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articles07

 

 

Jo                                                             Journal

       Of

                       The Canadian Chapter

 

             Fellowship of Catholic Scholars

 

                  

 

                   Summer-Fall 2007

 

 

                 ISSN 1201-284X

 

 

 

 

 


Contents for Summer – Fall 2007

 

 

Editorial                      Robert Nicholas Bérard          p. 4     

 

The Divine Comedy and Robinson Crusoe: An

Exploration of Two Journeys of Conversion In the

works of Dante and Daniel Defoe                 

Christine Schintgen                p. 6

 

Toleration and Religion in a Liberal Democratic Society

                                    Andrew Fuyarchuk                  p. 12

 

Angels and Divine Providence

                                    Douglas McManaman             p. 15

 

RENOVATIO   MUNDI’: A Neurological Perspective

on Alcoholism and the Theological Journey toward Recovery

Peter J.                                                 p. 19

 

Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars General Meeting                                                                                                                                               p. 27

 

This title is now to be published twice a year. Any article, except those copyrighted — for which separate permission is required — may be reproduced provided that reference is made to this publication as its source.

 

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Board of Referees: Dr J. Patrick Atherton, Ms Teresa Bobrow, M.Phil.; Prof. Paul Flaman, S.T.D.; Rev. Msgr V.N. Foy, P.H., J.C.D.; Rev. Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., Ph.D.; Rev. Fr Leonard Kennedy, C.S.B., Ph.D.; Dr Gino Sturino, M.A., D.Ed.; Mr Humphrey Waldock, B.A., A.T.L.A.; Prof. Jim Wishloff, M.B.A., Ph.D.

 

The Editorial

 

It is with the greatest humility that I take up the two positions of President of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and editor of the Chapter’s Journal. This work has been done, faithfully, conscientiously, and cheerfully since the foundation of the Chapter by the late Dr John E.G. Stone, and in the past couple of months, I have come to appreciate the effort that he expended on behalf of our members.

I have received, through one of the members of our Board of Directors, Fr Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., a letter from Dr Stone’s widow, Rita, asking that we convey to the Directors and members of the Fellowship her gratitude for their prayers and expressions of sympathy after her husband’s death. She conveys her thanks as well to Patrick Redmond for his help both to her and to the Chapter after Dr Stone’s sudden passing. Our members, for their part, owe a great debt to Mrs Stone, who carefully proof-read previous issues of the Journal and helped prepare it for mailing. We thank Mrs Stone for her all her work, for her support for Dr Stone, and for her continuing prayers for the work of the Fellowship.

Most of the material for this issue of the Journal had been assembled by Dr Stone, and my role has been to make some additions and bring the work to print. Future issues of the Journal, however, will depend heavily on the ability and willingness of members of the Fellowship to contribute articles, reviews, and notes for publication. In the past, the Journal made extensive use of reprinted material, and it is my hope that we will be able to focus almost exclusively on original material submitted for publication to the Journal. We are, of course, open to contributions from scholars who are not (or not yet) members of the Fellowship, and we actively solicit members to encourage their graduate and undergraduate students to consider submitting manuscripts to the Journal. We also welcome briefer communications that keep us informed about the work of members and the experience of being a Catholic scholar in Canada today and the place of faith in Canadian academic life. Members are encouraged also to volunteer their time to serve as referees for the manuscripts that we receive to ensure the Journal’s continuing quality. I welcome, as well, your advice and assistance in trying continually to improve the Journal, both in content and presentation.

Stepping into my other role as President of the Chapter, I ask for your support in executing those duties and for your efforts to bring others into the Fellowship. Unlike our counterparts in the United States (and even Australia) Canadian Catholic scholars who work in post-secondary institutions find themselves overwhelmingly in secular settings. Even those Canadian universities that were founded as Catholic institutions have, for the most part, become indistinguishable from their secular sisters. While there are some scholarly associations that focus on Catholic matters – the Canadian Catholic Historical Association has been a very important part of my academic life – the Fellowship offers an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement for scholars across the disciplines, throughout the whole country, and, in its association with the Fellowship in Australia and the United States, on a trans-national scale as well.

Such support and solidarity is particularly important as serious and orthodox Catholic scholars often find themselves isolated or marginalized in their institutions, increasingly called to be, in the words of the late Pope John Paul II, “signs of contradiction”. What has impressed me about the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars in both the United States and Canada has been its openness to all Catholic scholars faithful to the teaching authority of the Church, no matter what their subject field, site of employment, or political point of view. I would ask all of our members, then, to spread the word about the benefits of belonging to the Fellowship and the importance of involvement in the Canadian Chapter in particular.

Finally, as I assume the presidency of the Chapter, I ask for your prayers and support and for your wise counsel. The Fellowship has great potential to strengthen us personally in our faith and our work and to direct our collective efforts both to serve and to challenge contemporary Canadian society.

Robert Nicholas Bérard, Ph.D. is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars/Amicale des savants catholiques Canada and editor of its Journal. He is an historian and Director of Teacher Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

 

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The Divine Comedy and Robinson Crusoe: an Exploration of Two Journeys of Conversion in the works of Dante and Daniel Defoe

 

(A talk delivered to Madonna House, 24 January 2007—St. Francis de Sales)

 

Dr Christine Schintgen

 

What do Dante and Defoe have in common? There is a connection, apart from the fact that their names both start with “D.” Both Dante, writing in the early 1300s, and Defoe, writing in the early 1700s, created stories that involved a journey—a literal journey. In Dante’s case, the descent is through hell, where he sees the torments that the damned have brought upon themselves through their choice for something other than God; then up Mount Purgatory, where he witnesses the purification of souls from the seven deadly sins, and then up through the ten spheres of heaven, culminating in the beatific vision—a glimpse of the Divinity who is “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” In Defoe’s case, the journey is across the world, from England to a desert island off the coast of South America, where he resides for 28 years, before being rescued by pirates.

 

So far, nothing surprising. But the further connection is that both works were intended as allegories: that is, the literal journey stands for a metaphorical journey—a spiritual journey. For Dante, the spiritual journey is very close to the literal one. It’s the story of the soul’s conversion from sin—represented by the “dark wood” in which Dante is lost at the beginning of the poem—to beatitude—represented by the mystical rose in the highest heaven, in which the souls of the blessed blissfully contemplate God for all eternity. Dante wrote explicitly in a letter to his patron Can Grande della Scala about how his poem was meant to be read as a spiritual allegory of the Christian soul’s voyage from captivity to sin, to liberation through redemption.

 

Now, for Daniel Defoe, too, the physical journey is meant to represent a spiritual one. That’s perhaps surprising to some modern readers, because we tend to think of Robinson Crusoe as simply an adventure story—a great adventure story, but nothing more than that. In the Preface to Robinson Crusoe, however, the author has the fictional editor of the supposedly “historical” work say: “The story is told with modesty, with seriousness, and with a religious application of events to the uses to which wise men always apply them, viz. to the instruction of others by this example, and to justify and honour the wisdom of Providence in all the variety of our circumstances, let them happen how they will.” In other words, the tale is written to show how God works everything to the best, even in seemingly desperate situations. Robinson Crusoe’s journey from England to the desert island and back, is really the story of a man’s journey from wicked neglect of God to dependence on Providence and faith in the salvation achieved for us by Christ.

 

The allegorical level of Robinson Crusoe is not so hard to find, after all, if we go back to the original text (there are so many abridged and popularized versions that it’s never safe to assume that that is what we have read or not), we find passages such as the following, which occurs about a third of the way into the novel, after Crusoe has happened upon the phrase “Call on Me, and I will deliver you” in the bible which he retrieved from the beached ship he had been voyaging in:

Now I began to construe the words mentioned above, “Call on Me, and I will deliver you,” in a different sense from what I had ever done before; for then I had no notion of anything being called deliverance but my being delivered from the captivity I was in; for though I was indeed at large in the place, yet the island was certainly a prison to me, and that in the worst sense in the world; but now I learned to take it in another sense. Now I looked back upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appeared so dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance from the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort. As for my solitary life, it was nothing; I did not so much as pray to be delivered from it or think of it; it was all of no consideration in comparison to this. And I add this part here, to hint to whoever shall read it, that whenever they come to a true sense of things, they will find deliverance from sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction. (151)

 

Modern readers will perhaps be astonished at the explicitly religious nature of the tale, and the extent to which Defoe’s journey, then, is symbolic of a greater journey—the journey from sin to redemption. But readers from Defoe’s time were reminded of the spiritual meaning of the work by the publication of the third volume of the novel in 1720. (There were three volumes: the first volume is what we normally read today; the second volume, entitled The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, was published with the first in 1719.) The third volume, entitled Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, with His Vision of the Angelick World, is a spiritual reflection on all the adventures that have taken place in the first two volumes, presenting the whole story as an illustration of the need to cast oneself upon the rock of faith and find deliverance in Christ.

 

Now that I have, I hope, established a similarity between Dante and Defoe in terms of the general purpose of their respective works and how the authors intended them to be understood, I want to move to the main purpose of my talk, which is to show how they are different. Dante’s journey of conversion is different from Crusoe’s journey of conversion because Dante is Catholic and Daniel Defoe is Presbyterian. I’d like to consider four ways in which these differences are felt.

 

First, when we look at how each journey is carried out, we notice a profound difference in terms of the role of other people in accomplishing the journey. I’ll start with Defoe and then move backwards to Dante. For Defoe, the journey is essentially solitary. “Now wait a minute!” you’ll say. What about Friday? Well, indeed, what about Friday? One of the striking things we realize when we actually read the book, as opposed to merely hearing about it, is that Friday is much less prominent in the novel than in the popularized version. For one thing, he only appears two-thirds of the way into the novel. For another, Crusoe always keeps a certain distance from him, in terms of their social relationship. That’s true from the beginning of their encounter, in fact from the very first moment that Crusoe thinks of rescuing Friday from the cannibals who have kidnapped him and dragged him to the island. Here’s the passage: as he sees Friday being chased by his captors, he reflects: “It came now very warmly upon my thoughts, and indeed irresistibly, that now was my time to get me a servant, and perhaps a companion, or assistant; and that I was called plainly by Providence to save this poor creature’s life; I immediately ran down the ladders with all possible expedition, [and] fetched my two guns, for they were both but at the foot of the ladders…”(318). Crusoe does indeed save Friday, and in return, Friday “takes him by the foot, and sets his foot upon his head, in token of swearing to be his slave”(320). Crusoe tells him to get up, and is kind to him, but later in the same paragraph refers to him as “my savage.” There’s a clear hierarchical relationship between Crusoe, and Friday, and Crusoe is not on the lower side of the equation. So although Crusoe does have another person along on his journey experience, this other person is not his guide—if anything, it’s the other way around, on the whole. Crusoe teaches Friday his catechism and gets him to give up nasty things like eating other people. Indeed, Friday’s very name shows Friday’s indebtedness to Crusoe; Crusoe tells us that “I made him know his name should be Friday, which was the day I saved his life; I called him so for the memory of the time; I likewise taught him to say Master, and then let him know that was to be my name…”(324). No, Crusoe’s only real guide and companion on his journey is not a human one: it is his bible, the only really trustworthy guide, after all, for Calvinists (Presbyterians are essentially Calvinists) who profess the Protestant belief in Scripture alone as the only reliable guide in the spiritual life—Sola Scriptura. Robinson Crusoe, after his conversion process has begun thanks to his reading of the bible, comes to see solitude as a blessing:

“Thus I lived mighty comfortably, my mind being entirely composed by resigning to the will of God and throwing myself wholly upon the disposal of His Providence. This made my life better than sociable, for when I began to regret the want of conversation, I would ask myself whether thus conversing mutually with my own thoughts and, as I hope I may say, with even God Himself […] was not better than the utmost enjoyment of human society in the world” (212).

 

For Defoe, conversion is an essentially solitary process.

 

How different the situation is with Dante! Anyone familiar with the Divine Comedy recognizes immediately that Dante-the-pilgrim has a number of guides, and all of them are superior to him. First, there is Virgil, the pagan Roman poet, who was sent by Beatrice, who was sent by Lucy, who was sent by Our Lady herself to rescue Dante from the snares of sin. In Paradise, there is Beatrice herself, the Florentine woman with whom Dante was in love for nearly all of his life. And then St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a most fitting leader for the upper stratisphere which is the dwelling place of Mary, to whom St. Bernard had such a great devotion. From the beginning, Dante recognizes his humble status vis-à-vis these travel-guides and mentors. Even Virgil, who has not baptized, has a dignity which Dante reverences; Dante calls Virgil “maestro”—master—revealing an exactly opposite relationship to that of Crusoe and Friday. And Beatrice… Can anyone doubt how Dante stands in relation to Beatrice? She is so high above him that he marvels that she condescends to look at him; but when she does, and she casts her radiant smile on him, the effect is breathtaking (Purgatorio canto xxxi: 139-144):

                                    O splendor of the eternal living light!

