On Building an Ark for Catholic Ireland

St. Patrick - Catholic Ireland
St Patrick casts the snakes out of Ireland …

Not long ago, my heart was wrenched by a commenter here who left these lines about the present state of Ireland:

The aching sadness still hits me like a ton of bricks sometimes – am I living in Ireland, or in a huge Epcot Centre version of Ireland?

There used to be this country called “Ireland”… didn’t there? Did I only imagine her?!? Was she ever really here? Where is she?

Perhaps I would feel closer to her and could see her clearly in my mind’s eye if only I could leave this strange FrankenIsland. But this madness has swept over the entire West – where else is there to go now? …

What I can’t get my head around is how easily the Irish gave away our entire heritage on a silver platter, and not with a bang but with a whimper.

Unusually, I decided to to respond to this by writing a post. And, at the risk of boring redundancy, I want to recap a little from what I wrote several months ago:

Ireland once had a Catholic, Gaelic culture which felt natural and right to the vast majority of her citizens.

That culture has now been almost washed away in the deluge we call globalisation. (This, of course, is too simplistic: if I were writing more I would include everything from global capitalism to the New Age movement to the aftermath of Vatican II and more.)

For now, my point is that remnants of genuine Irish culture still remain and they need to be protected, cherished, guarded from the flood.

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Thus, I arrived at the image of building an ARK for Catholic Ireland. Trying to describe this Ark, I turned to an American author, Russell Shaw. For in his book, American Catholic, Shaw speaks of recreating in America a Catholic subculture. Shaw’s words about this subculture provided a cue for me as to what is needed in Ireland. As Shaw writes:

It is necessary to restore – or more properly create – a healthy Catholic subculture. The old Catholic subculture, with all its strengths and limitations, was the bedrock foundation of American Catholicism until well into the twentieth century. Then, weakened by demographic shifts and cultural revolution, it was tossed aside by Catholic intellectuals and the leaders of the Church.

There is no bringing it back to life now, as some Catholic nostalgia buffs apparently would like to have happen. But the need is imperative for a new subculture … as the underpinning for American Catholicism in the twenty-first century.

When I speak of creating a new Catholic subculture, the reaction often is, ‘That isn’t realistic. What you’re talking about can’t be done.’ It’s the scepticism that is unrealistic, for that supposedly unrealistic project is, for better or for worse, already taking shape – right before the sceptic’s eyes, if they would only open their eyes, and see it.

Signs of an emerging Catholic subculture … include … proudly orthodox new Catholic colleges and universities (and a few that are not new but have taken serious steps to refurbish their Catholic identity); new, similarly orthodox religious communities; media ventures like EWTN and Catholic radio, along with a growing number of websites … periodicals and publishing houses; professional organisations … and groups and movements committed to promoting an authentic Catholic spirituality for lay women and laymen living and working in the secular world.

And Shaw also says:

The new Catholic subculture is not a pipe dream. Already it is taking shape here and there. Many times it represents a reaction by individuals and families against what they rightly perceive as a morally destructive American secular culture. Some homeschool their children. Others have given up on television and carefully police access to the Internet in their homes. Still others have taken the radical step of moving out of big cities and their suburbs to smaller, quieter, more conservative, and less culturally threatening communities where the assaults on their eyes, ears, and morals – and those of their children – are less flagrant.

All that I repeat, because I seems crucial to me that Irish Catholics take stock of Shaw’s counsel. As I wrote before:

For me, his words about America point to what must happen in Ireland. If there cannot be an authentic Catholic culture in Ireland at this time, there can be the creation of a subculture.

Again, there is more from that blog here …

However, it is one thing to point, rather vaguely, in something’s direction and another to truly grasp what that something – in this case an Ark – truly looks like.

For when I wrote that post above, the whole thing remained nebulous, fuzzy in mind. In other words, it was ABSTRACT: a fine-sounding programme with fine-sounding ideals about families protecting themselves from ‘morally destructive … culture’.

But how does this happen in real flesh and blood life? How can this Ark be constructed? Here is a question I have been holding in prayer.

Recently, however, my prayer has begun to be answered. For, by the Grace of God, I was led to see a place where the Ark was no abstract programme, but a living, breathing reality.

