More millennial women choosing religious life: ‘This is what I’m supposed to be doing’
In an age of social media and obsessed with the ladder of success, a higher calling is increasingly trending. After a five-decade decline, the nunnery is making a comeback — driven by millennials. About 10 years ago, the average age of a woman taking her final vows was 40; today it’s 24.
“I’ve seen God’s timing so much that it was my time to come at 17,” says Sister Marie Jose de la Rosa, 29. “Others it was 22, others it was 42. But for me, it was 17.”
Sister Marie belongs to the Sisters of Christian Charity’s Mallinckrodt Convent in Mendham, N.J. The convent is nestled on about 100 acres of green rolling hills. Decades ago, its neighbors were farm fields and cows. Today, mega-mansions dot the landscape leading up to the summit where the convent’s cross can be seen from far away.
Last week, nine nuns renewed their vows, representing a nationwide turning of the tide as young women are increasingly committing themselves to chastity, purity and poverty.
One of them is 27-year-old Sister Mathilde DeLucy. “When I came it just felt like a sense of hope…it was just like this is it,” she says. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing … God will do the rest whatever He has planned. I just need to trust Him.”
“I think they’re reflecting that our hearts are made for more and they are figuring out that having everything at your fingertips does not satisfy you.” — Sister Marie Jose
Sister Mary Amata Reifsnyder, echoes that feeling: “This was how my heart was meant to love other people. And I think that each person in each vocation will find that … in your husband or your wife, in a single’s life in a religious community.”
Religious life is an increasingly attractive option for a generation of women who are often more recognized for what they don’t believe in.
According to Sister Deborah Borneman of the National Religious Vocation Conference, there has indeed been an uptick overall in recent new vocations to religious life. Newer members are choosing a variety of religious institutions to enter, not just a selected few. In 2018, 440 women and men entered 177 religious institutes in the United States. Adults overall are considering entering religious life at younger ages.
“They are part of this newer generation,” said Sister Deborah. “They know nothing of religious life in the 20th century — it was never their lived experience. Even the movie ‘Sister Act’ does not resonate with them.”
Sister Bernadette McCauley, the vocation director at Sisters of Christian Charity, says, “I think God creates some people with this desire to belong completely to Him.”
A vocation to the religious life doesn’t always mean giving up a career either. Sister Marie Jose is a registered nurse and works at a local hospital. Her paycheck is pooled with everyone else’s to support the convent.
She, like the other young nuns are well aware – sometimes comically aware – of what they’ve given up.
Sister Marie Jose laughs when she talks about the plain, black, no-heel shoes the sisters wear. She says her 80-year-old grandmother has more fashionable footwear.
“My peep-toe pumps are gone!” she said.
But she, like all the young nuns, are more candid about what their generation is really seeking.
“I think they’re reflecting that our hearts are made for more and they are figuring out that having everything at your fingertips does not satisfy you,” said Sister Marie Jose. “It’s great until it leaves you longing for more. In whatever walk of life everybody’s longing for more in my generation. It takes that question to find what your vocation is.”
These young nuns say while the world has offered them endless possibilities to pursue careers, motherhood and/or singlehood, the bottom line is they’ve found something better.
Webmaster’s Note: Most people are familiar with Chip and Joanna Gaines. My wife is a big HGTV fan, along with being big fans of the Gaines’. What’s not to like: She’s adorable, he’s like your best friend, they do really great work, they’re raising a beautiful family and they are firm disciples of Christ.
Recently, Chip used his notoriety to publish a blog in the light of all the massacres last week, and focused on the simple idea of kindness. And it got me thinking… as clergy, shouldn’t we all be writing about some simple aspect of living the faith? We don’t need convoluted theological precepts and dogma. Follow Jesus’ example: keep it simple – love one another, you are forgiven, go and sin no more, etc. Don’t need a DD (or an MAT, for that matter).
