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.
The event will be streamed live - www.dspt.edu/streaming.
From Hollywood to Government to Fortune 500 Advertising - Catholics Engaging Contemporary Society
Presentations by DSPT Fellows
Saturday, February 2, 1:30- 4:30pm
DSPT 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.
The event will be streamed live - www.dspt.edu/streaming.
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.
From Sister Mary Ann Walsh, for the USCCB:
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.”
... are on the Catholic World Report blog, courtesy of CWR's Managing Editor, Catherine Harmon, who attended the event this past Saturday. Catherine writes:
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...
See them all here.
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.
The Glory Days of “Guy Nation” | Mark McCormick | Catholic World Report
Don’t look now, ladies, but the Guys have you right where they want you
We are truly living in unprecedented times. These are the glory days of Guy Nation. In the words of one charming member, “Mmm, mmm, mmm. Mmm, mmm!”
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 all-important precepts:
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 whenever possible.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 faith.
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.
A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, January 27, 2013 | Carl E. Olson
Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15
1 Cor 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27
Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
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 was everywhere.
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.”
Because, hey, it's all about the mother. Everything. Always. Oh, and one's feelings. So insists Mary Elizabeth Williams:
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.
But, hey, pro-lifers are the "wingnuts" and irrational zealots! Good grief. Rod Dreher writes, on the American Conservative site:
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.
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.
The 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.
Cardinal 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 States.
The 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.
Participants were then able to attend the March for Life in downtown Washington, along Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building.
The book is Thomas Howard's Hallowed Be This House: Finding Signs of Heaven in Your Home (new edition; also available as in Electronic Book Format), reviewed on the "Musings of a Christian Humanist" blog by Robert Woods:
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 reign supreme.
In 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. ...
The 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 Humanistic devotional.
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.
Read the entire interview on the CWR site.
William Kilpatrick, the author of Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West, was recently interviewed by FrontPageMag.com. Here is part of that interview:
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.
Read the entire interview.
You can also read the Introduction to Kilpatrick's book, right here on Insight Scoop. And Kilpatrick was interviewed at length by Catholic World Report in late November 2012.
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.
Here is video of some of the interview:
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The Church 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.
The journalistic 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.