Over at the Weekly Standard, Christopher Levenick picks up the world like a snow globe, and turns it thoughtfully in his crabbed hands:
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.I'm not sure how the bit about "moribund militaries" would fit into this equation, even if it were strictly true.
But never mind about that. Levenick is here to tell you that reports of Europe's demise are possibly premature, because - and I wish I could draw out this moment of sweet suspense indefinitely - Italians have a new interest in monasticism!
[E]ven more pregnant with possible significance is Italy's sudden surge in new monastic vocations. A recent conference organized by the Vicariate of Rome and the Unione Superiore Maggiori D'Italia revealed that in the last year, no fewer than 550 women entered cloistered convents--up from 350 two years earlier.A mass movement, indeed. And really, what better cure could there be for moribund militaries and plummeting birthrates than a modest rise in the population of nunneries?
Italy's spike in new monastic vocations may be nothing more than a statistical outlier. But nobody should be altogether dismayed if in fact it foreshadows something deeper. Monasticism seems to prosper in moments of great tumult and confusion. One may fear with Gibbon that its revival suggests another long, dark night of the European soul. One may, of course, equally hope with Benedict that its resurgence portends for the continent a new and glorious dawn.Is that forthright enough for you? "Nobody should be altogether dismayed" if monasticism turns out to be "something deeper" than a "statistical outler"...like, for instance, "another long, dark night of the European soul."
Or, to put it another way: Splunge.