The TORCH BOSTON COLLEGE’S CATHOLIC NEWSPAPER ESTABLISHED 2013
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Volume IV, Issue 7
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Santa Clara Churches Offer Sanctuary to Immigrants
In the midst of increasing tension over Trump’s immigration directives, cities such as New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco are protecting their status as sanctuary cities. Now, Catholic churches in different states have followed suit by declaring themselves sanctuary churches, or safe havens where immigrants in fear of being deported can seek shelter. Although there is no strict definition of a sanctuary city, these cities usually have a set of
laws curbing federal requests for the sanctuary city to enforce the federal government’s immigration laws. Increasing hostility over immigration to the United States, along with the current Syrian refugee crisis, has encouraged greater dialogue within the Church on how to respond. On February 21 at the Sixth International Forum on Migration and Peace Pope Francis spoke about the current refugee crisis
and encouraged Catholics to welcome people fleeing persecution or oppressive economic situations. He focused on the importance of offering a dignified welcome, saying “A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter.” He also reminded the audience that welcoming those who have fled their homeland is not simply a generous Christian gesture but instead
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The Theology of Chance the Rapper
Like many of my fellow millennials, in the last several months I’ve become obsessed with Chance the Rappers newest album, Coloring Book. I’m not typically much of a rap person, but I am a Theology major, so a friend of mine recommended the album because he thought I would be interested in the lyrical themes of the album. He was absolutely right. I have been fascinated by the way that Chance combines more typical rap themes (“Drinking All Night”) with his deep Christian faith. Chance has discussed
his faith extensively in interviews, and was very public about it at the 2017 Grammys as well, where performed segments of “How Great” and “All We Got” complete with a gospel choir, and began his acceptance speech for Best New Artist with this simple invocation “Glory be to God.” Although Chance’s previous work with The Social Experiment, as well as his first two independent mixtapes, featured significant Christian themes, his third album, Coloring Book, is the most complete narrative of his life and
faith that he has offered to date. The Christian themes in Coloring Book can be divided into two general categories: a theology of solidarity with the marginalized in Chicago’s southside,
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Inside this Edition
WORLD NEWS March for Peace
Promise Movie Review
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Dorothy Day’s Granddaughter Speaks on Catholic Worker Legacy
KATIE DANIELS On Wednesday April 19 Kate Hennessy, a writer and the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren, spoke about her recent biography of her grandmother, Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty. Subtitled “An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother”, the biography draws on newly discovered letters and diaries, as well as a decadeslong series of conversations with Hennessy’s mother Tamar, to portray the complex relationship between Day and her only daughter. In her introductory remarks, Hennessy called her grandmother a woman of “great vision, great energy, and tremendous power.” Born in 1897, in her early twenties Day worked as a journalist for several socialist newspapers in New York City and became friends with other writers and activists like Eugene O’Neill and Mike Gold. After the birth of her daughter in 1926, Day had her daughter baptized Catholic even though neither she nor Tamar’s father was Catholic. A few months later, Day was also baptized into the Church. According to Hennessy, Tamar’s birth was a “transformative experience of gratitude” for Day.
“[Day] saw herself as a journalist” and didn’t intend to found the “houses of hospitality” she would later become famous for, said Hennessy. In 1932 Day met the French peasant and self-taught philosopher Peter Maurin. He introduced Day to the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice. For the first time, Day saw a way to combine her activism and her writing. Together with Maurin, Day founded the Catholic Worker newspaper, which eventually grew to include the newspaper; houses of hospitality that provided food and shelter for the poor; and farming communities that encouraged a return to the land. Hennessy described Tamar as “the first Catholic worker” and much of the biography details how the Catholic Worker movement shaped Day and her daughter’s relationship. Tamar was only seven years old when her mother founded the Catholic Worker. She learned early on to share her mother with an organization that demanded much of Day’s time and energy, Hennessy observed. Yet in the Q&A session after her talk, Hennessy dismissed the narrative that Day was a neglectful
mother. Tamar and Day “had an intensely close relationship until my grandmother’s death,” said Hennessy, describing how the two talked every day and how difficult they found their long separations. “My grandmother didn’t have an indifferent bone in her body about anything,” Hennessy said. “People need that narrative of indifference.” Now, almost thirty years after Day’s death, the Catholic Worker movement is still strong and Day has been nominated for sainthood. In his 2015 speech to Congress, Pope Francis named Day, along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton, as examples of “great Americans.” But for Hennessy, the process of chronicling Day’s life was more personal. “An examination of her life isn’t an intellectual, academic, or theological exercise,” she said. “It’s a quest to find out who I am through her.” As for Hennessy’s relationship with a potential saint? “I’m her granddaughter. She’s my granddaughter. And that to me is sacred enough.”
Veritas Forum Discusses the Seeming Contradiction of God and Science QUENTIN BET On April 20, students sat in Merkert 127 for the Veritas Forum, a seminar that challenges students and faculty to contemplate religious and intellectual matters. MIT professors Ian Hutchinson and Alex Byrne spoke at the discussion entitled “Does Science Point to Atheism?” Professor Byrne spoke in favor of the claim, saying that scientific evidence disproves the existence of God. Professor Hutchinson took the opposite stance, claiming that faith and science are perfectly compatible. The professors presented their arguments in a discussion moderated by Micah Lott, a philosophy professor at BC. As Professor Lott made clear, the forum was not meant to be a debate, but as a discussion to foster intellectual curiosity. Ian Hutchinson, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, spoke in opposition to the idea that science points to atheism. He began his argument with the claim that the natural sciences disprove only certain conceptions of divine power. Polytheistic religions such as Greek mythology sought to explain natural phenomena, and so they described gods as being a part of the natural world. This contrasts with the modern monotheistic idea that God is “the creator and sustainer of the whole universe, not just one of its residents.” Thus, while the sciences can debunk Greek mythology, they can’t disprove the Christian God who “put in place and upholds the natural laws that science discovers.” According to Hutchinson, the Bible is not a science textbook, and treating it as such is to miss its larger purpose. He acknowledged that atheism and science seem to be natural allies, as
only 7% of members of the National Academy of Science report to believe in God, but Hutchinson attributed this to other factors. For example, the National Academy of Science has a strong tradition of secularism, and thus elect members who fit their ideals and may be skeptical of those who do not. Hutchinson also postulated that some academics have become renowned due to “a sense of self-importance contrary to the Christian idea of humility.” According to Hutchinson, many believe the myth that Christianity impeded scientific progress throughout history; in reality, many academic institutions and thinkers of the past were Christian. The myth of the war between education and religion had been fabricated as a part of the secularization of the academy. Hutchinson believes the two coincide, having stated: “My knowledge of science grew alongside my knowledge of God through my graduate studies and during the rest of my career. I believe the Christian faith made me a better person and a better scientist.” On the other hand, Professor Alex Byrne, chair of the Philosophy Department at MIT, defended the claim that science points to atheism. His stance was based on three primary arguments, the first of which he referred to as “lonely suffering.” According to Byrne, lonely suffering occurs when we face pain that is not witnessed by anyone else and that offers no benefit to us in the long run. He referenced the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles: 30,000 years ago a mammoth was trapped in the pits and died a slow, agonizing death. According to Byrne, this is just one ex-
ample of the meaningless pain endured by God’s creatures. If God really was an all-loving, allpowerful being, He wouldn’t allow such pointless suffering. Therefore, logically, there must be no God. Next, Byrne referred to the so-called “hiddenness argument.” He first postulates that “if there is an omnipotent God who is open to a reciprocal loving relationship with competent adults, then they all have an opportunity to accept God’s love.” Therefore, all people should either know that God exists or willfully refuse to accept that God exists. This is not the case, as anthropological studies have shown that some people, such as modern hunter-gatherers, do not satisfy these criteria. Therefore, it logically follows once again that God does not exist. For his third and final argument, Byrne referred to the “argument from uniqueness.” As God’s “chosen ones,” we assume God has a special plan for humans, that He made a definitive contrast between us and the rest of His creation. There must be some relative and sharp division; however, this is not the case, as there is little to distinguish us from our evolutionary predecessors. Since there is no definitive contrast, there must be no plan for humanity and consequently no God. This intellectual dialogue saw two very different approaches toward the implications of science. Does it result in a secular view of the world, or does it offer us an even deeper appreciation for God’s handiwork? Regardless of one’s views on the matter, the discussion was illuminating and thought-provoking.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Rev. Marcel Uwineza Preaches Forgiveness in the Face of Evil at Agape Latte LUKE HEINEMAN We learn from the Gospel of John that harnessing hatred towards others is harmful to ourselves: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11). Perhaps no one was challenged to let go of hatred more than Reverend Marcel Uwineza, who told his story at this month’s Agape Latte. Uwineza is a Jesuit priest and student at BC’s School of Ministry and Theology. He is also a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. In 1994, in a span of 100 days, roughly 800,000 Rwandans were killed in one of the worst atrocities in modern history. Born into a Catholic family in Rwanda, Uwineza grew up hearing a great deal of prayers. He clearly recalled the day of his First Communion in 1987, in which he prayed to Jesus to make him a priest, inspired by the Belgian missionary priests he had met growing up. “You better be careful what you ask” Uwineza exclaimed, as he would be ordained as a priest 26 years later. Before he could explain his story of entering the Priesthood, Uwineza described what it was like to grow up in Rwanda in the days before the Genocide. It was a country, he explained, deeplydivided and “ravaged by ethnicity.” The African nation is approximately the size of Maryland, and is densely packed with a population of about 12 million people. Its two main ethnic groups consist of the Hutu’s at 85%, and the Tutsi at 14%. These people have a “very complicated history,” Uwineza (a Tutsi) said, despite the fact that they all spoke the same language and had been living together even in the days before European colo-
nialism. When German colonialists first arrived in Rwanda, they tended to favor the Tutsis in the region, appointing them to government positions. The Belgians later replaced the Germans in Rwanda but followed the same pattern of favoring the minority Tutsi group. Resources would be diverted in such a manner that Tutsis would receive an education over Hutus, and according to Uwineza, “the Church was not immune” in all of this as they also favored the Tutsis. As the age of colonialism began to die out, a growing resentment towards the Tutsis among the Hutu majority grew, exploding into violence in the 1950s as Rwandans revolted against their government and sent many Tutsis into exile in neighboring countries. They would form militant groups (namely, the Rwandese Patriotic Front or RPF) that attempted to invade the country during the early 1990s. Rwanda was, as Uwineza explained, “a country in turmoil” during this time. The Rwandan government cracked down on the remaining Tutsis in the country, arresting and killing those they suspected of working with the RPF, including Uwineza’s father. Uwineza, coming from a Tutsi family, grew up observing this hatred first hand. In school, his teachers made the Tutsi children in the class raise their hands, and then told the class, “those are our enemies.” For years, the Rwandan government planned to systematically slaughter the Tutsi population, distributing machetes and digging graves. After the president’s plane was mysteriously shot down on April 6, 1994, the Genocide began. “It was a time to kill” Uwineza recollected. His family desperately fled to their local church, hoping to find safety but the parish
priest told them, “I have no place for Tutsi’s here, you go away.” Luckily, a nearby Hutu man named Joseph Kabera snuck Uwineza’s family in, sheltering them in his compound of beehives until his neighbors grew suspicious. In an attempt to find safety in a nearby district office, Uwineza’s mother was viciously beaten by a group of Hutu men. She would later die of her wounds. Although Uwineza found safety, three of his siblings who had fled to their Aunt were slaughtered. The bloodshed and monstrosity, Uwineza said, left him harboring a deep “hatred for the Hutus and the Church.” It took years, but under the care of his Uncle, Uwineza found himself returning to the Church and eventually became ordained as a Jesuit priest, after developing a strong sense of passion for the order. The Hutu man who saved his life, Kabera, attended his ordination. Uwineza also met the man who murdered his brothers and sister while visiting their graves. “Marcel,” the man expressed to him: “I killed them. I was jailed… I am here. If you have some space in your heart, will you forgive me?” In that moment, Uwineza explained that he felt free, as he embraced the man. “Forgiveness leads to freedom” Uwineza told the crowd; he was now no longer chained by the hatred he harbored towards the perpetrators of the Genocide. Uwineza closed by emphasizing the importance of avoiding the temptations to “brand everyone in the same box,” and to hold onto lingering resentments: “There is a positive future once we forgive and move on.” Forgiveness then, is more than a recommendation, but a requirement to living a truly fulfilling life.
Advice from Jerry York LAURA McLAUGHLIN On Wednesday April 19, coach Jerry York spoke to a room of BC students about the role of Jesuit education in his life. York is college hockey’s winningest coach, with over 1,000 wins over the course of his career. He is a triple Eagle, having graduated from Boston College High School in 1963, from Boston College in 1967, and from Boston College’s masters program in counseling psychology a few years later. He has won the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey title five times in his career, four as a coach at BC. He began his talk by emphasizing the role of the Jesuits in his life, starting when he was young. His father would host Jesuits at their house, which also functioned as a doctor’s office. His father, a doctor, sometimes treated these Jesuits. He mostly had Jesuit teachers in high school and said this was a formative experience, describing the focus on the classics and strong academics. During his first year at BC, his father died and one of his Jesuit teachers broke the news to him, making arrangements for him to get home. He said that he has always looked up to the Jesuits and their commitment to educating people to be men and women for others. After he graduated and failed to make the Olympic hockey team, BC invited him to pursue a masters
degree in guidance and counseling and help with the freshmen hockey team. When talking about important personal qualities, he cited coach of the New England Patriots Bill Belichick’s point that it is more important to be dependable than to have extraordinary ability, and to be able to step into your role and perform it as well as you can. This not only applies to hockey but to work, school, and relationships. If you want to have great faith, you have to work at it, he emphasized -just as if you want to be physically strong you must exercise. Faith takes practice and commitment to activities like attending Mass, praying, and taking the time to be there for other people. His advice was to “be a walking billboard for BC” in everything you do, after pointing out the unique and palpable spirit at BC where everyone seems to be proud of their school and eager to make a good impression: There is a particular “ethos” on campus. When asked how his Catholic faith influences his coaching, he said that he reminds his players not to forget about academics, and to be humble, even in small
ways like opening doors for people and “not walking around like they own the place.” He said he encourages them to simply “be good people” and have a certain level of respect for others.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
WORLD NEWS Chicago Archbishop Holds Good Friday March for Peace
MARY KATE CAHILL
On Good Friday the Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cardinal Cupich, held a march for peace in Chicago’s Southside and called for “all people of good will” to join him. More than 1,500 people attended the march, which started at St. Benedict the African Parish and followed a four-mile route through the neighborhood. The diverse crowd included residents of the neighborhood as well as people from all over the city and surrounding area. A large number of Chicago priests joined their cardinal on the march, and religious leaders from other Christian churches walked alongside their congregations. Residents waved from apartment windows and front porches as the crowd marched down their streets. The marchers stopped at various points along the walk to pray the stations of the cross. Cardinal Cupich read the stations and spoke with parents of children who had been murdered. He decried the “environment of hopelessness” that so many young people grow up in and called legislators to enact “sensible gun policy.” He was joined by community leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and local politician Toni Preckwinkle, among others. At each station speakers from the community read the names and ages of some of the 172 people killed in Chicago since the beginning of the year. Three speakers also shared their stories of life in Englewood. A ten-year-old boy explained that he wanted to grow up to be a basketball player but could not practice because it was too dangerous to go to the park a block from his house. A police officer who grew up in Englewood spoke of sprinting to school each morning as he crossed gang territory and wanting to become a part of change for the community. A
mother whose eldest son was murdered told of her younger boy, who tried to kill himself after his brother’s death. She spoke of her own struggles with suicide attempts, then said “No matter what happens, remember that God got us.” Also at the march was Chicago priest Fr. Mike Pfleger, a pastor of Southside St. Sabina’s Parish who is famous for his efforts against Chicago gun violence. “All those names, they’re not just names. These are babies, real lives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends,” Pfleger told reporters. “I hope [people] realize that we are losing a whole generation of people.” He hopes the march would
Sanctuary Churches SOFIA INFANTE “a responsibility, a duty we have toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, civility and solidarity.” In the face of “rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centeredness and amplified by populist demagoguery” Pope Francis called for “a change of attitude to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.” Among dioceses in the United States, the Archdiocese of San Francisco is one example of an archdiocese taking steps to extend a dignified welcome to immigrants. On its official webpage, the archdiocese reaffirms the Church’s commitment to aiding the marginalized and displaced, and offers tangible support to the immigrant community. Additionally, many Catholic churches in the San Francisco Bay area have become safe places where immigrants can seek shelter. One such area where the Church is offering support is in Santa Clara County. According to the local San Francisco CBS affiliate, Catholic churches in Santa Clara County were designating as many as 20 places of worship as safe houses for immigrants. “We are not looking to make a political statement on sanctuary or anything like that,” said Father Jon Pedigo of the Dioceses of San Jose. “It’s basically providing refuge, support, stability and safety for a family in need.”
draw the attention of Chicago citizens outside of violence-torn neighborhoods and lead them to action. “Faith without works is dead,” Pfleger said. To combat silence around gang murders, Pfleger has begun offering rewards of $5,000 for information on the deaths of community members. Cardinal Cupich has followed Pfleger’s example and committed $250,000 to anti-violence efforts in the city. He envisions this march for peace as a first step in the Archdiocese’s fight against violence. “If we don’t do this as a church, we might as well pack up,” Cupich told reporters. “This is what we should be doing.”
