Monday, February 28, 2011

Integritas Seminar IV

Last night the Integritas program had its fourth seminar of the year, on "Paths to Holiness," led by Professor David Fagerberg of the Theology Department. The seminar explored questions such as: How are the works of mercy lived out by the saints? How can such diverse characters as Thomas Merton, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Thomas Aquinas all be said to be holy? How can there be such a variety of ways to follow Christ? What do they have in common? What cause is there for a perceived tension between the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? How is this tension resolved? through readings by G.K. Chesterton (St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox), Thomas Merton (Seven Story Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation), and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Prof. Fagerberg began by giving the students an introduction to the origins of Christian monastic life, describing the experience of the first monks in the deserts of Egypt. The monks pursued a radical ascetical program in the desert, stripping away everything from their lives that might distract them from single-minded devotion to God. To this end, they took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and, in the case of Benedictines, stability of location. They divested themselves of their material attachments by their vow of poverty. Their celibacy served as a sign of their radical hope in the resurrection: they put their faith in Christ, not in genetic survival through children. Obedience is the perfection of poverty and chastity, because it is the giving up not of just particular objects or pursuits but of one's whole self.

The first monks fled to the desert to do battle with the passions through ascetical discipline. They understood the word 'passion' not as we use the word currently in a positive sense, but rather as a purely negative temptation. The passions, under their understanding, are the mistaken use of thoughts, resulting in vice. The world is created good, but through the abuse of human freedom, we find ourselves entering into disordered relationships with good things. As Prof. Fagerberg put it, "There's nothing wrong with money, sex, and beer. It's avarice, lust, and gluttony that are the problem." Askesis, the athletic training of the spirit, puts us into right relationship with the created world, giving us the clear vision and purity of heart that contemplation of God requires. The road to contemplation begins with fasting, with prayer, and with alms giving. The destination is theologia, knowledge of God, which meant a relationship of love founded on prayer long before it meant an academic discipline. "Theology does not begin with the card catalogue; it begins with fasting."

The seminar helped us to prepare for our upcoming retreat this weekend to Gethsemani, Kentucky at the Trappist monastery where Thomas Merton was a monk. Pray for us, that our time of silence, prayer, and fasting there will lead us into a more intimate knowledge of God.

Coming up this week: Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes

Take a break from studying for midterms this week and join us for Prof. Michael Crowe's lecture on Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes! The lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium, with a reception to follow in the Hesburgh Center's great hall. Read the Freshman Year of Studies' article about the upcoming event here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bread of Life dinner

Prof. Michael Baxter of Notre Dame's Theology Department gave the opening remarks for last night's Bread of Life dinner in the Oak Room of the South Dining Hall, sponsored by the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life and organized by the Center for Ethics and Culture. Hosted each semester since the spring of 2009, the dinner welcomes both students who are already committed to the Church's teachings on beginning of life ethical issues, and students who are on the fence or uncommitted to the Catholic Church's position, for frank discussion after a short address by a faculty member.

Prof. Baxter's reflection was entitled "Ethics, Culture, and Life at Notre Dame: A View from the (true) Center" and considered the consistent and holistic approach Catholics must take to all ethical issues, given the fact that we worship Jesus Christ who is both Author of Life and Prince of Peace. He said that the pro-life movement loses credibility if it does not also condemn harm done to innocents in war, xenophobia towards immigrants, torture, and the death penalty. He challenged the students to take such a consistent approach to their social and political positions, and to resist the tenor of our contemporary political discourse that generates false dichotomies of ethical commitment and tries to divide citizens between the boxes of 'liberal' and 'conservative.' He also urged everyone to become more open to the claims that others make upon their lives, particularly the moral claim that every child in the womb makes upon his or her mother's life to be nurtured and protected. Citing the influence of Fr. Jim Burtchaell, CSC, and Stanley Hauerwas, both former Notre Dame professors, he told the story of his own conversion to becoming convinced of the right to life, saying that the obviousness of the fact that life begins at conception and is an undeniable gift from God finally won him over: no pregnant woman says "my fetus kicked me," when she feels her child moving in the womb, but rather "my baby kicked me."

He also told three beautiful stories that students in his classes had shared with him, in which they or one of their brothers or sisters were threatened with abortion. In each case, their mothers chose to carry their babies to term, even though it meant a significant risk to the life of the mother; one mother even sadly lost her life to cancer while refusing chemo drugs in order to safe the life of her child; her child was born healthy while she herself died two months later. For these students, it was unthinkable that they or their siblings might never have been allowed to be born, and they could recognize organically, without any polarizing political debate, that welcoming the life that God blesses us with, no matter what the cost, is what we are called to embrace as human beings.

The students left with copies of Evangelium Vitae and much to think about as they engage in the most complex political and moral debates of our time. 

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill poetry reading on Friday

Notre Dame's Department of Irish Language and Literature and the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies are hosting a poetry reading by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, the foremost contemporary poet writing in the Irish language, this week on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium. It is not to be missed!

Poetry Reading
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Naughton Fellow and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Irish Poetry
University of Notre Dame
3:00 PM, Hesburgh Center Auditorium
Friday, February 25th

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is one of the most popular Irish poets writing today. Her work draws upon themes of ancient Irish folklore and mythology, combined with contemporary themes of femininity, sexuality, and culture. Born in Lancashire, England in 1952 to Irish physicians, Ní Dhomhnaill was sent to live with relatives in the Irish speaking areas of Counties Kerry and Tipperary at the age of five. She studied English and Irish at UCC in 1969 and became part of the ‘Innti’ school of poets. In 1973, she married Turkish geologist Dogan Leflef and lived abroad in Turkey and Holland for seven years. One year after her return to Co. Kerry in 1980, she published her first collection of poetry in Irish, An Dealg Droighin (1981). She subsequently became a member of Aosdána.

Her works include Féar Suaithinseach (1984); Rogha Dánta/Selected Poems (selected translations with parallel text 1986, 1988, 1990); Pharaoh’s Daughter (selected translations with parallel text 1990); Feis (1991); The Astrakhan Cloak (selected translations with parallel text 1992), The Water Horse (selected translations with parallel text 1991) and The Fifty Minute Mermaid (2007). Selected Essays appeared in 2005.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simone Weil and Dorothy Day lecture sponsored by Theo Department

Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, Associate Professor of Theology at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will give a lecture entitled, Experience of God in a Secular Age: The "Cases" of Simone Weil and Dorothy Day, on Wednesday, February 23 at 4:30 pm in 131 DeBartolo Hall.  The lecture is sponsored by the Theology Department and the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies.  All are invited to attend.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Integritas fieldtrip to Chicago

Integritas took the show on the road this weekend with a fieldtrip to Chicago to take advantage of the culture the city has to offer. We boarded a bus bright and early at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning to reach the Art Institute of Chicago when it was opening. For most of the students, it was their first visit to the Art Institute, and their astonishment was visible as they rounded corners to come face to face with Picasso's Old Guitarist, Hopper's Night Hawks, Wood's American Gothic, Monet's Haystacks, and El Greco's St. Martin and the Beggar. We had a couple of hours to roam around the museum at will, before grabbing lunch on our way to Navy Pier.

At Navy Pier, we saw As You Like It at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. By common consent, it was the best production of Shakespeare that any of us had ever seen. The set reminded us of some of the Surrealist paintings we had seen at the Art Institute: the floor boards of the stage bent upwards to form a weeping willow tree in the Forest of Arden, and as the scene shifted between the duke's palace and Arden, a large pendulum clock hanging over the stage remained a constant. Actors and actresses made their entrances and exists from all sides and levels of the Navy Pier Theater, which is modeled on the Globe (but thankfully with seats!), seemingly materializing out of nowhere.

Jaques (Ross Lehman) was an excellent counterpoint to Touchstone (Philip James Brannon), and the two clowns threatened to steal the show, despite excellent performances by Kate Fry as Rosalind/Ganymede, and Matt Schwader as Orlando, the young man who has captured her affections. Jaques' famous speech,

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

cast a skeptical eye on the whole dance of courtship played out between Rosalind as Ganymede and Orlando, the man she seeks to woo as a man. In the course of their courtship, she does not simply seek to charm him, but to warn him that marriage is different from courtship, and he will have to learn to contend with what is worst in her nature. Through their courtship frought with tension and misgivings (not least of which the gender-bending engaged in by Rosalind as she dresses as the page boy Ganymede and seeks to woo Orlando as a boy standing in for Roasalind), they discern that their love for one another is truly self-less, and they are prepared to pledge their fidelity for life. Touchstone's seduction of a woman he will keep for only two months stands in sharp contrast to Rosalind and Orlando's pure love, as Touchstone admits that he wished for a minister of ill repute to wed them so that he could bed her and divorce her quickly thereafter. These are some of Shakespeare's most complex characters in any of his comedies, and the actors and actresses who brought them to light for us portrayed them with a worthy subtlety. If you have a chance to see the production, don't miss it!

