The Personalist Project

Tonight we're getting together with some friends to discuss the first two chapters of Rod Dreher's new book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. It draws lessons from the stories of those who lived under the domination of Soviet communism. I've only just begun reading it, but already a bunch of things jump out, including this: 

A Belgian priest named Joseph Cardijn, whose father had been killed in a mining accident, started a lay movement to do this among the working class. These were the Young Christian Workers, called “Jocists” after the initials of their name in French. Inspired by the Jocist example, Father Kolaković adapted it to the needs of the Catholic Church in German-occupied Slovakia. He established cells of faithful young Catholics who came together for prayer, study, and fellowship. The refugee priest taught the young Slovak believers that every person must be accountable to God for his actions. Freedom is responsibility, he stressed; it is a means to live within the truth. The motto of the Jocists became the motto for what Father Kolaković called his “Family”: “See. Judge. Act.” See meant to be awake to realities around you. Judge was a command to discern soberly the meaning of those realities in light of what you know to be true, especially from the teachings of the Christian faith. After you reach a conclusion, then you are to act to resist evil.

Anyone who has studied the life and thought of Karol Wojtyla will recognize the similarities: the stress on the working class as over and against the elites in power; small groups meeting privately, the theme of freedom and responsibility. Now check this out:

Václav Vaško, a Kolaković follower, recalled late in his life that Father Kolaković’s ministry excited so many young Catholics because it energized the laity and gave them a sense of leadership responsibility.

It tracks with what I have been saying for the last couple of years. We are depressed and unfruitful as a church, because the laity are disempowered. Change that, and we'll see Christianity come alive again in our time.

Comments (6)

Paul Rodden

#1, Apr 17, 2021 10:46am

Hi there.

Just read the recent article, below, with my head in my hands (which made me realise I hadn't seen anything from TPP for ages, and that you'd vanished from facebook when I searched). Doubly so, as it's published by CLJ which is normally more clued up, and that's written by a layman!

It's not only that it is so clericocentric, but it's clear he's utterly clueless about anything apart from a seriously anachronistic ecclesial perspective on everything. All he does is merely reinforces the idea that 'looking inwards and backwards' - but doing it more intentionally - is the solution to church decline.

If current seminarians really are as gormless he paints them - and dolts  like him with what seems to be an EQ of 10, are lecturing them - we're utterly stuffed.

Katie van Schaijik

#2, Apr 22, 2021 11:06am

Paul, I'm sorry to have been so quiet and out of touch. I've deleted my FaceBook and Instagram accounts, because I see those companies as central parts of the evil leftist takeover of our society. I've paused posting here while I try to absorb the situation we're facing and figure out how I can and can't help.

My views about the disaster of clericalism in the Church and the urgent need for a lay awakening have only been reinforced by the events and non-events of the last 18 months. I'll read that article and get back to you.

Paul Rodden

#3, Apr 22, 2021 11:23am

No worries. I have done the same. I have only FB Messenger left as I have a couple of friends I need to message. The worst thing is I have lost some important links: our local resident's association functions on facebook alone.

I wouldn't advise reading the article then. It'll just depress you further. It reflects, I think, everything we both think is problematic. What surprised me is that it CLJ seems to be so 'progressive' - in a good sense - and the article is atrocious, in terms of broadly reinforcing the priest as being absolutely central to everything, only his viewpoint counts, and how, without priests, the laity would be utterly helpless, to my mind.

Katie van Schaijik

#4, Apr 27, 2021 9:09am

Really, it's the Eucharist that's central. Also baptism.

Paul Rodden

#5, Apr 27, 2021 9:24am

Did you take the 'to my mind', as being my point of view, or the 'to my mind', how I think the article is so off-whack? It's the latter, but I can see how ambiguous it was if the 'atrocious' was missed... sorry.

Katie van Schaijik

#6, May 1, 2021 12:46pm

Oh no. I took you to find the article atrocious. I meant to be agreeing with you against its exaggerated emphasis on the priesthood.

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