No one can be so optimistic as to believe that the ideal of a Christian state is going to spread throughout the world in the near future, apart from the extraordinary intervention of Divine Providence. Yet, that should not prevent Catholics from proclaiming unhesitatingly the absolute necessity of a return to Christ on the part of governments as well as individuals, if there is to be any lasting peace in the world. . . . We must not compromise with the spirit of the times so far as to admit that the state is bound only by the natural law. We must unhesitatingly proclaim that the state cannot attain its destiny, save through Christ the King, even though that destiny is temporal, not eternal happiness.
– Fr. Francis J. Connell, C.S.S.R., “Christ the King of Civil Rulers,” American Ecclesiastical Review
This “option,” which is rather a restatement of uncontested Catholic social doctrine, is not the “Benedict Option.” Nor for that matter is it suggesting complicity with an unholy regime in order to provide Christians some “breathing space” in a secular society which is not particularly interested in providing them with any. In a sense, Fr. Connell’s words reflect the mission of his order—Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris—to preach the truth of Christ as part of a larger effort to missionize souls at risk of losing their salvation. The call for Christians—Catholics, Orthodox, and otherwise—to form “intentional communities” separated from “the world” is, in effect, a call to abandon the Great Commission, and to let the world burn in its own lies. And yet that has never been what the Church has done. It certainly isn’t what we today are called to, as not only Fr. Connell makes clear, but social instruction of the Church as well. Just because our culture is corrupt does not mean it is beyond saving—but nothing good will come about unless we prepare to stand our ground with genuine Christian strength.
It’s important to remain clear that many of those who today are toying with “options” have their hearts in the right place. Those with families have an understandable desire to not watch their children apostatize. At the same time, however, they don’t want them to suffer a martyr’s death either. The problem of “modern living” is that has conditioned us to expect an easy way forward, even if we’re slightly out of step with the ways and means of liberal secularism. The very idea of sacrifice—true sacrifice in imitation of our Lord and the innumerable Saints who suffered for the Faith—has become an alien concept.
Sacrifice and suffering will go hand-in-hand if we are faithful to God’s Law. There will be no peace for us in these times if we openly remind those around us that Christ—Priest, Prophet, and King—is the only true fount of peace. The sword is what’s awaiting us, and there will be no escaping it in the ghetto.