Wednesday, September 23, 2009

40 Days For Life

Today was day 1 of the 40 Days for Life, fall 2009. South Bend is participating, as they did last year.

The abortion clinic is located in a little development just off of Ironwood. On days when I bike to school, I pass right behind this building, and I normally say a small prayer as I pass, usually the St. Michael prayer. With the 40 days going on, though, I think I will try to make a bit more effort to stop in and pray, even if it is only a decade of a rosary.

And so, today when I rode past, I decided to stop by. And not long after I got there, I met a few on South Bend's finest. Turns out the building next door changed hands and, in fact, the womens' care center that was there is no longer there anymore. The new owner is less happy to have us there, though at least amicable. The tenants, however, didn't seem to take kindly to us being there. My guess is either they are a little scared because they really have no experience of the 40 days before, or they are supporters of abortion and so want to cause us trouble.

As such, the police were called, and three squad cars showed up. We were informed that when push came to shove, we would be allowed on the very thin stretch of grass between the little strip mall and the clinic. If we were in the streets we could be considered "impeding the flow of traffic" and if we were in the driveway of either building, we would be impeding the right of those businesses to exist. If in either case, the cops were called and we were found outside of the specific location we were allowed, we could be subject to a ticket.

The officers were very nice, they didn't seem like they wanted to be called out to us. One of the officers told us his wife was signed up to be praying there at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Unfortunately it seems like the situation might be a little less amicable this year, but we will persevere. And, who knows, this might be the year they finally close their doors for good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Papal Sequel

It would seem that Pope Benedict XVI has finished, for the most part, the Part II of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The Vatican is saying that it will be out in Spring of 2010. [Source]

I am excited, because I really liked the first part. In general, I find I like Pope Benedict's writing style. I am not sure if I like his more German-methodical approach to analysis, or that he is philosophically an Augustinian. I find his writings very readable.

The first book dealt with the earlier parts of Jesus' life, and was especially critical of some of the biblical scholars, and some modern biblical interpretation methods.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fr. Jenkins Speaks

When I got home this evening, I found I had recieved an email from Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, President of Notre Dame. This letter was sent to all students, as far as I can tell. I will put the text here, without any additional emphasis or inline commenting.

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Family,

Coming out of the vigorous discussions surrounding President Obama’s visit last Spring, I said we would look for ways to engage the Notre Dame community with the issues raised in a prayerful and meaningful way. As our nation continues to struggle with the morality and legality of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and related issues, we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life. I write to you today about some initiatives that we are undertaking.

Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event. We will announce details as that date approaches.

On campus, I have recently formed the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life. It will be co-chaired by Professor Margaret Brinig, the Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law and Associate Dean for the Law School, and by Professor John Cavadini, the Chair of the Department of Theology and the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life. My charge to the Task Force is to consider and recommend to me ways in which the University, informed by Catholic teaching, can support the sanctity of life. Possibilities the Task Force has begun to discuss include fostering serious and specific discussion about a reasonable conscience clause; the most effective ways to support pregnant women, especially the most vulnerable; and the best policies for facilitating adoptions. Such initiatives are in addition to the dedication, hard work and leadership shown by so many in the Notre Dame Family, both on the campus and beyond, and the Task Force may also be able to recommend ways we can support some of this work.

I also call to your attention the heroic and effective work of centers that provide care and support for women with unintended pregnancies. The Women’s Care Center, the nation’s largest Catholic-based pregnancy resource center, on whose Foundation Board I serve, is run by a Notre Dame graduate, Ann Murphy Manion (’77). The center has proven successful in offering professional, non-judgmental concern to women with unintended pregnancies, helping those women through their pregnancy and supporting them after the birth of their child. The Women’s Care Center and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.

Our Commencement last Spring generated passionate discussion and also caused some divisions in the Notre Dame community. Regardless of what you think about that event, I hope that we can overcome divisions to foster constructive dialogue and work together for a cause that is at the heart of Notre Dame’s mission. We will keep you informed of our work, and we ask for your support, assistance and prayers. May Our Lady, Notre Dame, watch over our efforts.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

An interesting letter, to say the least. We have been waiting for years to have our school's President to lead us in a march for life. Pictures hanging all over campus attest to the protests Fr. Hesburgh led. The ND Right to Life student group gets so little support from the university, we can only hope that this might mark a sea change. Only time will tell.

