I attended the opening Mass of the University of Notre Dame today, kicking off another academic year in style, and prayer.
I have a few thoughts, while still fresh in my mind, about the homily and the remarks of the provost at mass.
The homily was themed on the "journey" we are all on, and the remarks by the provost were themed on leadership. There was not a lot of substance to them, but there was a lot of "look at how awesome we are at ND."
There was one thing I heard that appeared in both speeches, the topic that brings me here today. Fr. Jenkins said something along the lines of how we are here to "engage the culture" and to "seek the Truth". This is one of the hallmarks of the University, the seeking of the Truth. In the Homily, we heard the point that the Holy Spirit only inspired the followers of Jesus. They weren't given the Truth in the fullness, or something along those lines. Provost Burish then, for a bit, expounded on the theme. What I heard him say was that we were here to seek after the Truth together, as an institution, so that then we would be able to decide for ourselves on it.
This left a funny taste in my mouth. Perhaps I'm reading something into it, and I probably heard it in a way that was not intended by the speakers, but the focus seemed to be on the seeking and not on the finding. There is a Truth, and that Truth is Jesus Christ! There are things which are objectively True, likewise there are things which are objectively immoral. The role of a Catholic school, and in fact, the whole true Catholic intellectual tradition is to impart that Truth which is known, and develop minds based on those Truths to evaluate the world. There are many things which are not completely objective. We can consider the case of health care; good people can disagree on the way we should undertake health care reform, but nobody can morally say we should see to a support of abortion, for instance, in a health care reform package. A Catholic education should form students in the principles of objective morality so they can then evaluate the merits of various choices based on those objective principles, and so they can rightly oppose those things which violate some objective Truth.
I wonder if anyone else there heard it the same way I did.