What Guardini is telling us is both much, much worse and much, much better that Dreher’s depiction of our situation. Worse, in the sense that although the Benedict Option is a crucial strategy for theists, it very well may not be possible. If Guardini is right, our situation is a gift, a priceless treasure, for God will give each of us who ask for it the grace to endure the darkness, barbarism, and loss of our customary sensible and cultural signs of God’s love and presence. And we will emerge from this purgation with our idols and crutches and safety nets broken and as useless as they always were. “We need to accept the provisionality of contingent means, in order that the Divine Absolute might all the more clearly reveal in them his power.” Thus we will be able to know and experience God as He is, to the fullest extent possible in this mortal coil, and be conduits for his inexorable Love which will conquer all and save all.
He goes on: “Loneliness in faith will be terrible. Love will disappear from the face of the public world, but the more precious will be that love that flows from one lonely person to another, involving a courage of the heart born from the immediacy of the love of God as it was made known in Christ. . . . Perhaps love will achieve an intimacy and harmony never known to this day.” In short, Guardini sees no real possibility for safe havens of Christian culture, and even if we could create and live in them, I interpret Guardini to mean that they would tend to stunt our spiritual growth by becoming halls of mirrors insulating us from the love we need to give—indeed to the lost ones of the world: “one lonely person to another.”
Romano Guardini was very prophetic, he wrote in the same The End of the Modern World, that “”With the denial of Christian Revelation genuine personality had disappeared from the human consciousness…..”When man drops the ethical reins, he places himself utterly at the mercy of power. In the long run, domination requires not only the passive consent, but also the will to be dominated, a will eager to drop personal responsibility and personal efforts.” These are terrible words but that seem to describe our present times.
Dr Thaddeus Kozinski assessment is correct. And Guardini is well quoted. The world’s barbarism is not the old subject to conversion. The New Age barbarism has tasted Christ, chewed Him up, spit Him out. Hiding in presumed safe enclaves is retreat from the inevitable. As a Church we need to stand our ground. The battle will take place in the trenches. The parish community. There is where we’re now called to suffer and experience despair but not be conquered by it as The Apostle who often suffered interior affliction and doubt, a spiritual thorn in his side. Padre Pio advised if we are in The Garden of Gethsemani don’t ask God to remove the anguish. Ask Him for strength to endure it. That is contemplation. Faith that acknowledges the Divine Presence in adversity. That the world perceive in us the face of Christ.
Guardini described a world in the 1950s like the one Dreher describes now, one of a neo-pagan totalitarianism that no longer tolerates any threats to its secularist, atheistic, and humanist dogmas, one in which Christians and other theists are called to brook no compromise and live out their Faith all the more integrally and heroically. But Guardini’s prescription for action is something at once more bracing and consoling than Dreher’s. Nothing but the “free union of the human person with the Absolute through unconditional freedom will enable the faithful to stand firm—God—centered—even though and .” .
Ratzinger would make the same journey, but in reverse. After teaching dogmatic and fundamental theology at the high school in Freising, he was to continue his teaching activity in Bonn (1959-69), the city where Guardini was educated and began his career, in Mnster (43-66) and lastly for three years (1966-69) at Tbingen then where Guardini had also taught.
Guardini left Italy in his early childhood to become "German" in terms of his intellectual and spiritual formation. After his years teaching in Berlin (1923-39), in the post-World War II period and after three years teaching in Tubingen, from 1945 to 1948, he was to teach the "Christian world-view" () in Munich permanently. Thus Guardini's chosen city, was Munich, where, in fact, he died in 1968.
Just as it had been for Guardini before him, Munich also seemed to be Ratzinger's final destination. On the contrary, their ways parted. The Veronese philosopher was called definitively to the north, to the city of Munich, to which he was so deeply attached, feeling that it was a sort of city synthesis in which his Italian soul could also feel at home.
Ratzinger was not only one of Guardini's readers but also on certain occasions a "listener", as the great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar had been in Berlin.
In the years between 1946 and 1951, the very same years in which Ratzinger was studying at the School for Advanced Studies in Philosophy and Theology in Freising, on the outskirts of the Bavarian capital, and then at the University of Munich, in the same city, in that University and in that local Church of Munich, Guardini assumed the role of intellectual and spiritual leadership.
For Ratzinger, then only 20 years old, a figure like Guardini was indisputably fascinating and was to make a strong impression on his intellectual outlook.
When, in 1952, he began his teaching activity at the School in Freising where he had been a student, the echo of Guardini's lectures resounded very clearly in the small town which basked in the atmosphere of all the cultural and intellectual events that took place in the nearby Bavarian capital. Moreover, the intellectual relationship between the future Pope and "Maestro" Guardini was extraordinarily intense.
In fact, many elements are common to these two thinkers who were later to become crucial figures of the 20th-century Church. If the one would become Cardinal, and then Pope, Guardini would also be offered a cardinalate although he was to refuse it.
Both were concerned with finding the essence of Christianity, seeking to respond to Feuerbach's provocation. On this topic, Guardini was to write in 1938 the splendid book entitled , while Ratzinger would dedicate his to the subject, which he wrote in 1968, undoubtedly his most famous work and, in all likelihood, his most important.