It happened in Knock, Ireland and the place I speak of was not a grand new institution, organisation, college or whatnot.

Rather, it was a humble family home, in which Kim and I were invited to stay. To experience that home was unforgettably moving. For two days, Kim and I joined a family with eight children (though not all of them were then present).

And I felt transported in time –  taken back to an Ireland I never knew. Nightly, this family prayed the Rosary – in Irish – by the fireplace, recalling a time in Ireland where families everywhere gathered round the hearth to supplicate Our Lady.

How deeply touching it was for Kim and me to participate in this ancient Irish family tradition. (I once knew an old woman who recalled her pre-television childhood in rural County Clare. Each night, she said, she could go from country home to country home and join with each family whilst they prayed … )

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Moreover, the parents in Knock – John and Naomi Lacken – told me of their own childhoods in an increasingly forgotten age. I listened, deeply moved to hear how their parents had instilled in them a profound Catholic faith.

Here I was struck by not only Naomi’s saintly mother, but also John speaking of the firm, devout, patriarchal rule of his father, who had laid down the law in a large Irish family (only thus was a loving order maintained).

As I listened, the contrast with my own family could not have been more striking. They came from large families which did not contracept and a rich, traditional culture rooted in centuries of devotion.

By contrast, I am a single child who grew up in a rootless family, as it shifted around various locations on the West Coast of America (starting with Los Angeles). Moreover, there was chaos in our little family. I would rather not reveal more, but the contrast with John’s strong father, deeply rooted in his faith and my own gentle – often too gentle – father was sobering.

Seeing John, I saw how his father had passed something down to him that I will never have: a pattern of strong faith and fatherhood rooted in generations of the faithful Irish Catholic fathers holding together large families.

All of this is not to imply, of course, that there were not weak or absent fathers in the Irish past! Of course, there were plenty, as there are everywhere in this fallen world. However, it was clear John had inherited something that was once far more common in Irish life than it is today.

And John was not squandering his inheritance! He and Naomi were outraged by the secular-liberal propaganda rife in Irish society today. Thus, television was absent from the home. Their children were protected from its pernicious influence.

Moreover, witnessing the horror of secular education, they had pulled their children out of the Irish school system and taken on the formidable commitment of homeschooling a large family.

In short, God had led me, I believe, to a living experience of exactly what I had seeking! For although I trust Russell Shaw that this sort of thing is happening more and more in America, I had really never experienced anything like it in Europe.

Significantly, John and Naomi have had to rely on American resources to achieve their goals – they use the Seton homeschooling programme founded by Anne Carroll, who is also associated with Christendom College in Virginia, founded by her husband Warren H. Carroll.

Christendom College, it might be added, is one of the new orthodox colleges in America that Shaw refers to above. And today in Ireland, we now have the initiative of Newman College, founded on the model of those American universities. Indeed, one of the Lacken children had attended Newman College.

And so I have come to see more of how Shaw’s notion of a new Catholic subculture, already begun in America, might work in Ireland.

However, I do not mean to suggest the necessary work in Ireland can be done simply by importing American models. No! Much else will be needed, which draws on Ireland’s own long traditions, submerged now in a  toxic sea of secular and materialistic propaganda.

Here again, I come to the notion of an Ark. Thus, I was very moved to hear that John  has  something in mind he calls the League of the Holy Family.

Now, the details of this League are not yet fully clear to me. Plainly, though, John wants to bring together families who are willing to resist the corrosive tide and give their children Christian instruction and Christian tradition – rather than handing them over to secular instruction and secular indoctrination.

And in John’s initiative, I glimpse a microcosmic analogy of the mythic act of St. Patrick. For just as St. Patrick, patriarch of Ireland, once cast the snakes out of Ireland, it now falls upon Catholic fathers to cast out the snakes in Irish households – one by one …

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family. I am very happy to point to John Lacken’s new initiative as a sign of hope in the present darkness that surrounds this land. You can visit the Legion of the Holy Family (Legio Sanctae Familiae) on the web here.

