The TO R
BOSTON COLLEGE’S CATHOLIC NEWSPAPER | ESTABLISHED MMXIII
Go set the world aflame!
Volume V, Issue 2
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Student Speaks Out at March Against Racism ANNALISE DEAL
On Friday, October 20, thousands of Boston College students, faculty, and staff gathered to march in solidarity with black students. The rally was a response to instances of racism the previous week, including the defacing of a Black Lives Matter sign to read “Black Lives don’t Matter,” and a Snapchat of a burnt steak and cheese sandwich with the caption “I like my steak and cheese like I like my slaves.” Looking out into the crowd at the march, one could not help but notice the multitude of signs
bearing some form of a Christian message. Some simply bore the question “WWJD?” (What would Jesus do?), while others cited Bible verses about justice. Still others displayed quotations from prominent Christian thinkers on the topic of marginalization; sayings came from figures such as Archbishop Oscar Romero and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The march opened with a prayer from Fr. Michael Davidson, S.J., who then led the march alongside students in FACES, who carried a “Si-
lence is Still Violence” sign as they made their way down to Corcoran Commons. There, the crowd gathered to hear student speeches. Among the students who spoke was senior Kerrian Johnson, who spoke about her experiences and gave a religious perspective on the importance of ending racism at Boston College. The Torch interviewed Johnson about her remarks, the significance of the march, and the participation of the Church in institutional racism. Torch: Can you re-iterate a little bit of what you Continued on Page 3
95 Theses Turn 500 ALEX WASILKOFF In the early morning of October 31, 1517, one brave man nailed 95 arguments to a church door, and the world was never the same again—or so the story goes. The truth of the legend surrounding Martin Luther’s 95 Theses notwithstanding, it is hard to dispute the world changing effect that this German monk would have. Luther is often given credit for inaugurating the Protestant Reformation with his 95 Theses in 1517, and a commonly cited ending is the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, although theological disputes, dialogues, and divisions continue to the present day. Luther lived in an age where there were many deep problems in the Church: the Western Schism eroded faith in the papacy, simony and corruption were rampant, and philosophies of nominalism and humanism were pushing scholastic thought out of the universities. Everyone recognized that the problems desperately needed reform, and in
some places progress was made, Spain being one example. Different attempts at general reform were attempted, but nothing had so wide an effect as Luther’s work. The issue that started Luther down the road to breaking from Rome was indulgences. Indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.” They can be obtained in a variety of ways, and in Luther’s time, they were being sold in order to fund the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther’s 95 Theses were written to his bishop in order to raise some questions he had about the way the sale of indulgences was being conducted in his area. At this point Luther had no intention of breaking with the Church or challenging the authority of his superiors, he was just asking questions. However, his bishop did not start a discussion on the question raised as Luther
had wanted. Luther was question by a Papal representative, and the meeting degenerated into a shouting match. Around this time his work began to take on a more radical tone. Before now, he had been raising questions about certain church practices, but increasing he separated himself from Church doctrine. His key claims were that man is justified by faith alone (sola fide) and that scripture is the only source of doctrine (sola scriptura). Luther was summoned to account for these teachings at the Diet of Worms. After a lengthy debate presided over by Emperor Charles V, Luther was condemned as a heretic and outlaw. He allegedly declared, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” But none of this happened in a vacuum, and cerContinued on Page 7
Inside this Edition
WORLD NEWS Christian Persecution
Prayer and Time
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
CAMPUS NEWS BC Conference Invites Dialogue on Amoris Laetita ADRIANA WATKINS Sensing a need for increased understanding between clergy and families, Pope Francis released his papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia in April of 2016. The document, whose title means “Joyful Love,” enumerated several challenges facing the modern family. It was intended as a starting point for further conversation, and in a recent symposium, Boston College provided an environment in which to continue this discussion. The conference took place on October 5-6 and was entitled “Amoris Laetitia: A New Momentum for Moral Formation and Pastoral Practice.” As the name suggests, the event was aimed towards clergy and their role in following the ideas of Francis’s papal exhortation. Both days of the symposium began with a Mass at St. Mary’s chapel. Many church leaders were in attendance, including Blase Cardinal Cupich; a representative of Boston’s Archbiop, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M.; as well as many bishops from various dioceses. Several Boston College theology faculty were also present. In fact, BC faculty took a leading role as the conference was directed by theology professor Fr. James Keenan, S.J. Fr. Keenan directs the Jesuit Institute, which organized the symposium, and he had several aims in orchestrating the event. Keenan expressed a hope that the conference would encourage leaders to bring renewed enthusiasm to their communities. “The BC conference,” he said, “got all the bishops who were there to say,
‘I really need not only to read this apostolic exhortation, but I have to get the priests in my diocese to read it and understand it.’” The symposium provided an opportunity for clergy to hear different perspectives on the document, and to appreciate Pope Francis’s intention for a new evangelization. The dialogue initiated by Amoris Laetitia requires the participation of all Catholics, meaning that both the clergy and the general populace must pay close attention to the document. Keenan remarked, “In the United States, we have a problem [where] many people are not really paying attention to what Pope Francis [and our bishops] do.” Through the BC conference, Keenan hopes clergy will be able to encourage their congregations to join the conversation. “I think that many new ideas were heard,” said Keenan. “If the bishops are looking for a new evangelization, it’s Amoris Laetitia. I think that’s what they heard.” The conference was the first of its kind in the United States, but Keenan believes this is only the beginning of the American dialogue on the papal exhortation. “There will be other conferences to help bishops around the country understand why they need to give attention to Amoris Laetitia,” he said. Though the BC symposium lasted only two days, Keenan views it as an important first step towards the acceptance and appreciation of Amoris Laetitia.
For all those who have not read the exhortation—lay and clergy alike—Keenan emphasizes the importance of a close reading. Much literature has been written on the document since its publication, but Keenan advises Catholics to read it with an open mind. His advice is simple: “Just read it.”
Land O’ Lakes Statement Turns Fifty ALEXANDER WASILKOFF On October 11, many prominent figures in Catholic higher education met to discuss the legacy, effects, and future of the fifty-year-old Land O’ Lakes Statement. On the panels were the presidents of seven Catholic universities, along with several prominent authors and professors. They gathered to discuss the Land O’ Lakes Statement, which a short study document issued in 1967 by representatives of many large Catholic universities. The statement has often been blamed for the decline of Catholic identity in Catholic universities, and some claim that it is responsible for allowing Catholic universities to compete with the secular land-grant universities. The first prompt the conference addressed was “The Legacy of Land O’ Lakes in Catholic Higher Education Today.” Immediately, Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, dismissed the narrative of a steady decline of Catholic identity due to Land O’ Lakes. The statement encouraged boards of trustees to staff themselves with lay members. These lay trustees brought valuable knowledge about finances and fundraising that clerical administrations did not necessarily have. Fr. Jenkins argued that the Land O’ Lakes statement was necessary for the survival of Catholic institutions of higher education. Another fruit of Land O’ Lakes, according to Linda LeMura, Ph.D., president of Le Moyne College, was a deep, searching discussion about the role of theology and philosophy in the university. The general consensus was the importance
of emphasizing the Catholic intellectual tradition. Many universities sized down their theology and philosophy requirements during the period after Land O’ Lakes. Peter Steinfels said, “There’s a lot less theology taught now, but it’s much better.” The role of Catholic universities as centers of theological research and reflection was reaffirmed later in the conference in the context of Catholic universities functioning as the “critical reflective intelligence” for the Church and for society. “If Catholic universities don’t do theology, someone else will,” warned Margaret Steinfels. The next topic addressed was institutional identity. All of the universities represented are associated with a specific Catholic order: Jesuits, Benedictines, Holy Cross Fathers, and Franciscans. For many of these universities, there has been the temptation to lead with their specific charism rather than with Catholic. LeMura mentioned that at Le Moyne, the administration went back and forth on describing themselves as “Catholic and Jesuit” and “Jesuit and Catholic.” Peter Steinfels identified the baggage associated with the word “Catholic” as a reason for this tension and the rising percentage of students at Catholic universities who do not identify as Catholic. The fact that identifying with a specific charism allows a university to stand out from other Catholic universities was also mentioned. In a contrast to most universities represented, Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University, said that his institution was not guided much by Land O’ Lakes because it was founded after 1967 and has
instead drawn mainly from Pope John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Because of this choice, Franciscan university has not had the identity crisis some other universities had in the wake of Land O’ Lakes. In addition to discussing the descriptors used when identifying universities, the panelist spoke on the topic of how Catholic identity is expressed in curriculum and on campus. A common theme among the different institutions was an increased intentionality in respect to Catholic identity. What had once just “been in the air,” now constituted a focus for administrations. Fr. Jenkins made the point that the faculty is an extremely important component of university culture because “if you faculty doesn’t reflect the vision, it doesn’t exist.” However, this does not preclude non-Catholics from being professors. Many presidents spoke of how their non-Catholic professors were some of the most committed to the vision. Some panelists raised the issue that often hiring for mission is difficult when running an R1 research university, and there was an acknowledgement that the condition that small liberal arts colleges operate in are different than those of R1 universities. The final speech was given by Fr. William Leahy, S.J., president of Boston College. He clearly outlined what drafters of Land O’ Lakes did and did not do. He emphasised the incompleteness of their work and fact that Land O’ Lakes was not as watershed as it is sometimes given credit for. Fr. Leahy ended with a call for a vision for Catholic education today.
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Student Speaks Out (Cont.) Cont. from Page 1
ANNALISE DEAL talked about, and why you think it’s important for the BC community to hear that message? KJ: In my speech I spoke about [how] despite BC being a predominantly white space, I still tried hard to make BC my home, which for me meant trying to fit myself into white spaces. Through that, I’ve had multiple encounters with racism [from] people who I once called friends or [with] whom I had shared deep parts of myself regarding race and racism. […] From this point, I segued into the idea that BC supports a culture that allows its students and faculty to make overtly racist comments like this often, on top of the many micro-aggressions students of color face on campus. I also addressed that Jesus was a man who was born and lived on the margins...born of a lowly carpenter, with hair like wool and feet the color of bronze (Rev. 1:14-15), who spent most of His time with the marginalized and disempowered: the poor, the widow, the orphan, the prostitute, etc. Jesus spent His life correcting the wrongs of society and people hated Him for it. If Jesus were alive in His physical form today, I have no doubt that He would have been walking with us at the demonstration. The Bible has many verses advocating for social justice, but the one I spoke on was “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the [powerless], plead the cause of the [voiceless]” (Isaiah 1:17). I stressed that the Bible is the very book BC is
built upon and has its values rooted in. The Bible tells us exactly how to act when faced with injustice and oppression, in black and white. BC is doing an inadequate job of living up to its mantra of “men and women for others” and the BC administration is failing at effectively supporting it’s AHANA+ [and] specifically Black students. Students do not feel physically safe or respected by their peers and professors, which weighs on their mental health and affects their academic performance and overall BC experience. […] Torch: What do you think the march and rally accomplished? What were your feelings on the experience overall? KJ: The fact that the march started and ended with prayer was very important to me. As we called upon the Holy Spirit, He was actively moving in the hearts of those in the crowd, as well as [of] those who watched from their rooms or as they walked by. The Holy Spirit can reach and touch people we cannot reach with our stories. I think the Silence is Still Violence demonstration showed [...] Black students on campus that there are people around them who want to stand in solidarity with us and are willing to hear our story and learn about our experiences of being Black at BC. The demonstration also allowed AHANA+ students on campus to share what it means to be an ally with our non-Black peers. A speaker emphasized that coming to the demonstration and insisting
that Black lives are important doesn’t make someone a good person. It makes them a decent person because it is something they should be doing anyway. […] Though there was a lot of gratitude offered to non-Black students who attended the demonstration, there were also a lot of words of constructive criticism and how they could best support and help carry the burden of their AHANA+ [and] specifically Black peers. Overall, the demonstration was a powerful experience, and it was humbling to be able to speak in front of the crowd. I pray that the ball does not drop here and once the hype dies out our white brothers and sisters do not forget our plight. Torch: What do you think the church can and should be doing to combat racism? KJ: The church at large should be educating itself in Liberation Christology, which tells of how Jesus himself was born and lived on the margins and how Jesus is found amongst the suffering and the oppressed. The church has a Christian obligation to proclaim the Bible verses that support social justice and the protection of Black people and their existence. I think church members could also benefit from a lot of reflection and time spent actually talking and listening to God and what He holds true. It is all found in His word, and as a Christian, I strongly believe that if you wholeheartedly ask for answers, the Lord provides them. [...]
The Intersection of the Secular and the Sacred in Fifteenth Century Music DAVID O’NEILL On Thursday, October 21, the Jesuit Community and the Music Department welcomed members of the BC community and music aficionados from greater Boston to for a night of timeless music. Held in Saint Mary’s Chapel, audience members filled in for a performance by Blue Heron, the worldrenowned renaissance ensemble directed by Scott Metcalfe. Titled “Ma maistresse: Songs, Masses & a Motet for My Lady,” the concert featured the works of the well-known Renaissance composers Johannes Ockeghem, Johannes Regis, and Firminus Caron, and Barbingant. The ensemble began the evening with a motet to Our Lady written by Johannes Regis titled “Celsitonantis ave genitrix” (Hail, mother of the High-Thunderer). Next, the group gave a haunting rendition of the secular song “Au travail suis,” which details the agony that Barbingant feels in being separated from his love. Composers of the time often utilized the tunes of secular songs for Mass pieces and hymns. The program explained that these tunes would have been widely recognizable to the faithful. The incorporation of secular melodies was not intended to be irreverent, but instead was meant to highlight parallels between everyday life and the divine. This idea based itself on Saint Thomas Aquinas’s argument for metaphor: “It is befitting Holy Writ to put forward divine and spiritual truths by means of comparisons with material things…in order that thereby even the simple who are unable
by themselves to grasp intellectual things may be able to understand it” (Summa Theologiæ Q. 1, art 9). Aquinas’s argument in this case was specific to Scripture, but Blue Heron finds this argument applicable to the analogies in music employed in the fifteenth century as well. Songs such as “Au travail suis,” “En atendant vostre venue,” and “Ma maistresse” were understood to be addressed to both the composer’s lover (his lady) and the Blessed Virgin Mary (our Lady). The night continued with Ockeghem’s Missa Au travail suis, the name and tune of which he took form the aforementioned song by Barbingant. Following the Mass, the group sang the song “En atendant vostre venue,” whose author has been lost to time. Interestingly, the song was itself lost to history, a fifteenth-century songbook was discovered three years ago. The program explained that the Boston College performance of the piece
was likely the first performance since the fifteenth century. As the concert neared its end, we heard to the music which gave the evening its title. First, Blue Heron sang the chanson composed by Ockeghem, “Ma maistresse.” This song could be applied either to a lover or to Mary. The translation of the first verse of the song reads that the lady is “perfect in good qualities, if ever a woman was, / She alone whose reputation and fame it is / To be without peer.” As the song progresses, Ockeghem expresses his desire for the pity and vision of the maistresse; these ideas call to mind Marian prayers such as the Memorare. The evening finished with a Mass that Ockeghem composed, based on “Ma Maistresse” and titled “Missa ma maistresse.” Sadly, only the Kyrie and the Gloria are extant. The program explains that “both movements draw liberally and audibly on the discantus and tenor of the chanson.” Pieces like “Missa au travail suis,” “Missa ma maistresse,” and “Celsitonantis ave genitrix” were written as expressions of prayer for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained in a 2007 letter to the world’s Bishops, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
WORLD NEWS Cardinal Speaks on Poverty and Social Development NOELLA D’SOUZA On October 2, 2017, Archbishop Bernardito Auza of the Philippines, Vatican ambassador to the United Nations, gave a speech at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly Debate on Social Development. The Archbishop focused on the impact of global economic growth on those in poverty and the steps that can to be taken to ensure comprehensive economic and social advancement that will last for the many, especially the marginalized. While work has been done to eradicate poverty, Archbishop Auza emphasized that there needs to be a more directed focus on alleviating socio-economic inequality. Currently, relief and assistance are aimed towards the immediate needs of those in poverty, but does not necessarily address the root cause of the inequality. However, this strategy only improves the issue temporarily. In light of this, Auza called for a “broader understanding of integral human development … to achieve lasting gains.” The causes of poverty are multifaceted, often rooted in class and social structures and access to education. To truly arrive at a productive, lasting solution to poverty, international organizations must address the sources of this issue. Auza’s specific suggestions focus more on empowering and lifting people up. Auza recommended the “principle of subsidiarity,” a focus on community-building, and a “culture of encounter” to those trying to tackle the issue. The principle of subsidiarity is a part of Catholic social teaching which emphasizes that social institutions exist for the benefit of individu-
the capitalist individualism. A culture of encounter speaks to those working with the poor. As much as possible, leaders should interact face-to-face with the poor to best address their needs. The Archbishop noted that special attention should be paid to the most defenseless in this current global economy: the elderly, disabled, youth, and migrants. Despite their vulnerability, there should be social safety net programs in place, such as welfare and pensions, to help these people participate in and contribute to society as “a matter of basic human dignity”. Entrepreneurship should be encouraged, particularly for youth, and women, to help these people become self sufficient and to provide them with an important means of “dignified work”. The rights of migrants and refugees, namely access to healthcare and education, should be guaranteed. Doing so is a direct investment in society because these people are then able to contribute effectively to society when they grow older. Under the overarching theme of Social Development for the UN Subcommittee, Archbishop Auza sought to redirect this conversation towards a renewed “focus on people”. In - Roy Lagarde the modern economy, there is a tendency to als, and that what the individual or smaller com- view the gifts and abilities of the person from a munity can do for themselves, the larger commu- strictly utilitarian perspective. Instead, the Archnity or government should encourage. Similarly, bishop called on the attendees to actively recogthere needs to be a concerted effort to foster com- nize and protect the dignity of the human person munity and spaces for the vulnerable to counter and use this as the foundation for a better global society.