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The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Arkansas Executes Two Death Row Inmates
Arkansas executed two convicted murderers, Jack H. Jones and Marcel Williams, on Monday, the first time a state has executed two inmates on the same day since 2000. Ledell Lee, executed last Thursday, was the first inmate Arkansas executed since 2005. Kenneth Williams, convicted murderer of three, is also scheduled for execution on Thursday. Although 12 years have passed without an execution in the state, Arkansas’ supply of one of the lethal injection drugs expires on April 30. The state scheduled eight executions for the second half of April in order to use the drugs before their expiration date. Arkansas’ urgency is due to a recent problem. More drugs companies are refusing to sell lethal drugs to states. Midazolam is the first of three drugs in a lethal injection; it renders the inmate unconscious, while the second one paralyzes breathing and the third stops the heart. Anti-death penalty groups have sharply criticized the state’s hurried scheduling as an example of the arbitrary way the death penalty is administered. Sister Helen Prejean, an advocate for the end of the death penalty, called out Arkansas
Governor Asa Hutchinson for attempting to execute eight men in 11 days. “Governor, be a statesman and a real moral leader of the people,” she said. “Do what is morally right. As a state official, you should not be involved in the deliberate killing of human beings.” Courts blocked four of the executions. Jones’ and Williams’ lawyers objected to the use of midazolam, a sedative in the three-drug combination that Arkansas administers during the procedure. Since the drug has not always proved effective in low doses, the executions could be unconstitutional if the inmates’ deaths were not painless. Additionally, both inmates have medical conditions that could potentially render the sedative ineffective. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against the two inmates. In a 2014 case courts affirmed the use of midazolam in a lethal injection in Oklahoma in which the inmate started shaking uncontrollably. Lee’s execution last Thursday did not have any issues, while Jones’ was less clear. Lawyers for the inmates claimed that prison officials tried to insert a central line into Jones’ neck for 45 minutes
before he died. A spokesman for the governor of Arkansas called the procedures to carry out the executions “flawless.” Jones and Williams requested fried chicken and potato logs for their last meal, while Lee asked for Holy Communion. Lee had maintained his innocence, while both Jones and Williams have admitted their guilt. According to a reporter who witnessed the execution, Jones apologized to Lacey Seal, the daughter of the woman he murdered. “I am glad it’s done. I’m glad that part of my life, that chapter, is closed,” said Seal.
ISIS Bombs Egyptian Coptic Christian Churches PETER KLAPES
On Palm Sunday, Egyptian Coptic Christians were the victims of violent ISIS attacks just weeks before the pope’s visit to the country. The first explosion occurred on Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis church in the city of Tanta, claiming 29 lives and injuring 71. Just before 10 a.m. on Sunday April 9, a bomb planted under one of the pews turned the church into a chaotic uproar. On-scene interviews with the churchgoers indicate that a negligent police force may also bear some responsibility. “The police didn’t protect the church on an important day like today,” claimed a local taxi driver. Images and videos from the attack circulated on social media showed blood-stained palm crosses and overturned pews and lecterns. Three hours later, a second blast occurred at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox church in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. The Coptic Pope Tawadros II was inside the church at the time of the explosion but was uninjured by the bomb. Three policemen who attempted to prevent the bombers from entering the church were killed. A three-month state of emergency was subsequently announced by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Haitham al Hariri, a member of the Egyptian parliament and a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance, also voiced concern with the government’s lackluster national security efforts. “Although there was a police constable who hugged the person holding the explosive belt to stop him entering the church, at the same time we cannot ignore the fatal mistakes by the security authorities that let this many attacks happen in a short time,” he said. Just two weeks later, ISIS also claimed responsibility for an attack on Saint Catherine’s monastery on the southern Sinai peninsula. The attack, in which one
police officer died and four others were injured, involved an exchange of gunfire at a nearby checkpoint. Built in the sixth century, Saint Catherine’s belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003. According to some sources, ISIS’s actions are not only consistent with the group’s continued attacks on Christians but also are an attempt to dampen Egyptian tourism, a major facet of the Egyptian economy. Though it lacks formal jurisdiction, ISIS stands in the way of harmony in the area, especially the northern Sinai cities of Rafah, Arish, and Sheikh Zuweid. Hundreds of Christians have fled the area and Israel has recently barred its citizens from travelling to the area following continued, violent
threats from ISIS. The latest attack comes just ten days before the Pope’s scheduled visit to Egypt, where he will participate in an international peace conference at a major Sunni institute of Islamic learning.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Response: Is Physician-Assisted Dying Permissible? Last issue, we ran a Pro/Con article on Physician Assited Dying. Here are the responses that our writers assembled to each position.
Pro ARMEN GRIGORIAN In order to effectively discuss physician-assisted dying, we first should define our terms. To put it simply, in broad terms, PAD consists of a person who is suffering with no chance of relief asking his or her doctor to assist them in dying in the fastest, least painful way. The Catholic practice has been to reject this practice for a few different reasons. First, Catholics are taught that we are made in God’s image. St Paul says, “You have been purchased, and at a price, so glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). This statement tells us that it is our obligation to preserve our bodies as a way to glorify God. The Catechism says, “Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him,” and “It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of ” (CCC, 2280). Thus, the Church explains why suicide is rejected. However, so far, teachings on this subject have been applied simplistically to physician assisted suicide and therefore do not address all of the issues regarding the topic. To begin, Church teaching condemns suicide on the grounds that it is a selfish act that violates the love for oneself and neighbor that we should have, as well as a rejection of God’s providence over us. In addition, it implies that it is a distortion of the stewardship that God gives us over our own bodies. This does apply to many forms of suicide, but it is not always the case for physician-assisted suicide. In these instances, it is impossible for us to determine that the act is a selfish one devoid of love. We cannot know the pain and suffering that someone who is making this decision is going through, and without that knowledge, it is impossible to say that they are making the decision for selfish reasons. It is just as possible they are making the decision for the benefit of their family and loved ones out of love, to reduce the hardship of others. This severely complicates the issue. In addition, the statement that we are meant to be stewards of our bodies raises the question of how we can best do that. Is there a point where sickness can make us unable to do so, and in that situation, what are we to do? It is not up for debate whether or not our lives are a gift from God, or if it is up to us to glorify God in our bodies. However, there are instances where this is no longer a possibility due to sickness and disease. If a person gets to the point where they are no longer able to perform these fundamental Catholic responsibilities, what are we left with? Life is precious, but there are conditions of life that hinder or prevent a person’s ability to treat their body in the way God asks us to. In these instances, how can we judge a person’s decision to no longer live in this condition? We must also remember that the Church teaches that there are conditions that do affect how suicide is viewed. The Catechism states that “grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (CCC, 2282). All of these can lead to physician-assisted suicide and we should attempt to understand the impact that they might have on a person. This is an important aspect to the Catechism because it is saying that circumstances do matter when considering suicide in Church teaching. Accepting that real circumstances are a relevant consideration makes all the difference when it comes to physician-assisted suicide. It is a practice that depends on circumstance, and is only to be used in the most extreme ones. However, in select circumstances the person opting for it may be in a place where their responsibility for the action is diminished and their choice has to be respected. Finally, while we must always remember that we can never fully understand a person who is making this decision and what they are going through, we also cannot deny a person God’s mercy regardless of decisions they make. Psalm 103 outlines God’s unlimited mercy, “as high as the heavens are above the earth” (Ps. 103:11). We must remember that it is up to Him to judge a person’s circumstance, motives, and ability to be a steward of His gift. It is up to the individual and God to make these final decisions and judgments, not us, and therefore by extension it is not our role to put ourselves in a position to do so.
