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My conversation with Larry Chapp about Confession of a Catholic Worker

“Christian existence must be cruciform—it has to be ready for martyrdom, especially now in the modern world.”

Dr. Larry Chapp’s new book Confession of a Catholic Worker: Our Moment of Christian Witness is a call to Christians to shake off the idolatrous spirit of the age, and go to the root of our Gospel calling: radical love and radical living according to the Sermon on the Mount.

Larry and I talk about his new book, how modern Christians can best confront today’s spiritual and societal crises, and the pitfalls of sharing the Gospel in a world increasingly in denial about the existence of the transcendent.

Related links:

The Moment of Christian Witness by Hans Urs von Balthasar
• Larry Chapp’s website and blog:

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About Carl E. Olson 1207 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.


    • Agreed, dear Deacon Edward Peitler: a very interesting discussion between dear Carl & dear Larry, around Larry’s new book.

      SO much relevant dogmatic territory covered in a short time. Yet, spiritually the conversants seemed like a couple of healthy-looking fish in a landing-net, flipping & flapping, gasping for water. Highly erudite & very galvanized but with no actual hope!

      ? Where is The Living Water of The Holy Spirit that always overflows every life lived in wholehearted praise & worship of God Incarnate in our glorious Christ Jesus.

      Sing along with this, and you’ll understand the joy that bears evidence to hope! Many people break out in holy tears when worshipping with this.

      Raise A Hallelujah | Martin Smith & Elle Limebear w/St Peters Church | Gloworks TV – YouTube

      After all the bad news they analyzed so well, Larry’s good news for Catholic couples was that having many children is the ‘radically cruciform kenotic’ way for the Church to get out of the cul-de-sac of godless, postmodern attitudes. Goodness me!

      “It is The Holy Spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer.” John 6:63

      I totally appreciate & admire Carl & Larry. They are manfully & perseveringly responding to the present, Goliath-like, gross diminishment in Catholic Christianity, yet they seemed to much underrate The One Thing that counts.

      Ask, and you will be given.

      “If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will The Heavenly Father give The Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13

      In the Easter season now, all our daily Holy Masses have readings from The Acts of The Apostles, lauding the power of The Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome even the worst ungodly opposition.

      Let’s pray for the hearts of all Catholics to engage in bold worship and cry out expectantly for more of the beloved Holy Spirit’s Living Water, as Jesus taught us.

      Ever in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

  1. A warning that impacts terribly is, Not all who call out Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven! Chapp’s absence of plausibility for belief in mod culture is a spiritual deadening reality affecting modern worship. Worship becoming social convention. Transcendence to ‘pure’ immanence. Indeed, fired by absorption with the material our spiritual demise.
    Challenging idolatries is located by Chapp in practical cruciform means having more children for example. Kenosis, the deep entering into Christ really means crucifixion. Agreed, that in our mod society the break with idolatry in all its forms is the Cross. We must take that radical step. That has always been moral dogma. What makes it seem astounding today is that we’ve distanced ourselves so far from Christ.

    • Additionally: Variations on a theme by Larry Chapp.
      But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, so that you proclaim his goodness, who called you out of darkness into his own wonderful light (1 Peter 2: 9). Peter recognized a mystery of our calling to a life of virtue. He, among the Apostles, identifies the common priesthood of the faithful. Baptism traditionally included anointing on the head with chrism. Chrism is used in Confirmation, and anointing of the hands of the newly ordained priest. The tradition of priesthood, its charisma priest, prophet, and king was retained liturgically though not entirely in practice. Except for the saints. The cross was their means to sanctity.
      Paul the Apostle also references the centrality of the cross in realization of the Body of Christ in the world. That his ‘joyful’ suffering fulfills what is lacking in the suffering of Christ (Col 1:4). That is our mission, priest and laity, to assume the cross in virtue of our state of life ‘for sake of his [Christ’s] bride, the Church’. While the Church is in the world the Mystical Body of Christ continues its Crucifixion in us.
      Ecclesia, the gathering of the faithful finds its perfection and sanctification in the suffering that is the Cross. Why suffering? A question tortuously questioned by CS Lewis, is that suffering purifies love, the removal of the dross. Those satisfactions and pleasures that make the effort an indulgence rather than a gift.

  2. A couple of supportive footnotes and a question:

    For our modern crisis, Chapp used the term “tsunami.” Whatever one thinks about Cardinal WUERL, whether accurate or not, he used this term in Rome in 2012 to initiate the Year of Faith: “It is as if a tsunami of secular influence has swept across the cultural landscape, taking with it such societal markers as marriage, family, the concept of the common good and objective right and wrong.”

    Chapp also defines modernity as “no longer capable of thinking about God.” BERNANOS, whom he also mentions, specifically had this to say about that: “The modern world will shortly no longer possess sufficient spiritual reserves to commit genuine evil. Already . . . we can witness a lethal slackening of men’s conscience that is attacking not only their moral life, but also their very heart and mind, altering and decomposing even their imagination . . . The menacing crisis is one of infantilism” (Interview with Samedi-Soir, Nov. 8, 1947, cited in Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence,” Ignatius, 1996, p. 457).

    Of Christ being reduced to “sprinkles on top of ice-cream modernity,” even Thomas CARLYLE (1795-1881) got it just about right: “If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and then make fun of it.”

    A QUESTION: Looking beyond the internal crisis of the West, and from Chapp the need to first understand the radical nihilist’s mindset even better than he does, a parallel case for empathy can be made about external and invasive ISLAM (a complex deviation into natural religion).

    Islam adheres to (a) a rudimentary notion of innate natural law from before all history (“the germ of Islam,” which it mistakes for Qur’anic “revelation”) and to (b) a pre-Christian, fatalistic orientation toward a transcendent, inscrutable and arbitrary Allah (stripped of the self-disclosing LOGOS). In parallel (?), does Chapp’s engagement with vacuous modernity involve an appeal to, say, interior conscience where it still survives, and to the transcendent Other who accounts not only for the intelligibility of the cosmos, but for the very existence (!) of stuff—ex nihilo?
    How to crack modernity as ancient monism armed with a computer?

    So, does God permit Islam to hang around (not a “pluralism” of equivalent religions), ironically, as a reminder to a post-Christian West of both undeniable natural law and undeniable transcendence—which, together, have a name and a face? Jesus Christ, more than a fading episode on the trajectory toward modernity (C.S. Lewis’ “chronological snobbery”), but the always central event in all of fully human history?

    As Chapp puts it, the “cruciform” vertical into the horizontal.

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