Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team

By Reeves, Thomas C. | The Catholic Historical Review, January 2000 | Go to article overview

Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team


Reeves, Thomas C., The Catholic Historical Review


Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team. By Mark S. Massa. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company 1999. Pp. x, 278. $24.95.)

This is an attempt to explore the American Catholic experience during the past fifty years, describing through a series of essays the movement of most church members into the mainstream of American culture. Biographical essays are on Leonard Feeney Thomas Merton, Joseph McCarthy Fulton J. Sheen, Dorothy Day and John E Kennedy There are also accounts of the introduction of new liturgy, the struggle between the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters and Francis Cardinal McIntyre, and the evolution of the University of Notre Dame into a major-league academic institution.

Mark S. Massa, S.J., is associate professor of church history and director of the American Studies Program at Fordham University. His keen interest in social science results in a formula seen in each essay: there is an historical account, followed by an extended reference to one or more social scientists on the topic, and then a general historical conclusion. The idea is promising, and the topics chosen by the author are excellent. Unfortunately however, this book fails in every way to enlighten or even entertain its readers.

The essay on Feeney is the best, as it sheds much-needed light on the state of the Church prior to Vatican Council II. The shock of liturgical reform is described well. …

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