Go set the world aflame! Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Volume I, Issue 2
Jesuit Diaconate Ordination MARGO BORDERS
Cardinal O’Malley praying over Paul Shelton
‘unction’ – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.” After the homily, the candidates for ordination declared before the congregation their intentions to be ordained to the Order of Deacons. They completed a Promise of Obedience, and the congregation prayed the Litany of Saints while the candidates for ordination lay prostrate on the floor in a gesture of humility. Cardinal Seán then laid his hands on the heads of the candidates in the tradition of the Apostles, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit. He then offered the Prayer of Ordination before presenting each newly ordained deacon with dalmatics, liturgical vestments proper to deacons, and the Book of the Gospels of Christ. After entering the Society of Jesus, it takes 11 years to become a priest. The formation process concludes with four years of studying theology, and in the last year of studying, the Jesuit is ordained a deacon. After eight months in the transitional diaconate, he is ordained a priest. Deacons serve a formal liturgical function through preaching at Mass, saying the penitential rite, the prayers of the faithful, and the proclamation of the Gospel. “A deacon is a representative of the people. They serve the needs of the people, as the Apos-
On Saturday, October 12, eight members of the Society of Jesus and one member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer were ordained by His Eminence Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston, to the transitional diaconate at St. Ignatius Church. The newly ordained deacons are Christopher P. Johnson, S.J.; Robert E. Murphy, S.J.; Mario M. Powell, S.J.; Michael D. Rozier, S.J.; Samuel J. Sawyer, S.J.; Paul J. Shelton, S.J.; Thomas M. Simisky, S.J.; David K. Verghese, C.Ss.R.; and Nathan C Wendt, S.J. In his homily, Cardinal Seán first spoke of the “Jesuit treasure,” which is the ripple effect the Jesuit tradition has on the community. Cardinal Seán himself was deeply affected by the Jesuits through his father, brother, and uncle, who were all educated by the Jesuits. Cardinal Seán also spoke about the life of service in the diaconate. He likened the servant-hood of the diaconate to the servant in the movie “Remains of the Day,” who sacrifices himself to duty, even when his employer did not appreciate him. Although this seems “puzzling” to contemporary audiences, this attitude should be emulated in the deacons’ lives of service. Jesus de-
Religion and Science Converge: Developing Environmental Ethics
Letters between BC Jesuits and a Best-selling Author PAGE 3
The Superior General of the Jesuits Visits the US
“The glory of the human is in the desolation of the earth.” These words spoken by Fr. Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest and scholar of religion and ecology, resonate today amongst the global issues of climate change and environmental desolation. John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, both lecturers at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmentalism and the School of Divinity, have spent years conducting research and dialogues seeking to reconcile these seemingly contrasting realities of human ambition and the preservation of the earth. On October 16, they presented a lecture at the Heights Room on The Alliance of Religion and Ecology, sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry’s Church in the 21st Century Center. According to Mary Evelyn Tucker, the dialogue begins with asking, “What are the values from these cultures and traditions that will contribute to an environmental ethic that is indigenous to those parts of the world?” Finding common ground in religious values and cultural traditions is essential in constructing an ethic for this emerging issue of environmental degradation.
Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, concluded a two-week visit to the US on October 12. He had a packed schedule as he moved through Boston, New York, St. Lewis, and Chicago where he engaged in many activities, including attending a meeting with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Fr. Nicolás’ visit began in Boston, where he met with faculty members of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He told students and seminarians that the Church needs Jesuits who are men of great intellectual depth. He also reminded them that, when being called to the Society of Jesus, they are being called to join a universal vocation. “To be available in a universal way,” he said, “calls for us to be creative, and to be creative we need to be men of prayer.” While in Boston, Fr. Nicolás met with 55 Jesuit scholastics from 20 different countries. The Superior General also visited the Campion Center in Weston, where the New England Province’s infirm and elderly Jesuits live. Fr. Nicolás took the time to visit with every
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scribes himself as a servant, and Cardinal Seán told the men, “Today, you are going to be ordained as servants.” He compared this servant-hood to Francis of Assisi, who dreamt of a life of service to Jesus Christ. Emphasizing the role of scripture in the role of deacons, Cardinal Seán told the deacons that “they must pray the Word of God to be able to preach it.” He said that, as men of the Church, they are called to “break open the Word of God on our knees,” and they must be “men of action and men of prayer.” The first deacons promoted unity and peace in the Church, especially between the Greeks and Hebrews at the time. Cardinal Seán called the men being ordained to imitate this by “overcoming divisions in the Church” and “bridging the gap between generations.” The way they do this will characterize their future as priests. Cardinal Seán ended his homily with a quote from Pope Francis from the Chrism Mass, which emphasizes the deacon’s apostolic role to be “fishers of men.” “It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to ‘put out into the deep,’ where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is
Holocaust Survivor Thanks Pope PAGE 5
Journey to the Top PAGE 11
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
New Book by Jesuit Professor Reveals Passion for Scholarship and Ministry EMILY WITSBERGER Boston College’s own Rev. Jeremy Clarke, S.J., Assistant Professor of History, has contributed yet another addition to the bridge connecting the West to China. His most recent publication, The Virgin Mary and Catholic Identities in Chinese History, sheds a light on Catholicism in China, exploring how the artistic representations of the Virgin Mary tie into Chinese history and culture. Last week The Torch had the opportunity to sit down with one of BC’s most popular Jesuit professors to discuss the paths that have preceded this publication, as well as where he sees his ministry going from here. The Sydney native acknowledges that a variety of professors had a profound impact on him and his decisions following graduation from his Jesuit high school. Having received a solid foundation in Chinese language and history throughout his secondary education, Fr. Clarke knew from a young age that he was interested in learning more about Chinese culture and helping stimulate a similar understanding in those outside of the country. While it might have been easier to engage in other areas of focus, Clarke feels fortunate for having been able to pursue Chinese studies upon entering the Jesuit Novitiate. During his time as a Scholastic he tutored Chinese as part of a school work-placement, and upon reaching the Regency stage he was able to teach Chinese at a high school for two years. He chose pragmatically to pursue a PhD in Asian and Pacific History at the Australian National University, a secular institution. “I did the doctorate because I wanted to get in touch with Chinese Catholic communities,” he says, “and it’s still very difficult to be a foreign priest working in China.” Approaching academia in this secular sense gave him an external credibility allowing him to circumvent issues faced by members of the religious community in trying to enter China. As a culmination of aspects of work and research he has gathered in the past several decades, then, Clarke’s newest book explores works of art in Chinese culture, focusing on the Virgin Mary, that date back several centuries to the founding of the Chinese Catholic Church. Importantly, the book serves as a source of both pride and empowerment for the communities with which he has been so personally involved. “It’s a treasuring of the story of the Chinese Catholic communities,” says Clarke. He notes that the beauty of Christianity, and in fact a strength of the Catholic Church over the centuries, has been its attention to the aesthetic world such as liturgical music (think of Handel’s Messiah) or great feats of art (think of the stained glass at Chartres). “I think all of this is reminding us that the world is a spirit, uplifting us, challenging us, inspiring us. God is always at work in the world, and we, too, are meant to be creating and helping bring about beauty.” Such empowerment can help to enable a
Religion and Science Converge: Developing Environmental Ethics continued from FRONT PAGE
greater understanding between cultures, such that both outsiders and people from within the country can recognize what can be gained from relationships across religion and across culture. During his time at Boston College, Clarke has been active in promoting such cross-cultural understanding. His ministry to the BC community has extended far beyond teaching several classes per semester, while earning a 9.7 PEPS rating in doing so. Outside of the classroom, his commitment to stimulating students’ interest in areas of culture in which they might not have considered otherwise has been far reaching. Some of his main contributions have included curating the Burns Library exhibition Binding Friendship: Ricci, China and Jesuit Cultural Learnings, creating and producing a documentary on Matteo Ricci’s works in China, and, more recently, organizing the China Watching Series on campus. While the projects and opportunities he has been able to pursue at BC have been vast, he acknowledges that discernment between goods has been a challenge at times. In terms of what he does, the demands of professorship can render difficult the demands of ministry to the Chinese Catholic community. “After all,” he observes, “every hour you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another.” However, Clarke will be switching gears in the near future and returning to the continent on which his journey as a steward of the Jesuit mission began. Upon his return to the Eastern Hemisphere, Clarke will be able to concentrate his attention once more upon service to the Chinese Catholic community. Several of his aims will include seeking to establish and strengthen connections within church communities, as well as aiding the efforts of others interested in facilitating charitable works in Catholic dioceses. This could include not only members of religious orders but doctors, nurses and students interested in social work or foreign ministry. He notes that his efforts in bridging communities will extend beyond China to places such as East Timor, Cambodia, and Burma as well. BC students and faculty alike will surely be sad to see him leave next year. However, his presence across the Pacific Ocean will, of course, make a tremendous impact. As of 2012 there were 143 Jesuits comprising the Australian Province, which, Clarke notes, is fewer members than in the two zip codes centered on Boston College. Upon returning to Australia, the number of lives he will be able to touch and cultural bridges he will help to forge will only continue to grow. Without a doubt, Clarke exemplifies what it means for us to live as “men and women for others.” Clarke’s new book is currently available through the Hong Kong University Press, and is set for release in November by the Columbia University Press.
Religious leaders, including Popes Francis and Benedict XVI, have spoken of the importance of our responsibility for the earth. Furthermore, there is a need to reevaluate the scriptural meaning of stewardship and man’s “dominion,” as depicted in Genesis. According to John Grim, the development of an environmental ethic, however, is not anti-anthropocentric as though equating man with a tree or the soil, but rather highlights the responsibility man has in caring for the natural environment. The scientific reality, the speakers stressed, is that humans, animals, and plants are highly dependent on the earth as an energy source for survival. The threat to the environment today is not an ice age or asteroids, as in previous periods, but the threat of man’s actions. “We have a biodiversity loss of immense proportions,” says Tucker. “Scientists say we are in the midst of a sixth extinction period, where species are going extinct due to anthropogenic causes.” Creating an alliance between religion and ecology is not only for the sake of plants, animals, and the physical earth, as many assume. “People commonly separate nature and Catholic social teaching,” says Mary Evelyn Tucker. However, social justice for human beings and social justice for the environment are intrinsically linked. The speakers emphasized that there are millions of climate refugees around the planet as a result of climate change. In the past years alone in the United States, there were numerous droughts and hurricanes, including Katrina and Sandy. “This,” says Tucker “is due to our actions.” As scholars and activists, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker have been working emphatically on engaging scientists and religious leaders and intellectuals in dialogue through forums, conferences, and publications. In the last decades, these two fields have been polarized by disagreement and are seemingly drifting further apart. However, there is great hope in the prospect of an emerging alliance between religion and science for the sake of the preservation of the earth and the sacredness of life. “What is BC doing for religion and ecology?” asked Mary Evelyn Tucker. The speakers presented a challenge to the Boston College community and academia to grow in awareness of their daily impact on the environment, to look for ways in which they can be a grassroots movement for the environment, and especially to push for more classes on the convergence of ecology and all fields of study. Currently, Boston College only offers two courses on religion and ecology. In contrast, Yale, for example, offers 68 courses. “It’s not easy, but it needs to be done,” says Mary Evelyn Tucker. “We need to be partnering in the study of ethics, law, politics, economics, and religion.” Already, through reanalyzing the convergence of the values of religious traditions and the concerns of scientific research, religions are returning to areas of thought that were at one time exclusively given over to the scientific community, says John Grim. “In many ways, religions are beginning to return to this question and they are in dialogue now with the scientists, rather than one trumping the other.”
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Triple Eagle Honored for Life of Catholic Statesmanship
CHRIS CANNIFF Joseph R. Nolan, who passed away in April of this year at the age of 87, was recently honored by the Archdiocese of Boston at their annual Red Mass for the Catholic Lawyer’s Guild of Boston, a group which Nolan himself helped revive several years ago and of which he served as president for 25 years. A native of Mattapan, Nolan attended Boston College High School, graduating in 1942, before serving in the US Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II. Upon his return to the United States, he attended Boston College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1950. He then went on to attend Boston College Law School. After graduating with his law degree in 1954, Nolan went into private practice. He later served as an assistant district attorney for Suffolk County and general counsel for the state Lottery Commission. In 1965, Nolan entered the field of academia, teaching at Suffolk University Law School from that time until 2011. During his more than 40-year tenure as a professor, he co-authored five law books and
edited two editions of “Black’s Law Dictionary.” In 1980, Governor Edward J. King appointed Nolan to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as an Associate Justice. Before this, he had served as a special justice at Brighton District Court and as an associate justice of the Superior Court. While serving on the court, Justice Nolan often found himself writing the dissenting opinion for a court that was predominantly liberal. His 1986 dissent in a rightto-die case evinces his solid Catholic formation under the Jesuits of Boston College. “I can think of nothing more degrading to the human person than the balance which the court struck today in favor of death and against life,” he wrote. “It is but another triumph for the forces of secular humanism . . . which have now succeeded in imposing their antilife principles at both ends of life’s spectrum.” In 1994, he was the sole dissenting justice in a case regarding the involvement of an Irish-American
gay and lesbian group in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston. Parade organizers had disallowed the group’s participation on religious grounds. When the ensuing legal battle wound up in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, only Nolan supported the principle of religious liberty by siding with the parade organizers. The case ultimately went on to the United States Supreme Court, which overturned the SJC’s ruling and ruled in favor of Nolan’s stance. Following his retirement from the court in the 1990s, Nolan continued teaching at Suffolk Law. He was also a daily communicant, frequently attending the noon weekday Mass in St. Mary’s Chapel on the BC campus until as recently as last semester. On Sunday’s he preferred to attend the Extraordinary Form Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End. Nolan, of Belmont, left behind his wife of 66 years, 7 children, 24 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Cardinal Seán O’Malley released a statement of prayer and remorse
upon learning of Nolan’s passing. “His work was guided by core beliefs he held true to as a committed and faithful Catholic,” said O’Malley. “He balanced his secular life with his prayerful commitment to Christ and the Church. Providing a strong prolife presence in our community, Justice Nolan was a daily communicant who received the Eucharist with great devotion. He spoke regularly about the importance of understanding ‘sin and grace’ and basic morals.” Bishop Robert Deeley, who presided at the Red Mass earlier this month, also knew Justice Nolan from his involvement with the Catholic Lawyer’s Guild. In his homily, he said, “There is an empty seat in our cathedral and an empty place in our hearts.”
UGBC Launches Spirit in Speech Series ALESSANDRA LUEDEKING On October 14 in Fulton 511, Fr. Michael Denk and Suzanne Carter presented their spiritual journeys as faithful Catholics to a widely receptive audience of undergraduate students as the first event in UGBC’s new “The Spirit in Speech Series.” The focus of their presentation was to prompt the audience to “tap” into their own lives and discern where they stand in relation to God and faith through the relation of their own spiritual lives. The talk was organized into three parts: vocation, spiritual friendships, and prayer. To begin, Fr. Denk and Mrs. Carter each relayed their personal stories and how they had come to accept their vocations. Blessed John Paul II defined vocation as “that which God uses to direct each and every one of us to his task in life. Each one of us is handpicked and called by God.” Since the age of 16, Mrs. Carter had contemplated a calling to religious life. She felt that she did not quite fit in with her group of friends who partied, yet she also came to feel estranged from the quiet contemplative nuns. So she abandoned her thoughts on religious life and instead pursued a vigorous and successful career in marketing and sales. But throughout her life and career, she was consistently reminded of a piece of advice her swimming coach had given her in college, “Keep your eyes on the cross.” Mrs. Carter linked it to her faith in Jesus Christ. Working at Robert Half International and entrenched in an unhappy marriage, Mrs. Carter’s moment of conversion struck in Las Vegas at a corporate party in a fancy hotel where a gambling man had lost $10,000 ten times within the span of ten minutes, totaling $100,000 in losses. She was struck by the superficiality of the corporate world and found herself turning to God. She divorced her husband, and with God’s guidance, found her true soul mate and accepted her vocation to the married life while keeping her “eyes fixated on the cross.” Similarly, Fr. Denk also considered a religious vocation from a young age, but the switch from a Catholic elementary school to a public high school had, with the change in environment, radically shifted his mindset. However, much as with Mrs. Carter, Fr. Denk was constantly haunted by the words of his godmother, spoken on the day of his First Holy Communion:
“Michael, you look like you’d be a great priest one day.” Fr. Denk had been troubled by this and even prayed that God not call him to the priesthood. He continued living his life the way he wanted to, but “God calls us through people,” Fr. Denk said. He experienced his conversion at a bar when he realized he was drinking too much. He walked out and stopped by a chapel on his way home. He prayed to the Blessed Sacrament in adoration and came to feel truly at peace. He followed his older brother to a retreat in the seminary where he confirmed his vocation to the priesthood. In sharing their vocational stories, Fr. Denk and Mrs. Carter encouraged the audience to understand that God puts people in our lives to help us and that when God calls us to do something, we only need to “put our hands to the plow and never look back” (Lk 9:62). The second part of their talk dealt with spiritual friendships, of friends who help us fulfill our true vocations. Mrs. Carter prompted the audience to think with the question, “Do your friends elevate you and bring you to holiness? Or are they a deterrent for you?” She counseled that sometimes “we need to prune those branches that are not healthy for us.” Fr. Denk went on to assert that “a good friendship is reciprocal” in that one must also be the faithful and supportive friend that one wishes to have. Finally, the talk turned to prayer. St. John Chrysostom defined prayer as the “place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” God’s voice is heard in the silence. He wants us to be “hardcore” with Him and entrust our true emotions to him, whether that entails anger towards Him, or sadness, or joy, or thanksgiving. Fr. Denk made the distinction that “private prayer should be an enjoyable experience, and if it isn’t, you need to find another way to pray.” Fr. Denk and Mrs. Carter concluded by answering a few questions. How do you find out what your vocation is? “Ask God.” Who are your spiritual friends? “Those who bring you to holiness.” Do you find prayer enjoyable? “Pray to the Blessed Sacrament.”
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
From Contemplative to Conquering: Letters between BC Jesuits and a Best-selling Author MARGARET ANTONIO Continuing through October 25, the Burns Library is displaying a selection of letters between the best-selling author and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, and three Jesuits of Boston College. The exhibit highlights their correspondence, the acquisition of the transcript of Merton’s 1949 bestseller Seven Storey Mountain, and the development of an important collection at Boston College. Thomas Merton had always been an admirer of the Jesuits, according to Barbara Adams Hebard, curator of the exhibit. Merton’s first encounter with the Jesuits was in reading the biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., an English poet and Jesuit priest. “It was the defining moment that led him to convert,” says Hebard, “he had already been interested in the Catholic Church, but it was reading that biography that made him ‘get up and do something.’” Merton converted while attending Columbia University and, in 1941, entered the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, more commonly known as the Trappists. Several years later, Merton began corresponding with Fr. Francis Sweeney, S.J. a Jesuit at Boston College. “They had never cause he lacked the resources. Boston College was very generous in lending him the books he needed, without which he wouldn’t have been able to write a number of the books he wrote,” says Hebard. The letters from the Merton Collection, however, not only reveal the exchange of material resources, but even more so, the friendship and camaraderie amongst the four priests. In one of the letters displayed at the exhibit, Merton writes to Sweeney: “It seems I am working for the Jesuits these days. How do I get considered an honorary member of the Society? Or would that wreck you?” He then goes on to express his admiration of the Jesuit, Fr. Alfred Delp, who was tortured and executed by the Nazis during WWII. In addition to giving Boston College signed copies of his own books, Fr. Thomas Merton also worked on translating the writings of Fr. Delp. Unfortunately, the Jesuits of Boston College and Thomas Merton never met due to their geographical separation and their obligations as priests. In one of the letters, Fr. Sweeney writes to Merton, “I have never given up the hope of seeing you. I have often thought of you and wish that geography did not cheat me of the opportunity of talking with you.” Nevertheless, the correspondence between the Jesuits and Fr. Thomas Merton, preserved in the Thomas Merton Collection, is a testament not only to the collaboration that supported Merton in his literary endeavors, but also to the friendship that developed between Merton and the Jesuits, a relationship encompassing their contemplative spiritual lives and their conquering intellectual pursuits. The Burns Library will keep the exhibit on display until October 25th. However, the library keeps the full Thomas Merton Collection available to library patrons year round.
met, but they knew each other because they were both poets and some of their poetry appeared in the same publications,” says Ms. Hebard. They frequently exchanged poetry for each other to critique and also engaged in discussions on the Jesuit spirituality and their vocation to sanctity. In his letters, Merton “talked about becoming a saint… that being a poet should be secondary to being a priest and should be tertiary to being a saint,” says Hebard. Following the publication of his 1949 best-seller and autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain, Merton gave the original typescript of the book to Sweeney and a first edition copy of the book to the Jesuits. This was the beginning of the Thomas Merton Collection and an ongoing collaboration between Merton and the Boston College librarians, Terence L. Connolly, S.J. and Brendan C. Connolly, S.J. Fr. Terence Connolly was the head of the Boston College library, which was only Bapst at the time. Following his death in 1961, Fr. Brendan Connolly headed the library and continued the development of the Merton collection. “[Merton] would not have been able to publish the books that he published be-
A Snapshot of the Merton Collection at The Burns Library
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Diocese of Hiroshima Celebrates its 90th Anniversary JAY CHIN The Apostolic Vicariate of Hiroshima was founded on May 4, 1923. Bishop Heinrich Döring, S.J. presided over fewer than 5,000 laypeople and 2 diocesan priests. A few years before the atomic bombing of World War II, the vicariate was shut down following the resignation of Bishop Johannes Ross, S.J. in 1940. Almost 20 years later in 1959, the vicariate, having been reinstated, was elevated to a diocese, this time with a Japanese bishop, Dominic Yoshimatsu Noguchi. Today, the diocese has 47 parishes, 73 priests, and 21,500 laypeople. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the erection of the vicariate. In that time the Church in Hiroshima has been characterized by its corporal suffering and its peace initiatives, especially in the ending of nuclear warfare. The Tsuwano Martyrs were a group of 36 Catholics who were exiled to Tsuwano individually from the 17th to the 20th century to be enclosed in small cages and left to starve to death. The current bishop,
Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda, appointed in 2011, announced at the closing Mass of the Year of Faith, that he has begun the diocesan phase of the cause of their canonization. Along with this investigation, the annual walk from Hiroshima to Tsuwano will include not only the regular carrying of a statue of Our Lady of Tsuwano, but also a carrying of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. These statues will be on “tour” visiting various parishes along the 90 kilometers from Tsuwano mountains to the Hiroshima Memorial Cathedral for World Peace for the closing Mass of the Year of Faith. The diocese hosted a ten day commemoration of the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombings. This event included symposia, lectures, Masses and interreligious dialogue. Among those in attendance was Peter Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The diocese is home to The Center for Promoting Apostles of Peace, lead by Rev. Hattari, an apos-
tolic group that promotes prayer and the sacraments. The diocese regularly hosts lectures concerning the benefits and detriments of nuclear power, both as weaponry and as a source of energy, especially in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis, which has been more devastating in terms of contamination than the nuclear bombings. Predictably, most of their speakers are skeptical of, if not totally against, nuclear power. Blessed John Paul II visited the city in 1981, where he said that “to remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war.” Clearly these words resonated with the Catholic community, for the Supreme Pontiff joined them in their past suffering. Thus they continue to remember the tragedies that they have suffered and hope to help guide Japan and the world towards peace.
Kuma’s Corner Offers Burger Topped with Wine and Unconsecrated Host GJERGJI EVANGJELI Controversy has sprung up in the Avondale neighborhood in Chicago after a small restaurant, Kuma’s Corner, decided to sell a burger called “Ghost” which is topped off with a wine reduction and an unconsecrated host. Luke Tobias, the Director of Operations at Kuma’s, said that the specialty burger was inspired by the Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost BC, and that they see it as a tribute to them. Relating to the fact that a host was used he said, “The thing with this is, the communion wafer is unconsecrated, so until that happens, it’s really just a cracker.” Though his Eucharistic sensibility might be correct, there is still something to be said about the fact that a host is being used, Jeff Young, the producer of Catholic Foodie blog, thinks. He writes on his website, “It’s not the Eucharist, but it’s still symbolic. For us as Catholics, the Eucharist is more than a symbol, it’s a sacrament. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that symbols aren’t important… It is a mockery of something that is holy.” Young shares this sentiment with many faithful Catholics and Christians who think that Kuma’s has crossed the line and that the idea for a burger featuring a communion host is tasteless. Seeking to quell the controversy, Kuma’s Corner said it made a $1,500 donation to Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities, on the other hand, said in a statement on October 7 that it has not and will not accept Kuma’s donation and that they should consider taking the burger off their menus. Kuma’s, however, has been unrelenting in accepting that claim.
In a statement published on the restaurant’s website on October 4, the owners argued that, on the one hand, the burger was not intended to offend anyone, but that, on the other hand, they intended to keep the burger on the menu for the month of October despite the fact that it was offensive to some people. This point was so clearly outlined that the authors felt the need to quote the First Amendment to underline their point. The statement also points out that Kuma’s is “a small nine table restaurant,” and as such, possibly unworthy of so much attention being put on their operation. It seems, nonetheless, that if the Ghost burger is inspired by and a tribute to Ghost BC, the commonality between the two must be the affront to Catholics. A lesser-known band, especially in the US, it takes no more than a single look to realize that Ghost BC and the Catholic Church are incompatible. Other than the explicitly Satanic themes in a number of their songs, Ghost BC members, who have never revealed their names or their faces, perform dressed in robes with their faces covered, while the lead vocalist is dressed in an outfit not unlike that of a Catholic prelate, except for the inverted crosses. Moreover, while the rest of the band members go by “nameless Ghouls,” the lead vocalist goes by the name “Papa Emeritus.” This taken into consideration, it seems that the usage of the host and the wine is not for their unique tastes, but rather to depict Ghost BC’s clear anti-Christian sentiment, a sentiment that, perhaps, Kuma’s Corner also feels.
Jesuit Diaconate Ordination continued from FRONT PAGE
tles did in the Acts of the Apostles,” said newly ordained deacon Paul Shelton, S.J. Shelton, who is most looking forward to preaching at Sunday Mass after his ordination, will be serving as a deacon at St. Catherine Drexel Parish in Roxbury, MA. All of the newly ordained Jesuits will fulfill their roles as deacons at a parish in the community, including St. Ignatius Church and St. Joseph’s Chapel on campus. Left to Right, Front: Rev. James Gartland, S.J., His Eminence Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Very Rev. Kevin Moley, C.Ss.R., and Rev. Denis Sweeney, C.Ss.R.. Back: The newly-ordained deacons
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Holocaust Survivor Thanks Pope for Church’s Aid SOFIA INFANTE Holocaust survivor, Graziella Viterbi, 88, expressed her gratitude for the Church’s role in saving her life in a meeting with Pope Francis on October 4. The meeting took place in the archbishop’s residence in Assisi, where her family fled during the Holocaust. They greeted each other with a “shalom” as they met in the “hall of divestment”, the first time in 800 years that a pope has visited the room where many Jews sought refuge during World War II. “Thank you for what the Church did for us,” Viterbi told Pope Francis who replied, “I thank you. Pray for me.” Graziella Vitebri is the last living person to have been saved by the former Bishop of Assisi,
Giuseppe Nicolini, a Benedictine who created a covert system to help Jews escape Nazi persecution by concealing them in convents and monasteries, without the knowledge of the city’s residents. At the time, the city of Assisi was a popular refugee haven because of its proximity to the front lines of the war. The program is attributed with saving the lives of an estimated 300 Jews, including that of Nicolini’s family who moved there in 1953 when her father, Emilio Viterbi, a highly respected professor at the University of Padua, lost his position when the Italian fascist government issued anti-Semitic racial laws barring Jews from higher education.