                                                Who that has drunk deep of Parnassus’ waters,

                                                Or grown pale in the shadow of its height,

 

                                    Would not, still, feel his burdened genius fail

                                                Attempting to describe in any tongue

                                                How you appeared when you put by your veil…

 

Now in case we were tempted to think that Beatrice herself is some kind of deity—some kind of goddess with her radiant beauty—Dante makes it clear that the dazzling light Beatrice send forth is a reflection of God’s light. Beatrice reflects the glory of God through her fidelity, grace, and holiness, much as Our Lady does. The point, then, is that Dante’s guides serve as a reminder of the Catholic doctrine of the communion of saints—the sense that we are never alone on our journey. We always travel in the company of all the other members of the Body of Christ: the Church suffering, the Church militant, and the Church triumphant. It is true that Virgil does not fit into that category as a non-baptized person, but we’ll talk about his more specific role a little further on. In any case, for Dante, conversion always somehow takes place in communion with the saints.

 

Now, at this point someone might object—but what about solitude? Don’t Catholics believe in that too? Can’t someone grow closer to God alone? Is the desert island a bad model for the experience of conversion? Well, for an answer to that, let’s turn to one of the best writers on the desert island experience—the desert experience—the poustinia experience—Catherine Doherty. In her spiritual classic, Poustinia, Catherine does write that the world needs people who will go into “real solitude” and “listen to God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all-embracing silence”(216). But, as you know very well, Catherine never loses sight of the need for real communion with others. Solitude is both possible because of, and experienced for, others. In the same book, she writes, “To reach the beatific vision you must reach union with each other. In forming a family, a community of love, you have to accept the cross—embrace it gloriously and willingly”(87). The journey of conversion, then, from a Catholic viewpoint, is not, in the final analysis, a solitary one.

 

II. Time

 

So, we’ve looked at one major difference between Dante and Defoe in their presentation of the journey of conversion—namely, the role of other people. A second important difference I’d like to discuss is the significance of time in relation to the journey.

For both heroes, time has a special significance. After Crusoe lands on the island, he takes care to mark the passing of each day on a post: “Upon the sides of this square post I cut every day a notch with my knife, and every seventh notch was as long again as the rest, and every first day of the month as long again as that long one; and thus I kept my calendar, or weekly, monthly, and yearly reckoning of time”(98). Marking time is an important ritual, a way of giving form and context to an experience that is otherwise chaotic and wild.

 

Crusoe accords special significance to the day on which he arrived on the island: September 30th, which also happens to be his birthday. He tells us: “The same day of the year I was born on, viz., the 30th of September, that same day I had my life so miraculously saved twenty-six years after, when I was cast on shore in this island; so that my wicked life and my solitary life began both on a day”(209). This appreciation of the significance of time gives richness to Crusoe’s experience, and is a pleasing detail.

We should notice, though, that the significance of time always relates back to Crusoe himself, not to some reality outside of and bigger than himself. A case in point is what happens with Sundays. At first, as we’ve seen, he kept track of and observed Sundays.

Not much later, however, we’re told that unfortunately he lost track of which day was Sunday: “Note: I soon neglected my keeping Sundays, for, omitting my mark for them on my post, I forgot which was which”(112). We sense that time only has significance to the extent that man is conscious of that significance and observes it. The most astonishing example of that is Crusoe’s diary entry for December 25th: “Rain all day” (116). That’s it. No ‘Merry Christmas’. Nothing. Just “Rain all day.” While time has significance for Defoe in relation to the spiritual journey, then, that significance is dependent on the individual’s recognition of it, and indeed relates back entirely to him.

 

In total contrast, Dante’s journey of conversion takes place in the context of time which is laden with significance whether he is conscious of it or not, and which ultimately points, not to him, but to Christ. We call this phenomenon the liturgical year. Dante’s descent into hell begins on Good Friday: he enters into the realm of the dead on the very day on which Christ himself died; his journey there continues throughout Holy Saturday, the day on which Christ himself descended into hell. Dante emerges on Easter Sunday morning, climbs up Mount Purgatory, and ascends the various circles of heaven during Easter week, entering into the fullness of Christ’s resurrection. In other words, his journey towards salvation is accomplished in time, a time that bears the stamp of Christ’s saving action whether Dante seizes that significance or not. Christ has left his footprints on the sands of time, and Dante is following in those footsteps. The soul’s journey of conversion, then, for Dante, takes place in time, and that time is inextricably bound up with the life of the Church, and thus the life of Christ.

 

III. Reason

 

A third difference, which I’ll touch on briefly, is the role of reason in the journey of conversion. For Crusoe, despite the emphasis on reason that characterizes his period, the age of enlightenment, the human person is ultimately totally depraved and wretched, so that God’s saving action operates absolutely by grace on those whom he has (seemingly abitrarily) chosen as his elect. In contrast, the Catholic view represented by Dante suggests that reason can serve as a preparation for grace—a preparation for revelation. Virgil, the noble pagan, is a living (well, actually he’s dead, but a personal) symbol of the dignity of the faculty of reason. Grace builds on nature, and reason is that part of our nature that, while not sufficient for salvation, nevertheless has a worthy role to play in the spiritual journey towards salvation. Reason, represented by Virgil, prepares us for revelation, and for grace, both of which are represented by the lovely Beatrice.

 

IV. Virtue

 

The fourth and final idea—closely related to the last one—is the idea of virtue. In good Protestant fashion, Defoe’s novel emphasizes “hard work” (he tells us that “I was not idle and […] I spared no pains to bring to pass whatever appeared necessary for my comfortable support…”[239])—but he carefully avoids any suggestion of “works” as a necessary means to salvation. In fact, he is so careful in this respect that we don’t sense much of a transformation of his moral character at all. The craving for adventure that has been his downfall since the beginning of the novel doesn’t end after his conversion—actually it continues even beyond the confines of this novel and spills over into the sequel, the second volume of the series. Indeed, at the end of the first volume, Crusoe admits that he is “inured to a wandering life”(479), and his attachments to other people are superficial and fleeting. Take, for example, his description of his family life upon his return to England:

In the meantime, I in part settled myself here; for first of all I married, and that not either to my disadvantage or dissatisfaction, and had three children, two sons and one daughter. But my wife dying, and my nephew coming home with good success from a voyage to Spain, my inclination to go abroad and his importunity prevailed and engaged me to go in his ship, as a private trader to the East Indies. This was in the year 1694. (480)

 

Notice the very passing reference to his wife—the only reference in the novel. We don’t feel that Robinson Crusoe has, with his conversion, immensely increased his capacity for tender loving care—one of the signs of virtue. Indeed, according to Calvinist theology, there is really very little incentive for Crusoe to improve his moral life, since “works” have no effect on one’s salvation; they are at best mere tokens of one’s already elect status.

 

With Dante, again, the case is different. Conversion of soul is unthinkable without conversion of heart. The very first thing Dante has to do along his journey of conversion is to recognize sin for what it is: loathsome, vile, and hideous—in other words, to allow his heart to be formed in such a way that he actually hates what is evil. At first, he feels so sorry for the souls of the damned that he misses the point that what they experience in hell is really just the logical extension of what they chose in life. When he sees the souls of the lustful tossed about perpetually on the winds, and hears the tragic story of the adulterers Paolo and Francesca, for example, he tells us that “I swooned for pity like as I were dying,/ And, as a dead man falling, down I fell”(v. 141-142). But later, under the tutelage of Virgil, he comes to see the unreasonableness of his position, and he rejects one of the souls of the wrathful—allegorically rejecting the sin itself, exclaiming “Accursed spirit, do thou remain and rot!”(viii. 38). Virgil praises him, saying “‘Blessed is the womb that bare thee’”(44), showing that Dante is growing in blessedness as he learns to reject sin.

 

As he progresses along the path of conversion, it is not enough for Dante to reject sin objectively: he must allow it to be purged from his own heart, in the arduous but fruitful struggle up Mount Purgatory. As he passes through each of the cornices representing the seven deadly sins (in order, pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust), he atones for his participation in each of these, and an angel wipes a P (for peccatum, sin) off of his head at the exit of each stage.

 

Even this purgation, however, is merely a preparation for what is most important: the inculcation of virtue in his heart, which is another way of saying the increase of love. As Dante ascends the circles of heaven, he beholds first-hand what love looks like. In Circle 4, for example, he encounters the Doctors of the Church, where he hears St. Thomas Aquinas (the Dominican) sing the praises of St. Francis; and St. Bonaventure (the Franciscan) describe St. Dominic with great reverence. He meets the warriors of god; the just; and the contemplatives, whose first representative, Peter Damian, rushes to greet him out of overflowing love. Translator and critic John Ciardi explains, “Speaking in a trance of bliss, spinning for joy in the rapture of its vision, yet moved by heavenly Love to share its joy with Dante, the soul explains that it is experiencing a vision of God”(p. 784).

 

Through witnessing the splendour of souls given over to the love of God, and beholding the luminous glory of their faces, Dante’s own soul is transformed. As Dante nears the end of his journey, he is questioned on faith, hope, and love, to ensure that he has absorbed the lessons that the pilgrimage was meant to impart. St. John the Beloved tests him on love (how’s that for a pop quiz?), asking him, “to what [his] soul clings fast”(xxvi. 7), and he answers sincerely, “The Good which in this Court all longing sates/ Alpha and Omega is of every text/ Which love in accents soft or loud dictates”(13-15)—in other words, “to God.” By the time Dante’s journey is over, he has learned, not only to believe with his head, but to long with all his heart, for God, knowing that for this longing to be fulfilled, he must first have been cleansed of all sin, and readied himself to put into practice the virtues that allow God to dwell in us.

 

So, in conclusion, I’d like to suggest that both Dante’s Divine Comedy and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe are great works, works that have immense value in suggesting for us what the journey of conversion is like. Defoe’s novel inspires us with a vision of solitude in which one discovers God, and realizes that His deliverance is really the only deliverance that matters. Dante’s poem, though, presents an ultimately richer conception of the journey of conversion. He, too, leaves the familiar world behind, and embarks upon a journey of discovery, both of his true self, and of God. In fact, his journey into the underworld could be understood allegorically as a representation of what Catherine called the “pilgrimage of the Spirit,” in which one “journeys inward to meet the Triune God that dwells within”(Poustinia 27). Dante’s journey, as we have seen, is distinct from Crusoe’s in that Dante’s journey involves the help of the Church, as opposed to rugged invidualism; it takes place in time stamped with God’s significance rather than merely human significance; it allows for the role of reason; and it involves real conversion of heart and increase in virtue. [There are other important differences too, such as the role of the sacraments and of beauty in bringing about ‘transformation in Christ,’ but I didn’t choose to focus on those aspects.] I’ll simply conclude by saying that although both works of literature contain illuminating depictions of the journey of conversion, Dante’s is better, because it contains more truth.

 Works Cited

 

Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. 1321. Trans John Ciardi. New York: New American Library, 2003.

 

-----. Trans. Dorothy Sayers. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1962.

 

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. 1719. New York: Aladdin Classics, 2001.

 

Doherty, Catherine. Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1975.

 

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Toleration and Religion in a Liberal Democratic Society

 

Andrew Fuyarchuk

 

More than 300 years ago in A Letter Concerning Toleration John Locke argued that religion must be removed from the public table of discussion in order to ensure peaceable living. Since, according to Locke, each religion claimed to be orthodox unto its self, and hence, recognized no authority higher than its own, if left to shape public discourse, religious cleavages and conflict were inevitable.[1] The Thirty Years War on the continent and squabbles between Catholics and Protestants over the throne in Britain doubtless influenced Locke’s decision to confine questions of faith to the soul and the private sphere alone and to thereby, within the public domain, tolerate all faiths. However cogent Locke’s views may have been in 1689 they have, as a result of developments he could not have foreseen, contributed to social pathologies which in turn call for a rethinking about the place of religion within a democratic society.

 

The public space has since the 17th century been shaped by industrialization, urbanization, and related social developments such as consumerism and the migration of mechanistic and bureaucratic processes from the political superstructure to interpersonal relations. The result is indifference toward the expression of religion, and thus, toward moral and spiritual development. The pervasive thwarting of the spirit contributes to the following pathology: feelings of indignation amongst those who experience injustice and a natural desire for revenge. But their thirst for revenge is unlikely to be sated when the aforementioned processes rob them of avenues through which to resolve differences face to face and hence, rob them of self-determination insofar as misunderstandings persist to affect their life. Yet as Nietzsche observed the spirit that has been thus thwarted is not impotent. The impulse to fulfill itself persists and hence, it becomes creative.[2] In this case there are roughly two alternatives stemming from the same predicament.

 

On the one hand, the broken spirit may resign itself toward, and then enthusiastically embrace, the very norms that oppress it i.e., the mundane existence created by a spiritually impoverished liberal democratic ethos. On the other hand, muting the spirit may motivate it to create an “afterworld” wherein there is a complete identification between the victim and god. In both cases, whether refuge is taken in a shopping mall utopia, or transcendentalism, there transpires precisely what Locke had thought would never happen; civil violence, not because religion is a public matter, but because it isn’t.[3]

 

Civil violence is a probable outcome of a situation wherein the antagonists are reactionary, and hence, find justification for their existence in opposition to an “other.” The hyper-consumer is indiscriminately hostile toward those of a religious orientation, even moderates, because they exhibit the very values the consumer is attempting to repress, deny, and escape; the religious zealot is likewise antagonistic toward the secularist, even if they are simply buying groceries, because they exhibit satisfaction with a life that contradicts the tenants of transcendentalism i.e., “other worldliness.” Nietzsche’s thoughts give voice to the logic internal to both camps, “I am good because you are evil.” Murder and self-destruction are the outcome of squandering a life for an ideal in order to take revenge upon the spirit (others and one’s own) that has been silenced normatively, socially, politically and culturally. The only possibility for peace within this context resides in exhaustion. There may well accrue to the spirit that turns in upon itself a prolonged battle between the impulse to genuinely contribute to the formation of community, and the revenge to which it is reversed by repeatedly hitting a wall of mediocrity until it has simply spent its energy completely. Peace arrives by default.

