Below is an excerpt from The Fathers of the Church by Mike Aquilina. In it, he discusses the life of St. Benedict, who lived during Rome’s collapse. I just wanted to highlight the similarities between Rome and America:
- Advanced stage of moral and cultural decadence
- The desire among the population to ‘head for the hills’ as the empire falls. We see this today with the flight from American cities, the rise of preppers, prepping and off-grid living. People in Rome knew something was wrong, just as the people of America know it.
- In Rome, “Once the imperial government had vanished, what could take its place?” Mr. Aquilina says the Church took its place, through Pope St. Gregory I. The Church was perfectly suited for this because it “possessed laws, an educated hierarchy respected for fairness, and an impulse toward charitable works”. Let us hope that the same thing happens if and when America falls.
On Saint Benedict of NursiaFrom The Fathers of the Church, by Mike Aquilina
He studied in Rome, which was then at an advanced stage of moral and cultural decadence. In short order, Benedict grew disgusted with life. With a a trusted servant, he headed for the hills.
His flight was not so extraordinary. Amid the societal disorder following the empire’s dissolution, the contemplative life appeared oddly attractive to more men and women. It was more stable and secure, certainly, than life “in the world.” So, many took to the wilderness, some living in community, some in isolation. For a growing number, this “flight” was merely an escape from responsibilities and hardship. Some communities were little more than leisurely clubs, replete with servants to handle all manual work.
But, once the imperial government had vanished, what could take its place?
In a word: Gregory
With the breakdown of the Roman army and court system, the Church alone survived as a unified, multi-national force for order. The Church possessed laws, an educated hierarchy respected for fairness, and an impulse toward charitable works – what today we might call social justice.