With the priests’ scandal continuing to rear it’s ugly head, especially here in Buffalo, what we really need is to return to the basics. And push it hard – in everything we do: preach, teach, counsel, write. We should all be writing and publishing in whatever social media flavor you enjoy.
Chip’s message is simple. And he had the courage and creativity to reflect on where our culture is heading and call everyone to move beyond the hate, the fear, the anger.
You don’t have to be a deacon to push the Christian agenda. But as deacons, we need to stand next to all the Chips of the world, and promote the message that all is not lost. We can make a difference if each of us decides to be that difference.
I’ve been thinking a lot about
kindness lately, about where it starts and what keeps it moving from one person
to the next. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for a lot of people in our
country, and I can’t help but wonder, how did we get here?
I believe that we are all made in
likeness, and because of that, our hearts are naturally drawn toward one
another. But the thing about kindness is, it’s a choice. It’s something that we
should give freely with the hopeful expectation that it might one day be given freely
to us. And I’m not necessarily talking about kindness that takes shape as grand
gestures, or niceties that are offered up on special occasions. I’m talking
more in the day-to-day, in kindness that abounds in equal measure for a loved
one as it does a stranger on the street. The way I see it, how we choose to
interact with our neighbors, our coworkers, the people online, the check-out
clerk at the grocery store, and even the person who mindlessly cuts us off in
traffic has a profound effect on how others will choose to interact with us.
Because here’s the other thing I believe about kindness: It’s contagious.
At Magnolia, we have written
something we call the Magnolia Manifesto, which serves as a cornerstone or
lighthouse of sorts, as something we can point to and say this is what we
believe to be true. There’s a particular line that kept returning to me again
and again these past few weeks: “We believe in human kindness, knowing we are
made better when we work together.” Ain’t that the truth..
It made me think that there’s no
better time than now for our company to act on the things that we stand for.
Our team has made a bunch of these flyers, and written on each one is a simple
act of kindness. Kindness that asks us to look each other in the eye and see one
another as valuable human beings. We’ve decided to start right here at home in
Waco, TX. So we’re going to be hanging them up around the office, at the Silos
and all around town. We have a link to the flyer below so that you can download
and print a few for yourself. Hang them up at home, in your office, or at
school. I think a subtle reminder like this is sometimes all it takes to help
us choose kindness.
I believe in the resilience of
humankind and I can’t help but wonder what goodness we might be able to offer
this world if we joined our voices together. I’m challenging our people at
Magnolia to make kindness loud. I’d like to challenge y’all to do the same. If
you’re willing to join us in spreading kindness, use #makeKINDNESSloud on
Kindness is contagious, but the spark
has to start somewhere. Why don’t we start here? And why don’t we start now?
We created four different flyers—two
that include general acts of kindness (great for your home, office, or around
your hometown), one that is catered more towards kiddos (great for teachers and
schools) and one more that allows you to name the act and fill in the blank.
The topic of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est,
caught many by surprise. Moral relativism, secularization, abortion,
liturgy—these are some of the themes people expected him to address.
But instead, this new pope—known for his intellect, scholarship,
and courage to tackle controversial issues—chose to write on a topic quite
simple, timeless, and appealing to all: the mystery of love.
The Pope begins his teaching by noting how there is much
confusion in the modern world over what the word “love” means. “Today, the term
‘love’ has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word
to which we attach quite different meanings” (no. 2). Indeed, in a culture like
ours where a man can use the same word to describe his feelings about a
favorite beer (“I love Guinness”) or a favorite baseball team (“I love the
Chicago Cubs”) as he does to express his marital commitment to his wife (“I
love you”), it’s no wonder the word “love” is losing some of its profound
meaning. What do we really mean when we speak of love?
To offer some clarification, the Pope first explains two key
words that have been used throughout the centuries to describe love: eros and agape. Eros is commonly
called “worldly love,” and agape is love “grounded in and shaped by faith.” Eros is “possessive
love,” a love that is self-seeking, pursuing its own pleasure or advantage in a
relationship; while agape is a sacrificial love that selflessly seeks the
good of the other person. Eros is that “love between man and woman which is
neither planned nor willed but somehow imposes itself upon human beings” (no.
