Thursday, April 28, 2011

Campus-wide Eucharistic Procession

The University of Notre Dame will host the Seventh Annual Eucharistic Procession immediately following the 11:45am Basilica Mass this Sunday, May 1, 2011, and all are invited to attend!

The Procession will be celebrated on historic God quad, stopping at four Altars of Benediction located in front of the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of the University (in main circle), Father Sorin, and on the steps of the Main Building. The Procession will last about one hour, beginning after the 11:45am Basilica Mass. In the event of inclement weather, the Procession will be held inside the Basilica.

Students, faculty, religious, and staff of Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, and Holy Cross College, as well as the general public, will give public witness to their faith and devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

In addition to the praise and honor we offer to Jesus Christ through this Procession, we pray for:
(1) a greater respect for and protection of all human life, from conception to natural death;
(2) an increase in vocations to the religious life and priesthood, especially in the Congregation of Holy Cross; and
(3) blessings upon the students, faculty, administration, and staff of Holy Cross College, Saint Mary's College, and the University of Notre Dame.

A free picnic lunch will be provided afterwards through the generosity of the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Council #1477.

In preparation for this Sunday's Eucharistic Procession, there will be a campus-wide 40 Hours Devotion in the Coleman-Morse Center chapel this weekend, from Friday (April 29) at 6:00pm until 10:00am Sunday, May 1.  This beautiful devotion involves 40 uninterrupted hours of Eucharistic Adoration, in honor of the 40 hours Our Lord spent in the tomb from Good Friday until Easter Sunday.  Stop by at any time, day or night, for quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, or to register for a particular time slot please visit:

For additional information about this annual Eucharistic Procession, please contact Fr. Thomas Eckert, CSC, at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chesterton Rhetoric Competition winners announced

Congratulations to Cooper Gallimore of the Law School who won first prize in the annual Chesterton Rhetoric Competition, and to Eleanor Pettus, a graduate student in the History Department who took second place! The competition was organized by the Graduate Students Union and supported by the Center for Ethics and Culture.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Integritas apps due THURSDAY

The closing date for applications for our Integritas program is Holy Thursday, April 21. Integritas seeks to integrate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy through monthly seminars and a variety of service opportunities, liturgies, and trips. The one-page application can be submitted by e-mail to or by campus mail to Greer Hannan, 424 Geddes Hall. Apply today to reserve your place in the 2011-2012 program! Find the application here.

Integritas Seminar VII

Last Thursday, Integritas met for its last seminar of the year to consider the theme of vocation with Fr. Bill Miscamble, CSC, a professor in Notre Dame's History Department. We read excerpts from Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium, Ranier Maria Rilke's Letter from Worpswede, Dorothy Day's The Final Word is Love, and Fr. Julian Carron's address to the Community and Liberation community, "The One Voice of the Ideal." The seminar sought to address questions such as, What are we made for, as human beings? How do we discern what we are called to as individuals? What is our daily vocation? How are our professions involved with vocation? Why does Christian vocation involve permanent commitment to marriage or celibacy? What is the role of the laity in the Church? How can both religious and lay Christians contribute in unique ways to the mission of the Church and live out the universal call to holiness?

Fr. Bill started by reminding the students about how focused they were on getting into college a couple of years ago, and how that sometimes seemed to be the final goal of all of their activities. That can leave some students feeling adrift when they finally enter college and realize that college isn't an end in itself, but formation for life, and they need guidance in identifying the scope of their lives. Lumen Gentium affirms that no matter what material work one is called to, all have been given a universal call to holiness: "If therefore in the Church everyone does not proceed by the same path, nevertheless all are called to sanctity and have received an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God. And if by the will of Christ some are made teachers, pastors and dispensers of mysteries on behalf of others, yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ."

Fr. Bill also drew our attention to the way that maxims for successful living are often directed at us, such as "show up on time!" but such maxims fail to address the horizon of vocation:  where are we supposed to show up? Sometimes it's hard to see what our daily routines ultimately add up to.

Before Vatican II, the word 'vocation' was often used exclusively to refer to the call to the priesthood or religious life, and Catholics lost sight of the vocation of the laity. Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium both emphasize that every person has a vocation, a special calling to reveal the love of God in the world, and their gifts, talents, and state in life all serve that work. God's plan for each one of us is for us to become conformed to Christ.

Since Man is a social being, for everyone, vocation will involve commitment to community. All of our work should both serve the development of our societies and our own development as persons: "For when a man works he not only alters things and society, he develops himself as well. He learns much, he cultivates his resources, he goes outside of himself and beyond himself. Rightly understood this kind of growth is of greater value than any external riches which can be garnered."

There should be no division between who we are in our religious life and who we are in our public or social life. All Christians, regardless of vocation, have both temporal and spiritual responsibilities, which lead us to be integrated into society but also to stand as a sign of contradiction to the totally secular world.

