Ask Catholics about the crisis in the Church today and you’ll often get one of two responses: The end is upon us! or Everything’s fine—the Holy Spirit is in charge!
Neither of those attitudes makes sense from the perspective of history, says Steve Weidenkopf (The Real Story of Catholic History).
In his new book, Light from Darkness, Weidenkopf shows how the Church’s past ages were no less tumultuous than our own. Yet, whether it was decadent hierarchs selling out the Faith for pleasure and power, or hostile princes, heresies, or ideologies (sometimes all three at once) menacing Christendom, the Catholic Church not only persisted during hard times but came through them stronger than before.
In each case, though, Weidenkopf demonstrates how the Church’s survival was not an accident or a last-minute miracle. Instead, good Catholics (lay and clergy alike) cooperated with God’s grace to beat back error and corruption and reform the house of God from within. They resisted the twin temptations of cynical schism and Pollyanna passivism and went to work—first in their own hearts—bringing good out of evil, light from darkness.
These nine inspiring stories of crisis and reform should give all Catholics today reason for hope—and a model to follow as we deal with the trials that God has permitted in our own time.
"History gives us every reason to hope, because our God is the Lord of History. This book is the case for confidence. In its pages we see the pattern of salvation in every age. The Church and the faith have outlived many persecutors, many enemies within, and many ‘invincible’ empires. The future looks brighter the more we look back. To be deep in history is to be deep in hope." - Mike Aquilina, Executive vice-president, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology