The TORCH BOSTON COLLEGE’S CATHOLIC NEWSPAPER ESTABLISHED 2013
Go set the world aflame!
Volume IV, Issue 5
Wednesday, February 22, 2016
Administration and Students Respond to Muslim Ban ANNALISE DEAL
On January 27, President Trump issued an executive order indefinitely banning refugees from Syria, and placing a 90-day suspension on immigrants entering the country from seven other predominantly Muslim nations. Two days later, Boston College President Fr. William Leahy and other top university officials joined the ranks of higher education administrators who spoke out against the ban. In an email sent out to the entire Boston College community, the
administrators clearly stated their opposition: “We write as senior leaders at Boston College to object to this directive, which has already had disturbing effects on individuals and families” they began. They went on to explain how “Boston College was founded in 1863 to educate the children of immigrants and, like our nation, has gained so much from the presence and contributions of faculty, students, and staff born in other countries.” It is often a forgotten fact that BC was
founded to educate the Irish Catholic immigrants which no other institution would take. But, according to Leahy, it is this fact in part that makes it so essential that we remember the special place we ought to hold for immigrants still today. The letter also noted the way in which the so-called “Muslim ban” directly contradicts BC’s mission as a Jesuit university. The administration reminded the BC community that “the JudeoChristian faith tradition emphasizes the necesContinued on Page 2
Preparing for Ash Wednesday and Lent
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is yet another joyful Catholic phrase reminding us of our own mortality. But Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent goes deeper than this. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, a forty-day preparation for Holy Week, culminating in Easter Sunday, when Catholics gather to bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ. So, why do we celebrate Ash Wednesday?
What is the meaning of ashes? First and foremost, the ashes represent a symbol of our own creation from dust. This reminder of our temporary time on Earth is made visible by the ashes. This is not a time to be fearful though, as Paul reminds us: “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2). Though we may return to dust, an eternal hope in Christ is
palpable, and Paul encourages us to embrace this. Ashes also symbolize our human despair in sin, and the mercy we are offered by God. Ashes give us a visible sign of our need for God’s mercy. When we receive ashes, we hear, “Repent Continued on Page 6
Inside this Edition
WORLD NEWS Pro-Life Measures
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
Administration and Students Respond to Muslim Ban
sity of caring for strangers and those in need” and went on to quote Pope Francis, saying, “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. . . In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest, we will experience that we are already united; it is God’s mercy that unites us.” Following the executive order, the Muslim Student Association also organized a silent protest on O’Neill Plaza to offer a space for students to show their solidarity with those who may be affected by the ban. Professor Stephen Pope of the Theology Department spoke at the rally about the same ideas stated in the letter to the university--that banning refugees from any group of people who wish to enter the United States is not only unjust but un-
Christian. Following the event, Pope stated: “I speak as a theologian and a core value of the Bible is hospitality for strangers and compassion for those who are suffering. How you treat the alien among you can be used as a litmus test for how you are doing overall [in terms of following biblical ethics].” He quoted Leviticus 19:34, which says, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Pope pointed to the political discourse of fear as the primary motivation for policies such as the Muslim ban, saying that sadly “Americans don’t have the ability to distinguish between valid and invalid fears.” In order to combat this discourse of fear, and oppose the actions of President Trump in trying
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to keep refugees out of our nation, Pope noted the goodness of the actions of the administration, calling the university-wide email a “letter of reassurance” letting everyone know that BC is indeed willing to stand on the side of solidarity with those who may be affected by the actions of the current presidential administration. Finally, when asked what students can do moving forward to continue walking in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, Pope offered one simple word of advice: be informed. He said that one of the biggest problems he sees amongst BC students is “indifference and apathy.” He encouraged us to get outside of our comfort zones: get out of our normal cliques and visit a mosque, take a class about Islam, or learn about how to oppose Islamophobia.
“Following the executive order, the Muslim Student Association also organized a silent protest on O’Neill Plaza” Being Reached by the Widow, Orphan, and Stranger EILEEN CORKERY
Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., spoke at Boston College on the night of Tuesday, February 7 before an overflowing Robsham Theater. Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gangintervention program located in the heart of Los Angeles. Established in 1992, Homeboy is now the largest gang rehabilitation and reentry program in the world. Boyle is also the author of the 2010 The New York Times Best Seller, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, a series of parables and essays inspired by his time working in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, known as the ‘gang capital of the world.’ The Boston College Church in the 21st Century Center hosted Boyle as a part of this semester’s programming theme of “Forming Conscience.” In his talk, Boyle argued that in order to be properly formed in conscience, one ultimately must first be rooted in God’s love. Thomas Groome, director of the C21 Center, introduced Boyle to the audience. He said of Boyle that he “is one of the most credible witnesses to the values, to the commitment, and the compassion of Jesus Christ. And in our day and age, I think we are in dire need of this witness.” Boyle began his talk by proudly introducing two of his “homies,” two former gang members from Los Angeles currently working at Homeboy Industries. He then spoke about how his own sense of conscience has been shaped by his encounters with others, especially through his work at Homeboy: “It’s the privilege of my
life how my own heart has been altered and shaped...how the homies have helped me move beyond the mind I have.” He then encouraged the audience to envision a perfect world, one in which there is no suffering, poverty, or marginalization: “To somehow imagine the world that God hopes we’ll create...a community of kinship, such that God may recognize it. How can we imagine a circle of compassion and then imagine no one standing outside that circle? How do we dismantle the barriers that exclude?” For Boyle, that process of conscientiously dismantling barriers begins with the acknowledgement of love— for God, others, and oneself. He invoked Mother Teresa’s wisdom that “we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Boyle also used Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s mantra of a ‘God who is greater’ to describe the “expansive, oceanic magnitude of God’s love for us.” Boyle believes that limited views of God are problematic, because they leave humans yearning for more. They lead to a doubting of the ability of God to intervene in day-to-day life. Consequently, this is what causes humans to turn to sin: “We need a better God than the one we have. Our own arrested development keeps us in this tiny puny God and we want to get to something larger… to the God who loves us without measure and without regret. To the God whose joy it is to love us.” Under Boyle’s reasoning, a pure conscience relies not mainly on religious texts, but instead
on the belief that God’s infinite love will be there no matter what— that there is no reason to turn to sin: “In the end, if you wrap your mind around a God who only wants for us, too busy loving us to have any time loving us to be disappointed, then you would feel no need to steal or lie.” For this reason, interiority of one’s faith is crucial for formation of one’s conscience. It is through the realization of God’s overwhelming love that one feels fulfilled; only then can love be spread to others. Love is expressed through the “core values Jesus took seriously: inclusion, non-violence, unconditional compassionate loving kindness, and acceptance.” Finally, Boyle offered a challenge to the audience in their own pursuit of conscientious living: “I invite you not to go out there and try to make a difference. Don’t. Go to the margins— to the widow, orphan, and stranger— and allow yourself to be reached by them. It feels passive and selfish, but it’s the way it’s supposed to work. In all humility, you go out there and you wait for your guides for where God hopes we’ll end up— in kinship with each other. And, in the end, it is our kinship with each other, our movement, that this is God’s dream come true. It is the only praise God has any interest in.” Boyle’s full talk can be viewed on the C21 website, at bc.edu/church21/webcast. His book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion can be purchased through the Boston College Bookstore.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
Mattapan Takes in PULSE
If the spirit of PULSE could be expressed in one statement, it would be Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” PULSE is a service-learning program that combines classwork with community service. With 55 community partners throughout Boston, students are given the opportunity to learn from people outside the classroom ranging from supervisors at non-profit agencies to marginalized populations in neighborhoods throughout the city. Until recently, however, Boston’s southern neighborhood of Mattapan, a name rarely uttered on campus, had been omitted from the services of PULSE. PULSE began its operations in the spring of 1969, but historically very few of its community partners were located in Mattapan. Working as a summer staff member for the PULSE program, I discovered that there were never more than one or two community partners in Mattapan at a time, and no partnerships with the program had been in operation in Mattapan since 2006. This year, however, saw a change. A generous gift to the PULSE program from University Trustee Robert Cooney ’74 and his family in 2014 presented new resources to expand the program to new levels. New core classes, faculty, and staff were added on and, as of last year, an additional van for transporting students to their service sites. PULSE now has partnerships with three Mattapan-based agencies: Haitian-American Public Health Initiative (HAPHI), Boston Center for Youth & Families (BCYF) Mildred Avenue, and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Mattapan Family Service Center. Normally, PULSE students take public transportation to commute to their service sites, however exceptions are made for a small number
