Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

6/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I realize this is a brief commentary, requiring a much more detailed explanation as well as more suggestions for the way forward

I've had this discussion with Catholic lay leaders and clergy many times in different parts of the country.  Never have I encountered more than a mild protest -- most of the time there is general agreement with the need for parish life to undergo a change in kind, not in degree. In other words, a fundamental conversion that will involve the bishop, chancery staff, clergy, religious, and most of all, the laity. 

Deal W. Hudson

Deal W. Hudson

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: culture, evangelical, catholic, evangelism, Holy Spirit, new evangelization, culture, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I don't mean to say that Catholics have failed the culture without exception. I'm asserting that Catholics can be judged as having failed the culture by two standards: First, their numbers as the nation's largest Christian denomination, and second, by a comparison of their influence to Evangelical Protestants. 

I've been a Catholic thirty years, since 1983. During that time I've tried to serve the Church in a variety of ways, from teaching and writing, to magazine publishing, radio, television, and political participation. 

In my conversion memoir, An American Conversion: One Man's Search for Truth and Beauty in a Time of Crisis (Crossroad 2003), I described the freedom I had discovered in becoming a Catholic, that is, the encouragement I felt to use my gifts to engage the totality of the culture. The experience of doing this work has been both laborious and disappointing. 

A small but recent example -- most recently my weekly radio show on the Guadalupe Radio Network (1160 AM WMET) was canceled for including - inappropriate content - that I had read verbatim from my conversion memoir. The objectionable passage was about the great French Catholic writer Julian Green who I identified as a homosexual. I was then accused of  promoting my own homosexual desire on Catholic radio! My wife and a large number of friends and acquaintances got quite a belly laugh over that one!

Now, back to my assertion about Catholics failing the culture. I'm going to skip over how I came to this conclusion over the past several decades and give you the bottom line: It's the lack of vitality in our parish life and worship.  If you went back and forth between Evangelical Protestant and Catholic communities, as I often do as a part of my work, one thing stands out in stark contrast -- the individual Evangelical Protestant church is more dynamic, more unified, more committed to sharing its faith, more hopeful about impacting the culture by its witness. 

You don't see Evangelicals backing into parking spaces to make a quick getaway after Mass; you don't see them quick-stepping, head down into the church or ignoring everyone around them; you don't see them leaving as quickly as possible after their - obligation -  has been fulfilled.  You see a community; you see friends who have gotten to know each other through the church, many of whom are making plans to spend time together outside  church services. 

Some years ago I went through a very difficult time in my life, one that was well-publicized in the mainstream media and also treated to a full-color spread on page 2 in my own diocesan newspaper (thank you very much).  During that period of my life there was not a single inquiry from anyone in my parish. The next, and only, time I heard from the pastor he wanted a major donation. Thankfully my friends, many of whom are devout Catholics, including our own Deacon Keith Fournier, stood by my side until the worst was over, but the experience underscored how little parish life really matters pastorally and personally. 

My wife, Theresa, who is also a convert has commented to me many times, - Catholics make it so difficult to be Catholic.  She was referring to the deadness of the liturgies, the lack of welcome, expressions of gratitude, the underlying attitude of - Ok, you've got to come to Mass or you're in mortal sin and consigned to hell.-  (Let me emphasize, once again, there are exceptions!)

I've had this discussion with Catholic lay leaders and clergy many times in different parts of the country.  Never have I encountered more than a mild protest -- most of the time there is general agreement with the need for parish life to undergo a change in kind, not in degree. In other words, a fundamental conversion that will involve the bishop, chancery staff, clergy, religious, and most of all, the laity. 

Since John Paul II there has been much discussion of - evangelizing the culture - and for Catholics to become more - evangelical - in their witness to the world.  The self-proclaimed - Evangelical Catholics- often look and sound, to my ears anyway, like Protestant Evangelicals with a different vocabulary.  There has been no genuine integration of evangelical zeal with Catholic piety, rather Southern Evangelicalism has been laid over the Catholic faith like peanut butter over stale bread.  That's not enough!

An example of someone who has integrated his Catholic faith with Evangelicalism is the prolific Matthew Kelly whose books and appearances have deservedly gained a national following. An Australian, and an excellent golfer by the way, Kelly is the kind of model of Catholic evangelization that is both distinctive and effective. But it needs to find its way into the parishes and take root there. 

I realize this is a brief commentary, requiring a much more detailed explanation as well as more suggestions for the way forward. They are in the works, but before publishing them I would appreciate any feedback the readers of Catholic Online will kindly provide.

------
Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D, is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Following Ferguson shooting, police departments rush to adopt body cameras Watch

Image of The purchasing of body cameras by police departments nationwide has increased dramatically following the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Whether you believe the story told by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, or by the family of Michael Brown, it is certain that the case has changed the face of law enforcement in America. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of body cameras by police ... continue reading


Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 20:1-4, 11--21:2
1 Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:29-33
29 And he told them a parable, 'Look at the fig tree ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 28th, 2014 Image

St. Catherine Laboure
November 28: St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter