Saturday, April 08, 2006

"What the increase of monastic vocations in Italy could mean for European secularism"

See this article from The Weekly Standard.
IT IS BY NOW a commonplace that the state of Europe hovers between dire and grave. Sclerotic economies, plummeting birthrates, and moribund militaries all appear symptomatic of imminent collapse. Exacerbating its condition is the widespread decline of the continent's ancestral faith. Europe, it seems, has lost its faith, and with it, its will to live. But lest early drafts of the continent's obituary prove premature, it is worth noting the occasional indication of European renewal.

Italy, for instance, is often viewed as a case study in secularization. Yet across the peninsula, weekly attendance at Catholic Mass has been steadily climbing for two decades. In 1980, roughly 35 percent of Italians regularly attended the Mass; by 2000 that figure had climbed to nearly 50 percent.

But even more pregnant with possible significance is Italy's sudden surge in new monastic vocations.
The world hates monastics, who flee the world in order to save it. Monasteries have historically been the object of attack: from the Iconoclasts, Henry VIII, the Reformation, the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, the Nazis, and the Sexual Revolution.

Ironically for the secularists, European ascendency has historically followed strong monasticism, from the 5th century through the 19th. It appears that the 21st century will see a new flowering of the monasteries, and perhaps Europe will pull out of its current slump.

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