 

There are doubtless other pathological conditions, both personal and social, both physiological and psychological, that can be traced to the suppression of the spirit, or what I think of as a divinely inspired life force.[4] Yet the picture is not quite so bleak when one considers cultural developments in an age of globalization that are at once disturbing and hopeful for the highest hope. Despite Locke’s attempt to make religion invisible its growth within the public sphere has continued unabated over the last one hundred years. Mosques, churches, temples, synagogues, speckle the urban landscape. In an increasingly multicultural environment pluralist sensibilities, by which I mean the capacity to understand oneself and others from another position, proliferate.[5] Locke’s thesis about religion being a source of violence is self-evidently, but nevertheless empirically and verifiably, false. But the deeper question is how to foster dialogue, and thereby make room for moral development, amongst those who have been harmed. In this instance, there are two alternatives to consider – redemption through an act of human will, exemplified by Zarathustra, and through faith, exemplified by Christians.

 

Zarathustra suffers from a spirit that is turned inward against itself because he lives in a society of bourgeois complacency. He attempts to redeem himself from what is smallest, his own feelings of envy and revenge, and their worst manifestation, an attitude of resentment, by accepting them; he says “yes” to the past’s “it was” by convincing himself that “he willed it thus.” Affirming the eternal return is essentially Zarathustra’s way of overcoming “the spirit of gravity.” However, it is unlikely that Zarathustra is successful because his will is not directed toward a transcendent ground. He instead repudiates the latter, I propose, because it entails precisely what the criterion of a rational argument cannot accept – uncertainty and ceding of control to “another” authority. Zarathustra consequently relies solely upon his own will for salvation from his past. In a sense it is rational to dissolve the weight of the past by affirming that he willed it thus; however, in another sense the achievement of this rational act depends upon the capacity of his imagination to forget the fact that the past cannot be eradicated. Zarathustra is thus divided between the competing authority of his reason and fantasy; between accepting what is “smallest” because it is logical to do so, and forgetting that the past, in fact, cannot be changed, except, psychologically or with the imagination, which negates what he knows is true by reason. Zarathustra’s redemptive act is the manifestation of a schizophrenic position that is, not surprisingly, idiotic. But the “dancer’s” life is nevertheless instructive.[6] His failure to redeem himself highlights the Christian alternative.

 

Zarathustra believes that he is a sovereign individual who can save himself. But this is not possible because he is his own worst enemy; he is simply, and obviously, fallible. The pretense of ascending beyond good and evil to the position of the eternal return, essentially a position of objectivity from which he can look down upon himself, is futile. But then again, Zarathustra’s tragic flaw is useful. Contrary to the image that he projects, Zarathustra is a rationalist and a coward. His commitment to reason explains his reticence, indeed refusal, to accept that which is beyond reason. At the outermost limits of the intellect is the unknown and a gift of the infinite. In order to overcome his own past Zarathustra must therefore accept that he can neither understand nor control everything that happens to him, and, that that is good. For the spirit that has been squelched under the weight of mediocrity, “the termite state,” the “satisfait,” “the “spirit of gravity” or the “last man,” the sole route from out of the madness to which Zarathustra succumbs is an act of faith by which I mean placing trust in God’s grace, and living with utter and complete concern for Him. Faith in a transcendent Being is thus the redemptive act that can save Zarathustra from the resentment nourished in a secular society.

 

In order to restore the fruits of democracy from the depths into which it has fallen by suppressing what is highest about human nature it is necessary to restore the proper relationship between stuff and the divine milieu wherein a vision of hope and moral development replaces efficiency, utility and obedience. The challenges are manifold. At the very least truth is personal and cannot be lived without others, but the impediments to this are socially and structurally systematic. Thus is the challenge not to solely to console ourselves in the company of other believers, however rejuvenating that may be, but to assert within the allegedly secular sphere critical self-consciousness and love. Through this two-fold dialectic that includes a negative (critical) and positive (love or nurturing) mode one is remembering “the Real” for which others long irrespective of how much their commitment to mere toleration in Locke’s sense of the word has created amnesia.

Notes.

1. “For every church is orthodox to itself; to others, erroneous or heretical. Whatsoever any church believes it believes to be true, and the contrary thereupon it pronounces to be error. So that the controversy between these churches about the truth of their doctrines, and the purity of their worship, is on both sides equal, nor is there any judge, either at Constantinople, or elsewhere upon earth, by whose sentence it can be determined. The decision of that question belongs only to the Supreme Judge of all men.” A Letter Concerning Toleration (ed. John Horton and Susan Mendus. London, 1991), 24.

2. “It was suffering, and incapacity that created all afterworlds – this and that brief madness of bliss that is experienced only by those who suffer most deeply. Weariness that wants to reach the ultimate with one leap, with one fatal leap, a poor ignorant weariness that does not want to want any more: this created all gods and afterworlds.” Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. Walter Kaufmann New York: Viking Press, 1966), 31. Also, “I say unto you: your self itself wants to die and turns away from life. It is no longer capable of what it would do above all else: to create beyond itself. That is what it would do above all else, that is its fervent wish.” Ibid., p. 35.

 

3. My intention is not simply to depict a “type” but rather, to indicate the concrete and particular cases where the types become manifest. Pim Fortuyn is an instance of someone who idealizes bourgeois culture, and, Mohammed Bouyeri of someone who becomes fanatical about transcendentalism, Islam. Both are portrayed in Murder in Amsterdam. (Buruma, Ian. New York: Penguin Press, 2006). My interpretation of the condition of a resentful spirit joins Nietzche’s psychological insights to the malice and violence between the Dutch and Arabs related by Buruma in his book.

 

4. Philosophers have spoken of the same phenomenon, a life force, but have not attributed to it the status of “divine” or ontologically distinct from the beings it animates. I am thinking of David Suzuki’s references to “vital force,” John Dewey’s “compulsion” in Art as Experience, and Suzanne Langer’s “impulse” in Mind. Nietzsche of course speaks of “will to power.” It requires a longer argument but I consider these symbols of the desire for life carried by the Spirit.

 

5. I am thinking of the pluralism that Diana Eck illustrates in Encounter God. (Boston; Beacon Press, 2003). She enriches her Christianity through her intimate experiences abroad with Hinduism yet at the same time, like Hick, attests to the common ground amongst all faiths. (A Christian Theology of Religion. John Hick. Kentucky; John Knox Press, 1995.) There is thus a dialectical movement between one’s own position and that of a transcendent “Real” of which one’s own is but one manifestation. Eck and Hick provide a metaphysical ground to the moral sentiments (empathy) urged by Adam Smith in A Theory of the Moral Sentiments, which itself, as Smith was well aware, is congruent with the ethics of late Stoicism (Seneca) and Epicureanism (understanding another from their position and loving thy neighbour as oneself).

6. This is obviously a very condensed interpretation of the conclusion of Zarathutra’s journey. It would require another essay altogether to support the argument thoroughly. My intention here is to point out that Zarathustra’s aim to redeem himself is a function of his overblown confidence in his will (courage) as it has been assimilated to reason severed from the Good i.e., objective reason. His denial of the “afterworld” thus has less to do with a desire to “return to the meaning of the earth” than it does with his clinging to the authority of his intellect to grasp the highest truth. When his wisdom flies away with his pride, when his snake and eagle have left him, he has become a forgetful child but this is madness, not because it is innocence and joyful spontaneity, but because his own hubris forces him into a position that is self-contradictory – he cannot accept the eternal return while still being subject, in fact, to the determination of time; he cannot accept the determinism of the return while still being human unless he forgets his mortality, his reason and his pride which is not a return to innocence, but simply folly he chooses. If freedom consists of affirming a contradiction that is moreover existentially impossible then “freedom” is an act of forgetting, for instance, that one has a conscience, lives in a society, with others, with moral obligations and needs. It is completely loathsome.

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Angels and Divine Providence

Douglas P. McManaman

 

 When we consider the relationship between things on the hierarchy of being within the physical universe, it appears that what is lower or inferior exists for the sake of what is higher.  This does not mean that what is higher will never serve the inferior.  On the contrary, a superior creature may very well serve an inferior one.  But the former does not exist for the sake of the latter; rather, the latter exists for the former.

For example, within the natural hierarchy, the mineral level exists not for itself, but for the sake of things at higher levels.  Vegetative life moves what exists on the mineral level in order that it may serve a higher purpose, for example, in the case of nutrition when non-living matter is sublimated by a living thing, which makes it a part of itself, changing it into living matter.  Similarly, animals use plants to serve their needs.  Birds build nests, beavers build dams, and animals eat plants, as well as animals of inferior strength.  

Man, too, uses all the levels below him, elevating them to serve his rationally conceived ends.  He uses metal to build clocks in order to keep track of time, ink and paper to express his ideas, or trees to build desks, houses, and an altar upon which to offer the sacrifice of the Mass.  He makes flutes and other instruments to serve higher goods, such as the contemplation of beauty.  

And man uses animals.  He uses horses to pull carriages that carry newly-weds around the city, or oxen to plough his fields, and he uses various kinds of animals to feed himself.  He also decorates his home with birds and fish and other living creatures.  

What is particularly noteworthy in all of this is that in serving the higher, the lower levels are completely unaware of the higher purposes for which they are being employed.  And yet their elevation bestows greater nobility upon them.  Metal is unaware that it has become a wedding ring that symbolizes something exceedingly noble, and a horse carrying a decorated officer in a parade has no understanding of the nobler purpose he’s being made to serve.

Now man is at the top of the scale of the hierarchy of being in the physical universe, but he is not at the top of the scale of the hierarchy of being.  In fact, man is at the bottom of the scale of the hierarchy of intelligent creatures.  Out of all the intellectual creatures that God has created, man is the least intelligent.

Now it is contrary to the dignity of man to be used by his equal, that is, by another man.  A very important precept of natural law is that human persons ought not to be used as a means to an end, but always as an end.  To use a person is to violate the requirement to treat equals equally.  But an essentially superior being, that is, one of a higher nature, can use man without violating his dignity.  Just as every level of the hierarchy uses the level below it to serve the higher and in so doing elevates it, man is used by God to serve a higher purpose, one that man is only vaguely aware of.  God moves human persons to serve His eternally conceived end, just as man moves lower creatures to serve his own ends.  

Consider how man makes use of a number of horses to pull a royal carriage.  It is man who moves these creatures, and yet these horses are real movers; for they really are pulling the carriage.  They are being made to behave specifically as brute animals, but in a way that surpasses their own natural capacity; for a horse could never determine itself to do such a thing on its own, such as harness itself to a carriage or saddle itself in order to carry a police officer and then determine the best route to take.

Similarly, God moves man as man.  He does so without violating his dignity.  In fact, in being used by God, man is elevated to serve a higher end that ennobles him.  God moves the human person without violating his free-will, just as man uses a brute without violating the specific powers of its nature.[1]  No matter what course of action man freely chooses, his entire life, including his free choices, is part of a larger order and is made to serve an end that is outside his limited purview.  Jean Pierre de Caussade writes:

The Holy Spirit, with his own action for pen, writes a living gospel, but it will not be readable until the day of glory when it will be taken out of the printing press of this life and published.  What a beautiful history!  What a fine book the Holy Spirit is writing now!  The book is in the press, there is no day on which the letters which make it up are not being composed, on which the ink is not applied and the sheets printed.  But we dwell in the night of faith; the paper is blacker than the ink, the characters are all in confusion, the language is not of this world, nothing can be understood of it.  You will be able to read this book only in heaven.  If we could see the life of God and could contemplate all creatures, not in themselves, but in their principle, if we could also see the life of God in all objects, how his divine action moves them, mingles them, assembles them, opposes them to each other, pushes them all to the same point by diverse means, we should recognize that all things in this divine work have their reasons, their scale of measurement, their mutual relations.  But how read this book the characters of which are unknown, vast in number, upside down and blotted with ink? If the blending of twenty-six letters results in such incomprehensible diversity that they suffice to compose an infinite number of different volumes, all admirable, who can express what God is doing in the universe?[2


Angels and Providence

But God uses secondary causes to move human persons for the same reason that He uses human secondary causes to move the mineral, vegetative, and animal levels.  That is why angels are the special instruments of His providence with respect to human beings.  Angels are not subject to the requirement to treat human persons in a way that respects their status as equal in dignity, because angels are not our equals, and so they need not treat us as such. 

Moreover, angels use man without violating his freedom, that is, they use him within the context of his own free will.  This could not happen if an angel was man’s equal and subject to the limits of matter.  This does not mean, however, that human persons know they are part of a larger order or that they must consent to being so ordered.  At most, the human person can become aware of the higher order of divine providence through reason illuminated by faith, but he cannot know the details of that order in all their significance until he sees God as He is in Himself.  Human beings have about as much knowledge of the plan they are made to serve as a horse has of our own plans of which the horse is made a part. 

Angels, however, have a better grasp of the divine plan than the human person who is limited by the sluggish nature of human intelligence; for they see the plan of providence in its principle, that is, in the vision of the divine nature.  And so God employs angels to move man according to the plan of providence, a plan of which they too are a part, but which they grasp in a way that the human person cannot.  Angels do not, however, move man's will; only God can move the will.  For if my will could be moved by some limited creature outside me, it would not be my act of the will.  But angels can move the imagination, they can inspire, protect, enlighten, and console. 