LIBBIE STEINER Though some people today view euthanasia as a morally justifiable option for those who live with terminal illnesses, from a Christian perspective, euthanasia (in all of its iterations, including assisted suicide, physician-aided dying, etc.) is never a justifiable choice. All life, from conception to natural death, is sacred. The process of dying is sacred, and that means that we do not get to decide when we die. We ought to respect the natural process of death and not attempt to bring it on before its appointed time. Euthanasia violates the sanctity of life and the sanctity of the dying process in ending a life prematurely. As Christians, we believe that God not only created us, but that God is also constantly and actively willing us to live, through terminal illnesses and suffering of every sort. Euthanasia places one’s own desire above God’s and proclaims that that person knows better than God when their life should come to its end. It precludes and disregards the possibility of miracles of healing and the role of those approaching death in the life of the Church. The argument for euthanasia boils down to a rejection of suffering having value. This notion should not be surprising because the dominant culture tells us that all pain and suffering, whether emotional or physical, should be alleviated as quickly as possible. This clearly goes against the very core of Christianity: Jesus suffered and died for the redemption of the world. Though it may often be difficult to see, there is value in suffering. In the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1980 document Declaration on Euthanasia, “According to Christian teaching... suffering, especially suffering during the last moments of life, has a special place in God’s saving plan; it is in fact a sharing in Christ’s passion and a union with the redeeming sacrifice which He offered in obedience to the Father’s will” (III). The very suffering which euthanasia advocates attempt to dispel by allowing terminally ill people to die prematurely unites the sufferer with the suffering of Christ! Who are we to decide that this sharing in Jesus’ suffering is too much to ask, too painful to endure, and not really worth anything at all? While euthanasia is unacceptable from a Christian perspective, accepting euthanasia as justifiable within medical practice also leads to a whole host of dangerous next steps. Stories have surfaced of patients whose health insurance or Medicaid plans will not pay for expensive treatment, but will pay for the cheaper drugs which will kill them. In my home state of Oregon, which passed the so-called Death With Dignity Act in 1997, people have been denied coverage for their treatment and offered assisted suicide instead (see “‘Right to die’ can become a ‘duty to die’” by Wesley Smith, The Telegraph). When it denies people potentially life-saving or life-prolonging treatment but offers to cover assisted suicide, the state of Oregon is telling some of its most marginalized citizens, people who are ill and on Medicaid, that their lives are literally not worth more than the cost of the drugs which will kill them. The quality of hospice and palliative care options has declined sharply in the twenty years since passage of Oregon’s assisted suicide bill (for more information on the longterm consequences of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, see an article written by Vice President of the Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation, Kenneth R. Stevens Jr., M.D., at http://www.pccef.org/articles/art42UofO.htm). Clearly, legalizing euthanasia has many unintended consequences which contribute to a culture of death rather than life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says about euthanasia that “Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect” (CCC, 2276). Instead of suggesting to ill or severely disabled people that they might be better off dead, we should show them exceptional respect. All people, including people with physical illnesses, mental illnesses, and disabilities of every kind, ought to be allowed to die with dignity, in the true sense of that phrase.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the “Pro/Con” article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the belief and mission of The Torch.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Praying Through the Paschal Triduum JEFFREY LINDHOLM
What exactly is the tradition we Catholics call the Easter Triduum? The Paschal Triduum is at the core of Christianity, as we celebrate the Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Triduum allows the faithful to enter deep within the traditions and mysteries of the Church. The Triduum begins on Holy Thursday with a Chrism Mass, where the holy oils used for the year are blessed, and the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. During the latter Mass, we hear in the readings the story from Exodus where the Lord saves the Israelites during the Passover, Paul’s recounting of the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and the passage from the Gospel of John where Jesus says to his apostles, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (cf John 13: 12-15). Holy Thursday celebrates the creation of two Sacraments that Jesus handed down to the Apostles: Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. During Holy Thursday, we celebrate the gift that Jesus entrusted us to receive Him in the form of bread and wine as His Body and Blood and to continue His ministry through priests. A popular hymn during Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is “As I Have Done for You.” Its lyrics read “I, your Lord and Master, now become your servant. I who made the moon and stars will kneel to wash your feet. This is My commandment: to love as I have loved you. Kneel to wash each other’s feet as I have done for you.” The ceremony of the washing of the feet usually
accompanies this song. The priest washes the feet of lay people, just as Jesus did. At the end of the liturgy, the priest says a final prayer, and then carries the Blessed Sacrament out of the Church until Good Friday, with Thomas Aquinas’ “Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium” chanted. The congregation is never dismissed or blessed, thus ensuring continuity into Good Friday. Usually to begin Mass, there is a procession accompanied with a song and an opening prayer. Not for Good Friday. The priest processes in and lays prostrate in front of a bare sanctuary. Good Friday is the only day throughout the liturgical year where there is no Mass. Each year, the Passion according to John is read, sometimes chanted, keeping with the solemnity of the day. The most poignant moment of Good Friday celebration is veneration of the Cross, where everyone is called to come adore the cross of Jesus by kissing it. Often “Behold the Wood” is played, and its lyrics are “Behold, behold the wood of the Cross, on which on hung our salvation. O come, let us adore.” We are called to venerate the Cross upon which He who saves us from sin and death was hung. Since there is no Mass, the Eucharist is not consecrated, and a communion service takes place instead. Keeping with the continuity of Holy Week, there is no closing prayer, as we prepare our hearts for the Resurrection from the tomb. The third day of the Triduum is Holy Saturday, which culminates in the Easter Vigil. We spend the day preparing our hearts for the Lord to rise from the dead. The Easter Vigil begins in darkness, with only the Paschal candle providing light in the pitch-black church. The congregation processes in with the Paschal Candle hailed as “The Light of Christ.” The Exsultet prayer is
then chanted. This poetic hymn’s words praise and thank God for the light, which represents God’s saving hand throughout Salvation History, culminating in Christ’s victory over death and resurrection from the dead: “Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.” We then move on to the Liturgy of the Word, which walks through the story of Salvation History through a series of Old Testament readings and psalms. After seven readings, the lights of the church come on and we proclaim the Gloria. One of the trademarks of the Easter Vigil is the celebration of Baptism and Confirmation. Catechumens and candidates from RCIA are baptized and confirmed as necessary. At the end of the Vigil, the priest dismisses everyone with the Easter Blessing: “Go in peace Alleluia, Alleluia!” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia!” For the first time in the celebration of the Paschal Triduum, we have been dismissed to go out and proclaim the resurrection. The Easter Triduum is essentially one long prayer. Holy Week services often appeals to our senses, from the smell of incense, the sight of a bare altar, to the sound of the Exsultet. The Paschal Mystery is central to our faith. To borrow from a homily from a priest at my home parish, “The Author of Life has calmed the chaotic waters of death.” We can hope in the resurrection of Jesus this Easter season. He gives life to us. He is the innocent Lamb who took the place in the tomb that was ours, and died so that we may not have to. Alleluia, Jesus is risen!
Expectations vs. Reality: Divine Mercy Sunday ADRIANA WATKINS
The Catholic Church is good at celebrating. After the seemingly-endless forty days of Lent, there comes a parade of feasts; we pack more holidays into twenty-four hours than greeting-card companies can invent arbitrarily. There’s a lot going on this time of year. Here’s an example: all at once, it can be the Friday of the Octave of Easter and St. Anselm’s feast day and the eighth day of the Divine Mercy novena…take a breath when you can! But it’s that last event I’d like to focus on—the Divine Mercy novena. Sunday, April 23, marks the conclusion of this annual prayer. Beginning on Easter, participants recite a Divine Mercy chaplet once a day, offering each devotion to a different group of people. The first day, for example, is dedicated “to all mankind,” while subsequent days are focused on more specific groups like priests, unbelievers, and the souls in Purgatory. These devotions (along with the chaplet prayer itself) were given by Christ to St. Faustina Kowalska in a series of visions. You can read about them in her personal diaries. These are powerful prayers, and popular ones. They draw special attention to the truth of God’s mercy. But we’re a fickle people, and sometimes truth stops amazing us. A few months ago, the Church concluded her Jubilee Year of Mercy—so we’ve heard a lot about this recently. Without wanting to admit it, we may be a little bit “bored” with mercy (why don’t we spice things up and talk about justice?). When we get bored with truth, however, it’s not because we’ve learned all there is to learn about it—we’ve just stopped digging deeper. Truth is bottomless; our minds aren’t, and that’s where the trouble starts. What are we really asking for when we seek God’s mercy?
I can’t purport to do justice to that question—not in the 750 words of this article, and not in the countless words I’ll write in my life. Mercy is a lot of things. But there are a lot of things that mercy isn’t, and identifying some of those things has been helpful. Mercy, for example, is not indifference. In fact, it’s the opposite—it’s full, complete, deserved acknowledgment of one’s sins, and full, complete, undeserved forgiveness. But it’s much easier to pray for indifference from God. Apathy has no consequences, demands nothing, requires nothing; forgiveness, on the other hand, requires a response from us. If you make a grave mistake and your friend doesn’t acknowledge it, you are relieved you’ve gotten away with something. You’re thankful he hasn’t noticed. But if that friend recognizes your faults and forgives you, you’re infinitely more thankful—he’s looked your mistake in the face and said, in spite of it all, “To me, you’re worth forgiving.” It feels cocky to ask God for this kind of mercy, but He wants us to. If He was passive-aggressive and bitter about our mistakes, Christ wouldn’t have come to suffer. The face of Christ on the Cross is the face of a beggar—He begs you to ask for this mercy, for your sake. That’s what the Church does. In the week after Easter, the Divine Mercy novena is used as a special form of this devotion. But if you missed the novena, don’t worry—people say the five-minute chaplet every day. It’s a short, powerful way to ask for God’s forgiveness, and it gives us an opportunity to reflect on what mercy is and isn’t. In these cases, it’s often fruitful to thank God for being not what we want, but what we need.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
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 Luke Heineman Quentin Bet World News Staff Katie Daniels, Editor Mary Kate Cahill Sofia Infante Dante Keeler Peter Klapes Catholicism 101 Staff Jeffrey Lindholm Adriana Watkins Culture Staff Armen Grigorian, Editor Faith Features Andrew Craig Eileen Corkery Annalise Deal 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 7
Senior Staff Book Recommendations Laura McLaughlin // Babetteâ€™s Feast Isak Dinesen
Libbie Steiner // Just Water Christiana Peppard
Andrew Craig // Between Heaven and Mirth James Martin, S.J.