of partners that are further away from BC. Assistant Director of the PULSE program, Shanteri Baliga, cited the new van as a significant factor in developing partnerships in Mattapan, as a commute via public transportation would take longer than most PULSE commutes. But what about Mattapan specifically prompted the thought? “There really were no existing partnerships in Mattapan. It’s a Boston neighborhood. Why not Mattapan?” Baliga explained. For PULSE’s Program Assistant Joane Etienne, the decision to expand into Mattapan was more personal: “I lived there for over ten years; it’s where I spent some formative years,” Etienne expressed. “I saw an opportunity where I could marry my personal and professional goals.” For Etienne, expanding PULSE students’ services into Mattapan was a matter of filling a gap, recognizing that there are limited services in the neighborhood from college students that engage in service throughout Boston. Due to that gap, several of the agencies that operated in Mattapan had no idea that programs like PULSE existed. Leveraging her personal experience and know-how of the neighborhood, Etienne took the initiative this summer to approach HAPHI and BCYF: “I went out one day and I literally just walked in there and asked if I could talk to somebody, gave them my card, and sold them!” The timing could not have been better: HAPHI had been considering freezing its ESL course, and Etienne knew how much BCYF Mildred could use a few extra sets of hands, with both herself and her son taking swimming classes at the agency in the past. The services provided by PULSE students must not be confused as a one-way relationship, however. The goal of the partnership is to promote mutual benefits. Mattapan includes the largest
Haitian population in Boston, which brings with it a large language barrier for the community. PULSE students begin to understand the limited incomes and the host of other challenges that face immigrant populations. HAPHI works to break the language barrier for immigrants by providing ESL classes and other services to their community. A grass-roots operation that has been around the community for years and years, HAPHI provides the essential basics for immigrants to improve their lives. The services HAPHI offers aren’t necessarily smooth or well-funded, but for Etienne, “it’s important for PULSE students to see that level of need and learn how to serve nontheless.” Of course, Program Director Meghan Sweeney had the final say in developing the partnerships. For Sweeney, the primary reason for adjusting PULSE’s partnerships is “assessing what our program needs are, and trying to meet the needs of our program.” The desire for partnerships to be mutually beneficial is always the “number one concern.” That being said, Sweeney acknowledged that “having a breadth of knowledge about the city is helpful for students.” The expansion into Mattapan provides the valuable opportunity for BC students to learn more about a unique part of the city often overlooked, and for valuable services and relationships to be developed in the neighborhood as well. The common theme I’ve encountered in explaining why the expansion into Mattapan occurred is that it was never purely about PULSE itself. “We always want PULSE to be outward facing. We never want PULSE to be about PULSE,” Sweeney argued. Hopefully as these new partnerships develop, PULSE students will discover that they can learn to value marginalized populations in Mattapan above themselves and take that message back to BC.
Boston College’s Pro-Life Club Attends The March for Life BIANCA PASSERO Members of Boston College’s Pro Life Club attended the 44th annual March for Life on January 27, 2017 with close to a million of other pro-lifers from across the country and world. The March for Life is the nation’s largest peaceful protest for human rights. Every year people gather in Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the passing of the Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. Attendance was estimating at 750,000, which is the most out of any year. The majority of the people who attended the March were high school and college students and young adults, as well as many families. Before the March for Life started there was a rally that started at noon at which various speakers spoke encouragingly about pro-life issues. Cardinal Dolan of New York City, Benjamin Watson, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, and Vice President Mike Pence spoke about the his support of the pro-life movement and that the new administration would work to align itself more closely with the views of the pro-life movement. This was the first time that a sitting Vice President attended the March for Life rally. He spoke words of hope, telling of the govern-
ment’s plans to pass pro-life legislation. After the rally, the march started. A group of students from Boston College walked the streets of Washington D.C. with hundreds of thousands of other people holding signs with slogans such as “Pro-Woman, Pro-Love, Pro-Life,” “I Stand for Life,” “Adoption not Abortion,” and “A person’s a person no matter how small”. During the March for Life some people were chanting, others were praying the rosary, and still others were talking to those around them and sharing why they were at the march. The March itself ends at the top of the hill from which a sea of people is visible. The size and energy of the March was enormous and kept even those who had traveled through the night to get there awake. On the next day, Students for Life of America held their National East Coast Conference for high school and college students. The conference included two sessions by John Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute, a pro-life apologist who advised attendees on the best strategies to reach out to pro-choice students on campus. In addition, Casey Mattox, Director of the Center Academic Freedom, offered
his perspective on the rights of pro-life people and groups in college campuses. The afternoon included a number of breakout sessions, including resources on how to start “Pregnant on Campus” chapters. “Pregnant on Campus” is an initiative to aid pregnant women and young mothers on campus. The conference concluded with Abby Johnson, founder of the “And Then There Were None,” an initiative aimed at offering help to workers of abortion clinics who want to leave the abortion industry. Johnson used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic until she changed her position on abortion and proceeded to become a whistleblower regarding the practices inside Planned Parenthood centers. She was joined by another former Planned Parenthood center director, who had quit not long before the conference after someone had put a “And Then There Were None” business card on her car. Addressing the crowd, the former director broke down in tears at being able to escape her job, which according to her contributed to her addiction to alcohol. After this, awards for outstanding Students for Life chapters were distributed.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
WORLD NEWS Pope Francis Convenes Commission for Translation of the Missal
Pope Francis has announced that he has created a commission to review Liturgiam authenticam, the authoritative decree that puts forth guidelines on the translation of Latin liturgical texts into English and other languages. The document was crafted in 2001 with the intention of revising liturgical documents in order to bring them into conformity with Catholic doctrine. It replaced Comme le Prevoit, the Vatican document concerning the translation of liturgical books following the Second Vatican Council. Some of the notable changes enacted by Liturgiam authenticam include bringing back “and with your spirit,” instead of “and also with you.” It replaced the “We” in the Nicene Creed to “I.” It also incorporated the three-fold self-accusations in the Penitential act, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” in which the person strikes their breast three times. Among one of the most contentious alterations was replacing the less authentic phrase “for all” with “for many” during the consecration: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin. Do this in memory of me.” The Vatican has not released many details regarding the commission. Pope Francis has appointed the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche, to be its president. He was Chairman of the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy for 10 years and is said to be more open to questions of liturgy than Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments. Roche has spoken about the new Mass translation in the past. In an address to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in September 2014, he explained, “…the Holy See in its directives opted for a shift of the guiding principle of translation from that of ‘dynamic or functional equivalence’ in 1969 to the principle of ‘formal equivalence’ in 2001.” Formal equivalence seeks to preserve the form in which a phrase is uttered. Dynamic equivalence involves emphasizing the translation of the meaning over the form. Roche noted that over the last 40 years language specialists “have become more
aware that the form we choose for an utterance is itself expressive of our purpose in speaking.” The commission will also focus on the Pope’s role in preserving unity within the Church. Alongside the topic of decentralization, the commission will examine some of the faults which bishops’ congregations have found with the translation, which has been described by some as too rigid and outdated, stemming from a desire for an almost entirely literal translation from the Latin text to the vernacular. No date has been provided for the first meeting of the commission but it is reportedly said to occur soon.
