Friday, January 28, 2011

Integritas Seminar III

Last night our Integritas program had its third seminar of the year on "The Corporal Works of Mercy and Addressing Issues of Justice in Society," led by Prof. Michael Baxter of Notre Dame's Theology Department. The seminar explored questions such as: What do we owe to the poor in society? What do workers owe to their employers, and what do employers owe to their workers? What is the purpose and meaning of work? How should we address poverty and injustice? How does our education prepare us to engage in these issues on behalf of others?, through readings by Dorothy Day (The Long Loneliness and Catholic Worker Positions), Peter Maurin's "Easy Essays," excerpts from the encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII, and part of the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, about Dr. Paul Farmer's work in Haiti.

Prof. Baxter gave the students the background for Rerum Novarum, describing the ways in which the Industrial Revolution transformed work in a way that compromises human dignity, with laborers forced to work long hours, seven days a week, doing dangerous, mindless, repetitive tasks. He also described situations in which these de-humanizing work conditions still exist in the contemporary world, despite the progress made by labor unions and legislation, such as in sweat shops, meat processing plants, and on farms worked by migrant laborers. This history gave a sense of urgency to the issues addressed by Rerum Novarum and Pope Leo's recommendations, such as ceasing work on Sundays and paying workers a living wage.

One student noticed that Pope Leo was exposing the modern mentality that achieving a certain level of development will fix the world's problems and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for all. Such a mentality fails to take account of original sin and overlooks that fact that so often development comes at the price of justice and human dignity.

The students asked about distributivism, the economic model advocated by Dorothy Day and G.K. Chesterton. Prof. Baxter explained that both unbridled capitalism and socialism violate central principles of Catholic Social Teaching, such as the universal right to private property, subsidiarity, and the right to earn a living through honest work that can support a family. Some people confuse distributivism with communism, but under distributivism, instead of the State stepping in to re-distribute property and eliminating private property in favor of common ownership, everyone gets to own property sufficient to their needs and the means of production are widely distributed rather than centralized. Men should be slaves neither to a company nor to a State. 

Capitalism and Socialism are both predicated on a false anthropology that characterizes men as essentially greedy, possessive, and competitive, and our primary motivation is self-interest. Pope Leo called on Catholics to look at economics in the light of the Good News of the Gospel, and to imagine a way of approaching economics based on a Catholic anthropology that recognizes the inherent dignity of every person, because every person is made in the image and likeness of God. He says, "Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others."

Dorothy Day was certainly an individual who realized that the dualism of capitalism and socialism can stifle our imaginations and water down our courage to live in a way that provides a sign of contradiction to a world that has capitulated to unjust economic arrangements. She shared Peter Maurin's vision for a society "in which it is easier for people to be good," and as the students read about her radical commitment to poverty and solidarity with the poor in her houses of hospitality, some asked how they can reconcile their belief that, for example, the college education they are receiving is worthwhile and important, with the concern that the $160,000 their college education costs is an extravagant use of resources and unjustifiable in the face of the surrounding poverty and destitution. 

One person compared it to Dr. Farmer's frustration that when he pilots a program to fight TB in Haiti he is accused of wasting resources creating "non-sustainable" programs while his accusers don't blink an eye at spending $68,000 treating a single TB patient in New York: "If it tales five-hour treks or giving patients milk or nail clippers or raisins, radios, watches, then do it. We can spend sixty-eight thousand dollars per TB patient in New york City, but if you start giving watches or radios to patients here, suddenly the international health community jumps on you for creating non-sustainable projects. If a patient says, I really need a Bible or nail clippers, well, for God's sake!"

The Haitian proverb Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe ("God gives but doesn't share") in Dr. Paul Farmer's story was the question we were struggling with: "God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he's not the one who's supposed to divvy up the loot. That charge was laid upon us." What's the most just way to do that, the way that preserves the dignity of every human person and recognizes the dignity of human work? We concluded that the answer must be both personal and systemic: we must answer for our personal choices as consumers, workers, and employers, and we must also work to build structures that are fair and just.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Notre Dame Christian Unity Week 2011

Next week is Notre Dame's Christian Unity week on campus. Campus Ministry is sponsoring a series of lectures and prayer services focused on overcoming the divisions that persist within the Christian community despite Jesus' prayer to the Father asking “that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11).  Christian Unity Week 2011 will be celebrated during this coming week of January 31-February 4.  The full schedule appears below, and individuals of all churches, denominations, and faith traditions are welcome.


Fr. Yury Avvakumov (ND Theology Department & Byzantine Catholic Priest)
“Being an Eastern Catholic: A Challenge for Catholic-Orthodox Ecumenical Relations?”
7:00pm, Coleman-Morse Center Lounge

Four:7 Catholic Fellowship welcomes Ryan Solava & Kaitlyn Kiger, ISI Interdenominational Fellowship Co-Leaders
“Unity of the Body of Christ: Together in Purpose”
8:30pm, Cavanaugh Hall Chapel

Professor Mark Noll and Professor Brad Gregory (ND History Department)
“Evangelicals and Catholics Together?  Some Real Progress But Some Real Problems Too”
7:00pm, Oak Room of South Dining Hall

Christian Unity Prayer Service
Fr. Joe Carey, CSC, Presider
Reflections by Tim O’Malley (Notre Dame Center for Liturgy) and Jennie Weller (Senior & ISI member)
Music provided by the Celebration Choir, Voices of Faith Gospel Choir, Coro Primavera, Totus Tuus Band, and ISI Worship Team
10:00pm, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

ISI / Four:7 Praise & Worship Service
8:00pm, Keenan-Stanford Chapel

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Edith Stein Project registration open