After the play, the group got back on the bus and we went to the home of some of our benefactors in Chicago, who generously invited us to dine with them before we departed for South Bend. They gave us a wonderful welcome, delicious food, and warm hospitality. We couldn't have asked for a nicer way to end the day than by spending time with their family, especially their beautiful children.

We said goodbye to them all too quickly to get back on the road to South Bend, pulling into Hesburgh Library before the clock struck midnight and we awoke from the enchantment of the Forest of Arden, the dappled light of Monet's gardens, and the beauty of the treasures of western civilazation we saw that day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dominican Sisters visiting Campus Ministry next week

Notre Dame's campus ministry is trying to spread the word that the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, of Ann Arbor (Michigan) will be visiting campus this Monday – Wednesday, February 21-23.  They will be speaking at Four:7 Catholic Fellowship on Tuesday evening, Feb 22, at 8:30pm in Cavanaugh Hall chapel, with a social to follow in the Cavanaugh Hall basement.  Two of the Sisters are former Notre Dame students, so you’ll definitely want to hear their inspiring stories!

In addition, the Sisters will be hosting a Vocational Presentation for any young women interested in learning more about the Sisters, their community, and their charism.  This presentation will take place on Monday, Feb 21, at 7:30pm in 330 CoMo.  Pizza will be served…and don’t forget: LADIES ONLY!  More info on the Sisters is available at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TODAY: Schmitt Lecture with Dr. Carl Elliott

At 4 p.m. today in McKenna Hall, Dr. Carl Elliott will deliver the spring Schmitt Lecture, "A Clinical Trial, A Suicide, and the Strange Recent History of Anti-Psychotic Drugs." When a young man committed suicide in an industry-sponsored clinical trial of atypical antipsychotic drugs at the University of Minnesota in 2004, critics charged that he had been coerced into the study. They may be right, but the ethical problem is even larger. Today pharmaceutical companies are designing and analyzing clinical trials not to produce reliable scientific data, but to ensure that their own drugs look superior to the competition. These trials are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and distributed by drug reps as a way of marketing the drugs. Which raises the question: when is it ethically justified to enroll human subjects in marketing studies?

A reception will follow after the lecture.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes upcoming lecture

In anticipation of our March 1 lecture on "Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes: the Origin of Sherlockian Studies," NDWorks, the newspaper for Notre Dame faculty and staff, has published an article entitled "The Professor, the Monsignor, and Sherlock Holmes." You can read it here if you scroll down to page 7. The event will include a lecture by emeritus Professor Michael Crowe of the Program of Liberal Studies, followed by a reception, with the opportunity to purchase a copy of Prof. Crowe's book on the subject and have it signed. Join us at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1 in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium to learn how Msgr. Ronald Knox's essay on Holmes ignited a literary movement that takes Sherlock Holmes seriously as an historical figure rather than as simply a character from literature.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Christopher West at Holy Cross College this week

Holy Cross College is hosting Christopher West on Friday, February 18 at 7 p.m. for a presentation of "God, Sex and the Meaning of Life: An Evening of Reflection on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body."

According to Campus Ministry at HCC, "The world is sated with sex, but remains starved for love.  Maybe it's because we've kicked God out of the bedroom ...On Friday February 18th 2011, renowned "theologian of the body" Christopher West will help demonstrate that the Church's teaching on sex is not a prudish list of prohibitions imposed on us from "without," but is a message of true liberation that wells up from "within."  The truth about sex is the truth about love, and the truth about love reveals the meaning of life for which we're all looking.  With wit and wisdom -- drawing from John Paul II's Theology of the Body, as well as insight found in popular music, movies, and viral videos -- West explores how the Church’s teaching on sex corresponds perfectly with the deepest desires of the human heart."

Live performances by folk-rock act Mike Mangione & The Union will accompany West's presentation.  Their dynamic, expressive sound and soul-searching lyrical themes provide a poetic backdrop for this evening of reflection on God, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.

