April 2, 2006


What We Owe the Monks (Thomas E. Woods, Jr., May 25, 2005, LewRockwell.com)

When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took the name Benedict XVI in late April, observers immediately speculated as to what it meant. Papal names often carry great significance. The name John Paul, for example, indicated a profound sympathy with the pontificates of John XXIII and Paul VI, the popes of Vatican II. Although Benedict XVI has pointed to his desire to carry on the legacy of Pope Benedict XV (1914-22) as a primary reason behind the name, his choice of Benedict naturally calls to mind St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-547), by far the most important figure in the history of Western monasticism. Some have said that just as St. Benedict and his monks rescued Europe during a time of general collapse, Pope Benedict hopes to rejuvenate a Europe adrift from its moorings, overcome by relativism, and unwilling even to reproduce itself.

Although many people know that St. Benedict’s monks were responsible for preserving much of the literature of the ancient world, that is where their knowledge of the subject ends. But the more familiar we are with the monastic tradition and its essential if largely unknown contributions to the West, the easier it is to understand why St. Benedict has vied with Charlemagne for the title of Father of Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2006 12:01 AM

Revived monasticism as a cure for Europe's falling birth rates? That sounds like something the Vatican would come up with.

Posted by: Mörkö at April 2, 2006 11:00 AM

oj, speaking of more than we can ever repay, could you do a post on this story (Drudge is running the first link to a sickening story... it immediately reminded me of someone the reporter astonishingly does not mention by name and I found the second link):




Thanks, OJ. Mike's dad needs it.

Posted by: Rick Davis at April 2, 2006 12:42 PM

In the Middle Ages, when monasticism was at its height, European birth rates were in pretty good shape, and the population grew steadily on the whole, century after century, in spite of catastrophes beyond human control.

Posted by: Lisa at April 3, 2006 11:15 AM


Thanks for posting this, I would've commented earlier but I spent last week moving and my access to a computer is spotty.

The Benedictines are heroes.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 4, 2006 8:26 PM