3). But agape is acquired through much effort, self-denial, and
commitment to the other person.
While Pope Benedict emphasizes that eros itself is not bad, he does critique this pagan
understanding of love as being “warped and destructive” (no. 4), for it focuses
primarily on one’s own feelings and desires and leaves out the sacrificial
aspect of love that serves the other person’s good (agape). “Love is not merely a sentiment,” he writes.
“Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvelous first spark, but it is
not the fullness of love” (no. 17).
This has important implications for men and women today. For
like the ancient Greeks, we, too, live in an era when love is primarily
associated with feelings and sexual desire. Popular movies, television shows,
and love songs constantly reinforce the association and get us to think that
supreme happiness awaits us just around the corner if only we give in to our passions
and emotions. In such an environment, it’s no wonder that the Church’s moral
teachings on pre-marital sex and marriage are not understood by so many people
in our world today. Why should I wait until marriage? Why should I suppress
those feelings that will lead me to love and happiness? Why does the Church
want to prevent me from experiencing love?
However, far from hindering love, the Church’s teachings on
sexuality actually help make true, lasting love possible. The Church challenges
us to build our lives not on the fragile, unstable kind of love found primarily
in sentiments that come and go (eros), but on the durable, committed, self-giving love (agape), which is the
kind of love our hearts most deeply desire.
Along these lines, Pope Benedict wisely warns us that slavishly
following the passions and emotions of eros is what prevents authentic love from developing. Eros may inspire
hope for supreme happiness and desire for communion with another person, but it
needs to be trained, directed, and purified.
Here we come to the heart of Pope Benedict’s teaching on human
love. He tells us that eros must be healed if it is to mature and develop into
the fullness of love. And the only way eros will be healed is through agape—self-giving love.
Indeed, the supreme happiness that eros drives me to seek is paradoxically found only when
I move beyond selfish preoccupation with my own feelings and pleasure and live
sacrificially for the other person’s good. As Jesus says in the Gospels,
“Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will
preserve it” (Lk. 17:33).
This is agape love. As Pope Benedict explains, “Love now
becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking
in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved. . .
. It is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice” (no. 6).
Eros, with its self-centered tendencies, gradually becomes
healed the more agape enters the picture. The more a person is willing
to sacrifice his own comfort, preferences, and pleasure for the sake of serving
his beloved’s good, the stronger the relationship will be. Indeed, eros and agape are never
meant to be completely separated. The passion of eros itself is meant to open up to the sacrificial,
other-centered love of agape.
But Pope Benedict emphasizes that man cannot live this
sacrificial agape love all on his own power. “He cannot always
give, he must also receive,” he writes (no. 7). Therefore, if we wish to love
others, we must constantly return to that ultimate source for agape in our own
lives: Jesus Christ. We will only be able to truly love others here on earth to
the extent that we are drinking deeply from the love of God Himself.
Sri is professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute, and is the
author of several books. He and his wife, Elizabeth, who served as one of the
first missionaries in FOCUS, contributed to the Catholic for a Reasonseries.
It is a familiar story. The particulars are more radical this
time. But it is essentially the same story.
A Catholic politician commits some grave public violation of
basic human rights. Outraged Catholics call for his head on an ecclesiastical
platter. The bishop wrings his hands but does essentially nothing.
The most brazen example yet is that of New York Gov. Andrew
Cuomo’s celebratory enacting of a law maintaining the legality of abortion just
prior to birth, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s refusal to excommunicate him for
The outrage among the faithful over the inaction of Cardinal
Dolan, and countless other bishops, is understandable. I share it.
It is the role of the bishops to teach, govern and sanctify the
Church. The less they do their job, the harder it is to form a laity with the
proper catechesis and holy boldness to defend faith, family and the unborn in
the public square.