The Paris Statement TESS DANIELS
In early October, ten well-known European intellectuals signed The Paris Statement: A Europe We Can Believe In, in which they declared that a false and pseudo-utopian Europe threatens everyone and that all must defend the real Europe. This real Europe is defined by solidarity, civic loyalty, and patriotic love for the nation-state. The signers also decry the enforced unity of the European Union: “Our beloved home will not be fulfilled with the European Union. The real Europe is, and always will be, a community of nations.” They point to Christianity as central to Europe’s cultural unity, for Christian roots “nourished” Europe just as its classical roots encouraged excellence. They argue that today a sense of false freedom prevails, with individualism, isolation, and aimlessness permeating European culture. The statement’s signers also condemned overregulation, over-management, and the dissipation produced by multiculturalism. The signers proposed an alternative to this “false” Europe: turning back ersatz religion and restoring a “true liberalism.” They urged national unity, solidarity, and the restoration of “moral culture,” while demanding the reformation of education and strengthening of marriage and family. The document ends with a call to action directed to all Europeans, urging them to take responsibility for the future of the continent,: “Our gentle virtues are of an unmistakably Christian heritage: fairness, compassion,
mercy, forgiveness, peace-making, charity.” Reactions to the declaration have been mixed. Some conservatives support the aims of the document, agreeing that Eu“Our beloved home will not be fulrope’s prospects do not evoke optimism. filled with the European Union. The Michael Brendan Dougherty at National real Europe is, and always will be, a Review agrees that the European social community of nations.” structure needs reexamining, pointing to Europe’s declining birth rates and the lack of integration of immigrant communities. To Dougherty, “Europe has become disenchanted with its faith, Chriswere unknown or that whining about it would tianity.” He argues that conservative intellectuals change the reality today.” While Walther agrees typically respond to this fact with either “hysteria with The Paris Statement concerning the “moral or resignation,” whereas Dougherty sees The Paris decay” of Europe, citing euthanasia and abortion Statement as a more sober analysis which correct- laws, he does not think documents like this are ly identifies Europe’s problems as arising from “a effective, or that we can “turn back the clock.” false understanding of itself.” Other American Catholic conservative commenHowever, others have been more critical of the tators also raise objections. For instance, First statement. The Week’s Matthew Walther, in an Things’ Matthew Schmitz contends that we will article entitled “‘Europe’ is Meaningless” harshly need more than “local patriotism and Christian criticizes the document. Walther argues that the roots” to overcome the dangerous portrait The concept of Europe has been degenerating for cen- Paris Statement paints because “only an authentic turies, and that the continent “could be destroyed Christendom can overcome a counterfeit.” tomorrow and rebuilt by the set designers from Although reactions to the document were Game of Thrones and it would make no differ- mixed, one overlying theme was clear: the idea ence.” that Europe is facing a crisis. The Paris Statement’s Walther also maintains that the signers act as if proposal is welcome most of all for drawing atten“the fact that these were once Christian countries tion to that at this critical time.
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Cardinal Burke Reinstated to Apostolic Signatura JEFF LINDHOLM Raymond Cardinal Burke of the United States was reappointed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. Cardinal Burke previously was prefect of the court for six years. Italian Cardinals Agostino Vallini and Edoardo Menichelli, as well as Belgian Archbishop Frans Daneels and Dutch Bishop Johannes Willibrordus Maria Hendriks were also appointed to serve on the Apostolic Signatura. The Apostolic Signatura functions as the Vatican’s highest court, akin to the Supreme Court in the United States. Cardinal Burke served as prefect, or head, of the Vatican’s highest court from 2008 until his sudden removal by Pope Francis in 2014. Since then, Cardinal Burke has served as patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta, a largely ceremonial post. Following his removal, Cardinal Burke faced controversy with the Holy See for the removal of the Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Malta. Potentially more controversial was the dubia, or list of questions, that he and four other cardinals submitted to Pope Francis seeking to clarify Francis’ position on divorced and civilly remarried couples in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Though he has had his disagreements with Pope Francis in the past, Cardinal Burke has stood firm in his questions of doctrinal accuracy of Amoris Laetitia, as he and other cardinals sought to end “grave confusion.” Yet, Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis both deny that there is a rift between
them. Cardinal Burke went as far as to say that claims that there was a rupture between him and Pope Francis were ridiculous: “They depict Pope Francis as a wonderful, open person and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they depict me as just the opposite, it’s meant in a certain way to advance their own agenda, but the pope is actually not in favor of their agenda. They’re making a caricature of someone who’s asking for clarity about certain matters, they’re saying ‘well, he’s the enemy of the pope’ and he’s trying to build up opposition to the pope, which of course isn’t the case at all.” The supposed rift between Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis is nonexistent, the media just depicts the two fighting, thus the “caricature” Cardinal Burke refers to. Moreover, Cardinal Burke said that he loves and respects Pope Francis “with complete obedience to the office of Peter.” Cardinal Burke is one of the top experts in canon law. He holds a doctoral degree in canon law from Rome’s Gregorian University, and was named the first American “Defender of the Bond” at the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Saint John Paul II. Later, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would name Burke to head the court in 2008. He also has held positions in the past in the Congregation for Bishops and its Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which is responsible for liturgical policy. Though his views on liturgy, sacraments, theolo-
gy, and politics have proven controversial in years past, as seen in the Amoris Laetitia disagreement, he is gifted in his ability to interpret canon law. Cardinal Burke’s gift of interpreting canon law will certainly be of use in the Apostolic Signatura. The Church is constantly in need of clarification on doctrine, and Cardinal Burke is an expert that can provide explanation and clarity on difficult doctrine in an increasing relativistic world.
Global Christian Persecution Escalates CRISTINA VILLALONGA-VIVONI Christianity is the world’s largest religion. As of 2015, Christian has approximately 2.3 billion followers and the numbers have increased since the numbers were released two years ago. However, many Christians living in violence-ridden countries or under authoritarian regimes have reported numerous accounts of persecution. As of 2016, close to 600,000 Christians have suffered some form of persecution of faith, while almost 100,000 Christians have been killed for their faith in the past two years. Persecuted and Forgotten? is a report written by researchers affiliated to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that details the persecution of Christians in thirteen countries between 2015 and 2017. They found that twelve out of the thirteen countries showed signs of worsening persecution. In addition, they discovered that the main causes of the rise in violence are: the displacement of Christians, the political consequences of destabilization, and the loss of morale among the Church communities. The report found that due to the increased extremist-Islamic violence, Christians in the Middle East are fleeing. In Iraq, more than half of the country’s Christian population has become refugees and predicts that by 2020, the Iraqi-Christian community will be completely wiped out. Similarly, the city of Aleppo in Syria has seen a rapid decrease in Christian citizens. Aleppo once housed approximately 1.2 million Christians, making the city the largest Christian community in the Middle East. However, by March of 2016, Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo claimed that the number of Christians in Aleppo has declined to 500,000 in the past five years and will continue to decline. One short year later, only 35,000 Chris-
tians remain in Aleppo. “If the Christian organization and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East,” claims the reporters of Persecuted and Forgotten? In other parts of the world, namely India, China, North Korea, and Nigeria, Christians are facing increased intolerance and violence. In Northern Nigeria, Christians are suffering from an on-going genocide led by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. The rumored ISIS-affiliated groups claims that their campaign of violence is meant to ensure that the faithful “will not be able to stay” in Nigeria. One diocese in Kafachan described that within the last five years, 988 people have been killed, and 71 Christian villages have been destroyed. Meanwhile, Christians in Asia are experiencing similar occurrences. The authoritarian Chinese government has increased their intolerance of the Christian religion. New laws are forcing Christians to conform to the communist ideals. In addition, clergy are routinely arrested by Chinese authorities and more than 2,000 churches were demolished in the coastal provinces. In India, Christians are suffering from increased violence and oppression as a result of increased Hindu nationalism due to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took power in 2014. Lastly, Christians in North Korea suffer “unspeakable atrocities”. For example, North Korean Christians have reported to have suffered enforced starvation, abortions, crucifixion over fires and have witnessed fellow Christians being crushed by a steamroller. John Pontifex, an editor of the Persecuted and Forgotten? report, claims that “in terms of the num-
bers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.” As the humanitarian crisis drags on, many dioceses feel as though the international community has forgotten them. Although the international community has confirmed that Christian genocides are taking all over the world, Western governments and the United Nations have collectively failed to offer persecuted Christians the emergency help they needed when the genocides first began. During a speech at an event at the House of Lords, Archbishop Issam John Darwish, a persecuted Melkite bishop of Lebanon, spoke on the mass Christian exodus occurring the Middle East. He urged that Middle Eastern Christians find a way to return to their homelands while calling on the Western governments to stop facilitating the immigration of Christians from the Middle East. Similarly, Prince Charles of England called for the West to become more involved in stopping the Christian persecution after speaking with witnesses of persecution from the Middle East and abroad. “Clearly, for such people, religious freedom is a daily, stark choice between life and death. The scale of religious persecution is not widely appreciated.” Although faced with such adversity, the Christian communities in these thirteen countries continue to hold steadfast to their beliefs and the hope that they one day can live harmoniously with the people around them. Although they were initially driven out of their cities, villages, and homes, Christians continuously return in hope of a better and peaceful tomorrow.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
CATHOLICISM 101 A Christian Perspective on Racism GJERGJI EVANGJELI
The Christian perspective on racism is surprisingly simple to formulate. St. Paul, speaking on baptism, says that it is “a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11, cf. Gal. 3:28-29). This is not to say that baptism erases ethnic identity, sex, or socio-economic status, but rather that none of these things are an impediment to membership in the Church of Christ and to the reception of the promises of the Lord. Since we have been commanded to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mat. 28:19), it follows that the same is true for any nationality or race. Scripture clearly attests that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27). Christ did not come to save dogs and donkeys not because He did not love those creatures, but because they are incapable of being saved. The medieval theologians—always thorough in their investigations—enquired even into the significance of a mouse gnawing on the Eucharist. The answer, of course, is that the mouse neither be-
comes Christian nor commits sacrilege. What is not made in the image and likeness of God, can neither sin nor be saved. Christ, however, commands that His good news be taken to all nations. It follows, then, that all humans are endowed with the image and likeness of God and are equal in dignity. The racist, therefore, must reject Colossians and Galatians and, at length, Acts, as well as the Gospel of Matthew. If he is particularly anti-Semitic, the Old Testament has already been cast aside. Thus, we are left with a thorough rejection of the Biblical worldview, and with it, the One Who inspired the Biblical worldview. To be racist, therefore, is about as Christian as sacrificing your firstborn to Moloch. But why is it, then, that so many racists claim to be Christian? The reasons may vary. Ignorance is an obvious candidate, as is cognitive dissonance. The more insidious reason, however, is that some racists wish to use Christ for their purposes. Richard Spencer, for example, explains in a Radixjournal podcast episode that religion is simply a force which binds people together. He therefore decries
the loss of Christendom. In an “ask me anything” at AltRight.com, he explains that Christianity was paganized and Germanized, and was made an effective tool of binding Europeans together. His claim about the Germanization of Christianity is dubious at best, but it suffices to say that Spencer’s main point here is to highlight that Christianity is a European religion at its core. Spencer readily accepts that he is not truly a Christian, but is “culturally Christian,” while also saying that he cannot bring himself to believe in any God. That is to say, Spencer rejects Christ, but finds Him a useful tool for control. He desires Christendom stripped of Christ, like a body stripped of its head and heart. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The unity which Christianity creates is because we “let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts, to which indeed [we] were called in one body” (Col. 3:15). Anyone, then, who is filled by the peace of the God Who Loves and can be called a member of His body, can in no way harbor hatred in their hearts. It really is that simple.
