Joseph Pearce and I were having one of our regular meals out last night and as refugees from the damp lands we were marveling at what I call entrepreneurial Catholicism in the USA. PS: The picture is of your blogger with Joseph in the priest’s hole at Oxborough Hall in England.
What I mean by entrepreneurial Catholicism is that American Catholics simply roll up their sleeves and get on with it. In the past the great waves of Catholic immigrants built parishes, universities, schools, convents and turned a Catholic minority into the largest single Christian group in the nation.
Today we are in a situation where many of those esteemed Catholic institutions have either formally departed from their Catholic foundations or have done so de facto. Old religious orders have either died out or they are espousing secular, progressive agendas. Catholic Universities have become politically correct, harbor heretics and dissenting theologians and undermine historic Catholic teaching in doctrine and morals. In dioceses there is widespread heterodoxy, the adoption of secular methodologies, an endless thirst for cash for big empty projects and numerous signs of decay, corruption and cynicism.
However, at the grass roots level there are amazing things happening. Across the country ordinary Catholics are simply getting on with the New Evangelization. Men’s groups thrive in parishes and diocesan men’s conferences that attract thousands of men keep being started. New colleges and universities are springing up. The new media, social media and new publishing efforts are popping up all the time. Podcasts, DVDs, CDs, books and booklets are pouring out as never before and all of them are sound, most of them are professionally produced and marketed. Online Biblical and theological courses are available for laypeople. Multi media organizations are producing ever more excellent material.
If something requires funding, they go out and raise the money and are not ashamed of the fact that ministry requires money. They also don’t mind charging for the stuff they produce and many Catholics are happy to cough up and pay for speakers’ fees, subscriptions to websites or to purchase materials that are available and affordable.
At the grass roots level there is a whole circuit of dynamic speakers and evangelists–many of them lay men and women–who are ministering in parish missions, diocesan conferences, youth conferences and parish events.
In addition to this there are constantly new apostolates being formed as part of the New Evangelization. There a convert starts a Catholic street preaching mission. There a layman starts an apostolate fostering the discipline of fasting. Here a guy designs, gets made and markets Warrior Rosaries, there a nun starts broadcasting and ends up with a global television network. Here a man writes a book, publishes it and markets it himself and his audience grows and he becomes a lay evangelist. There a woman writes a blog, another forms a pro life apostolate that knocks the enemies for a loop. Here some folks go undercover to reveal the dark secrets of the abortion industry. There a group of people campaign for the poor, build a beautiful church, start a classical school, kick off a food pantry or a home for women in crisis pregnancies.
This is done with hard work, good fellowship and genuine joy. They are not going around with long faces or grumbling too much about a pope they don’t like or a bishop who is spineless. They are not wasting time moaning about liberals or accusing people of being heretics or grumbling about liturgical abuses. For the most part they are just getting on with the job.
I find it all very exciting and one of the reasons it is so exciting is that so much of it is going on outside the restrictions of the established church, the big established Catholic institutions, universities and cognoscenti. In fact the old school, establishment often seem ignorant of all the dynamic work going on. They continue to grind out their bureaucratic, secular-minded, politically correct, weary liberalism–oblivious to the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Catholics who are being reached and whose lives are being changed at the grass roots level.
Its dynamic, its real and it is the true Spirit of Vatican II. The fact that it is conservative and is having a huge impact on the Catholic Church today is clearly distressing to the greying liberals in the church, but we should also see that the majority of people involved in this New Evangelization are young, well educated and enthusiastic.
If you want to see them in action, stay tuned to this week’s March for Life.