For myself, I will never forgot those days of rare privilege, seeing an Irish family, with formidable commitment and courage, living out the fullness of Irish Catholic tradition. I will never forget the real ritual of praying that nightly Rosary in Irish, rather than the pseudo-ritual of huddling around a television set.  (Or even worse, atomised into different parts, one child watching TV in her room at nights, another consumed in Gameboy, whilst parents remain in their own oblivious worlds …)

Pray for us, Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland.

Pray for the League of the Holy Family.

Pray for Ireland.

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15 responses to “On Building an Ark for Catholic Ireland”

  1. Young Ireland Avatar
    Young Ireland

    Hello Roger,

    That is a very interesting story you have there. We must indeed create a subculture where the Faith can be transmitted to new generations, and as well we need to encourage critical thinking so that they can resist the peer pressure so prevalent in modern culture today. If people are sheltered excessively (I note that in these times, some sheltering is inevitable and indeed necessary), once they leave the subculture, the Faith shrivels up and dies as they are unable to resist peer pressure. This is what happened on a large scale to Irish emigrants to Britain in the 40s and 50s. OTOH, if they are confident in rebutting the approaches of hedonism, they will be much more successful. This is not to say that occasions of sin should not be avoided, not at all. Indeed, exposing a delicate flower to arid and scorching ground is certainly one of those. These are only my own thoughts, and I certainly wish John Lacken’s initiative well.

    1. roger Avatar

      Young Ireland – thank you, it is good to have your voice here.

      Certainly, I agree that critical thinking – aligned with, rather than separated from, spiritual practice – very much needs to be cultivated in this Ark.

      I take the point that the experience of Irish emigrants could point to an excess of sheltering, but I am not sure I would make the link as strongly as do you.

      As a child of British parents who had anti-Catholicism bred in bone, as it were, and as someone who spent nearly twenty years of my life in Britain, I know, first-hand, that there are forces there sufficient to wither Catholic faith, no matter how much people might be either ‘excessively sheltered’ or indeed highly prepared to deal with that factor in British society.

      But I am very glad to hear you thinking, in your own way, about what I am calling an Ark. What is needed is a great deal more thinking, dialogue – and of course practical initiative’s like John Lacken’s.

      I am looking forward to your contributions to this great collective task!

  2. Ria Avatar

    All my schooling was at a Catholic School in India.
    The Irish nuns who ruled and “untaught” at this school know nothing about love.
    They know about racism and hate. Yep. I was a victim.

    Your religion might “profess” love, but for the most part, those who have been subjected to it, know it diffeently.
    See what Chrisitans did to to the Native Americans.

    Don’t equate the mighty wisdom and knowledge of Santana Dharma (hindu scriptures) with your western mundane pedestrian “new age.”

    I have read a lot of Spiritual Science/RS/

    I have known and understood far more love in India than ever available or possible in the Western world. Love, as from one human to another, from human to animal. See, Hindus don’t see animals as having no spirit and no soul as Christians do. They jeer at Hinduism which states that divinity resides in MAN, choosing to ignore their own teachings – see Corinthians 3:16. Santana Dharma has known this for thousands and thousands of years.

    Christians are so afraid of the great truth and wisdom of Santana Dharma that they persistently have to sling mud at it from any angle they can. They even malign the teachings of Gautama Buddha who pointed out the potent veracity of the phenomenon of Cause and Effect.

    Love is integral part of Hindu scriptures. The Shaktis are the consorts of Braham, Vishnu and Shiva. Love between male and female. The soul, Radha is in love with Lord Krishna, the personality of God head.

    Love and friendship have been a deep part of India. In a country where there was little governmental social programs etc. only love and caring between people could have created so many beautiful hymns, worship, alms giving and more, including the muslims, the sikhs and others who helped each other.

    Please, merely to bolster your own religion, do not malign those of others. Tomberg had his own reasons for renouncing anthraposophy. The fight within your own religion, the popery, the occultists and the denominations is YOUR fight. Don’t involve Santana Dharma in it.

    The devil is the father of lies.

    1. Young Ireland Avatar
      Young Ireland

      There’s quite a difference between critiquing a religion and maligning it. I must say that I have found Roger’s posts on New Age to be quite interesting and enlightening, and particularly astute given the times we live in. That’s not to say that there is no good in Hinduism; what we are saying is that Christs Church is the ultimate in what is good, and any good that is found in other religions is used by God to bring others to the fullness of Truth that is in alignment with the successor of St. Peter. So I hope that we can agree to disagree where we differ and make common ground on where we agree.

