We live in an area where the closest neighbor is about a mile away. While this makes for a quiet neighborhood, there are some concerns about a truly local community. I’m talking about people being within easy walking distance of each other so that if there is some sort of problem with resources or infrastructure we can still help one another out. I hope to change this as we move forward by providing for some incentive for folks to move closer by, but in the meantime we only live about fifteen minutes drive from town so we are not really that secluded so long as everything is in working order. While I am what many people call an introvert (I find it physically and mentally exhausting being around large groups of people and trying to be “social”, I need the peace and quite to recharge), I still enjoy the company of people, and conversation, but I am just as comfortable sitting there quiet with someone as carrying on a spirited debate. The people in our area are good, and there is a large Catholic community. We do have to make a three hour trek to get to the Traditional Catholic parish we belong to up north, but those are sacrifices that we are willing to make to be part of that community.
Even among the priests in the order of the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) where we goto Traditional Latin Mass they have recognized the need for community/fraternity within the ranks of the religious. It is my understanding that each parish always has two priests. This provides the support and accountability that the brother priests need in order to grow in holiness and serve the greater parish community as a whole. To me this policy makes perfect sense as I see many of the problems in the church stemming from this lack of fraternal support amongst the priests. They have no one to consult with or provide spirited debate to at the drop of a hat when the priest is isolated in a parish. I think this particular lack of community is harmful to our priests, and we would be seeing much more growth in the population of priests if they had this kind of fraternal support.
The crisis of the lack of priests is nonexistent within the Fraternity. Their ranks are actually growing. I believe that some of the lack of recruitment of new candidates to the priesthood could be alleviated if they knew they would have this kind of support system moving forward (I believe the liberal teaching so prevalent in the modern Church is a much bigger problem, however). I also think that the social requirements of man are what make holy hermits so unique and special in the world. It seems much more likely for someone in isolation to lose their mind than gain in holiness.
The need for this kind of communal support system has been recognized by the Church since its founding. From the disciples to the monasteries and convents community has always been a part of the Church. Whether faced with adversity or a joyous occasion having someone to share it with makes it that much more meaningful.