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Inspiring and exciting new books and films are now available! Beautifully illustrated versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings make a great gift for the J.R.R. Tolkein fan. If you haven’t read the best-seller by Mary Eberstadt Adam and Eve After the Pill, now is your chance to get a copy in the new paperback edition and learn more about the recently canonized Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in the new informative documentary In Her Footsteps. These new titles and more are available now at 20%!
Join Ignatius Press on a Saint Paul & Bible Lands Pilgrimage Cruise with Steve and Janet Ray
Ignatius Press with President Mark Brumley and Father Mark Mary invite you on a Saint Paul & Biblical Lands Mediterranean Cruise and Pilgrimage led by Steve and Janet Ray.
For more information about this exciting two week pilgrimage, click here.
... at the Dominican
School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. Bay
Area folks can attend in person; the events are free of charge. Those who cannot attend can watch by
Natural Law in American Rhetoric, Jurisprudence, and Governance Thursday, January 31, 7pm
This event will be a stimulating evening discussion with Russell Hittinger, William K. Warren Professor of Catholic Studies and Research Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa; Jean Porter, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame; and Lloyd Weinreb, Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University. For more information visit www.dspt.edu/naturallaw.
From Hollywood to Government to Fortune 500 Advertising - Catholics Engaging Contemporary Society Presentations by DSPT Fellows Saturday, February 2, 1:30- 4:30pm
Fellows are men and women of eminence in diverse fields who have joined
DSPT to engage society in a fruitful dialogue about Faith and culture.
The Fellows convene each year around the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.
This year's presentations will be delivered by Ron Austin, Hollywood producer and screenwriter, and author; Gleaves Whitney,
Director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for
Presidential Studies, senior scholar at the Center for the American
Idea, and senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal;
and Agnieszka Winkler, Founder and Chairperson of The Winkler
Group, a San Francisco based management consultancy specializing in
branding and marketing efficiency and effectiveness. For more
information, visit our website.
Revisiting Humanae Vitae | Rob Agnelli | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
What has been summarized as his most profound theological contribution, Theology of the Body, John Paul II labeled the entire work a “rereading of Humanae Vitae.”
Two days after the publication of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI remarked during his Wednesday audience that the encyclical had “clarified a fundamental chapter … in the field of marriage, family and morality.” “Still,” the pope added, “the Magisterium of the Church could and perhaps should return to this immense field with a fuller, more organic and more synthetic treatment.” 1 At the time, this comment must have left an indelible mark on the mind of a Polish cardinal named Karol Wojtyla. Once he became Pope John Paul II, there was no field of theology that he returned to more often than the teachings of Humanae Vitae. In fact, what has been summarized as his most profound theological contribution, Theology of the Body, John Paul II labeled the entire work a “rereading of Humanae Vitae.”2 With the recent controversy surrounding the HHS mandate, it can be highly instructive to reexamine the encyclical in light of the teachings of, not only John Paul II, but the Magisterium as a whole since 1968.
A New Approach With the advent of the “sexual revolution” and the prevalence of modern rationalism, there was one thing that became readily apparent. The Church could no longer depend on the old pedagogical style of the moral manuals to stem the cultural tide that was pushing for contraception. Although these manuals taught the objective truth, they often came across as legalistic and authoritarian. The Church was viewed as “out of touch” with modern times because the teachings in the classic moral manuals failed to resonate personally with the couples themselves. Because questions of sexual morality are always tied to “the content and quality of the subjective experience” of the couple, 3 the Church had to find a way to speak to couples in this situation.
In many ways, this is what makes Humanae Vitae so groundbreaking for those who have actually read it. The encyclical responds to modern rationalism by framing its moral pronouncement in largely personalist terms.
Sacramental Social Doctrine | William L. Patenaude | Catholic World Report
Authentic Catholic endeavors for social justice must be rooted in the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ.
In their elusive quest for social justice, civil authorities have over the centuries learned much from the Church. As a result, a great many forms of state-sponsored welfare—especially in the growing liberality of the West—are a testament to the two-thousand-year presence of the Gospel and the outpouring of grace in the seven sacraments.
Modern social activists have largely forgotten this. Indeed, the idea that the Church is responsible for the West’s charitable genetic code is unintelligible for many.
This amnesia is a threat to social cohesion and to the state’s desire to attain what is right and just. In forgetting the role Christianity, the West not only forgets its identity but also its strength. Thus it will fail to achieve such goals as universal health care, expansive forms of welfare, and the moral foundations that make civilization possible. In time, as state-mandated compassion meets its limits (financial and otherwise), civil authorities must and will conclude—either through reason or empirical evidence—that governments can only do so much when they actively restrict the presence of God.
The state seeks social and civil justice primarily through the passing and enforcing of laws. In contrast, the Church speaks in her catechism of proposing principles for reflection; providing criteria for judgment; and offering guidelines for action (§2423). The Church does not dictate particular political or social policies. Rather, she hopes to baptize people and cultures in two ways: with the offering of her teachings and with the grace of God.
When we consider the former, the relationship between the Church’s social doctrines and society has a sacramental character—a relation that seeks not to destroy the nature of human cultures and start from scratch, but to challenge, engage, and, hopefully, elevate them.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on January 29 filed amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court in support of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which confirm the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
DOMA was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996 and defines marriage for federal and inter-state recognition purposes. Proposition 8 is a state constitutional amendment approved by the citizens of California in 2008. Both laws are challenged because they define marriage exclusively as the union of one man and one woman.
Urging the Court to uphold DOMA, the USCCB brief in United States v. Windsor says that “there is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex.” The brief also states that “as defined by courts ‘sexual orientation’ is not a classification that should trigger heightened scrutiny,” such as race or ethnicity would.
It added that “civil recognition of same-sex relationships is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition—quite the opposite is true. Nor can the treatment of such relationships as marriages be said to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, such that neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed.”
USCCB argued that previous Supreme Court decisions “describing marriage as a fundamental right plainly contemplate the union of one man and one woman.”
The USCCB also cautioned that a decision invalidating DOMA “would have adverse consequences in other areas of law.”
In a separate brief filed in Hollingsworth v Perry urging the Court to uphold Proposition 8, the USCCB states that there are many reasons why the state may reasonably support and encourage marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, as distinguished from other relationships. Government support for marriage, so understood, is “recognizing the unique capacity of opposite-sex couples to procreate” and “the unique value to children of being raised by their mother and father together.”
The USCCB brief states that “[T]he People of California could reasonably conclude that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that Proposition 8 encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.”
The USCCB brief adds that “While this Court has held that laws forbidding private, consensual, homosexual conduct between adults lack a rational basis, it does not follow that the government has a constitutional duty to encourage or endorse such conduct. Thus, governments may legitimately decide to further the interests of opposite-sex unions only. Similarly, minimum standards of rationality under the Constitution do not require adopting the lower court’s incoherent definition of ‘marriage’ as merely a ‘committed lifelong relationship,’ which is wildly over-inclusive, empties the term of its meaning, and leads to absurd results.”
“Marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, is not an historical relic, but a vital and foundational institution of civil society today,” the USCCB brief states. “The government interests in continuing to encourage and support it are not merely legitimate, but compelling. No other institution joins together persons with the natural ability to have children, to assure that those children are properly cared for. No other institution ensures that children will at least have the opportunity of being raised by their mother and father together. Societal ills that flow from the dissolution of marriage and family would not be addressed—indeed, they would only be aggravated—were the government to fail to reinforce the union of one man and one woman with the unique encouragement and support it deserves.”
The USCCB brief also notes that “Proposition 8 is not rendered invalid because some of its supporters were informed by religious or moral considerations. Many, if not most, of the significant social and political movements in our Nation’s history were based on precisely such considerations. Moreover, the argument to redefine marriage to include the union of persons of the same sex is similarly based on a combination of religious and moral considerations (albeit ones that are, in our view, flawed). As is well established in this Court’s precedent, the coincidence of law and morality, or law and religious teaching, does not detract from the rationality of a law.”
USCCB notes that a judicial decision invalidating Proposition 8’s definition of marriage would have adverse consequences in other areas of law.
“[R]edefining marriage—particularly as a matter of constitutional law, rather than legislative process—not only threatens principles of federalism and separation of powers, but would have a widespread adverse impact on other constitutional rights, such as the freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association. Affirmance of the judgment below would create an engine of conflict in this area, embroiling this Court and lower courts in a series of otherwise avoidable disputes—pitting constitutional right squarely against constitutional right—for years to come.”
Today I had the privilege of joining some 50,000 pro-lifers at the ninth
annual Walk for Life West Coast. It was a gorgeous sunny day in San
Francisco, and organizers said it was the best turn-out they've had yet
for the event, which included a special greeting from Pope Benedict XVI.
I spent a good deal of the walk pushing a double-stroller, but I managed to get some shots of the crowd...
Meanwhile, Rose Trabbic, the publicist for the Walk in San Francisco, has sent the following report:
Pope Benedict XVI honors Walk for Life West Coast
Record crowd tops 50,000, fills main S.F. thoroughfare for more than 1 mile
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 26, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI commended the “outstanding public witness to the fundamental right to life” of the Walk for Life West Coast, in a special message delivered by his delegate to tens of thousands gathered in front of San Francisco’s City Hall.
The Walk for Life West Coast rally at Civic Center Plaza filled the plaza, before participants walked the two miles from City Hall to the Ferry Building, traveling through the heart of the city’s shopping and financial districts. More than to 50,000 participated, organizers estimated.
“You are a powerful witness that God’s truth cannot be silenced,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who blessed participants to begin the event. “Yes, we are here to stay because life is good and life is holy.”
The speakers at the Walk included Lacey Buchanan, the mother of a disabled child; Elaine Riddick, who was forcibly sterilized by the state of North Carolina at age 14; Kelly and Matthew Clinger who regret their abortions; and the Rev. Clenard Childress, Jr., who has spoken at nearly every walk since its founding in 2005.
“We are united together as one until the job is done,” said Rev. Childress, to loud cheers. “We are getting ready to take it up to another level, alleluia.”
“Truth is rising up and you are the picture of that truth,“ said Rev. Childress. “We will not draw back until every child is free.”
About 50 counter demonstrators waved signs and shouted as pro-life supporters walked the length of Market Street. A Jumbotron displaying a graphic video of aborted children was set up by an anti-abortion group midway along the Walk route, despite efforts by Walk organizers to dissuade the group from playing the video.
Walk co-chair Dolores Meehan warned parents of the video’s presence at the rally, noting the Walk’s longstanding policy against showing any graphic pictures at the event which attracts many families with young children as well as thousands of teen-agers.
A group of about 20 teens from Phoenix, Arizona, sported yellow t-shirts that said “yeah baby.” Attending from Antioch, California, with two friends, 15-year-old Brianna Osorio said, “We believe all life is precious, no matter how small.”
Founded in 2005 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area residents, the Walk for Life West Coast’s mission is to change the perception of a society that thinks abortion is the answer. For more information and photos, www.walkforlifewc.com.
Let me at once anticipate comment by answering to the name
of that notorious character, who rushes in where even the Angels of the Angelic
Doctor might fear to tread.
Some time ago I wrote a little book of this type
and shape on St. Francis of Assisi; and some time after (I know not when or
how, as the song says, and certainly not why) I promised to write a book of the
same size, or the same smallness on St. Thomas Aquinas. The promise was
Franciscan only in its rashness; and the parallel was very far from being
Thomistic in its logic. You can make a sketch of St. Francis: you could only
make a plan of St. Thomas, like the plan of a labyrinthine city. And yet in a
sense he would fit into a much larger or a much smaller book. What we really
know of his life might be pretty fairly dealt with in a few pages; for he did
not, like St. Francis, disappear in a shower of personal anecdotes and popular
legends. What we know, or could know, or may eventually have the luck to learn,
of his work, will probably fill even more libraries in the future than it has
filled in the past. It was allowable to sketch St. Francis in an outline; but
with St. Thomas everything depends on the filling up of the outline. It was
even medieval in a manner to illuminate a miniature of the Poverello, whose
very title is a diminutive. But to make a digest, in the tabloid manner, of the
Dumb Ox of Sicily passes all digestive experiments in the matter of an ox in a
tea-cup. But we must hope it is possible to make an outline of biography, now
that anybody seems capable of writing an outline of history or an outline of
anything. Only in the present case the outline is rather an outsize. The gown
that could contain the colossal friar is not kept in stock.
I have said that these can only be portraits in outline.
But the concrete contrast is here so striking, that even if we actually saw the
two human figures in outline, coming over the hill in their friar's gowns, we
should find that contrast even comic. It would be like seeing, even afar off,
the silhouettes of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, or of Falstaff and Master
Slender. St. Francis was a lean and lively little man; thin as a thread and
vibrant as a bowstring; and in his motions like an arrow from the bow. All his life
was a series of plunges and scampers: darting after the beggar, dashing naked
into the woods, tossing himself into the strange ship, hurling himself into the
Sultan tent and offering to hurl himself into the fire. In appearance he must
have been like a thin brown skeleton autumn leaf dancing eternally before the
wind; but in truth it was he that was the wind.
St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow
and quiet; very mild and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart
from the humility of holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional
and carefully concealed experiences of trance or ecstasy. St. Francis was so
fiery and even fidgety that the ecclesiastics, before whom he appeared quite
suddenly, thought he was a madman. St. Thomas was so stolid that the scholars,
in the schools which he attended regularly, thought he was a dunce. Indeed, he
was the sort of schoolboy, not unknown, who would much rather be thought a
dunce than have his own dreams invaded, by more active or animated dunces. This
external contrast extends to almost every point in the two personalities.
St. Thomas Aquinas and the Thirteenth Century | Josef
Pieper | From the opening chapter of Guide to Thomas Aquinas | January 28th
| Ignatius Insight
So bound up is the life of St. Thomas Aquinas with the thirteenth century that
the year in which the century reached its mid-point, 1250, was likewise the
mid-point of Thomas' life, though he was only twenty-five years old at the time
and still sitting at the feet of Albertus Magnus as a student in the Monastery
of the Holy Cross in Cologne. The thirteenth century has been called the
specifically "Occidental" century. The significance of this epithet
has not always been completely clarified, but in a certain sense I too accept
the term. I would even assert that the special quality of "Occidentality"
was ultimately forged in that very century, and by Thomas Aquinas himself. It
depends, however, on what we understand by "OccidentaIity." We shall
have more to say on this matter.
There exists the romantic notion that the thirteenth century was an era of
harmonious balance, of stable order, and of the free flowering of Christianity.
Especially in the realm of thought, this was not so. The Louvain historian
Fernand van Steenberghen speaks of the thirteenth century as a time of
"crisis of Christian intelligence";  and Gilson comments:
"Anybody could see that a crisis was brewing." 
What, in concrete terms, was the situation? First of all we must point out that
Christianity, already besieged by Islam for centuries, threatened by the
mounted hordes of Asiatics (1241 is the year of the battle with the Mongols at
Liegnitz)—that this Christianity of the thirteenth century had been
drastically reminded of how small a body it was within a vast non-Christian
world. It was learning its own limits in the most forceful way, and those
limits were not only territorial. Around 1253 or 1254 the court of the Great
Khan in Karakorum, in the heart of Asia, was the scene of a disputation of two
French mendicant friars with Mohammedans and Buddhists. Whether we can conclude
that these friars represented a "universal mission sent forth out of
disillusionment with the old Christianity,"  is more than questionable.