      1. ria Avatar

        You missed the point. There is NOTHING in Sanatana Dharma that is “not good.” It is a perfection whose fulfillment will not be known until the end of this part of Earth evolution. Critiquing a religion as you state in the manner presented is nothing less than maligning. This is not just directed at your site, but is now the view that is being foisted on sincere and righteous Hindus around the world. It is your opinion that Christ’s church is the ultimate in what is good. The oriental view and Chrisitan view, are equal. They are two sides of the same coin. But to annoy other religions by using “fighting” words and outright lies is unacceptable. The basis of the Gospel of Saint John, the Logos, has first been attested to in the holy Hindu scriptures as “Vach”. This is so momentous a revelation known to the ancient Hindus that to equate such lofty understandings with “new age” gurus, whether in India herself or outside of her, or to “quick fix” western wanna be s
        is well, just pure error.

        I get that the Logos was known to the ancient Hindus, was later known to Heraclitus and the stoics. And during the time of Jesus, was obviously a known concept and for some a known experience.

        Please, spend some time understanding the Bhagvad Gita with a clean and unbiased mind and learn about the Vach (from which the word Vachan, like in “I give you my WORD.”

      2. Ra Avatar

        Having made the correction regarding the “new age” movement and traditional holy Hindu dharmic scriptures, we can seek the truth as well as agree to disagree, as you say.

        My childhood was spent in Catholic /Parochial schools. I later went to live with the Benedictine nuns. A much nicer group of religionists. I have had several life changing, profound internal experiences with Christianity. The reason I bring this up is to set a basis of sincerity when I question the following:

        (a) In the creed of Athanasius it states: “The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated.” If this is so, how is the belief that the “created” Jesus the humanbeing , is Christ from his very conception justified?

        (b) The Athansian creeed further says: “This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.
        Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance.”

        Persons, as is understood by most is “individuals/Egos.” Would you say that the word “person” does not merely specify a material human being, made of purely earthly susbstances, minerals etc. but spiritual beings as well? That the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as 3 distinct “persons” are primarily spirit and not made of material earthly substance?

        (c) BTW the “trinity” appears to be very similar if not the same as in the Hindu Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, Shive – all three separate and distinct – but all three distinctions and personalities/persons as the ONE Brahman/GOD. Where do you find in your critical analysis note the differences?

        Thank you. I do appreciate your site and the wisdom therei.

        1. roger Avatar

          Ria, Young Ireland, I will attempt a response to the many complex issues here.

          But first, I must point out that your heartfelt, pained comments here, Ria, may have been attached to the wrong posts. For example, the post above is about Building an Ark for Ireland, and not about Tomberg, the New Age, Steiner, etc.

          Somebody was confused by another comment of yours at another post where it did not refer to the post. Please, then if you continue to comment, may I ask you attach your comments to posts where they fit better? Here it would be good to keep to the theme of “Building an Ark” …

          Perhaps it is even good if I supply that “missing” response. It may contribute clarity. So … on another post you wrote:

          It takes a truthful person to accept criticism.

          Over and above that maligning other religions is wrong, especially ewuating the lofty Santana Dharma to mundane, new ageism, to not put Tomberg’s letter in context, this part
          “Also spiritual science never existed because the essential criteria for every science must be that it can be tested, and that it applies universally.” to his admission in his books that
          had communications with the hierarchies, the angels. These are things that Rudolf Stiener in his Spritiual Science tells about.”

          Anyway, I will now attempt to address the difficult issues you raise. Admittedly, my response will only be partial, as it would take a very long time indeed to address all the many, many complex issues you raise.

          First, let me say my heart goes out to you when you write:

          “All my schooling was at a Catholic School in India.
          The Irish nuns who ruled and “untaught” at this school know nothing about love.
          They know about racism and hate. Yep. I was a victim.
          Your religion might “profess” love, but for the most part, those who have been subjected to it, know it diffeently.
          See what Chrisitans did to to the Native Americans.”

          Clearly, you have really suffered here in this situation with these Irish nuns. And I know you are far from alone.

          Certainly, there is darkness and evil that has been operating in many corners of the Church in Ireland and elsewhere.

