Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Readings This Month

You know to say that I am a large reader of books, magazines and papers is to make a conservative statement.  I devour huge quantities of printed material each month.  Therefore when something REALLY strikes me, it is a “one in a large amount” kind of thing.  And that is what happened this month within two magazines to which I subscribe.
First Things, a magazine which I felt declined in quality with the death last year of its publisher, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, has put out a wonderful, interesting, and very informative May issue.  It had a number of very well-done articles, one of which is titled Liberalism After Liberalism by Wilfred M. McClay and is available in its entirety online here.
In talking about the new liberalism, the article includes such lines as:
 “The idea that there should be some connection between one’s own exertions and one’s own rewards (is) not only … sundered but rendered outmoded and meaningless.”
 “… calling liberalism the “supreme” form of generosity goes much too far. No one would say, “Greater love hath no man than that he tolerate the errant politics of his weaker neighbor.”
 Another striking article in First Things is the one by Mark Bauerlein, titled:  My Failed Atheism.  Mr. Bauerlein became an atheist as a teenager, and grew stronger in his convictions and defense of atheism as he matured.  He is a very intelligent man with very logical arguments and effectively defended atheistic views until he reached his fifties ---- then he read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Mr. Bauerlein is now in an RCIA program.  
 I had just finished reading his moving story when I picked up my latest issue of The Sower Review.  The Sower Review is a quarterly magazine which “serves today’s catechetical leaders” and is put out by the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, United Kingdom and the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.  The two lead articles in its latest edition are titled “Faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and “A Catechesis for the New Evangelization”.  The former article points to the Catechism as an effective on-the-shelf method for evangelization in this year of the New Evangelization, and seems to almost have been written in conjunction with Mr Bauerlein’s article in First Things, as if to say:  “See, here’s an example of how it could work.” 
 The latter article in The Sower outlines some new creative ways to re-propose the truth of Christ.  It mentioned things such as television commercials and parishioners going door to door to invite absent brothers and sisters to return to the Sacraments.  I have witnessed (in the diocese of Phoenix) and read about the effectiveness of these techniques, but the article goes much beyond.  The article outlines the USCCB National Directory for Catechesis five steps in the process of evangelization, and the importance of personal dialogue and relationship.  If we are to be serious in this coming year about evangelization, about beginning to change our culture, WE NEED TO BEGIN.  These articles not only showed how to begin, but the importance and effectiveness of beginning.
 I’d encourage you to try to find a copy of these magazines at your parish or Catholic bookstore.  They are serious reading, for a serious topic, in these serious times.  I always proclaim with this blog:  Do Not Be Anxious, but that does not mean for you to sit back and do nothing.

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