Angels are not limited by space and time as man is.  They are not subject to the limits of material existence, and so they can be servants of providence in ways that are not open to man by virtue of his limitations, just as man can be an instrument of providence in a way that is not open to a brute animal.  Angels do not reason from premise to conclusion, as is characteristic of human intelligence.  Rather, angels intuit; for they are created with the perfection of their knowledge from the beginning.  They are present to material things by their attention, not by proximity within space, and they are not limited by time since time is the measure of physical motion, and angels are not physical.  They are not temporal, but rather eviternal, a duration midway between time and eternity.  Finally, they are inconceivably more intelligent than the most brilliant human being and more powerful than a human army. 

All of recorded history is nothing but a collection of thin fibers that provide a very limited peek at aspects of God's providential plan.  When we consider that each individual has only a very limited, foggy, broken apprehension of history, we begin to realize that it is simply not in man’s ability to grasp the plan of providence.   A leader of a nation, moreover, has only a very limited grasp of what is actually going on in the country that he governs, not to mention a very limited grasp of what is happening in the world at large: "It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who, then can discover what is in the heavens?" (Ws 9, 16).  But the superior intelligence of an angel could conceivably be specified to apprehend much more about particular human beings or the behaviour of nations throughout a number of centuries than man is able to apprehend.  

The King, Knights, Bishops and Pawns

What does all this mean in the end?  For one, it means that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Rm 8, 28).  In other words, evil cannot have the final word over the lives of those who choose to surrender to divine providence.  How do we know this? 

Let me explain by employing an analogy.  If I were to play a game of chess with a world-class chess champion, and I knew every move that he was going to make in response to my own moves, and if I could apprehend the entire game at a glance, it would be impossible for me to lose the game.  In fact, let’s take this a step further.  Not only do I know what moves my opponent is going to make, I also move his arm so that he can move his pieces.  Again, there is no way that I could lose the game.  It is in my power to orchestrate the entire game in such a way that victory is mine; for I know his moves and I am the cause of his moving those very pieces to the squares to which he freely chooses to move them.

Now this analogy falls short in that there is no conceivable way for me to move the arm of my opponent without determining his move.  But God moves the will of man without determining him.  Man determines himself by choosing freely.  But nothing has being, including man's free choices, without God acting as First Cause of its being.  Thus, God knows eternally, in the eternal present, what free moves we “will” make.  And so God cannot lose the game which He orchestrates.  Should a person freely but maliciously choose to bang loudly on a drum, or clash symbols, while others choose to play a sweet and haunting melody, God merely arranges their order around the melody so that the drum beats and clashing, by virtue of their place within the whole, contribute to the beauty of the symphony. 

Man is a pawn in a much larger game--a free pawn, but a pawn nonetheless--, and he has almost no idea what is happening on that level.  As de Caussade writes:  “The history of the world is nothing but the history of the war waged by the powers of the world and of hell since the beginning against the souls humbly devoted to the divine action.  In this war, the advantages seem all on the side of pride, and yet humility always wins the day." [3]  It is for us to surrender to divine providence, to cooperate with divine grace and do our small but significant part within that order.  Like well disposed matter that is more useful to the builder, a man who is well disposed by the virtues, who is obedient and humble, self-controlled, patient and just, etc., is a much better instrument in the hands of providence.  As de Caussade writes: “Since we know that the divine action embraces everything, directs everything, indeed does everything, apart from sin, faith has the duty of adoring, loving and welcoming it in everything.”[4]  The principal task of the spiritual life is to become more perfectly disposed, to learn to surrender ourselves more completely to the Spirit of God. 

This game that God plays cannot be lost.  The orchestration that He conducts cannot but deliver the most beautiful piece that will glorify Him in a way that, again, currently exceeds our imagination.  Our joy will be that we were a part of that symphony, a part of the winning side of a highly complex chess game.  By the end of the game, most of the pieces will have been sacrificed--as is typical in chess--, but only for the sake of final victory.  Consider the death of any one of God's holy ones and note the fruits of such a sacrifice: "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones" (Ps 116, 15).  But all those who freely choose to walk in darkness place themselves outside the order of salvation and into the order of justice.  They are destined to lose, and it is this loss that will be their inheritance for all eternity. 

Notes.

1.  He moves the will of man, and in doing so, makes it possible for man to choose freely.  No finite creature can move something without determining it.  If I move a garbage can, I determine the new place it will occupy.  But God is not a finite creature limited in power.  He can move the will of man without determining it.  God moves the will of man towards the good in general, that is, the good without qualification.  

Now the will of man needs to be moved by God, because nothing moves itself from potency to actuality except by something already in act.  Man cannot move his own will from the state of potentially willing to actually willing, for a thing cannot give to itself a perfection that it does not have.  And no other creature can move the will, for the will is an immaterial power.  Moreover, the very idea of something outside the will moving it is contradictory; such an act of the will would be an act of my will without being my act of the will, which is absurd.  Only God can and must move the will, and He alone moves it without determining it.  It is man who determines himself to this or that option.  

Free-choice is the ability to deliberate on various options each containing limited goods.  To choose is to cut off deliberation, or to decide on a specific course of action.  In doing so, man determines himself in relation to these limited goods, and in so doing he determines the kind of person that he is.  But he cannot do so without his will being first moved by God, just as man cannot actually turn the car to the left or the right unless the car is moving.  

2.  J. P. de Caussade.  Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence. Rockford, Tan Books, 1987.  p. 28

3. Ibid., p. 104

4. Ibid., p. 81

Copyright © 2006 by Douglas P. McManaman
All Rights Reserved

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‘R E N O V A T I O   M U N D I’:

 

A Neurological Perspective on Alcoholism and the Theological Journey toward Recovery

 

Peter J. [1]

                        

 

“O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no last name

             to be known by, let us call thee Devil.” (William Shakespeare)

 

             “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will

               lift you up.” (James 4:10)

 

 

June 15th, 1994: I am sitting on the edge of a bed in my hotel room. My hands are shaking. On the floor are two empty vodka bottles. Did I drink those? I cannot remember most of last night. I feel so sick. I am so thirsty I cannot keep water down fast enough. I look at the telephone.

 

This paper will describe the effects of alcohol on a person’s spiritual, physical, and emotional state, and how the ravages of alcohol over time eventually breaks us spiritually, physically, and emotionally. It cannot describe the effects for every alcoholic, because every alcoholic’s physiology is unique. However, there are commonalities for each of us, and I will attempt to describe neurologically and theologically what is taking place inside the mind and brain of an alcoholic. Addiction seems to be at the root of alcoholism, so the effects of addiction will also be addressed and how it must be overcome. Finally, there is the recovery aspect of alcoholism. Here, I will argue, only a ‘spiritual awakening’ can put an alcoholic on the path to recovery, and a new life in God’s grace and care which rests on a simple premise: “I do not have to take a drink, just for today.”

 

I look into the bathroom mirror. My face is flushed and my eyes are glazed and red. I am used to this look, though. I have been staring back at myself like this for almost twenty years now. I search for life and meaning in my eyes, and see nothing but emptiness. I have no self-esteem, and my self-respect abandoned me long ago. I am spiritually and morally bankrupt. A new revelation: I have hit bottom.

 

What is alcoholism? What are its effects on the individual physiologically and psychologically? Why can most people have just one or two drinks, but the alcoholic has to drink until their supply runs out, or they pass out? There is a description in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous[2] which says in part:

    

But what about the real alcoholic? He [she] may start off as a moderate drinker; he [she] may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his [her] drinking career he [she] begins to lose all control of his [her] liquor consumption, once he [she] starts to drink.

 

Alcoholism is a disease, and must be treated much like cancer. Katherine Ketcham and William F. Asbury, et.al., in their book, Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism, describe cancer as “the unregulated growth of abnormal cells… warn[ing] signs that can alert us to the disease in its early stages [include] loss of appetite… bleeding and so on.”[3] Any definition of alcoholism, they say, should also convey the fact that alcoholism progresses from an early stage onwards. Usually, these symptoms are not picked up until its middle or late stages, where observable changes in physical and mental health occur.[4] In an effort to emphasize the progression of the disease from its early to middle to late stages, the following definition was approved in 1990 by the Board of Directors of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine: Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.[5]

      

There is a ‘line’ which every alcoholic crosses when they begin to drink. Social drinkers and people who drink in moderation do not seem to cross this threshold. Why? What is it that separates alcoholic drinking from ‘normal’ drinking? It is a complex process, but I can describe it as if a ‘switch’ has been turned on inside my brain, and I cannot stop until I run out of liquor, the bar closes, or I ‘pass out.’ Is the alcoholic morally culpable when they pick up the first drink? What about their subsequent behaviour as a result of imbibing too much alcohol? These questions are often difficult to address, only insofar that after this ‘line’ is crossed, the alcoholic may not have any control (or recollection) of what he or she did the night before. I believe an alcoholic does have a moral responsibility not to drink and drive, for example, but after a few drinks their reasoning becomes impaired in such a way that all logical processes become impaired, and the individual no longer can make rational decisions (my italics).

 

You might be asking at this point: “Why would you want to do that to yourself? That is totally irresponsible behaviour, and morally, you are a weak person with no values whatsoever!” I agree with your ‘assessment,’ but for an alcoholic, it is a little more complicated than that. Theological considerations aside, we seem to ‘need’ more alcohol to receive the same effect that a normal drinker has after having only a couple of drinks. From a psychological perspective, I drink because I want to escape the responsibilities of living and to ‘feel normal’ like the rest of you. I drink to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. I drink because of my environment. I may live in a small town, and there is nothing better to do. For the reader, the following statement is important. “Drinking is but a symptom,” our book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us, to a much deeper, underlying problem – how to live. Therefore, our illness is twofold: it is both psychological and physiological, unlike a person who suffers from cancer, for example (This is not to say that cancer patients do not suffer terrible, emotional feelings from their disease. I am simply saying that unlike alcoholism, cancer is diagnosed physiologically, not psychologically). From a physiological standpoint, we must first turn to the brain and see what is taking place there to describe the effects alcohol is having on the alcoholic.

 

       I decide to pick up the telephone. I call a doctor who is affiliated with my employer. I ask for help. I have no place else to turn. I fear if I stop drinking, I will die. I fear if I do not stop drinking, I am going to die. I am so terribly frightened and alone. You have no idea what loneliness feels like. It is like a ‘dark enclosed space’ in which there is no escape. I am in Hell.

 

No medical explanation can say exactly how a person will be affected once they start to drink. Neither can science explain why the alcoholic feels the ‘rush’ more intensely than a non-alcoholic. For starters, alcohol seems to act quicker on the body if there is no food present in the stomach.   “Non-alcoholic drinkers purposefully consume alcohol in ways to avoid the ‘buzz’ of rapid rises to high levels of alcohol in their blood.”[6] Alcohol is usually taken with food to slow the process alcohol creates. The alcoholic on the other hand will purposefully consume large amounts of alcohol on an empty stomach, drinking fast to achieve the rapidly rising high brain levels typically sought by addicted people.

 

Why does someone drink? Taken in low doses, alcohol has a pleasurable effect on the body and the pleasure centers inside the brain. Initially, it relieves the stress in daily living, helps us ‘unwind’ after a long day in the office, and is socially acceptable. We seek pleasure in our lives, not pain. What a lot of people do not understand, however, is that alcohol is also a drug, no different than marijuana or cocaine, for example. Because it is socially acceptable and legal in the eyes of the law, we seem to overlook this fact. Too much of ‘a good thing,’ however, can create problems as it does for the drug addict, and for anyone who abuses or is addicted to alcohol. “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 14:24)

 

Alcohol is taken orally, unlike most other drugs. When you drink a beer, glass of wine, or hard liquor, alcohol travels down your esophagus directly into your stomach. Because alcohol is a very small molecule (just two and a half times the weight of water), it requires little or no preliminary enzyme activity and passes directly through cell membranes.[7] That is why alcohol affects you more if you are drinking on an empty, rather than a full stomach, for example. Roughly 70-75% of alcohol is absorbed through the walls of the small intestine. Approximately 20% is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach, although the rates vary according to gender. For example, even if a man and a woman weigh the same and drink the same amount, the woman will have a higher BAC (blood alcohol content) for two basic reasons: 1) women (in general) have a smaller amount of body water to dilute the alcohol, and 2) women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat, and alcohol does not dissolve readily in fat; so the concentration in the bloodstream will be greater.[8] Travelling through the bloodstream, it courses throughout your body, including the brain. It is here things really start to get interesting.

 

       Maple Ridge Treatment Center, Maple Ridge, B.C., July 28th, 1994. How did I ever end up here? I’m not like these other people! “Hello, my name is Barbara. I am an alcoholic/addict.” “My name is Tom, I am an alcoholic.” “Hello, my name is Peter, and I am an alcoholic.”

 

My brain is composed of billions of nerve cells, or neurons, which are responsible for two major functions: (1) sending messages to other neurons and (2) receiving messages from other neurons. To send or receive messages, the brain relies on a system of specialized ‘messenger’ chemicals called neurotransmitters. The most important neurotransmitters involved in alcoholism are dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). In general:

- Dopamine intensifies feelings of well-being, increases aggression, alertness, and sexual excitement, and reduces compulsive behaviour.

