Ya gotta love what I call American Entrepreneurial Catholicism.
People just get up and do stuff. They start radio stations, the build schools, they get apostolates of prayer and evangelization going. They start publishing houses, soup kitchens, blogs, TV stations, pro life groups, street preachers, podcasts, videos–you name it.
What is cool about this is that it is almost all conservative Catholics who are starting these apostolates, building bridges, evangelizing and reaching out. The liberals meanwhile occupy the weary old halls of East Coast “used to be Catholic” academia, the convents that are now nursing homes, the dioceses that are closing parishes, schools and colleges. Well, bless them, they’re doing the bst they can, but the edge is elsewhere.
What I also love about Entrepreneurial Catholicism is that it is, for the most part, done by the laity, and it a fulfillment of the Second Vatican Council. The irony of this is delicious because often conservative Catholics are blamed for being against Vatican 2 and it is said we want to live within a little nostalgic 1950s Catholic bubble where all the priests are like Bing Crosby and all the families straight out of Leave it to Beaver. Nah.
Most conservative Catholics are upbeat, with sleeves rolled up and ready to serve the church with joy and vigor.
I came across one such family during a recent visit to Chicago. Kevin and Mary O’Neill have a big house full of kids and they’re gung ho about their Catholic faith. So much so that Mom, Dad and seven kids have produced a terrific new book called Sacrament of the Seven Sacraments. This big book teachers the seven sacraments using Old Testament typology and all the illustrations are with Lego characters and scenes. You really should go over here and check it out. There are some screen shots of the illustrations and a video to get a taster of the whole project. Go here.
This makes a perfect first holy communion gift. I highly recommend it.
One of the reasons it works so well is not the lego, but the use of Old Testament typology. Instead of trading only in abstract theological concepts or discursive statements of doctrine, the typology of the Old Testament makes the theological principles come alive with stories. The benefits are on several more levels. The kids not only learn about the seven sacraments, but as they learn the stories and typology they also learn their Old Testament and see how the Old Testament and the New hold hands.
It has seemed to me for some time that too much of the catechetical material that is available falls into one extreme of the other. On the one hand the material that is doctrinally sound is too often uncreative, dull and rather stuffy in presentation. The material that is attractive, creative and winning in appearance, on the other hand, is too often doctrinally weak, sentimental and not much more substantial than cotton candy.
Catechism of the Seven Sacraments manages both in a way I’ve never seen before: it is terrific for kids. The lego scenarios are fun and interesting and its funny to see how they managed difficult historical events like the crossing of the Red Sea or the plagues of Egypt. That works, but the content is also rock solid, orthodox, doctrine.
This is the latest project of Entrepreneurial Catholicism, but don’t get me wrong. When I talk about Entrepreneurial Catholicism I’m not suggesting people are turning it into a business and making loads of money. I know from experience ain’t nobody getting rich off of Catholic publishing. These projects are invariably subsidized and what income comes in never rewards the maker for the amount of time (and often money) invested.
This is clearly a labor of love and I recommend it to you.