It is interesting that this seems to reflect some of the demands made by ND Response (which I criticized here). They wanted to see Fr. Jenkins lead the students in the march for life, they wanted to see an institutional commitment to support life. These are little steps.

It is interesting to consider that these changes didn't come from "dialogue" with the University, but rather from the (might I say again, imprudent) demands of a student group. Now, these "demands" were really reasonable, and in fact, were, for the most part, things that a Catholic University should be doing anyways.

We can hope that this is a first, though perhaps small, step toward regaining the Catholic identity of the University. After all that has come down on this issue, a little good news is always nice.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Vatican on Catholic Education

The Congregation for Catholic Education has released a letter they are sending to the presidents of all the Bishops Conferences of the world. Zenit has the content of the letter here. The letter deals primarily with the issue of primary and secondary education, and religious freedom with regards to education. Some of the letter, however, deals with Catholic education in general. Here are some salient paragraphs.
II. Nature and identity of the Catholic school: the right to a Catholic education for families and pupils. Subsidiarity and educational collaboration

5. The Catholic school plays a particular role in education and formation. Many communities and religious congregations have distinguished themselves, and commendably continue to devote themselves to the service of primary and secondary education. Yet the whole Christian community, and particularly the diocesan Ordinary, bear the responsibility “of arranging everything so that all the faithful have a Catholic education” (c. 794 §2 CIC) and, more precisely, of having “schools which offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit” (c. 802 CIC; cfr c. 635 CCEO).

6. Catholic schools are characterised by the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy, which guarantees that the instruction and education be grounded in the principles of the Catholic faith and imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life (cf. c. 803 CIC; cc. 632 e 639 CCEO). In these educational centres – which are open to all who share and respect their educational goals – the atmosphere must be permeated by the evangelical spirit of freedom and charity, which fosters the harmonious development of each one’s personality. In this setting, human culture as a whole is harmonised with the message of salvation, so that the pupils gradually acquire a knowledge of the world, life and humanity that is be enlightened by the Gospel (cf. GE 8; c. 634 §1 CCEO).

7. In this way, the right of families and pupils to an authentic Catholic education is ensured and, at the same time, the cultural aims – as well as those of human and academic formation of young people – that are characteristic of any school, are fulfilled (cf. c. 634 §3 CCEO; c. 806 §2 CIC).

To sum up:
- The Catholic school is an expression of the ecclesial community, and its Catholicity is guaranteed by the competent authorities (Ordinary of the place).

15. Religious education in Catholic schools identifies the educational goals of such schools. In fact, “the special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why Catholic parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of the pupils” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 16 October 1979, 69).

16. In Catholic schools, as everywhere else, the religious freedom of non-Catholic pupils must be respected. This clearly does not affect the right/duty of the Church “in [its] public teaching and witness to [its] faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word”, taking into account that “in spreading religious faith and in introducing religious practices everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry a hint of coercion or of a kind of persuasion that would be dishonorable or unworthy” (DH 4).
The various bishops conferences are directed to forward this on to anyone "concerned with the educational service and mission of the Church." Maybe it would be nice if Fr. Jenkins would get a copy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Beauty of Creation

The Pope recently spoke on Bonaventure, when he visited his home. (ZENIT)

BAGNOREGGIO, Italy, SEPT. 7, 2009 ( St. Bonaventure, like his spiritual father, St. Francis, has a message for today, according to Benedict XVI: Creation should be appreciated in the light of God.

The Pope reflected on this aspect of Bonaventure's teachings when he visited the saint's birthplace on Sunday.

He thus reflected on just a few points of Bonaventure's legacy: his testimony as a seeker of God, his love for creation, and his witness to hope.

Regarding this second point, the Pontiff called Bonaventure a "seraphic singer of creation" who "learned to 'praise God in all and through all creatures.'"

He added: "St. Bonaventure presents a positive vision of the world, gift of God's love to men. [...] How useful it would be if also today we rediscovered the beauty and value of creation in the light of divine goodness and beauty!

"In Christ, observed St. Bonaventure, the universe itself can again be the voice that speaks of God and leads us to explore his presence; exhorts us to honor and glorify him in everything."

This is how I try to see the world. Creation is full of intricacies in order, that we are to discover. This is how I approach my physics education and research; we seek the Truth by observing the natural world, and infer the order which it contains. This order derives from God, the author of all reason.