The Superior General of the Jesuits Visits the US continued from FRONT PAGE
Jesuit at the facility. Before departing for New York, he also celebrated the Final Vows Mass for Fr. John Siberski, S.J. at Campion. During his two-day visit to New York, Fr. Nicolás celebrated the Eucharist with 150 Jesuits, met with Jesuits in formation and visited the province infirmary. Fr. Thomas Scirghi, S.J., Rector of the Jesuit Community at Spellman Hall at Fordham University, underlined that Fr. Nicolás spoke on the danger of being too involved in too many diverse activities, since that detracts from plunging deeply into any one of those activities. Fr. Nicolás also spoke on the importance of the Jesuits as preachers, teachers, and spiritual directors who aid in freeing all those in contact with them through the message of the Gospel. His St. Louis visit was focused on meeting with novices and scholastics. He celebrated Mass with 30 Jesuits in first studies and met with novices on several occasions. Fr. Ronal Mercier, S.J., who was recently named the first Provincial of the US Central and Southern Provinces, mentioned how Father General warned against paying too much attention to success. He warned that, though success is significant, the real concern should be about how Christ is present and it is best to focus one’s attention on Christ. Fr. Mercier sees this as a powerful message for an incoming provincial. The last stop of his visit took Fr. Nicolás to Chicago, where he spent time with all nine US provincials and two provincials from Canada. He also attended a meeting of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, on October 10-11 at Loyola University Chicago. This event was the first where the Father General met with the presidents and chairs for the Boards of Trustees of all 28 Jesuit institutes of higher education in the US. He stressed that Jesuit institutions in the US need to talk about rethinking how Jesuit schools in this country can have the maximum impact on increasing the quality of education in Jesuit schools in other countries, while at the same time also learning from them. Fr. Nicolás then met with the president and board chair of each school for brief discussion on each institution and to thank the increasing amount of lay members who have taken responsibility in many Jesuit institutions of higher learning for their contribution. The Superior General’s words were received with much joy. One Jesuit told Fr. Mercier that listening to Fr. Nicolás’ words gave him a sense of deep hope for the future. It is only reasonable to assume that he is not alone in feeling this way.
According to Viterbi, Nicolini “kept the authentic identity cards of all the Jews hidden in Assisi in a niche right behind his working desk,” and even the mayor offered his help, hiding all of her family’s religious objects in his garden. Bishop Nicolini was assisted in his noble endeavor by his secretary, Fr. Aldo Brunacci; Fr. Ruffino Nicacci, Franciscan guardian of the Church of San Damiano; and Michele Todde, of a convent in the city. His two typographers, Luigi and Trento Brizi, also provided invaluable aid, printing false documents for the Jewish refugees. The network extended well beyond Assisi, spreading as far as Florence and Genoa.
Pope Meets with Advisory Body to Reform Curia ETHAN MACK Ever since the conclave, the pope’s top priority has been the reform of the Roman Curia, the bureaucratic body that helps the pope, which has been plagued with corruption and inefficiency for some time. Pope Francis has decided to form a formal body of eight cardinals to advise him on curial reform. The eight members of the group are Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of from Honduras, Francisco Javier Errazuriz from Chile, Oswald Gracias from India, Reinhard Marx from Germany, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from Congo, George Pell from Australia, Giuseppe Bertello from Italy, and Boston’s own Sean Patrick O’Malley. The members met in Rome for the first time earlier this month, from October 1 to October 3. The main focus of their deliberations was how the Holy Father should reform John Paul II’s 1988 Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus., which was the last major curial reform document. It is widely believed that the old constitution is out of date and is in desperate need of being replaced. Speaking about curial reform, the Holy Father outlined several goals he would like to see accomplished. A major point that he highlighted immediately following this meeting was the need for decentralization. The Holy Father stated that he believes the root cause of the inefficiency is the fact that many petitions go though Rome, when they should be addressed at a more local level instead. The Pope also said that he believed the Vatican bureaucracy had become too “Vatican-centric” and cited the need for the Vatican to be at the service of the Universal Church. The council of Cardinals is expected to meet several more times during the next few months, after which the Holy Father is expected to submit a plan for comprehensive reform of the curia.
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Military Chaplains Face Arrest For Performing Mass During Shutdown ELINOR MITCHELL Along with a number of anticipated political and economic effects, the federal government shutdown prompted one surprising consequence: the suspension of Catholic Masses at U.S. military bases. Following the government’s shutdown, all government employees, including the Catholic chaplains contracted by the government, were prohibited from performing their regular duties. Even on a volunteer basis, priests who provided services in spite of the ban faced arrest. As a result, many active duty Christians went without Mass early this month, sparking a tidal wave of protest and calls for reform. The ban, which applies to all religious leaders contracted by the government, has caused controversy and raised questions regarding religious liberty and the federal government’s right to impose on any religious practice. According to John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese for Military Services, there is a “chronic shortage” of Catholic chaplains in active duty, leaving the nearly 275,000 Christian soldiers with only 234 priests. The government bridges that gap by contracting priests to perform services at home and abroad. That being said, many Americans in active duty depend on the government for regular religious services. But, in the event of a government shutdown, this system presents a problem. If all government employees, including contracted chaplains, are forbidden from working, who will accommodate the needs of active duty Christians? News of the ban quickly sparked widespread criticism from the Catho-
lic community. Many argue that a contacted priest does not fit the typical “government employee” mold, and provides an indispensible, necessary service. Some say it is simply a case of right and wrong, and that depriving Christians in active duty of a weekly Mass is unjust. The ban also raises a constitutional question; is the government entitled to regulate religious activity? Because the ban arguably infringes on priests’ and active duty Catholics’ right to free practice under the First Amendment, critics say that the federal government has overstepped its authority. According to CatholicVote, since the eruption of negative press, Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed a Concurrent Resolution to exempt volunteer priests from the ban. The resolution, passed by a 400-1 vote, made it clear that House members did not intend to infringe on regular religious practices. Additionally, according to the Catholic News Service, most civilian Catholic chaplains were allowed to return to work as of October 9. Most chaplains are back at work, but John Schlageter estimates that 35 priests are still not allowed to say Mass. Though the situation has been partly rectified, the federal government is under greater pressure to quickly resolve the budget dispute and to reinstate regular Christian services.
October 27 First Reading: Sirach 35: 12-14, 16-18 Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34: 2 - 3, 17 - 19, 23 Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18 Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14 November 3 First Reading: Wisdom 11: 22- 12:2 Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1: 11- 2: 2 Gospel: Luke 19: 1-10 November 10 First Reading: 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14 Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 17: 1, 5-6, 8, 15 Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2: 16- 3:5 Gospel: Luke 20: 27- 38 November 17 First Reading: Malachi 3: 19- 20a Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 98: 5-6, 7-8, 9 Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3: 7-12 Gospel: Luke 21: 5-19
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Faith in Action: Padre Melo MOLLY HOLDEN On October 9, Rev. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., popularly known as “Padre Melo,” spoke to a group of BC students and faculty on the violence and ongoing human rights violations in Honduras, currently the “Murder Capital of the World.” His presentation, The Price of Truth: Human Rights in Honduras Since the Coup, addressed the struggles and success of building a fair and inclusive society. Drawing on his own experience as a human rights activist in Honduras and elsewhere, Padre Melo’s discussion offered an in-depth analysis of the systemic reasons for the continued violence and widespread impunity in Honduras. Even amidst death threats, Padre Melo continues to advocate for human rights and freedom of expression in Honduras. Padre Melo is the director of Radio Progresso, a Christian based radio station that is a leader in investigative reporting and advocacy. In addition to his work with Radio Progresso, Padre Melo is the director of the Center for Reflection, Research and Communication, a think tank that studies societal trends and public opinion in Honduras. Since the June 2009 constitutional crisis and coup d’état in which the Honduran military ousted then-president Manuel Zelaya, the government has restricted civil liberties and has terrorized the public. Since the coup, over 25 journalists and social activists have been murdered and many more have been kidnapped, tortured and intimidated by the military government. Radio Progresso, Padre Melo’s show, was shut down by the military at the time of the coup and has been occupied several times since. In his testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee of the US Congress in 2012, Padre Melo asked members of the committee how free-
dom of expression could “be defended in a country like Honduras where the biggest violators of the this fundamental freedom are the friends and partners of a “democracy” backed by the policies and agencies of the U.S government?” Padre Melo stated that around 80% of cocaine imported to the United States comes through Honduras by way of Colombia. However, U.S attempts to combat drug trafficking in Honduras (and elsewhere in Latin America) place power and money in the hands of Honduran military officials and politicians who are deeply tied to the drug lords. In other words, drug traffickers, weakening the rule of law and increasing violence, control the Honduran government at all levels. Through his work with the Center for Reflection, Research and Communications, Padre Melo and his colleagues look for ways to defend and support human rights organizations and grassroots groups threatened by the Honduran government. Padre Melo has committed his life and energy to protecting and promoting human rights in Honduras and elsewhere. His remarks and reflections prompted a larger dialogue that is important for all people of faith, especially those within the Catholic tradition. Catholic social thought proclaims that all life is sacred and that the dignity of the person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. In Honduras, the government has failed to protect and promote the dignity of its citizens. Catholic social thought states that not only is the person sacred, but that the person is social. How we organize society—in law, economics, and policy—directly affects human dignity and an individual’s capacity to grow. When the Honduran government restricts access to information and terrorizes its citizen, they are
restricting the Honduran people’s right to participate in society and to grow as a community. Finally, the Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can only be upheld and communities can only thrive if human rights are protected. Each human has a right to life and livelihood. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities that we each have to ourselves, to one another and to the larger society. The human rights violations in Honduras not only impact the citizens of Honduras, they impact our global human community. Padre Melo’s presentation is a call to action. One way we as Catholics can work to end the violence in Honduras is to urge the Obama Administration and United State Congress to cut off U.S. funding of the Honduran military. We must support international and grassroots efforts that seek to protect human dignity by demanding justice for those terrorized by the Honduran military. We are one human family equal in front of God and it is our duty as Catholics to protect our brothers and sisters everywhere. The Gospel calls us to be promoters of peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if we want to achieve peace, we must work for justice. Catholic social teaching tells us that to show our love for all our brothers and sisters, we must promote peace and justice in the world and seek to end conflict and violence.