Exorcism and Spiritual Warfare 101 JEFFREY LINDHOLM “BATHSHEBA! By the power of God, I condemn you back to hell!” For anyone who has dared to watch The Conjuring, these were words used to cast out a demon. If only it were that simple. We do not know a whole lot about exorcisms. The Catholic Church says that exorcisms exist, but other than that, scant information is available. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism” (CCC 1673). Many of us are familiar with exorcisms conducted in horror movies such as The Exorcist or The Conjuring, but the truths of exorcisms are widely unknown the public. Baptism functions as a simple and minor exorcism, since the celebrant is asking that the person be protected from the stain of Original Sin (CCC 1673). When we think of the movies, we are thinking of a “solemn,” or major exorcism, which can only be performed by a priest with the permission of a bishop (CCC 1673). Jesus’ power over Satan gives the Church the spiritual authority to expel demons and liberate people from demonic possession. Major exorcisms only occur in the case of a genuine demonic possession. Who can perform exorcisms? Anyone can perform a minor exorcism—such as baptism— since we are given dominion and power over evil (cf. Lk. 9:1). Therefore, we all have authority over Satan and demons in Jesus’ name. How about major exorcisms? The Code of Canon Law provides some answers: “No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express per-
mission from the local ordinary. The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a presbyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life” (Can 1172). Only an ordained minister can perform such an exorcism, like seen in The Exorcist. Most importantly, per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “the text [The Rite of Major Exorcisms] cautions that the lay faithful are not to recite any prayers reserved to the exorcist (ERS, no. 35), not only because the prayers are reserved to those ordained to act in the person of Christ the Head (in persona Christi capitis), but also to protect the faithful from possible spiritual harm.” To this end, every Catholic diocese has one exorcist, whose job it is to oversee all matters regarding spiritual warfare.
Father Gabriel Amorth (1925-2016) was the Chief Exorcist in the Vatican and dealt with the occult for decades. In An Exorcist Explains the Demonic, he affirmed that there is a Rite of Rituals followed in performing an exorcism, though each case is unique and possesses its own challenges. Fr. Amorth did not deny the existence of Satan;
rather, he warned of his power and presence: “The devil, through his ordinary action, which is temptation, and through his extraordinary action, which is the subject of this book, tries to destroy the confidence of each man and each woman to love and to be loved.” C.S. Lewis paints a similar picture in The Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” There are five simple steps that reject Satan and demons in our life. First, repent and believe in Jesus as Lord. Second, say “I forgive.” Forgiveness and mercy are traits Christ displayed that draw us near to him. Third, renounce the evil spirit and Satan in the name of Jesus. Fourth, take authority over the spirit in Jesus’ name. Finally, receive blessing in the name of Jesus. Through Jesus’ power over evil, these simple steps affirm our authority over Satan. The most important thing to remember is that we always have power over Satan and demons. These five steps, taken from Neal Lozano’s book Unbound, offer us a way to counter Satan. Fighting Satan is like a war, but there is hope. Jesus Christ already won the war for us. He defeated Satan on Good Friday on the Cross. He rose from the dead in order that we may be saved. Take hope in this, brothers and sisters, Jesus defeated Satan, and gave us the power and authority over Satan as well.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
Magnum Principium and the New Liturgical Translation ETHAN STARR In response to the Second Vatican Convention’s goal of increased utilization of vernacular languages in the liturgy, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) released its first English translation of the Roman Missal in 1973. In keeping with Vatican instruction of the time, the inexact translation sought a “dynamic equivalence” to the original Latin, attempting to adhere to the spirit of the Latin texts without a concern for absolute literality. In its intention of avoiding the sometimes unwieldy, technical language of a literal translation, the ICEL did not always win the approval Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Rome’s regulatory arm concerning liturgical translations. The Congregation’s rejection of a revised 1998 translation by the ICEL sent the clear message to the loose translations that the Congregation was not partial to dynamic equivalence. In 2002, The Congregation for Divine Worship released the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, which mandated that “the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner” to the original Missal. The most recent English translation of the Roman Missal, in accordance with the rigidity of the “formal equivalence” method ordered by Liturgiam Authenticam, was approved by the Holy See in 2010 and adopted by most English-speaking countries by the end of 2011. In September of this year, Pope Francis reig-
nited debate over liturgical translations worldwide with his release of the document Magnum Principium, which took effect starting October 1. Issued motu proprio, or “under his own authority,” the new guidance for Church leaders regarding liturgical translations was aimed at fostering “shared decision-making between local churches and Rome,” one of Francis’ stated objectives as Pope. Having first formed a commission to review Liturgiam Authenticam in December of 2016, headed by Archbishop Arthur Roche. Francis concluded that after the “long journey” of liturgical translation since the Vatican II, “we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” Outlining the purpose of translation efforts in his declaration, Francis stated that the goal of translating the liturgy is “to announce the word of salvation to the faithful in obedience to the faith and to express the prayer of the Church to the Lord.” For this reason, the use of vernacular languages is integral to communication with the faithful. The Pope added that fidelity of a translation “cannot always be judged by individual words,” but rather in the “whole communicative act.” He goes on to consider that vernacular languages themselves, in a “progressive manner,” might “be able to become liturgical languages” in their own right. What is the real, effective change resulting from Francis’ release of Magnum Principium? Archbishop Roche notes in the official commen-
95 Theses Turn 500 (Cont.) ALEX WASILKOFF tain princes saw that they could use Luther as a weapon against the power of the emperor and the church. And things exploded. (I guess you could say that Luther really opened a can of Worms.) The story of Luther was only the beginning. Very shortly many other reformers started to publish their ideas, often disagreeing with Luther. These numerous other reformers went on to found the other strains of Protestantism. John Calvin became the father of the Reformed tradition which includes Presbyterianism and Congregationalism. Many more groups would sprout off from the Church of England which King Henry VIII founded by his break with Rome. Relations between the different groups of Protestants were
often as bad as those between Protestants and Catholics. Once political leaders started to take sides in the religious conflict, war broke out almost immediately. The Thirty Years War, the collection of wars between Catholics and Protestants, with over 8 million casualties was one of the most destructive European conflicts until the Napoleonic Era. It ended with the Treaty of Westphalia which many credit with creating the modern idea of a national sovereignty. In response to the Reformation, the Catholic Church began what is called the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reformation. It was a movement started by the Council of Trent (1545-63)
tary on the document not only that Pope Francis calls for more productive dialogue between each of the groups in the translation process, but also that the Congregation should “ratify the approval of the bishops.” In other words, authority over translations is now decentralized into the hands of bishops’ conferences. Additionally, Church Canon Law was revised to redefine the role of the Congregation for Divine Worship, from the previous task of “authorizing” liturgical translations to a role focused on “reviewing” the respective vernacular. In an expansion of the ideas set forth by the 1994 Varietates Legitimae, which set forth conditions for legitimate variations, or “enculturation” of Church liturgy with consideration of global contexts, like local cultural customs and traditions. The liturgy, therefore, may no longer be uniform between the U.S., New Zealand, or Kenya, for example. Pope Francis’ impactful announcement calls all communities around the globe to take an active role in determining the state of their liturgical rites. His pronouncement echoes the spirit of Vatican II, and similarly encourages Catholics to seek organic connections through liturgy of all kinds. Whether it be in the original Latin or any of the world’s many vernaculars, each individual can receive the true communication of what it means to be faithful.