But if your reaction to the barbarism of Gov. Cuomo consists
mostly of just shaking your fist at Cardinal Dolan, you are doing something
wrong. In fact, you are not doing your job as a layman.
This is something I have seen repeatedly in my fifteen years as
a Catholic lay activist: The strange tendency of the lay faithful to focus
almost entirely on the internal drama of the Church, to the exclusion of much else.
The result is a clericalized laity that is not much more effective than the
priests and bishops against whom they inveigh.
Landry, in a 2013 column expressing the early
hopes of the Francis pontificate, described it this way:
“Clericalization means focusing fundamentally on the things of the clergy
and, more specifically, the sanctuary, rather than on bringing the Gospel
to the world.”
In the fight for faith and family in the public square, this
clericalism of the laity fails in two ways.
First, and most obviously, we lose fights that we were never
In the Fall of 2007 Connecticut’s Catholic faithful erupted in
anger at our state’s bishops when they chose not to fight a law from going into
effect that forced the Catholic hospitals to provide the Plan B abortifacient
drug. But six months earlier, when we could have stopped the bill at the
legislature, the lay faithful were largely silent.
This incident was overshadowed by another attack on the Church
in Connecticut two years later in which the bishops and laity did rise up and
win. But in my experience, 2007 has been the rule and 2009 the exception. In
most cases, the lay faithful bring far more energy to excoriating the clergy
than they do to defending the faith in the public square.
Yet the laity’s most important sphere of influence is the public
square and that is where the bulk of our energy should be focused. When it is not,
we lose. And then we blame the bishops.
The second way in which the clericalism of the laity fails is in
how it skews our vision. It makes us parochial, in the bad sense. Instead of
being focused on where we can do the most good, we chase after things that,
even if achieved, would likely not bring about our desired goal.
I am talking about that most cherished item on the wish-list of
every disappointed pro-life Catholic: the excommunication / denial of communion
/ disinvitation from public events of pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
Yes, I think it should happen too. And yes, it should be done
for the good of their own souls and to redress the scandal they have caused.
But the vast majority of comments that I see, wishing for this
to happen, seem to be borne out of a belief that this action would turn the
tide in the fight for the unborn. That is, that politicians would change their
ways or that the sleeping giant of 60 million Catholics would stop voting for
This is a bizarre belief that could only result from spending
too much time in the exceedingly tiny subculture of the Catholic faithful and
not enough time in the rest of society. It would be as if it were still 1960,
when 80% of Catholics voted for Jack Kennedy, and the last six decades never
I am a 49
year old man who, except for 7th grade, attended
public school. My classmates were largely Irish or Italian Catholics. If, say,
Cardinal Dolan had disinvited Barack Obama from the Al Smith dinner in 2012, it
would not have changed a single vote among my old friends who re-elected him.
They might still check off “Catholic” on a census form but most
of them don’t even know who Cardinal Dolan is (or who Al Smith was). They
haven’t seen the inside of a church in years. And this is true not just of many
of the hundreds of people with whom I grew up, but also of members of my family
of origin and almost every cultural Catholic I know.
tendency to think a good excommunication might have the desired political
effect on this crowd is a result of being too much in the Catholic bubble. In a devastating
2014 look at “The Shame of the Catholic Subculture,” John Zmirak cited
research showing that the “orthodox Catholic market” in the USA is “no higher
than 1.2 million.” Those are the only ones who would take positive note of an
“We need to encounter a broader range of humanity than can be
found in that doctrine-conscious 5 percent,” Zmirak writes. That ought to be
the goal of every faithful Catholic who is rightly disgusted over Andrew
Cuomo’s celebration of the killing of unborn children in the final moments
Forget Cardinal Dolan for five minutes. Put aside the internal
dramas of the church. Focus instead on Christianizing your rightful sphere of
influence, the public square.
town committee of your preferred political party and advocate for candidates
who support Catholic values. Seek out your state’s
family policy council. And, on the national level, get involved with groups like CatholicVote.org.
