A novel and unusual change of orientation

Ladies and gentlemen:

A protracted period of consideration on what my next step through life ought to be has led me to a conclusion that many might see as somewhat unusual. I’m a tutor and most of my clients are friends of mine who have asked me to instruct their homeschooled children. We’ve gotten to the point that I never even ask them for my regular rate any longer, and a sort of tacit agreement has emerged among us that all my extraordinary expenses can be covered upon the asking, the wages from my day job going towards my regular daily expenses. In the time, however, that these people have retained me, my functioned among them has grown merely from teaching the young into helping them with their strategic planning, into pastoral counselling, and the like. I’ve become somehow particularly trusted in religious matters, for the unusual situation that my friends, though not yet formally Catholic, are strongly TLM-preferent (as am I), and the diocese in which we reside is a dead zone, all the nearby pastors being quite hostile to anything resembling Catholic tradition. I know this is sad, but we skirt this by travelling into another diocese weekly. Needless to say, this situation is making it very difficult for them to enter the Church fully, but this is an issue I’m working on with a small group of like-minded Catholics.

Shut out from seminary for reasons unknown to me (but which I can probably guess rather accurately) and rather past the age that most religious institutes might want me (and never really having quite felt a draw toward most of them), I’ve been seeking consistently a means by which I might live a holier life. I’m unmarried, and, to be frank, don’t have much proclivity to marry, and I’ve rather fallen into a rather simple lifestyle, so I have that going in my favour. But now my friends and I are moving a little closer to a spontaneously emerging agreement according to which I would not renew my lease, sell off or donate most of my furniture, diminish my secular work to part time, and start working for them, moving from house to house as the need arises, in exchange for a place to lay my head, three squares a day, the necessaries for my paperwork, and extraordinary expenses such as auto repairs as needed.

It looks like this could be feasible within a months. My friends would of course gain the work I already do for them, of course on a more intimate level. More than that, though, I’d hope to be a more of a living witness to the Gospel, living a more ascetical, even quasi-religious life in their midst, and showing that, even despite the the hostility and obstinacy of the clergy and hierarchy we must deal with, Christ is still very much within our midst. I of course would gain something of a new orientation of being, retreating somewhat from a secular world that has never been very kind to me (nor is it really to anyone) in order to help develop souls and to help nurture a community that has spontaneously developed, going to bat consistently for a niche in the Church for the stable community 20 souls I’ll be working with, to profess the Gospel and to live according to the example of Christ more completely, and to work out my own salvation.

However this might fit into canon law, I’ve no idea, but that’s not a strong concern of mine as yet. I’ve not yet spoken to my spiritual director about this, though I plan to when next we visit. Moreover, the practicalities have to be worked out a little more completely. My question here thus will be somewhat open-ended. What would be your general impressions of such a thing based on the cursory information I’ve provided? Do you see any red flags that ought to be addressed before going forward with this? What sort of future might you see with this?

Thank you in advance for your replies.

With a strong sense of faith and purpose such as yours, perhaps it might be worthwhile to seek a more formal community of like minded people.

This sounds quite exciting. You would be living an unconventional life, but that is never a problem for people who seek God’s will and are open to living in a different way.

As for problems: would you be required to register with some government body, to get a licence to teach privately? That kind of thing.

I have been reading a lot about a so-called Benedict Option, about voluntary, strategic withdrawal from the mainstream in order for faithful communities to nurture the Christian faith in the increasingly hostile secular environment. What you describe reminds me of that.
Here is one of the articles of the journalist who proposes this idea: theamericanconservative.com/dreher/noah-the-benedict-option/

If there is some sort of license that I’m supposed to have, nobody let me know when I began doing this a number of years ago.

I’m glad you mention Dreher’s Benedict option, because that’s been a big impetus in my devising of my group’s situation. In many ways, it’s what becomes necessary in order to maintain the faith and pass it forward to a new generation and more broadly to those around us, but also culture and civilization as well. Many have argued that it amounts to a surrender of the field to the civil society, but I differ with that, seeing that the critics often seem to consider such ideas as an attempt to live as the Amish do, in closed and static communities, which is obviously not the case.

Much needs to be ironed out about the situation, but as of yet, response has been positive.

That, though, would mean abandoning the purpose in front of me, would it not? I’m sure there were plenty who asked Francis or Dominic why they didn’t just go to a nice, comfortable monastery…

Forgive me if I misunderstand your explanation, but it seems you will be ministering exclusively to non-Catholics. Will you have a chaplain or spiritual director to guide you in your endeavor? Will you be participating in the sacramental life of the Church (going to Mass, receiving the Eucharist, going to Confession)?

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