State Supreme Court Rules Against Christian Florist in Religious Liberty Case KATIE DANIELS Four years ago, a florist from Washington named Baronelle Stutzman refused to serve a same-sex wedding, saying her Christian religious beliefs defined marriage as between one man and one woman. On February 16, Washington state’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that said Stutzman’s actions violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws. In its 59-page decision, the court said the case “is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.” According to the court, Stutzman must abide by the state’s anti-discrimination law despite her religious objections because “Discrimination based on samesex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” Stutzman knew that her customers Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed were gay, and had sold them flowers for years, according to the New York Times. She declined to provide flowers for their wedding because of her Christian faith’s definition
of marriage. Washington’s state attorney general’s office informed Stutzman that she was breaking Washington’s law by discriminating on the basis of “sexual orientation” and asked her to stop declining same-sex weddings. When Stutzman refused, the American Civil Liberties Union and the state of Washington sued her. A lower court ruled against her and ordered her to pay a fine and legal costs, which are estimated to amount to $2 million by the end of the case. Stutzman plans to appeal her case to the United States Supreme Court. “Arlene’s Flowers is not required to sell wedding flowers,” said Washington’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, referring to Stutzman’s flower shop. “They are, however, required to sell wedding flowers equally if they chose to sell them.” Stutzman’s lawyers argued that the florist had refused to sell flowers not because the couple was gay but because her beliefs objected to the ceremony itself. “It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen
to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees,” said Kristin Waggoner, senior counsel with the group Alliance Defending Freedom and one of Stutzman’s lawyers. “What the court decided was that now the government has the power to separate me from my livelihood and my faith,” said Stutzman in an interview with the Catholic News Agency. “They’re trying to compel me to design something that goes totally against my personal conscience, and they violated my right to free speech and expression.”
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
Local Organization Protests Trump’s Immigration Order
BRIGID ROONEY Over 900 people, including a group of 55 Boston College students and faculty, gathered at Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain on the night of February 2 to participate in the event “For Such a Time as This.” Sponsored and coordinated by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (or GBIO), the evening was designed as a multi-faith call for social change that emphasized concrete action. Speakers from local congregations and faith groups discussed issues of criminal justice reform, healthcare, and affordable housing in Boston. Leaders from GBIO introduced each topic and framed the discussion by presenting community demands for local government to meet. State and city officials also attended the event, including Massachusetts Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz, William Brownsberger, and Stan Rosenberg, as well as City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Ayanna Presley. GBIO’s proposed several new initiatives, which included reducing solitary confinement for inmates, working locally and nationally to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and appointing local community members to the committee that determines the allocation of affordable housing funds. Event organizers encouraged participants to take action on a wide range of local issues. Upon entering church, each person was handed a “commitment card”, which asked for pledges to continue advocating for issues of criminal justice, healthcare, and housing reform. Suggested actions included petitioning Republican senators about healthcare, attending the Community Preservation Act Public Hearing, and participating in local criminal justice reform meetings with elected officials. The event also offered Boston residents a chance to share their stories with the crowd at the church. Locals recounted their experiences with solitary confinement, losing medical coverage
because of pre-existing conditions, and the struggles to own a home in an increasingly expensive city. Stephen Pope, a Boston College theology professor who joined a group of BC students at the event, described the evening as an example of “Christians, Muslims, and Jews working together out of shared devotion to the common good.” “This runs against those who want us to think religion is inherently violent, irrational, and divisive,” he said. “The event provided a strong example of inter-religious solidarity and how religion can be a source of unity among people from different traditions.”
Trump Pivots Toward Pro-Life Movement QUENTIN BET On February 11, demonstrators protested the federal funding of Planned Parenthood at 220 rallies in 45 different states. “These rallies have sparked a national conversation about Planned Parenthood and whether they deserve the $430 million of federal funding they receive from taxpayers each year,” said Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the ProLife Action League in Chicago and the organizer behind the demonstrations. The rallies to defund Planned Parenthood are just one product of the new presidential administration’s stance on abortion. During his campaign, President Donald Trump claimed he had changed his mind and was no longer pro-choice. He later expressed his desire to defund Planned Parenthood, appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice, and prevent federal tax money from supporting abortion by make the Hyde Amendment permanent. Since his inauguration on January 20, President Trump has already begun taking steps against Planned Parenthood, much to the excitement of many pro-life Americans. Within days of entering
the Oval Office, President Trump signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which requires that non-governmental organizations “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” The policy, originally instated by Ronald Reagan in 1984, has been rescinded or reinstated depending on the political party in power. Many pro-choice Americans have spoken out against the Mexico City Policy, dubbing it the “Global Gag Rule” and claiming that it interferes with communication between doctors and their patients, reduces access to contraceptives, and actually increases the prevalence of abortions. High-level members of the Trump administration also made an appearance at the 44th March for Life, the annual demonstration that marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Both Vice President Mike Pence and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway spoke to the crowds gathered before the March. “March for Life 2017, let me make it very clear:
We hear you. We see you. We respect you. And we look forward to working with you,” said Conway. While the Trump administration has seemingly begun the journey of reversing the effects of Roe v. Wade, many pro-life Americans still feel a sense of unease toward its other positions. Trump has previously expressed support for the death penalty, something that many pro-lifers oppose, and his recent travel ban has led many to fear for the lives of refugees. Despite the tensions caused by a number of Trump’s policies, many pro-lifers are still hopeful that the new administration will be committed to protecting the value of human life.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
CATHOLICISM 101 Preparing for Ash Wednesday and Lent JEFFREY LINDHOLM and believe in the Gospel.” Repentance is a theme of Lent, as we are called to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation during this season. In his preparation for Lent, Pope Francis calls on Christians to celebrate life as a gift, recognize the blinding effect of sin in our lives, and see the Word of God as a gift. He says, “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive.” (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016). Lent is a true beginning for every one of us. We are called to turn to God in His unending love for us. Jesus calls for us to accept the offer of friendship he offers us. We are encouraged to seriously ponder our relationship with the Lord in our lives. Small “conversions” in our day-today lives strengthen our relationships with God and with others. Lent is a time for us to really look into the depths of our hearts and examine where we are with the Lord. Are we open to His love for us, or are our hearts closed off to Him? Do we repent when we need God’s forgiveness? In preparing for the Easter Triduum, Lent rightfully asks if we can recognize our human mortality and turn to Jesus and to God the Father for hope. As we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season, Jesus is with us on our journey. The Gospel reading from the First Sunday of Lent recounts when Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan after forty days of fasting. Here, we see Jesus when he is most vulnerable, forty days of fasting, but he is still able to resist the temptations of Satan. Jesus gives us a template to resist evil in our
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lives, and he guarantees that he will walk with us, even when we are tempted by sin. As Pope Francis said, Jesus is the “faithful friend who never abandons us.” The psalms of Lent give us a message of the necessity of repentance and of receiving God’s mercy. In the First Sunday of Lent, the psalm reads “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned” (Psalm 51). In the Second Sunday of Lent, we sing “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you” (Psalm 33). An overarching message of Lent is repentance, for God is merciful and desires our hearts, no matter what our sins are. Practically, Lent is a season of preparation for the climax of the Church, the Easter Triduum. This Lent, may we seek out God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of penance. May we recognize the presence of sin in our lives, and open our hearts to the Lord. Let us free ourselves to the love of God and meditate on the state of our hearts. I pray that we break the chains of sin in our lives, repent and embrace the message of the Gospel, and allow Jesus into our hearts this Lent, especially as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery in Easter.
