Steps toward restoration
The tradition and restoration discussion must be frustrating for many. It tends toward theory and abstraction and seems to be very light on practical steps. Most of us see the problem in varying degrees of clarity, but once the diagnosis is made we need a program for action. To that end Miss Hilary White once made the following suggestions to a correspondent:
Step one: Become a traditional Christian. Practice that faith in as muscular a way as you can manage. Learn everything there is to know about the Christian traditions. Be Christian on purpose and as forcefullly and energetically as you can.
Step two: Forcefully purge all modernist and postmodern ideas from your mental landscape. (This may take many years, but is a most enjoyable exercise.)
Step three: Quit University immediately if you are in. Run! If not yet in, abandon any idea of going to University. (If you have already gone to University, go to confession and forget all about it.)
Step four: Begin to read the Classics of Western Civilization in philosophy and literature, starting with the Greeks and working your way up through the late antiquity guys, into Augustine then on to the Scholastics. When you get to the end of the 15th century, stop. Skip on to Newman. Stop. Skip again to Chesterton and Dawson. Stop again. Skip to Mortimer Adler and Gilson.
Step five: Stop reading and learn to sing, play an instrument, paint or do calligraphy (only one of these, not all at once.)
Step six: Get married to a practising member of your church.
Step seven: Have a lot of children.
Step eight: Teach them all that stuff you’ve just learned.
Step nine: Make sure you go to heaven and take as many others with you as you can.
I just have one thing to add: you can’t do this alone, in one generation, with your progeny scattered to the four winds. The restoration of Christian culture requires the re-establishment of community and continuity. It is therefore critical to settle someplace permanent and attach oneself to an existing, living, breathing community. It would be good if that community were already Catholic, and even better if it had traditional sensibilities. But that isn’t absolutely necessary. Find a real place with real character and a real history and become a part of it. Perhaps you are blessed with this already: that gives you a head start. “Love your neighbors”, says Wendell Berry. “Not the ones you want, but the ones you have.” The point is to ensure that your great-grandchildren, along with their families and neighbors and friends, are likely to be buried in the same cemetery plot as you are.