I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization a lot these days. A recent article by Russel Shaw Thank God for Separation of Church and State. makes the case that one of the major things that needs to be done is
rebuilding a strong Catholic subculture committed to sustaining the religious identity of American Catholics and forming them for the task of evangelizing America.
Is it really true that Catholics need to rebuild a strong subculture? I have resisted this idea for a long time. It strikes me as too confrontational. It smacks of parochialism at its worse. God is present in the culture as well as in the church. Aren’t we called to embrace all that is good within the culture we find ourselves in?
We are. But lately the tensions have increased. If Catholics do not have a strong subculture, we have no place to stand. We have nothing to offer the culture for its transformation. We are adrift. When a strong subculture is present, there is the possibility of true engagement with the culture. Rather than merely following the culture’s lead, the Catholic subculture can affirm and challenge the surrounding culture.
I am coming around to the opinion that a strong Catholic subculture is important not just for the church, but for the culture as well. A look back at history and scripture makes it clear that there are times when God calls His people “apart” from the world to witness to the world.