Catholicism Is The Answer

(by Bud Macfarlane Jr.)

by Bud Macfarlane Jr., MI

As a novelist and director of a Catholic lay apostolate, it's my
responsibility to try to discern trends and understand the bigger picture,
although I'm highly fallible in doing so. In the wake of recent scandals in
the news, it's more important than ever to have a realistic view. I've been
keeping my finger on the pulse of Catholic Culture for over a decade now,
and I want to share with you some positive tends. I'll be frank: my heart
burns for souls. My passionate goal in life is to play my part in the
conversion of everyone in America to our beloved Catholic Faith. Another way
to put it: we need to transform the culture in the U.S. and Canada from one
of death and godlessness into a Culture of Life. I do not see this as an
impossible goal. I do not and have never believed that our mission to is
hold on to what we have--to merely preserve the Faith in a kind of defeatist

I really do believe that the more aggressive goal of Total Conversion, let's
call it, is a realistic one. This is what we owe our children and future
generations of Catholics who are depending on us: the inheritance of a
Culture of Life. Total Conversion, in fact, is what the Holy Trinity desires
for every soul on the face of the earth, and what Christ commanded of the
apostles when He told them to go to the ends of the earth with the Good
News. Benefactors of our apostolate have always been attracted to this
positive attitude which permeates everything we do. Do we appear naive and
childlike? Good. That makes us all the more powerful instruments in God's
hands. Jesus told us to be like children. He told us to convert the world.
The world Jesus placed us in happens to be America during a godless era.
It's not much more complicated than that.

Practically speaking, I've always felt the way to convert America is to
help empower the devout Catholics among us to be holier, and through this
holy army, convert our lukewarm Catholic brothers and sisters. With God's
grace, as we "heat up" the lukewarm, our momentum will snowball, and
we'll then be able to call back the fallen away Catholics, pool our
immense and growing resources, and then convert our beloved separated
brethren, the Protestants. Then, together, we'll convert the agnostics
and atheists. Political issues will start going our way; demographics are
on our side. One quarter of the population of the United States consists
of baptized Catholics. We're the largest "block" in the most powerful,
influential, and wealthiest country in the history of the world. The
numbers are on our side: devout Catholics, on the whole, have large
families. The godless do not.

As best I can estimate, only 5% to 8%--let's call it 7%--of baptized
Catholics believe and practice the teachings of the Church as the Church
presents them. Let's call this 7% the Change Agents. We are the modern
equivalent of the Catacomb Christians during Roman times. The watershed
issue is the transmission of life. Most polls I've seen show that 90+% of
married Catholics are not open to life as Christ desires and use artificial
means to limit family size. I do not judge them. Most have simply never been
taught the truth and have been sucked into the Culture of Death almost
without knowing what was happening to them. As Change Agents, it's our
calling to bring the truth to them by word and deed powered by God's pure
grace, which is completely available to us through prayer and the

The good news is, the Change Agents are growing rapidly, perhaps doubling
every four or five years, and the rate of growth is increasing as our
numbers increase. Every convert and revert is a Change Agent. There is no
such thing as a "single" conversion, because each person who converts is
part of a family, a parish, a town, and the culture at large. For example,
most of you reading this article were not devout ten years ago. You've
converted or reverted. God gave you the grace of conversion not only for
you, but also so you could then reach others in your circle of influence.
Many of you have proceeded to help convert close family members and friends.
Our openness to Life and God's will also bears fruit in children--the next
generation of Change Agents. This is the Big Picture Trend that gives me so
much hope. The Change Agents are growing. The Change Agents are having
children. The Change Agents are actively seeking to evangelize. The Change
Agents are just that: changing the world. And we're doing so in that
peculiarly Catholic way: almost imperceptibly, yet powerfully.

I liken our current cultural situation to the long thirty year span when
Jesus was just another Jewish baby then child then young man in a provincial
backwater of the Roman Empire. Mary and Joseph were going about their job of
raising a young boy. The world had no idea that this boy would change the
world. Our world has no idea that by going about our vocations of raising
our children, we're poised to conquer the Empire of Death.

Our world--our culture--is going to hell in a hand basket around us, yet
Jesus is born within us, preparing us for a public life of sacrifice,
ministry, and conversion. So here are other positive trends I discern, in no
particular order.

1. The Conversion of Protestant Ministers to Catholicism. What started as a
trickle with Scott Hahn in the 1980s is now a steady stream of hundreds of
conversions. Many or most of our best preachers and apostolic leaders were
once anti-Catholic Protestants.

2. The Rapid Growth of Lay Apostolates. The Mary Foundation and are just one example among many. Almost all of the major
Catholic apostolates and faithful book and magazine publishers which supply
the intellectual ammunition and tools for evangelization to the Change
Agents didn't exist twenty years ago. Practically all these apostolates have
three things in common: love for Our Lady, devotion to the Eucharistic True
Presence, and utter fidelity to the Holy Father.

3. Instant Access. There are literally thousands of orthodox Catholic
websites. For the first time in the history of the world, the priceless
teachings of our faith are literally at our fingertips--and at the
fingertips of the unconverted if they so desire--at nominal or no cost.