Saint Blaise and the Role of the Corporeal ADRIANA WATKINS Here’s an experiment: stop a pedestrian walking down Commonwealth Avenue and inform them that, on a recent Friday, several million people worldwide lined up to have candles pressed on their necks. You may receive some comical responses. As strange as the statement sounds, however, it describes the feast of St. Blaise, celebrated on February 3rd and accompanied by a “blessing of the throats.” Though many of us are happy enough to accept the blessing as an obscure tradition, what do we know about its origins? How much do we know about St. Blaise himself? Asking ourselves these questions can help us explain the cherished custom to that bewildered pedestrian. Christians today are fairly removed from St. Blaise, who was killed in 316 A.D. By this time, the early Church had a long list of martyrs. Though Emperor Constantine had just instituted the Edict of Toleration to outlaw the persecutions, his actions did not put an immediate stop to the killing. Violence against Christians still raged in some areas—including Armenia, where the bishop St. Blaise served and died. It seems strange that the Church could have so little information on someone as notable as a bishop, but this was the case for many early saints. According to Franciscan Media, Blaise’s life was not chronicled extensively until 400 years after his death, and most details of his life were lost to time. We hear that he was a humble man who suffered martyrdom at the hands of a governor. Despite the sparse biography, one legend about the saint remains popular: while imprisoned, a few words from St. Blaise saved a boy from choking on a fishbone. From this episode grew the annual blessing of throats, where we ask the bishop’s protection from related diseases. Even knowing the historical context, it can be hard to appreciate a tradition’s significance. Some may wonder whether the physi-
cal blessing, candles and all, is necessary. Doesn’t prayer alone suffice? Boston College’s Fr. John Baldovin, S.J., says that it does—but that this misses the point of involving the corporeal in prayer. A professor at the School of Theology and Ministry, Fr. Baldovin sees the Church’s relationship with physical objects (like candles, or Holy Water) as helpful for believers. “God uses the things of this world in a very practical way,” he explained. “We’re very positive about God’s Creation.” As human beings, we’re not exceptionally good at rising above our senses. Our passions and imperfections—be they anger, confusion, or even boredom—often keep us from focusing on God. Many Catholic traditions aim at using the senses in a constructive way, and since God gave us those senses in the first place, we may as well use them for good. Think of how many times you’ve found comfort in a hug, a pat on the shoulder, a kiss on the forehead. These were outward signs of a love that reached beyond the physical, but the physical expression did not degrade that love. Even Christ took on a human nature to be with us—if this does not add sacredness to the corporeal, nothing will. Says Fr. Baldovin, “Catholics believe in the tangibility of the sacred.” While the faithful are not required to receive blessings like those of St. Blaise, the Church offers them as aids. These traditions provide an opportunity to observe God’s love in a variety of ways—through verbal prayer, mental meditation, and physical touch. And if you missed St. Blaise’s feast day this time around, don’t worry! There are opportunities every day to appreciate the role of the corporeal in prayer—from Holy Water to Lenten Ashes, you really only have to keep an eye out for the ways in which God reaches out to us through His own Creation.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
St. Valentine’s Day can be a polarizing holiday. Some love it, some find it silly or unnecessary, but few on either side know what exactly it commemorates. In this regard, it bears a slight resemblance to St. Patrick’s Day, a Boston favorite. Just as there’s something holy and a bit mysterious behind the green-tinted beer, there’s something similarly holy behind the hearts and flowers of St. Valentine’s Day. Like any good Christian feast, this one is about love, love of God for humanity and love of humanity to God. Like any good saint’s day, it involves some heroic holiness. According to the limited historical evidence we have, St. Valentine—officially known as St. Valentine of Rome—was a Roman priest who was executed for on February 14 sometime between AD 269 and AD 280 either after an unsuccessful attempt to convert the Roman Emperor, or for marrying Christian couples in secret. While the second reason might seem a little silly from our perspective, Roman Law prescribed strict rules regarding who could and could not marry whom, generally aimed at preserving the integrity of the upper classes. Since Christians did not regard these laws as legitimate and came from all socio-economic backgrounds in the Empire, one particular incident lost to history might have sparked a violent response. If this is the case, Valentine opposed imperial power and married Christian couples in secret despite knowing full well the risks associated with it. For this he was imprisoned. Some accounts describe an earlier incident where Valentine escaped prison by means of a miracle. His case was presented to Judge Asterius, who challenged Valentine to prove his faith by healing his blind daughter. The saint prayed
for her health and she was miraculously healed. This miracle opened the eyes of the judge to the truth and beauty of the Christian faith. He went home and smashed his idols. Then he and his whole household were baptized. As a sign of goodwill, he freed all Christian prisoners including Valentine. Be that as it may, the saint was ultimately sentenced to be beaten to death outside the Flaminian Gate on the northern border of Rome. The place is now known as Piazza del Popolo and features one of the entrances through the Aurelian walls, which was formerly referred to as Porta Valentini. His last recorded words were at the end of a letter to the judge’s daughter signed “your Valentine.” Despite scant historical and hagiographical resources on the saint, he was celebrated in the early Church. Archeologists have uncovered a catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine. In addition, his relics were spread throughout Europe, including some being found in the catacombs of St. Hippolytus in the Via Tiburtina in Rome which are labeled as his remains. His flower-crowned skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Churches in the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Austria, Malta, Scotland, and Ireland. Part of the difficulty of teasing out the story of St. Valentine from the pages of history is the mention of another St. Valentine, Bishop of Terni, who was likewise also martyred around the same time. Several people have questioned whether the two Valentines are really the same person, but the evidence simply does not give us a
clear-cut answer either way. Traditionally, St. Valentine died a witness to the Christian faith united to Christ in suffering. His life and death should serve as a testament that Christian marriage is worth dying for, and that true love is more than just sentiment, rather requiring a true commitment to denying one’s self for the sake of the beloved. In an age that that struggles and often disregards this truth, our contemplation of the example of saints and martyrs such as St. Valentine is that much more important.
SEEK Conference Gathers Thousands of Young Catholics LAURA McLAUGHLIN SEEK is a biannual conference that draws thousands of college students from all over the country to explore their faith and hear from others about what it means to be Catholic. SEEK is a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) initiative that is part of their evangelization mission. FOCUS began as a response to Saint Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization in Denver at the 1993 World Youth Day event. Since then, FOCUS has placed recent college graduates at over 100 college campuses to foster Catholic communities, help Catholic student grow in their faith, and introduce non Catholics to the Church. This year FOCUS hosted SEEK in San Antonio from January 3 to 7 and had over 14,000 people, mostly college students, attend. Every morning begins with Mass in a room large enough to accommodate all attendees. Women and men then split up and hear from their respective speakers on topics specific to them. The women heard from Lisa Cotter who spoke about how the vision of the ideal woman has changed from decade to decade, from the housewife of the 1950s skilled in sewing and cooking, to the hippie of the 60’s willing to “go with the flow,” to the masculine business woman of the 1980s complete with shoulder pads and a graduate degree. Cotter criticized all of these and encouraged the women in the audience to ignore what the culture of the time tells women to be and look to individual women throughout history who have embodied what it means to be a woman of God. On the second day of SEEK, the woman heard from Chrystalina Evert about her rejection of the hookup culture and embrace of chastity. On the third day, former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Leah Darrow delivered a message about women “of whom the world is not worthy” and encouraged them to affirm their strength and beauty, as she did when she stepped away from her unfulfilling career as model for a life with Christ at the center. The men heard from former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, Jason Evert, head of The Chastity Project ministry, and Father Josh Johnson, “the rapping priest.”