Gjergji Evangjeli // Lectures on the Christian Sacraments St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Eileen Corkery // Hillbilly Elegy J.D. Vance
Annalise Deal // Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
CULTURE Call Me Francis EILEEN CORKERY
This past month, Netflix released a four-part biographical miniseries chronicling the life Pope Francis. Produced by filmmaker Pietro Valsecchi, Call Me Francis was adapted from the critically acclaimed 2015 Italian film Chiamatemi Francesco. Grossing nearly € 3.5 million, the film ranked second in the Italian box office its opening weekend. In 2016, Netflix bought the rights to the film and reworked it into four 50-minute episodes. The series gives an intimate glimpse into the diverse life experiences of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Episodes feature his days as a bachelor in Buenos Aires, his years as a priest during the height of Argentina’s Dirty Wars, and his days leading up to his election at the 2013 papal conclave. Advertised as a film about “the people’s pope,” Chiamatemi Francesco originally premiered at the Vatican in December 2015. The Pope chose to not attend the screening— instead, he reserved all 7,000 seats for the “the marginalized of Rome,” including refugees and the homeless. In an interview with The New York Times, Msgr. Diego Ravelli, of the Office of Papal Charities said, “the Pope wanted to offer the lowly and the poor their rightful place of honor.” The series opens with Francis— then the Archbishop of Buenos Aires— standing on a terrace of St. Peter’s Basilica at sunset. It is the beginning of the 2013 papal Conclave. “What am I doing in Rome?” Francis asks to himself. “At my age people retire…” The series works to answer that very question— the four-episode arc traces Bergoglio’s unlikely
rise from his beginnings on the streets of Buenos Aires to his eventual appointment to the papacy. Francis’s journey begins in Buenos Aires in the 1960s—Bergoglio is introduced as a twentysomething out to dinner with a boisterous circle of friends. Not yet a priest, he contemplates proposing to his long-term girlfriend. The series goes on to show his gradual process of discernment and eventual journey to the Jesuit order. Perhaps some of the more intriguing moments of the series feature Bergoglio as a member of the Catholic clergy during Argentina’s “Dirty Wars,” a period of state terrorism during the late ‘70’s to early ‘80’s. During this time, the Argentine government ordered its military to kill or “disappear” political dissidents and communist sympathizers. Approximately 15,000 Argentine citizens are believed to have been killed during this period. While some have questioned the Catholic Church’s silence during the Dirty Wars, the series chooses to highlight the heroic actions undertaken covertly by Bergoglio— actions often taken at great personal risk. One scene shows the young Jesuit giving sanctuary to dissident students wanted by the government. Another episode tells the story of a secret Mass that Bergoglio said for the Argentine president. Bergoglio confronted the president, asking to know the whereabouts of several of his “disappeared” parishioners. The series examines the complex moral dilemma of clerical leaders in Argentina during the period. It also emphasizes the character
of Pope Francis— a man who is well loved by the media, but whose past is still mysterious to many. Later episodes explain his rise in Church leadership and eventual departure for Rome. Call Me Francis is currently streaming on Netflix. The movie can also be requested through Boston College Library Services at library.bc.edu.
Drink of the Issue - St. George In the spirit of St. Ignatius’ teaching to find God things, including all areas of college life. Each month we will be featuring one drink, inspired by a saint (typically the Saint of the Issue when there is one). All recipes are borrowed from the book Drinking with the Saints: A Sinners Guide to a Happy Hour by Michael Foley.
St. George 1 ½ oz. gin ½ oz. dry vermouth 1 dash lime juice 3 olives Pour gin, vermouth, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with olives.
Enjoy Responsibly. For those 21+
Inspiration: For this month’s drink, we selected the St. George in honor of St. George. He was a martyr who was beheaded after several failed attempts to execute him. He is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the West and “the Great Martyr” in the East. He is the patron saint of numerous countries, cities, organizations, and occupations. He is also famous for the myth where he blessed himself and then fought a dragon. When he defeated the dragon, he led it into the local village and inspired everyone in the village to convert. The spear that the olives in the drink go on is meant to represent the spear he used to defeat the dragon.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
The Promise: Movie Review ARMEN GRIGORIAN
The Promise, a film directed by Terry George and starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale, is a love story set during the onset of the Armenian Genocide. Michael Begosian (Oscar Isaac), is an Armenian medical student in Istanbul who falls in love with Ana Khesarian, (Charlotte Le Bon). Khesarian, however, is already in a relationship with Christopher Meyers (Christian Bale), a renowned American journalist. Much of the movie’s plot is driven by this love triangle, but the film also does not shy away from addressing the Armenian Genocide. It chronicles the systematic killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, beginning with the capture and imprisonment of Armenian leaders in Istanbul, the deportation of Armenians from their villages, and their mass slaughter by Ottoman soldiers. While at times the love story in The Promise comes off as cliché, it does not impact how moving and powerful it is to see the depictions of the Armenian Genocide on the big screen. The Promise is Hollywood’s first attempt at making a big budget film about the genocide, and the movie does an exceptional job at translating the gut-wrenching events of 1915 to the big screen. The Armenian Genocide remains an extremely controversial to this day, and in attempting to address such a controversial topic, The Promise has created some controversy of its own. While there is a general consensus amongst many scholars and historians about the events of 1915, neither the U.S. nor Turkish governments recognize the events of 1915 as a genocide. In fact, the current Turkish government is engaged in a highly active campaign of genocide denial.
This has led to some heated arguments about the story told in The Promise. In fact, after the movie premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival in a theater that could seat no more than several hundred attendees, the films IMDb page had over 55,000 negative reviews. That number is now up to 126,000. In addition, a Turkish movie studio released a movie titled The Ottoman Lieutenant that tells a very similar story to The Promise but from a Turkish perspective. According to the Associated Press, the makers of The Promise accused the producers of The Ottoman Lieutenant of trying to confuse the two films, but nothing came of the accusations. Sevag Belian, the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada described these events saying, “The fact that thousands of people have surged onto the Internet to write negative reviews about a film that they haven’t even seen is a clear indication that this is a politically motivated campaign.” “It’s unfortunately the result of years and years of denial of this atrocity by the Turkish government…” he continued, “Turkey, unfortunately, has not been ready to face its own history.” The Turkish campaign against The Promise is consistent with previous Turkish protests to acknowledgements of the Armenian Genocide. In 2015 when Pope Francis used the word genocide to describe the events of 1915, the Turkish government immediately recalled their ambassador to the Vatican, and took similar action in 2016 when Germany acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. Their protests of The Promise are consistent with these actions and are meant to keep moviegoers from taking the time to go see a powerful and moving film.
The Theology of Chance the Rapper ANNALISE DEAL and a theology of rejecting the sinful patterns of the world and the music industry in order to fully glorify God. First: Chicago. Throughout his rise to fame, Chance has consistently devoted himself to still being very much a part of the southside community. In both “How Great” and “Summer Friends”, he repeats “79” as a reference to 79th street on the southside, where he grew up. “Summer Friends” and “Angels” both treat the issue of violence in Chicago and the community response. The line “Summer friends don’t stick around” is a reference to the increase in shootings and adolescent deaths that occur during the summers, when kids are out of school. The song begins with the hauntingly beautiful line “oh incredible...my Lord incredible...I believe” and ends with a recording of a woman praying a blessing “May the Lord give your journey mercy/May you be successful, grant you favor/And bring you back safely, I love you” signifying Chance’s belief that despite the violence, God is with the people of the southside. Chance’s dedication to justice outside of his work (he’s been an advocate of Chicago public schools and other organizations), and his subtle criticism of the CPD in “Summer Friends”, is his way of saying that God does have a preferential option for the poor. Even though there is great brokenness, that he himself has experienced (“I used to hide from God/duck down in the slums like shh”) there is also redemption and new life to be found by seeking God and knowing that he is near to the brokenhearted. Furthermore, in first verse of “Angels” Chance explains how he will use the deaths of his friends to motivate his continued involvement in the community: “Clean up the streets so my daughter can have somewhere to play”. Much of the song after that seems to be a tribute to the friends he lost growing up (“they got too many young angels on the South Side”), but in calling them “Angels” and referencing “heaven’s gates” he recognizes again that in the midst of suffering, there is hope for life after death. Secondly, Chance uses Coloring Book to express his theological view of the difference between the life in the world and life in the spirit. One line in “Blessings” seems to sum up this idea best. In it he says, “I know the difference in blessings and worldly possessions” which echoes St. Paul who says “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). “How Great” is probably the song that most fully fleshes out this idea. By beginning with a rendition the classic gospel anthem, “How Great is Our God” sung by his cousin Nicole Steen, Chance nods to the fact that his success is not a product of his own good works (though his are many) but rather a product of grace, and the goodness of God. The bridge states “God is better than the best day the world has to offer” further enforcing this idea of dichotomy between God and the World. However, Chance doesn’t intend to mean that God is not in the world, but rather that there are sinful elements of living materialistically that need to be rejected in order to fully glorify God. Hence, the line “Spit it Spotify to qualify a Spot on his side”. Chance has been consistently vocal both in his music and