But be this as it may, Christianity saw itself subjected to a grave challenge,
and not only from the areas beyond its territorial limits.
For a long time the Arab world, which had thrust itself into old Europe, had
been impressing Christians not only with its military and political might but
also with its philosophy and science. Through translations from the Arabic into
Latin, Arab philosophy and Arab science had become firmly established in the
heart of Christendom—at the University of Paris, for example. Looking
into the matter more closely, of course, we are struck by the fact that Arab
philosophy and science were not Islamic by origin and character. Rather,
classical ratio, epitomized by Aristotle, had by such strangely
involved routes come to penetrate the intellectual world of Christian Europe.
But in the beginning, at any rate, it was felt as something alien, new, dangerous,
What is Guy Nation? To be clear, Guy Nation does not
necessarily subscribe to any political affiliation, nor is it contained within
any particular socio-economic boundary. It includes guys of all ages, races,
incomes, creeds, and pick-up lines.
Guy Nation rests on the firm foundation of three
1) Guys should stay as immature as possible for as
long as possible (also known as the Peter Pan Precept).
2) Guys must avoid responsibility wherever and
3) Pleasure is the greatest of all “goods”, being more important than security,
emotional attachments, truth, love, and similar silly stuff.
All of these precepts have been in play ever since guys
ventured out of their caves to kill animals with sticks and called it dinner.
Yet widespread acceptance has been hard to come by. Until recently, that is.
Finally, after centuries—even millennia—of dreams and struggles, Guy Nation
began to become a reality in the 1950s. Guy Reality!
Through effective advertising, legal precedents, and the
sheer, pajama-powered force of Hugh Hefner's aloof coolness, guys convinced
women that becoming primarily sexual objects was a good and healthy thing. Mr.
Hefner (“May his name be praised!” exclaims Guy Nation) had women lining up for
the privilege of being viewed as bodies detached from personality, intellect,
and soul—all for the pleasure of guys! (And for the aggrandizement of his
personal fortune, but far be it for Guys to hold it against him.)
But all of this lusting after carefully produced and
airbrushed images was just the first step toward Guy Nation. The girlie
magazine dream needed to somehow become reality. Fortunately for the budding
Guy Nation, there was a crack team of Guy Scientists working on the solution
during the 1950s, including Drs. Gregory Pincus, Min Chueh Chang, John Rock,
and Carl Djerassi (“May their collective names be praised!” shouts Guy Nation).
Through their diligence and persistence—even in the face of strong evidence
that the chemicals they used might be harmful to women—they gave the world The
Pill, the first oral contraceptive. At last, at last, guys could have all the sexual
carousing and pleasure they wanted without having to be bothered with stuff
like marriage, commitment, relationships, pregnancies, and pesky little ones.
It was, however, going to be a tough sell in some quarters.
Why Do We Believe? | Stephen J. Morrissey | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion.
The Year of Faith is a most appropriate time to address a significant
problem that many Catholics wrestle with: Why do we believe in a
beneficent God and the doctrines of the Catholic Church? “Faith” is the
common response to that question, but faith in what? What is the
evidence upon which that faith rests, and is it reliable? Does the
Church ask for blind, unreasoned faith? Amidst the current onslaught of
atheistic claims that the “hard” evidence from science has solved the
mystery of the universe’s origin and that God had nothing to do with it,
the challenge before us is whether Catholics are clinging to outmoded
thoughts, lingering from a primitive past, with no provable evidence.
Even if these challenges do not lead to an outright rejection of
religious belief among the faithful, their constant assertions in the
culture certainly engender doubt and indifference among many. They
probably account for much of the notoriously large number of Catholic
adults, especially the younger ones, who no longer practice their faith.
The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked
today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the
evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion. At a time when
the hard evidence of “wonder science” is increasingly seen as supporting
atheism, and obviating the “delusions” of religion, people will
naturally question the “softer” evidential foundations of Catholic
Therefore, it is essential to remind people, now and then, of the
genius of the human mind for wrapping itself around abstract,
philosophical evidence to arrive at truth.
We are physical, sensing creatures, and so to prove something, we
naturally opt for hard physical evidence when we can get it. It is
usually clear and inarguable. Consider that in a court of law, murder
suspects are rarely found guilty on the basis of circumstantial
evidence, but rather on direct, physical evidence such as surveillance
camera photos, tape recordings, eye witness reports, signed confessions,
DNA samples, fingerprints, a murder weapon, a dead body. Therefore,
theories, pre-conceived notions, innuendoes, hunches, hearsay, and
philosophy have no place here.
But, we are also thinking, reasoning human beings. It is the human
mind that has historically kept humanity from extinction. Given the
proven capabilities of this brain, and the immateriality of religious
issues, wouldn’t use of intellectual, philosophical evidence alone have
the advantage over physical data in the search for God? This is the
central issue here: the nature of the evidence for God. If we rely
solely on empirical evidence—as atheism would have us do—then, we will
never find God, and never honor the real superiority of the human mind.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the restoration of the Jews to the promised land following the Babylonian exile (c. 587-538 B.C.). The many years spent by the dislocated people of God in Babylon had a profound effect on the attitude and identity of the Jewish people. It is estimated that of the two to three million Jews given permission to return home, less than 50,000 took up the offer.
