There is a fear in many that Christian civilization is now dying in the kind of people who produced it. Bishops struggle to shepherd, priests seem less and less concerned with the sacrifice that saves, the religious tend to be well, less religious, and the lay person approaches the Faith as a consumer might approach his next buy. And when this happens, strange things, even horrible things follow.
In Canada, we have our list of woes, which only seem to multiply with each passing year. And the arts, reflecting as they always do the eye of the heart, continue their downward spiral into abstraction from anything human or real.
But that is not how the story of this nation or any other will end, for stories are only told by the living. And guess what. Far from dying, Christian civilization has found new advocates in what is increasingly referred to as evangelical Catholicism.
Far from being a fringe group, evangelical Catholicism seems to be the direct work of the Spirit, which has been touching the lives of many diverse individuals and families, both geographically and ethnically. More and more people are reading the sacred Scriptures. More and more people are doing what it takes to learn about their Faith. More and more people are making authentic gifts of their lives for the sake of Jesus, who is alive and real and can be known personally. And all of this is happening under the radar of those who should notice but don’t.
For a time at least, we were fond of boxing in this group as some kind of cult following of St. John Paul II, namely, the JPII generation, but we are well beyond that. To borrow the thought of a man called John, Christ is raising up children from the stones who can actually read the signs of the times. And I don’t know if you noticed, but our times are deeply troubled.
It was Fulton Sheen who brought to our attention that if our heads are soft on the Faith (meaning weak and unformed) then our hearts become hard and incapable of seeing God’s truth. If however our heads are hard (meaning formed and informed) then our hearts will be soft, enabling us not only to see God’s truth, but to see the plight of our neighbour. As usual, Sheen was right, but I wonder if that is what these evangelical Catholics have, because if they do, then the vision of another blooming, Christian civilization is not only safe from annihilation, but its unfolding is just a matter of time.