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in interviews about not signing a to any record label, in order to preserve his creative independence and also to avoid being sucked into the cycle of money, power, fame and ownership that often corrupts artists like himself. The entire Jay Electronica rap in “How Great” is chalk-full of references to the glory of God overcoming the world, oftentimes through references to Revelation: “Who was the angel in Revelation with a foot on water and a foot on land” and “Mystery Babylon tumbling down/Satan’s establishment crumbling down” (Rev. 10:5 and Rev. 17:5). While Revelation seems to be an extreme example to compare to Chance’s career and attempt to glorify God rather than the world, it just further goes to show how seriously Chance takes this mission. In “Blessings” and “Finish Line/Drown”, however, Chance admits that he isn’t perfect at this, saying “I’m at war with my wrongs” and “I got the power/I could poke Lucifer with crucifix/I cannot scrap the stupid sh*t” meaning that though he has the power of God to live a life apart from sin, there’s still “stupid sh*t” that gets in the way sometimes. The album ends with a reprise of “Blessings,” in which Chance explains the hope he has for the future, whether that is in his own life or in heaven. It’s an undeniably beautiful picture: “Promised lands/soil as soft as Mama’s hands/Running water, standing still/endless fields of daffodils and chamomile.” This theme of hope ties together both theological strands: the need for solidarity with the suffering in the southside which is contingent on a hopeful gospel, and the importance of choosing God over the world, because he is the source of all goodness and hope. Chance ends with the open questions “Are you ready for your blessings?/ Are you ready for your miracle?” He does not direct the question at anyone in particular, which universalizes his message to suggest that anyone can have access to the life he lives: a life which fights for justice, rejects worldly obsessions, and chooses to see all things--good and bad--as blessings.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Special Feature: Christianity Finds Home in Israel ALBERT BARKAN
Albert Barkan is the President of Eagles for Israel at Boston College and a member of the class of 2017 The demographics of the Middle East over the last century show a drastic trend in the religious composition of the region. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Christians comprised 14% of the population of the Middle East; now, according to a 2015 article in the New York Times, that number is down to somewhere between 3-4%. On a national level in Lebanon, the statistics are similarly alarming. In one century, its Christian community has gone from being a majority to just a bit over a third of the nation’s population. In Iraq, only a third of the nation’s Christian population exists at its pre-2003 level, and in Syria a third of the nation’s community has fled the country since the start of the bloody civil war in 2011. The numbers speak for themselves. There is a cleansing of Christianity occurring in the region. What is to blame for this catastrophic decline? One answer is the rise of fundamentalist Islamic movements such as ISIS, which have targeted and destroyed churches, kidnapped individual adherents of the faith, forced conversions, and even beheaded Christians. With the Arab Spring, things worsened, as strongmen who sought to protect religious minorities toppled over as the floodgates opened for more rigid, intolerant extremism. With no end in sight for the bloody wars in Iraq and Syria, and with the overall geopolitical future of the region uncertain, one must ask if there is any glimmer of hope, any respite for the future of Christianity in the region. The answer lies in Israel, the only Middle Eastern nation where the Christian population is growing. Declaring independence in 1948, Israel is, in its essence, a Jewish State—a nation meant to be the fulfillment of the two-thousand-year old dream for Jewish statehood. Persecuted in the diaspora for centuries, Jews sought to reestablish themselves as a self-governing entity in their historic homeland. Yet, as of February 2016, about 24% of Israel’s population is not Jewish. Instead, this quarter of the populace is predominantly Arab, of which 7% is Christian. Outside of the Arab population, there are also thousands of Christians who are of Russian background, having arrived in the last two decades as a result of Israel’s Law of Return, which stipulates that people who are of another faith but of at least partial Jewish descent can immigrate; in 2005, 59% of immigrants to Israel from Russia were not considered Jewish under traditional religious law. Overall, there are currently 120,000 Christians living in Israel, and the number is growing. In Israel, Christians enjoy full rights equal to their Jewish counterparts, and are protected under the law. They practice their religion freely and have access to holy sites which are protected by Israeli authorities. Whereas in Syria churches are bombed, in Israel they thrive. While it is true that there have been incidents of religious sites being vandalized by both
hardline Jews and Muslims, these have been anomalies rather than trends, and when they occur the perpetrators have been brought to justice. There is even an Arab Christian on the nation’s Supreme Court, Salim Joubran. Christians, in particular Arab ones, have also stood out in their levels of education. In fact, a 2014 study showed that Christian Arabs have higher rates of eligibility for a high school diploma than Israeli Jews. According to the report’s author, Hanna David: “For many years Christian Arabs in Israel have enjoyed the highest levels of matriculation and educational achievement.” In recent years, renewed efforts have also been made to further integrate Christians into mainstream Israeli society. These efforts have been spearheaded in particular by a Greek Orthodox Priest, Father Gabriel Nadaff, who has called for voluntary Christian service in the Israel Defense Forces (service is only mandatory for Jewish citizens.) Thanks to Father Naddaf ’s efforts, enlistment into the IDF amongst Arab Christians has skyrocketed from about 35 per year in 2012 to over 150 today. According to Nadaff, “Israel and the Middle East, it is where Christianity began. If there are no Christians in the Middle East, then what’s the significance, for example, of Christians in China? It is like if there would be Jews in Germany and France, but not in Israel. Something would be missing.” Last semester, Eagles for Israel, Boston College’s official pro-Israel advocacy group, invited Jonathan Elkhoury to speak on campus. Elkhoury is a Lebanese Christian whose family fled their native country in 2000 when faced with the threat of extermination by the terrorist Islamist group Hezbollah. Seeking refuge, Jonathon told the audience, his family found acceptance and tolerance in Israel, where he has lived ever since and where he even served in the army. Jonathan’s story is reflective of the fact that while Israel remains an inherently Jewish state in its mission and nature, it is, ironically enough, the only place in the Middle East where it is completely safe for people to be Christian, and one where Christians can prosper without wide scale governmental or social impediments towards their success. With the rise of radical Islam in political vacuums and the proliferation of countries like Saudia Arabia, which require all its citizens to be Muslim and discriminates against worship of any other religion, the State of Israel remains a beacon of hope for religious pluralism in an uncertain region. In light of this situation, it is more important than ever that Christians both in America and around the globe recognize the importance of Israel’s safety and security in a region surrounded by enemies. When voices on college campuses and on international television programs call out the Jewish State as oppressive or even genocidal, Christians must stand up and tell their side of the story – of how in Israel they have a permanent friend and an ally.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
FAITH FEATURES Becoming More Human EILEEN CORKERY May 1st: Decision Day. Around the country this week, thousands of high school seniors will commit to colleges to attend this coming fall. Each anxiously weighs his or her college decision. Financial aid spreadsheets, glossy tour book brochures, and course catalogues litter dining room tables across America. Each student asks, “Finances aside, why should I choose ‘X’ school over the others? Why is it the best choice for me?” The answer to that question varies greatly between colleges. Some schools tout post-graduation job prospects and medical school acceptance rates. “If you enroll at our school, you will be on the path to your dream career.” For others, it is the promise of intellectual acuity. “We will teach you how to think.” Still, other schools attract students with storied athletic programs, impressive student organizations, or new residence halls. “Our basketball team has made the Sweet Sixteen the past five years.” None of those reasons are bad. Actually, academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities are all pretty important factors to consider when choosing a school. Boston College shares many of those same attributes that I just described (Still working on those basketball stats...). However, I would argue that Boston College has an added attraction— if you choose to come to BC, you will become more human. According to its mission statement, Boston College embraces a “worldview that encounters God in all creation and through all human activity, especially in the search for truth in every discipline, in the desire to learn, and in the call to live justly together.” Boston College’s Catholic, Jesuit identity encourages students to “seek God in all things.” It is through a liberal arts education that students gain a greater capacity to find God in our world— to appreciate beauty, feel indignation at injustice, to become more capable of love. “Men and women for others” is not just a mantra, but a challenge for graduates to be ambassadors of justice and love. “Seeking God in all things” happens in fleeting moments in lecture halls all around campus. It happens when students learn the beauty of a mathematical proof, or when an economics professor assigns a case study on the South Sudan refugee crisis. It happens in a Perspectives class when students of dif-
ferent faiths and backgrounds have a conversation about a given piece of philosophy. “Seeking God in all things” also comes in moments outside of the classroom. A student is better able to see love through the kindness of a roommate. Another student is encouraged to take up advocacy work postgrad or volunteer after hearing about an unjust event in the news. A pack of students stop to photograph of Gasson Tower in the beautiful sunset. A group of students experience overwhelming love and heartbreak while on an Appalachian service trip. So, if you are a high school senior who just happened to pick up this paper in the Chocolate Bar, I recommend you take a chance and choose Boston College. Not only will you grow intellectually, make lasting friendships, and attend some exciting hockey games, but you will also become more human. And you will forever be better for it. As a final note, thank you to the readers of The Torch these past four years. I have loved writing here. To my fellow staff members— wouldn’t want to sit in Carney, eat pizza, and copyedit with anyone else.
