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In 1924, a memorial was raised in Washington D. C. to the religious sisters from 21 different communities who served as nurses in the Civil War. 40% of the female nurses in the war were Catholic sisters.
And where were Catholics in the great American struggle? Divided, like the country.
Most Americans perceived abolitionism to be a Protestant phenomenon; few Catholic leaders were active in the movement. In the South, prominent bishops such as John England of Charleston attempted to walk the fine line between Rome’s increasingly vocal opposition to slavery (Pope Gregory XVI issued a ringing condemnation of the slave trade in 1839, which many read as implying denunciation of slavery itself) and the need to demonstrate loyalty to the southern culture of which they were a part.
England’s successor, Bishop Patrick Lynch, exchanged a series of published letters with Archbishop John Hughes of New York in 1861. Both men displayed their fidelity to their respective regions. Hughes was pro-union and supported emancipation. Lynch perceived the conflict to be instigated by radicals in the North, such as the “Black Republicans” who promoted racial equality and the political program of Abraham Lincoln. Bishop Martin Spalding of Louisville was one of the more forthright slavery apologists among the Catholic leadership, publishing a defense of the "peculiar institution" in 1863. In contrast, Bishop James Whelan of Tennessee, refusing to be party to secession, resigned his see and moved north.
African-American Catholics might be expected to be anti-slavery and pro-Union, but they were very few in the North and exerted little influence in the Church or the abolitionist movement. In Louisiana, however, black Catholics helped to form three regiments of Union soldiers. These Afro-Creoles were ministered to by a French-born chaplain, Claude Paschal Maistre, in direct defiance of his superior, New Orleans archbishop Jean-Marie Odin. One of these Louisiana Catholics,Andre Cailloux, was the first black soldier to die in combat.
A poignant anniversary will be marked at 4:30 am tomorrow morning, Tuesday, April 12. It was at that hour exactly 150 years ago, that the shelling of Fort Sumter commenced and the Civil War began.
On April 8, Lincoln notified Gov. Francis Pickens of South Carolina that he would attempt to resupply the fort. The Confederate commander at Charleston, Gen.P.G.T. Beauregard, was ordered by the Confederate government to demand the evacuation of the fort and if refused, to force its evacuation.
On April 11, General Beauregard delivered the ultimatum to Anderson, who replied, "Gentlemen, if you do not batter the fort to pieces about us, we shall be starved out in a few days." On direction of the Confederate government in Montgomery, Beauregard notified Anderson that if he would state the time of his evacuation, the Southern forces would hold their fire. Anderson replied that he would evacuate by noon on April 15 unless he received other instructions or additional supplies from his government. (The supply ships were expected before that time.)
Told that his answer was unacceptable and that Beauregard would open fire in one hour, Anderson shook the hands of the messengers and said in parting, "If we do not meet again in this world, I hope we may meet in the better one." At 4:30 A.M. on April 12, 1861, 43 Confederate guns in a ring around Fort Sumter began the bombardment that initiated the bloodiest war in American history.
In her Charleston hotel room, diarist Mary Chestnut heard the opening shot. "I sprang out of bed." she wrote. "And on my knees--prostrate--I prayed as I never prayed before." The shelling of Fort Sumter from the batteries ringing the harbor awakened Charleston's residents, who rushed out into the predawn darkness to watch the shells arc over the water and burst inside the fort. Mary Chesnut went to the roof of her hotel, where the men were cheering the batteries and the women were praying and crying.
Fort Sumter fell after 33 hours of bombardment and miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured. The generous terms of surrender allowed Anderson to run up his flag for a hundred-gun salute before he and his men evacuated the fort the next day. The irony is that the only deaths occurred during the hundred gun salute when an accidental explosion killed two defenders.
More than 3 million Americans fought in the Civil War and roughly 620,000 or 2% of the US population died in it. 360,000 died from the north and 258,000 from the south.
Enjoy the following Civil War observations and anecdotes from Shelby Foote, the Mississippi historian of the Civil War.
Question from a reader in New York, a young woman who will celebrate her first anniversary as a Catholic at Easter:
"How about, I deeply desire to share Christ with the world, but I am afraid of the reactions of other lay Catholics?
I know Catholics with hidden spiritual lives. Some of them I knew for 5 or 10 years and it wasn't until after I converted that I found out they had any personal spiritual lives.
When I ask, why don't you talk about this with anyone, they don't say anything about priests shutting them down.