Holy Cross College
Pfeil Center
7- 9:30 p.m.

Open to the Public.  A free will donation of $2 is suggested.

Eggsploitation: A documentary

This week the Integritas students attended the Edith Stein Project conference. The students attended many different lectures and panel discussions on vocation, but as a group watched the documentary "Eggsploitation" which screened on Friday night in McKenna Hall. The documentary told the stories of four women who volunteered to be egg donors to infertile couples and who faced devastating consequences from the procedure. It highlighted the fact that egg donation is a largely unregulated medical procedure whose consequences are under-studied and undocumented, giving prospective donors little scientific basis on which to make their decision to go through with the procedure. One of the women profiled in the documentary was actually a medical student at the time, and despite careful research into possible risks from the procedure, she could find no serious documented reasons for concern. The women all suffered terrible physical consequences as a result of the drugs they had to take to prepare their bodies for egg donation and as a result of the surgical procedure to harvest their eggs. These consequences included breast cancer, the loss of an ovary, stroke, and even death. As one woman said, "Now I can't even have my own babies."

The documentary was especially relevant to the students, because it is primarily college students who are targeted for egg donation, since they are generally young, healthy, attractive, and intelligent- characteristics sought by parents seeking to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization. While ads soliciting egg donors have not appeared on Notre Dame's campus, they are widespread on the campuses of many Ivy League institutions. The term "donor" is misleading, since often these advertisements offer tens of thousands of dollars for the "donor's" eggs. This sort of marketing preys upon the vulnerability of indebted college students who can be desperate to find ways to pay off school loans and make ends meet.

The documentary was powerful and disturbing, bringing to light a largely taboo subject. It also raised philosophical questions such as: What is the maternal connection between an egg donor and the child born from her egg? What rights do children born of egg or sperm donation have, especially in regards to obtaining their biological medical history? How can infertile couples using IVF justify endangering their egg donor's health for the sake of artificially conceiving a baby? How has our culture managed to promote a dualism that separates personal identity from one's physical body to the degree that egg donation sounds reasonable to so many young women? How can scientists, doctors, and infertile couples justify the immense resources expended on egg and sperm donation and IVF while resisting any increase in resources invested in helping mothers who are considering abortion to carry their babies to term and possibly offer them for adoption?

Friday, February 11, 2011

TODAY: Edith Stein Project

Catch part (or all!) of the Edith Stein Project in McKenna Hall today and tomorrow. There's something for everyone! Here is the full schedule:

(All presentations located in McKenna Hall)

11:00-11:30 a.m.

11:30-11:35 a.m.
Introduction and welcome to the conference

11:35 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Keynote: Professor Gerard Bradley: “Personal Vocation: Jesus Calls Upon Each One of Us for Help”

12:45-1:45 p.m.
  • Fr. Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C.: “Discerning One’s Call in the Contemporary University: One Priest’s Rambling Reflections on Happiness, Mission, Meaning and What Really Matters”
  • John and Monica Sikorski: "The Theology of the Body within Marriage"
  • Panel Discussion: “Defending Sexuality: Battling the Culture of Pornography” (Moderator: Michael Bohnert; Panelists: Dr. Eric Sims, Dr. Jill Sims, Bobby Rauch)

2:00-3:15 p.m.
Wendy Shalit: “Authentic Femininity in the 21st Century”

3:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Leonard DeLorenzo: "Vocation and Transformation: Learning How and What to Love"
  • Dr. Jeffery Langan: "Vocation in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings"
  • Dr. John Cavadini: "'Become What You Are!':  the Universal Call to Holiness"

5:15 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart

6:30 p.m. Dinner and discussion with Bishop Emeritus John D'Arcy

8:30 p.m. Showing of Eggsploitation - Introduction and Q & A with Jennifer Lahl

(All presentations located in McKenna Hall)

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Submitted Papers:
Session 1
  • Katherine Whalen: “Standing Beside Mary Below The Cross: How Edith Stein Calls Contemporary Women to Defend the Sanctity of Life”
  • Sister Elinor Gardner, O.P.: “‘I will seek Him whom my heart loves’ (Song 3.2): On Woman and Being Called”

