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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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A Catholic revival is upon us. Feel free to enjoy it

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Tammy Peterson enters into the Catholic Church during an Easter Vigil Mass in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Screenshot: Youtube, EWTN
Tammy Peterson enters into the Catholic Church during an Easter Vigil Mass in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Screenshot: Youtube, EWTN

If you’ve been reading the international Catholic media lately, you’ll know what an exciting Easter it’s been.

Westminster Cathedral in London had to turn people away from the Triduum ceremonies because the cathedral was overflowing. Other churches reported record crowds over Easter.

In France, around 1.6 million Catholics turn up to Sunday Mass on a regular basis. But there’s been a 30 per cent increase in adult baptisms since 2023, to a whopping 7,135 in 2024.

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Next door in Belgium, there’s around 460,000 Catholics going to Mass on Sundays. But the number of adult converts there has doubled in 10 years from 186 in 2014 to 362 in 2024.

I wish I could tell you how many adult converts came into the Church in Australia this Easter, but outside Sydney where the bumper RCIA group was even noticed overseas, I don’t know. We don’t collect or publish that data centrally, which I think is a shame.

This Easter, Tammy Peterson also became a Catholic. Tammy is the wife of Dr Jordan Peterson—the psychologist, speaker, and author who is probably best described as “Christian-adjacent.”

Many of us have great hopes for Dr P’s eventual conversion. But I think it will need more prayers, as he’s already announced he won’t be rushing into anything soon.

Media pundits are saying that there’s a Christian revival going on in the UK. Prominent public figures there like Tom Holland and Douglas Murray have publicly praised the social and cultural value of Christianity.

Even Richard Dawkins, God bless him, has decided to dial the God-hatred back a bit and now says he’s also a cultural Christian. Christianity, for him, is a “fundamentally decent religion,” unlike a certain other form of monotheism, of which Dawkins doesn’t approve.

But none of them has become a Christian yet (and Douglas Murray is openly gay so that’s going to be a hard sell). Nor has Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose recent embrace of Christianity is based not on her belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, but her belief in Christianity’s ability to withstand the coming fall of Western civilisation.

And that’s the rub. This kind of “secular Christianity” is a response to fears about radical Islam and its increasing public presence in the UK. Even the most virulent anti-Christian public figures have started to realise that radical Islam does not tolerate most of the things they value.

Is any of this okay? Of course it is. It’s nice when prominent people stop publicly hating your religion 24 hours a day. We should all enjoy the breather.

Huge influxes of people into our churches at Christmas and Easter are also not a new thing, and some of the crowds may have been coming in a tidal wave of post-COVID relief. But of course, they’re all welcome.

There’s also an online social media trend in “ChristianCore” and “CatholicCore,” where getting your Catholic weird on is increasingly attractive to bored and disenchanted young people.

This isn’t new either. When the Emperor Constantine became a Christian in 312AD, getting your Catholic weird on stopped being fatal and instead became a good way to get jobs and promotions.

The church is here to stay. It has been planted very firmly in the world to save it. But the Christian tide comes in and goes out in different parts of the world over time.

God is very patient. He is deeply immersed in his relationship with the individual soul who he is wooing over time and space.

We can help him best by getting out of his way. What won’t help is to rush in and start watering down church teaching in the hope of head-hunting famous people who aren’t ready to love God back just yet.

Conversion is a journey. Some people like to admire the scenery on the way to the beach while they’re wondering just how cold the water will be when they decide to plunge in.

This means that those of us already in the water should be having the best time we can in it. The water is glorious but we might need to signal that more often to the ones still waiting to come in.

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