Father Nichols: The remarkable number of conversions of major or relatively major figures in the period 1850 to 1960 is to be explained by their common perception of Catholicism as a presentation of truth, goodness, and beauty that was at once a powerful philosophy, a comprehensive ethic, and a vision of spiritual delight.(Emphasis added) Other quotes:
The absence of such conversions in the period after 1960 is to be explained by the ensuing doctrinal disorientation -- "So where does that leave truth?" -- echoing of fashionable human rights discourse -- "So where does that leave goodness, at any rate in terms of a comprehensive ethic?" -- and liturgical banality -- "So where does that leave beauty and spiritual delight?"
What the Church can do today is to reform herself by repeating like a mantra the words "only the best will do": the best intellectually, morally, aesthetically.
Father Nichols: The single most urgent need is the re-launching of an adequate doctrinal catechesis at all levels.I agree whole-heartedly. And doing this, without the context of a relationship with Christ, a formation into the "mind of Christ" would be equally futile. And
Putting anything else first is like trying to make bricks without straw.
Father Nichols: The example of the conversion of Anglo-Saxon England shows the efficacy of a missionary scheme that combines representatives of the indigenous population with canny outsiders.
To convert or re-convert a culture one needs both the long, instinctive familiarity of the native, along with the more detached and objective critical gaze of the newcomer.
In contemporary English Catholicism, there is a "native" community consisting of the descendants of recusants, converts and the anglicized Irish, along with a potpourri of recent, or fairly recent, immigrants from many parts of the world.
As a reservoir for mission, that recreates the successful Dark Age formula.
Contrast the Church of England, for which it is difficult not to follow national trends wherever they may lead.
Or contrast the Orthodox Church in England, which remains too bound to other ethnicities to have much inner feel for the English situation.