- Serotonin promotes feelings of well-being, induces sleep, reduces aggressive and compulsive behaviour, and elevates the pain threshold.

- Norepinephrine increases feelings of well-being and reduces compulsive behaviour; in excess, norepinephrine may induce anxiety and increase heart rate and blood pressure.

- GABA reduces anxiety and compulsive behaviour and raises the pain threshold.[9]

 

This is ‘heaven’ for the alcoholic because three of the neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of well-being, which otherwise leaves an alcoholic feeling ‘on edge’ and ‘irritable’ while being sober. This, I believe, is one reason why an alcoholic drinks compulsively, to maintain this level of well-being, and to satisfy the physiological ‘craving’ of needing ‘another drink.’

 

When a neurotransmitter is released from the neuron – imagine a Federal Express truck loaded up with packages and a list of addresses – it searches for the receptor cells with the right shape and electrical charge to receive its information. When the correct address is found, the packages are unloaded to the ‘open door’ of the receptor cell. This is the short course on normal brain chemistry according to Ketcham and Asbury. Something different, however, happens in the alcoholic brain (my italics). When alcohol is metabolized (broken down) in the liver, it is converted first to acetaldehyde. Most alcoholics experience a build-up of acetaldehyde, leading to levels approximately 50 percent higher than in non-alcoholics. Ketcham and Asbury say this inherited metabolic ‘quirk’ is attributed to intensified activity in the metabolic pathway called the microsomal ethanol oxidating system (MEOS). A significant amount of acetaldehyde ‘escapes’ the liver and attaches itself to red blood cells where it ‘hitches’ a ride and slips through the protective blood-barrier to circulate freely in the brain tissue.

 

Acetaldehyde’s actions in the brain are critically important for understanding the process of addiction, which will be addressed shortly. According to Ketcham and Asbury, acetaldehyde is the ‘ultimate party-crasher’ and the brain’s chemicals are rudely interrupted when acetaldehyde enters uninvited. Scientists call acetaldehyde ‘reactive’ which in this context can be interpreted to mean that it acts like a testosterone-crazed adolescent , highly attracted to the opposite sex, charged up and eager for action. The ‘switch’ has been turned on, and I am in paradise once again. Little did I realize then, that paradise has a funny way of changing into Dante’s Inferno.’

      

       My father has done a wonderful thing. He has driven 2200 kilometers to Edmonton and back to Maple Ridge, B.C. to bring my wife and son to the treatment center. It is my third weekend in treatment. I hold my four year old son. He looks at me and smiles. I begin to weep for the first time in my life, sober. I am having new sensations not previously known to me before. I am beginning to feel.

 

           “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”(Gen. 3:1) Hello Peter, my name is Addiction. “Sorry, but I have to take your fun away now. You shall become solely dependent on me. You will give up your freedom, your family, responsibilities, and life, for me. I, in turn, shall give you nothing but the illusion of happiness and pleasure. You wanted Paradise, didn’t you?

 

“Addiction is blind,” says Dr. Robert L. DuPont. In his preface to The Selfish Brain, he describes addiction “like people with secret, shameful lovers, addicted people hid[ing] their addictions from themselves and from anyone else who might separate them from their lovers.”[10] Dr. Joe Dispenza, D.C., a chiropractor who also studies neurology and neurophysiology says: “My definition of addiction is something really simple: It’s something that you can’t stop. If you cannot control your emotional state, you must be addicted to it.”[11] From a moral and theological perspective, I have known all along that this behaviour is wrong (my italics), but I cannot seem to do anything about it. The decision to start drinking, as for other people, is not in itself morally or ethically wrong. What is wrong, I believe, is knowing that subsequent decisions on my part will affect my choices later on, i.e., making a decision to lie to support my addiction. I justify my drinking because it is socially acceptable, easily accessible, and I do not take drugs like ‘those other low-lifes.’ I have a job, a family, and I feel good, usually, except for the hangovers which seem to get worse with age and an eroding self-respect (in part) as a result of making poor decisions while continuing to drink.

 

Denial has a funny way of distorting reality for the alcoholic, for the people closest to them, and the actions imposed on people while exhibiting this type of behaviour. Every decision I make revolves around the next drink, the next party. This type of behaviour (which is continually evolving) can only be described as addiction. I have given up my freedom, my family, responsibilities, and my life for this kind of behaviour. But it is precisely because I am addicted that I cannot change this pattern, no matter how sincere I may have been at the time. I am not morally culpable, I justify to myself.

 

Addiction attacks every part of what Freud called our ‘mental apparatus.’ Subjectively, the attacks seem focused on two primary areas: The will, which is our capacity to choose and direct our behaviour, and self-esteem, which is the respect and value with which we view ourselves. Addiction splits the will in two, one part desiring freedom, and the other desiring only to continue the addictive behaviour. This internal inconsistency begins to erode self-esteem.[12]

 

“It’s okay Peter, we, the committee inside your brain are here to justify your actions. You have had a stressful day at work, too many airplanes. Of course you can have one more.” Or, “You’re drunk, but the liquor store is only six blocks away. It’s not like you are driving across the city. Get your three - year old son and take him with you, because he might get hurt if you leave him by himself.” “But I have already had too much to drink,” I protest.

       How do we become slaves to alcohol? My definition of ‘slavery’ is having an ‘attachment’ to a person, place, or thing without regard to the consequences of such an action. It is the seeking of a pleasurable state at any cost and by any means, while taking away the freedom of the person engaged in this type of behaviour. It is an unhealthy predisposition toward the ‘object’ of desire, in this case, alcohol. It is much like viewing an erotic nude painting on the wall. Except, the wall and everything else no longer exists or is demanding your conscious attention because of your emotional attachment to the stimulating object of interest. You continue to admire the beauty and form in the painting even though your train left the station five minutes ago. If you happen across the painting over and over again, and you keep missing your train, this should be sending warning flags to you.

 

“One simple effect of experience is habituation, defined as a decline in the magnitude of a reflexive response when a stimulus is repeated several times in succession.”[13] Over time, the same experience requires more of the same to achieve the same effect that was originally in place the first time. An analogy is walking into a room with a loud hum. At first the noise is quite noticeable, but over time the conscious brain ‘tunes out’ this hum until you hardly notice it. If you increase the noise level of the hum, the brain will ‘notice’ the noise again until it is tuned out once more. The same is true for alcohol. More alcohol is needed to achieve the same ‘effect’ which was originally experienced after having only a few drinks. We build up tolerance to the stimulus over time and we need more of it to achieve the same experience as before.

 

Addiction does not only affect the alcoholic, however. It slashes across all segments of society. Addiction takes root in the person who gambles, the person who uses drugs, people addicted to relationships or sex, work, or any other activity which takes away freedom from the individual. Addiction takes away our responsibilities, as well as our moral, and ethical beliefs as well, if the type of behaviour continues to produce negative results. In short, alcoholics become self-centred to the extreme, and thus isolate themselves from the people closest to them and from God. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,/ But he who refuses correction goes astray.”(Prov. 10:17)

 

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise [from within] ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot.[14]

 

If long term addiction is destructive, why does the alcoholic continue this type of behavioural abuse to him or herself? Remember that we drank to ‘medicate’ ourselves, to feel normal. We drank for pleasure, but in the end our pleasure turned into a prison. We could not escape the vicious cycle of craving, using, withdrawal, guilt and shame. It is here that we became slaves to alcohol. It is here, if we were fortunate enough, we hit bottom, and finally recognized what we could lose, and had lost already. And it is here, in this personal hell and misery, something happened, something…wonderful (my italics). What happened can only be described as a miracle.

 

       I do not remember much of my first AA meeting upon my return to Edmonton except for this: The Chairperson seemed to speak from his heart, and when he smiled, warmth seemed to radiate from within him. After the formal meeting, the others in the room extended their hands to me, and welcomed me. I felt a genuine love in that room, and a feeling that I belonged.

 

“We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.” This is the Forward to the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous from 1939. The sentence contains a message of hope to any reader who may have a problem with alcohol and wants to do something about it.

 

Gerald G. May, M.D., in his book, Grace & Addiction, speaks of deliverance in this way: This is the spiritual experience I learned about from recovering addicts, the unique phenomenon that sparked my professional/personal journey into psychology and spirituality. I can only call it deliverance. There is no physical, psychological, or social explanation for such sudden empowerments. People who have experienced them, call them miraculous.

 

May describes a miracle as being “nothing other than God’s ordinary truth seen with surprised eyes.”[15] For me, it becomes a miracle because my eyes have been finally opened to something which I could not see before, and can only occur by making a conscious decision to stop drinking. May goes on to say that deliverance enables a person to make a change in his or her behaviour. It is important to know, however, that this new ‘empowerment’ in no way permits us to return to our old ways and habits. My sobriety is contingent on my ‘spiritual well-being.’ When I speak in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous or as a guest speaker at a school, for example, I describe myself as a recovering alcoholic, not as a recovered alcoholic. To have ‘recovered’ means that I have taken my will back and that I can control my addiction. To be in recovery, is to be continually in God’s grace and care and allowing, as part of Step 11 says, “for His will for us, and the power to carry that out.” Reflecting back, I have no idea how or why I stopped drinking that day. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). By allowing myself to even remotely believe I could stop drinking, I had left the door open ‘just a crack’ and allowed God back into my heart.

 

What is grace? What does an alcoholic identify it with? May says, “Grace is the active expression of God’s love.” We are all God’s children, so we are simply loved. A mother cannot describe the love for her baby. She simply loves the child because it is her baby. It matters not if a child goes astray, the love is always there. God’s love is much like that, I believe. Therefore, love is the cornerstone of all recovery from addiction. It is the love of God, the people important in our lives, and learning to love ourselves again with which the miracle of recovery begins.

 

Finally, recovery is not an easy journey. Ketcham and Asbury say the idea of sobriety curing all of your ills is one of the most dangerous falsehoods in the myth-laden world of alcoholism.[16] When things do not go according to plan, or we revisit people, places, and things we used to associate with our drinking, then relapse is likely if there is not a spiritual component in our lives. Being in God’s grace includes doing things in everyday life that are not always pleasant. Spouses will still argue, our children will grow up and move away, and our financial state may not be very good. There are a thousand reasons to go back to drinking, but for a recovering alcoholic, going back to that way of life is to die.

 

Temptation in everyday life lures us to those original pleasures which intoxicated the alcoholic’s soul with such passion. Passio, in Latin means ‘to suffer,’ or ‘suffering.’ Moses, leading the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt experienced the same tribulations in the desert. The Israelites turned from God and fashioned idols while Moses was away at Mount Sinai. They were not escaping slavery any longer, but engaged in another form of bondagewith the worshipping of idols. Faith had been replaced by corruption, and the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves” (Ex. 32:7). The alcoholic can never forget “what it was like.” To live in bondage is never to be free, never to know or understand what freedom truly means. As our book of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

 

Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed.[17]

 

In sobriety, freedom opens many doors for us, if we are willing to open them. Once we look inside, many other possibilities may materialize before us. Behind one of these doors there are desks and a chalkboard, seventeen bright students with their whole lives ahead of them, and a professor who has a dog named ‘Checkers’ who responds to some commands in English, French, and German.[18] These are the gifts of gratitude and grace I receive, a recovering alcoholic, from God. God gave His people the Ten Commandments to show people how they ‘ought to live.’ God gave alcoholics an additional set of tablets. He gave us the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which, if followed, help to ‘set us free.’

 

       June 15th, 1999: The hotel receptionist gives me a strange look when I ask her to be allowed into room 736. I explain my story, and only then does she cheerfully accommodate my request. A bellboy allows me into the room. It looks different after five years, yet, everything is the same somehow. I sit down on the edge of the bed. It is very quiet, and I turn toward the telephone. After an indeterminate period of time, an incredible feeling overpowers all my senses. The room seems to flood with a Presence I have not felt before, or since. There is an incredible feeling of forgiveness and love in that room which I cannot describe or put into words. There is no need for words. I understand.

 

“And the Lord God…breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7).

  

Notes.

[1] The surname of the author of this paper is not given in line with Tradition 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” The title, “Renovatio Mundi,” is from Carolingian times; specifically during the era of Charlemagne when he proclaimed during spring-time a ‘re-birth, renewed growth’ after the ‘long dark, dead, dying time of Medieval winter. This paper was originally submitted as an assignment for a University of Alberta course, Chrtc 390 Neuroscience, the Person and Christian Theology, to Professor Paul Flaman. In a communication accompanying the paper the author said, “If this paper can help even one person, then I have given something back that was freely given to me.”

 

2. [1]Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1939, 1955, 1976, 2001), p. 21.

 

3. K. Ketcham and William F. Asbury, with Mel Schulstad and Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed.D., PhD. Beyond the Influence (New York: Bantam Books, 2000), p. 44.

 

4. Ibid, p. 44.

 

5. Ibid, p. 45.

 

6. Robert L. DuPont, M.D.,The Selfish Brain (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press Inc., 1997), p. 109.

 

7. Ketcham et al., p. 15.

 

8. Ibid, p. 15.

 

9. Ibid, pp. 47-48.

 

10. DuPont, Preface.

    

11. William Arntz, Betty Chasse and Mark Vicente, What the Bleep Do We Know? (Deerfeild Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2005), p. 174.

