Today’s number of the New York Times in the Media and Advertising section there is a story about the Benedictine Abbey at Portsmouth, RI, which is, essentially, aging to death. I have a sincere hope they can turn the place around.
They are few and they are old and they have no vocations.
12 monks. 5 over 80. The youngest, 50.
They are working on strategies to bring some attention and interest to the abbey.
The article focuses on the gimmicky things, such as a mention of having “taken to the Internet with an elaborate ad campaign featuring videos, a blog and even a Gregorian chant ringtone.” Of course the NYT is going to focus on the techniques more than the content, as if the “medium is the message”.
Great. That is interesting. But it is not the essential thing that will bring in young people.
How about this for an idea.
Of course a new generation of men will use the new tools out there.
Switch back to Latin worship and the Extraordinary Form and then start admitting postulants to train in the old style of Benedictine monastic life.
The monasteries which do this have more vocations than they have room.
Give young men something more than the mere challenge of having to live without a car, or to go along to get along.
And to any young men out there. Form a group and apply to be novices. The monks there are not young.
You’ll have the whole shooting match in no time.
I sincerely hope the monks at Portsmouth can turn the numbers around. We don’t know everything they are doing from that one article. But I suspect they are not going to accomplish their goals with the same ol’ same ol. Let it be the real ol, the new ol’, the tested and true ol’.