Post-War Catholicism in the United States – OnePeterFive

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

A very interesting and provocative reprint, the first volume of Integrity will be welcomed by all those desiring to delve deeply into such topics as: the history of the consciousness of the lay apostolate in the 20th century; the Catholic Action and Catholic Worker movements; and the theology and apologetics being promoted in the decades leading up to Vatican II.

Integrity was a Catholic magazine founded just after the Second World War. Arouca Press has obtained and begun to re-publish the entire ten-years-worth of issues in a multi-volume series. Aimed at Catholics who “are a little vague as to what constitutes a Christian lay life today,” its editors described it as a “lay magazine whose staff is Catholic” and strove to realize a “re-integration of religion and life in the modern world.” Published monthly between 1946 and 1956, it addressed “the problems of Catholic lay life: such problems as family life, psychiatry, women in contemporary society, education, the land movement, the movie, security and God’s providence, trends in medicine, inter-racial considerations, organic farming, work, and the radio.” Although it never had a large circulation in its own day, it represents a special historical record of Catholic thought in this era in the United States. Obviously an important source for understanding those times, it may prove helpful as we consider similar issues in our own times—or at least understand how we arrived at some of the attitudes we see in Catholicism today. So far three volumes of three issues each have been published by Arouca Press. Here I’ll take a look at the first volume.

I wish I could recommend Volume I (containing the first three issues of the magazine) as containing more answers than questions, but I don’t think I can. On the one hand, some aspects are so dated that they lose all helpfulness except for the historian; on the other hand, an activism which smells unbalanced (to me, at least) permeates many of the articles. Let’s look at a few examples.

I found in the first issue of Integrity, at least, that any practical advice in it is largely undermined by how much the world has changed for the worse since it was published. In its pages there is still the sense that the trend of modernity can be arrested before it gets worse. Eighty years later, with the downward rush exponentially increased, the idea that a sufficient number of workers espousing Catholic Action principles for evangelization could really change the face of American capitalism no longer seems grounded. But it is interesting to see that they still thought it was possible then. It could be a helpful data point in tracking the perceived Catholicity of our nation, for example.

There are some essays, however, which are excellent and still relevant. Dominican father Herbert Thomas Schwartz’s essay on Our Lady is notable for linking psychoanalysis with man’s search for mercy. By seeking to abolish guilt, Freudian psychology offers a false mercy at odds with the true mercy engendered by devotion to Mary, the Dominican says. This has particular relevance in the reign of a Pontiff who espouses mercy while seemingly trying to abolish sin after sin.

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Post-War Catholicism in the United States – OnePeterFive

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