Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Attack of the Ism's

Every year during Lent I am asked to conduct a Lenten mission in a parish. On the first night I tell my conversion story. On the second I talk about the "attach of the Ism's". These are twelve ways of thinking that have invaded our society and which undermine our Catholic faith.

1. Individualism - I'll do it My Way
2. Eclecticism - Cafeteria Catholicism
3. Sentimentalism - If it Feels Good it must be True

4. Materialism - What You See if What You Get
5. Scientism - Only Scientific Knowledge is Valid
6. Utilitarianism - What Works is What's True

7. Nationalism - My Country or Ethnic Group Right or Wrong
8. Sectarianism - My Church or My Ideology Right or Wrong
9. Elitism - The Survival of the Fittest

10. Fideism - Fundamentalist and Anti-Intellectual
11. Historicism - "Truth" is determined by historical circumstances
12. Progressivism - Every Day in Every Way We're Getting Better and Better!

The neat thing about these twelve is that they are countered by being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The first set of three are attacks on the unity of Church Authority and Church Teaching, so are countered by being "One" The second set of three are attacks on the supernatural, on grace, on the belief in an afterlife. The are, at heart, atheistic, so they are countered by the "Holy". The third set of three are counted by "Catholic" because they are attacks on the universality of the Church. The fourth set of three are countered by "Apostolic" because they are attacks on the historicity, antiquity and dynamic continuity of the Church.

The third night of the mission I discuss how we as parishes, families and individuals can be more "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic."

The people of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Providence, RI are experiencing this teaching this week. We're having a great time.


  1. You could add another "ism" - narcissism.

  2. There are about a dozen other insidious isms.

  3. It would be really great if you could podcast some of these. . . .

  4. You forgot the thorniest:

    Humanism, ecumenism and modernism, the synthesis of all heresies!

    Here's a quote from Vatican II on humanism:

    Secular humanism has defied the council. The religion of the God who became man has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God. And what happened? Was there a clash, a battle, a condemnation? There could have been, but there was none. -PPVI, December 7, 1965