Isaac Hecker in America

So if you haven't seen this past week's America yet, you might want to check out the cover article by Bruce Nieli, C.S.P., entitled "Uniting America Spiritually" on Fr. Isaac Hecker, the founder of the Paulist Fathers. Hecker's spirituality, his devotion to the Holy Spirit, and his commitment to the American project make him one of the best examples of how Catholic inculturation has occurred in our times. Some highlights from the article:

'Connected with Isaac’s passion for Catholicism was his passion for America. He was convinced that America was good for the church. He beheld the American experience of religious freedom as helping the Catholic Church grow in membership and openness to the Spirit. To Pope Pius IX’s caution that “in the United States there exists too unrestricted liberty,” Hecker, in a personal audience with the pope, responded that many “seeing in the United States that the Church is alone and independent, begin to regard it as a divine institution, and not as necessarily connected with what they term despotism, and they return to the Church.”'

'A similar evangelical spirit had been communicated over 100 years before by Isaac Thomas Hecker, who boasted that divine providence had placed him in contact with “all classes” of people: “But the discerning mind will not fail to see that the [American] republic and the Catholic Church are working together under the same divine guidance, forming the various races of men and nationalities into a homogenous people, and by their united action giving a bright promise of a broader and higher development of man than has been heretofore accomplished.”
Father Hecker saw the United States as a natural, providential match for the e pluribus unum spirituality of Catholicism.'

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