All posts tagged: secularization

Don’t Panic About Nones Who Stop Believing

Sooner or later—probably sooner rather than later these days—children stop believing in Santa Claus. My younger brother was an exception to this rule, although to be fair there were a lot more cultural supports for Santa Claus in the early 60’s, and my parents always arranged for someone dressed in convincing Santa attire to arrive in our front room parlor every Christmas Eve. However, we reached a point when the good Sisters in our parish school finally called my mother in and said, “It’s time to tell him.” My brother was devastated to learn the truth, but also embarrassed by the fact that it was not revealed to him sooner. I think of this often when I read all the hand-wringing about “Nones” and young adults “leaving the church.” According to research conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Pew Research Center, between 50 and 60 percent of people who claim no religious affiliation (the so-called “Nones”) report that they simply “stopped believing” in their childhood religion, usually before age 30. Of course, …

Editorial Musings: Restoring Sacramental Magic

This summer, I attended the biennial congress in Leuven, Belgium of Societas Liturgica, an ecumenical gathering of liturgical historians, theologians, and musicians from throughout the world. The congress’ theme was that of sacramentality. Rather than understand the sacramental through traditional categories (matter and form, substance and accidents), the various lectures of the congress sought to grasp the sacramentality of life itself, the manner in which God’s presence permeates history. This “sacramentality” of existence then should allow us to re-consider the nature of liturgical practice in post-modern, secular society. While sacramentality (the permeation of divine presence in human history) was held up as a virtue, magic remained a vice. The dismissal of sacramental magic is ubiquitous in modern (and even post-modern) works of sacramental theology. Louis-Marie Chauvet’s account of the sacramentality of existence—required reading for all those involved in liturgical theology—makes a habit of warning against a “magical” interpretation of the sacraments. A magical account of the sacraments would be one that does not concern itself with the intrinsic link between ethics and the sacraments. It …

Editorial Musings: Can Liturgy Heal a Secular Age?

It is hard to describe the early twentieth century liturgical movement as one grounded in Augustinian realism. From its very beginning, it was presumed that attention to liturgical formation, whether that included liturgical reform or not, would result in the healing of individualism, secularization, racism, and all the social ills in modern society. Secularization, in particular, was to be counteracted through liturgical renewal and reform. Fr. Lambert Beauduin, often regarded as the founder of the liturgical movement, noted that renewed attention to liturgical formation would re-awaken Christian vigor in society: The piety of the Christian people, and hence their actions and life, are not grounded sufficiently in the fundamental truths that constitute the soul of the liturgy; that is, in the destiny of all things unto the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the necessary and universal contemplation of Jesus Christ; the central place of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Christian life . . . All these truths, which find expression in every liturgical act, are asleep in men’s souls; the …

The Francis Effect Isn’t About Numbers

Yesterday in The New York Times, Matthew Schmitz of First Things contributed an op-ed debunking the supposed Francis effect. He noted that although the papacy is viewed in a more positive light than it was under Pope Benedict XVI, Catholics are not returning to the pews. In fact, there has been a slight or marginal decrease in the last eight years: New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent. Commentators, both religious and secular, have noted this fact before. Pope Francis, no matter how attractive he is viewed, is not bringing people back to active Mass attendance at least within the United States. We should not be surprised that lapsed Catholics remain, well, lapsed–despite the the magnetic pull of a single Pontiff. The attraction to Pope Francis must be understood within a broader …