Attendees of SEEK had the option of hearing from a series of speakers during the day, including priests, sisters, writers, musicians, and academics. Topics ranged from vocational discernment to romantic relationships to religion and law, to how to get more out of Mass. Many speakers shared their personal conversion stories and faith journeys, and gave practical advice on how to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. What many cited as the most powerful event of the conference was Eucharistic Adoration. All 14,000 attendees gathered to spend time with the Eucharist while waiting to go to Confession in the back of the room. Over 100 priests were available to hear everyone’s Confession before they returned to Eucharistic Adoration. This kind of spiritual experience was new for many, some of whom were not Catholic or were not practicing Catholics and had not been to Confession in years. On the last night of the conference everyone gathered to hear the Oh Hello’s perform and dance with friends. If this conference was anything, it was vibrant: the energy from 14,000 college students so passionate about their faith was palpable. Students mixed with sisters, monks, and priests and heard their stories, watched toddlers stumble around the lectures halls followed by young mothers and fathers, and had the chance to network and speak to representatives from organizations like Catholic Relief Services, World Youth Alliance, and EWTN Catholic Network. FOCUS wants to go about making the world a better place by making individuals better people by bringing them to Christ. At the root of politics, economics, and any problem our society faces is culture, and FOCUS wants to change culture. SEEK is essential to this mission as it brings together thousand of college students who will be shaping culture in profound ways upon leaving graduation.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
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|| Established committed as a Catholic uniBoston College’s Catholic Newspaper 2013 versity, The Torch desires an active and healthy exchange of ideas. Moreover, its ! is to be a tool for the new evangelization, spreading faith in Jesus Christ chief end What’s passion? as a source ofyour conversion and new life. !
Looking for Students Interested There are numerous ways for you to get involved: news, photography,in: web design, layout, editing, etc! Social Media Blogging E-mailNews email@example.comPhotography for more info. World Campus News Editing Web design Layout
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org http://thetorchbc.com
Editor-in-Chief Libbie Steiner Executive Editor Gjergji Evangjeli Business Manager Andrew Breckel Campus News Staff Laura McLaughlin, Editor Eileen Corkery Luke Heineman Bianca Passero World News Staff Katie Daniels, Editor Quentin Bet Sofia Infante Jeffrey Lindholm Brigid Rooney Catholicism 101 Staff Brian Grab Adriana Watkins Culture Staff Niyobuhungiro Godfroid Website Editor Jeff Kelley Layout Editor Lucas LaRoche
Society of Saint Thomas More Eucharistic Holy Hour Mondays 6:00 – 6:45 p.m. Saint Mary’s Chapel
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
Senior Staff Book Recommendations Katie Daniels // Jesus and the Eyewitnesses Richard Bauckham
Libbie Steiner // “Come, Blackrobe”: de Smet and the Indian Tragedy Fr. John J. Killoren, S.J.
Gjergji Evangjeli // The Way to Nicaea Fr. John Behr
Laura McLaughlin // Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
Annalise Deal // The Gift by Hafiz tran. Daniel Ladinsky
Lucas LaRoche // Laurus Eugene Vodolazkin
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
CULTURE Moonlight: A Review NIYOBUHUNGIRO GODFROID
Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight tells the story of a young boy as he struggles with questions of identity and life in Miami’s ghettos. The film and the story stay away from gruesome depictions of the inner city and instead focus on the psychological experience of its main character Chiron. Outwardly, it is a story about a gay black male dealing with issues of sexuality, identity, and manhood. At its core, however, it is a work clearly concerned with a universal feeling of loss and rejection. Throughout the film’s three acts the audience is placed in Chiron’s shoes and sees both the beauty and pains of his life, the audience comes to deeply empathize with a character whose specific circumstances are singular but whose mental and emotional life feel universal. Moonlight is a careful combination and adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In The Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue and Barry Jenkins’s childhood. The men most responsible for the film tell a story of growing up in poverty, in drug-addled neighborhoods and families, and startling discrimination, yet the film is hardly concerned with those depictions. The characters dominate the film, and the external circumstances that deleteriously affect their lives are present but take a backseat to the characters’ emotional lives. This arrangement allows for character development that goes beyond the film viewer’s assumptions and expectations of the characters. The tough and ruthless drug dealer is not just that; he is a complex person whose identity as a drug-dealer colors his character, but ultimate-
ly says little of his internal life. It is appropriate then that Mahershala Ali’s drug-dealing character, Juan, is Chiron’s only guiding force. In Juan, Chiron finds a caring and affectionate friend and mentor—a father figure with faults but one who nonetheless becomes Chiron’s saving grace. Moonlight’s success also lies in its artful visual and audio presentation. It is filmed for the audience to feel and experience the film the same way a child might experience youth. Miami’s lush greenery, sunshine, and beaches are used to surprising effect. The grand and atmospheric images of Miami conjured by tourist expectations of the city are nowhere to be found. Instead, Miami is a kind of self-contained island that acts as a small character of its own. Decrepit homes are juxtaposed with front yards with waving tropical greenery. Moments of extreme intensity are accompanied by moments of graceful calm and tranquility. Jenkins achieves this feat by lacing scenes with colors arousing certain emotions, adding high audio volumes followed by sudden silences in difficult scenes, and emphasizing the actors’ measured performances. In combination, these techniques create a heartbreaking film that perfectly captures Chiron’s difficult reality. The film has garnered rave reviews, both for its artistic vision and for its honest depiction of characters whose experiences are rarely seen on the national stage. Moonlight both represents and humanizes its characters, and it recognizes the real-life characters, beyond Jenkins and McCraney, who inspired the film. By highlighting the social
torments faced by black, gay, and poor Americans, Moonlight strikes a chord that speaks to the struggles faced by a great many of us. It is particularly important that this film exists in light of how little space and recognition Hollywood has given to minority stories. There have been a number successful films that have related the struggles and social oppression faced LGBTQ characters yet this film stands out. Most of these films, like most other Hollywood releases, have focused almost exclusively on the stories of affluent white Americans. Hollywood has rarely taken the time to recognize a character like Chiron—black, poor, mentally and physically abused. It is only in 2017 that the Academy Awards managed to find enough space for Chiron, to feel his experience as worthy of mainstream recognition and acknowledgement. For the first time in the Oscar’s history, a black American is nominated for every category available. Three films featuring black American stories are up for Best Picture and one black director, Barry Jenkins, is a nominee for Best Director. This and similar recognition in television, with hits like Insecure, Atlanta, Black-ish, and Master of None, have increasingly introduced non-white Ameri cans into national conversations. Minority characters have historically been given such limited space in the medium that the existence and success of these programs and films is a cause for celebration. The stories they tell are not simply entertainment, they are an acknowledgement of minority people’s contribution, worth, and belonging.
Drink of the Issue - 20th Century Cocktail This cocktail, shared with members of the editorial board by Greg Thornton of No. 9 Park, Boston, is dedicated to all the Christian Martyrs of the 20th century, including St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Maria Goretti, et c.
