Thomas More College Fellow, Dr. Ryan N.S. Topping recently gave an interview to Catholic World Report about his new book, Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How The Catechism Can Shape Our Common Life. In it, Topping talks about the role of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the importance of philosophy and virtue, the fruits of Vatican II, the centrality of liturgy, and how to fight the -isms that threaten the Church, the family, and the culture.
Speaking of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Topping said that the Catholic imagination must be excited: “Far more important than good books is the renewal of liturgy within our churches and the restoration of order within our families and schools. Books rarely excite without lively teachers to place them in our hands. To explain a doctrine is to teach, but to illustrate how its meaning can transform action is to excite.”
Among other things, Topping argues that the faithful must recapture a grounding in the basics of Catholic philosophy through education, and lead virtuous lives.
We improperly censure ourselves each time we talk about “faith communities” or“Christian values” or “gender”. None of these things exist in the Catholic lexicon.We belong to the Church, believe in good and evil, and are created male and female. Language shapes our perceptions. We need to recapture once more,through catechesis and in our schools and colleges, a grounding in the basics of Catholic philosophy. Not that everyone needs to become a scholar. But good philosophy is needed if only to counter bad philosophy. And our public discourse has been dominated for a very long time by those versed in sub-human philosophy.
How to reverse this trend? Every profession and trade affords its own opportunities for heroism. If you are a college president, refuse to remove crucifixes from your classrooms. If you are a principal of a Catholic high school, hire Catholic teachers. If you are a Catholic doctor, stick your neck out and refuse to prescribe contraception. If you are a mother, know what your children are being taught at school, and assert your role as the primary educator.
He had this to say about the Second Vatican Council and the importance of evangelization:
I have no doubts that the Church was in need of Vatican II. In many ways, we are only now beginning to witness how the Church can bring modernity and Scripture into a fruitful dialogue. The recent books of Pope Benedict XVI on Scripture illustrate just this point. The problem is, however, that doctrines die without disciplines. One of the prudential oversights of the bishops during the post-conciliar era was to underestimate the corrosive power of a technological and consumerist society upon our habits. We assumed too blithely that the basic patterns of social life would remain informed by a Christian ethos. That ethos has now been abandoned, and Christianity once again must become a deliberate choice made by every family to adopt. Today, if you do not actively evangelize your children, they will be lost.
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