As Peter Kreeft notes in his book, You Can Understand the Bible, “We usually prefer comfort to freedom. Life in Babylon had been comparatively easy, but the trek to Jerusalem was 900 miles long … Not only that, but once they arrived, they faced a ruined land, city, and temple, along with the formidable task of rebuilding” (Ignatius Press, 2005; p. 68).
As today’s reading from Nehemiah describes, it was not just a physical rebuilding; in fact, the heart of the restoration was spiritual, religious, and liturgical. The people had to hear anew the book of the law and relearn the meaning and purpose of the law. The law shaped and defined the Jewish people, for it oriented them toward God and showed who they were in relation to him. Hearing the words read by the prophet Ezra, the people gave their assent and praise: “‘Amen, amen!’ Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD.”
Fast forward a few hundred years to a small synagogue in Nazareth. The setting was significant The exact origin of the synagogue (meaning “house of assembly”) as a regular place of Jewish gathering is unknown, but some scholars believe it can be located in the Babylonian exile, when synagogues were needed as places of worship for Jews so far removed from the Jerusalem temple. During the time of Christ, the synagogue was an established place for reading and teaching the law and the prophets.
St. Luke describes, in today’s Gospel, how Jesus “went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day.” The young man appeared to be just one of many ordinary, devout Jews. To those who heard Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, he was simply the son of a carpenter (Lk. 4: 22). But he was not long removed from being baptized in the Jordan and being tested in the desert; he was ready to embark upon his public ministry. And that ministry began and was marked throughout by the proclamation of God’s word—after all, every utterance of Jesus was a proclamation of that word by the Word, the Incarnate logos.
Like Ezra, he was a priest and he spoke as a prophet. Like Ezra, he unrolled the scroll and he read from the law and the prophets. Yet, whatever the similarities, the essential differences are summed up in his concluding words: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Ezra, Isaiah, and all of the other prophets told the people to worship, love, and obey God; Jesus said the same, but also made it known that he was God (cf. Jn. 8:54-59). His priesthood was singular; his words were uniquely authoritative. The passage from Isaiah was fulfilled because the word of God had gone forth—not merely from the mouth of a human prophet, but into the world as the word who had assumed human nature: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…” (Jn 1:14).
The ministry of Christ—the anointed one—was to proclaim glad tidings to the poor, grant liberty to captives, give sight to the blind, and free the oppressed. This is true restoration from the ancient exile of both Jews and Gentiles in the land of sin and darkness. Every man is invited by the Messiah to leave the land of sin and enter the promised rest. “He set the captives free,” wrote Cyril of Jerusalem, “having overthrown the tyrant Satan, he shed the divine and spiritual light on those whose heart was darkened.”
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the January 24, 20120, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
A Younger Generation Marches for Life | John Burger | Catholic World Report
The 2013 March for Life, which marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, was a youthful and youth-filled event.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the beginning, Nellie Gray imagined there would be a
need for one march for life. It was a
year after the Roe v Wade
decision, and there was perhaps just enough outrage that people felt a
legislative remedy could be attained.
“But then we realized that Congress wasn’t going to help, so we had a
second,” Gray reflected.
And a third, and a fourth…
Today, the 2013 March for Life marked the 40th anniversary of Roe
v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which struck down most abortion laws in the United
States. It was the first March for Life without Gray, who died last August at
the age of 88. But for those who knew her and worked with her, and for
thousands of people who have been to the annual event in the past, her spirit
The story of her initial naiveté was revealed in a moving video tribute to
the attorney-turned-activist, which was broadcast on large jumbotrons for the
hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers gathered on the National Mall. Jeanne
Monahan, the new leader of the march, and others extolled Gray’s dedication,
perseverance and spunk, and a younger generation — which made up perhaps 90% of
the rally and march—seemed by their enthusiasm more than ready and willing to
take up her mantle.
Gabrielle Hoekstra, for example, attending the march for the first time,
finds that more and more young people are becoming more pro-life -- or at least
are open to listening to pro-life ideas.
“It’s something I feel very passionate about,” said Hoekstra, a junior
studying aeronautical science at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in
Daytona Beach, Fla. “When I was younger my parents were active in local crisis
pregnancy centers. When you go to college you realize there are a lot of people
out there who are prochoice, and it’s important to stand in your values and
have the reasons to support them. Coming to places like this you can get
together with other people who share your values and educate yourself more so
you can defend your prolife position.”
Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.
When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?
We’re so intimidated by the wingnuts, we get spooked out of having these conversations. We let the archconservatives browbeat us with the concept of “life,” using their scare tactics on women and pushing for indefensible violations like forced ultrasounds.
She later writes:
My belief that life begins at conception is mine to cling to. And if you believe that it begins at birth, or somewhere around the second trimester, or when the kid finally goes to college, that’s a conversation we can have, one that I hope would be respectful and empathetic and fearless.
