There are a few places still in existence that seem to have a scent of the divine around every corner – the tops of high mountains are often such places. To listen to some divines, however, one would think that wherever there is goodness, friendship, and genuine happiness shared by people that it is either a fluke, or that it is because God – with a divine-gamble – took a risk by giving gifts to people hoping that it would all work out. Such ideas are obviously based on an anthropocentric view of God that fails to see that He knows all things, and is incapable of taking risks. He knows what He’s doing, and what the outcome of His divine acts will be. Thinking that God takes risks is childish. Can you imagine it? God, the old grandfather figure, sitting twiddling His divine fingers, wondering whether or not His children will come home safely? Maybe He is full of self-doubt, asking Himself whether or not He still has omnipotence and omniscience? Maybe Cartesianism has got to Him or He is trapped under a Kantian cloud – trying to figure out how He knows what He knows. Maybe he believes what the new atheists say – He is redundant because man is now so advanced? All absolute nonsense and the sign of someone in need of a course in Aristotelian-Thomistic Metaphysics. Or, more simply put, in need of a good dose of reality.
The truth of the matter is that God has every single detail of His creation, or reality, as He wants it right now. Indeed, there has never been a moment, with all the various events happening at once within it, that has been off His radar. He, obviously, doesn’t have a radar since He doesn’t have anything – He is what He is. As such, nothing is out with His plan. This means that every place, person, thing in existence is as it is because He wills it to be such. Now some places are seem more obviously so – Gaming, in Austria, being an example. No, it is not a sporting event, or a casino owned by some strange character seeking to rule the world. Rather it is small gemeinde over an hour and a half west of Vienna where God has given proof His existence, again and again, over the last 25 years.
For a whole generation now there has been shown, time and again, in a former Carthusian monastery – once occupied by the Red Army – the goodness of God to those who turn to Him. There, at what is affectionately called the Kartause,thousands of young men and women (along with others not so young!) have passed through the hallowed walls of a place steeped in the prayers of the former holy monks. What was almost a complete ruin was restored under the direction of Architect Walter Hildebrand, and then used by various institutes of higher learning as a base from which to bring souls again to Christ. Earlier this month Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, hosted celebrations aimed at thanking God for the silver jubilee of their presence amidst the Austrian fore-Alps.
The work of planning and organizing the jubilee events fell to Mr. Thomas Wolter (MBA), the Director of the Austrian Program. Like God, Mr. Wolter was leaving nothing to chance; and thanks to the prayers and efforts of all those at present associated with the Kartause, the events passed off with much joy and fanfare. There was, in fact, at the main gathering held at the beginning of September, representatives from every one of the 25 years. Mr. Wolter guided many of the former members of the Kartause community through the recent renovations and achievements of the Program. And yet, it was as if nothing had changed – the greatness of God was still in evidence and the stories shared of past years dove-tailed perfectly with those of the present. Little things and big things had changed yet one thing had remained the same: God’s goodness to the workers in His vineyard.
Those whom God sent to Gaming over 25 years have included priests from China and America; professors from Columbia, England, Austria, and Slovakia (to name but a few countries); and students from as far a field as Kazikstan and Alaska. However, those who were by far the special forces used by God in the battle for souls were the families (again from far and wide) who were graced with either short or long tours in Gaming. It was their presence – especially as they gathered around the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration – that allowed there to be an oases of normality in the little place that was like a Narnia for them. It was as if God had taken them into another world where they were tasked with a special mission in order for the great and only plan to come to fruition. Places of refuge within the storm of the contemporary cultural collapse; and places where the true Faith was often handed on in all it richness. This is what they were quietly asked to be and this is what they succeeded in being.
For the children born and bred in this Narnian place – and even for those families who came for but a short time – a magical time was God-given. A group of them were able to return for the recent events and they agreed amongst themselves: once a Kartause kid, always a Kartause kid! More than a generation of them have grown up now, beginning again the steps of stepping into the divine plan. They tasted it as children and now the task is theirs to embrace. Gaming gave them a firm foundation on which to build, and this would seem to have been one of the main reasons why God gave it.
Undoubtedly there were mistakes made over the 25 years by those who labour under the effects of original sin, but they were all part of God’s plan in that He permitted so that poor sinners could repent and draw close to Him. Nothing is off His radar – it’s called Divine Providence! And so the celebrations were implicitly about thanking God for allowing poor miserable sinners to be used for His glory. He didn’t take a chance with any of them: He knew exactly the part that would be played by them all and how it would bring forward so much God fruit. This doesn’t mean He was shouting from His big fluffy grandad cloud, “Go ahead and sin!” Rather, He was allowing the misuse of freedom to open His own side on the Cross so that greater and greater graces could flow into the hearts of those whom He has chosen. As someone once said, “God used the good, the bad, and the ugly – on Good Friday – and He still does so today!” The Kartause kids were often the recipients of the graces won that day.
Mr. Wolter (and his dear wife Maria) are to be congratulated on having led Franciscan University’s Austrian Program to this point, yet they would be the first to admit that they have simply tried to play their part in a game were the Gamingers are all invited to be on the winning side. The game is up, it is already won, and as the next generation goes forward into battle may it too cry-out as they fight on the winning side: “For God, and…for GAMINNNNNG!!!!”
Once a Kartause Kid, Always a Kartause Kid!