You can run but you cannot hide

The Carthusians, an eremitic order a few decades short of their one thousandth year, provide a model for retirement from the world. They do not proselytize; they do not mess with the world at all, except by prayer. They don’t beg for money; they refuse even to make cause for any of their own suspected saints; only others may speak for them. In the descent through the centuries from St Bruno of Cologne, they have consistently minded their own business, stayed clean of politics, and got on with their tasks in daily work and worship. Only a few hundred remain, in a couple dozen Charterhouses around the world; yet they shrink and grow unaccountably.

Well, short of death, no complete disengagement is possible. The Nazis massacred them because they were sheltering Jews, and a few Communists, too. (There is a good book on this, La Strage di Farneta, “The Farneta Massacre,” by the Italian journalist Luigi Accattoli, compiled from the extensive materials Pope St John Paul II was assembling on the martyrs of the twentieth century.) After the war, Carthusian survivors were compelled to publicize that their sanctuary was disinterested. The fact that Communists had come to them for shelter in no way implied sympathy for their cause.

Indeed, they had been massacred by the Republicans and Communists during the Spanish Civil War.

They were massacred during the French Revolution.

They were massacred during the sixteenth-century Dutch Revolt against Spanish Catholic rule.

They were massacred during the English Reformation after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

They were massacred during the Hussite Revolution in fifteenth-century Bohemia.

And so on. I mention these things not to jerk tears, but to make a point confirmed through history. If gentle reader thinks he may retreat to a place where the world will not follow him, he may think again. The very act of retirement to prayer is an excitement to the devil, and murderous mobs of nominalists, enlighteners, liberals, progressives, and others inspired by Satan, have been with us since time out of mind. Do not assume that you are safe in South Dakota, or wherever else the Latin Mass is sung.

Holiness, more largely, is an incitement to the demonic forces, as Christ not only taught, but demonstrated. It is a grave theological error to present Him as naïve. One is safer in this world to avoid holiness, if you are capable of believing that Hell does not exist. How Christ will save you, when you have done no good, I leave up to Him; for it is beyond my imagination.

It happens that my Joint Chief Washington Correspondent has forwarded a brilliant short piece by Dr James Patrick, in which he advances the “Newman Option” for Catholic life in these difficult times. (See here.) As it states realities in a learned, elegant, and very concise way, I shall merely endorse it. Moreover, it appears to be a tract for what I might describe as Christian Idleness.

There is a place for political works, to my mind, including especially works of self-defence when something can be accomplished by them. But these are transient acts. In any longer scheme, and even in the shorter, God and not man is the author of Salvation.


I have received a protest from a South Dakotan, who writes:

“The home of the B-1 Bomber, one of the more desirable nuke targets, is in a big, open field that I look out on from my picnic table. … People call their neighbours in downtown Rapid City when a cougar is walking down the boulevard. (No, not that kind of cougar.) … Children are minced up with farm equipment, though never for profit, unlike other places in the USA. … South Dakotans do not imagine that they are safe; they are simply intent upon preserving what they love. In the case of the Latin Mass, they built their own chapels, flew in priests and bishops for Sacraments, and stared down more than one Novus Ordo bishop. … South Dakotans can cut their own trees and build their own churches. They can spin and weave their own vestments and altar cloths, take their own wheat and grapes and make hosts and wine. … Some of their children become priests and monks and nuns. Others become scientists and teachers who know what creation means and what salvation requires, and pass that information along intact to the next generation. … By the way, Mr Warren, we also write and bite.”

But, but, I reply, I do not say that South Dakotans have illusions about the safety of South Dakota. Rather, beleaguered Catholics of the Eastern Seaboard have the illusion that they’d be safe in South Dakota, and I would edify them.