By conceding that the unborn child is a human life, it seems to me that Mary Elizabeth Williams endorses infanticide. At least she’s not hypocritical about it. But it sure is ghoulish. If the fetus is fully human, why does the mother have the right to end the life of a human being, for any reason at all (which is Williams’s position). If the law recognized Williams’s view that the fetus is fully human, then it would call abortion a form of murder, almost by definition.
Can you think of another situation in which fully human beings lived under conditions in which their master had the right to kill them with impunity, because there were nothing more than property? Of course you can. Nice historical company Mary Elizabeth Williams keeps.
Sure, Rod, resort to logic and historical precedent. Don't you know these sort of complicated questions should be settled with angry rhetoric and namecalling?
“We’ve wandered in the desert for 40 years..." | John Burger | Catholic World Report
10,000 gather for the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life in Washington, D.C.
The New Evangelization and the pro-life movement are converging, and it must
begin with each individual Christian, says Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.
The Year of Faith is a perfect opportunity for Catholics to contribute to the
culture of life by working on their own sanctity.
cardinal celebrated the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on
the night before thousands of people marched for life to mark the 40th
anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Some 10,000 people gathered on the evening of
January 24 for the Mass, which is held each year at the Basilica of the
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. As in years past, the pews and
aisles were overflowing with people, including many teens and young adults from
across the country. Many people had to view the Mass on closed-circuit
television screens in the basement crypt church.
O’Malley was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass because he is chairman
of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. But he was joined by
some 500 priests, deacons and seminarians, bishops and cardinals, making the
opening procession some 40 minutes alone. Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York,
president of the USCCB; Donald Wuerl of Washington; Francis George of Chicago,
and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Teaxs, were among the concelebrants,
as well as Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United
Mass was followed by confessions, a Rosary, night prayer and Holy Hours
throughout the night. The vigil concluded on the morning of Jan. 25 with
Morning Prayer and a closing Mass, at which Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas was
the principal celebrant and homilist.
were then able to attend the March for Life in downtown Washington, along
Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building.
As with Erasmus, I affirm that The Imitation of Christ by
Thomas A'Kempis is the grandest of devotional reads. The devotional
books that litter the bookstores, especially the local Christian
bookstore are more shaped by the lowest common denominator of trivial
therapeutic drivel, the "cutting edge" madness of the management class,
or silly self-help books that know nothing about the complexities of the
human self and never address the matter of how a self so open to self
deception can really help that same self. The insipid devotional books
this dismal situation there is a bright ray of devotional greatness that
arrives. Actually, it is making a bit of a second coming. Originally
published in 1976, Thomas Howard's Hallowed Be This House has been reprinted by Ignatius Press. My wife and I have been reading
it (almost finished) and it has changed our sense of place. ...
book is filled with insights from scripture, anthropology, history,
literature, psychology, sociology, and theology. A truly
cross-disciplinary devotional book exploring the intersection between
heaven and home, embodiment and habitat, space and spirit. I'm confident
that if asked, Thomas Howard would agree that this is a Christian
I interviewed Dr. Howard last month about the book and some related topics. Here is one question and response:
CWR: How did the idea for Hallowed Be This House originally come about? Do you think there is an even greater need today for a sense of the hallowed and the sacred than there was when you first wrote the book in the 1970s?
Thomas Howard: I think the original idea for the book came to me gradually. It must have been the fruit of a lifetime of reading and teaching Western literature, where one finds, up until at least the Enlightenment, the assumption of an ordered, hierarchical, and blissful Universe. Even the pagans assume this. But in my young adulthood, I found myself moving from the very faithful and good Protestant Evangelicalism of my family into the Anglican Church, where at least the notions of hierarchy, sacrament, and liturgy are remembered. Also, of course, I became soaked in the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their friend Charles Williams. In all of these writers, one finds the ordinary stuff of quotidian life treated as though that stuff bespeaks—what shall we say? Glory? Ultimacy? The Truth of things? Splendor? Yes—all of that. The ordinary is not ordinary. It trumpets joy, freedom, and virtue to us mortals if we will pay attention.
Is there a greater need today to see things this way than when I wrote the book in the 1970s? Yes. In the decade of the 1960s, when my wife and I were living in New York, which became the eye of the storm, Western Civilization as it has been known for millennia collapsed. The moral order was overthrown with great zest, and this overthrow is always, inevitably, the prelude to the collapse of any civilization. I myself would see signs of hope, however, in the papacies of John Paul II and of Benedict XVI, with, in the latter case, the promulgation of the Year of Faith. This is a clear call to the Church to reassert, very strongly, the real substance of the Catholic Faith, which is more, far more, than a matter of “it’s nice to be nice,” which perhaps has been the impression conveyed to the laity in common parish homiletics in the wake of what obviously concerns the Holy Father at the moment—namely the training of seminarians, for perhaps a century, in “the historical critical method” of reading Scripture.
FP: What do Christians need to understand about the differences between Islam and Christianity?
