John Allen’s reporting on the Catholic Church is of the highest order.
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The central teaching of the Second Vatican Council is the universal call to holiness. For the large majority of Catholics, this means holiness is to be pursued (and can be attained) primarily in the everyday world of family, work, leisure, and politics, which inevitably influences contemporary culture. It may take until the end of this century for this first and primary role for the laity to be grasped and put into effect. Allen examines the dozens of lay movements that, approved by the Vatican, all with their proper charisms, personify this approach to the role of the laity in the Church. In some ways these movements can be likened to pre-Constantine Christians who put little emphasis on structure but rather lived their Christianity in their family life, work, friendship, and works of charity, inspired by a faith that made them willing to bear witness even until death. However, one need not be a member of a lay movement to live out fully one’s Christian faith in the world.
In second place are the lay ministries referred to earlier by Allen. They are most needed in the Catholic South, where there are relatively few priests for the exploding Catholic populations of the southern Continents, leaving dire need for catechists, teachers, leaders of Scripture study, etc. The danger in the developed North, however, is that lay ministers can think, in outmoded clerical terms, that they constitute more of the Church because they work inside the institutional Church of parishes, schools, chanceries, etc.
I have only briefly examined three of the trends, leaving the other seven for you to judge when you read this book. Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or Muslim, it will give you a much deeper insight into this third-millennial Church that, whatever your vantage point, shows no current signs of disproving its Founder’s prophecy that it will remain with us until the end of time.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?