Jul 14, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

I began reading your Substack articles only yesterday and they are some of the most honest pieces I have read. My own story is strange and mysterious.

I came back to the Catholic Church in 2017 after 40 years away because of a miracle:


Ever since then I have felt a great urge to join a convent but my state in life (married) prevents me from doing so. I realized after a lot of thinking and reading the lives of saints that everyone is called to live a sanctified life and a sanctified life doesn’t mean a life free of worries, troublesome neighbors or illness. There are saints who were kings and queens (St. Louis X, King of France and St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal), as well as soldiers (St. Martin of Tours). Many people think that retiring to a monastery is an escape from what’s bothering them, only to discover that what’s bothering them isn’t external, but internal, and now it’s with them in a tiny cell 24/7.

It’s possible to live in the world and not be OF the world, but one has to be very vigilant. That means no TV, spare use of social media and the Internet, daily examination of conscience, prayer and meditation, and spiritual reading. This is something a lay person can do in addition to fasting and alms giving. It’s nothing new and people who lived before the “age of progress” knew this.

Expand full comment

I’ve never spent any time at a monastery, but I wonder if some of the things you are experiencing there might have some applicability to people’s everyday lives, for instance the structure and rhythms of the monastic pattern of life. I don’t know if that might be something you were considering for a future article. I recall Rod Dreher has a chapter on this in the Benedict Option (based on his visit to the Norcia monastery). In my own life, and that of my family, trying to maintain a sense of unity through a common rhythm of activities and focus has been important, and a stabilizing force against the constant sloshing of liquid modernity, which seems intent on keeping everybody off balance. But it’s a never-ending effort to maintain even the simplest common structures, like mealtimes, prayer, etc.

Expand full comment
Jul 13, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

Hi Jack, I appreciate the invitation to this conversation, thank you. I have a baseline stress, uneasiness, humming along constantly on the back burner. I believe you are right about the dark times ahead.

I hope that it is not just a psychological problem and I hope that taking practical action may be the correct response to this anxiety. I love God and I'm ready to meet death, but being still here and alive and with children I want to live out a true response to these crises.

We've looked at a 200 acre farm in Maine and are thinking about taking this practical step. From time to time I think this is so crazy, to uproot our lives and get into a huge new project, based on our beliefs about society and world events. But it is something I would love to do anyway just for the beauty and joy of it. Of course, the physical move is only one small part. And where is the right place to move to? We have pretty much no idea about what it will be like there, though it looks rural and more authentic community. We don't have any clear leading about it but are praying and are wide open.

It is a big old farmhouse with lots of rooms and a huge kitchen.... maybe a place that can be a refuge and host those who need a place in the future.

One more thing. The other morning I read this sermon from my dear George MacDonald. It brings a wonderful, glorious perspective to our lives lived in dark times. If you can put up with the flowery language it is well worth reading:


Expand full comment
Jul 14, 2022·edited Jul 14, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

So Jack - are you in the monastery for good?

Funnily enough, I found myself last month visiting the monasteries of Romania - astonishing places. I was invited in one of them to give a talk about Orthodoxy and technology. I said much the same as you do here. The choice is between the Way - renunciation, askesis, love of created things - or the Machine.

I am just writing an essay touching on the same subjects. In doing so, I found this depressing link:


It makes me think that trying to frame a 'positive transhumanism' is a mistake. I know you're being rhetorical, but I would be careful with your terminology. You're right though that the transhumanist impulse is basically religious - it looks and sounds like a Christian heresy. All the more reason to oppose it.

I hope you are settling well into your new found place.

Expand full comment

I'm glad to hear all is well Jack and life at the monastery is suiting you.

You've got me pondering the idea of darkness and light and how without one the other cannot exisit; and perhaps that's where progress falls down? It is not natural to live in a way where darkness is denied its place as it is too a part of the whole.

I'm just coming out of the darkness of having covid, an experience that was hard but now I'm feeling grateful for the intelligence my body contains and for the kindness of my family and friends. Even my neighbours showed such kindness which really touched me. If covid hadn't visited us I wouldn't have seen this love.

I'd like to explore these ideas more but alas covid seems to have tired out my brain!....hopefully next time I can contribute something more.

Expand full comment
deletedJul 14, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy
Comment deleted
Expand full comment