4. The Explosion of Homeschooling. Tens of thousands of Change Agent
children are being prepared to fight the Culture of Death by daily living
the Culture of Life. This preparation is monastic in character, as Father
Fessio of Ignatius Press has pointed out, and is more rigorous in terms of
piety and intellectual formation than the parochial school system of past
generations. This homeschooling trend is supplemented by a growing trend of
the founding private Catholic schools which are faithful to the teachings of
the Church. The bulk of new vocations are coming from these families.

5. New Networks and Groups: the coming into existence of important Catholic
networking groups for leaders and Change Agents. I've been a part of three
such groups, none of which existed in 1995: the Catholic Marketing Network,
the Catholic Leadership Conference, and the Colebrook Society. More national
and international groups have been founded with more to come. On a local
level, thousands of other groups are being formed organically by the Holy
Spirit--Bible Studies, home schooling groups, Prolife organizations, and so

6. The Growth, Renewal and Founding of Orthodox Catholic Colleges.
Christendom College, Thomas More College, Thomas Aquinas College, Campion
College, and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Canada now exist.
Furthermore, as the Change Agents grow, the transformation of formerly
lukewarm Catholic institutions such as Franciscan University of Steubenville
will continue. Institutions, like individual souls, are capable of
conversion or reversion.

7. The Next Generation of Catholic Priests and Religious. Faithful
congregations such as the Legionaries of Christ, the Nashville Dominicans,
the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Companions of the
Cross of Canada are prospering. A handful of dioceses run by fearless and
zealous bishops are seeing a dramatic increase in diocesan vocations from
Arlington to Omaha. Rejuvenated new "versions" of the Franciscans are
sprouting up everywhere. Completely new religious congregations, some with
just a handful of members, are being founded. Many of these congregations
have "modern" or "American" charisms, designed by the Holy Spirit to
re-evangelize Western Civilization and to defeat the Culture of Death.

8. The Changing Media. Although not always specifically Catholic,
conservative radio shows, websites, magazines, and cable news shows are
drawing the highest ratings. Articulate and faithful Catholics such as Sean
Hannity, Alan Keyes, Peggy Noonan, and Lawrence Kudlow are growing in
influence because of their personal excellence. The "liberal" media, on the
other hand, is losing ground rapidly. Part of this trend has to do with new
choices provided by technology: the Internet, cable television, satellite
broadcasting. EWTN is part of this trend. Catholic radio stations are
popping up all over America.

9. Families As Signs of Contradiction. The world sees us but does not
understand us, or our power, for our power is invisible, and based on the
grace of God. We are the Mystical Body of Christ. Do not underestimate the
witness that you provide as a member of His Body. Like John Paul II, we are
all "Witnesses to Hope." When you fill up a pew at Mass with beautiful
children in a parish where most of the families are not open to life, your
presence is having a bigger impact than you imagine. Your outward
peacefulness and happiness is a light shining in the darkness. What the
worldly believe is impossible is contradicted by your very existence. When
the lukewarm and fallen away begin to consider reverting, they know exactly
who to approach: you.

10. The Growth of the Rosary and Marian Apparitions. In the wake of false
propaganda by liberals after Vatican II, the Rosary was discouraged and even
suppressed. Yet today it is more popular than ever, in large part because of
the explosion of appearances by Our Lady in the last 170 years, from Fatima,
Portugal in 1917 to Akita, Japan in the 1970s. Also note the explosion of
the Divine Mercy Chaplet as the second most popular pious devotion in the
history of the world. The canonizations of Sister Faustina and Saint
Maximilian Kolbe are the Holy Spirit telling the world through the Church
what the future holds.

11. The Pontificate of John Paul II. Enough said.

12. Worldwide Growth of Catholicism. As just one example: when my father was
a young man, there were 3 million Catholics in Africa. Today there are over
110,000,000. There are more baptized Catholics now than ever before--a trend
that has continued without abatement since Jesus Himself rose from the dead.
Catholicism is the largest Faith on earth. It is the only corporate
institution of any kind on the planet that even existed during the Roman
Empire. They can deride us, marginalize us, persecute us, and even kill us,
but they can't stop us. We just keep resurrecting, don't we?

I'm sure there are more positive trends; the ones listed above came off the
top of my head. 

On the surface, recent centuries have not been kind to the Catholic Church.
Modern philosophers have been predicting our demise from the French
Revolution to the Communists early last century to the godless materialists
of our day. In simple terms, if you're a devout Catholic, then according to
the bad guys, you shouldn't be here. Then why ARE you here, despite the
seemingly unstoppable and omni-present force of the Culture of Death?
Because Catholicism is the Truth. Because the Culture of Death is built on
lies, and offers nothing but sorrow. Because Jesus is God, and God is
all-powerful; modern man is not.

So be not afraid. We are celebrating Easter in 2002, and unless Christ
returns, Catholics will be celebrating Easter in 3002. As for our enemies
who embrace the Culture of Death, no one will celebrate them. There will be
no monuments to the abortionists and pornographers in future eras--only
memorials for their victims. In the meantime, let's just be what we are:
Catholics. Let's be holy. If we're not holy, of course, America will not
change. If we are, it will. God will supply the grace and Our Lady will
supply the details. As with the Romans, modern day bad guys will never know
what hit them.

Happy Easter, really!

With Immaculate Mary,

Bud Macfarlane Jr., MI
The Mary Foundation

(Reprinted with Permission of Author)


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