Catholicism 101: First Communion NATALIE YUHAS Spring is full of new life as everything blooms and the weather warms up. It is also a time of new life in the Church as many children receive the blessed sacrament of First Holy Communion and thereby enter more fully into the Church community. My family sits in the same seats in the exact same row every weekend at Mass, and the angle we are at gives us a perfect view of the kids’ faces as they receive the Eucharist for the very first time. I love seeing how excited they get as they finally walk up and hold out their hands, just as they have seen their parents and everyone else in the community do for so long. The genuine smile and joy that radiates from their faces after they receive the Eucharist is unparalleled. Every time spring rolls around and I get to watch the new wave of children receive their First Communion, I am reminded of how beautiful the Eucharist really is. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is, as are all the sacraments, a gift of God’s grace and a physical way to understand what is sacred. Holy Communion is a sacrament that originated at the Last Supper where Jesus broke bread and shared wine with his apostles before He was crucified. He presented these disciples with His Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine. During Mass, the bread and wine are consecrated by the priest, thus transforming them from mere bread and wine to the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is different than other some other Christian faith traditions, which regard the Eucharist as simply a symbol for the body and blood.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that, “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’” (CCC 1323). God gave us the greatest sacrifice though His only Son, and the Eucharist is a way to remember this covenant with God. Participating in the Eucharist is to embrace a union with God through His love and sacrifice. Catholics also believe that “Holy Communion separates us from our sin” (CCC 1393). Not only does the Eucharist bring us into intimate union with God, but it also is an instrument for our salvation. The Eucharist restores, strengthens, and prevents us from sin. Through habitual participation in the Eucharist, it is as if we are replacing bad, sinful habits with a habit of unity and love with God. The Eucharist is at the heart of what it means to be Catholic. We believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the Eucharist continually joins us into this great sacrifice. The key to Eucharist is this unity and love.
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Saint of the Issue: Maximilian Kolbe CHRIS CANNIFF Saint Maximilian Kolbe was born Raymund Kolbe on January 8, 1894 in a small town in central Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire at the time. Kolbe experienced a vision of the Blessed Mother during his childhood, which he later described as follows: “That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.” In 1907, he decided to join the Franciscans along with one of his brothers, so they fled their homeland together, illegally crossing the border from Russia into Austria-Hungary to attend the minor seminary there. In 1914, he professed his final vows in Rome, and he chose for himself the names Maximilian Maria, showing his devotion to the Virgin Mary. This same year, his father, who was fighting for Poland’s separation from Russia, was captured and hanged by the Russians in an early skirmish
of World War I. Kolbe earned two doctorates, one in philosophy and the other in theology, in 1915 and 1919 respectively. While studying for these degrees in Rome, he witnessed extreme protests against the Church by Freemasons who distributed vitriolic pamphlets and hung images of Lucifer defeating St. Michael under the windows at the Vatican. Galvanized by these demonstrations, he formed a Marian organization known as the Militia Immaculata to work for the conversion of souls, especially those of enemies of the Church. Following his priestly ordination in 1918, he returned to Poland, founding a monastery and seminary, broadcasting a radio show, and publishing a top-selling Catholic periodical. During the 1930s, Kolbe moved to Japan and spent six years there doing much of the same work that he had done in Poland. The monastery that he founded outside of Nagasaki remarkably withstood the atomic bombing of August 1945. Upon the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Kolbe’s Poland was the first to suffer at the hands of the Nazi regime. He secretly sheltered countless refugees at his friary, including nearly 2,000
Jews. The Gestapo arrested him in February 1941, and they sent him to Auschwitz where he was known as prisoner 16670. In the first summer of his captivity, a few men had escaped the camp. Attempting to reassert their authority, the SS decided to choose 10 men for death by starvation to stress the seriousness of disobeying the camp’s leadership. One of the men chosen to die broke down and wept for his wife and children. It was then that Kolbe stepped forward and offered to take this man’s place. Waiting for death in the cell, Kolbe celebrated Mass for the others condemned with him. They also sang hymns of praise to God. After two weeks, only Kolbe survived. Bothered by his placid serenity and relentless clinging to life, the Nazis injected him with carbolic acid thus ending his heroic life.
Conversion: Beginning the Journey ASHLEY BROWN Religion. Faith. God. These three words, formerly unfamiliar and distant, have begun to be infused for me, with meaning and significance. This progression, in my understanding of these words, in addition to a myriad of other associated words, symbolizes my developing relationship with religion. My initially detached view of religion has opened into a journey toward becoming a member of the Catholic Church. During my childhood, religion was never a central focus of my family. Entering a religious space on Sunday or saying grace before dinner with a friend’s family was a foreign concept that did not hold significant meaning to me. Additionally, the occasional Sunday worship service at a church of the United Church of Christ or time spent at Vacation Bible School briefly permeated my life but never guided my identification with a certain religion or set of religious beliefs. I was never admitted into the Christian Church through baptism, and I did not adopt the religion of my parents. This being said, I never felt that the absence of religion in my life had any affect on the way in which I lived. For me, organized religion was seemingly not something that needed to be a part of my life in order to be a “good” person. After accepting my admission into Boston College, a Jesuit Catholic university, I was unsure how my relationship with religion would be affected given the distance between religion and myself grown from my thirteen years of public school education. My choice to attend Boston College was not heavily influenced by its Catholic identity, and I was not entirely sure what it meant to be a Catholic. However, I undoubtedly knew that my understanding of religion would change as a consequence of the required core theology courses and as a result of the environment into which I would be immersed. During my first year at Boston College, I was exposed to the Bible in my Western Cultural Tradition seminar and attended a few lectures given by notable members of the Catholic Church. Despite my immersion in Catholicism, I still felt distanced from religion. Religion was, for me, associated with the academic exercise of writing essays stripped of personal views, in addition to attending lectures on religious topics without a true personal connection to the subject. This relationship with religion would continue throughout the majority of my time spent at Boston College. The turning point in my narrative, although still occurring, has its gen-
esis in two friendships that have proved exceedingly influential in the development of my relationship with religion. Initially, whenever discussions between these two friends, one Catholic and the other Lutheran, focused on religious concepts, I would immediately tune out the conversation out of confusion regarding the ideas being expressed. However, frustrated with my confusion, I began to listen, to question, and to learn from these individuals. It was through discussions with these friends that I began to construct a personal connection with religion and religious faith. As an aspiring family physician, an integral result of my relationship with these two friends resulted in my questioning of the association between religious faith and the practice of medicine. Medicine, in my mind, is too often associated with the impersonal diagnosis and treatment of disease and the unfeeling study of biological and biochemical concepts. Therefore, since it is in the nature of family medicine that strong connections between doctors and their patients are made, I feel that the development of my own faith is essential for providing the best care for my future patients. The infusion of faith with the study of science and the practice of medicine will allow me to become a physician not only knowledgeable in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, but also able to develop meaningful connections with my patients during the process. The development of my relationship with religion stands, as of now, in my decision to become a member of the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. My relationship with the events, people, discussions, and views that I have thus narrated informed my decision to pursue this journey and continue to grow in my religious faith.
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Flannery O’Connor and the Last Who Shall Be First MARINA MCCOY “....they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.’ “ (Mk. 9:35) Jesus’ idea of the “last being first” is often sentimentalized. We can sentimentalize the child—at least until we become parents and see them struggle through the terrible twos! We can sentimentalize the “poor” and all that they seemingly lack—until we build relationships with those we had called “poor” and recognize both their complexity and our own poverty. We can sentimentalize the saints and forget that they had the same kinds of human struggles and foibles as the rest of us. Flannery O’Connor once noted about her fiction, “All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.” An example of grace working on the unwilling is found in O’Connor’s “Revelation,” which primarily takes place in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Its main character, Mrs. Turpin, spends much of her time judging. She judges other people’s shoes: the well-dressed lady’s suede shoes, the practical shoes of a Girl Scout, or the slippers of the “white trash” mother. She spends her time actively naming classes of people: the “colored people”; the “white trash,” the home-owners and land-owners, in which she locates her own family, and the rich. It’s clear quite early on in the story that Mrs. Turpin finds her own sense of security and identity in placing herself above other groups of people. Eventually, her sense of security is disrupted in small ways, moments where we see grace start to creep in. For example, she considers the case of a black, land-owning dentist who thwarts her social expectations. She stays awake at night, struggling with whether she would rather be black, white trash, or ugly, and though part of her struggle comes from her racism and classism, a sliver of the struggle comes from recognizing that a good part of the world does not fit into her categories at all. Eventually, Mrs. Turpin is even smacked with grace, when she is hit in the head with a book thrown by a crazed young girl, who then chokes her and insults her, calling her a “warthog from hell.” The strange grace of the story is that Mrs. Turpin struggles between rejecting the label of the girl and delving more deeply into her sense of anger. When she goes to take care of the hogs behind her house, she angrily rejects the idea
of being called a warthog and yet wonders if some aspect of it might be true. Eventually, she cries loudly across the field, “Who do you think you are? “ and finds that the same question is echoed back to her. Listening to that echo leads her to a revelatory insight. She envisions a procession into heaven. The first ones entering heaven are the “white trash” and black people that she had always disparaged, followed by “batallions of lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs.” At the very end of the parade into heaven are people she recognizes as being like herself and her family: white, middle class people who follow the rules as she sees them. “They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they always had been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away.” Mrs. Turpin discovers that God’s grace does not work by making the poor rich, making the sick healthy, or the badly dressed wellheeled. Rather, she envisions a God whose grace is one of radical hospitality, a God who has a preferential option to love those whom society struggles to find lovable. The disciples’ problem in the Gospel passage above is not that they do not know the right answer to the question—”who is the greatest?”—but rather that their question is all wrong to start. Like Mrs. Turpin, their starting point is to judge themselves and others. But instead of entering into the conversation about who is better than whom, Jesus stops it. Then, he sits down. Jesus gets down on the ground. Finally, he speaks of reception, of service as a radical welcoming, as accepting people in their reality and neither sentimentalizing them nor ourselves.
Marina McCoy is Associate Professor of Philosophy, specializing in ancient philosophy and literature with a particular emphasis on Plato, the sophists, and rhetoric. Her most recent book, Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford) was published this month.