Kilpatrick: Islam is built on a rejection of the
main tenets of Christianity. It rejects the Trinity, the Incarnation,
the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There is a Jesus in the Koran but
he seems to be there mainly for the purpose of denying the claims of
Jesus of Nazareth. Muhammad seemed to have realized that if the
Christian claim about Jesus was true, then there would be no need for a
new prophet and a new revelation. Consequently, in order to buttress
his own claim to prophethood it was necessary for him to cut Jesus down
to size. Thus the Koran tells us that “he was but a mortal” and only
one in a long line of prophets culminating in Muhammad.
John the Baptist said of Jesus that “He must increase but I must
decrease.” Muhammad preferred it the other way around. For him to
increase it was necessary for Jesus to decrease. Christians need to
realize that Jesus is in the Koran, not because Muhammad thought highly
of him but because Muhammad saw him as a rival who needed to be put in
his place. The problem is that in using Jesus for his own purposes,
Muhammad neglected to give him any personality. The Jesus of the Koran
is more like a stick figure than a person. Whether or not one accepts
the claims of the Jesus of the Gospels, he is, at least, a recognizable
human being who goes fishing with his disciples, attends wedding feasts
and gathers children about him. By contrast, the Jesus of the Koran
seems to exist neither in time nor space. The Koranic account of him is
completely lacking in historical or geographical detail. There is no
indication of when he lived, or where he conducted his ministry, or the
names of his disciples or his antagonists such as Herod and Pilate. In
other words, he seems to be nothing more than an invention of
Muhammad’s—and not a very convincing invention at that. In this regard
it’s instructive to note that the Koran rails constantly against those
who claim that “he [Muhammad] invented it himself.”
In sum, Christians who think that Muslims revere the same Jesus as they do need to better acquaint themselves with the Koran.
FP: Why do you think there is so much ignorance in the West about Islam?
Kilpatrick: Much of the ignorance can be explained
in terms of multicultural dogma combined with self-censorship. In the
West the multicultural ideology has attained the status of a religion.
Christians believe that Jesus saves, but multiculturalists believe that
diversity saves. And to question the dogmas of diversity is tantamount
to heresy. Nowadays heretics aren’t burnt at the stake, but they are
threatened with loss of reputation and loss of employment, and
sometimes, as in the cases of Geert Wilders and Elizabeth
Sabaditsch-Wolff, they are hauled before courts.
As a result, people learn to engage in self-censorship or what Orwell
called “crimestop.” They won’t allow themselves to think certain
thoughts or to explore certain avenues of inquiry. This is particularly
true in regard to Islam. By now, just about everyone understands which
thoughts about Islam are permissible and which are not. As Andrew
McCarthy points out, this results in a kind of “willful blindness”
toward Islam. Like the people in The Emperor’s New Clothes we deny the evidence of our own eyes when it conflicts with the official narrative. In short, we prefer to remain ignorant.
Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, a former archbishop of Denver and former head of two Vatican offices, was recently interviewed by Francis X. Rocca of Catholic News Service:
[Cardinal Stafford] said that the legalization of abortion was itself a result of flawed ideas about freedom deeply rooted in American history.
Cardinal Stafford, 80, spoke with Catholic News Service shortly before the Jan. 25 March for Life marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that lifted most legal restrictions on abortion.
He said that Roe was one of a series of cultural, social, political and legal upheavals during the 1960s and early 1970s that left him deeply disillusioned with his native land and alienated from a country that he said once offered unparalleled openness to the proclamation of the Gospel.
"I don't really feel as at home now in the United States as I did prior to the 60s," he said.
Celebrating the feasts of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John Bosco.
Offer ends Tuesday January 29th, 2013 at 12:00 midnight EST. These prices are available online only through Ignatius.com
St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., was an Italian Catholic priest in the
Dominican Order, a brilliant writer, teacher of philosophy and sacred
theology. St. John Bosco, also an Italian Catholic priest, was an
innovative, very successful educator, who overcame a difficult
childhood, and founded a religious order, the Salesians, for helping
educate boys. Although both men led very different lives as priests,
they each possessed a great love for God, the truth, and people. And
through this love for God, they accomplished tremendous things. We
celebrate these two great saints with 20% off selected titles on their
amazing lives and work. See below!
Roe v Wade 40 years Later, the Walk for Life West Coast, and the March for Life in DC
marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and what better way to
support the Pro-Life movement by participating in the Walk for Life West
Coast or the March for Life.
For more information about the Walk for
Life click here. For information about the March for Life in Washington D.C., click here.
Join Ignatius Press on a Saint Paul & Bible Lands Pilgrimage Cruise with Steve and Janet Ray
Press with President Mark Brumley and Father Mark Mary invite you on a
Saint Paul & Biblical Lands Mediterranean Cruise and Pilgrimage led
by Steve and Janet Ray. For more information about this exciting two
week pilgrimage, click here.
and Modernity | Chilton
Williamson, Jr. | Catholic World Report
It is an
uneasy relationship, especially since many aspects of the “modern age” run
counter to Christian thinking and living.
The great sin of
journalists is in their reducing everything under the sun to a subject suitable
to mere journalism. Their coverage of the national debate over which
reproductive mechanisms and procedures conscientiously objecting institutions
ought to be made to pay for under the new national health care plan is a
conspicuous example of their presumptive shallowness.
treatment of the controversy opposes an ancient reactionary institution (the
Church of Rome), retrograde in its moral teaching (in particular where human
sexuality is concerned), with a postmodern world in urgent need of an updated
moral system in conformance with our enlightened times. The formulation
reflects the starkly simplistic terms in which journalists view the world,
allowing them to present current events and the history from which they issue
as a morality play cut free from a fixed moral code.
