February 07, 2013 12:28 EST
George Weigel discusses each in a short essay on the First
about his new book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church
The challenge can
be defined simply: Throughout the Western world, the culture no longer carries the faith, because the culture has become increasingly hostile to the faith.
Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment, for the environment has become toxic. So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent
lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will somehow convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider
entering the Church.
No, in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity
to Christ and the Gospel. Recreational CatholicismCatholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps ninety minutes of one’s
time on a weekendis over. Full-time Catholicisma Catholicism that, as the Second Vatican Council taught, infuses all of life and calls everyone in
the Church to holiness and missionis the only possible Catholicism in the twenty-first century.
The Evangelical Catholicism of the future is
a Catholicism of radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship, and courageous evangelism. Evangelical Catholics put friendship with the Lord Jesus at
the center of everything: personal identity, relationships, activity. Evangelical Catholics strive for fidelity despite the wounds of sin, and do so through a
daily encounter with the Word of God in the Bible and a regular embrace of Christ through a frequent reception of the sacraments. Evangelical Catholics
experience dry seasons and dark nights, like everyone else; but they live through those experiences by finding their meaning in a deeper conformity to the Cross
of Christon the far side of which is the unmatchable joy of Easter, the experience of which gives the people of the Church the courage to be Catholic.
And evangelical Catholics measure the quality of their discipleship by whether, and to what extent, they give to others what they have been given: by the degree
to which they deepen others’ friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, or bring others to meet the unique savior of the world.
I've not yet read Weigel's book (I plan to), but I have been reading another book that touches on
similar themes: Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How the
Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life
(Sophia, 2012), by Dr. Ryan N. S. Topping, and have been quite impressed. Some have likened his exceptional
writing to Chesterton, but I see more of Dorothy Sayer's compact wit and literary wile. Topping writes with an admirable mixture of elegance, steel, wit, and
deep understanding. Here is a bit from his Introduction:
pretends to offer a creed more universal than the Church's, whether this is through the language of rights, of tolerance, or of inevitable progress, those
pretentions need to be exposed; they need to be ridiculed for the idolatry they are. The Church has a bridegroom who is a jealous lover. ... No other
institution has been thinking about thinking as long as the Church has. Intellectual humility is a great good, but self-imposed humiliation before our miedical,
moral, and political masters is unbecoming.
CWR is working to interview both Weigel and
Topping, so you'll see more about their work in the weeks to come here on the CWR site.
About the Author
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
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