Enjoy Responsibly. For those 21+
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
What Neil Gorsuch Could Mean for the Supreme Court ARMEN GRIGORIAN On January 31, 2017, President Donald J. Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge of the United State Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to be the next member of United States Supreme Court. He was nominated to this position by President George W. Bush and has been serving in this role since 2006. Jude Gorsuch’s’ nomination is to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last year. Since Justice Scalia’s passing there have been eight members sitting on the Supreme Court, four of which tend to have a more conservative approach to interpreting the Constitution, and four of which have a more liberal approach to interpreting it. This breakdown of the Supreme Court hold particular significance due to the fact that a 4-4 tie when the justices vote on a case means that the holding of the lower court gets upheld and no precedent is set. This rule has impacted multiple cases since the death of Justice Scalia, and has held up multiple rulings. Judge Gorsuch’s potential impact on the Supreme Court is quite substantial as his vote may be the deciding one on multiple cases. To begin, Judge Gorsuch sitting on the Supreme Court would bring back a 5-4 conservative majority. According to an article published by fivethirtyeight, Gorsuch would, ideologically, be about as conservative as Justice Scalia was while on the bench. According to fivethrityeight, Gorsuch’s voting record backs up this assessment. This could impact many of the cases that have been on hold. Gorsuch could provide the fifth needed to oppose labor unions in California, as well as to block the Clean Power Plan put forth by the Obama administration. However, on various social issues such as abortion, affirmative action, and LGBTQ rights, Gorsuch may have a more minimal impact. This is because on these issues the normally conservative justice, Anthony Kennedy, has taken a more liberal stance, meaning even with Gorsuch there is already a five-vote majority. According to USA today, “Gorsuch has not ruled directly on abortion. In a book on assisted suicide he said “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” That has encouraged abortion opponents, who note that Trump promised evangelical Christians he would appoint judges who oppose the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.” Perhaps Gorsuch’s most well know rulings came against the Obama administration and its requirements that health insurance plans offer contraceptives. He ruled for Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor in efforts
to block this requirement on the ground of religious freedom. The Supreme Court also ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, but since the passing of Justice Scalia several cases had been trying to get brought back to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch would likely put an end to those attempts. Finally, where Gorsuch may have the most significant impact, is in how he acts upon his beliefs about the structure and role of the court system. According to the New York Times, Gorsuch argues that, “judges should take back at least some of the authority they have ceded to federal agencies that enforce labor, environmental and anti-discrimination laws.” Gorsuch also wrote last year that, “laws that permit executive bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that seems more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution.” It is of note that these are not commonly held beliefs on the Supreme Court as the record shows that only Justice Clarence Thomas agrees with him, but the potential impact of this belief is yet to be seen. Overall it appears that judge Gorsuch is a conservative who believes in the power of the courts to make law and in the authority of the Constitution. How exactly these views will play out if and when his nomination is approved, however, still is not perfectly clear.
Silence Explores Themes of Martyrdom GJERGJI EVANGJELI Martin Scorsese’s Silence tells the story of two young Portuguese Jesuits, Fr. Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Fr. Garupe (Adam Driver), who decide to go on mission in Japan after hearing troubling rumors that their mentor and teacher, Fr. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has apostatized from the Christian faith during the brutal persecution in Japan in the 1600’s. The movie is based on Shūsaku Endō’s novel by the same name, which has been recognized as the Japanese Catholic author’s masterpiece. The novel was published in 1966 and discovered by Scorsese in 1989; after reading it, Scorsese was determined to turn it into a movie. The movie starts with Fr. Rodrigues and Fr. Garupe learning from their superior, Fr. Valigniano (Ciaran Hinds), that amid the sudden halt of letters from Fr. Ferreira, rumors are starting to build up that he has left the faith, taken a Japanese name, a Japanese wife, and now lives as a Japanese person. The report deeply troubles the young Jesuits, for whom Fr. Ferreira was both teacher and mentor. Despite trepidation on the part of Fr. Valigniano, Rodrigues and Garupe resolve that it is their duty to go to Japan themselves to discover the truth of the matter and—if the reports about Fr. Ferreira be true—to return him to the faith. Their presence in Japan, however, is fraught with danger. Christianity has been outlawed and—especially in Nagasaki—there is great profit to be made in reporting on Christians. One hundred pieces of silver for a Christian, two hundred for a brother, and three hundred for a priest, as Rodrigues and Garupe find out shortly after landing in Japan. Not only is their very being in Japan dangerous, it places everyone associated with them in danger. Despite this, the two priests find an impoverished but deeply faithful community in the village of Tomogi, whose Christian inhabitants take them in and offer them food and shelter, all the while overjoyed at having access to the Sacraments again. However, rumors of two foreign Christian priests in Japan soon surface, placing Fr. Rodrigues, Fr. Garupe, and all the Christians in Tomogi and nearby villages in grave danger as Inquisitor Inoue
(Issei Ogata) begins to investigate. What follows is a gut-wrenching story of faith in the face of death, of faithfulness and betrayal, which tugs at the heartstrings and brings one face to face with the brutality of persecution and martyrdom in likely the most systematic attempt to uproot Christianity. One of the refreshing aspects of Silence is the fact that it treats both Endō’s novel and the Christian faith with reverent seriousness. One thing which is apparent throughout the movie is the great faithfulness of the Japanese Christians, even though some of them have lived their whole lives knowing that discovery of the Christian identity would mean certain death. On the other hand, the Inquisitor and his collaborators are not presented as merely one-dimensional villainous types, instead showing that their sentiment against the Christian faith comes from concerns that it is merely infiltration on the part of the European powers. Andrew Garfield’s performance as Fr. Rodrigues is brilliant, despite the difficulty of a role where immense inward struggle needs to be conveyed by demeanor and non-visual clues. On the other hand, Ogata serves the equally difficult role of humanizing the Inquisitor with distinction. On the whole, the cinematography is phenomenal and it comes as no surprise that Silence has been nominated for an Academy Award in cinematography. Thematically, Silence is a hard movie to watch. Considering the focus on the Christian persecution, the audience is frequently presented with the full display of the reality of persecution. Moreover, there is no final triumphant moment. The story itself ends in ambiguity and the reality of only a tiny minority of Catholics in Japan today colors the perspective of whether the great suffering of Japanese Christians bore any fruit. Nonetheless, this movie is a must-see for Christians who are interested in blood-soaked history of Christianity in the Far East. For a much more in-depth (and spoiler-filled) analysis of the ending of the movie and ultimately its message, check out “The Fate of Fr. Rodrigues and the Mission to Japan” on The Torch’s website.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
FAITH FEATURES Lenten Ritual LAURA McLAUGHLIN One of the few rituals I have observed for my entire life is not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. This practice often seems strange and even meaningless to many, including Catholics who grew up eating fish sticks for dinner on a few Friday nights in March because their parents told them to, but it nonetheless sets us apart when eating out with friends or conspicuously avoiding meat at a dinner party. Where I spend and how I celebrate holidays, family dinners, and weddings has changed over the course of my short life, but this minor dietary restriction remains. Our society has for the most part dispensed with rituals: Only about half of Americans regularly attend religious services, and in the case of the Catholic Church, the post-Vatican II Mass has been somewhat stripped of ritual. The change to the vernacular and decreased importance placed on one’s aesthetic experience in a church creates a different experience at each parish and as some argue, a less rich religious experience. The words I say during Mass are not even the same as they were when I received my First Communion. This is not a criticism of Vatican II, but a demonstration of how few constants there are in life, even in one’s own parish. Broadly speaking, American life lacks ritual and continuity: Families move, 18 year olds go to college miles away from where they grew up, and millenials in particular love to travel and live “unattached.” Any rituals tied to locations or the people at them can easily be destroyed, as can rituals using objects we’re used to replacing as soon as they start to break down. My family had a wooden ice cream machine with a hand crank. Once a year when we had friends over all the children would line up and wait to crank the handle 50 times each, excited to be part of the process of making the ice cream everyone would later enjoy. It was a ritual that ended when a family of eight (the primary source of labor) moved away and we replaced this old-fashioned ice cream machine with an electric one that only requires the push of a button. Labor and delayed gratification disappeared with the old machine, as did the significance of the ice cream making process. The vague feeling of loss after this change did not stem from nostalgia but from knowledge that a ritual I considered important was lost in the “throw away” culture Pope Francis often criticizes. In Laudato Si the Holy Father characterizes our society as one that often chooses to replace goods as well as people and relationships, rather than repair them. He advocates for rituals such as family dinner and frequent words of kindness among family mem-
bers to ensure that the family never becomes a victim of the “throw away culture” in which divorce and the disintegration of the family is common. What does any of this have to do with not eating meat on Fridays during Lent? Rituals bind people together and help form one’s identity. Sometimes my identity as a Catholic is to be inconvenient to those around me if they are affected by my observance of this ritual. More often this ritual forces me to forgo something I enjoy, something almost unfathomable in our culture where one usually only does so if they cannot access what they want. But to deny oneself during Lent is not to do so for these reasons, but because it is an intrinsic part of being Catholic that allows “good” and “bad” Catholics alike to imitate Christ’s sacrifice and be in solidarity with people who regularly have to go without food, albeit in a very small way. Consumer culture tells us never to go without, but every religion affirms some form of fasting, Catholicism being far more lenient than Islam, which calls for fasting for an entire month out of the year. If I should feel hungry on Ash Wednesday or any Friday during Lent it will be an honor, not an annoyance, to take part in a ritual with millions of other Catholics and to imitate Christ’s self-denial in the desert. Some dismiss dietary restrictions as illogical and arbitrary as there is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating meat according to the Catholic Church, but fail to see the importance of an unbroken tradition and cultivation of the ability to deny oneself pleasure or satisfaction that can be applied in other more explicitly moral situations.
