Faith in Action Blog
Greg Pfundstein (’05), president of the New York-based Chiaroscuro Foundation, recently appeared on the Canadian television program Context with Lorna Dueck to discuss the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United States. (Interview begins at the 1:08 mark.)
Answering a question about the ostensible tension between mercy and doctrine, Mr. Pfundstein responded, “The interesting thing about mercy is that there is no mercy if there is no justice. If there is no law, if there is no sin, why does anyone need any mercy? There is nothing to forgive; there is nothing to be sorry for. So there is always this balance between upholding what is true about human nature — and what we are all called to live in our lives as Christians and as human beings — and, on the other hand, embracing people where they are, in their own struggles and their own weaknesses, and trying to draw them in.” The Holy Father’s approach, Mr. Pfundstein continued, is like that of Our Lord’s comments to the woman caught in adultery, offering mercy while at the same time upholding truth. “It’s a delicate balance,” he continued, “and this pope, I think, has struck it very well.”
Mr. Pfundstein also cautioned against the tendency to force papal statements into a narrowly political framework. “The American political situation is a small part of the wider world, and the Pope is speaking … to the whole world and to the Universal Church,” he said. “His comments transcend our political categories, and I think it’s a mistake to think of them only in those terms. If anyone feels completely comfortable with everything he says, they’re probably not listening carefully. He’s got something that should challenge all of us.”
Saints Zelie and Louis Martin
Suzie Andres (’87)
Fresh after writing her testimonial to St. Junipero Serra, alumna novelist Suzie Andres (’87) has authored a tribute to the Church’s two most recently canonized saints, Louis and Zelie Martin. The Martins “are quite near to us,” Mrs. Andres observes, and this proximity makes their holiness tangible — and attainable — to us, their faithful contemporaries. As such, they are a valuable and much-needed model for our time:
“Louis and Zelie’s message isn’t new; it’s the same message their daughter has been spreading so handily for the last 120 years, the message of the Gospel. But if we ask where Saint Thérèse learned her little and very ordinary way of sanctity, the answer comes back from the Church: she learned it first in the home of her parents, whose way was absolutely ordinary. …
“The message of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin is simply this: Sanctity is not beyond our reach — it is Christ’s doing, and He thirsts to do it in us. The Church will not rest until she gets this message through our very thick heads: the saints were human like we are, and we need not be daunted by their greatness. It is just such greatness that Jesus has in mind for us, the greatness of the little ones. Without Him, we are nothing, and when He makes us great, it is simply His greatness shining forth in us.”
His Holiness Pope Francis canonized the Martins this past weekend on World Mission Sunday. Saints Louis and Zelie, pray for us!
“My husband teaches at a college where her Emma is read senior year by every student,” writes Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, wife of tutor Dr. Anthony Andres, in a new essay for Crisis magazine. “I object, but only because I think the work to introduce [Jane Austen] in such a universal way ought to be Pride and Prejudice, accessible to the uninitiated but still brilliant to the reader who already knows her well.”
From there proceeds a glowing tribute to the author whom Mrs. Andres heralds as “The Divine Jane,” and “The Novelist.” Jane Austen, she observes:
“… charms 13-year-olds as well as 30-year-olds, 16-year-olds and 60-year-olds, 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds. Who can say whether the gladness one feels upon first reading her is greater or less than the mature joy one feels when returning to her for the who-knows-how-manyeth a time? You may as well compare the happiness of the convert with the beatitude of the life-long grateful Catholic, a Chesterton and a Belloc. It is safest simply to say, her charm endures.”
Inspired by Austen’s works, Mrs. Andres has spent the last four years composing her own recently published novel, The Paradise Project, which she describes as a “paean,” but more than “a simple retelling” of Pride and Prejudice, set in modern times. Its protagonist, Liz Benning, bears a certain resemblance to Elizabeth Bennet and, like Mrs. Andres, she is a devoted reader of Jane Austen. The Paradise Project, says its author, is “a story of those, like us and so many before us, who love Jane and are nourished by her books.”
The Paradise Project is Mrs. Andres’ first work of fiction, following on her two previous books, A Little Way of Homeschooling and Homeschooling with Gentleness, which are available via Amazon.com. She is also, most recently, the editor of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J.
Margaret (Steichen ’84) O’ReillyA home-schooling mother of 12 children, Margaret (Steichen ’84) O’Reilly has remarkably found time to pen a beautiful essay about the Holy Eucharist in Homiletic and Pastoral Review.
“That the infinite Son of God would give himself entirely to his beloved Church — not just his image or a mere symbol of his love, but his very self, whole and complete — is unfathomable by finite minds,” writes Mrs. O’Reilly, who earned catechetical certification from Our Lady of Peace Pontifical Catechetical Institute in Beaverton, Oregon. “That he would remain forever present to his people in a form that does not overpower us, but that can enter into and transform us, springs from an intellect surpassing all created intellects. It flows from a love surpassing all human love.”
Among the many wonderful insights Mrs. O’Reilly includes in her article is that “the Lord of all creation, who made things as they are, alone has the authority to alter the natural order of created things.” Following His command, “the disciples and their consecrated successors … accomplish the unimaginable.”
The full article, A Divine Reflection: You and the Holy Eucharist, is available via the Homiletic and Pastoral Review website.
