This may seem like a bold position to take, but I assert it nonetheless. I believe that American Catholicism is experiencing a Renaissance similar to the explosions of culture of the past.
In America, there is a convergence of vigorous debate, deep intellectual and theological reflection, and strong religious life that is providing a powerful moment for the Catholic Church that I believe will ripple out and nourish the world.
Look at the incredible output of American Catholics. On the artistic front, there are great musicians such as Matt Maher who are making genuine advancements in our understanding of music’s role in worship. In terms of theological reflection, there is a depth to the more popular writers such as Dr. Scott Hahn and Bishop Barron that is difficult to match. Very simply put, Bishop Barron’s Catholicism series is a modern masterpiece that will most likely be a digital version of the greats of old such as the Imitation of Christ or the Dark Night of the Soul.
This is not to mention the explosion of new religious charisms that are nourishing our Church with strong formation and incredible witness. There is just not enough space in one article to describe the many avenues of vitality that have arisen in 21st Century American Catholicism.
Yes, there is a certain amount of turmoil, but the kind of turmoil that marks all great moments of transition and growth. This is where St. Thomas Aquinas comes into the conversation.
Like his time period, we are experiencing a convergence of knowledge and study that requires Catholic thinkers to dig deep and enter into a new, missionary dialogue with non-Catholic culture. In the time of St. Thomas Aquinas, this involved a dialogue with pagan and Muslim philosophy. In our time, it involves several layers of human inquiry stretching from advances in the human sciences to the amazing progress of modern technologies.
In this midst of such an incredible transition in human history, Catholics need not be afraid.
Our religion has all of the resources needed to provide a robust answer to the questions that plague the human heart and the modern spirit of inquiry. However, people must be willing to dig deep and to ask deep questions.
If there is one way that young Catholics need to be challenged is not to set aside their questions, but rather to learn how to truly seek answers that go beyond quick solutions and easy prescriptions for modern living. If our age is to continue to flourish and mature, then our young people must be given the tools needed to explore the complex realities that they face.
Simply put, they must be allowed to enter into the life giving stream of thought that is currently flowing on a national level. Thus must be connected to the best of what American Catholicism has to offer.