The Power of Gratitude ANDREW CRAIG “I’m done. I don’t want to deal with this anymore. I want to just walk away from this work, stress, person, class, situation…” It goes on and on. There seem to be so many things that everyone I know, including myself, want to walk away from. There are countless stresses and anxieties that, after years of being in school, we do not want to put up with any more. It seems to be a cyclical rut that, when we realize all of the stressors, we become even more stressed and feel paralyzed. “What should I do about this paper, exam, friend, etc? What can I do? Why is this all so terrible?” These are just a few of the questions that run through our minds. When I saw a poster for a lecture on “Resiliency and Relaxation: Managing Stress as Students,” I pounced at the opportunity to discuss such issues. The speaker, Rana Chudnofsky, currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital and uses various practices with her clients for overcoming life transitions, anxieties, and stresses. As I sat listening to her discuss the importance of self-care, a number of topics arose: sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, and prayer or meditation. The last topics were of most interest to me, and I was reminded of a number of my Lynch School classes that focused on the idea of resiliency. Resiliency is a person’s ability to overcome significant struggles and obstacles in life, such as anxiety, depression, or a loss in the family. After four years of studying education, resiliency has always interested me most of all. And as Rana Chudnofsky discussed, a central component of being resilient is perspective. A person’s perspective has the power to change one’s outlook on one’s life. How do perspective and prayer help a person? As Chudnofsky mentioned, when you enter into a meditative or prayerful state, your heart rate slows, which allows your body and your mind
to relax. This allows clearer thoughts and release of tension. This mindful state combined with the ability of prayer to reorient one’s perspective can have powerful effects. As Catholic News Agency reported, Pope Francis once spoke to the Spanish football club, Villarreal CF, and discussed the importance of gratitude. Prayer offers us this perspective of gratitude, to be thankful for one’s life, one’s family, friends, food, shelter, gifts, and talents. With this, I start to think, “Yes, I am busy, and yes, many of these parts of my life are stressful, but how blessed am I to have the family, friends, and mentors I do, as well as the food, shelter, and education I do?” And these stresses help me to appreciate relaxing moments all the more. In addition, as Pope Francis mentions, when we enter into a state of gratitude, we remind ourselves that we are part of something greater than ourselves. Our lives are intertwined with the people and communities that have allowed us to be the people we are today. We are not in this life alone. We are part of something much greater, and that is all of God’s Creation on this Earth. Pope Francis ended by stating how he loves the goalkeeper in football, because he must react to and catch the ball from anywhere it comes, “And life is like that,” he said. Graduation nears for the senior class, and as I sit and prepare for my last finals of undergrad, Rana Chudnofsky and Pope Francis’ words calm me. They give a reminder of not only the importance of perspective, but also specifically the perspective of gratitude. In a constantly changing world, gratitude returns us to a state of community and peace, reminding me that we are here because of the gifts of others and God. No matter what we face, we face it with the life, blessings, and communities that God has given us, each and every day.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
Learning to Love LIBBIE STEINER
One night a few weeks ago, I sat on my bed, talking to my roommate until too late. We have this ritual where we turn off all of our lights but one when we are about to go to sleep, so the room is bathed in a pink glow from the lamp’s pink shade. We sat opposite each other on our beds, talking about everything and nothing, giggling uncontrollably at times. I had a sudden nostalgic thought that times like these were quickly coming to an end. Soon, we would be living in different rooms in different states. I thought about how much I loved her, and how much I loved so many people who came into my life over the past four years. As I look back on my time at Boston College, it’s hard for me to crystallize my experience into one coherent piece. If I’m being honest, I have written and re-written drafts of this column probably four times, trying to encapsulate everything that these people and this place have taught me. The only conclusion I came up with is that there is so much that I will carry with me as I leave, and that I will continue to reflect on my time here for years to come. Still, I keep coming back to the ways I have grown in love for other people and for God, so that is what I will attempt to share with you here in my last column. Though it sounds cliché, I have learned how to love here, in this place, on this holy ground, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have loved my friends more deeply than I ever have before, realizing that I didn’t prioritize people and relationships before college. When I was in high school, though I’m not proud to admit it, I never understood people who put relationships before things like activities or schoolwork. To me, the most important things were not people, but the ways in which I felt that I was setting myself up for the rest of my life. Here at BC, I have learned to love people through their flaws, knowing that they love me through my flaws, too. The depth of my love for others is constantly being challenged and deepened. I can distinctly remember a time when I realized that a friend was completely aware of something flawed about me, but was choosing to love me through it. He accepted me wholeheartedly. He knew and loved me authentically and wholly. From then on, I made a conscious effort to accept people’s flaws instead of trying to change them. I have learned that though we are all flawed, we need to resist the temptation to try to change others.
The friendships I have made challenge my beliefs and move me to greater understanding of other perspectives. The conversations I have had with friends about immigration, faith, abortion, the death penalty, conflict in the Middle East, and other issues have challenged me to find ways to strengthen my beliefs and think from different perspectives than my own. In a culture where disagreement is often seen as taboo, I have had many fruitful debates about things that matter. The friendships I have made here have challenged and strengthened my faith in countless ways. I have learned how to love more resiliently, and this resilient love has led me to reflect on the resilient love God has for us. I have learned how to love people when they are annoying, when they reject my “good” advice, and when they do things that are self-destructive. I have learned how to listen and simply be with someone who is suffering. I am always working towards loving unconditionally, and in that striving, I have thought about the love of God. God’s love is resilient and unconditional; it does not discriminate when I am annoying, or when I don’t take the good advice of someone God has placed in my life, or when I do things I know are not good for me. About a month ago, two of my roommates told me that before coming to college, they never would have imagined themselves being good friends with a Theology major. They had imagined Theology majors as stuffy, annoying, holier-than-thou kinds of people, i.e., not the kind of people they wanted to be friends with. I, they told me, was not that, and was “actually a lot cooler” than they had thought a “super religious person” could be. They realized that their images of Theology majors and observant religious people were not accurate because I did not fit the stereotypes. They said that over the years they have really appreciated my perspective and our friendship, and that they have learned why faith matters from me. That, I think, is one of the highest compliments I have ever received. I hope that I am able to be a witness to faith in a way that is neither stuffy, nor annoying, nor holier-than-thou, but one that reflects and magnifies the love of God in every action. This love manifests itself most prominently in my relationships with others. The people I have met at Boston College have taught me how to love, and I will forever be grateful for their love in return.
On Weed, Dryer Sheets, and “Eerie Chants”
In the early hours of April 16, Mr. Jeff Maples visited St. Nektarios Orthodox Church in Charlotte, North Carolina for what he would later call a “Holy Saturday service.” Around the same time, I was attending the same service at my own parish, but our observations could not have been more different. In his post about it, Mr. Maples takes issue with any and everything about the Paschal Vigil he attended, starting with the length of the service. He complains that despite having started at 11:30 p.m., there was no sign of slowing down at 2 a.m. In addition, Mr. Maples complains that the smell of incense brought him back to his college dorm days filled with (him or others) “smoking weed and blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer sheets.” Neither was the music up to his taste, as he observes that almost everything consisted of “eerie Byzantine chant.” He acknowledges that there was quite a bit of Scripture reading, but “eerie chanting” aside, he did notice a dreadful lack of preaching. That may, of course, have been because he ducked out before the end of the service, seeing how the Paschal Liturgy is the only one where two sermons are canonically mandated: the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom and the celebrant’s own. That said, it doesn’t seem Mr. Maples would be the kind of person to bother himself with such details. Mr. Maples is a writer for Pulpit and Pen, a contentious Protestant blog which has set off quite a few storms both within Protestantism and without. I do have some observations in response to his. Being in charge of the censer at my parish and having dealt with a number of marijuana-related issues in my three years as an RA, I can confirm without the shadow of a doubt that incense and marijuana smell nothing alike, though admittedly I know nothing of blowing smoke into dryer sheets. Secondly, most people that hear Byzantine chant don’t find it to be eerie, but that assumes a certain level of musical appreciation. If you bring a rebellious adolescent to a Beethoven concert, he may well find that music eerie. Ultimately, I suppose the “different strokes” rule must apply. It seems that others have pointed out such critiques to Mr. Maples and Pulpit and Pen. This triggered J.D. Hall—the founder of Pulpit and Pen—to write an apology to the Orthodox Church, in which he apologizes for having only identified the Pope as antichrist in their statement of faith and promptly promises to include the oft-forgotten Orthodox in the future. In addition, he pokes fun at Orthodox liturgical aesthetics, the Sacraments, and Orthodox doctrine. It is a blessing that Pastor Hall’s recent unsuccessful attempt to become president of the Southern Baptist Convention has given him the extra time to pen this thoroughly mature and well-researched piece, otherwise the 2000-year-old Orthodox Tradition would have had to wait for another similarly skilled preacher
to contend with it for some time. But why is Pulpit and Pen directing all its ire at the Orthodox Church? It turns out the whole issue is over the recent conversion of Hank Hanegraaff, or the Bible Answer Man, who joined the Orthodox Church on Palm Sunday. Mr. Maples had intended to confront Hanegraaff on Easter Sunday, but it seems that he lacked the constitution to stay through the vigil in order to engage in the postliturgical banter he intended. Having failed to do so, he took to his blog outlet to write out his feelings, in what could be the single positive piece of evidence for Twitter’s 140-character limitation. As one can imagine, following these two excellent pieces of apologetic, Orthodox people are pouring out of the Church and into Pulpit and Pen by the millions. I would have done so myself, had it not been for something my dad told me when I would air out all my feelings as a child, “Only dogs find the barking of dogs persuasive.” Well, so much for tales of people who speak out of ignorance and irreverence. For my part, I wish Mr. Maples would return to an Orthodox Liturgy. Luckily for him, the regular ones are a bit shorter than the one he attended, so hopefully he can make it to the end this time. I am nowhere close to him, but if I were, I’d love to explain to him why it is that we do what we do. I can only hope that someone else will take up that job. As for Mr. Hanegraaff, I think I speak for the whole Church when I say that I am thoroughly joyful and excited to hear of his joining the Body of Christ. If I may share with him another piece of dog-related Albanian popular wisdom, “Let the dogs bark, so long as the cart keeps moving forward.” At this point, you may be wondering what the point of this article is. I have two basic points. First, ridicule is the debt owed to the ridiculous, and Pulpit and Pen have gone beyond the measures of ordinary decorum. Second, these kinds of pieces accomplish nothing. The Orthodox confess—and hopefully the writers at Pulpit and Pen as well—a God who is the source of reason and logic, so we have a consistent means of settling these discussions, namely, reasoned discourse. That said, if they be not persuaded by beautiful speech, perhaps they will be persuaded by holding up a mirror so they can see what their tone sounds like to everyone who is not them.