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Women’s Theological Voices in a Global Conversation ANDREA VICINI, SJ
What would it be like to listen to Asian womA first similar initiative took place during 600 Catholic moral theologians from around en Catholic theologians sharing their theological the last EWA conference in 2011. On that occathe globe. James Keenan, SJ, Founders Professor reflections and engaging in a conversation with sion, five American universities participated in of Theology at Bosotn College, launched both theologians from Africa, Europe, and the USA– the videoconference: Barry, Fordham, Loyola initiatives and made them possible. Then, in the without leaving our campus? It would show the Chicago, Santa Clara, and Boston College. It recent years, CTEWC fostered regional interacCatholicity of our faith. It would further enrich was a simple but successful event. This time, tions: Bangalore and Nairobi in 2012, Berlin in the theological debate with insights not yet suffi- six universities from three continents will join 2013. Forthcoming continental conferences are ciently heard. It would also reveal a commitment the videoconference–from Africa: Saint Augusplanned: in Asia (2015) and in Latin America to promote global interactions in sustainable tine College in Johannesburg; from Europe: the (2016), as well as another world conference in ways without spending limited resources and University of Glasgow in Scotland and the Irish 2018. Finally, a website, a monthly newsletter, adding more travel to our heavy carbon footSchool of Ecumenics at Trinity College in Duband a book series consolidate the interactions. print. lin; from North America: the Catholic Theologi- The EWA videoconference confirms this way of One concrete occasion to engage in such a cal Union in Chicago, Santa Clara University in being theologians and of doing theology that fosglobal conversation is coming soon at the School California, and Boston College. Hopefully, this ters relationality, inclusivity, and participation. of Theology and Ministry (STM). On November list will expand in the coming weeks. Moreover, The Second Vatican Council has inaugurated 15 (11:00 AM-12:30 PM, room 135), the global to stimulate the participation, the papers will be this new season of today’s Church and of theonetwork Catholic Theological Ethics in the World distributed, questions from all six international logical inquiry. Many steps need to be made Church (CTEWC) will host a videoconference locations will be gathered via chat, and the three to fully implement it and even more steps are session with the 6th biennial conference of the speakers in Bangalore will answer these quesrequired to further develop and expand the forum of Catholic women theologians Ecclesia tions. Council’s agenda and spirit. At Boston College, of Women in Asia (EWA) held in Bangalore, Why should we bother? Why should we liswe contribute in many ways: in our classrooms, India. EWA promotes contextual feminist theten to what Asian colleagues are sharing? Why in our research and reflection, and with specific ologies from the perspective of those who are should we engage in conversations across the events. For example, on November 12 (Gasexcluded and in dialogue with other disciplines oceans via internet? Our lives are already so son Hall 100, at 5:30 PM), three days before the and religions. The theme of the EWA conference full of commitments and responsibilities that it EWA global videoconference, a panel discussion is “Liberating Power: Asian Feminist Theological seems there is little space for more. Maybe we on “Women in the Contemporary Church” will Perspectives.” should care because the faces, voices, themes, feature three women Catholic theologians from Three stimulating papers will be presented and ideas of today’s theology are rapidly changBoston College: Francine Cardman (STM), M. during the first part of the videoconference: the ing, globally. Moreover, in becoming more aware Shawn Copeland (Theology Department), and Malaysian Sharon Bong will reflect on the trans- of what is happening, we can also participate in Megan McCabe (doctoral student in theological forming power of personal narratives; Kristine the ongoing transformation. ethics), moderated by the vice provost Patricia Meneses will examine deafness and deafhood This theological style that aims at promotDeLeeuw. among deaf Filipinas in light of one of Jesus’ ing participation globally characterizes a growDefinitely, local and global voices invite us to healings (Mark 7:31-37); and the Filipina Jeane ing number of initiatives and, among them, the join insightful conversations with women CathoCana Peracullo will highlight the original theonetworking generated by CTEWC. Initially, two lic theologians. The promise is that our Catholiclogical contributions of Ecclesia of Women in world conferences in Italy–at Padua (2006) and ity will be strengthened and expanded. Asia. at Trent (2010)–gathered, respectively, 400 and Andrea Vicini, S.J. is Associate Professor of Moral Theology on the Ecclesiastical Faculty at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, specializing in theological bioethics. A native of Italy, Fr. Vicini holds an M.D. from the University of Bologna and an S.T.D. from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy. He also holds two degrees from Boston College (S.T.L. and Ph.D.). He began teaching at BC in 2009 as the holder of the Gasson Chair, and he joined the faculty at the STM the following year.
SENIOR STAFF COLUMNS
Journey to the Top NATALIE YUHAS Over Columbus Day weekend, I had the opportunity to go to New Hampshire with Boston College’s Outdoor Club. We drove to White Mountain National Park and spent the day hiking up Mount Osceola. Before this point, I had considered myself a fairly outdoorsy person; I live next door to the Cleveland Metroparks South Chagrin Reservation and spend many summer days hiking, biking, and river-walking around there. As we pulled into the park, however, I came to the crippling realization that the land in Ohio is incredibly flat and hiking in New Hampshire may have been a bit of an ambitious endeavor. Needless to say, I was the diva of the group. My lungs were on fire and I was ready for a lunch break within fifteen minutes of starting our trek up Mount Osceola. I just kept thinking, “I’m not going to make it to the top of the mountain. I’m definitely not going to make it to the top of the mountain.” I was so focused on moving forward at the speed of the rest of the group and on making it to the final destination, that I failed to appreciate the beauty of the journey. When we finally did stop for water, I was able to sit and look around. I was absolutely amazed at how gorgeous the scenery was. There were miles of pine trees as far as you could see, which made the crisp air smell just like Christmas and the rocks were precariously stacked
with small streams running between the jagged edges. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t believe I was seeing something so amazing with my own eyes. At that moment, I couldn’t even imagine how incredible the view from the top of the mountain would be, if just this insignificant spot along the trail was enough to take my breath away. Reflecting on my experience of hiking up my first mountain, I thought of the connection between the physical journey I took that weekend and the spiritual journey I am constantly on. Often times I find myself too focused on the end goals: I need to get my work and obligations out of the way during the week so that I can relax and enjoy the weekend. I need to go to class and take exams because I want to graduate, get a job, and start my life as an adult. I go to mass even though I have a million things to do because I want to be a good Catholic and go to Heaven. There is more to the journey, though, than just the final destination. God has made the hike to the top of whatever mountain you are climbing beautiful if you just stop to appreciate it. I am able to find God in the simple, beautiful moments of everyday that let me know that I am going to make it to the top of the mountain. I am definitely going to make it to the top of the mountain.
Senior Staff Columns
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Pope Francis and the Unification of the Church ETHAN MACK I absolutely love Pope Francis. I know that is a popular sentiment to express right now, but I nonetheless truly mean it. Reflecting back on his first six months, I honestly don’t think there could be a better man to lead the Church at this point in time. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan put it recently, “This man is batting a thousand!” I have been blessed enough to see him several times in Rome, and each time I am struck by the utter joy that radiates from the man. Several months ago during the papal conclave, I wrote a piece concerning how frustrated I was about the secular media’s constant attempt to paint the church as a political entity, with right and left wing factions vying for doctrinal control. This was published in our September issue. As they explain it, so called “right-wingers” are only concerned with liturgical purity and moral teachings, whereas so called “lift-wingers” are only concerned with helping the poor. I attempted to show (and hopefully I succeeded) that this is ultimately a false dichotomy that fails to grasp the complex nature of Catholic theology and tradition. I think what I love most about Pope Francis is that he is working to end this false dichotomy once and for all. Since his election, the Holy Father has been recognized for his deep love and concern for the poor. He has talked extensively about the dangers of excessive free market capitalism and how it can have a negative impact on the poorest in a society. This, along with some of his off-the-cuff
comments on homosexuality, has caused many to conclude that this pope is in the “left-wing” faction of the Church. They will usually illustrate this by pointing out how different he is from the “right-winger” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The problem with this idea is that it is simply not true. I may be very grateful for Francis’ papacy, but that does not mean I love Pope Benedict any less. Pope Benedict is, I believe, a genius who understands more about Christianity then perhaps any other living person; however, he struggled to reach certain groups of people that Francis has thus far succeeded at reaching. Francis has done nothing to dilute or soften Catholic teaching, rather he is presenting Catholic teaching as it actually is. How many people do you think knew the Catholic teaching about the dignity of all persons including homosexuals before Pope Francis came along? Probably not very many. It was widely believed that the Church “hates” homosexuals, which Pope Francis has shown has never been the case. This is reminiscent of a quote by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church which is, of course, quite a different thing.” The pope is trying to present the Catholic Church to the world for what it is, not what people misconceive it to be.
On the other side, the pope has been frequently attacked and criticized by many of the so called “right-wing” bloggers and commentators. They claim he is trying to undo all that Pope Emeritus Benedict did and will thus reopen the “hermeneutic of rupture.” This view is equally false. The Holy Father is not working against Benedict; he is taking the theology of Benedict and putting it into practice. He does not constantly address the “hermeneutic of rupture” because he knows that that matter has already been settled by his two immediate predecessors. I believe Pope Francis is trying to move on from the strife and disagreement that has been typical of the post-conciliar period. In other words, he thinks it’s time to stop talking about how to interpret Vatican II, and instead start acting according to it. The pope is currently presenting the fullness of Catholic Truth. He is constantly showing compassion and mercy yet without abandoning the truth found in Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, as taught by the Church Magisterium. By doing this, he is displaying how we should not accept half of the Catholic tradition, which is what this right/left dynamic calls for, but rather we should embrace the whole of what it means to be Catholic. This pontificate will ultimately work to unify the Church, and that is something everyone should be able to get behind.