 

12. Gerald G. May, M.D., Addiction & Grace (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988), p. 42.

 

13. Peter Gray, Psychology, 4th Edition ( New York: Worth Publishers, 2002), p. 99.

 

14. Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, p. 62

 

15. May, p. 154.

 

16. Ketcham et al., p. 168

 

17. Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, p. 62.

 

18. Checkers was a guest demonstrating animal “intelligence,” related to the section on animals and the question of personhood in the university course, “Neuroscience, the Person and Christian Theology” (see note 1 above).

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Gift of Love

 

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

 

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Primate of Canada, is the Archbishop of Québec and a Knight of Columbus.

 

(This article is reprinted with permission from Columbia magazine, courtesy Knights of Columbus, New Haven, Connecticut.)

 

In February, Pope Benedict XVI issued Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity), his apostolic exhortation following up on the World Synod of Bishops that met at the Vatican in October 2005 to discuss the topic, “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”

           

Sacramentum Caritatis is part of the great eucharistic movement now under way in the Church. This effort is being nourished by liturgical reform and several initiatives that have taken place since the Great Jubilee Year 2000, including the publication in 2003 of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (The Church of the Eucharist); the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2004; and the Year of the Eucharist, which ended with the bishops’ synod.

           

Pope Benedict desires to renew the eucharistic faith of the people of God. In Sacramentum Caritatis he writes: “The sacrament of charity, the holy Eucharist, is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’ s infinite love for every man and woman” (1). Understanding this fundamental of the faith and making it a central part of Christian living should be the goal of every believer. Sacramentum Caritatis further explores this in three sections: Part one presents the Eucharist as a mystery to be believed; part two, as a mystery to be celebrated, and part three, as a mystery to be lived.

 

SHARING IN THE LIFE OF THE TRINITY

 

Pope Benedict turns our attention to the source of love itself: the communion of the Holy Trinity. The Eucharist, he explains, is both a sacrament of the Church and an event in which the Trinity gives itself to us. The Father begets the Son, the Son responds to the Father and the Spirit pours forth from the bond between the two. In that lies the trinitarian gift to the community celebrating its faith. Through the eucharistic celebration, God unites us to him while sending us out to spread this communion throughout the world.

           

In receiving Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we receive intimacy with the Father. Holy Communion brings the very gift of God: the Holy Spirit poured out into our hearts. In Christ’s Body and Blood, we receive the gift of participation in the life of the Trinity. Perceptibly, we receive the Eucharist; imperceptibly, we receive participation in the life of the Divine Persons.

           

In presenting the Eucharist as a mystery to be believed, Pope Benedict has us consider Jesus’ “supreme act of love” (SC 10). When Jesus tells the Apostles at the Last Supper to “do this in memory of me,” he is asking each of us to enter into his love offering as well. In the Eucharist, not only do we receive Christ in a static manner, but we are also gathered into the dynamics of his offering. Jesus draws us to him. He bestows upon us the mission to enter into his “hour,” his passage from the world to the Father that freed all of creation. It is what John describes in his Gospel as the hour when Jesus “loved his own to the end” (Jn 13:1).

 

SUMMIT OF ADORATION

 

In the second part of Sacramentum Caritatis, the pope examines the many proposals presented by synod participants on how the Eucharist should be celebrated in a dignified manner. There is not a “disciplinary” tone to this section. Instead, the pope highlights the unique and awesome mystery that is the Eucharist to remind us of just what is being celebrated at every Mass.

 

The pope insists quite often on the Eucharist as a personal en-counter with Christ. Indeed, every liturgical celebration, every theological commentary and every teaching on the mysteries of the faith must lead Catholics to a deeper transformation (SC, 64).

           

The pope concludes this section of Sacramentum Caritatis by explaining the relationship between the Eucharist and adoration. He notes that since the Second Vatican Council eucharistic adoration has not always been properly understood. For some, the eucharistic bread is not given to us for adoration but to be consumed. The pope responds to this objection by stating: “Eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration” (SC, 66).

           

Through the Eucharist, we are introduced into the life of Christ, his prayer and his gift of love to the Father. The Eucharist is the summit of adoration since it is the memorial of Jesus’ own act of adoration. When Christ, accompanied by his Apostles at the Last Supper, left us the gift of the Eucharist, he left us a definitive act that includes his sacrifice on the cross and embraces all time.

 

THE EUCHARIST AND EVANGELIZATION

 

In part three of Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict shows how the eucharistic mystery, contemplated and celebrated in the Church, extends into daily life. By allowing the Eucharist to live within us, we have a greater capacity to allow Christ’s love to go on influencing our world. As we celebrate the Eucharist we are given to perceive and live our lives in a new way. We begin to see things as God sees them and to let our entire lives come under the direction of his abundant love.

           

God’s living presence in us moves us to evangelize through our own words and actions. The Church’s commitment to social justice and peace is not a moral imperative. It is God’s love transforming the world. An authentic eucharistic life is expressed in the gift of oneself to the poorest and most destitute.

 

QUÉBEC CITY BECKONS

 

These brief reflections on Sacramentum Caritatis lead to the next major eucharistic event in the life of the Church: the 49th International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Québec City from June 15 to 22, 2008. The theme of the congress is “The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World.” The congress coincides with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City as the seat of the first Catholic diocese north of Mexico.

 

This event is mobilizing us already across Canada and throughout North America. The 2008 International Eucharistic Congress is a great opportunity for Canada to proclaim to the whole world the values that have been the envy of other countries and to give new life to our consciousness of the Christian roots of our country and our continent.

           

We are living through a time of great crisis in a world of tensions, of swift and sudden change, a world that is both dangerous and fascinating. This is a world on the path to globalization — our hope is that this movement be one of humanization and not one of alienation and injustice.

           

We need to recover the depth, beauty and vastness of the Church’s mission. This is not a time for hesitation or retreat. We need to keep the arena large and the Gospel vision of a culture of love alive. Only in this way can we ever hope to build “A Culture of the Eucharist for a Civilization of Love.”

 

For more information about the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress visit www.cei2008.ca.

 

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Don de l’amour

 

Par le Cardinal Marc Ouellet

 

Primat du Canada, le cardinal Marc Ouellet est archevêque du diocèse de Québec et Chevalier de Colomb.

 

(Cet article est reimprimé avec la permission de Colombie, courtoisie des Chevaliers de Colomb, New Haven, Connecticut.

 

En février dernier, le pape Benoît XVI a publié Sacramentum Caritatis (Le Sacrement de la charité), l’exhortation qu’il présentait comme suivi du synode mondial des évêques tenu au Vatican en octobre 2005 pour réfléchir sur le thème: «L’Eucharistie: source et sommet de la vie et de la mission de l’Église».

           

Sacramentum Caritatis se situe dans le grand mouvement eucharistique qui s’affirme un peu partout dans l’Église universelle. Ce mouvement se nourrit de bons fruits de la réforme liturgique et de beaucoup de messages qui convergent depuis le Jubilé de l’an 2000, y compris l’Encyclique de Jean-Paul II Ecclesia de Eucharistia, sur l’Eucharistie dans son rapport à l’Église. Mentionnons aussi le Congrès eucharistique international de Guadalajara au Mexique en octobre 2004; et l’année de l’Eucharistie qui s’est conclue avec le Synode des évêques.

           

Le pape Benoît désire renouveler la foi eucharistique du peuple de Dieu. Ainsi écrit-il dans Sacramentum Caritatis: «Le sacrement de l’amour, la sainte Eucharistie est le don que Jésus Christ fait de lui-même, nous révélant l’amour infini de Dieu pour tout homme» (1). Bien comprendre ce fondement de la foi et en faire le centre de la vie chrétienne devrait être l’objectif de tout croyant et de toute croyante. Sacramentum Caritatis examine ce principe en trois parties distinctes: la première partie présente l’eucharistie comme un mystère à croire et à contempler; la deuxième, un mystère à célébrer; la troisième, un mystère à vivre dans le mystère de l’existence.

 

PARTAGER LA VIE DE LA TRINITÉ

 

Le pape Benoît tourne d’abord nos regards vers la source de l’amour: la communion trinitaire. L’Eucharistie, explique-t-il, est à la fois un rite de l’Église et un événement par lequel la Trinité se donne à nous. Le Père engendre son Fils, le Fils répond au Père et l’Esprit Saint procède des deux: voilà le don trinitaire fait à la communauté qui célèbre sa foi. Par la célébration eucharistique, Dieu nous unit à Lui et nous envoie répandre cette communion dans tout l’univers.

           

En recevant la vie du Fils, on reçoit l’intimité avec le Père. Mais le sacrement que nous recevons porte le don de Dieu lui-même, l’Esprit Saint répandu dans nos cœurs. Par l’Eucharistie, sacrement du corps et du sang du Christ, nous recevons une participation à la vie trinitaire. Visiblement, nous recevons le sacrement. Invisiblement, nous recevons une participation à la vie des personnes divines.

           

En présentant l’Eucharistie comme un mystère à croire, Benoît XVI nous amène à considérer le mystère pascal de Jésus comme un «acte suprême d’amour» (10). Lorsque, à la dernière Cène, Jésus commande à ses Apôtres «faire cela en mémoire de lui», il nous demande non seulement de représenter sacramentellement l’Eucharistie, mais d’entrer dans son offrande d’amour. Dans l’Eucharistie, nous ne recevons pas seulement le Christ de manière statique, nous sommes plutôt entraînés dans la dynamique de son offrande. Jésus nous attire à Lui. Il nous confie la mission d’entrer dans son «heure», c’est-à-dire dans l’heure de son passage de ce monde au Père, l’heure de la libération du mal pour toute la création, l’heure où il «aima les siens jusqu’à l’extrême» (Jn 13, 1).

 

L’EUCHARISTIE, RENCONTRE

AVEC LE CHRIST

 

Dans la deuxième partie de son exhortation apostolique, Benoît XVI, reprend de nombreuses propositions du synode des évêques sur la manière de célébrer dignement l’Eucharistie. Mais il ne faut pas s’attendre à y trouver un exposé disciplinaire sur l’Eucharistie. L’apport magistral de ce texte du pape est peut-être justement de situer la vérité de notre participation à l’Eucharistie dans la contemplation du mystère célébré.

           

Il insiste à plusieurs reprises sur l’Eucharistie comme une rencontre personnelle avec le Christ présent dans le sacrement. Tout aménagement liturgique, tout commentaire liturgique, toute catéchèse mystagogique doit conduire les fidèles à être progressivement transformés par la célébration des saints Mystères (cf. 64).           

           

Le Pape termine cette deuxième partie en présentant le rapport entre l’Eucharistie et l’adoration. Il note en passant que depuis Vatican II, l’adoration n’a pas toujours été bien comprise. Pour certains, le pain eucharistique ne nous était pas donné pour être adoré, mais pour être mangé. Il répond à cette objection en situant «l’adoration eucharistique comme le développement explicite de la célébration eucharistique qui est en elle-même le plus grand acte d’adoration de l’Église» (66).

           

Par l’Eucharistie, nous entrons dans la vie du Christ, dans sa prière, dans son don d’amour au Père. L’Eucharistie est le sommet de l’adoration parce qu’elle est le mémorial de l’acte d’adoration de Jésus. Quand le Christ, entouré de ses apôtres au soir du Jeudi saint, nous a fait don de l’Eucharistie, il nous a laissé un acte définitif qui inclut son sacrifice de la croix et qui embrasse tous les temps.

 

EUCHARISTIE ET ÉVANGÉLISATION

 

Dans la troisième et dernière partie de son exhortation apostolique, le Pape veut montrer comment le mystère eucharistique, contemplé puis célébré en Église, se déploie dans la vie de tous les jours. Bref, l’Amour trinitaire exprimé en plénitude dans le mystère pascal du Christ, nous rejoint par le mystère de l’Eucharistie célébré en Église. Le don de l’Amour trinitaire s’actualise pour nous dans le Mémorial du Seigneur. Mais tout ne s’arrête pas avec la célébration. C’est le même Amour trinitaire qui prolonge son action dans notre existence, même en dehors de la célébration.

           

En laissant l’Eucharistie vivre en nous, nous permettons à l’Amour de continuer à agir dans notre monde. L’Eucharistie confère une nouvelle manière de voir et de vivre l’existence. Elle nous amène à voir les choses à la manière de Dieu et à mettre notre vie tout entière sous la mouvance de l’Amour gratuit de Dieu.

           

C’est ainsi que l’Évangélisation devient l’actualisation, à travers nos paroles et notre témoignage de la présence vivante de Dieu. L’engagement pour la justice et la paix n’est pas un précepte moral, mais une «actualisation eucharistique» de l’Amour de Dieu qui transforme le monde. Une existence authentiquement eucharistique s’exprime dans le don d’elle-même aux plus petits et aux plus démunis.

 

QUÉBEC APPELLE

 

Ces trop brèves réflexions ayant comme Objectif de présenter l’exhortation apostolique d’après synode de Benoît XVI, m’amène au prochain Congrès eucharistique dans la vie de l’Église: le 49e congrès eucharistique international qui aura lieu à Québec du 15 au 22 juin 2008, dont le thème est: «L’Eucharistie: don de Dieu pour la vie du monde». L’événement coïncide avec le 400e anniversaire de la fondation de la ville de Québec en tant que première assise de l’Église catholique au nord du Mexique.

