Rorate Caeli

Appeal: Help keep the Roman Forum going

Many of our readers are aware of the critical work our friend, Dr. John Rao, and The Roman Forum  do every year on behalf of the Church and traditional Catholics everywhere. Their work is more important today than ever before, for obvious reasons.

The last time we implored you, our reader, to help, we helped raise over $10,000 to keep the Forum going. We are asking now once again. Please read below, and please click here to donate whatever you can.

The Roman Forum
11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C
New York, NY 10014
Dear Friends of the Roman Forum
Funds continue to be needed for Gardone because we have eleven scholarship candidates from among the eighty Summer Symposium participants--future seminarians, and students---none of whom has sufficient means for attending. Each of them needs $1,500 to be able to attend. Allow me to summarize why I think attendance is so important.

            1) I am firmly convinced that the teaching, liturgical, and general Catholic cultural experience that participation in our international Symposium provides is desperately needed in this unparalleled age of crisis in the Church. This is especially true given that our natural tendency under such crisis conditions is to get lost in endless and rather parochial “practical” activities that impractically neglect all too much: our most important gaps of knowledge; our recurring strategic failures in dealing with what are often quite repetitive problems; and our crucial personal needs as complex “soldiers of Christ” engaged in a frustrating war. This is why we often target the wrong enemies and issues, or deal even with the correct opponents and problems in hopelessly self-destructive ways, or-worse still---give up entirely and wait for "the end".

            2) I am firmly convinced that we all need a “bath” in the kind of full Catholic experience that the Summer Symposium provides. This reminds us that we are part of a body---the Mystical Body of Christ. We are not Protestant individualists. We are not meant to be disassociated atoms that come together merely through the aid of a computer. Unfortunately, however, we are almost all of us buried in a day-to-day environment in which our contact with one another is precisely of this isolated, machine-driven sort alone. This was not the environment of the Catholic Christendom of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, Giotto, and Dante. This was not the environment of the Catholic Christendom that produced the martyrs of the Vendée and those of the Cristeros. Christendom will never be rebuilt through the work of individualistic atoms lost in cyberspace alone.

            3) I had the personal good fortune to learn the way in which a full, communal experience can awaken a young soul to a passion for learning and fighting to win the world for Christ in almost five magnificent years at Oxford University in the 1970’s. My fraternal group inside the university at large consisted of an international community of rather disheartened and isolated “refugees”. We were all refugees from the religious and intellectual collapse of most institutes of higher learning in the Americas and Europe. We were refugees from the “carpet bombing” of everything traditional and beautiful within the academy conducted by the varied radicals of the 1960’s in our different countries. Oxford at the time still permitted us to cultivate our commitment to Faith and Reason. It did not force radical change upon us. Instead, we did the “forcing”. We forced the beauty and the traditions of an Oxford that was one of the most brilliant products of our Catholic past to do what it could for us: to shape us as a band of brothers who then worked to inspire one another as individuals; to give us everything it could give to a student of the Catholic Middle Ages. Only those who have gone through such an experience in such a splendid “time out of time” can fully relate what it means for making young men and women realize that they are not alone, and that all of nature is intended to provide them a kind of “magical” space that must propel them upwards, since “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights”. Those of us who had the good fortune to undergo that communal experience felt an intense obligation to pass it on to others; to work to fill the world with Catholic communities dedicated to transforming all things in Christ. Having gone through an isolated Catholic awakening first---and being still immensely grateful for it---I nevertheless know that the communal awakening was the infinitely more effective and lasting one.

The International Summer Symposium provides for many persons that same communal “time out of time”; that same fraternal, “magical space” that Oxford gave me. It forces the Catholic environment of Italy---whether that environment wants to aid us or not---gracefully to work to bring the young people participating in the program to the awareness that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights”. It inspires all of us who say mass, teach, and make music in Gardone Riviera to use this rare moment to reinvigorate our common practical commitment to transform the “real time” of our daily lives throughout the globe; to do so in the hope of saving the pitiful remnants of existing Catholic culture and laying the long-term basic intellectual and spiritual foundations for a new and even better Christendom.

My Oxford experience cost me the grand sum of $100 per year in American currency. Please help us to keep this kind of experience alive under the much more expensive and isolated conditions of our time with your tax-deductible donation for these scholarship candidates. And please remember the Roman Forum in your prayers in this year, the fiftieth since its foundation by the great Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) in defense of a Humanae vitae now once more under attack.
Long live Christ the King!
John C. Rao (D.Phil., Oxford)
Chairman, Roman Forum; Associate Professor of History, St. John's University