Cont. from Page 1
which defended traditional church teachings, weeded out corruption, created better training for clergy, and saw the spread of new spiritual movements and religious orders (including the Jesuits). Although Protestants and Catholics still disagree on much, there has been progress made on some fronts. In 1999, Catholic and Lutheran theologians crafted a document “Joint Declaration of Doctrine of Justification” in which they came to an agreement on the good works vs. faith alone argument. Just this past July, the World Council of Reformed Churches signed onto the document also. While we remain divided, some of the most controversial arguments are being resolved.
Created by Pablo Cardenal
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
Editor-in-Chief Gjergji Evangjeli
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. !
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Society of Saint Thomas More Eucharistic Holy Hour Mondays 6:00 – 6:45 p.m. Saint Mary’s Chapel
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
Loving is Living in Hope ADRIAN RUBIO Professor Rubio is a Ph.D student studying Legal Philosophy at Boston College hailing from Spain. He teaches various philosophy and foreign language classes at Boston College. Students, faculty, and professionals alike all have their eyes glued on their smartphones, checking for the updates on the most recent news-break or scandal. Everyone seems driven by the desire to get information fast, but to what extent has the immediacy of contemporary communication created an unhealthy need for instant gratification? Our days are too short, too busy, and too overwhelming for us to stop and reflect. Nothing seems more important than responding to that text message or email received a couple of hours ago. We live in times of high standards and expectations, but what exactly do we expect from others and ourselves when we focus so much on the instant? In our contemporary culture, we make checklists reflecting our immediate duties, trying to protect our hearts from the instability associated with deep reflection. We disregard what is important as just another task. To deter the possibility of heartache and spiritual suffering, we attempt to overwhelm ourselves with the immediacy presented by technology. The constant emails, text messages, and phone calls block us from profound contemplation. When we are presented with an open door to transcendence, a door to escape our own finitude, we often view it as something we
can take control over and accomplish. As long as we can see its conclusion, we circumscribe that experience in the immediacy, and we move on, just like another email to be sent. In other words, we know how to soften our hearts of stone, but not to turn them into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezekiel 36:26). We can relate to the Transcendent for a period of time, but we need to make our hearts feel the continual connection with Him. We need to engage in a personal relationship with the One who knows us by our names, the One who lights a fire within us and moves our hearts. If we allow Him to touch us and enlighten us with His Truth, we can be free from immanence and take up hope. Living in hope does not mean living with uncertainty, but rather living with the security of God’s protection. Although hope is central in our desire to escape from the immanent, hope is accompanied by faith and love. The Christian life of living in hope, albeit contemplative, is not passive. On the contrary, it calls for active practice of the virtues. Hope is the burning that maintains and keeps the flame of love alive (cf. St. John of the Cross). If we are truly hopeful, we act not out of love, but in love, because hope transforms us. It is no
longer a task on our checklists, but instead a new mode of life—a life that trespasses the boundaries of the here-and-now and goes beyond the particulars to the universals. That is the Christian proposal. Life in hope is not strictly reserved for the most devout theologians, but can be maintained with active love in the life of ordinary, faithful Catholics who are able to escape the immediacy of everyday life. If we remove ourselves from the business of instantaneity and act out of love towards others, we can find greater meaning in life. With hope comes more responsibility to never forget the important when dealing with the urgent. Maintaining hope means remembering that we are in the world, but not “of the world” (John 17:14). Let us recall St. John Paul II’s invitation to the youth, “Be not afraid.” Be not afraid to lose yourself in love, because we now live in the certainty of God.
Senior Staff Book Recommendations Jamie Myrose // To The Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
Marcus Otte // Equality by Default Phillipe Bénéton
Gjergji Evangjeli // Everyman
Annalise Deal // She Who Is Elizabeth Johnson
Chris Reynolds // The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom
Hadley Hustead // The Prophet Kahlil Gibran
Christian Rodriguez // Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
Jacqueline Arnold // The Son And Her Flowers Rupi Kaur
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
CULTURE The Tragic Impact of Hugh Hefner’s Legacy DAVID ONEILL
On October 27th, Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine, died at age 91. A leader of the sexual liberation movement, the damage that Hefner has incurred on American Society is unfathomable. It is a frightening thought to imagine how many souls were led into a state of sin by viewing his magazine. Hugh Hefner was born in 1926 in relatively normal conditions, he was the son of an accountant and his family were practicing Methodists. In 1953, he published the first edition of Playboy. Perhaps one of the saddest things about Mr. Hefner is that he believed himself to be a philosopher and an intellectual, as if his idea of over-indulgence in all areas of life was anything new. His philosophy is no different than hedonism, a false ideal that has spread throughout history, but his decision to style it “Playboy philosophy” is worth dissecting. By assigning hedonism the name of “Playboy philosophy”, Hefner gives his ideals a perfect description. Clearly a thought-system that encourages the individual to follow the whims of their desires, view others as sexual objects (Hefner himself estimated that he had slept with over 1,000 women), and avoid the natural consequences of sexual intercourse (Hefner was a constant financial and political supporter of abortion and contraception), it is fitting that he styled himself a Playboy. These traits show an immaturity and an unnatural desire to cling to the irresponsibility of
youth. A man is one who views women with dignity, holds respect for them and denies his carnal desires. It is a child, a Playboy, who caves to his desires and delights in immature pleasures while trying to escape the ensuing responsibilities. Moreover, his depiction of the women in his magazines and at his nightclubs as “Playboy Bunnies” reflects the dehumanization of women that is ever-prevalent in pornography. Saint John Paul II exclaimed that “‘It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman.” Let us contrast this with why Hefner decided to utilize the term “Playboy Bunny”. Hefner explained that the bunny “has a sexual meaning, because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping — sexy. First it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny.” He made no attempts at masking his dehumanizing view of women, depicting women not as humans but as animals made for sexual exploitation. He denies Adams recognition of the humanity of Eve (an idea that was not always commonly held, some ancients viewed women as another species, as it appears that Hefner does). “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). It is evident that Hefner failed in his duty to uphold the dignity of women, as he didn’t even view them as humans with dignity to uphold. Perhaps a distaste for Hefner is one of the few issues that feminists and conservatives are able
to wholeheartedly agree with. It is astonishingly clear that his political viewpoints were driven more by his selfish interests than anything else. Ross Douthat’s Op-Ed published on October 1 in The New York Times encapsulates Hefner’s political leanings perfectly. Douthat explains, “The social liberalism he championed was the rotten and self-interested sort, a liberalism of male and upper-class privilege, in which the strong and beautiful and rich take their pleasure at the expense of the vulnerable and poor and not-yet-born.” Playboy was advocating for legalized abortion 10 years before Roe v. Wade. Many have argued that Hefner’s advocacy was not out of desire to support women, but rather because the existence of abortion was good for Hefner and his promiscuous lifestyle. Though it may be easy to celebrate at the death of a man who drastically changed our social landscape for the worse, as Catholics we do not rejoice in the deaths of others. Rather, we should pray for his soul. Any soul up to the point of death, like the good thief, can repent and come to know the mercy of God if they are truly contrite. We do not know if Hugh Hefner repented in his last days, but we may hold a small amount of hope and therefore pray that his soul may pass from Purgatory to Paradise, where he could pray for all of the souls that he has led astray here on earth.
Drink of the Issue - Rex Regnum In the spirit of St. Ignatius’ teaching to find God in all 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.