These are entities that are focused less on excommunication in
the communion line and more on defeat and victory at the ballot box. And that
is where we should be focused too.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not
necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org
Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut
Action, a Hartford-based advocacy organization whose mission is to encourage
and strengthen the family as the foundation of society. His work has appeared
in The Hartford Courant, the Waterbury Republican-American, Crisis Magazine,
Columbia Magazine, the National Catholic Register, The Stream, CatholicVote,
and Ethika Politika. He lives in Waterbury, Conn., with his wife and their
seven children. The views expressed here are his own.
As one of the premier Catholic historians in this century,
Christopher Dawson sought to rehabilitate both the history of salvation and
religion in Europe. Strongly embraced by conservatives today, Dawson was
considered an innovative scholar among his peers. Even after Dawson’s
conversion in 1919, his interdisciplinary approach to history stirred
controversy among Catholic scholars. Dawson drew on the emerging disciplines of
anthropology and sociology to construct a fresh interpretation of the Christian
past and incorporated popular culture and art into his historical analysis.
Dawson wrote with two different audiences in mind. He sought both
to displace the bankrupt Victorian and Edwardian liberalism of his own day and
to shake the complacency of his coreligionists who preferred to bask in the
quickly fading light of false medievalism. His carefully crafted prose revealed
a nuanced and original understanding of Western history.
To combat scientific theories or progress, Dawson argued that
every civilization relies on those who most fully represent its ideals and
shape the culture through their actions. Dawson maintained that history is at
once aristocratic and revolutionary. It allows the whole world situation to be
suddenly transformed by the action of a single individual. It is this dynamic
historical process that is fatal to a secular understanding of religious
approaches to history. In the words of Edmund Burke that Dawson quoted with
approval, at times a common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn have
changed the face of the future and almost of Nature. To the Christian, this
understanding of historical development permits interpretation of past events
in the light of divine will and spiritual forces that may be unknown even to
the actors themselves.
Dawson set out for himself the task of explaining the twofold
nature of Christian history: while the Christian faith embodies eternal values
and the teachings of God, it nevertheless transforms utterly the cultures it
contacts. When the Christian faith enters into a culture, as when it first
burst upon an over civilized and jaded Rome, it begins a spiritual regeneration
that affects not only the material, external culture, but the interior
constitution of its members. In an essay entitled The Christian View of
History, Dawson wrote:
For the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is not simply a
theophany a revelation of God to Man; it is a new creation the introduction of
a new spiritual principle which gradually leavens and transforms human nature
into something new. The history of the human race hinges on this unique divine
event which gives meaning to the whole historical process.
This new, world-transforming history overthrows its rivals,
whether the Greek idea of an endless series of repeating cycles or the
spiritless homogeneity of the postmodern era. The Incarnation gives shape to
history and supplies a beginning, a middle, and an end: the Christian view of
history is a vision of history sub specie aeternitatis, an interpretation
of time in terms of eternity and of human events in the light of divine
revelation. This concentration on the physical substance of the Christian faith
was a conscious counter-weight to overly aesthetic theories of Christianity,
such as the super-Christianity of Matthew Arnold, for example, which reduced
the force of religious belief to a set of humanistic nostrums.
The figures whom Dawson chose to study highlight his interest in
the transformative power of the Christian faith: St. Augustine, who formed
Christian thought out of the ruins of the old world order; St. Thomas Aquinas,
whose reception of the Greek-Arabic body of scientific knowledge created a new
movement in Western thinking without compromising its integrity; and St.
Ignatius Loyola, who inaugurated a new spirituality to confront the challenges
of the Reformation. Dawson saw the present age as one similar to that of
Augustine or Ignatius, and in need of saints who have the vision to lead the
faithful into the next era. The Western world. he thought, was facing another
of its cultural discontinuities that displace the old order and usher in a new
social realm. The question that remained, for Dawson as for Eliot, was whether
this new era was to be Christian or a new civilization which recognizes neither
moral laws nor human rights.