Following up on coverage in CatholicCulture.org and the Catholic Answers Live radio program, Who Designed the Designer? — the new book by tutor and alumnus Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) — is now the subject of a lengthy article in The Tidings. “The battle to prove or refute the existence of God by the New Atheists and the proponents of intelligent design is mostly waged in attack and defense of evidence,” writes Kevin Theriault in the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. By contrast, Mr. Theriault observes, Dr. Augros “takes a non-polemic approach, drawing readers along a reasoned pathway of general principles in order to see God’s handiwork for themselves.”
Mr. Theriault commends Who Designed the Designer? for, beyond demonstrating the existence of a creator, also probing such questions as, “What is this being that exists all by itself? What is the divine mind and how is it different than ours?” As such, the book does much more than offer another salvo in the ongoing battle between atheists and believers. “Most people, it seems to me, don’t have a clear notion of what God is,” the article quotes Dr. Augros as saying. “If you are supposed to love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind, one should be interested in knowing what God is.”
The full story is available via The Tidings’ online publication, Angelus.
“The return of summertime every year often recalls the years that will never return: the golden days of youth,” writes Sean Fitzpatrick (’02). The headmaster of Gregory the Great Academy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a regular contributor to Crisis magazine, Mr. Fitzpatrick has opened an online conversation about summertime-reading books that arouse seasonal memories of childhood. “What books,” he asks, “should be brought to lakesides, porches, and hammocks? Which stories provide that return to the perennial glories of summer and the passing glories of childhood?”
His initial suggestions are available in his article, What Are You Reading This Summer?
Having recently been a guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, alumnus and tutor Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) now finds his new book the subject of a review in CatholicCulture.org.
In God the Designer: Yes or No?, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, president and founder of Trinity Communications, calls Dr. Augros’ Who Designed the Designer? A Rediscovered Path to God’s Existence, “a resounding success” in its effort “to refute the many atheists who, especially in modern times, think they have successfully demolished the traditional arguments for the existence of God based on the necessity of a first cause or a prime mover.” Dr. Mirus adds that Dr. Augros “writes well and uses many entertaining examples, making a potentially dry topic extraordinarily readable.”
The full review is available via CatholicCulture.org.
- Dr. Augros on Catholic Answers Live
- An excerpt from Who Designed the Designer?
- An interview with Dr. Augros
- Dr. Augros’ appearance on Salt & Light Radio
Taking a break from his work as the director of the College’s 2015 High School Summer Program, alumnus and tutor Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) recently appeared as a guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program. There he discussed his new book, which makes a philosophical case for the existence of God, Who Designed the Designer? A Rediscovered Path to God’s Existence. Host Patrick Coffin called the book “a wonder-filled romp through the ‘first cause’ approach of Plato and Aristotle and the great Thomas Aquinas.”
The full program is available, both in streaming and downloadable form, via the Catholic Answers Live website.
- An excerpt from Who Designed the Designer?
- An interview with Dr. Augros
- Dr. Augros’ appearance on Salt & Light Radio
Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87)
This week educators from across the United States are gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, for Rejoicing Together in Truth, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's Third Annual Catholic Schools Conference. Among the speakers (PDF) are four graduates of the College:
- Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College and the executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
- Luke Macik (’87), headmaster of The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio, which is hosting the conference
- Michael Van Hecke (’86), headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, and president and founder of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
- Dr. Arthur Hippler (’89), a member of the theology department at Providence Academy in Plymouth, Minnesota
- Mark Langley (’89), founder and academic dean of The Lyceum
- Jessie (Ellis ’86) Van Hecke, a kindergarten and first grade teacher at St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California
- Merrill Roberts (’03), teacher at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland
In June Dr. Seeley, Mr. Van Hecke, and Mr. Macik spoke about the conference and the broader Catholic classical schools movement on the From the Median program on the Salem Radio Network's WHK in Cleveland. Audio of that program is available courtesy of From the Median:
Like his fellow graduate John Finley (’99), Christopher Zehnder (’87) sees a connection between Pope Francis’s warnings in Laudato Si’ and the Supreme Court’s recent attempt to redefine marriage. Writing in his personal blog, Notes from the Wasteland, Mr. Zehnder observes:
“It is fitting, in a way, that the Supreme Court’s decision should so closely follow the pope’s encyclical, for the former brings into focus the major theme of the latter. That theme is not the threat of climate change, whatever those who want either to dismiss the encyclical or coöpt it say. A major — if not the major — theme of Laudato Si’ is that, both in the moral order and the natural order, everything is connected. How we treat the ‘environment’ is how we will treat ourselves, and how we treat ourselves is how we will treat the natural world outside ourselves. …
“Those, therefore, who insist on the integrity of the natural world but rejoice at Friday’s Supreme Court decision are self-confused. Those who deplore the decision, call for respect for the nature of marriage and the basic meaning of sexual acts but ignore the integrity of the natural world, are self-confused. Those who think you must respect unborn human life but can subject human labor to irrational market forces are as confused as those who think you may kill unborn children but not oppress the worker. Sooner or later, these groups will need to decide on their core principle — relativism or respect for nature — for mankind will not remain in a state of interior division forever.”
Mr. Zehnder is the general editor of the Catholic Textbook Project, which aims to create a new generation of textbooks for parochial schools that accurately, beautifully, and engagingly reflect the Church’s contribution to human history. A high school teacher and former headmaster, he is the author of three of the project’s books: From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America; Light to the Nations II: the Making of the Modern World; and Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America.