“The Beginning of Devotion” LIBBIE STEINER “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” In a perfectly distilled phrase of just six words, poet Mary Oliver commanded my consideration. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, but I knew that I wanted to know. I knew that it was significant and truthful. There was something about it that made me want to let the words sink into my soul. Upstream is a collection of Mary Oliver’s essays which tell stories of her life as a poet. I am about halfway through the book, wanting to linger on every word. I read it slowly, savoring the wonderful feeling that is reading a book for the very first time. I want to give it the attention it merits. Upstream is the first book I’ve read for pleasure in months. Instead of hurrying through books, trying to absorb as much as I can in the shortest amount of time possible as I often do with reading for classes, I read this one with care, stopping to re-read parts that I don’t understand or that particularly resonate with me. Instead of buying the cheapest copy I could find on Amazon, this book is brand-new, a gift from my parents. I have no agenda with this book; I do not expect to distill a paper or a presentation out of it. I only want its quiet wisdom to change me, as all good books have in the past. I don’t need this book to give me anything, only to be itself and to absorb its truth. I only want to pay attention. Like many of my fellow seniors, it feels as though my attention is being pulled in many different directions. Making plans for next year, trying to spend precious time with friends, and trying to finish my last semester strong academically are
all areas of my life that command my attention. It feels as though I am living my life in the same manner that I read for classes: hurriedly, jumping from one topic to the next, hoping to learn as much as possible, but not really absorbing much of substance. I find myself putting God by the wayside, leaving Him out as I spend my time on other, seemingly more pressing issues. Of course, these pressing issues quickly become overwhelming when I leave God out. “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” This means that to notice something is the first step towards adoration of that thing. If I never stop to notice God around me, how can I even begin to worship Him? I am reminded that though life sometimes seems to be passing by too quickly, I can still find a way to attend to the things that matter. I am reminded to be mindful of God. The more I give in to worry, the more I hear the voice of God telling me to pay attention. Pay attention, He says as I enjoy nights spent laughing with the people who have become my family. Pay attention, He says, as I tell my parents some of good news. Pay attention, He says, as I study in the library. Pay attention, He says, as I sit with a friend going through tragedy. Pay attention, He says, as I wander through the woods. When I notice all of the good that there is in this life, in my life, then I can begin to praise God for that goodness. In acknowledging and paying attention to the good in my life, instead of giving in to worry, I can allow God to accompany me in this time of transition.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
What is Faith?
Earlier this month Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart, spoke at BC. Of all of the wise things he said, it was one of his responses during the Q&A that hit me the hardest. Someone asked him what role faith plays in the recovery and integration of gang members at Homeboy, and he responded first with another question: “what is faith?” What is faith? For those of us who have faith, the answer seems obvious but hard to articulate. It’s more than believing in God and articulating the creeds, but of course there is no Christian faith without our one true God. In Professor Steve Pope’s class Faith, Service and Solidarity, he assigned us this very question as our reflection for the week after Fr. Boyle spoke, along with the invitation to reflect on John 9:1-12. This is the story of Jesus healing the man who had been born blind, and was begging along the road. Upon first reading, I thought this an odd scripture to choose, because nowhere in it is the word ‘faith’ used. I was immediately struck by the difference between this healing story and others in the gospels. Often, Jesus says something to the effect of “your faith has made you well,” to the one who has been healed, but in this situation he says nothing. Yet, it is clearly implied in the text that the man did indeed have faith. Though he does not cry out and ask Jesus to heal him, he does profess what happened to him afterwards to the public, saying: “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight” (v. 11). In the formerly blind man’s account of what happened, he never mentions spiritual powers, or anything else about Jesus besides his name, but it is clear that he has faith. By faith, I mean he has a relationship with Jesus, through which he has experienced transformation. I believe that this is what “faith” is--to know something not on the basis of evidence, but rather on the basis of experience or relationship. After two decades of being marked by baptism as a “Christian,” and three years of studying theology, it is easy to get wrapped up in the questions of what Christian faith implicates. But when I really step back and think about my faith, it is still neither the creeds, nor the work of the councils, nor the logical argu-
ments I have read that convince me that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. Rather, it is the experiences of receiving grace, healing, and the relationship of overwhelming, agapic love. Investigation into doctrine has absolutely been helpful to me in articulating and stretching my ideas of faith, but it has been helpful because it helps to name and explain an experience which I already know, which is the experience of Love. Herbert McCabe says “The whole of our faith is the belief that God loves us; I mean there isn’t anything else.” I would amend this argument only to say the “knowledge” that God loves us. There is nothing impressive or profound about believing something you have experienced was real. The blind man in John 9 is certain of the facts of the matter--that a man named Jesus healed him--because he was there for it. Thus I would claim that to have faith at the most basic level is to know this experience or relationship of love, and because of that to feel the implied certainty that God is real, inasmuch as our experience is happening in reality.
On Lent and Ascesis GJERGJI EVANGJELI
With Lent approaching fast, it is perhaps particularly important to give some thought to the topic of fasting and—more importantly—ascesis. The Church from Her earliest days—as is evident from the Didache—has prescribed particular days and times when one is expected to fast. Why is it that we fast, what is the point of it and what is its benefit? One error which has to be dispelled is that fasting is a Church-prescribed a diet. There have been more than enough people who have argued for fasting because “it’s good to take a break from red meat.” Fasting is not a diet and it is not a Churchsanctioned juice cleanse. This is not to say that it may not produce good results for the body, rather that it was instituted precisely for the opposite purpose, to stop us from focusing on the body. The Church denotes fasting and other similar practices as ascesis, or ‘exercise’ in Greek, referring to the training necessary for an authentic Christian life. Thus, an important caveat is that the point of fasting is not to just eat the “right” type of food. I am reminded of a middle-aged Greek gentleman who was exuberant about his strict adherence to the Orthodox rules of fasting, especially since seafood is always allowed and he had taken up the practice of having lobster at least once a week. The poor man never spent so much time thinking about food, and not about God, as during Lent! Ascesis has two main goals: to help us grow in self-control and to encourage us to exchange the time we gain from cooking simpler meals and consuming less food for more time in prayer. The benefit which these goals bring seems rather obvious, but the depth of wisdom which the Church has on this matter goes beyond the obvious surface.