Dawson wished first to reassert the importance of a millennium of
Christian belief to modern history. It is not necessary to be a Christian to
recognize that Christianity has played a profound role in shaping European
culture and that there is no aspect of European life which has not been
profoundly affected by that faith. Dawson sought to counter the skeptics of his
day who saw in Christianity at best a series of moral tales (and at worst mere
pretexts) that had no lasting influence on Western social practice or political
arrangements. This aspect of his writings won him many admirers, including T.
S. Eliot and Arnold Toynbee.
A more basic issue for Dawson was the nature of the history to be
taught once the importance of Christianity to Western history became
established. In 1960 Dawson noted the rise during the previous decades of an
extreme nationalism among the nations of Europe, a development that led every
European people to insist on what distinguished it from the rest, instead of
what united it with them. This undue stress on national differences has been
coupled with a denial of the spiritual foundations of European unity. We do not
need to look far to see that nationalist and ethnic violence continue to threaten
Europe and that the wall of separation remains as high as ever in the nations
of the West.
Dawson’s commitment to recover the moral basis of Christian
society is an ambitious one. In a late work. Understanding Europe,
Dawson describes the task in this way:
If we are to make the ordinary man aware of the spiritual unity
out of which all the separate activities of our civilization have arisen, it is
necessary in the first place to look at Western civilization as a whole and to
treat it with the same objective appreciation and respect which the humanists
of the past devoted to the civilization of antiquity.
In contrast to a nation centered view of European history, Dawson
advocated the study of Europe as a cultural whole, united by a common faith and
moral standards. He focuses on Europe, but includes the other non-Western
Christian societies, such as North Africa and the Orthodox churches. His point,
in essence, is a simple one. One cannot understand the whole by studying only
the parts, and if the whole is forgotten or explained away as unimportant. we
condemn ourselves to ignorance. Dawson saw much of Europe’s difficulty arising
either out of a loss of historical memory, as in Dawson’s own England, or from
the Nazi and communist attempts to make Christianity into a stage along the
road of Aryan domination or the classless society.
Dawson contended that it was precisely the gap between Christian
principles and their realization that provides the drama of European history, a
position that caused some tensions with more traditional Catholic historians.
Drawing on St. Augustine, Dawson saw the conflict between the City of God and
the City of Man in every age, from the simple dualism between Christian
civilization and barbarism in the pages of Bede to the sharp inner tensions
seen in the writings of Pascal. Although recognizing its divisiveness, Dawson
had kind words for the reformers’ zeal for the Gospel, as it provided an
impetus for a reinterpretation of the Catholic faith that gave rise to the
Baroque era and the great works of the counterreformation.
In a passage evocative of contemporary problems, Dawson described
the fundamental challenge to Christian culture as the revolt against the moral
process of Western culture and the dethronement of the individual conscience
from its dominant position at the heart of the cultural process. The medieval
insight concerning the central importance of the rationality and freedom of the
individual personality, an insight that is a hallmark of Western thought, is in
danger of being overwhelmed by a reabsorption of the individual person to a
collective identity, whether it be based upon nationality, ethnicity, or
When Western society no longer emphasizes moral effort and
personal responsibility, Dawson questions the very survival of civilization as
Christendom has known it for a thousand years. Modernity is not merely a return
to a pre-Christian paradise, as some New Age adherents would claim; rather, it
is a sudden wrenching of the course of history. Instead of a slow reversal of
the past millennium, Dawson says, Neo-paganism jumps out of the top-story
window, and whether one jumps out of the right-hand window or the left makes
very little difference by the time one reaches the pavement.