          You may be interested to know that I have tried to face this problem in posts like this one ….

          Given my recognition of this cruelty to the young, you may find it hard to understand why I take the positions I do. It was not without long, inner STRUGGLE. Especially given other things at this site that you are responding to. (For example, the work of Rudolf Steiner, from whom I have read more than sixty books – so I would like to think I understand his critique of Catholicism very well.)

          So we enter into things, that for me, at least are far, far too complex for this comments box.

          But let me give some INDICATIONS that I pray might help, at least a little.

          First, let me say that in addition to familiarity with Steiner, I participated within an (esoteric) Buddhist framework for twenty years before converting to Catholicism. That said, I know nothing about the Sanatana Dharma that you raise – and have never commented about it at this site.

          Now, Young Ireland writes:

          “There’s quite a difference between critiquing a religion and maligning it.”

          I think, Young Ireland, this is well said.

          My intent, at times, has been a critique of certain aspects of Eastern spirituality. If I have crossed the border into maligning, I am sorry.

          But at the basis of my critique has been the fact that my own experience, Ria, seems the very opposite of your own.

          Catholicism led me – myself, Roger – to far deeper compassion and humanity than I found within my Eastern spirituality.

          What is more, I have been impressed by Irish Catholicism, ABOVE ALL – whatever terrible, dark corners it had/has. (Again, see my link above).

          This owes to the fact that I have lived in seven different countries and Ireland is – hands down – the kindest, most humane place I have ever lived. When I first arrived here in 2004 I was _bowled over_ by the sheer warmth and kindness and decency I experienced. (This was in the rural West.)

          Now, it is impossible for me not to see the great role of the Church and the Sacraments in shaping the profound Irish humanness that I have never stopped experiencing since.

          So I have had to set all this and much else within the context of my struggle.

          Again, I am working with my own experience of having lived in seven different countries. My own English Protestant parents were cruelly beaten in schools. So it seems to me that this is not something specific to Irish Catholicism – but characteristic of an earlier age throughout Europe.

          Herewith, then, some comments to the effect that whilst I hear your suffering in this school of nuns, and I need to hear it, I also need to hear my own experience and work with it.

          My own experience would seem to point to the reverse of yours, when you write:

          “I have known and understood far more love in India than ever available or possible in the Western world.”

          This response is getting terribly long.

          I have tried to focus on the emotional suffering you express here, more than a vast complex of things related to Steiner, Tomberg and also Sanatana Dharma, which, again, I know nothing about and have never commented on.

          Right now, I lack time to go more into those things and others that you raise. Perhaps I will come to them in a further response.

          For now, let me try to sum up by saying that you assert:

          “The oriental view and Chrisitan view, are equal.”

          During my twenty years as a New Ager, I would have said, yes, Ria, absolutely.

          But through the processes I indicate above – entailing Ireland, Catholicism, my immersion in Rudolf Steiner and Eastern spirituality and more – I have come to agree with Young Ireland about the ultimate being expressed within Christianity.

          Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion on Calvary and Resurrection transformed the universe and pre-Christian traditions cannot be equated with Christianity. That is my conclusion, that is my faith, born of years of struggle.

          I think we must agree to differ.

          But even if we differ Ria, please know I do not wish to malign other religions and am very sorry if I have.

  3. lincolnshirecatholic Avatar

    I thought I would add this…

    The document of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”), describes the family as the ‘domestic Church’ because it is the first place where young, baptised Christians learn about their faith. It states, “From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries” (Lumen Gentium, 11). You may have heard it said that families are the fundamental ‘building block’ of society; similarly, families provide a foundation for the continuation and strength of the Church among the faithful.

    Lumen Gentium goes on to explain that this domestic Church has a particular role and responsibility in leading souls to heaven: “In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state” (Ibid). Through this letter, the Council Fathers intended to emphasize that Christ is the Light of the Nations, and that, as the Church, we each have a responsibility to bring the Light of Christ to others. Within the domestic Church, this means that parents are to cultivate a family life that is centered on Christ.

    1. roger Avatar

      Thank you, Lincolnshire Catholic – that is a wonderful thing you have added here.