Rex Regnum 1¾ oz. Crown Royal Canadian whiskey ½ oz. Drambuie ¼ oz. grenadine ¼ oz. lemon juice Instructions: Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Enjoy Responsibly. For those 21+
Inspiration: The approaching feast of Christ the King calls us to remember that Christ is the sovereign of the universe not just after the last day but here and now also. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925, and even then he saw the restructuring of society without reference to God to be harmful. He attributed the growing sense of despair and moral decay to this growing secularism. He resisted the growing trend of privatization in religion calling Christians to “all the more loudly proclaim [Our Lord’s] kingly dignity and power.” Pope Pius hoped this feast would invigorate the faithful’s sense of Christ’s jurisdiction here and now. You can join in the spirit of Pope Pius’s call by having a Rex Regum:
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
A Roomier Rumi Night NATASHA ZINOS I knew very little about Jalaloddin Rumi before “Rumi Night on the Heights,” although I was aware of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter, Rumi (impressive for someone so far removed from popular culture). So in imitation of any self-respecting academic, I decided to educate myself on the poet to better appreciate him at Rumi night: I listened to a podcast on Rumi and Sufism. That may have given me a little context to understand the poetry in, but I was still unprepared to encounter Rumi in such raw loveliness of his lyrical poetry. This was the 8th annual “Rumi night on the Heights” and I sympathize if you missed it because nothing transports your spirit quite like mystical poetry does. As Professor John McDargh, longtime organizer of Rumi night said, the increased attendance since the event’s beginning requires a “roomier Rumi night.” His comment was right in tune with the Islamic poet’s spirit. Rumi followed the Sufi movement, which seeks direct touch with the Divine truth and love through contemplation. Rumi’s sense of mysticism gives his poetry a transreligious appeal. Most religions have a strong mystical tradition. In the Catholic faith, we have St. Teresa of Avila
and St. John of the Cross to look to. Why experience the mystical practices of religions other than our own? Mysticism reaches into a neglected part of the human soul through contemplation. This is a space where we can encounter one another with a shared appreciation of beauty and mystery rather than taking the usually irresistible path of opposition. As the stringed instruments vibrated with a distinctly middle-eastern harmony accompanied by rhythmic drumming, Rumi expert Amir Vehab chanted the Persian poetry. A whirling dervish dancer stepped out and removed his black robe, a symbol of taking off the burdens of this world. He wore a white robe underneath, symbolizing his death to the world while still living, in order to begin a participation in the Divine life while on earth. His tall hat was symbolic of a tombstone. He whirled to the musical chant in an unreal, magnetic motion. The first Rumi night held a Boston College was allegedly advertised saying: “Get drunk on the Heights Friday Night! (With the poetry of Jalaloddin Rumi)”, although I have not uncovered any posters to prove it. Whether or not it was advertised that way, it is an appropriate description
of the experience of mystical poetry, music, and dance as the rich harmony they produce enters and inebriates you with an uninhibited spirit. “You are hidden, and yet from East to West you have filled the world with Your radiance. Your light is more magnificent than sunrise or sunset, And you are the inmost ground of consciousness revealing the secrets we hold.” (Mathnawi V: 3307-3319) A devout Muslim, Rumi did not intend to propose that religion is purposeless. Rather, his poetry portrays the way that the human spirit, even outside of specific religions, shares enough commonality to gather into a space with room for everyone. We can ponder something beautiful and eternal together here. Rumi night offered a space, amid the twanging medieval middle-eastern instruments and the timeless chanted poetry, for a small but meaningful step to be taken toward a sense of unity among those of us who are so dedicated to contradiction.
#TrumpTweets: The Use and Abuse of Media ADRIANA WATKINS At this moment, you’re one Google search away from Donald Trump’s eightyear Twitter history—a corpus composed of 36,200 messages. Often, even those who don’t use Twitter end up seeing or hearing about these 140-character media bursts, a series of “sound-bytes” that tells us what the President is thinking, doing, or planning. Many users find the updates important (Trump has some 41 million followers) while others critique his use of social media (another Google search will show you that). While there are strong opinions on both sides, few voices argue that his presence on Twitter is unimportant. Yet many world leaders make use of the platform, often without incident or attention. Pope Francis’s account has only a quarter of Trump’s audience, though the pontiff leads a much larger flock, and his tweets rarely garner public outrage. Other presidents, prime ministers, and politicians find Twitter an efficient platform for reaching their constituents. Why, then, is Trump’s media so controversial—and why do more and more users follow him? It might be more helpful (and more constructive) to consider this question in light of how we use social platforms ourselves. For your convenience, here are some lessons we can learn from Trump’s Twitter history, reducible to 140-character overarching maxims. 1. Choose your thoughts wisely—word limits are short, and attention spans shorter. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the Twitter format is its brevity. The restrictions, however, are not always a blessing, as shorter messages demand succinct thoughts. You have to trim the excess, sacrifice a few clever quips, and make content decisions—
and all of these editorial processes take precision. In a world where messages can be shared instantaneously, the pressures of crafting and drafting well-written content are somewhat removed. The focus of the message can become entertainment value, rather than meaningful reflection. This leads us to the second danger… 2. Don’t let brevity steer you into sensationalism. One of the dangers of that short Twitter format is its capacity for exaggerated content. Brief messages have to engage the reader’s interest without delay, leading many writers to gravitate towards over-hyped generalization. Many of Trump’s tweets address the “fake news” controversy, the tensions between North Korea, and alleged election scandals. These are topics that can easily become sensationalized, heightened emotion and decreased editing. At the same time, the news most often sensationalized is the same news in
need of serious treatment—making faithful journalism one casualty of an alarmist culture. On October 22nd, for example, Trump tweets: “46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS…” Capital letters, the literary equivalent of a blinking neon sign, are designed to be eye-catching. Perhaps we should always be suspicious when others’ opinions (or our own) are only validated by pandering and embellishment. That is to say… 3. Communication is an art. We spend much of our time speaking, writing, texting, smiling, and figuring out other ways to get our point across to others. It’s easy to let a common custom lose its grace and style, but at its heart, communication is a skill that’s neglected more often than it’s mastered. We can learn many lessons about this art through an examination of Trump’s tweets—for example, we see the importance of sentence variation (Trump’s messages follow an offensively repetitive format), the dangers of unprofessionalism (Trump calls many politicians by insulting nicknames), and the blight of the rhetorical question. We will all learn these lessons through trial and error. But perhaps the most important choice in communication comes at the start, when we decide whether or not something is worth saying. Much controversy over Trump’s use of Twitter could be potentially abated by a spirit of discernment—a spirit which asks not only how and when to say something, but whether to say it at all.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
FAITH FEATURES The Patron Saints of Intentionality
While most Boston College students are just rolling out of bed, I have the great fortune of teaching second graders their catechism at St. Ignatius Parish on Sunday mornings. This is a relatively new experience for me, and I have found that I have just about as much to learn from my students as I have to teach them. This experience has shaped my understanding of who I want to be as a student here at Boston College—and more importantly—who God is calling me to be as a Catholic in conversation with the world. One thing that I have noticed about this year’s class is that they are militantly excited about things that they do not quiet yet understand. For example, if two of them see a crucifix they will race to see who can make the sign of the cross faster, or another student gets a kick out of inciting the entire class in a rousing chorus of “we love God!’ as they pound their fists against the table. Mind you, on the surface, I have no issue with these actions. It thrills me that they should be so excited about their faith. But I wonder to what extent are their actions intentional? The Boston College community has had a tough week, especially our students of color, as acts of white supremacy virtually and physically threatened our campus. These acts were met with an outpouring of solidarity and messages of how racism on campus will not be tolerated, culminating in a march for solidarity attended by thousands of community members. But the testimonies of marginalized students and staff once again
raised the question: to what extent are our actions intentional? The white supremacists were here before they started tearing down posters. Speaking as a white student, we were fine to continue with our days when the acts of racism were micro-aggressions and confronting our friends would have proven embarrassing; or worse when we completely failed to notice them. As a friend put it to me this past week, the Church should have it easy when it comes to things like this; racism and Nazis are easy to condemn. What is difficult is calling out friends, family, and at times even one’s own actions that perpetuate an evil system. It requires a deep sense of intentionality. The first step to rectifying injus-
tice is to reject it at every level. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, RSCJ offered a daily prayer, one line of which asked for, “a pure heart that recoils even at the appearance of evil.” We need not wait for an enemy to materialize that represents the whole of an evil structure—we can start with a change in ourselves that begins with an unbiased and earnest self-evaluation. The second grade—or generally that age range—is vastly important in the Catholic Church because students typically spend the year preparing for their first reconciliations and first communions. Though barely at the age of reason, my students are about to embark on the next great step of their faith journeys. More than the nuances of doctrine or the logistics of the sacraments, my main responsibility is to teach them intentionality. Only with intentionality will they come to realize the importance of these rites, and I have found that the best way to teach this value is by living as an example. I acknowledge that I too have a fair amount of growing left to do, but each Sunday morning will be a new opportunity for reflection, with the hope that I stood up when it truly mattered. This month I recommend To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. This novel about an ordinary family is apt reminder that, in our everyday lives, the days are long but the years are short. Let us not miss our chances, lest the years go by and we said nothing.