Just as there is a universal call to holiness, Lumen Gentium explains the corresponding universal priestly vocation of all the baptized. All of us were created to offer the world and our work up to God: all that we do, all that we suffer, can be offered for the glorification of God and the building up of the Kingdom of God. We all participate in the common priesthood of the faithful, while some men among us are called also to the ministerial priesthood of Christ. Ordained priests offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, while the laity offer the sacrifice of their daily lives: "...the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. for all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne--all these become 'spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.'"

Dorothy Day certainly recognized that spiritual reality in her reflections on her life in the Catholic Worker movement. She speaks of the way that her circumstances demanded of her love in the form of the corporal works of mercy: "We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form, saying 'We need bread.' We could not say, 'Go, be thou filled.' If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread." She also emphasized that no matter what form their work took, the most central aspect was love: "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community."

Ranier Marie Rilke encouraged us to cultivate an attitude of openness and attentiveness so that we will be ready to hear the call of vocation when it comes and breaks through our uncertainty: "have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

Finally, Fr. Julian Carron offered concrete considerations to reflect on when trying to discern one's vocation: What are my talents and gifts? What am I attracted to? What do the world and the Church need? How can I meet that need? What are my material circumstances? What can I do within the limitations of my situation?

Our hope is that through the seminars and activities of Integritas this year, we have caught a glimpse of the beginnings of answers to some of these questions, and have begun to practice living the questions into answers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Integritas Seminar VI

Integritas met for its sixth seminar last week to explore Aristotelian conceptions of virtue and the good life, led by Prof. Brad Gregory of Notre Dame's History Department. We read the Ergon Argument from the Nichomachean Ethics, along with Wendell Berry's great essay, "Feminism, the Body, and the Machine," and his poem "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front." Through these readings and our discussion, we sought to address the questions: Given human nature, what constitutes human happiness? What is the role of virtue in achieving happiness? How does the integration of the mental, spiritual, and physical contribute to happiness? How does the integration of family life, communities, and political society contribute to happiness? What does such an integration look like?

We began by examining Aristotle's conception of human nature and what our lives should be ordered towards. Aristotle describes how all action is ordered to an end, otherwise action is unintelligible and incoherent. All human action is undertaken because it seems to us to advance our happiness in some way. But people have different conceptions of happiness: some think that it is an emotional state, while others view it as material success. Aristotle's conception of happiness is very different from those; he believes that happiness is a kind of flourishing, a life of sustained virtuous action to make us into people who achieve our potential as rational, social animals. It involves practices, both individual and communal, and contemplation, since contemplation is the highest form of human activity; it also involves emotional ups and downs and good and bad fortune, times when it might not be obvious that we are happy in any emotional or material way.

One student, who is a member of Notre Dame's men's crew team, offered an analogy to illustrate this conception of happiness: He said that sometimes when you're rowing a boat, you're rowing through choppy waters and there is a turbulent side-to-side swaying motion even as you continue to travel forward. At those times, your life might be directed toward a good end, but it feels like a rough journey and like you're not making a lot of progress. At other times, your boat cuts smoothly through the water, with no energy wasted, and it's clear that you're proceeding quickly towards the goal of your journey. But in both cases, you can be rightly directed and relentlessly progressing towards your goal.

Aristotle compares living the virtues to becoming a good lyre player: it requires practice and repetition, it gives benefit to others and is a social activity, its achievement is observable and measurable, there are defined criteria by which to judge whether one is a good or bad lyre player, and it is a skill that must be learned by imitating others who are already successful lyre players. Since a life of virtue is a life of disciplined action, it also involves all of these components. The good life, the happy life for Man requires dedicated, consistent action, involving ingrained moral responses. As Will Durrant once said, summarizing Aristotle's conception of virtue, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Prof. Gregory emphasized that Aristotle's ethics are different from most systems of ethics because for Aristotle, ethics cannot be expressed by a list of prohibitions and demands; prudential judgment is the foundation of virtuous action. He asked the students later whether Wendell Berry's "Manifesto" poem was a list of practices that must be undertaken for one to have a happy life, but the students concluded that Berry largely shares Aristotle's conception of ethics, and that his recommendations such as "plant sequioas" and "denounce the government and embrace the flag" are simply one embodiment of a happy life in our contemporary situation. The same convictions could generate many such lists, none of which would adequately express the full range of possibilities for human happiness.

Berry's essay on "Feminism, the Body, and the Machine" spoke to many of the themes from our last seminar, including the encroaching dualism he sees that dismisses the activity of the body and dehumanizes all the we undertake. As Aristotle pointed out, happiness is an activity of virtue, and all activity, even contemplation, involves the body. There is no such thing as a mental state that is not also a bodily state. Body and mind are always integrated: we are not something separate from our bodies.

Yet, as Berry points out, our culture treats the body like an instrument or possession, which disintegrates the human person and human work. Technology, especially computers, are increasingly erasing our physical involvement in our own activities. Speed, ease, and quantity have become the goal of our actions. As Berry wryly suggests, this reaches down even to the level of that human activity that should most deeply integrate the body and mind: "It is odd that simply because of its 'sexual freedom' our time should be considered extraordinarily physical. In fact, our 'sexual revolution' is mostly an industrial phenomenon, in which the body is used as an idea of pleasure or a pleasure machine 'freeing' natural pleasure from natural consequence...Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of 'sexual partners,' orgasms, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex, which will be a great deal more abundant as soon as it can be done by robots."