      Not only do I appreciate the vital message here about families providing for ‘the continuation and strength of the Church’ but I feel something else very beautiful and less tangible in these words.

      How to name this less tangible thing?

      Perhaps it will help if I observe that I am a convert with Protestant roots, and reading this evoked things that seem – by comparison – more lacking in my own cultural background.

      Those things point to a distinctly Catholic understanding of the wholesomeness and sacredness of the family that seems to me – again by comparison – not nearly so present in Protestant societies.

      In our fragmented, hyper-individualised, secular society, Catholics, too, are in danger of losing this core thing within their faith and I am grateful, again, for you illuminating it further.

      1. lincolnshirecatholic Avatar

        I have been reading these Catholic blogs since they started in earnest about 8 years ago, and this is the best post that I have read in that time. I could write a hundred pages on a reply to this, but the one thing I can say is that your assessment (and the families assessment) of an ark and how to get things back on track are absolutely 100% spot on. You are referring to the Domestic Church, but you have hit the nail on the head by stating that it must not be an American copy of the Domestic Church, but a 100% traditional Irish domestic church. This is the only way that a genuine ark can be created. We can push for the teaching to be put back in place, but unless it is put back in the home, then forget it. There are two places where the domestic church are developing. Firstly, it is happening in conservative American families who have given up on the liturgy and decided to recreate real Catholicism at home (neo-traditionalists), and secondly the FSSP is promoting the Domestic Church around the world as one of its priorities. Both initiatives are working, and it is the only way that the faith will start to be transmitted correctly again. In Ireland though this must be a fully traditional Irish domestic church. We have been working on this recently with a priest in Lincolnshire and it even bore some fruit here… Here is our take on it (still in draft form)… http://thecatholicdomesticchurch.blogspot.co.uk/

        1. roger Avatar

          Dear Lincolnshire Catholic, I have been responding very belatedly to numerous folk here with apologies. But I think I feel most ashamed about not responding to this very special comment from yourself, which must have arrived just when I first collapsed.

          What you say – and the link you supply – is so deeply moving. I also see that you have linked to us several times and will endeavour to return the favour.

          In fact, I shall begin now by repeating your link http://thecatholicdomesticchurch.blogspot.co.uk/

          . . . and encouraging anyone reading this to have a look.

          For what you have at that link is so vital … so urgent.

          In terms of your comment, I did not realise the extent the FSSP “is promoting the Domestic Church around the world as one of its priorities”.

          And your remarks about the movement about “conservative American families who have given up on the liturgy and decided to recreate real Catholicism at home” is something I want to know much more about …

          It is an odd thing . . . My own years as an active parent were either as a New Ager or still very liberal Catholic. And, with pain and regret, I realise I will now never have the opportunity to raise a family in the way you are beautifully evoking here …

          Perhaps as a result, I am unlikely to have a great deal more to say about the issues you raise and find myself turning to themes and figures remote such as Belloc or De Valera.

          I say more remote, as what you are presenting seems of more burning urgency than either . . .

          But God calls us to different tasks. Right now, I seem t need to focus on apparently remote things from the 1930s … but your thinking and website evoke much for me and I look forward to learning from you.

          God bless you and your work.

  4. James McArthur Avatar
    James McArthur

    I am not Irish – nationally or ethnically – although I have visited the beautiful Republic, and I grew up in a predominantly Irish parish in the US, before, during, and shortly following Vatican II.

    It’s true that Catholicism seemed to permeate much of American culture during those days. However, I am reminded of a line from Bob Dylan’s song, “Positively 4th Street”, to the effect that “you say that you lost your faith: but the fact is that you had no faith to lose.” My point being: how deeply did our faith REALLY penetrate our souls, in those supposedly good old days? Between 1960 and 1975 – some might even say, between 1965 and 1970 – there was an apparent almost complete loss of the Catholic faith in the US. Would this really have occurred if our faith was as deeply rooted as we like to pretend it was?

    Perhaps the loss of a superficial Catholic culture was a necessary prerequisite for the rise of the authentic Catholic subculture that Mr. Shaw envisions.

    1. roger Avatar

      James, a very, very belated response, after lengthy (though not serious) health problems …

      Your point is well-taken and bears reflection. Moreover, it is valuable to have a perspective here from someone who was on the scene, long, long before I was.

