restricted access The Strong Meat of the Gospel: "Lacouturisme" and the Revival of Asceticism in North America
Abstract

This paper investigates the history of the retreat movement founded by Onésime Lacouture, SJ, in Québec during the 1930s, which subsequently migrated to the United States, primarily under the stewardship of Father John Hugo, of Pittsburgh. The Lacouture retreat emerged out of a climate of cultural revivalism that swept over turn-of-the-century Québec as a contemplative response to the nationalist social Catholicism that was then ascendant. It was unrelentingly critical of mainstream, "respectable" Catholicism which, Lacouture believed, had forfeited its supernatural mandate in favor of secular "paganism." In both Canada and the United States, the retreat was controversial, and as its primary apologists, Lacouture and Hugo drew public fire from critics. Its most celebrated participant, Dorothy Day, was an avid supporter of the retreat and promoted it heavily within the Catholic Worker community. Although there was some disagreement within the Worker about the merits of "Lacouturite" theology, Day testified to its criticalrole in her own spiritual formatio n. During the course of its maturation, the retreat morphed from an apolitical insular program of maximalist Christianity into a generator for the Worker’s heroic spiritual activism.


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