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TAC Bookshelf: Time for Christians to Roll Up Their Sleeves

Michael Warren Davis, TAC contributor:Western civilization and the Catholic Church are facing similar crises. Their leaders’ failed efforts to modernize her culture and creeds has left most of her members cold. Widespread corruption among their elites have left many disillusioned with even their most fundamental and time-tested institutions. Both require radical solutions—and soon—if they’re going to keep from going belly-up.

“There’s no substitute for authentic religious revival,” Rod Dreher told me once in an interview about new right-wing ideologies claiming to offer clever new solutions to modern woes. Cardinal Sarah seems to take the same attitude in his new book, The Day is Now Far Spent. You might call it The Benedict Option for the Catholic Church.

Much like Mr. Dreher, Cardinal Sarah clearly has no faith in grand strategies and no patience for partisan sniping. His Eminence is not looking to negotiate or re-negotiate alliances between various factions. He puts little faith in princes—even princes of the Church—who rely on their own wits and stratagems to save the Faith.

“No human effort…can transform a soul and give it the life of Christ,” he warns. “Multiplying human efforts, believing that methods and strategies have any efficacy in themselves, will always be a waste of time.” Rather: “Let us not be afraid to say that the Church needs profound reform and that this happens through our conversion.”

The origin of this crisis in the Catholic Church—like the crisis in Western civilization—is sin. The solution to both crises is supernatural faith in Jesus Christ.

Of course, that’s not the answer anyone wants to hear. Growing in holiness and encouraging one another in doing the same is hard, un-sexy work. It’s much more fun getting into Twitter fights and writing newspaper op-eds. Meanwhile, Christendom continues disintegrate before our eyes.

Yet there’s a manly, determined optimism in both books that I think the faithful remnant find irresistible. Reform happens when you roll up your sleeves and get to it, they both seem to say. Stop waiting for someone else to take the lead and get to it.

So, my fellow Romans: let’s get to it.

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