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Rebuild My Church

Rebuild My Church: God’s Plan for Authentic Catholic Renewal.  By Alan Schreck, PhD.  Servant Books, 2010.  244 pages, softcover.  $19.99

“Renewal” has become quite a hot-button topic among Catholics today.  Some Catholics have interpreted the call of the Vatican II fathers for “renewal” to mean a complete divorce from tradition with a complete embrace of every innovation.  However, this is a perversion of the actual message of Vatican II.  Even worse, it’s caused a great schism within the Church, with one group accepting anything in the name of “progress” as long as it’s not connected to tradition, while another group refuses accept anything new in the name of protecting “tradition.”  Both positions are wrong, with neither reflecting the true message of Vatican II.  Dr. Schreck’s wonderful book sets the record straight and helps Catholics understand the true meaning of “renewal” and a plan for carrying it out in line with orthodox Catholicism.

At the outset, we must begin with a correct definition of renewal.  Dr. Schreck shows how “renewal” more closely means “revitalization.”  Vatican II did not call on Catholics to throw out the old in favor of the new.  Instead, just as Paul repeatedly told us in his epistles, as Catholics we are called on to constantly reinvigorate our faith.  The word “renewal” itself implies continuity.  To “renew” something does not mean continuously starting from scratch, as many claim the “spirit” of Vatican II demands.  As Dr. Schreck points out, by “renewal,” the fathers of Vatican II meant a constant reinvigoration of our faith – a living tradition.  While moving forward, we are called upon not to lose touch with the past.

Once we understand the meaning of “renewal,” we can then set about implementing authentic renewal within the Church.  Dr. Schreck provides an excellent blueprint for putting authentic renewal into action.  Most important, Dr. Schreck tells us authentic renewal begins with each of us as individual Catholics.  In order for authentic renewal to happen, we must, each of us, live our faith.  Living our faith begins with prayer, for this opens our hearts to the Holy Spirit and God’s grace.  Authentically living our faith puts us in a position to constantly renew (or more correctly, reinvigorate) the Church.  Through this process, we open ourselves to the true message of Vatican II regarding renewal.  As Dr. Schreck puts it (only partially in jest), “everything I needed to know about Vatican II I learned (by grace, in an ‘infused’ way) when the Holy Spirit burst into my life.”

Rebuild My Church is a great book for every Catholic, religious and lay.  Understanding the true meaning of “renewal” would go a long way towards healing the divisions within the Church today and helping more Catholics live in faithful obedience to the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church, and thereby in willing obedience with God’s plan for our salvation.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Rebuild My Church.

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