Guidepost: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff NIKKI ELLIOTT Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. - Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV) “What a day,” I yawned to myself as I got home late one night from studying. I looked at the clock and groaned at the thought of waking up again in four hours. Scrambled eggs seemed like the easiest dinner option before heading to bed. I quietly tried to dislodge a frying pan from the mountain of drying dishes without waking my five roommates who were asleep upstairs. Despite my meticulous efforts, the entire contraption of kitchenware collapsed into the sink. Why couldn’t we ever just put the dishes away? I grabbed the pan I had first been trying for and shuddered at its current state, it looked as if Edward Scissorhands was let loose on my favorite pan. Did my roommates not know you can’t use metal, let alone a serrated knife, on non-stick pans?! I tried not to get frustrated, but the list of annoyances grew in my head: the clutter in
the living room, girls’ makeup strewn across the bathroom sink, missing house keys, sticky counter tops, unfilled work orders, the unnerving amount of times the freezer gets left open, the mysterious odor wafting from the mini fridge, our mod’s lack of a formal cleaning schedule, the list went on… Later that same week, I came across a short devotion by a woman trying to see past her husband’s sloppy habits. She had two options, either live in happiness with a sometimes-frustrating husband or live in sparkling cleanliness alone. I immediately thought about my own living arrangement and realized that I too had these same options, live in happiness in a sometimes-messy mod with my roommates or live in a clean single dorm room by myself. From this perspective, a mountain of dishes and a scraped up frying
pan seemed incredibly insignificant. I would not trade the movie nights, spontaneous dance parties, wardrobe-sharing, cookie-baking, pillow talks, and family dinners with the girls who have become like sisters for anything. I clearly needed a reminder of what things in my life are important to focus on and what things can stand to be overlooked. Today, when our mod gets a little disorganized or the dirty dishes pile up in the sink, I try to elbow past annoyance and choose gratitude instead. The six of us may be prone to untidiness, but an untidy mod carries a certain appeal when you get to live there with such amazing friends. Lord, thank You for the unexpected ways You remind me of what is truly important in life.
Senior Staff Columns
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Protestant Perspective: When the Reformation Started (Sort of…) MARK HERTENSTEIN With the feast of the Reformation quickly approaching for those like me, I think it would be good to revisit what exactly happened on October 31, 1517, in a small city in Saxony with regards to a monk who was a little known professor at a new, obscure university. Martin Luther had a tumultuous decade beginning in 1505, when he entered the Augustinian order at Erfurt after he promised to St. Anne that he would devote his life to the Church if she would preserve him in a dangerous thunderstorm. He had frequently spent hours in confession, sometimes multiple times per day, without relief. For Luther, sin was real and should weigh heavily on the believer, but it literally weighed him down to the point of despairing even of God’s mercy at times. He later wrote that he didn’t love God, but hated Him. He later recorded that he physically strained himself as a result, sleeping with no blankets in the winter, going without food on numerous occasions, and at one point almost dying from the strain he induced on himself. At the behest of his superior and father-confessor, Johann von Staupitz, Luther was trained at the University of Wittenberg and became a professor of Scripture there. It was also Staupitz who first counseled Luther to comfort himself by looking to Christ crucified rather than Christ the judge. Luther struggled through his own material trying to solve his own problem until he had a breakthrough in the period beginning in roughly 1515 and ending in 1518. His “tower experience” occurred as he read Romans 1:17, “the righteous shall live by faith.” He would later say that with those words he felt that the gates of Paradise had opened and he had entered into it. This verse indicated to Luther that it was precisely not by the works of man, to which he had grown accustomed in the monastery, that save, but God’s work in Christ on the cross that was present in
faith. Man could not add anything, for it had already been done. That was Luther’s comfort and his theological insight. This would dominate Luther’s theology for the rest of his life. But it must be emphasized that this was an entirely private and academic affair for Luther, never public. Until October 31, 1517. What brought it to public recognition were the events surrounding the eve of All Saints Day in 1517. A famous indulgence seller, Johann Tetzel, O.P., was in Saxony. He was known for his over-the-top manner of selling indulgences. It was also known that this indulgence was given specifically to pay for a purchased archbishopric and the expenses of Rome, expenses thoroughly detested in Germany by rich and poor alike and a frequent subject of grievances by the German princes. At the same time, an indulgence had been granted for viewing the renowned collection of relics of the prince of Saxony, Frederick III (who would later defend Luther), in Wittenberg. What Luther saw was an opportunity to call out the corruption of the indulgence. He also believed that he should relieve the burdened consciences of the people, who perhaps experienced the burden of religion he himself had felt at one time, as well as to provide them with true liberating faith and hope. He promptly wrote the 95 Theses for a disputation, sent copies to his superiors, and nailed a copy to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. That was not at all an unusual move, as the doors of the church served as a sort of notice board. The notion of a dramatic arrival at the Castle Church to nail the Theses to the door as people looked on awestruck is a later fabricated notion. It could have and should have played out simply as a fizzled-out academic debate, which it initially was. The debate Luther wanted to hold never happened. Had anyone paid attention to
his points, it could well have resulted in a clearer idea of indulgences that got rid of the corruption. Of course, had the practice never have arisen, no corruption or suspect theology would have been around for Luther to rail against on the Eve of All Saints in 1517. Yet even with such a practice, there was no real reason for the eruption that soon took place as a result of Luther’s rather innocuous (even by modern Catholic standards) complaints. But through a series of unusual historical events, exactly the opposite happened in the wake of that October day. It is lost on us today that there was no drama, no sense of importance, really no sense of rebellion on October 31, 1517. This obscure Augustinian monk was only concerned that the Gospel of freedom through faith in Christ’s work would be taught to the masses. He was only concerned about faith in Christ crucified and risen. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. He was concerned very little with the ecclesiastical controversy and aloof of it in some ways. It is said that, based on his own letters from 1517-1521, he was more concerned with filling a chair in Hebrew at the university than the machinations in Rome investigating his writings. He truly had a one-track mind, and it unfortunately resulted in his being unaware of the situation and others’ misinterpreting him. All of that being said, I don’t celebrate much on the feast day of the Reformation. As an aside, the day itself is not the most accurate – Luther’s rediscovery that launched his theological project can’t be dated. But it is a day to reflect on and mourn the unfortunate historical events that have caused schism, to pray for wisdom and guidance through difficult ecclesial challenges, but also to celebrate the personal discovery of the righteousness of faith by Luther that became a world-changing idea – that man has been totally freed from sin by the God who was crucified.
Senior Staff Book Recommendations Chris Canniff // The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
Ethan Mack // Fahrehnheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Nikki Elliott // David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell
Katie Rich // The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Mark Hertenstein // The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Natalie Yuhas // The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Senior Staff Columns
Letter to a Non-believer CHRIS CANNIFF Dear friend, You raise such interesting and varied points in your articulation of the problem you have with believing in God. I think a broad and encompassing answer can be found which will cause you to rethink each of your objections. You shall come to see that what I have to say speaks in some way to each point, and what you will certainly realize is this common thread running throughout all of my responses – love. Firstly, you say that religion is simply irrelevant to the lives of people in today’s world. This claim stupefies me. How could the question of God ever be irrelevant in the lives of people of any generation, of any age in human history? For when I speak of God, I am speaking of ultimate reality; I am speaking of ultimate Mystery. I certainly do not mean by the word God a supreme being. God is neither first nor best among all beings because God transcends the category of beings. The fact that that which we call God is not merely one thing (albeit the best) among many, but rather that Mystery which undergirds all that exists makes God of inextricable relevance to anyone who does exist, i.e. all people, for God is the ground of our contingent being. I cannot deny that people in our times have certainly lost a taste for God, but God still remains relevant. People have lost their taste for God and, therefore, fail to understand the relevance of God because they misunderstand what is meant by the word. I want to tell you quite plainly that I am speaking of Mystery as I explained above; God is that which, by definition, we do not comprehend. You also say that science makes impossible God’s direct and intimate involvement in human lives. What you fail to see, however, is that a qualitative difference exists between scientific knowledge and theological knowledge. Scientific knowledge explains the workings of objects and events that can be empirically and measurably observed. Theological knowledge, being rooted in philosophy, seeks after ultimate causes. The question of God lies entirely outside that scientific purview and is instead within the bounds of the philosophical. In the Christian tradition, we are told that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love cannot be known empirically; it cannot be measured and quantified, but surely you would not contend that love, therefore, does not exist. Further, you claim that religion and its adherence to a belief in God destroys, oppresses, and belittles people. This is not so when Christianity is properly understood and properly lived. What I mean to say is that religion, of its nature, is not as you describe. The Christian call to love, to effectively will the good of the other is at the heart of the “do’s and don’ts” with which you take issue. Freedom is not sapped, rather people are invited to partake in the ultimate Mystery that is God by loving others, by very actively and very concretely choosing to aim toward bringing about the good of the other as other, perhaps even forgetting one’s own self in the process. The so-called “do’s and don’ts” flow from desiring the other’s good, and of course one always retains the freedom not to do this. And so religion does not belittle people, treating them like children; rather, it is calling upon them to immerse themselves in Mystery. Immersion in Mystery is the essence of belief. You also think that mature people deal with life on their own and that religious people hide behind God for comfort, but the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament to which Christians ascribe show a God who has a disruptive quality. Your Freudian understanding of religion being a mere feel-good experience is not so; even the Christian epistles of the New Testament tell us that “we have not here an abiding city, but we seek one that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Although there is surely always hope, we are still faced with the reality that our earthly existence is woven of exigency. Your last set of claims – that all this talk of religion and God distracts from helping others and being good – is unfounded because God’s existence is what allows us and compels us to love others. Nietzsche is brilliant for his honesty, for he acknowledged that without God there are no grounds for self-effacing love; moreover, he thought that was a very good thing because he saw this unique kind of love (and all other Christian virtues that emanate from it) as slavish. Modern non-believers, such as yourself, want to have it both ways. You want God out of the picture, but you still want to argue a select segment of the moral law which flows from no other source but God. Rather than distracting from doing good, religious faith is what motivates people toward doing good. It is, in fact, a gift from God for us to be able to give ourselves away in love. I will not “get over” my belief in God, as you say, because without God, without ultimate reality and Mystery, how could I know what it truly means to be? He infinitely empties himself for each that we might experience for ourselves that self-emptying, that giving of the self. God once created me and now holds me in being. In him lies my existence and the meaning which begot it. Your dear friend, Chris
