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Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

The 'way of beauty' in the Russian Far East

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 05, 2013

On the Catholic Culture site today we’re launching another chapter—the 6th—from the forthcoming book, When Faith Goes Viral. This month’s entry—which I wrote myself, with a lot of help from friends who have spent time in Russia—tells an unusual story about a parish that entices people to church by providing beautiful music.

When I set out to collect stories about successful evangelization, and asked a few dozen friends for suggestions, I was surprised by the number of responses that called attention to the “way of beauty”—the time-honored technique of introducing people to Christianity through the arts. Here is an example of how it works:

At an isolated Catholic parish in the Russian Far East, where most residents are completely unchurched (although theoretically they are Orthodox), American missionary priests realized that the Russians’ deep love for music might provide an avenue of approach for evangelization. Now hundreds of Russians—including many who have never previously entered a church—are discovering the beauty of sacred music, and asking questions that lead to deeper conversations about faith.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Nov. 02, 2017 11:28 AM ET USA

    We need to pray for his repentance.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Nov. 01, 2017 7:24 AM ET USA

    What seems most unfair about this is that the media portray priests like this as progressive when they are advocating for the elimination of celibacy, but then as part of the establishment (he was "chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York from 1968-70") when accused of committing some terrible act. In the first case, they imply that he would have been a better priest if not for the distraction of celibacy. In the second, they imply that celibacy's repressiveness drives priests to abuse minors.

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Nov. 07, 2013 8:50 AM ET USA

    Please consider contributing your financial support to this most worthy cause. Log on to for all the details.

  • Posted by: BlessedByJP2 - Nov. 06, 2013 8:45 PM ET USA

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Gather Us In", doesn't it? ;) (sorry, Mr. Lawler, but I just couldn't resist!)