Berry can criticize the undertakings of industrial war, industrial agriculture, industrial workmanship, and industrial education because he does not share their goals of speed, ease, and quantity. As he says: "Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work, and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed." Like Aristotle, he is seeking to be fully human, to fulfill his potential as a rational, social animal. He explores the implications that this direction has for his life in many realms: human work, the economy of the family, and his own pursuits as a writer and farmer.

For example, retirement is not an Aristotelian notion. We don't work all our lives away to ensure a future without work, as if work is something that limits human life.Work is the living of human life. It is the way we live our vocation to be good stewards of creation, good tenders of God's garden. He criticizes a feminism that expects women to enter the dehumanizing modern work force that men have already enslaved themselves to: "It is easy enough to see why women came to object to the role of Blondie, a mostly decorative custodian of a degraded, consumptive modern household, preoccupied with clothes, shopping, gossip, and outwitting her husband. But are we to assume that one may fittingly cease to be Blondie by becoming Dagwood? Is the life of a corporate underling--even acknowledging that corporate underlings are well paid--an acceptable end to our quest for human dignity and worth...How, I am asking, can women improve themselves by submitting to the same specialization, degradation, trivialization, and tyrannization of work that men have submitted to? And that question is made legitimate by another: How have men improved themselves by submitting to it?"

Berry instead holds a conception of human work as a school of virtue, an undertaking the involves us in social activity and bears fruit for our communities and ourselves personally. To that end, certain kinds of work are better suited for cultivating the virtues: work that involves the human faculties of imagination, creativity, compassion, and prudential judgment. Assembly lines and computer processors involve none of those things.

Instead, Berry calls upon us to do things that force us to draw on all of our resources of hope, faith, authenticity, selflessness, and mindfulness. He challenges us to recognize that the goal of our lives lies beyond what we can immediately see, to "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." He challenges us to have the courage to plan the seed of a tree under whose shade we will never sit. He challenges us to "Practice Resurrection."

TODAY: Chesterton Rhetoric Competition Finals

Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Geddes Hall Andrews Auditorium (in the basement) will be the final round of the annual Chesterton Rhetoric Competition, whose theme this year is "The Use and Abuse of Violence, or War: What is it not Good for?" Four Notre Dame graduate students are competing for a $400 first prize which will be awarded to the best 8-12 minute speech. The finalists are:

Cooper Gallimore of the Law School: "In Defense of Zombie Movies".
Seth Oelbaum of the English Department: "Janey Smith and the Upside of Chaos."
Eleanor Pettus of the History Department: "Restoring Order Among Knights, Dragons, and Ladies.
Dan Sportiello of the Philosophy Department: "First, Last, and Overmen."

Friday, April 8, 2011

TODAY: NEW TIME for Chaput talk

Due to some travel delays, the Right to Life lecture by Archbishop Charles Chaput, Politics and the Devil: Living in a World of Unbelief, has been rescheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.  The lecture will still take place in McKenna Hall with a reception to follow.  I hope that you will be able to attend.

Natural Law Lecture

Oliver O’Donovan, professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh, will be at Notre Dame Law School Monday, April 11 to deliver the 2011 Natural Law Lecture.

Sponsored by the Law School’s Natural Law Institute, the free lecture will begin at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, in Eck Hall of Law Room 1130. The public is invited.

Professor O’Donovan was Regius Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology and Canon of Christ Church at the University of Oxford from 1982 until 2006, before which he taught at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford (1972-7) and at Wycliffe College, Toronto (1977-82).

He is a past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics.

Ordained as a priest of the Church of England, he has been an active participant in ecumenical dialogue and has served on the General Synod. For more information, visit the Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Friday: Archbishop Chaput address

The Notre Dame Right to Life club's spring lecture series is culminating with a keynote address by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. (Diocese of Denver), with a reception following the address. Archbishop Chaput, well-known for his clear teaching and unwavering defense of life at all stages, will speak on “Politics and the Devil: Living as a Catholic in an Age of Unbelief.”

When: Friday, April 8, 4:30 PM
Where: McKenna Hall

Archbishop Chaput’s address and the reception to follow are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Academic retreat for teachers at Holy Cross

The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education will hold its annual academic retreat for teachers at Holy Cross College this summer, July 10-15. The retreat is designed to allow you to:
  • Explore the foundations of Catholic education with colleagues from around the country
  • Discuss the history and integration of Western education, the Trivium, Mathematics, Science, Literature, Th eology and Music
  • Read and discuss authors such as Newman, Dawson, Shakespeare, Euclid, John Paul II and more
  • Discuss these writings with an intimate group of peers
  • Refresh and revitalize your sense of wonder and joy of learning!
For more information, visit their website.