They say they are worried about looking weird in front of Catholic family and friends, or worried about bad reactions from other lay people who are involved in parish ministries. Adults in their early 30s, raised Catholic, tell me that their parents would not understand. I think their fears are well founded in some cases."
Fascinating. They are worried, not so much about what non-believers think but what other Catholics will think if they talk about their faith?
So, through our spontaneous communal discomfort about speaking of our experience of God, we are "policing" our own, so to speak. There is real, if seldom acknowledged, Catholic pressure on one another to stay silent.
Imagine what would happen if Catholics experienced the same kind of "soft" pressure in favor of sharing their faith? As happens in the evangelical world.
Is that why so many Catholics who become evangelical are suddenly willing and able to talk about faith issues at great length - because the "soft power", the wind of lived ecclesial culture has shifted dramatically, and the wind is now behind the back of the one who wants to evangelize?
I'm going to send Barbara's essay out to all our teachers immediately. I says what I tried to say in our Teacher training but in a much clearer and comprehensive style. In fact, I need to revise the Teacher training anyway and some of her words of wisdom (with attribution, naturlich!) will be going into it. Here's a few snippets.
"Sadly, many people of religious faith tend to dismiss entertainment as frivolous or exploitive. This is muddled thinking."
"Entertainment" simply refers to the effort to satisfy and engage human nature by appealing to the emotions. We have entertained whenever we have made people feel. Once we have them feeling, we can move them toward caring and thinking."
"Every communication should have what Aristotle called: Logos, pathos, and ethos. That is, there needs to be something for the mind, something for the emotions, and finally, something for the imagination."
"The two biggest rules of Hollywood meetings, and also movies:
Don't bore me.
Don't waste my time."
"Also, a good communication gives the hearers marching orders. If you have successfully summoned up the listener's passions, you will frustrate them if they don't know what to do with what you have told them. Always give the viewers something to do in a message."
Click and read. Download. Apply. Pass it on. Repeat.
The story of brothers Pheum Dina and Pheum Bolin, who were lured from Cambodia to work on the fishing boats three years ago. They say they were imprisoned on a Thai trawler for 3 months – with no pay and no chance to escape. They were slaves at sea.
You "abolish" the slave trade but someone always finds a way to prey upon the weak, poor, and desparate. How can Christians continue to fight slavery?
There’s a fascinating conversation over at my Facebook page that I wanted to moved over here so that other people could play.
The money quote:
“Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him.”
Novo Millennio Ineunte, 40
Sherry’s question: Does this statement of Pope John Paul II mean that if we have no desire to proclaim Christ, that we haven't yet experienced "genuine contact"? Or are there other dynamics at work?
Over the years, I’ve heard variations on a few typical answers (this isn't a response to any particular commenter on this post)
Answer 1: Silence runs deep
Many lay Catholics have a profound but hidden and almost completely non-verbal spiritual life. (And a common corollary, people who talk easily and a lot about their faith are shallow, e.g. like Protestants)
Answer 2: St. Francis said “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”
Lay Catholics preach effectively without words through their lives of faithfulness, honesty, and acts of compassion and justice.
Answer 3: Nobody here but us Carmelites.
Some of us are gifted to pray, not talk. It is just as powerful a witness (and really more profound) to pray in a hidden place where no one sees you.
Answer 4: The English made us do it.
The Irish experience of oppression by the English Protestants made Irish immigrants to the US reluctant to talk about their faith. And the prejudice they experienced as immigrants just reinforced that. Our history is our destiny.
Answer 5: We are powerless to do anything because of resistance and lack of support by priests
Everytime I try to start something, Father shuts it down or refuses to support it. What can a lay person do?
And something new that has emerged out of our conversation:
Answer 6: I'm afraid of the reactions of other Catholics. Other Catholics will get uncomfortable or mad if I talk about my faith.
"I know Catholics with hidden spiritual lives. Some of them I knew for 5 or 10 years and it wasn't until after I converted that I found out they had any personal spiritual lives.
When I ask, why don't you talk about this with anyone, they don't say anything about priests shutting them down.
They say they are worried about looking weird in front of Catholic family and friends, or worried about bad reactions from other lay people who are involved in parish ministries. Adults in their early 30s, raised Catholic, tell me that their parents would not understand. I think their fears are well founded in some cases." For more on this answer and the discussion about it, go here.
I have moved some of the comments over so you can see what people are saying below. What do you think?
Back to the Lineamenta for the Synod on the New Evangelization. Here's what I find so stunning, so powerful, so true.
Basically the Church is saying:
Transmitting the Faith is first and foremost transmitting a relationship with Jesus Christ, not teaching information about Jesus Christ. If a living relationship with Christ does not exist, we have not succeeded in "transmitting" the Faith.
We may have successfully conveyed Catholic theological concepts, dogma, discipline, and moral perspectives, Catholic history, facts about Catholic practices and canon law and the saints, etc.
But the Faith has not been transmitted unless the Person and the relationship at the center of the Faith has been transmitted.
And we can't transmit the the relationship at the center of the Faith unless we, ourselves, have lived that relationship.
Essentially, if I'm not a disciple myself, I can't evangelize. I can educate others about the faith without being a disciple.
But I can't transmit the Faith in a living way to someone else because I can't give away what I don't possess. I can't make disciples without being a disciple myself.
Think I'm over-stating? Read the passage from the Lineamenta below:
"In referring to the Gospel, we must not think of it only as a book or a set of teachings. The Gospel is much more; it is a living and efficacious Word, which accomplishes what it says. It is not so much a system of articles of faith and moral precepts, much less a political programme, but a person: Jesus Christ, the definitive Word of God, who became man. The Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, not only does the Gospel have Jesus Christ as its content; but even more, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is also the promoter and the centre of its proclamation and transmission. Consequently, the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realization of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father.
Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for this personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ.
The faith-encounter with the person of Jesus Christ is a relationship with him, “remembering him” (in the Eucharist) and, through the grace of the Spirit, having in us the mind of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI stated: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. [...] Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.” The Church realizes herself precisely from carrying out her task of proclaiming the Gospel and transmitting the Christian faith.
This personal encounter allows individuals to share in the Son’s relationship with his Father and to experience the power of the Spirit. The aim of transmitting the faith and the goal of evangelization is to bring us “through him [Christ] in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph 2:18). This is the newness of the Christian God. From this perspective, transmitting the faith in Christ means to create the conditions for a faith which is thought-out, celebrated, lived and prayed; in short, this means participating in the life of the Church. This way of transmitting the faith is very much grounded in Church Tradition. Reference to it is found in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, both of which take up the subject of the new evangelization so as to encourage, explain and repropose it.
The Church Transmits the Faith Which She Herself Lives
12. The transmission of the faith is a very complex, dynamic process which totally involves the faith of Christians and the life of the Church. What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted. . .
The Gospel can only be transmitted on the basis of “being” with Jesus and living with Jesus the experience of the Father, in the Spirit; and, in a corresponding way, of “feeling” compelled to proclaim and share what is lived as a good and something positive and beautiful."
I’ve been working my way through the Lineamenta or “Guidelines” put out by the Synod of Bishops last month in preparation for the Synod on the New Evangelization to be held in Rome in October, 2012. The Lineamenta provides guidelines and a series of questions to which bishops, head of religious orders, and other Catholic leaders are asked to respond. Their responses are the basis upon which a draft of a new magisterial document on the New Evangelization will be discussed at the 2012 Bishop’s Synod in Rome. So the Lineamenta sets the tone and parameters for the discussion to come.
The title is telling: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
I find the issues and questions being raised to be dead on, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Whoever wrote the Lineamenta really grasps our lived situation in the west in the early 21st century.
Word forms like “ecumenical” and “disciple” (20 times), personal”(25 times), encounter (36 times), “change” (45 times), “missionary” (51 times) “experience” (60 times), “transmit” (63 times), proclaim (71 times), “Jesus” (83 times), “live” (94 times), “Gospel” (90 times), “Spirit” (105 times) “community” (105 times) and especially “new” (206 times) are key. Meanwhile, the vague and ubiquitous phrase “Catholic identity” isn’t anywhere to be found.
This is not another compilation of high level abstractions and exhortations on the topic of evangelization. This is a serious meditation on where we actually are in the post-Christian west in terms of transmitting a living, personal Catholic faith.
The emphasis on ‘transmit” is crucial, I think. Transmitting the faith is an organic, full-orbed, whole person/whole life concept that goes far beyond instruction in ideas or doctrines or facts. Some synonyms for transmit are bequeath, broadcast, carry, channel, conduct, convey, disseminate, funnel, hand down, hand on, impart, instill, pass on and relay.
What does it mean to successfully “transmit the faith”?
According to the Lineamenta, “. . . the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realization of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father.
Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for this personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ. . .
This personal encounter allows individuals to share in the Son’s relationship with his Father and to experience the power of the Spirit.”
The non-negotiable pre-requisite for successfully “transmitting the faith” according to the Vatican’s guidelines?
“What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted.”