Registration is now open for this year's Edith Stein Project conference. The sixth annual Edith Stein Project conference is entitled "Irreplaceable You: Vocation, Identity, and the Pursuit of Happiness." It will be held February 11-12 in McKenna Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Registration is now open through the Notre Dame Conference Center. The Edith Stein Project is organized by the Identity Project of Notre Dame (IDND), a student club formed in 2006, and co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. This year's conference explores Pope John Paul II's declaration that "every life is a vocation." It takes up the thesis that each one of us is called to perform an irreplaceable role in the Body of Christ that only we can perform, simply by the virtue of being ourselves in our own distinctive situation. Proceeding from a hylomorphic view of men and women, the conference will feature plenary speakers and panelists reflecting on how to live out personal vocation in the contemporary world. Registration is now open; it is requested but not required. You can read more about the history of the conference and the vision of this year's project at the Edith Stein Project's website. The full schedule for the weekend is available here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ND faculty, staff, students March for Life

Yesterday 380 students and 40 Notre Dame faculty and staff members (including all the staff of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture) marched in our nation's capitol to demonstrate against legal abortion in the United States and to witness to the sanctity of all human life. It was incredible to see the spirit and optimism of the hundreds of thousands of marchers from all over the United States (plus Canada and Germany, judging by the flags). We marched peacefully from the National Mall to the Supreme Court to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the doors to permissive abortion laws for all fifty states. People of all ages and religious commitments participated in the march, and the Notre Dame contingent included undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, professors from several different departments and colleges, staff members, and University President, Fr. John Jenkins, CSC. Here are some pictures from the March for Life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome back Mass for Integritas

Last night the Integritas group re-convened after Christmas break for the first time, for a Mass and welcome back dinner. The timing was fortuitous, since yesterday at Notre Dame we were celebrating Blessed Basil Moreau's feast day. Fr. Moreau founded the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order that founded and runs Notre Dame. Fr. Moreau's vision was for Holy Cross to be an order structured like a family, with priests, brothers, and sisters all working together to address the challenges of the modern world, especially through education. Fr. Moreau's conviction that "the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart," inspired the genesis of the Integritas group, so we were delighted to be able to celebrate his feast day together, with Fr. Bill Miscamble, CSC, presiding at Mass in Our Lady of Mercy Chapel in Geddes Hall. After Mass, we crossed the hall to have dinner in the coffeehouse, and there were many stories to tell and plenty to catch up on after our month-long break for Christmas. We look forward to another seminar next week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

March for Life schedule

Notre Dame has just announced its schedule of events for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 24.

Friday, January 21st  

            5:15 p.m.                     Send-off Mass; Sacred Heart Basilica

            8:00 p.m.                     Buses for the long trip depart from Book Store parking lot
Sunday, January 23rd

3:00 p.m.                     Mass for the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend celebrated by Bishop Kevin Rhoades at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Alumni Association Reception: The Notre Dame Club of Washington, D.C., and the Notre Dame Alumni Association invite alumni and current students 21 and over to a reception at:

Smith & Wollensky
1112 19th Street NW in Washington, D.C.

RSVP:  There is no cost for the reception.  However, registration is required.  Please register at by Thursday, January 20

6:30 p.m.         Vigil Mass for Life at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

8:00 p.m.         Buses for short trip depart campus from the Book Store parking lot

Monday, January 24th

7/7:30 a.m.      Short Trip buses arrive at St. Agnes

10:00 a.m.       Mass for the Notre Dame contingent celebrated by Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C. at St. Agnes Church, 1910 N. Randolph St., Arlington, VA 22207
            11:15/30 a.m.  Notre Dame contingent to meet to the “right” of the March for Life Rally stage, along Jefferson Drive between the Hishorn Museum and the Arts and Industries Building (on the opposite side of Jefferson).  Students will be carrying a banner reading “Notre Dame Right to Life”  (Please see attached map.)
12:00 p.m.       Rally for Life; D.C. Mall

1:00 p.m.         March for Life

8:00 p.m.         Buses depart from St. Agnes for overnight return trip to campus

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oxford Conference on the Principle of Double Effect

If you're in the UK, you should check out the Anscombe Bioethics Center's conference "Exploring Double Effect" on Feb. 19 at Blackfriars Permanent Private Hall, Oxford. It features Timothy Chappell, Joseph Boyle, John Wyatt, Joseph Shaw, John Finnis, Helen Watt, and Sir Anthony Kenny.

"A preeminent and international line up of philosophers, bioethicists, legal philosophers and moral theologians
discuss Double Effect Reasoning (DER). DER is a way of dealing with the problem of whether
and in what circumstances we may knowingly cause bad side effects. This reasoning has huge significance
both for theoreticians and decision makers in fields which take side effects seriously, such as
medicine, warfare, law and politics."

To register, contact

If you are not in the UK, the proceedings will also be broadcast live as a video webcast. Online participants will also be invited to submit questions ‘live’ via email/IM. If you would like further information about this broadcast, please contact

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

March for Life sign-up deadline approaching

Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College and Holy Cross College students, faculty and staff who are planning on traveling to Washington, D.C. for the January 24 Annual March for Life should note that the deadline to sign up with Notre Dame's group is approaching. Registration to travel with the Notre Dame Right to Life club closes on January 12. The registration form can be found here. There are two trip options (longer and shorter), and class absences due to the March are officially excused by the University. Assistance funds are available for both students and staff/faculty: students should e-mail, and staff and faculty should contact Angela Pfister of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture at to apply for one of the forty $250 grants for March expenses, sponsored by the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. Come and march with us for life!