           

C’est un événement qui nous mobilise tant au Canada que dans toute l’Amérique du Nord. Le Congrès eucharistique de 2008 offre au Canada une occasion unique de proclamer au monde entier les valeurs qui ont fait l’envie d’autres pays et de renouveler notre conscientisation aux racines chrétiennes de notre pays et de notre continent.

           

Nous vivons des moments de grandes crises, dans un monde de tension et de changements soudains, dans un monde engagé sur le voie de la mondialisation — nous espérons vivre un mouvement d’humanisation et non d’aliénation et d’injustice.

           

Nous avons à redécouvrir la profondeur, la beauté et la grandeur de la mission de l’Église. L’heure n’est pas à l’hésitation ou à la retraite. Nous devons garder ouverte et large la voie du monde, et vivante la vision évangélique de la culture de l’amour. C’est seulement ainsi que nous espérons bâtir une culture eucharistique engagée dans une civilisation de l’Amour.

 

On obtient des renseignements sur le Congrès eucharistique international de 2008 en visitant le site www.cei2008.ca.


Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy Presidential Job Ad

Position: President

 

Salary: Commensurate with experience and qualifications

 

Institution: Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy

Location: Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada

 

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy is a private Catholic institution for post-secondary education in the liberal arts. Founded in the year 2000, OLSW currently offers one-, two- and three-year certificates in Christian Humanities, and is pursuing degree-granting status in the province of Ontario. Two defining characteristics of OLSW are its Catholic orthodoxy and its commitment to providing an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, with courses in Theology, Philosophy, Literature, History, Social Sciences, Languages, Fine Arts, Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

 

OLSW’s rapidly growing student body numbers 69 full-time equivalents in 2007-2008, and 10 faculty. OLSW is nestled in the scenic Ottawa Valley, surrounded by forests and lakes, in an environment that is invigorating, clean, and strikingly beautiful.

 

The new President of OLSW will be a strong, dynamic leader who will guide the school confidently through the process of becoming a four-year degree-granting college. A full adherence to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church and a thorough understanding and appreciation of the nature and value of a liberal arts education are essential. The successful candidate will have collaborated successfully with decision-making bodies in an academic context, and possess skills and experience in budgeting and fundraising. This experienced team leader will be a proficient manager with enthusiasm, vision, and the ability to inspire and support others.

 

The successful candidate should have a Ph.D. or equivalent, and may have the option of teaching one course per semester.

 

To apply, please call the Interim President, Dr. Christine Schintgen, at 613-756-3082, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or send a CV, a letter of introduction, and the names of three referees in confidence to:

 

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy

P.O. Box 249

18 Karol Wojtyla Square

Barry’s Bay, Ontario

K0J 1B0

Canada

Re. Presidential Job Search

 

 

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Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars General Meeting

A general meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars was held on 1 May 2007 at the offices of Salt + Light Television in Toronto, Ontario. We were hosted by Fr Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., Chief Executive Officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.

Following a brief general meeting where Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Redmond and President Robert Bérard spoke briefly about membership issues and the Journal, members heard a presentation by Fr Rosica on the history and mission of Salt + Light Television. Fr Rosica’s talk recounted his unexpected journey to become a major force in the creation of the first Canadian Catholic television network and explained the network’s history and mission. His remarks are not available in written form, but he has suggested that the Journal draw from the network’s page of Frequently Asked Questions to disseminate his core message.

What is Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation?

Established in 2003, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation is a non-profit national organization committed to providing Catholics with the opportunity to connect with their Catholic beliefs and celebrate their faith which is lived out in parish communities everyday. Salt + Light offers 100% Catholic content through a diverse range of multi-media tools, including television production, digital television and satellite distribution and the internet.

What is Salt + Light Television?

Salt + Light Television is Canada's first Catholic television network broadcasting 24/7 across Canada. Our programming has 100% Catholic content. This channel is currently available through Rogers Digital Cable, Cogeco Digital Cable and Mountain Cable in Ontario, Vidéotron Digital TV (Illico) in Quebec, EasLink Digital Cable in the Maritimes and across Canada through Bell ExpressVu, a satellite carrier.

Is Salt + Light endorsed by any organizations?

Salt + Light is endorsed by national and international Catholic leaders and organizations, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Vatican Television Centre (CTV), many departments of the Vatican, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to name a few.

Does Salt + Light Television have a mission statement?

Yes. “to be Salt and Light”(Mt 5:13 -14)

Does Salt + Light Television have a vision of this?

Yes.
To use modern media as a tool to connect Catholics to their faith.
To bring Catholic Media into the 21st century by utilizing the power of multimedia including television to share the Catholic message.

What can Salt + Light Television do for me?

As a Catholic, it is a place of retreat and faith connection.
It will build on the enthusiasm created by World Youth Day 2002 and help move all Catholics forward in their roles. It will be the reflector of local Catholic communities with stories of Catholic action and social justice. It will become one of the new tools of sharing the Catholic faith and evangelizing.

How can I access the Salt + Light Television network?

Salt + Light is available through these service providers:

What is the current programming?

Specific programs will change but generally our programming falls into 5 categories:

  • Prayer, Devotion and Meditation
  • Multilingual Catholic Liturgy including special Vatican ceremonies
  • Learning and Faith Development for all ages
  • Stories of Catholic Action and Social Justice throughout Canada and around the Globe
  • Stories of our Catholic Communities; Information and Context

Is Daily Mass available?

Yes; 4 times per day.

Do you have programs or news from the Vatican?

Yes. S+L airs programs regularly from the Vatican including special ceremonies such as

  • Christmas Eve Mass Live
  • The Beatification of Mother Teresa Live
  • Canonizations and other ceremonies

 

Does Salt + Light produce documentaries?

Salt + Light has produced a number of documentaries that are available on DVD. Please visit the S+L Boutique to view the complete collection.

Why do we need digital cable to receive Salt + Light Television?

The CRTC ruled that no single-faith television network could be broadcast on regular cable. In order to broadcast across Canada, Salt + Light Television needs to be on digital.

Can I find some samples of Salt + Light programming on-line?

Yes. You can watch our promo video and sample some of our productions by clicking on "Watch S + L online".

How can I encourage my parish to introduce Salt + Light?

Talk to your pastor! Tell him about Salt + Light and ask him to contact us to develop a plan to introduce Salt + Light to your parish.

How can I participate with Salt + Light?

How can I receive Salt + Light's Newsletter?

By emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling us at 888-302-7181.


Stem Cell Research Boosted By Launch of Regenerative Medicine Journal

Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.

Dr Irving is professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

[Note: Talk about "institutionalization" — we now have a new international MEDICAL journal — Regenerative Medicine! I wonder how many "pre-embryo" advocates will flood through their doors and make their ways into its pages and its Board of Directors? If you ever doubted that the pharmaceutical industry has an enormous global and unprecedented financial interest (aka, "conflict of interests") in the very design of the protocol and the "positive" data outcome of bench level human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research (as in so many other areas of research), doubt no more. The gross neglect of accurate basic science and valid ethics, and the mis-management of the politics of pure bench research, are about to come to your home to roost. That pure "research" — as contentious, convoluted, fraudulent and purely hypothetical as it is – is about to be translated into “medicine”. That is, what will soon be applied to you and your family as "medicine" will really be pure "therapeutic RESEARCH" in either global clinical trials run by the "industry", or camouflaged as "innovative therapies" to individual patients behind closed doors of the offices of private physicians who earn enormous financial bonuses for each patient they recruit for the “industry”. Good-bye to the Declaration of Helsinki and the Nuremberg Code. The socially privileged “industry” – like the scientists on their boards – wants to privately regulate and be legally accountable only to itself. The "free market" is one thing. The "libertine" market is truly quite another. Buyer beware, I guess. (And does "future science "and "future medicine" have anything to do with the ideology of "futurism"?)

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Meetings of the American Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars

Summaries prepared by Robert N. Bérard, President, Canadian Chapter.

Since the publication of the last issue of the Journal, there have been two annual meetings of the American parent chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. The 2006 meeting was held in Kansas City, Missouri and the 2007 meeting in Washington, D.C.

2006

 

The theme for the 29th Annual Convention of the Fellowship, held from 22 to 24 September 2006 at the Kansas City Airport Hotel, was “Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Reform of the Liturgy”.

 

The meetings opened with the Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist, celebrated by the Most Reverend Robert Finn, Bishop of Kansas City – St Joseph, Missouri.

 

Following Mass, members heard an address sent to the Fellowship from Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and read by Monsignor James Moroney, Director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Ranjith noted that Sacrosanctum Concilium must be read, not as a pragmatic blueprint for liturgical change, but as a mystical document, and said that the time was right for orthodox scholars to “glimpse the heart” of that mystery and promote genuine renewal in parishes and to bring true art back from “the art exhibit and the concert hall” to which it had been “shuffled off” and reintegrate it into the liturgy.

 

Monsignor Moroney’s own address, “In Pursuit of an Ars Celebrandi: Presuppositions and Possibilities,” called on priests to see in Sacrosanctum Concilium “a job description” which demands that he “convey, with dignity and humility the living presence of Christ”. While the priest, he said, was the “primary agent of liturgical reform,” he must always remember that he is in dialogue with God. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Monsignor Moroney noted that the liturgical texts “are not theatrical lines – they are prayers” and that the priest should not become a “showman who projects himself.” He is not a “host, like Oprah” nor a performer, nor a politician. Rather he must, “in humility and obedience … conform his life to the Cross.”

 

A session devoted to sacred music included presentations by Fr Samuel Weber, OSB of Wake Forest University, on “Singing the New English Liturgy: Continuing the Plainsong Tradition.” Fr Weber examined the challenges of “creating new musical settings in the plainsong idiom and other traditional styles for the texts of the new English liturgy,” and he shared examples of his current project, commissioned by the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, of preparing complete settings for the Propers of the Mass. Fr Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO of Gethsemane Abbey commented on the continuing relevance of the musical traditions of monastic communities to contemporary liturgy. Finally, Dr Susan Treacy, Professor of Sacred Music at Ave Maria University, spoke on “The Music of Cosmic Liturgy,” explaining the failure of much contemporary music to meet the needs of liturgy and demonstrating how Pope Benedict XVI’s vision of a renewed liturgy, linked with the Church’s musical traditions, could meet the needs of an average American parish.

 

The keynote address, “Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Recovery of the Sacred,” was delivered by Dr James Hitchcock, Professor of History at Saint Louis University and a founding member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Professor Hitchcock offered a short lesson on the history of how Sacrosanctum Concilium had been interpreted and misinterpreted in the forty years since it was issued and how the text of the document itself could assist the Church in recovering the Sacred in liturgy and re-emphasize the importance of liturgy as a dialogue with God.

 

Session III focused on issues of translation and included papers by Fr Paul Mankowski, SJ of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and Kenneth Whitehead, former diplomat and an Assistant Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, on the challenges of producing accurate and faithful translations of the scriptures and other documents in the context of the growing politicization of language in the Church. Helen Hull Hitchcock, co-founder of Adoremus – a Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, described the work of that organization in “Beginning the New Era of Liturgical Renewal” through its popular Adoremus Hymnbook and its regular newsletters.

 

Following the Convention banquet on Saturday evening, the Cardinal Wright Award for 2006, given annually to a Catholic adjudged to have done an outstanding service for the Church, recognized the work of Dr Patrick Lee, Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, who has published widely on ethical issues, including his book Abortion and Unborn Human Life (1996). The Fellowship also presented the Cardinal O’Boyle Award for 2006, given occasionally to an individual whose actions demonstrate courage and witness for the Catholic Church, in light of dissenting pressures in our society, to U.S. Senator Samuel D. Brownback of Kansas. Senator Brownback, a leading advocate for pro-life issues in the Senate did eventually enter the presidential race for 2008 but has recently abandoned his campaign.

 

At the final session, author and journalist Russell Shaw, spoke on “Liturgy, Laity, and the Sacramental Sense.” Calling the Mass a kind of “sacramental seeing,” he observed that the liturgical reforms of the 1960s undermined the sense of the sacred and were, therefore, “bound to fail.” Too often, he noted, the reformers were like “tourists who seek to take pictures of the Cathedral before even trying to see it.” Monsignor Stuart Swetland of Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland addressed “Liturgy and Social Justice” and reviewed a number of liturgical abuses committed in the name of “social justice”. He observed that liturgy “is not what we do, but what God does for us,” and suggested that the real relationship between social justice and liturgy was that in liturgy “we receive from God, we thank him with praise, then honour Him by living our lives reconciled.”

 

 

 

2007

 

The 30th Annual Convention of the Fellowship was held from 28 to 30 September 2007at the Renaissance Washington hotel and took up the theme “The Idea of the Catholic University for the Twenty-first Century”.

 

The first session focused on the vision of a Catholic university expressed in the nineteenth century by John Henry Cardinal Newman. Professor John Crosby of the Franciscan University of Steubenville addressed “The Catholic University as the Place Where the Church Encounters the Culture: Some Lessons from John Henry Newman.” Concentrating less on Newman’s The Idea of a University than on his Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Crosby sought to “amplify the teaching of Ex Corde Ecclesiae by means of the wisdom of Newman.” While “the culture has much to gain by receiving the light of Christian revelation, Newman shows that the Church too gains something for her self-understanding from this encounter.” The Catholic university is called to “confront, appropriate, and assimilate new knowledge” from the wider culture, to “suck the milk of the Gentiles” in its search for truth, one that is not rooted in simple “curiosity but in a dogmatic commitment to revelation.”

