Faith in Action Blog
Wonderful news from the mother of Maria Forshaw (’07):
Maria Forshaw (’07) was clothed with the habit of a Discalced Carmelite novice at a ceremony on June 8 at the Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Louis County, Missouri. Having spent a year as a postulant, she took the name of Sr. Maria Battista of the Lamb of God. Her college classmates will not be surprised to hear that she is deeply involved in music-making for the convent, as a singer and an organist. Before entering the cloister, Maria spent several years working as a tutor of school-age children and as a singer.
One year ago Sunday, Rev. Francis Marotti (’07) received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, making him Thomas Aquinas College’s 58th ordained priest. This weekend, Fr. Marotti will celebrate the first anniversary of his priesthood in the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), where he serves as the pastoral vicar of St. Philip Catholic Church.
To commemorate the occasion, the Battle Creek Enquirer recently published a profile of Fr. Marotti, accompanied by the above video. In the profile, Fr. Marotti talks about how his first year in the priesthood entailed greater responsibility than he had anticipated, because his pastor fell ill. “People really helped out, and it helped me grow in my priesthood pretty quickly,” he explains. “I think when the Lord puts you in a place, He gives you the grace to do it.”
The young priest also describes how he successfully lobbied for an additional responsibility — teaching high school theology — which he will begin in the fall. “I just really like to teach,” he says. “People are really hungry to learn a lot. There’s a lot they don’t get and a lot they disagree with, and the more you can present it to them, the better it is. The more I can do that, I’m happy.”
The College has received the following urgent prayer request from Monica (Chavez ’92) Stoutz:
Eric (’93), my husband, has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I won’t go into details, but the cancer is advanced.… Eric and I both want God to bring great good out of our situation. Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans, these things are a blessing to all in the Body of Christ.
We ask that you continue to pray for our eight children, as they learn to carry this burden. Thank you for giving them as much normalcy as possible. We have not asked for the intercession of a particular saint for a miracle. We have always had a devotion to St Joseph, but have not felt prompted by the Holy Spirit toward any holy man or woman. Should God grant us a miracle, we would accept it with gratitude and wonder and awe.
We have much to be thankful for. We know grace is supporting us now. God is so good.
Please join us in praying for Eric’s health and peace of mind, for Monica’s strength, and for the well-being of their dear children.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for Fathers
by Bl. John XXIII
Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen.
With the HHS mandate thrusting the issue of contraception into public conversation, three alumni authors have recently addressed some of the myths — and realities — that shape the debate.
First, in the Washington Times, Catherine Short (’80) questions the rationale for the mandate, namely that “free” contraception will improve the health of women. The legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, Mrs. Short and her co-author, Dorinda C. Bordlee of the Bioethics Defense Fund, have filed an amicus brief (PDF) in some of the lawsuits seeking to overturn the mandate. Their article describes how the HHS has oversold contraception’s purported benefits while ignoring its documented dangers:
For more than four decades, federal and state governments have been pouring money into “family planning” programs … Our brief informs courts of empirical evidence showing the result: a 40 percent increase in unplanned pregnancy, including among teens and low-income women, the very demographic targeted by these programs. Quite predictably, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have also skyrocketed in these groups, as the false security of abundant birth control leads to riskier sexual activity by teens and young adults. …
[A] 2009 study showed a 320 percent increase in the risk of triple-negative breast cancer, the deadliest form of breast cancer, in women taking oral contraceptives. Long-acting contraceptives — such as one major implant rod, Implanon — increase risk of ectopic pregnancy, pulmonary emboli and strokes. Implanon is the product that replaced Norplant, which is no longer on the market in the United States after more than 50,000 women filed lawsuits — including 70 class actions — over the severity of its side effects. Injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera puts women at double the risk of HIV infection.
What about the other oft-repeated argument for more widespread distribution of contraception — that it would reduce the number of abortions? Journalist Peter Baklinski (’04) debunks that claim in LifeSiteNews. Citing data from Spain, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, Mr. Baklinksi demonstrates that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, higher use of contraception correlates with higher rates of abortion. He quotes two prominent champions of legalized abortion who concede as much:
“Most abortions result from failed contraception,” admitted Joyce Arthur, founder and executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, earlier this year.
Arthur’s statement parallels a prediction made in 1973 by Dr. Malcolm Potts, former medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who said: “As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate.”
Given the abundance of empirical evidence to refute the claims that widespread contraception improves women’s health and reduces abortion, why do these myths endure? Because, says Peter Kwasniewski (’94), a professor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College writing for Truth and Charity Forum, the demand for contraception stems not from medical need, but spiritual poverty:
Better health coupled with an unbounded desire to share God’s gifts of love and life should naturally have led, in modern times, to larger and healthier families than in the past. The fact that this has not happened indicates the dark side of the motivation behind the development of modern technology. Contraception means spiritual death, the death of the natural “love affair” with life.
In the battle over marriage, procreation, and the defense of life, we must realize that we are up against a combination of metaphysical nihilism and spiritual egoism vastly more powerful than any human army or political system — a demonic corruption of mind and heart, which sound education and the example of a life well lived can prevent from spreading, but which ultimately will refuse to be driven out except by prayer, fasting, and martyrdom.
Sobering words — and a call to prayer!
Writing in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily, Timothy Drake has conducted a rare interview with Sr. Mary Josefa, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary. The Sisters’ Advent at Ephesus album of sacred music topped Billboard’s Classical Music Chart for six weeks last year, and the community has recently released a new album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus. In his interview, Mr. Drake asks Sr. Josefa about her experience at Thomas Aquinas College and about the role of liturgy, sacred music, and Catholic identity in higher education.