Viaggio a Roma: Embracing Life with Franciscan Hearts KATIE RICH
When Thursday night comes to John Cabot University in Rome each week, it brings with it an excitement similar to one which children experience just before Christmas. Students bustle through the darkening streets of Trastevere, running into friends with arms full of duffel bags and train tickets, shouting a hasty exchange of weekend destinations. Everyone is going somewhere, and even those who stay in Rome are still in Rome. The city is caked in so many layers of history that students studying abroad can only hope to have tackled part of it by the time they are forced to leave at the end of the semester. I have been blessed to have travelled nearly all of my weekends in Rome, with day trips to nearby smaller towns and full weekend trips to further places with more sights to see. Four weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Assisi with three great friends, and had possibly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. This past weekend, my parents kicked the American dust from their shoes and flew over to meet me, and we returned to the town that has quickly become one of my favorite places on earth. Assisi is famous first and foremost for its beloved son, St. Francis. Unlike perhaps any other place in the world, the entire town is centered on the life and death of this great man, along with that of his good friend and follower, St. Clare. Ancient Roman city walls encircle winding medieval
streets that meander their way up the side of a mountain. Tourists are kept busy running from beautiful church to beautiful church, as each has its own history and offers its own addition to the lives of these two saints. What makes this city so powerful, however, is not the architecture or the beautiful Umbrian countryside it is nestled in, but instead the man behind it all. The very air seems perfumed with the Franciscan motto of “peace and goodness”, and pilgrims from around the world can’t help but breathe it in as they walk the streets and venerate the shrines. Pope Francis, too, was one of these pilgrims, as he visited Assisi for the first time on October 4, in honor of his namesake’s feast day. The town was drenched in banners and flags in anticipation of grandly welcoming the pope and hearing what he had to say about the man who renounced his family’s wealth and the comforts of the world to live a life in devotion to the poor and in imitation of Christ. Pope Francis made several speeches throughout the day, oftentimes setting aside his prepared text and speaking from the heart. In his homily, the pope said St. Francis teaches us “that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him.” It is through our relationship with Christ, our acceptance of His perfect love for us and our perpetually inadequate love for
Senior Staff Columns
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
Him, that we experience the peace and goodness that Francis preached and that reigns free in the streets of Assisi. Earlier in the day, as he stood in the room where St. Francis famously stripped off his clothes in front of his father and the bishop in a dramatic showing of his renunciation of wealth, Pope Francis encouraged all Christians to reject worldliness, to “pray for the grace that the Lord will give all of us the courage to strip off the spirit of the world, the cancer of society.” It is by no means easy to heed the pope’s words, to confront the materialistic nature that lurks in each of our hearts. However, Pope Francis makes a grand point when he asked rhetorically, “What does Saint Francis’s witness tell us today? What does he have to say to us, not merely with words – that is easy enough – but by his life?” We can apply the same logic
to ourselves. It is easy enough to say that we embrace Christ and follow Him. But what do our actions say? Certainly the pope is not asking each of us to strip naked in the quad and renounce our family’s wealth. But, we must ask ourselves if we are strong enough to resist the temptations of our materialistic world and embrace life with Franciscan hearts. For that, the pope tells us, is how we can achieve a life of “peace and goodness.”
The Torch is a Catholic student newspaper produced by members of the Boston College community that reports on Catholic news both on campus and in broader society and that probes the vast riches of the Church’s intellectual tradition. Taking seriously the values to which Boston College is committed as a Catholic university, The Torch desires an active and healthy exchange of ideas. Moreover, its chief end is to be a tool for the new evangelization, spreading faith in Jesus Christ as a source of conversion and new life. There are numerous ways for you to get involved: news, photography, web design, layout, editing, etc! E-mail email@example.com for more info. Editor-in-Chief Christopher Canniff Interim Managing Editor Natalie Yuhas Senior Staff Columnists Nikki Elliott Mark Hertenstein Ethan Mack Katie Rich Campus News Staff Margaret Antonio Margo Borders Alessandra Luedeking Emily Witsberger Faith Features Molly Holden Ashley Brown
World News Staff Jay Chin Gjergji Evangjeli Elinor Mitchell Business Manager Stephanie Johnson Website Editor Kevin Gleason Layout Editors Jasmine Rebadavia Nick Wisniewski Photography Editor Bianca Dempsey
The TORCH // Volume I, Issue 2
A Few Words from Pope Francis Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning! When we recite the Creed we say “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. I don’t know if you have ever reflected on the meaning of the expression “the Church is apostolic”. Perhaps from time to time, coming to Rome, you have thought about the importance of the Apostles Peter and Paul who here gave their lives to bring and bear witness to the Gospel. But it is even more. To profess that the Church is apostolic means to stress the constitutive bond that she has with the Apostles, with that small group of 12 men whom Jesus one day called to himself, he called them by name, that they might remain with him and that he might send them out to preach (cf. Mk 3:1319). “Apostle”, in fact, is a Greek word meaning “sent,” “dispatched.” An Apostle is a person who has been given a mandate, he is sent to do something and the Apostles were chosen, called and sent out by Jesus to continue his work, that is to pray — which is the primary job of an apostle — and, second, to proclaim the Gospel. This is important, because when we think of the Apostles we might think that they were only sent out to proclaim the Gospel, to do many good deeds. However, a problem arose in the early times of the Church because of how much the Apostles had to do, and that is why they instituted deacons, so that there would be more time for the Apostles to pray and proclaim the Word of God. When we think of the Successors of the Apostles, the bishops — this includes the Pope for he too is a bishop — we must ask ourselves if this successor of the Apostles prays first and then proclaims the Gospel: this is what it means to be an Apostle and this is what makes the Church apostolic. Every one of us, if we want to be apostles as I shall explain now, must ask ourselves: do I pray for the salvation of the world? Do I proclaim the Gospel? This is the Church apostolic! It is the constitutive bond that we have with the Apostles. Starting from this I would like to focus briefly on the three meanings of the adjective “apostolic” as it is applied to the Church. 1. The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the preaching and prayer of the Apostles, on the authority that was entrusted to them by Christ himself. St Paul writes to the Christians of Ephesus: “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being a cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20); that is, he compares Christians to living stones that form an edifice that is the Church, and this edifice is founded on the Apostles, like columns, and the cornerstone that carries it all is Jesus himself. Without Jesus the Church cannot exist! Jesus is the foundation of the Church, the foundation! The Apostles lived with Jesus, they listened to his words, they shared his life, above all they were witnesses of his Death and Resurrection. Our faith, the Church that Christ willed, is not based on an idea, it is not based on a philosophy, it is based on Christ himself. And the Church is like a plant that over the long centuries has grown, has developed, has borne fruit, yet her roots are planted firmly in Him and that fundamental experience of Christ which the Apostles had, cho-
sen and sent out by Jesus, reaching all the way to us. From this little plant to our day: this is how the Church has spread everywhere in the world. 2. But let us ask ourselves: how is it possible for us to be connected to that testimony, how could what the Apostles’ experienced with Jesus, what they heard from him reach us? This is the second meaning of the term “apostolic”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church is apostolic because “with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the ‘good deposit’, the salutary words she has heard from the Apostles” (n. 857). Over the centuries, the Church conserves this precious treasure, which is Sacred Scripture, doctrine, the Sacraments, the ministry of Pastors, so that we can be faithful to Christ and share in his very life. It is like a river coursing through history, developing, irrigating; but running water always comes from a source, and the source is Christ himself: he is the Risen One, he is the Living One, and his words never pass away, for he does not pass, he is alive, he is among us today, he hears us and we speak to him and he listens, he is in our hearts. Jesus is with us today! This is the beauty of the Church: the presence of Jesus Christ among us. Do we ever think about how important this gift that Jesus gave us is, the gift of the Church, where we can meet him? Do we ever think about how it is precisely the Church on her journey through the centuries — despite the difficulties, the problems, the weaknesses, our sins — that transmits to us the authentic message of Christ? She gives us the certainty that what we believe in is really what Christ communicated to us? 3. My final thought: the Church is apostolic
because she is sent to bring the Gospel to all the world. She continues in history the mission which Jesus entrusted to the Apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). This is what Jesus told us to do! I insist on this missionary aspect, because Christ invites all to “go out” and encounter others, he sends us, he asks us to move in order to spread the joy of the Gospel! Once again let us ask ourselves: are we missionaries by our words, and especially by our Christian life, by our witness? Or are we Christians closed in our hearts and in our churches, sacristy Christians? Are we Christians in name only, who live like pagans? We must ask ourselves these questions, which are not a rebuke. I ask myself as well: what kind of Christian am I, is my witness true? The Church’s roots are in the teaching of the Apostles, the authentic witnesses of Christ, but she looks to the future, she has the firm consciousness of being sent — sent by Jesus — of being missionary, bearing the name of Jesus by her prayer, proclaiming it and testifying to it. A Church that is closed in on herself and in the past, a Church that only sees the little rules of behavior, of attitude, is a Church that betrays her own identity; a closed Church betrays her own identity! Then, let us rediscover today all the beauty and responsibility of being the Church apostolic! And remember this: the Church is apostolic because we pray — our first duty — and because we proclaim the Gospel by our life and by our words.
- General Audience of Pope Francis, given in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Published on Nov 15, 2013