Session 2
  • Emily Bisssonnette: “A Suffering Culture in Need of Suffering: The Witness of Suffering as Integral to the Vocation and Sacrament of Marriage”
  • Rebecca Krier: “Spiritual Vocation: Edith Stein and Ignatius of Loyola in Dialogue”

Session 3
  • Nathaniel Peters: “Bernard of Clairvaux for the Rest of Us: Activity, Contemplation, and Vocation”
  • Donald L. Wallenfang: “Awaken, O Spirit: The Vocation of Becoming in the Work of Edith Stein”

Session 4
  • Lillian Civantos: “Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickinson, and the Art of Circumstance”
  • Pauline Marie Smith: “The Geography of Vocation”

10:15-11:15  a.m.
  • Dawn Eden: "The Thrill of the Chaste"
  • Fr. Neil Roy, PhD, STL: “Vocation and the Sacramental Life”
  • Michele Chronister, "God's Grace is Enough for Us: The Work of Grace in an Individual's Vocation"

11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
  • Religious life with Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP; Sr. M. Benedicta Duna, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sr. Constance, Little Sisters of the Poor
  • Danielle Rose: “Who is the saint that is just you?”  (Talk and musical performance)
  • Dr. David O’Connor: “She may be my wife: How A Real Man Looks at Women”

12:30-2:00 p.m.
Lunch-on your own

2:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Natassia Kwan: "Domestic Violence in the U.S.: Past, Present, and Hope for a Better Future” and Michael Bohnert: "Aging Planet: The Overpopulation Myth"
  • Lisa Everett: “Natural Family Planning and the Pursuit of Happiness in Marriage”
  • Dr. Gilbert Meilaender: "The Infinite Horizon of Vocation"

  • Dr. David Fagerberg, "Our Vocation in the Face of Death: Living the Resurrection”
  • Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP: “Edith Stein and the Wisdom of Experience: The Masculine and Feminine Vocations to Love”
  • Dr. Catherine Pakaluk: "Being Mary in a Martha World: Edith Stein on What Women Want"

4:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Alumnae panel: Caitlin Dwyer and Anamaria Scaparlanda-Ruiz, “ We R Who We R: Finding Yourself Apart from Drinking and Hookups,”
            Dorothy Cummings McLean, “Waiting for Your Marching Orders: Staying Sane while Single”
  • Sr. M. Benedicta Duna, “Spiritual Childhood as a path to Spiritual Motherhood”

6:00 p.m.
Closing Banquet

Monday, February 7, 2011

European Journies of Formation: New Calls and New Charisms in France

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies is offering a great opportunity this Thursday evening to speak to young, fascinating individuals who have spent lots of time in Europe and have some amazing, international stories to share:  from time in a leper colony in China, to discussions about the dances of Israel, to his current work on the reciprocity of marriage and celibacy. 

Brother Anthony of the Transfiguration and Sister Nikki, members of the Community of the Beatitudes, will share their stories on Thursday, February 10 at 5:00 pm in Geddes Auditorium, and a pizza reception afterwards (until about 8:00 pm) in the Geddes Hall Coffee House.   Details:

Brother Anthony of the Transfiguration was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. After about a year as a student at Notre Dame, he spent four years in diocesan seminary. During seminary, he got to know the Community of the Beatitudes, one of many new communities and movements born in France in the wake of the second Vatican Council. In the Beatitudes, Anthony recognized a way to root his priesthood in the fabric of community praise, service, and fraternal relationships. In 2002, he left seminary to enter the community and spent two years in a monastic rhythm in Italy, two years of formation in Hebrew and Judaism in Israel, a pastoral year with the Beatitudes’ house in Denver, two years of Theology in France, and he is presently finishing a masters in Christian Anthropology at the Faculty of Saint Teresa of Avila in

During a year of study at Universität Salzburg in Austria, Sr. Nikki encountered the Community of the Beatitudes at the bus stop. God used this providential moment to change her life forever! After entering the Community of the Beatitudes in Denver (2002), she was sent to France for two years of formation. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, summa cum laude, in 2002 with a degree in architecture and German studies. Sr. Nikki has since worked in music and liturgy, translations, the parish, and teaching. In the missionary spirit of the Community of the Beatitudes, she has spent time with the Beatitudes’ missions in Mexico, Israel, and most recently, a leper colony in China. Sr. Nikki is currently teaching at St. Catherine of Siena School and working on a Master’s in Biblical Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver.