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Of Multiple Catholicisms and Evangelical Transfer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 18 February 2008 06:45
As you can tell - I'm back. For 4 days.

Fr. Mike is doing his mission thang in Texas, then he and I will be joining forces again for two back-to-back missions here in Colorado Springs. But first I have to do a Called & Gifted in Salt Lake City next weekend. At least, I'll be sleeping in my own bed for most of the next two weeks. Beats sleeping on an airplane - something at which I have become exceptionally accomplished.

Loved the John Allen piece on Catholicism, Texas style, which Fr, Mike blogged about below. Allen's comment on the multiple Catholicisms of Texas - or the country - and the phenomena of "evangelical transfer" is absolutely dead on.

We have worked with two of the groups he mentioned as examples of "evangelical transfer": the Catholic Charismatic Center and Our Lady of Walsingham Anglican Use Parish. In fact, our Houston teaching team includes a priest from the Companions of the Cross (the religious association of priests responsible for the Charismatic Center) and Barbara Elliott, who is a parishioner at Our Lady of Walsingham.

Two more disparate approaches to the liturgy would be hard to find: the rarified solemnity of the Anglican use (complete with a host of intellectually inclined Anglo converts and a life-size replica of the original Holy House of Walsingham as the "Lady chapel") and the big box sanctuary and praise band (not to mention heavily Hispanic) worship of the Charismatic Center.

I have long thought that the relative vibrancy of Anglo American Catholicism is because of the continuous challenge of evangelicalism. It is great to have someone with Allen's credibility and bully pulpit say the same thing.

And I loved this:

At our student group meetings, ask a Catholic kid to pray and rather than reciting the 'Hail Mary' they're probably going to say something like: 'Father, we really just thank you Lord, we just want to give praise to you,'" Konderla said. "It sounds very much like what they hear from their Protestant friends in the dorms and sororities."

LOL! It was true when I was an evangelical student and it's amazing to see that they are still just praying "we really just want to thank you Lord!"

So deeply ingrained is this style of prayer as evangelical that I had a woman in Oklahoma come up and ask me if my teaching partner, Mark, was a Protestant. She did so because when I asked Mark to pray at the beginning of our sessions, he did so spontaneously and fluently, in his own words. You know, like the Baptists who surround the little parish in Prague. The irony is that was Mark, not I, who was the cradle Catholic on our team.

Unless Catholics live in a total ghetto, there will always be transfer from and to the majority culture. Traditionally, Catholics have been more comfortable with this than have Protestants. The question is: is it faithful, smart, discerned transfer that truly reflects the embodiment of the Gospel in this time and place or is it a transfer that obscures or denies a significant part of the faith?

I've said this before in my essay "When Evangelical is Not Enough" but here's the formula that I have found to work exceedingly well.

We must not believe that by default, we must follow evangelical models in order to be effective as evangelizers and formators. As Catholics, we have evangelizing assets in the Tradition, the sacraments, the Eucharist, and the communion of saints that evangelicals have not dreamed of. In my judgment, the most fruitful response Catholics can make to the challenging success of the evangelical movement is to return to the fullness of the apostolic Tradition with renewed expectations, asking, "How does knowing Christ change lives?" and then let the Tradition speak. Trusting in the fullness of Church teaching and letting it address the challenges of their times and experience has always been a source of tremendous creativity for saints and apostles over the centuries.

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