Fr. George Rutler on Post-Comfortable Christianity

Fr. George Rutler has a great essay in Crisis Magazine about Post-Comfortable Christianity.  Here's an excerpt.  Please go over an read the whole thing:

There is in Paul a model for Catholics at the start of the Third Millennium which began with fireworks and Ferris wheels but is now entering a sinister stage.  Like Paul, it is not possible to be a Christian without living for Christ by suffering for him, nor is it possible to be a Christian without willing to die for him when he wants.   The Christian veneer of  American culture has cracked and underneath is the inverse of the blithe Christianity that took shape in the various enthusiasms of the nineteenth century and ended when voters were under the impression that they finally had a Catholic president.

This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ.   We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.”  Niebuhr, looking out from New York’s Neo-Athens on Morningside Heights with its Modernist Christian seminaries and highly endowed preaching palaces and office towers of denominational bureaucracies, caricatured the Messiah of mainline religiosity: ”A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”  The virtual collapse of  those institutions on Morningside Heights, is mute testimony to the truth of his irony.

The bishops of the United States have asked the faithful to pray for religious liberty, now facing unprecedented assault. The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.  This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the 1930’s.   St. Paul  was writing to us when he wrote to the Galatians and Corinthians and Washingtonians – or rather, Romans – in his lifetime.

Unless there is a dramatic reversal in the present course of our nation, those who measured their Catholicism by the Catholic schools they attended, will soon find most of those institutions officially pinching incense to the ephemeral genius of their secular leaders, and universities once called Catholic will be no more Catholic than Brown is Baptist or Princeton is Presbyterian. The surrender will not come by a sudden loss of faith in Transubstantiation or doubts about Papal Infallibility.   It will happen smoothly and quietly, as the raptures of the Netherworld always hum victims into somnolence, by the cost factor of buying out of government health insurance.

After Mass today up in Ottawa we had a similar discussion.  Canada already has "universal" healthcare, or socialized medicine, so it wasn't about that.  (And interestingly, when it was proposed in Parliament there were assurances tax dollars would never fund abortion!  Now we fund abortion on demand in Canada, with no law against killing an unborn child at any stage of pregnancy.)

Instead it was about  Catholic schools, which in Ontario receive tax dollars from Catholic parents who have their taxes directed to the separate school system.  Many now argue those Catholic schools are Catholic in Name Only (CINO).  One of the people in the discussion said he guessed that if you decided to take the faithful Catholic teachers and the faithful parents who want their children raised in the Catholic faith, you'd have a remnant of about ten per cent.  Otherwise the public Catholic school system is not much different from the regular public school system.

While in the United States, Catholic institutions face pressure on the HHS mandate, in Canada, various provincial governments are forcing anti-Catholic curricula and policies on Catholic schools, even private schools and, soon, we fear, even homeschooling parents.  Whether it is indoctrinating children into relativism disguised as a religious and ethical studies program in Quebec, or sexual education programs that teach kids how to masturbate or explain how to have safe [censored] sex (at the sixth grade level, no less), Caesar is feeling his oats and churches look like weak, decayed, compromised structures that will give way.

So, what are your hopes for the Ordinariates in this Post-Comfortable Christianity climate?

My biggest hope is that they will be part of a revival similar to the "various enthusiasms" of the 19th Century, only a revival that also has substance in addition whatever kinds of manifestations followed those revivals.

If there is no revival, then I hope they will be little islands of preservation, that keep the Catholic faith, beauty and tradition alive as the world around grows darker and more and more dangerous for Christians.

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (www.annunciationofthebvm.org) in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

3 thoughts on “Fr. George Rutler on Post-Comfortable Christianity”

  1. HEAR, HEAR!

    Asceticism should never be forgotten, because we should never forget the Lord's Suffering Servant. And so, we must practice Asceticism with the help of God's Grace, and the army of angels, martyrs, and saints to guide us.

  2. My personal view is that despite all the hard work that will be, and should be, done, only a few will be converted or reverted on that basis alone. The situation is so bad right now that the masses will only come when something of a supernatural order occurs, whether it be the arrival of a new Saint Francis, a providential man, or the Blessed Virgin in an unambiguous appearance, or something else.

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