      That said, there are several things that point me to a somewhat different perspective than you. Alas, it would take a lengthy article in itself to do them justice. Perhaps I will try in a future blog.

      But quickly and inadequately … some points I see.

      1) That radical change you saw happened after the 1950s and the 1950s were an era where humanity – and American humanity in particular – were bombarded and invaded as they never been before.

      I speak of the media. Above all, television – but of course the rise of portable, transistor radios, long-play records of rock and roll, etc etc.

      Again, nothing like this had ever happened in human history. All these homes being “invaded” by millions of little boxes with, in America especially, multiple channels carrying advertising … In my opinion, this factor is hardly ever considered enough.

      2) History is filled with strange eruptions where people suddenly abandoned or changed faith. The Reformation is one, the 1960s liberalisation of everything is another. Now you could argue that this simply shows the underlying weakness of faith – but I cannot help but see the eruption of titanic “subterranean” forces. Big topic … as I say my response is necessarily inadequate.

      3) As to your question:

      how deeply did our faith REALLY penetrate our souls …

      I wonder how much faith – of any kind – truly penetrates the majority of people in any particular civilisation.

      Thus in 1950s Catholicism, there were certainly high proportions of conformism and unconsciousness, but apart from the first two centuries when Christianity was a small, persecuted community, perhaps this is true not only of Christianity as a mass phenomenon everywhere.

      Indeed, every religion as a mass phenomenon. Perhaps the true believers are always a small core …

      Thus, I think of our brave new secular religion today.

      Those who utterly firmly believe in things like gay “marriage” are probably a relatively small core of true believers, who alas, have access to powerful forms of media and swing millions along with them in a highly conformist and unconscious fashion.

      Again, I fear I cannot do justice here. But thank you for sharing your own decades of experience and reflection, which, as I says, leads to things well with considering.

  5. James Avatar


    I believe Russell Shaw is with Opus Dei. I also think this is important, in terms of what he’s proposing.

    To me, the restoration of the Catholic Culture lies first and foremost, in the liturgy. It’s not about nostalgia; it’s about the Mass. This is where people who want to build a new “Catholic Subculture” miss the point, in my opinion. EWTN is certainly not representative of a new “Catholic Subculture”. Not since Mother Angelica was forced out. Nor are many of these so-called “Orthodox” colleges and schools, if they are neo-conservative fronts for the Spirit of Vatican 2 and neo-con/libertarian politics…

    It’s the liturgy. That’s where our Hope lies. And rejecting the economic systems so many neo-conservative Catholics support (One could argue “Americanism” destroyed the Catholic Faith in the USA. I’m an Irish-American. There’s a lot of evidence…)

    This quote below, from the blog “Traditional Catholic Priest” this morning.

    “I believe a man is happier, and happy in a richer way, if he has ‘the free-born mind.’ But I doubt whether he can have this without economic independence, which the new society is abolishing. For economic independence allows an education not controlled by Government; and in adult life it is the man who needs, and asks, nothing of government who can criticize its acts and snap his fingers at its ideology. Read Montaigne; that’s the voice of a man with his legs under his own table, eating the mutton and turnips raised on his own land. Who will talk like that when the State is
    everyone’s schoolmaster and employer?” – C. S. Lewis

    I think many of these Catholics who want to rebuild Catholic Culture, also support the new society more than they may even know. I personally believe the rise of an authentic, contemplative Catholic Culture may have a different route. See link below. Pax Christi.



    1. roger Avatar

      No argument here, James!

      Without healing the liturgy, I fully agree, nothing will work!

      I also confess to not knowing these particular initiatives well …

      For example, not having a television, I have hardly seen EWTN in my entire life. And whilst I do believe they must be enormous improvements over the kind of media and colleges inspired by, Richard McBrien say, these represent, again, particulars. It is the essence that Shaw is getting at that speaks to me.

      I also heartily agree with your point regarding the complicity many conservative American Catholics have with economic liberalism!

      And it good to se that site and link which speak to my heart, even though my poor mind can hardly get round what to do in this brave new wired world regarding those agrarian ideals …

      Warm thanks for all this – and I am sorry it has taken so ridiculously long to respond …