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
The Theology of Babette’s Feast
I recently watched the Danish film “Babette’s Feast,” which tells the story of a French maid living in a small, isolated, religious community in Jutland with two aging sisters. The beginning of the film explains this curious phenomenon, starting with the story of the sisters, Philippa and Martina, who gave up the chance at a career as an opera singer and a loving marriage with a young lieutenant, respectively, to help their father run his religious community. Their father, a charismatic Lutheran pastor, “[thinks] little of marriage and family” and so leaves behind two unmarried daughters and an aging community behind when he dies. Babette comes to Philippa and Martina from a politically unstable Paris, where her husband and son were murdered in the Communard uprising of 1871, and begs the sisters to take her in. Unbeknownst to them, she is the foremost chef in Paris. Philippa and Martina’s home and village are stark; everything is gray, including the light that comes in through the sisters’ dirty window. When Babette arrives she cleans the window, foreshadowing the effect she will have on the community. The community is puritanical, considering most pleasures non-essential, if not temptations. The members dress, eat, and generally live very plain and simple lives. Old disputes resurface and cause frequent fighting among the aging members who cannot forget their neighbors’ wrongdoings. The sisters seem disheartened, and are unable to quell the animosity in the community, except when Babette serves dinner. After living with the sisters for 14 years, Babette learns that she has won 10,000 francs in the French lottery, and asks them if she can prepare a special dinner to celebrate their father’s 100th birthday. They agree, but become afraid when exotic foods and animals are shipped in, fearing sin of idolatry. This is expressed in Philippa’s nightmare, where she sees the head of a calf on the tortoise Babette plans to cook. Out of fear of enjoying the alcohol and food, they agree not to praise it, saying “remember we’ve lost our sense of taste,” as if it were a sin to actively enjoy the feast. At dinner one of the women says “may God nourish my body, may my body do my soul’s bidding, maybe my soul rise up to serve up to God eternally,” emphasizing a hierarchy where the body is the least important, and not worthy of recognition of anything more than bare necessities.
The extravagant feast has theological significance, as it mimics the Last Supper and Christ’s total sacrifice. Babette’s artistry can be seen as a reflection of God’s creativity, as she meticulously prepares multiple courses, making pastry nests for the cooked quails and arranging the fruit as if she were painting a still life. Rather than seeing the act of eating as purely utilitarian, Babette imbues it with a significance and a holiness (also found in Jesus’ breaking of bread with His disciples and His proclaiming it His body). God is not an abstract concept, but a flesh and blood presence that we consume during the Mass. Similarly, we are not spirits arbitrarily housed in flesh prisons, but physical beings whose bodies are sacred and necessary for bringing us closer to God through acts of love. Babette’s feast, her work of art, becomes a reflection of the divine as it nourishes the consumer’s hearts and souls, putting them in amiable dispositions that lead to reconciliation and a return to almost child-like love for one another. When we learn that Babette has spent all 10,000 francs on the feast, the extent of her sacrifice and love becomes clear: Babette acts as a Christ figure, sacrificing everything for a people who misunderstand and do not appreciate the act, yet are transformed by it. After the meal the community forms a circle outside, holding hands and acting more amiable towards each other than they have in many years: eating is not just a means to live, but an activity that brings people together, as all members of the Church are united in receiving the Eucharist. If Babette is foolish for spending her entire fortune on a feast for a group of ungrateful puritans, then Jesus was foolish for dying for us: this ultimate sacrifice saves the community and saves us, and is done not because it has to be, but freely, out of extravagant love. Babette speaks few words to the sisters, but shows her love for them through her labor and totally unnecessary act of love. Martina expresses concern for Babette, saying that she will be poor the rest of her life, but Babette responds by asserting, “an artist is never poor.” Creativity and love cannot be exhausted like money, which is why Christ’s love still invades our lives 2,000 years after his total sacrifice. When words fail to express one’s love, as they so often do, acts remain as testaments to our ability to be like God in loving others, and creativity as a means to make these acts beautiful.
On the Challenge to Love our Enemies ANNALISE DEAL
I have long suspected that most Christians who say they want to love their enemies really only want to love some of their enemies. For most Christians, I think, there is a line where loving your enemy stops feeling like a command worth listening to. For students at BC, I think that line is at loving Donald Trump, or loving members of ISIS. I understand that those are two extremely different examples that don’t belong in the same group, but just for the sake of relating to a broader political, spectrum I will talk about both. This month I tested this theory a little bit on various friends, and most of the time when I said something to the effect of “we are commanded to love Trump” or “we are commanded to love members of ISIS” the reaction was negative, even stunned at first. Many people tried to find a loophole to that statement, and even my first reaction upon realizing this was that I wanted a way out, something that would allow me to continue feeling hate rather than love. I’m not saying that I am perfect in loving Donald Trump--he ticks me off just as much as the next liberal 20-year-old woman--but I am saying that I feel convicted that I should at least try to love him. Furthermore, I will admit that when I found out that the recent “mother of all bombs” was successful in killing dozens of ISIS militants, and little to no civilians, my first reaction was that maybe it would actually help eliminate the group, even if it meant killing their leaders. After all the terror attacks throughout the world attributed to ISIS in the past few years, didn’t someone deserve to pay? However, in Luke 6, Jesus says: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them... But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be
great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. For me, this has long been one of the most challenging passages in all of scripture, when taken at face value. Why should I have to be kind to the wicked and love my enemy? Because Jesus says so. Loving your enemy certainly does not mean liking them or approving of their actions, or even affirming their personality traits. Rather, it means respecting them and wanting the best for them because they possess human nature. Wanting the best for someone can mean desiring that they repent from their wrongdoing and that they change their beliefs and their actions. However, it certainly cannot mean wishing suffering upon them, or in the case of war, it cannot mean wishing that they are killed. Loving your enemy, properly understood, means there is nobody you are allowed to go on hating for your entire life, no matter what they have done to you. But most of us, I think, have had the experience of being so hurt by someone
we do not know how to forgive them, or if we ever can. To this, Jesus answers: pray. Earlier in Luke 6, Jesus says “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you.” I’ve often heard it said that it is impossible to go on hating someone if you are persistent in praying for them, and in my own life I have experienced the power of this reality, even when it took years. Jesus does not call us to pray for our enemies because he wants to hear our prayers, rather he does it because he knows it is the path to love--a love that God desires to see between his children, and a love that sets the victim free from the burden of hatred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about this in a sermon on loving your enemies, saying: I am certain that Jesus understood the difficulty inherent in the act of loving one’s enemy. He never joined the ranks of those who talk glibly about the easiness of the moral life. He realized that every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God. So when Jesus said “Love your enemy,” he was not unmindful of its stringent qualities. Yet he meant every word of it. If King were alive today, I’m fairly certain he would also say to love Donald Trump, and to love ISIS and to love all the other people that I--as a liberal young woman--see as causing evil in the world. And he would certainly not say that because he of affinity for those people, or because it is the logical response; he would say that because Jesus commands it. In this Easter season, as the world continues down a path of hatred and division, let us not forget that some of the last words Jesus spoke on the cross were an act of love towards those who hated and abused him. As he hung dying, Jesus prayed for his enemy, saying “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The TORCH // Volume IV, Issue 7
The Torch honors the hard work and commitment of the following graduates of the Boston College Class of 2017:
World News Editor
Campus News Editor
B.A. English & Political Science
Mary Kate Cahill
B.A. Political Science
B.A. Secondary Education & English
B.A. Political Science & History
Blessing of Graduates Let us unite our hearts in prayer and entrust to the hands of the Lord those who will be graduated tomorrow. May God who began this good work in you carry it through to completion, enabling you to use your talents to the fullest. May God give you the grace to make wise choices and to be faithful to your commitments, always confident in the support of those who love you. May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy. May God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done. May your integrity be a gift to the world and may the Spirit of God be with you always. Amen. Fr. Michael Graham SJ; 2015