“Take Thee to a Nunnery”: The Rise of Women Vocations to the Convent

“Take Thee to a Nunnery”: The Rise of Women Vocations to the Convent

Source: Fox News

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.

Christianity – Rebuilding with Simple Blocks

Christianity – Rebuilding with Simple Blocks

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.

Thanks, Chip… great job!

We Believe in Human Kindness

by chip gaines

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 social media.

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.

Surprised by Love

By Elizabeth and Edward Sri

Source: https://stpaulcenter.com/surprised-by-love/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sbr&utm_content=button-blog_sri_love

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. 

Edward 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 Reason series.

Lay Catholics: Stop Waiting for your Bishop to do Your Job

by Peter Wolfgang

Source: www. CatholicVote.org

Submitted by Deacon Jim Jaworski

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 it.

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.

Fr. Roger 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 really in.

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 them.

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 happened.

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.

The 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 excommunication.

“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 before birth.

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.

Join the 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

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.

Christopher Dawson – Christ in History

Christopher Dawson – Christ in History


Source: catholiceducation.org

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 gender.

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 Catholic history.

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.

Select bibliographyThe Age of Gods, 1928
Progress and Religion,
Christianity and the New Age,
The Making of Europe,
The Spirit of the Oxford Movement,
Medieval Religion and Other Essays,
Religion and the Modern State,
Beyond Politics,
The Judgment of the Nations,
Religion and Culture,
Religion and the Rise of Western Culture,
Understanding Europe,
Medieval Essays,
Dynamics of World History,
The Movement of World Revolution,
The Historic Reality of Christian Culture,
The Crisis of Western Education,
The Dividing of Christendom,
Mission to Asia,
The Formation of Christendom,
The Gods of Revolution,
Religion and World History,