The Church and Modern Life

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Let Christmas Come Early. A Billion-Dollar Joker. On the Indestructibility of Tina Turner. Instead, he proposed, perhaps based on a line of John Henry Newman, that Christian history is composed of roughly to year periods. Each age begins in crisis but also with intense spiritual activity and a new sense of mission to evangelize the world. This is a partial truth. Altars had become less important than the thrones that made service at them very comfortable. Weigel somewhat flattens the picture here. In Gregory XVI —46 and Pius IX —78 we see a magnification of this reaction and the beginning of the modern papacy, with its pilgrimages to Rome and personal devotion to the pope.

Gregory condemned Catholic Poles for revolting against their Russian overlords but also condemned slavery and the slave trade.

Church of Modern Life

Pius, whose initial instinct was to find a modus vivendi with the new world, was mugged by the revolutions of His papal documents, especially the encyclical Quanta Cura and its appendix, the Syllabus of Errors , pushed back hard, though not always wisely, against modernity. This emphasis on and teaching about papal authority did, however, keep the transnational and universal understanding of the Church at the forefront.

He encouraged study of the Bible in original languages with some modern methods. Thus modern Catholic social teaching began with an emphasis on justice as more than freedom of contract but also with a declaration of limits on the powers of government. Weigel argues for its necessity — despite the lack of a burning doctrinal issue or Church crisis to call it forth — and its success. It made a case for religious freedom on distinctly Catholic grounds and for a principled pluralism in public life.


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These points might make one ask whether the Council itself was timed right. The pair, through their papal and personal writings and speeches, made clear in the fourth act that the good things of modernity could be enjoyed only if a healthy public culture sustained political and economic life, reason was grounded in metaphysical reality, and freedom was treated not as the ability to choose anything but as the duty to choose the good.

The irony was that, long seen as the enemy of modernity, the Church was proposing a way to save it. We might take a different view, then, of this fifth act. The s perhaps also marked the end of a midcentury Catholic revival in literature and the arts. It may return to earlier models of more-traditional liturgy, more-exact conciliar speech, and a view of the Church in which the popes are important but not the main protagonists. Of necessity, it may also see the Church step back temporarily from the public role it assumed in this age until it better orders its own house. Conversion, like judgment, begins with the house of God 1 Peter More articles.

Previous articles. In This Issue Articles. By Ramesh Ponnuru.

No small end in sight

By Jay Nordlinger. By John Hirschauer.

Pope explained in Brazil what type of Church the modern society needs

Why are we terrorizing children over an exceptionally remote possibility? By Charles C. By Rich Lowry. For much of our clerisy, the nation is an anachronism or disgrace.

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Being Church in a modern world

By Richard Brookhiser. By Kevin D. By Madeleine Kearns. By Peter Tonguette. By David P. By Jessica Hooten Wilson. City Desk. When you receive a good deed, exert yourself for the next person down the line. By Ross Douthat. Into the relative quiet two new zombie flicks come lurching. The two can very well be harmonized. The Church today is faced with an immense task: to humanize and to Christianize this modern civilization of ours. The continued development of this civilization, indeed its very survival, demand and insist that the Church do her part in the world.

That is why she claims the co-operation of her laity. And St.


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In every age, the church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task. In language intelligible to every generation, it should be able to answer the ever recurring questions which people ask about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come, and how one is related to the other. All must consider it their sacred duty to count social obligations among their chief duties today and observe them as such. This will be realized only if individuals and groups practice moral and social virtues and foster them in social living.

Then, under the necessary help of divine grace, there will arise a generation of new women and men, the molders of a new humanity. The more the power of men and women increases the greater is their responsibility as individuals and as members of the community. There is no question, then, of the Christian message inhibiting them from building up the world or making them disinterested in the good of others: on the contrary it makes it a matter of stricter obligation.

Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectation of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress dearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society.

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The church, then, believes that through each of its members and its community as a whole it can help to make the human family and its history still more human. It is no less mistaken to think that we may immerse ourselves in earthly activities as if these latter were utterly foreign to religion, and religion were nothing more than the fulfillment of acts of worship and the observance of a few moral obligations.

One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and their day-to-day conduct. As far back as the Old Testament the prophets vehemently denounced this scandal, and in the New Testament Christ himself even more forcibly threatened it with severe punishment. Let there, then, be no such pernicious opposition between professional and social activity on the one hand and religious life on the other. Christians who shirk their temporal duties shirk their duties towards his neighbor, neglect God himself, and endanger their eternal salvation.

By their words and example and in union with religious and with the faithful, let them [the laity] show that the church with all its gifts is, by its presence alone, an inexhaustible source of all those virtues of which the modern world stands most in need. Let them prepare themselves by careful study to meet to enter into dialogue with the world and with people of all shades of opinion. Holding loyally to the Gospel, enriched by its resources, and joining forces with all who love and practice justice, they have shouldered a weighty task here on earth and they must render an account of it to him who will judge all people on the last day.

The hopes and forces which are moving the world in its very foundations are not foreign to the dynamism of the Gospel, which through the power of the Holy Spirit frees people from personal sin and from its consequences in social life. For unless the Christian message of love and justice shows its effectiveness through action in the cause of justice in the world, it will only with difficulty gain credibility with the people of our times. The Church has received from Christ the mission of preaching the Gospel message, which contains a call to people to turn away from sin to the love of the Father, universal kinship and a consequent demand for justice in the world.

This is the reason why the Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of people and their very salvation demand it. The Church, indeed, is not alone responsible for justice in the world; however, she has a proper and specific responsibility which is identified with her mission of giving witness before the world of the need for love and justice contained in the Gospel message, a witness to be carried out in Church institutions themselves and in the lives of Christians.

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