Catholic and Enjoying It: Fortress Catholicism vs. The New Evangelization

Mark Shea, who writes at Catholic and Enjoying It, has some words for Fortress Catholics. The ones who are terrified that the Gospel of Christ cannot prevail against the ways of the world, the kind maniacally obsessed with paranoia over truly true pure catholicism, unlike the kind the rest of the fake sinful Catholics around here keep ruining. Here’s something to think about. I for one am glad for the New Evangelization.

Here’s a little Fortress Catholicism scenario:

So: Code red. Circle the wagons. The enemy is within the gates. The mask is off. The Faithful must huddle a little more closely together and shield themselves from the nightmare of Fake Catholics like Leah who are closing in on the Truly True Church with all their questioning and thinking and all that other modernist stuff. More evidence that the whole New Evangelization is another failure of that AmChurch liberal hero John Paul the Overrated. What this Church needs is a good purging, starting with all those converts. What we need to do is tighten the defenses on the Fortress, batten down the hatches, return to 1956 Cleveland Catholicism when everything was perfect and only allow converts in when they have passed a rigorous ideological exam created by the (anonymous) authors of Pewsitter and similar sites dedicated to the Preservation of the Fortress.

Here’s reality: The Church *exists* to evangelize. That means the Church is, in perpetuity, going to be engaged with people who don’t think with the mind of the Church perfectly and are still learning stuff and thinking it through. If you approach your faith as though it is a Fortress to be defended–as though the promise is “The Gates of Heaven shall not prevail against the world”–and your whole job consists of watching everything go to rack and ruin while you labor in vain to restore the Church to some imagined Golden Age then the joy of the gospel is going to elude you and you will become a particularly pitiable antiquarian, but not a Catholic and not a happy person.

I often believe that Liberals & Conservatives alike have wasted so much time on intra-church issues. Enclosed in our own little self-referential bubble, where we disdain those who don’t measure up to our idea of what the Church is.

There is such a lack of real manly virtue. Hope. Courage. In addition, not just because it is unproductive to bemoan what was lost in Vatican II reforms, or secularism, or whatever, but it’s not like there was a Golden Age in the Church before the Council. Study your history, it is short sighted to enclose the Church because things got tricky, because things got messy. Know your history.

And really, that is why we were founded. Jesus didn’t commission us to be culture warriors. Jesus didn’t qualify us to be moral/ethical teachers. Jesus didn’t tell us to go home, and have a nice cozy life. Jesus sent the Apostles out to the ends of the Earth, outside of their comfort zones, to proclaim Christ, his salvation, and invite them to New Life & Grace in the Sacraments.

Catholic and Enjoying It: Fortress Catholicism vs. The New Evangelization


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