Among Sr. Josefa’s notable responses is her explanation for why she chose the College:
I chose to attend Thomas Aquinas College because it integrated classical and Catholic education; I was fascinated by the liberal arts program, with its consideration and discussion of original sources, introducing the student to the perennial questions with which mankind has always grappled, but I was further drawn by the Catholic identity of the school, which orders this program of studies in order to lead the student from the contemplation of created truth to the contemplation of God Himself.
Sr. Josefa also describes how the College enriched her spiritual life:
At TAC, I was blessed to be part of a community that was really unified and ordered by its Catholic identity. I attended daily Mass and Rosary with my teachers and fellow students; the chapel was the central point of the campus and teachers and students always would stop on the way to or from class for a visit; everyone acknowledged senior theology as the culminating point of the curriculum to which all the other classes were ordered; in these and countless other ways, I experienced a community that recognized that the invisible realities are more real, more important than the visible ones. Naturally, this greatly nourished the inclination that I had had to religious life since I was young. Many of my fellow students were also drawn to religious life as a result of the strong Catholic community and contemplative program of studies, and having peers considering a vocation really strengthened my own.
The full interview is available via Catholic Education Daily.
After 15 years in the home-inspection business, Philip Halpin ('97) has joined the StoryTel Foundation, which produces Catholic documentary films about people and organizations who answer God’s call to “restore the sacred.” In that capacity, he has co-produced, co-written, and edited Where Heaven Meets Earth, a documentary about St. Peter's Church in Omaha, Neb. — a once-failing urban parish transformed by a young priest who was determined to embrace the whole of Catholic tradition.
The documentary, the trailer of which is available above, recently appeared on EWTN. DVDs are available via the StoryTel website.
Encouraging news from Wendy-Irene (Grimm ‘99) Zepeda about her sister Rosie Grimm (’10):
Rosie got out of surgery about 8 p.m. The doctor was extremely pleased; they were able to remove a great deal of the tumor. When I talked with my mom, she hadn't seen Rosie yet. Thank you so, so much for all your prayers (and please don't stop as she recovers from this all-day operation). Praised be our dear Lord for His mercy (including His mercy in surrounding us with the power of your prayers!)
Please keep praying!
Two old College friends who are now colleagues recently appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock (above, 1:25 mark) to promote the cause of Catholic liberal education. Luke Macik (’87) and Mark Langley (’89) are the headmaster and academic dean, respectively, of The Lyceum in Euclid, Ohio. They and all 45 of the Lyceum’s students traveled to Birmingham, Ala., last month to discuss their school and share the music of its Schola Cantorum.
The Lyceum, like Messrs. Langley and Macik’s alma mater, uses a great books curriculum taught primarily by way of the Discussion Method. While in Alabama, the Schola — of which all students and half of the faculty are members — provided the music for one of EWTN’s televised Masses. The Schola additionally produced a recording of the Gloria from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis, which later appeared on this episode of Life on the Rock.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Lyceum has quickly become one of the top Catholic high schools in the nation. The Cardinal Newman Society gave the school a special recognition on its 2012-2013 National Catholic Honor Roll for “Excellence in Catholic Identity.” A quarter of the Lyceum’s graduates are National Merit Scholars, Finalists, and Commended Students, having scored in the top 1 percent to 5 percent on the PSAT, and the school’s average SAT is in the top 14 percent of the nation.
Wendy-Irene (Grimm ‘99) Zepeda sends in the following update about — and prayer request for — her sister Rosie Grimm (’10):
“Can I ask for increased prayers for my sister Rosie, please, including for wise discernment for her, my parents, and her doctors about the next step in her treatment? Here’s her status update: ‘I got some scans yesterday. Although my tumors are mostly reasonably stable, the big one in my neck has grown enough that it is once more impinging on my spinal cord. That’s not all that much growth, in fact. There just isn’t a lot of space inside my spine. We are going to talk to my doctors today about treatment, which may include another surgery to get the pressure off the cord. I am really grateful to my doctors for being so on top of this. They were worried about a few funny symptoms and made me get the extra scan, so we caught it early. I’m feeling fine and am not upset about this, though prayers and encouragement would be most welcome.”
Lord, hear our prayer!
Dr. Joseph Hattrup (third from left) and members of the University of St. Thomas Examining Board. (Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas)
When alumnus Joseph Hattrup (’01) joined the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty in 2006, he had already completed his doctoral studies (philosophy, University of St. Thomas), but not his dissertation. He therefore spent most of his vacation and free time over the last several years completing this requirement — a challenging task for a full-time college instructor and father of three young girls. His diligence, however, has paid off, and as a result, he has earned the title of doctor.
Last week, Dr. Hattrup traveled to the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of Thomas in Houston, Tex. There, he successfully defended his dissertation, “Form and Predicability in Aristotle’s Categories and the Middle Books of the Metaphysics.”
“A widely received view about these works is that they contain doctrines of substance that are contradictory in principle and which therefore show significant changes in Aristotle’s thought,” Dr. Hattrup explains. “I argue that these two doctrines of substance, though different, are compatible with each other and not contradictory in principle. I hope the dissertation will help to demonstrate the unity and consistency of Aristotle’s thought and principles, especially as regards logic and metaphysics.”
The dissertation received unanimous approval of the Examining Board, which subjected Dr. Hattrup to two rounds of vigorous questioning. Dr. Edward Macierowski, an external reader on the committee and a professor of philosophy at Benedictine College, remarked: “Hattrup’s dissertation is not only a recognizable masterwork of a young philosopher, and so a convincing sign that he deserves the doctoral degree, but also the dissertation should be revised and submitted as soon as possible to publication at a major academic press.”
Congratulations, Dr. Hattrup!