Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rescuing the Holy Innocents

Christendom Awake: 
On Re-Energizing the Church in Culture
Aidan Nichols.
Kindle Edition. First Print Edition 1999.

"More than this, the wider social, economic and educational setting whereby what I have termed in the title of this chapter 'a society of households' underpinned the natural family has itself melted away. Certain social trends, in other words, must themselves be diverted, subverted, if a renaissance of the family - as distinct from a renewal of thinking about the family - is not to be stillborn." (Kindle Locations 1222-1224). 

Finally finished! I have been nursing this book along for quite some time. It is more demanding than standard airplane or car ride fare and as such, I guess it got assigned to moments when I felt up to the challenge. The other thing about the book, as it is a collection of essays or presentations given on various occasions, one can without hesitation compare it to a long session outdoors on a spring day, with alternating sun and cloud, the occasional stiff breeze. The book has character but the rating varies from chapter to chapter. I think the chapter which rendered me the most pensive was the one on the tragedy of abortion in contemporary society, Chapter XI Rescuing the Holy Innocents. Given that Peguy is not exactly a household term or an author on the must read list from any major magazine or journal, I guess someone else will have to give thought to how to share a truly worthy pedagogy, as reformulated by Nichols, for opening hearts to the unborn child and giving these countless martyred souls their proper place in the constellation of Church life and the general culture for the sake of the life of the world.

Another very interesting segment of the book deals with ecumenism and pronounces it a bust-as-practiced for all involved. I would take issue with his scenario for a possible union/communion with Orthodoxy, where he calls too much for structural changes in the Roman Curia. Despite his positive words for Oriental Catholics, Father Nichols misses the point in seeing them for what they must be already, namely Churches in communion with Rome. The Conciliar "road map" for giving them their due, still far from realized, points the direction to overcoming the particularist/nationalist mindset which keeps all too many Orthodox at arm's length from us and stifles their own evangelical dynamism. From my experience here in Ukraine, speaking optimistically, I would say that the era of the Eastern Churches in the Catholic Church has hardly begun.

Were I to recommend the book, I guess I would recommend it to the same people who read John Senior and others and who seek to recover culture for Catholicism. The author writes from a deliberately English point of view, which I feel unqualified to judge one way or another. 

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