 

Professor Karl Schmude of Campion College in Sydney, Australia, in “Campion and Newman: the Peter and Paul of Catholic Higher Education,” compared the contributions, in different times and contexts, of St Edmund Campion and Cardinal Newman to the development of the ideals of Catholic higher education. He suggested that these two men “exemplified the Catholic intellectual vocation, reflecting in the educational sphere the broader leadership of the Church expressed in lives of Peter and Paul.”

 

Session II, “The State of the Question: Models for Catholic Universities”, presented the research of Fr John J. Piderit, SJ, former President of Loyola University of Chicago and currently President of the Catholic Education Institute, and Dr Melanie Morey, Senior Director for Research and Consulting at NarrowGate Consulting, a division of the Catholic Education Institute. Developing themes in their book, Catholic Higher Education: a Culture in Crisis (2006), the authors offered a guide for measuring and assessing claims by universities of their Catholicity.

 

The presentation was followed by a response from Fr David O’Connell, President of the Catholic University of America. Noting that many universities had reacted against a Catholic identity that they perceived to have been externally imposed, he argued that they had failed to grasp that the Catholic faith does not exist independently of the Catholic Church, and that the search for truth is to be pursued in fidelity and institutional commitment to the Church.

 

On Saturday, 29 September, Mass was offered at neighbouring St Patrick’s Church by the Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Archbishop Wuerl then presented the Convention’s keynote address, “The Idea of the Catholic University for the Twenty-first Century.”

 

Archbishop Wuerl maintained that “in addition to offering an environment that respects revealed truth and the moral order rooted in creation, a Catholic university should at the same time be an institutional voice in our world for the very values the faith holds up for us.” To do so, it must maintain the teaching of Catholic theology, emphasize the importance of liturgical worship as part of institutional life, and maintain a healthy relationship its bishop, for “the bishop is never outside of any part of the believing community.” Quoting Pope Alexander IV in 1255, the university, he said, represented a community that had come together “in a common love of knowledge for the good of humanity,” and should, therefore, seek to benefit not just Catholics or the Church but also the broader community. Archbishop Wuerl also defended academic freedom, properly understood, as a key part of authentic Catholic teaching and argued that there is “no contradiction between the search for truth and knowing the fount of truth.”

 

Session III featured a panel discussion on “Catholic Studies Programs at Catholic Universities” based on presentations by Sr Paula Jean Miller of the University of St Thomas in Houston, Texas, who described its “Catholic Studies in Global Perspective” program and Professor John Cavadini of the University of Notre Dame, who warned of the possible secularization and marginalization of Catholic studies programs if all disciplines in the university did not present clear Catholic perspectives.

 

Session IV examined the relationship between the Catholic intellectual tradition and the university. Professor Christopher Wolfe of Marquette University maintained that “there are different ways for a university to be Catholic, and claimed that while there are good universities formally related to the Church, “it would also be possible to have a university that was deeply rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition without being formally or officially Catholic.” Moreover, he claimed, it might be beneficial to develop such an institution, which “might be able to ‘engage the culture’ more effectively” particularly for non-Catholics, than one that has a formal Catholic affiliation.

 

Dr Michael D. Aeschliman, of the School of Education at Boston University, outlined the struggle of the Catholic intellectual tradition to oppose “the sources and agents of modern catastrophe” from Social Darwinism to twentieth-century totalitariansm. He took particular exception to the philosophy of John Dewey as representing the core of a destructive “cult of uncertainty,” and lamented the “selective definition of tolerance” found on the contemporary campus. Examining the core of Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial Regensburg Address and the contributions of such Catholic thinkers as Fr Richard Neuhaus, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Fr Stanley Jaki, Aeschliman argued that the “Catholic commitment to the place of reason” plays a critical role in “providing a public philosophy to offset the toxicity of pagan culture and pervasive relativism.”

 

At the Convention’s banquet, the Cardinal Wright Award for 2007 was given to Fr Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM Cap., Executive Director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

The Founders Award, recognizing outstanding work on behalf of the Church in the intellectual apostolate, was given to Dr Ralph McInerny, the Michael P. Grace Professor of Mediaeval Studies and professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Director of the University’s Jacques Maritain Center from 1979 to 2006 and former Director of Notre Dame’s Mediaeval Institute, Dr McInerny has compiled a remarkable record of scholarship in philosophy and mediaeval studies, published over 80 novels, including the popular Father Dowling series of mystery stories, and written extensively on contemporary issues from a Catholic perspective.

 

The Cardinal O’Boyle Award for 2007 was bestowed on Dr Peggy Hartshorn, President of Heartbeat International, the first network of pro-life pregnancy centres founded in the United States. This non-profit, interdenominational Christian association of faith-based pregnancy resource centres, medical clinics, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption agencies is the largest group of such centres in the world.

 

The final session was devoted to “Catholic Education at Non-Catholic Institutions”. Monsignor Stuart Swetland, Director of Homiletics and Pre-Theology at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland addressed “The Role of Catholic Campus Ministry at a Non-Catholic University.” Noting that “approximately 80-85% of Catholic undergraduate and graduate students attend non-Catholic universities, Msgr Swetland argued that “the role of Catholic campus ministry is to radiate Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament to the university community.” This is especially true for the second and soon to be a third generation of Catholics who lack the level of religious and cultural formation of their ancestors, those whom Pope John Paul II called “orphans of living children”. Furthermore, to truly serve the educational and formational mission of even a secular university, Catholic campus ministry must be “vibrant and Christocentric, dynamic and orthodox, diverse and unapologetically Catholic.”

 

Professor Robert L. Wilken, the William R. Kennan, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia looked at the contributions of endowed Chairs in Catholic Studies and independent Catholic institutes and centres at non-Catholic universities, such as the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago, in promoting Catholic intellectual and cultural life and values. He noted the importance of cultivating positive relationships and alliances between Catholics and Evangelicals on secular campuses to ensure that the Christian faith is not relegated to private places but has a clear and compelling presence in the public life of the university.

The 31st Annual Convention of the Fellowship will be held in September 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.


The Board of Directors

President:                                           

 

Robert Nicholas Bérard, M.A., Ph.D.

Director of Teacher Education

Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, NS   B3M 2J6

Tel: (902) 457-6274

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Secretary:                                           

 

Teresa Matula Bobrow, Phil. M.

2561 Bloor Street West, Apt # 106

Toronto, ON M6S 1S2

Tel: (416) 604-0726

 

Treasurer:                                          

 

Patrick Redmond, M.A., Ph.D.

Manager, Toronto Laboratory, IBM (ret.)

270 Fincham Avenue, Markham, ON L3P 4E6

Tel: (905) 294-9389

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Flaman, S.T.L., S.T.D.

Associate Professor of Christian Theology

St Joseph's College

University of Alberta

Edmonton, AB   T6G 2J5

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Father Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., Ph.D.

Catholic Pastoral Centre, P.O.Box 1527

1531 Grafton Street

Halifax, NS

B3J 2Y3

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Leonard Pluta, M.A., Ph.D.

Professor of Economics

St Francis Xavier University

Box 90-5000,

Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Gino Sturino, M.A. Ed.D.

Professor of Mathematics

1 Lestrange Place,

Toronto, ON     M6S 4S6

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Fellowship of Catholic Scholars/Amicale des savants catholiques

 

“In Lumine Tuo Domine Videbimus Lumen”

                                   

Journal: Dr Robert Nicholas Bérard, Faculty of Education, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 3T3 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Financial: Dr Patrick Redmond, 270 Fincham Ave, Markham, On, L3P 4E6 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

We as Catholic Scholars in various disciplines join in fellowship in order to serve Jesus Christ better, by helping one another in our work, and by putting our abilities more fully at the service of the Catholic Faith.

 

We wish to form a fellowship of scholars who see their intellectual work as an expression of the service they owe to God. To Him we give thanks for our Catholic Faith and for every opportunity He gives us to serve that Faith.

 

We wish to form a fellowship of Catholic scholars, open to the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church. Thus we wholeheartedly accept and support the renewal of the Church of Christ undertaken by Pope John XXIII, shaped by the Second Vatican Council, and carried out by succeeding Pontiffs.

 

We accept the rule of our life and thought, the entire Faith of the Catholic Church. This we see not merely in solemn definitions, but in the ordinary teaching of the Pope and those Bishops in union with him; and also embodied in those modes of worship and ways of Christian life and practice, of the present as of the past, which have been in harmony with the teaching of Saint Peter’s successors in the Holy See of Rome.

 

The questions raised by contemporary thought must be considered with courage and dealt with in honesty. We will seek to do this, faithful to the Truth always guarded in the Church by the Holy Spirit, and sensitive to the needs of the family of Faith. We wish to accept a responsibility which a Catholic scholar may not evade: to assist everyone, so far as we are able, to personal assent to the mystery of Christ as made manifest through the lived Faith of the Church, His Body, and through active Charity, without which the Faith is dead.

 

To contribute to this sacred Work, our Fellowship will strive to:

 

W come to know and welcome all who share our purpose;

W make known to one another our various competencies and interests;

W hare our abilities with one another unstintingly in our efforts directed to our common purpose;

W cooperate in clarifying the challenges which we must face;

W help one another to evaluate critically the variety of responses which are proposed to these challenges;

W communicate our suggestions and evaluations to members of the Church who might find them helpful;

W respond to requests to help the Church in its task of guarding the Faith as inviolable and defending it with fidelity;

W help one another work through, in scholarly and prayerful fashion without public dissent, any problems which may arise from magisterial teaching;

W with the Grace of God, for which we pray, to assist the Church to proclaim the joyous Gospel of Jesus Christ more confidently and effectively.

  1. W


Copyright March 12, 2007 by author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars General Meeting

A general meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars was held on 1 May 2007 at the offices of Salt + Light Television in Toronto, Ontario. We were hosted by Fr Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., Chief Executive Officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.

Following a brief general meeting where Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Redmond and President Robert Bérard spoke briefly about membership issues and the Journal, members heard a presentation by Fr Rosica on the history and mission of Salt + Light Television. Fr Rosica’s talk recounted his unexpected journey to become a major force in the creation of the first Canadian Catholic television network and explained the network’s history and mission. His remarks are not available in written form, but he has suggested that the Journal draw from the network’s page of Frequently Asked Questions to disseminate his core message.

What is Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation?

Established in 2003, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation is a non-profit national organization committed to providing Catholics with the opportunity to connect with their Catholic beliefs and celebrate their faith which is lived out in parish communities everyday. Salt + Light offers 100% Catholic content through a diverse range of multi-media tools, including television production, digital television and satellite distribution and the internet.

What is Salt + Light Television?

Salt + Light Television is Canada's first Catholic television network broadcasting 24/7 across Canada. Our programming has 100% Catholic content. This channel is currently available through Rogers Digital Cable, Cogeco Digital Cable and Mountain Cable in Ontario, Vidéotron Digital TV (Illico) in Quebec, EasLink Digital Cable in the Maritimes and across Canada through Bell ExpressVu, a satellite carrier.

Is Salt + Light endorsed by any organizations?

Salt + Light is endorsed by national and international Catholic leaders and organizations, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Vatican Television Centre (CTV), many departments of the Vatican, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to name a few.

Does Salt + Light Television have a mission statement?

Yes. “to be Salt and Light”(Mt 5:13 -14)

Does Salt + Light Television have a vision of this?

Yes.
To use modern media as a tool to connect Catholics to their faith.
To bring Catholic Media into the 21st century by utilizing the power of multimedia including television to share the Catholic message.

What can Salt + Light Television do for me?

As a Catholic, it is a place of retreat and faith connection.
It will build on the enthusiasm created by World Youth Day 2002 and help move all Catholics forward in their roles. It will be the reflector of local Catholic communities with stories of Catholic action and social justice. It will become one of the new tools of sharing the Catholic faith and evangelizing.

How can I access the Salt + Light Television network?

Salt + Light is available through these service providers:

What is the current programming?

Specific programs will change but generally our programming falls into 5 categories:

  • Prayer, Devotion and Meditation
  • Multilingual Catholic Liturgy including special Vatican ceremonies
  • Learning and Faith Development for all ages
  • Stories of Catholic Action and Social Justice throughout Canada and around the Globe
  • Stories of our Catholic Communities; Information and Context

Is Daily Mass available?

Yes; 4 times per day.

Do you have programs or news from the Vatican?

Yes. S+L airs programs regularly from the Vatican including special ceremonies such as

  • Christmas Eve Mass Live
  • The Beatification of Mother Teresa Live
  • Canonizations and other ceremonies

 

Does Salt + Light produce documentaries?

Salt + Light has produced a number of documentaries that are available on DVD. Please visit the S+L Boutique to view the complete collection.

Why do we need digital cable to receive Salt + Light Television?

The CRTC ruled that no single-faith television network could be broadcast on regular cable. In order to broadcast across Canada , Salt + Light Television needs to be on digital.

Can I find some samples of Salt + Light programming on-line?

Yes. You can watch our promo video and sample some of our productions by clicking on "Watch S + L online".

How can I encourage my parish to introduce Salt + Light?

Talk to your pastor! Tell him about Salt + Light and ask him to contact us to develop a plan to introduce Salt + Light to your parish.

How can I participate with Salt + Light?

How can I receive Salt + Light's Newsletter?

By emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling us at 888-302-7181.

 

 

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