Finding Fellowship CHRIS REYNOLDS This weekend, I had the opportunity to go on a male mentorship program retreat in beautiful New Hampshire. Aside from the breathtaking change of color in Fall foliage, and hours spent canoeing on glassy water, the brief hiatus from BC allowed for a much-needed break from the chaos of college life. The retreat consisted of logistical training sessions and exercises in vulnerability, to equip the seventy or so junior and senior men on the retreat to be excellent leaders for our freshmen mentees. The weekend centered on sharing life stories, fun activities in the outdoors, and getting to know the seventy other men, all dedicated to the shared goal of bettering the Boston College community through our commitment. The retreat was not explicitly religious, but the moments and memories we shared reflected a beautiful part of the Christian faith: fellowship through community. The fellowship we experience when we pray, break bread, and walk together through the rewarding and difficult parts of life is integral to the Christian faith. Fellowship has been a distinguishing mark of Christian communities from the start, beginning with the apostles and some of Jesus’ first disciples, continuing all the way to modern faith communities around the world. Even from the beginning, in most of the important moments of discernment and struggle in Jesus’ life, including his baptism, traveling ministry, and passion, He was surrounded by a community which loved Him. Following His crucifixion, the
twelve apostles found solace in the fellowship amongst one another following, and sought fellowship among the world as they spread the Good News of Christ. College can be a difficult environment in which to feel stability in one’s faith practice and growth, especially with regards to the nebulous concept of fellowship. This statement probably seems counterintuitive, since we are constantly surrounded by friends our age, taking classes which preach development of the whole person, and have access to dozens of masses held each week on campus. At the same time, the average Boston College student fills their schedule with classes, homework,
extra-curricular activities, parties, lunch dates, Examens, football games, and other wonderful opportunities only available at this time in our lives, to the point that settling into a community of Christian fellowship becomes low on our priority lists. In fact, it often takes getting off-campus on a “classic BC retreat,” like 48hours, Halftime, or Kairos, to remember their importance, readjust, and actively seek these communities. I’m not sure when the last time is that I sat down with one of my close friends, and had a deep conversation about faith, or our lives, or struggles either one of us was experiencing, but I do feel like something is missing in my life. As social beings, humans fundamentally yearn for spiritual connections with creation and others around us, and an especially intimate relationship to God. Perhaps connection to a community of Christian fellowship is what I’m missing? At our Jesuit school, which preaches formation and genuine conversation much more frequently than the average university, we have the privilege to engage in Christian fellowship in ways that are unique to this community. Fellowship through community brings the power of hope, laughter, stability, and companionship into our lives in ways that isolated meditation and prayer do not. Our challenge rests in recognizing opportunities for cultivating this fellowship, and exploring it among others to share our experiences of faith more fully.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
FAITH FEATURES My First Lily Pad HADLEY HUSTEAD
In elementary school we are taught that all good stories have a climax, ranging from a simple resolution to existential breakthroughs. Tales without a pinnacle were boring and not worth expression. If this were the case, my life would not be a story worth sharing. A few years ago I was asked to share the story of how I met God and built my relationship with Him. I panicked. My walk with Jesus has no climaxes, no pinnacles. In an effort to rescue my seemingly boring story, I began to comb through
the past 20 years looking for climaxes. I uncovered a few, which provided fleeting satisfaction. Interestingly, however, as I was brushing through my memories of Jesus with a fine-toothed comb, I learned that my seemingly steady pursuit of Jesus is the opposite of boring. My youthful fascination with Jesus from childhood has steadily transpired into a divine romance that still enchants me today. In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott explains, “My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.” My faith has developed similarly to Lamott’s. Despite its lack of suspenseful build ups and revolutionary breakthroughs, the trail of my leaps amongst the lily pads make up a magical story. The beginning of my walk with Jesus illuminates the gradual enchantment that continues to be the rhythm of my faith today. I met God at my beloved summer camp when I was seven-yearsold. Enamored by the unprecedented love and joy my counselors contained, I was determined to get in on their secret elixir of jubilation. Turns out it was Jesus. Slightly confused how an elusive dead man could live inside you, I drank the KoolAid anyways and offered Jesus some real estate in my
heart. I imagined it would take Him a bit to get settled and figured I would check on Jesus in a few weeks to see if He was still there. Life outside my euphoric bubble went south on me pretty quickly that year. I started the third grade in a new class separated from all of my friends, my mom was pregnant, and I became a popular target for social annihilation which led to inescapable and perpetual humiliation. Desperate for affection and plagued with anger and fear, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give my new resident a whirl. I began knocking on the door of my heart to see if God had decided to stick around. Sure enough I started hearing His whispers. My interactions with the Lord began with gentle whispers and small flutters of peace tickling my heart. To my surprise, Jesus had an uncanny ability to replace my loneliness with a sublime contentment that made me feel known, loved, and important. The malicious pursuits of my savage peers began to lose their sting and Jesus was winning me over. Our growth was gradual. God slowly began to gain my trust as He proved himself a viable and unfaltering refuge. I sat on that first lily pad for a long time. No pinnacle. No climax. But, boy it was magical. Jesus was busy building His home inside my heart, holding my hand, cradling my soul, and laying the foundation of Truth in my mind. My only job was to relish in Jesus’ wonder and love.
Prayer and Time JACQUELINE ARNOLD Praying is an act of faith. When you pray, you are participating in your faith life, surrendering your pride, and trusting in the internally transformative power of prayer. Through prayer, you are actively inviting the Lord to enter into your life. This is how I typically understand prayer. Why, then, when I become busy and overwhelmed with the foreboding tasks of the day, week, month, or even year, is prayer always the first activity that I cut out of my day, in order to “make more time”? All too often, I embody a utilitarian mindset; I measure my own self-worth, and that of others, by productivity, status, career ambitions, and accomplishments. I myself have always— and still do—try to live in a counter-cultural manner and strive to not allow utilitarian logic to direct my thoughts and actions. However, combatting this philosophy that influences our society and the way we think as individuals is an incredibly arduous task. In an attempt to be productive, to read more books, to learn more languages, to understand more cultures, and to be able to relate to more people, I place my worth and value in the quantity of information that I intake. While the quest for knowledge and truth is a beautiful one, if knowledge itself replaces God as the end or telos, we easily become overpowered by greed. It is a sneaky sort of greed, this greed—a greed for more experiences, to do more, read more, “be” more. This requires the smallest alteration to twist a noble
goal—the pursuit of knowledge and truth—into something selfish. In my experience, a fine line exists between striving for excellence in order to glorify God versus making myself, my time, and my accomplishments into an idol. Here is where prayer comes in. During hectic days where I feel stretched too thin, 25 minutes of prayer or daily Mass can seem like too much time taken away from me. Taken away from me— herein lies my own misunderstanding of time as
something that I own, that I control, and that will ultimately serve me in achieving my goals. Time exists for me, right? I deserve time, it’s mine, and when someone or something unexpected comes and takes away my time, I have been wronged in some way. I need time, I need as much of it as possible, and I want to be the one who governs it. All too often, I find myself slipping into this mindset, and when I do, I find myself utterly lacking in gratitude and humility, and I must remind myself that time is a gift, and that I am not the owner of it. Trusting in the Lord means trusting that He will provide me with everything I need— including time itself. And that is why prayer is, in so many ways, an act of faith and of pure surrender. When we choose to pray, we are relinquishing “control” over time, and placing trust in God in order to participate in our dialogue and relationship with Him. As Pope St. John Paul II said, “Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God’s perspective and from eternity. That is why you must not give up on praying!”
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
On Race and Relgion CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ Christians can be terrible at encountering others. So often we are the ones who play into the proverbial culture wars. You are either a traditionalist who sees the reforms of Vatican II and Pope Francis as the beginning demise of the Church or a social justice minded progressive who is loose with Church teaching. This religious polarization plays into our politics as well. Being a traditionalist is to be an All Lives Matter Republican who wants to #MAGA while being a progressive Christian is to be a pro-abortion Democrat who sees 45 as #notmypresident. Our political affiliations then also influence how we understand our faith. We choose the versions of Christianity that suit our political leanings. With everyone picking and choosing, it seems only natural that we choose ours and everything that comes with it. We write off the other because we stand on the side of Truth—Jesus is always with us, never with them. This polarization should make you uncomfortable because regardless of which side we choose, our continued demonization of the other side comes out of our own fear. The Jedi Master Yoda warns us: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” We fear the other side because it is easier to fear them than it is to confront our own insecurities. It is this very fear of the other that leads to our own suffering because we spend our time fearing instead of encountering, angry instead of understanding, hating instead of loving.
Given the recent racial turmoil and reactions on this campus, Mother Teresa’s words have never rung so true, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.” What would it look like if we were to leave behind the lines that we draw amongst ourselves? What would it look like if we dropped our façades long enough to realize that I am loved and you are loved, and that we are meant for love? What if our deepest desire is simultaneously our greatest fear? Pulling ourselves out of our political and religious dichotomies is scary because we are confronted with the shocking possibility that Love might be greater than us, great enough
to include people on the other side. If this makes you feel unsettled, you should be. Heck, it even makes me uncomfortable! This is not to say that our disagreements don’t matter, nor that we should rush to forgive those who hurt us. Ronald Reagan once said that “Peace is not an absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Additionally, Bernie Sanders said, “Let us understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white, and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win.” What would it look like if we were to allow ourselves to win together? Is that not the reason Jesus was born? He says “I came so that all might have life, and had it abundantly” (John 10:10). If you are reading this and think that I am trying to get across an All Lives Matter sort of message, you are wrong. If you are reading this and think that I am trying to preach liberal propaganda, you are also wrong. If you are reading this and feel uncomfortable, you get it. I will leave you with this: “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).
