Friday, December 14, 2007

Advent with Fr. Hecker: Day 10

It is a sad, sad time for religion when the prelates and priests of the Church appear to sympathize more with the oppressors than with the oppressed, and are more concerned in enforcing the duties of the people than in enlightening them in regard to their rights. The work of the Church is "to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke." (Is 58:6)

It is not to be wondered at that in such a state of society there should spring up a radicalism which is atheistic, revolutionary and destructive.

Intellectual renewal such as Leo XIII aims at will bring about religious, moral, social and political regeneration. But it must not be forgotten that the application of Christianity to the social and political state of society is a part of the duty of the leaders of the Church. This latter needs be brought forward if the Church would not lose its hold on the most numerous classes of society. It was the failing in this duty of the French clergy which led mainly to the Revolution of [17]'98.
(Diary, October 1880)


Georgette said...

Hi, G! I'm just enjoying catching up on blog-reading...and enjoying the stuff on yours, espec. the readings by Fr Isaac Hecker. I was wondering why in his photo, though, he is dressed in ordinary clothes and not those of a priest?

Also, whenever you get a chance, I wonder if you might explain a little bit about why you chose the Paulists?

PS we're going to the US in a few days for Christmas (my first Christmas there in 8 years! woohoo!) If I don't get to "talk" to you soon, then I wish you a wonderful and holy Christmas...and until then, a continued holy Advent! :)

Georgette said...

oops, I forgot to check the "follow up with email" box, so I'm trying it again :)

Gashwin said...

Hiya Georgette! Good to hear from you ... sorry we'll miss each other, so to speak, over Christmas. You'll be in the US and I will be in India! Safe travels!

Glad you're enjoying the blog. Fr. Hecker was quite something! As you may know, his main passion was the conversion of America to the Catholic faith. That's the reason he founded the Paulist Fathers (and left -- if that's the word, it's a rather complicated story -- the Redemptorists). His own personal vocation was to spread the Catholic faith to this Protestant and (even in the mid-19th century) somewhat post-Christian nation.

In the 1860s, I believe, he went on the Lyceum circuit, giving talks to non-Catholics in the Lyceum (public auditoria) around the country. The audience was mainly Protestant, and this, if you recall, is during the height of nativist, anti-Catholic sentiments. At this point, I think, he felt he would be better heard if he appeared in secular dress, rather than in a Roman collar. I think he took St. Paul's maxim to be "all things to all people" seriously.

The ordinary dress would have been a habit, a cassock similar to what the Redemptorists wore. This is still the Paulist habit, and, with some of the younger guys, it's coming back into currency. :)

I also believe (but I could be completely wrong; this is what I recall vaguely) that it wasn't uncommon for Roman clergy to wear secular dress during the mid-19th century. I forget when (maybe the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore?) the collar was mandated for clergy.

From what I've read, the Lyceum circuit was a success, in the sense that he was well received.

As to why I entered discernment with the Paulists (I'm a novice. I've not "joined" them in any formal sense yet!): the short answer is -- evangelization.

Hope that helps!

Georgette said...

Hi, G!

Thanks for your reply. I guess at one point in history, a priest in non-clerics had different connotations--particularly in places and days of outright persecution of Catholics, than it does today.

Yep, we are passing one another mid-air, almost! Have a great stay in India!

God bless,