success stories

The Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century
Renewing and Reimaging the City of God
Editor: John Deedy
Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN

Excerpts from Forward:

Early in the twentieth century --- in 1907 to be precise --- the book The Thirteenth, Greatest of Centuries appeared under the quaint, lost imprint of the Catholic Summer School Press. Given the publisher, the book hardly seemed to need explication. It celebrated a time --- and a Church. Written by James J. Walsh, a New York medical doctor and Fordham University professor. The Thirteenth, Greatest of Centuries was enormously successful, running through more than ten printings, including a large special edition sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The book made Walsh a celebrity on the Catholic lecture circuit and helped lead to a number of honors, including pap knighthoods and the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal for 1916.

The Catholic Church of the Twentieth century, the subject matter of this book, may not rival personality by personality, event by event, advance by advance, high point by high point, every detail of Walsh’s thirteenth. But it has defining moments --- indeed, two generally accounted of seminal importance: the convoking of Vatican Council II in 1962 and the election in 1978 of John Paul II, a Pole, the first non-Italian pope since the Dutchman, Hadrian VI, back in 1522. Each of those occurrences was to set the Church on dramatic new courses --- the council in terms of ecclesiastical reform and renewal; the election of the Polish pope in terms of an ideological quickening of Catholic presence in the wider world. It is a journey that the Church is about to this day, with a pilgrim people as passengers. The thirteenth century, incidently, had eighteen popes and three councils --- Lateran IV, Lyons I, and Lyons II --- and considerable papal and ecclesial history pasted down to us from those times, notably the inspiration of Francis, the art of Giotto, Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, reforms of Innocent III (alas, however, the Fourth Crusade and the mandating of special dress for Jews and Muslims to render them objects of opprobrium), and the Lateran Council IV’s defining of the Eucharist in terms of “transubstantiation” a concept that settled an ancient theological quandary.

Table of Contents:

The Papacy: From Low Regard to High Esteem by Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J.
Priestly Ministry: A Search for Identity and Purpose by Howard J. Gray, S.J.
Sisters and Brothers: An Evolved and Evolving Religious Life by Barbara Kraemer, O.S.F.
The American Catholic Family: Reality or Misnomer? By Sally Cunneen
Women and the Church: Rooting Out Stereotypes by Catherine Lupori Mary Jo Richardson
Catholic Youth: The Presumed Become the Pursued by David J. O’Brien
Catholic Education: Helping Shape Intellectual, Cultural and Civic Life by Jeanne Knoerle, S.P.
Biblical Scholarship: When Tradition Met Method by Patricia M. McDonald, S.H.C.J.
Ecumenism: From Isolation to a Vision of Christian Unity by Jeffrey Gros, F.S.C.
Social Justice: Catholic Teaching Goes Global by John C. Cort
Money and the Faith: Is Mammon an Ogre Still? By John C. Haughey, S.J.
Church and State: Large Issues Resolved, Large Issues Pending by James Finn
Communications and the Arts: Lost: The Mind of the Church by Michael O. Garvey
Spirituality: Five Twentieth-Century Witness of Discipleship by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

An excerpt from Bishop Morneau’s article worth pondering :
Every decade, every century, every millennium has its lessons. Here are ten lessons from the past one hundred years that speak to me of spirituality. Whether or not we have learned these lessons and are living them is another matter.
1. Growth demands participation. In the Vatican II document on the liturgy, every worshiper is challenged to full, conscious, active participation. This principle cuts across every segment of life: we do not grow as spectators. Life is not a sport of observers but for participants.

2. “No more war! No more war!” This lesson has not been learned. Pope Paul VI’s plea forces us to ponder again the horrors of our centuries: world wars, the Holocaust, genocide. Becoming peace-makers and reconcilers is our urgent task.

3. Discipleship demands stewardship. Stewards are people who know that all is gift and comes from God. Our claim to be followers of Christ requires that we nurture and share our gifts of time, talent, and treasures with others. Stewardship is not an option.

4. Dialogue is the name of the game. With modern technology we have the tremendous capacity of entering into communication with the entire world. Mutual understanding is now a real possibility, and understanding, if graced, can lead to peace.

5. “Take only what ye need!” This adage, if lived, would mean that we would have a world in which goods would be distributed among all nations. We must reclaim the ability to know and live the distinction between need and want, between what is necessary and what is useful.

6. In omnibus respice finem! (“In all things, look to the end.”) A renewed sense of eschatology helps us to put things in proper perspective. Spirituality keeps teaching us that we came from God, live in his love, and are destined to return home one day.

7. Empowerment of gifts. Ministry is grounded in two realities: needs and gifts. In recent times we have sensed a rich development in using the gifts of more and more people. We still have a ways to go, aware that God will hold us accountable for not using our personal gifts and for inhibiting others from using their gifts in proper ways.

8. A growing sense of interdependence. For many decades a type of absolute freedom and autonomy has led to a devastating individualism. There are now signs indicating that only through mutuality and cooperation can we achieve full personhood.

9. Call to liberation. Throughout the world there have been strong movements to thwart oppressive regimes. Some of the means used have been violent; others, respectful of human dignity. The gospel call to liberation is reaching more and more people.

10. Banner: “The main thing is to know the main thing and to keep the main thing the main thing.” Of course, the main thing in our spiritual life is to be loved and to be loving. Augustine describes grace in those terms: Quia amasti me, Domine, fecisti me amabilem. (Because you have loved me, O Lord, you have made me lovable.”)

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