to the Extraordinary Form they are, of course, in full communion with the Holy See and there’s none of this conspiracy theory nonsense about the Ordinary Form of the Mass being invalid.
I wrote a few days ago about what to do while facing the present crisis in the church. I said, “What you can do is mind your own business.” This was taken out of context by one of the more obnoxious rad trad website editors to make it sound like Catholic should just shut up, pay, pray and obey.
The whole post said exactly the opposite. My point being that instead of complaining and becoming more bitter and blaming everyone else, that the right response was to do what you can with what you have where you are according to your own conscience and calling.
At the Catholic Herald UK Damian Thompson, for example, tweeted that it was his sacred duty as a Catholic journalist to continue writing about the crisis, exposing the hypocrisy and calling for accountability. Good. He is “minding his own business” and his business happens to be the exposure and comment on the church crisis in a public forum. This, however, is not everyone’s business.
Here at Clear Creek Monastery the young men are also “minding their own business” and their business is re-building a Catholic Culture through the establishment yet again of Benedictine monasticism. They are doing what they can with what they have where they are.
My friend Rod Dreher has outlined this for a wider audience in his excellent book The Benedict Option. He basically says all of us during this time of crisis in the church and society must do what we can with what we have where we are. We are all called to be faithful in prayer, service, teaching, reading and work.
If we are unhappy with the prelates and priests, and part of our calling is to express that dis satisfaction and take action, then we should do so not with pride and bitterness and self righteousness, but with confidence, charity, faith, hope and a dash of common sense and a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.
Praise God for Clear Creek and the quiet renewal of our religious orders. Young men and ladies, do you want to make a difference and live a life for God that changes you and changes the world?
Think seriously about responding to God’s call to join one of the resurgent, conservative religious orders. If you want some suggestions. Drop me a line!