05 February 2011

On Reforming North American Christianity


Canon Kevin Goodrich, OP, a Dominican priest in North Dakota, has been writing an excellent series of essays on reviving Christianity in North America. I was invited to comment on the most recent essay, No. 6 (read it here). The following is my commentary.


The first trick is determining what is the deck furniture on the Titanic and what are integral ship fittings. There are a lot of nonsensical ideas and practices with no real grounding in history or theology that have cropped up over the last thirty years, largely due to the secularization and liberalization of the Church and society. The Roman Rite, for example, tried a new liturgy that, while it may have filled the pews, weakened the expression of the theological foundation. Recent surveys show that only around 25% of Catholics actually believe and follow the social and moral teachings of the Church. Ignorance abounds, while the focus is placed on getting a warm fuzzy from going to Church.

What people need is the strength of the Faith. They should be brought to the Faith instead of having the Faith altered to suit them just to get them in the door. This is why we must maintain our traditions. Each aspect of traditional liturgy, moral doctrine, etc. is thoroughly grounded in Scripture and over 2000 years of its evolutionary (not revolutionary) interpretation. It will take each person a different amount of time to receive the full benefit of each aspect of tradition, but that's ok. We're all in a different place in our faith journey. The Sacred Tradition is the glue that holds us all together in our work towards living what is in Sacred Scripture.

I constantly preach on this. The guy in the giant purple cape and funny red hat (that would be me) says "Live your faith." He constantly challenges people to step outside their comfort zone and grow their faith. This often means looking to tradition, which is often uncomfortable for them.

I do get some resistance to this from time to time, but that is to be expected. We cannot let resistance deter us, however, from continuing to push our brethren to do what is right for them and for the community.

You are absolutely right, speaking of the community, about getting outside of the church walls. The church is a great place of solace and to get away from the world. However, we need to look for way, even unconventional ones, to reach others with the message and not hide our light. We were given light to lead others, not to keep it to ourselves.

As for America being post-Christian, I generally agree. We are historically Christian and founded on Christian principles. Many are still Christian in name and heritage, and they might even go to church on Sundays. Yet, the leftist, liberal, and socialist influence over the past thirty years or more has made Christianity something that should, to them, be practiced only in private. This must be fought.

Wear your habits or clerical suits when you are out in public as much as possible...especially when involved in charity or service. Put an icon, a prayer card, a crucifix or the like on your desk at work. You'll be told this is shoving your faith in the face of others, but do not be deterred. It is not true. You are simply expressing your faith. You are not forcing anyone else to participate. You are merely doing that all-important thing of witnessing to Christ.

All of this is so important now as we face an onslaught of Muslims seeking to impose their religious will in America and around the world as they take over and fulfill their Satan-inspired goal of domination, subjugation, or death. This is coupled with the Chinese communists, to whom we have as a nation virtually sold our souls. Christianity has been pushed aside. The Faith of love and peace for all mankind has been shoved out of the way to make room for agendas of intolerance, hatred, and profit at all costs.

Many mainline denominations in the US give in to this as well, perhaps just to keep people in the pews or to get money. I applaud those who try to work to change things in their denomination. While I constantly work for unity, I am still aware that one eventually must make a choice. Will one stay around just because you like the coffee, or your family has been at that parish for generations, or you know lots of people there, or you don't want to be seen as an instigator? OR...will you follow the Faith wherever it takes you and no matter what the cost?

This is not easy. I know. I have fought the Muslim onslaught up close and personal myself, even when I sometimes had to stand alone and people tried to pressure me to stop. Others have done this as well. Our mission work cannot continue effectively while we are being threatened, pushed, and bullied by society, Muslims, Chinese communists, and others. This is an open invitation to all good Christians. Who will join me in standing up for the rights of Christians? Who will join me in saying that Christ and the Christian Faith will not be marginalized? Who will join me in spreading the Gospel to the people of the world?