As a young man, Benedict left his hometown of Nursia, journeying to Rome to continue his education. His time in Rome left him deeply troubled, the city apparently overcome by paganism and depravity. Eventually, Benedict simply tired of people. Seeking solitude and quite, he moved to a cave near Subiaco (about 30 miles east of Rome).
My one-year-old has lately begun to “color.” A supply of pencils, crayons, and paper sits ever-ready at his small table in the corner of the kitchen, and when he first wakes up, or whenever he finds a free moment in his little day, he hastens there to draw, with all seriousness, beautiful inscrutable lines and swirls and loops. So intent is he that I sometimes have a hard time tempting him away for the day’s other tasks; he ignores offers even of snacks or outside play; I have to lift him, wailing and wriggling, to carry on with things I deem more needful: mealtime, bath-time, bedtime.
The modern approach to discipline, as to most things, seeks an efficient, fail-proof, and above all, universally-adaptable approach.
St. Benedict's Rule advises abbots to seek counsel from the monks under their charge whenever important decisions have to be made. “As often as anything important is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call the whole community together and himself explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the brothers, let him ponder it and follow what he judges the wiser course” (RB, 3.1).
For part one of this dialogue please click here. This is part two. It’s been edited slightly for clarity and length.
According to Rod Dreher an end is nigh. A flood is coming in the form of a new secular Dark Age, “There are people alive today,” he writes in his new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, “who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.”
It is, probably, the most barbed of the criticisms leveled against the whole array of classical, Christian, and homeschooling endeavors. Yet it shoots forth from the secular media, the mainstream Christians, and our own self-doubts—the declaration that our homes and schools are too heavenly minded to accomplish any earthly good; that we have absconded from the essential work of evangelizing or redeeming culture; that our communities are merely “Christian ghettos,” as morally irresponsible as the monasteries of the Middle Ages.