Sunday, November 3, 2013

Real Genius in less the 250 pages!

Rebuilding Catholic Culture
Topping, Ryan N.S.
(2013-01-07). Sophia Institute. Kindle Edition.

“What was missing after the council was an account and defense of the continuity of the embodied practices of the Faith that were to serve as the foundation for Christian renewal. Even a child can learn to call Mary Theotokos; but he is unlikely to think of her as his Mother until he has learned to thumb his way along a rosary. The effects of this loss in transmission are now everywhere evident. The problem facing Catholics forty years ago was how sensibly to integrate the old with the new. The wrong answer was to attempt a revolution within the Church. Genuine gains of the council have been lost because much of the postconciliar generation “often has never experienced the devotional practices of previous generations” (DPP 59). The loss of the habit of piety coupled with the advance of an aggressive secularism has generated some predictable and some surprising results. What has been predictable is the way that young people, often after years of attendance in parochial schools, simply abandoned the Church. Once they leave home these cradle Catholics amuse themselves with the same coarse entertainments and excesses that their peers enjoyed with ease long before. Such baptized but unformed souls receive Communion at Christmas, ask for a Church wedding, and maybe even pray at the Requiem Mass of their grandmother; but they will never attend the fraternities, catechism classes, or processions that their parents took for granted. The sentimental among these will join the legion of “spiritual but not religious.” They find their nourishment elsewhere, in yoga classes, or in a bowl of soft tofu.” (pp. 227-228).

 As with any work which extends beyond 30 pages not every chapter of this book is equally brilliant, but the author cannot be denied his laurels for having gifted us with a genius work. For my own propensity, I especially enjoyed his two chapters on the Church's liturgical and sacramental life. Nonetheless, I'd like to see a parish study group concentrate on his chapters on virtue, law and family. Working through this book could encourage people to more time with the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself, but no less be a source of reassurance and challenge in the face of ambiguity and discouragement.

I know that many good Catholics have been taken aback in the last months, given the "full court press" by liberal and otherwise relativist media interests. Topping reassures and does it with both intelligence and flair. Because the book covers the whole spectrum and the man who wrote it is not only erudite but communicative and down to earth, this one gets five gold stars!

It could be my imagination, but it seems to me also in these months, with greater frequency, one notes finger-pointing with shouts of "modernist" or tagging of things as smacking of the heresy of "modernism". I think I better understand the deleterious effect of this error on Christian life and faith. Modernism is many things, but always and everywhere it is aimless; it tempts really to unbelief and Godlessness. Topping concludes with a simple plan for restoring Catholic culture. It is a good one and in no way shape or form can he be accused of "obsessing" for the priorities he establishes:

"We have perhaps devoted too much time to marking the dissolution of Catholic culture. What practical steps might we take toward its renewal? I conclude with a strategy with four components. Let us end abortion; have more children; teach them Latin; and build better churches. These correspond, so it seems, to the most pressing social, educational, political, and liturgical needs of the Church in the West." (p. 236). 


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