Pull it inside
out, however, and you have quite a different proposition to deal with, this one
on the metaphysical rather than the political level and as such entirely
unsuitable to journalism and the journalistic mind. The revised formulation
goes as follows. An upstart, materialist, shallow, ignorant, willful, and
willfully misinformed age has thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of an
Institution founded two millennia ago by God Himself, Who has been infusing it
with divine Grace and understanding ever since. If Church teachings no longer
correspond with the social conditions of our Brave New World, then we need to
compare the circumstances of the building Utopia with those of traditional
Christian societies (the sniveling Old World) in previous ages to enable us to
see where and how the new world is wanting. It is for the modern age, in other
words, to be judged by the Church, not the Church by the modern age.
Abortion is the single most divisive public issue of our time, as slavery
was for the nineteenth century, or as prohibition was for the 1920S. Intelligent,
committed pro-lifers will not be satisfied in principle with anything less
than the legal prohibition, or abolition, of all abortion (though most pro-lifers
are pragmatic enough to accept partial abolitions as incremental steps toward
that goal). And intelligent, committed pro-choicers understand this and
resist, also in principle, any of these incremental steps. Pro-lifers find
it intolerable that the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society
and our species are legally slaughtered. Pro-choicers find it intolerable
that women be forced by law to bear unwanted children against their will.
Neither side can or will budge, in principle.
There are only four things that can possibly be done in such a situation.
First, we could simply accept the current standoff and hope it will not
erupt into violence and civil war, as abolitionism did in the nineteenth
century. Perhaps if we do nothing the problem will just go away. Obviously
this is naive and irresponsible. It is also unhistorical. Already in the
U.S. and Canada some have appeared who have murdered abortionists or even
their office workers. They have already done what John Brown did at Harper's
Ferry just before the Civil War: to protest violence, they have used violence.
There is no reason to think that their ilk will simply disappear, or even
Second, we could accept the current standoff and put social protections
around the dispute to keep it from erupting into war. What these protections
are, is not clear. No society has yet solved the problem of assassination
by fanatics, especially if the fanatics are willing to die along with their
victim for the sake of their cause. The closest any society has come to
preventing assassinations is totalitarian dictatorship. There were almost
no private assassinations under Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, or Pol Pot;
all assassinations were carried out by the government- Hardly a "solution"!
Third, we could hope that one of the two sides will simply go away, or weaken,
or give up, or at least quiet down—not out of conviction but simply
because of attrition: time, not logic, will solve the problem. I fear this
is also wishful thinking, living in denial, and failing to understand the
depth of conviction of both sides.
Fourth, we could hope that reason rather than force will convince one side
it is wrong. This sounds to many people even more idealistic and unrealistic
than the first three options; but it has happened before. Many practices--including
both slavery and prohibition, as well as torture, cannibalism, blood vengeance
by families, polygamy, and infanticide—have disappeared because humanity
became convinced that these were wrong.
It is my hope that this book will help to make a little progress in this
direction, the direction of peace not through force but through enlightenment-that
is, through truth. Any other peace is perilous, for a peace not based on
truth is not true peace. Certainly, any peace based on ignoring truth, scorning
truth, indifference to truth, or disbelief in truth cannot be true peace.
The popular author and professor, Peter Kreeft, tackles the most controversial
issue of our times in his always unique and compassionate style. He presents
approaches to the abortion issue from a logical, psychological and dialogical
explanation of the pro-life position. Kreeft hopes that clear reason,
rather than force, will help convince people of the truth of abortion
and the need to protect innocent human life. He presents the objective
logical arguments against abortion, the subjective, personal motives of
the pro-life movement, and how these two factors influence the dialog
between the two sides of the abortion issue.
“What is left to be said about the abortion debate? First of all,
that is it usually not much of a debate. Peter Kreeft points the way to
taking deepest disagreements seriously in creating and sustaining honest
—Rev. Richard J. Neuhaus, Editor, First Things
“We all condemn the atrocities of September 11. Yet many Americans
support legalized abortion, in which we execute every day more innocent
human beings than were killed in the World Trade Center. Peter Kreeft,
with his rare talent for explaining the obvious without patronizing or
pretense, offers here a unique guide for inviting sincere persons to consider
a basic truth – that the law can never validly tolerate the execution
of the innocent.”
—Charles E. Rice, University of Notre Dame Law School
“Peter Kreeft’s book argues for the humanity of unborn human
beings and their right not to be destroyed. Kreeft practices philosophy
the way a skilled brain surgeon practices his own art, i.e., with care,
caution, courage, cunning, capability, and conviction.”
—Donald De Marco, Author, The Heart of Virtue
Peter Kreeft, a
Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is one of the most widely read
Christian authors of our time. His more than 25 best-selling books include
Back to Virtue, Love is Stronger than Death, Catholic Christianity,
Prayer for Beginners and A Summa of the Summa.