On a superficial level, it comes as a shock to no one that self-control in general is a good thing and more self-control is always a gain. Being an addict is a tedious and pleasureless activity. In fact, if you want to find out whether you’re ad-
dicted to any one particular thing, resolve to not have any contact with it for a week and see if you can make it through (and perhaps that might give you a better idea of what you should give up for Lent). Because addiction stamps out pleasure, self-control is necessary not only for a balanced and virtuous life, but as the condition of possibility for obtaining pleasure in the first place. The Greek fathers termed the product of an ascetic life as ‘dispassion.’ This word entered the Christian milieu through Stoic philosophy, which
aimed at establishing self-control through extinguishing desires (or passions) relating to the external world. Its Christian usage, however, is slightly different. Discussion on this topic in the East reached its zenith in the storied debate between St. Gregory Palamas and Barlaam in the fourteenth century. Accused that Byzantine asceticism sought the suppression of the passions, St. Gregory responded, “But, philosopher, we have not been taught that dispassion is the putting to death of the soul’s passionate part; on the contrary, it is the conversion of the passionate part from the lower to the higher, and its active devotion to divine realities, completely turned away from evil and towards what is good.” The point of ascetic practice—unlike in the case of the Stoics—is not about curbing desire because it is inherently dangerous. Rather, it is about getting us to realize what is truly important, in the transition from the first goal to the second. Christians affirm that all of creation is good and made for our enjoyment, but we will derive no enjoyment from it unless we view it correctly. We cannot view it correctly unless we exchange our own fallen lenses with God’s perfect ones, which is achieved through prayer and devotion to God. The reason why the Church has placed these practices, therefore, is neither to offer us a diet, nor because She has corporate interests in the fishing industry, but to get us to pull back and attempt to exchange appetite for particular things with appetite for God. Like fine spices, God does not detract from our enjoyment of the world, but rather directs us to enjoy it as He intended, which is to say, to enjoy it fully.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
What Are We Marching For?
It’s a cold and sunny day in late January and the city is flooded with people. Hundreds of thousands of women and men, many wearing pink hats and carrying pink signs, march in peaceful protest through the streets. Young moms push strollers, church groups sing hymns, and students snap pictures of the crowds. Even though many of the marchers have traveled a long way to be here, everyone is cheerful and courteous, excited to be standing in solidarity for a common cause. This is what this year’s March for Life looked like. It’s also what the Women’s March in Boston looked like one week earlier. And that’s where the similarities end. The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. removed a pro-life feminist group called New Wave Feminists as a partner because pro-choice feminists lashed out at the march’s organizers on social media. When the Women’s March released their official policy platform, the document made their stance clear. The Women’s March would support intersectionality for other issues, but “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion” was nonnegotiable. By the time the March for Life had taken place a week later, President Trump had signed an executive order banning U.S. funding of abortion in overseas health programs. He would soon sign another executive order that would halt refugee admissions for 120 days and suspend the visas of citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries, an action that in the U.S. bishops decried as having “devastating impacts on refugee resettlements in the United States.” What’s a pro-life feminist to make of the conflicting messages sent by both our new president and those who oppose him? I keep returning to the image of these two marches, only a week apart. The two marches are like photographic negatives, black-and-white inverses of each other. The Women’s March tried to embrace every progressive cause and focus them on one issue: standing up to the new president. And while the March for Life annually redirects our attention to the issue of abortion, the conversation occasionally seems one-sided, like being pro-life is limited only to being anti-abortion. This where I hope the two marches can find common ground in our polarized political landscape. Mainstream feminists can make room for one more intersection in their many-faceted movement. And pro-lifers can take the Women’s March as a reminder that our own movement encompasses life issues beyond abortion that the president (unsurprisingly) isn’t treating with a consis-
tently pro-life ethic. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion,” said Pope Francis. “When we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” The pope isn’t saying that talking about abortion is bad, only that abortion cannot be discussed alone. As Pope St. John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae, “When life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent.” Many U.S. bishops and Catholic lay people have already spoken out against the president’s actions on health care, immigration, and the environment, an encouraging step toward living the “coherent moral vision” of a consistent ethic of life. But will it be enough? While both the March for Life and the Women’s March were hopeful and positive signs of resistance, in the weeks after both events I can’t say I feel hopeful or positive. The news stories about refugees being turned away at the border or immigrant families facing separation are piling up in my inbox. It seemed like the framework for being consistently pro-life is being inundated with unsolvable problems all at once. I can hope, like many of the marchers’ signs, that “Love Trumps Hate.” But right now, those slogans and signs seem like flimsy excuses for our failure to stop this slew of executive orders harming the most vulnerable among us.
Practical Advice on Lent LUCAS LaROCHE In the ancient Roman liturgy, the time leading up to Lent was celebrated as Septuagesima, a period beginning three weeks before Lent. This period was meant to provide a way to transition into Lent, in which the penitential accouterments were slowly adopted in the Liturgy preceding the official start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Although the Church no longer celebrates Septuagesima since the Second Vatican Council, the time before Lent still provides us with a valuable time of preparation. Although this issue finds you only a week before the beginning of Lent, there is still valuable time to spend in preparation for our penances and pursuits. When entertaining ideas for Lenten penance, we must always remember that the Church requires all her members to abstain from eating meat on all Friday throughout the season (more on this at the end). Additionally, Catholics of mature age are required to fast on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday—This entails only consuming one regular-sized meal (no meat), and two small meals (which, when combined, do not meet the size of a full meal). Virtue does not abide in the minimum, however. We are also urged to take up a private practice of prayer to fortify ourselves during this season. Some may either deny themselves something each day (be it desserts, meats, or some entertainment), or do something additional (such as attending Mass or praying the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary). These penances are meant to train us to deny ourselves so that we may better resist sin throughout Lent, and also at other times. I’m reminded of the Collect from the Roman Missal for Ash Wednesday, which reads:
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. We should be aware, though, that this self-restraint is proper to the Christian at all times. Penance ought not only to be a thing done in Lent, but a part of our daily lives. The Church does, in fact, continue to insist that all its members abstain from meat every Friday (barring a Feast Day), although the United States allows the individual to substitute this for another penetential act. Do penance. It keeps you humble. You don’t need that slice of cake anyways. Lucas LaRoche is a seminarian for the Diocese of Worcester, studying at Saint John’s Seminary.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
eARThproject incorporates still images from NASA global climate models with photographs of environmental degradation and destruction to increase public awareness and education about the intricate climatic processes which control our current global climate. By displaying scientific modeling images as works of art, we hope to draw students and faculty into a greater understanding of the simultaneous power and vulnerability of the Earthâ€™s climate and the ways in which anthropogenic activity is changing the systems upon which we depend for life. These processes occur on such a macro scale it is difficult to visualize how clouds move or how a hurricane forms or how our emissions can affect the patterns of deep ocean circulation, but by presenting the processes as something beautiful to be protected, we can foster a sense of care for our common home. The exhibit will be in Oâ€™Neill Library for the month of March.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 5
@pontifex Take action! Live life to the full! And when others see the witness you give, they may ask: why do you live this way?
I encourage all of you to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of Godâ€™s love for every human being.
Those who do not believe in or search for God have perhaps never been challenged by a testimony of faith.
Let us never place conditions on God! Entrusting ourselves to the Lord means entering into his plans without demanding anything.
Being a believer means learning how to see with eyes of faith.
It is good to know the Lord takes on the burden of our fragilities and patiently gets us back on our feet with the strength to start over.
Let us be close to our brothers and sisters who are going through illness and also their families.
The throwaway culture is not of Jesus. The other is my brother, beyond every barrier of nationality, social extraction or religion.
Those who traffic human beings are ultimately accountable to God. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts.
I invite you to join in the fight against poverty, both material and spiritual. Together letâ€™s build peace and bridges of friendship.
Hope opens new horizons and enables us to dream of what is not even imaginable.
How often in the Bible the Lord asks us to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we too are foreigners!
The dignity of children must be respected: we pray that the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Let us be moved by the Holy Spirit in order to be courageous in finding new ways to proclaim the Gospel.