Marcion GJERGJI EVANGJELI While listening to Richard Spencer’s take on Christianity, I noticed a funny coincidence. In his act of arguing for a Christianity separated from its Jewish context, he is borrowing from Marcion. The latter is a second-century Syrian heretic who argued that the Old Testament was revealed by another god distinct from the Father of Jesus. I leave the reader to contemplate the irony of a white supremacist employing the arguments of a Syrian to show that Christianity is not, after all, Jewish. Nonetheless, the dichotomy between the “jealous and capricious Old Testament God” and the “loving and gentle Jesus of the New Testament” is oft repeated in our culture. Marcion argued that since according to Paul— or rather his interpretation of Paul—Christ abolishes the Law of Moses, the god who revealed it must be an inferior deity of the Israelites overthrown by Jesus and His Father, the true superior God of all the world. To this effect, he rejected all of the New Testament except for an edited version of Luke and some of the letters of Paul. He was constrained to this position because the New Testament is filled with references to the Old Testament, specifically identifying Jesus as the Jewish God and applying the titles and qualities of one to the other (see John 12:41 and Isaiah 6:1-6, where in the Septuagint, “robe” is rendered “glory”). Christ Himself says that He has not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Mat. 5:17). Most poignantly, Paul says that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16-17). At that time, the New Testament was not yet written in full or compiled together, therefore, it is possible to make sense
of Paul’s words here only by understanding that “Scripture” refers to the Old Testament. Responding to Marcion, St. Irenaeus pulls no punches, decrying him for rejecting the truth which the whole Church holds, that the Gospels are the faithful witness of the Apostles. Thus, he accuses Marcion of being a mutilator of Scripture on account of his editing the Biblical record. This dichotomy between God in the Old and New Testament betrays a shallow reading of both the Old and the New Testament. The lovingkindness of the God of the Old Testament cannot be questioned. He is resisted by humans from the very beginning and yet remains committed to them. He makes a covenant with Abram that his descendants will be like the stars (Gen. 15), but Abram decides to take matters into his own hands and father Ishmael with Hagar (Gen. 16). The people whom God brings out of Egypt grievously disobey the Covenant (Ex. 32) right after they have agreed to uphold it (Ex. 24). They seek to have a king over them, thus rejecting the Kingship of God (1 Sam. 8:7-9). The people of God reject Him at every step, so much so that God adopts the image of the indignant yet faithful husband decrying the transgressions of his unfaithful wife (cf. Hosea 2:2-23). And yet, He says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15). Despite every betrayal, the Psalmist exclaims, “His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Ps. 136:1). On the other hand, the Jesus of the New Testament adopts language quite similar to the God of the Old Testament, decrying hypocrisy and unfaithfulness and not being shy about announc-
ing punishment on all those who reject Him (Jn. 8:24, Jn. 5:22-23, among others). The message that Christ preaches is not that God no longer punishes, but rather that He has offered us a perfect way to repentance. He has offered His Son to condescend to our human nature and suffer death, so that all who believe in Him might have life (Jn. 3:16). The love of God in the New Testament, therefore, is not a change from the God of the Old Testament, but the final dispensation of the lovingkindness of the same God who in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. If one does not read the Old and the New Testament as the one revelation of the one true God, one rejects both.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
The Worst Argument for the Death Penalty MARCUS OTTE In writing about the problem of “therapy culture,” I am sure that the influence of therapeutic thinking on the Left came readily to mind. But therapeutic priorities are far more pervasive than many would suspect. The Right is also affected. Perhaps the most disturbing evidence of this occurs in debates on capital punishment. It is sometimes urged that a humane society needs the death penalty, because it is the only punishment that can give “closure” to the families of victims. “Closure” is a psychological benefit. After a traumatic event, the sense of closure is— supposedly—part of one’s mental recovery, and an indicator of mental health. The closure argument entails that the state must have the power to kill the guilty for the psychological benefit of the innocent. This is the utmost height of elevating the importance of good feelings. Traditionally, there are three justifications for judicial punishment. First, and most importantly, a just punishment must be deserved. This is why we may not deliberately punish the innocent, even if good consequences (e.g., the placating of a riotous crowd) might come from it. It is also why we may not execute jaywalkers, or even fine them heavily. Second, the punishment must fit the crime. Judicial penalties set the scales of justice right. They should not be too heavy. And while mercy ought to be offered in particular cases—especially through pardons—punishments should not be too light systematically. Rape and murder, for example, cannot be justly punished with a mere fine, or a light jail sentence. If a punishment is deserved, it is also appropriate to favor penalties that might reform the wrongdoer or protect society, including through deterrence of crime. There are traditional justi-
fications for the death penalty that appeal to all three of these reasons for punishment: retributive justice, reform of the wrongdoer, and the protection of society. This underscores just how radical it is to justify the death penalty on the basis of the need for “closure.” Closure is an unprecedented, fourth reason for executing the guilty: the psychological wellbeing of the innocent. Nor is this the only case in which killing is now justified for therapeutic reasons. In Belgium, assisted suicide is legal for those who suffer from chronic “unbearable” physical or mental pain, including chronic depression (note: words like “unbearable” become actual legal terms in therapeutic cultures). In America, when abortion rights groups appeal to the health of the mother, they often include mental health. Of all the perennial insights of Plato and Aristotle, one of the greatest is this: our souls, and our societies, are corrupted whenever we love any good thing immoderately. Pleasure, money, respect from others, friendship, intelligence: all of these are good, as far as they go. But none of them are The Good. None of them should prompt us to unconditional surrender, or to unwavering pursuit. If any of these goods are pursued unreasonably, they degrade and weaken us, instead of ennobling us. The same deserves to be said of the goods to which late modernity calls our attention. Feeling good is a fine thing, a little confidence doesn’t hurt either, and mental health is certainly no less important than physical health. But a good life cannot be based on the pursuit of these things. They are not The Good. The immoderate wish for a lesser good always amounts to vice. Any vice, pushed to its limit,
forges a path to cruelty. In a therapeutic culture, killing oneself is justified, if you cannot get your psyche sorted out; killing your unborn child is justified, if you expect him or her to substantially upset your psyche; and killing the guilty is justified, if you expect this to soothe the psyche of the innocent. Life should be nice. And the not-nice life is not worth living. Returning to the topic of capital punishment, it should be remarked that killing the guilty is a futile means of bringing about closure. It is not the real person, but an imaginary person—a twodimensional caricature—who holds sway over the unforgiving mind. Killing the real person will not end the burden of obsession. Only forgiveness can do that. Or at the very least, forgiveness is the fastest, most complete, and most morally safe— and morally obligatory—means to become whole after an encounter with malevolence.
What Does it Mean that God is Light? ANNALISE DEAL Recently, I went on a retreat on which the speaker focused all of his talks around 1 John 1, which makes the claim that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (v. 5). The concept of God as Light has always been intriguing to me, but I came to understand it in four new ways that weekend. Firstly, 1 John 1 focuses on the problem of sin by comparing it to darkness, saying “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true” (vv. 6-7). John says that the reality of being human is that we will sin, and if we do not confess it, our sin will keep us in a place of darkness where God seems absent. We cannot, on our own power, attempt to become free from sin and wholly pure. However, if we “walk in the light, as he himself is in the light”, and “we confess our sins,” then “he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (vv. 7a, 9). “Confess” as it is used in 1 John, is the Greek homologeo meaning to say the same word, or to assent. Thus, to confess our sins is to must with God that our wrongdoings are sinful, and calling them what they are. When sin is brought to the light in confession, we experience forgiveness of our sins because “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7b). By His mercy, God who is light cleanses us from our wrongdoing, and brings us out of darkness into freedom. Secondly, the fact that God is light brings heal-
ing to our brokenness through fellowship. In addition to the darkness of sin, we experience darkness in the form of loneliness, brokenness in our families and in our world. In the fourth gospel, which likely came out of the same community as 1 John, it says “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5). In relationship with Jesus, we experience hope and love such that we are not overcome by the burdens of our lives. Sometimes, this comes through fellowship directly with God, but often it comes through “fellowship with one another” (1 Jn. 1:7). When we are known fully by our brothers and sisters, we bring our brokenness into light, so that we may receive prayer and healing in community.
Though it may still be painful, as soon as we allow another into our pain, it cannot be completely dark, because Christ’s light shines through human acts of love. Third, as I sat contemplating the meaning of light and darkness, I started to feel weighed down by the heaviness of the topic. While of course it is true that God wants us not to sin, and to be free of our brokenness, I don’t believe he wants us to spend all of our time in anguish over how to accomplish these two things—He also wants us to experience joy. The Lord wants us to feel light in the unburdened sense as well. God’s lightness allows more than enough room for celebration, and offers a constant invitation to joy. That God is Light, means that He is the source and provider of abundant joy. Fourth, God’s light allows us to see clearly. As we drove away from the retreat center through the Berkshires on Sunday morning, I realized the road was lined with bright yellow, orange and red trees that we had not noticed coming in on Friday night in the dark. Furthermore, signs dotted the road away from the retreat center, offering tidbits of scripture like “blessed are the pure in heart.” When we entered in darkness, we had not seen the true beauty along the road, nor the little signs. Only in the light were we able to appreciate the fullness of creation and see the words of wisdom dotted among the trees.
The TORCH // Volume V, Issue 2
@pontifex In our times we need to pray so much – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.
It is the duty of the human family to help free every single person from poverty and hunger.
Our guardian angel is a friend we do not see, but whose presence we feel. He accompanies us on our earthly journey to heaven.
Let us bring the flame of Christ’s love to humanity which needs true happiness and peace so much.
Only in the silence of prayer can you learn to listen to the voice of God.
The Church is truly alive if it is maternal and missionary and goes out to meet others.
The mission of schools and teachers is to develop an understanding of all that is true, good and beautiful.
God does not disappoint! He has placed hope in our hearts so that it can blossom and bear fruit.
When you experience bitterness, put your faith in all those who still work for good: in their humility lies the seed of a new world.
Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us be transformed by the love of Christ in order to live in simplicity and joy.
The search for peace is an open-ended task, a responsibility that never ends and that demands the commitment of everyone.
Encountering Jesus can give a decisive direction to our life, filling it with meaning.
We are called to defend and safeguard human life, especially in the mother’s womb, in infancy, old age and physical or mental disability.
Charity is more authentic and incisive when it is lived in communion.
Published on Oct 26, 2017