It was the Christian synthesis of freedom and community that made
modern democracy and political liberty possible, a relation that was not well
understood by the dominant Whig school of history in his day nor by the various
critical theories of our own. Glenn Olsen has pointed out that Dawson’s
position implies that some components of Catholic thought came to fruition only
after the Middle Ages, which was a sure departure from his contemporary
Dawson’s understanding of the achievement of Christianity in
creating a stable social structure based upon free membership in a spiritual
supranational community is crucial. The extensive treatment of other cultures
and their relationship with Christianity provided by Dawson is a model of a
proper multicultural approach. As James Hitchcock has noted, it is ironic that
the Catholic intellectuals who showed a deep respect for and sensitivity toward
other cultures have been largely forgotten in this post-Vatican II age.
Dawson wrote a number of important essays and studies of these non-Western
and non-Christian cultures and their relationship with the West. Dispensing
with the simplistic notion of Western superiority that he thought marred the
work of other historians, Dawson chose to dwell instead on the historical
record. Put simply, it was the process of European exploration and discovery
that shattered the relative isolation of the other world cultures and that
brought every people into an international community of nations. This is a
reflection of Europe’s missionary character, a character that arises out of a
sense of itself as the bearer of a universal and timeless message. Dawson does
not dispute the baser reasons for Europe’s expansion but states that critics of
colonialism and economic exploitation cannot deny the existence of the Western
missionary movement as a real factor in colonial expansion, nor even (can they)
identify the two elements and regard the missionary as an agent of capitalism.
In his statements on colonialism and the relations of the West to
the world, we see again Dawson’s dual strategy. To other Europeans who seek to
diminish the force of the Christian faith in the West, he presents the full
historical record to give Christianity its due. To his fellow Catholics, Dawson
supplies the reminder that there has been no perfect Christian society, only
societies more or less devoted to the principles of the Gospel.
The contemporary value of Dawson’s work lay in this recognition
and explication of the continuing mission of the Church to use the present
world situation of increased communication and ease of travel to bring about a
new evangelization and to fill the great spiritual need that exists alongside
of great wealth and technological advances. As Dawson wrote in The Movement
of World Revolution (1959), they must fulfill the Church’s universal
mission to bring the Gospel of Christ to all nations. He would be in full
agreement with Pope John Paul II’s call to build a Civilization of Love and
would perhaps recognize in the pope a present day Augustine or Aquinas
attempting to develop a new synthesis between the immense growth in human
knowledge in the past century and Christianity.
During his own lifetime, Dawson supported the social teaching of
the Church, which altered the traditional European tension between Church and
state to the more important relationship between religion and culture. As
Father Joseph Koterski, S.J., has written, the efforts of the papacy, as
represented in a document like Dignitatis Humanae, are an effort to
ready the Church for the struggles of the next century and the new millennium,
with a better vision than any current political regime or national culture
shows. As early as 1942, Dawson discerned this shift in papal emphasis and
himself announced a commitment to religious freedom as an essential step to the
restoration of all things under the universal kingship of Christ.
The Church, by pressing ahead of secular regimes even those of the
West in its defense of human rights and the inherent dignity of the human
person, is preparing for a new stage of Christian culture, with new forms of
Christian life. The body of work produced by Christopher Dawson gives us a
glimpse of the possibilities.
Age of Gods, 1928
Progress and Religion, 1929
Christianity and the New Age, 1931
The Making of Europe, 1932
The Spirit of the Oxford Movement, 1933
Medieval Religion and Other Essays, 1934
Religion and the Modern State, 1936
Beyond Politics, 1939
The Judgment of the Nations, 1942
Religion and Culture, 1948
Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, 1950
Understanding Europe, 1952
Medieval Essays, 1954
Dynamics of World History, 1957
The Movement of World Revolution, 1959
The Historic Reality of Christian Culture, 1960
The Crisis of Western Education, 1961
The Dividing of Christendom, 1967
Mission to Asia, 1966
The Formation of Christendom, 1967
The Gods of Revolution, 1972
Religion and World History, 1975