Monday, June 11, 2007

Who do the people say that I am?

Today's Divine Office has St. Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Romans (written in transit to Rome for execution), in which he says:

Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda;
Christianity shows it's greatness when it is hated by the world.
To this, I will add a brief excerpt from an article by Fr. James Schall (The culture of modernity and Catholicism, James Schall, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, June 2007), an article which is based on a review of Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (Tracy Rowland, 2003).

"What Chesterton understood was that it was precisely one of the great graces of the Catholic Church," Rowland observed,

that she makes it possible for people, poor as well as rich, to transcend their cultural limitations, to rise above their cultural poverty and be citizens, or rather subjects, of an eternal city. The effect of the Church on the culture of the world, and in particular on the life of 'common man,' ought to be ennobling, ought to be affirming of an aristocratic status as a child of God, as a member of a royal priesthood, a people set apart. This does not happen when mass culture is 'baptized' by its use in the liturgy or when its idioms are taken to wrap the Church's doctrines. Contrary to the rationale behind such pastoral projects, their ultimate effect is not to make the Church relevant to the modern world, but to make it indistinguishable from the modern world, and this in turn makes it completely irrelevant.

OK, so that was a quote of a quote of a quote. The writing of GKC is worth the effort. I will add yet one more thought, but I won't quote this time. In the section of Amerio's Iota Unum in which he discusses Catholics and politics, he makes what I found to be a startling claim; that Catholic involvement in politics ended at Vatican II. My first reaction when I read this was not one of recognition or agreement, but stay with me and let me do my best to explain what I understand that he meant by such a claim.

From the time of Leo XIII, Catholic involvement in politics was notable for being engaged on many fronts, from Catholic Action to national Catholic political parties. It was distinguished by one thing: it's aims and goals were the aims and goals of the Catholic Church. With Vatican II, these organizations were renamed, their Catholic identity diluted or abandoned wholesale. There are today many organizations involved in politics that are Catholic in name, but they are, as Chesterton pointed out so succintly, indistinguishable from the world and hence irrelevant.

In my mind, this is the question which the next post, John Keenan's essay on Social Justice, is meant to examine.

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