Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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.


The above video is a trailer for Diary of a Country Mother, a new book by Cynthia (Six ’77) Montanaro that chronicles the life of her beloved son Tim, with the liturgical year and changing seasons as a frame. The book reflects a yearlong journey of prayer and meditation, begun about six months after Tim’s death in 2005 at the age of 15. Written in diary form, it includes Scriptural, religious, and literary quotations, as well as beautiful photographs of Tim captured by his dad, Andrew Montanaro (’78).

“I envisioned an extended period of time in which to record, before memory failed me, all of the little humorous and profound incidents that made up my son Tim’s short life,” says Mrs. Montanaro. The result is a work that is replete with the love of a mother. That love is also on display in Mrs. Montanaro’s blog.

Writes Dr. Thomas Howard, author of Chance or the Dance and Hallowed Be This House, “Cynthia Montanaro have given us the story of a splendidly faithful Catholic household. … The word ‘contemplative’ is the key to this memoir … and the quiet pace belongs to its essence.… Every chapter (or meditation) entails some concrete, softly-textured, domestic narrative, all of it bespeaking both Tim’s inner man, and the household in which the Lord placed him to pass his brief time here on this earth.”

“Like Our Blessed Mother’s sorrow,” says fellow alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, “Cynthia’s sadness is illuminated and shot through by the light of the resurrected Christ. This book is in no way depressing. Instead, Cynthia’s diary entries record time and again the peace that passes all understanding, the beautiful hope that only true faith can give, and most of all, love elevated and fulfilled by Love.”

A worthy read for the Easter season, Diary of a Country Mother is available via Amazon.com.


Frederick DouglassFrederick DouglassA professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. S. Adam Seagrave (’05), has written a thoughtful article for The Public Discourse about the present state of the pro-life movement:

In a manner similar to the case of slavery as outlined by Douglass, there are two simple points that, once admitted, join to condemn clearly the practice of abortion: (1) the embryo is a human being from the moment of conception, and (2) all human beings have a natural right to life.…

The problem is that the younger and less developed the embryo is, the less it excites what some have called our “moral sense,” our sympathy with it as another human being like us. And as Hume correctly notes, human beings tend to be moved more by their passions and feelings, including the so-called “moral sense,” than by their intellectual understanding of the world when determining their actions. Even if our reason and common sense tell us clearly — as they undoubtedly do — that the embryo is a human being with the right to life, our moral sense or sympathy lets us off the hook. 

So where does this leave pro-life advocates? How can we bridge the Humean — and human — gap between intellectual understanding and actual practice in our nation? The answer lies in the parallel between the issue of abortion and those of slavery and subsequent civil rights. The pro-life movement needs to model more closely in its organization and practices the antebellum abolition movement and the civil rights movement in order to achieve similar success in ending the evil of abortion.

The entire article, Abortion and Our “Moral Sense,” is available on The Public Discourse website, published by The Witherspoon Intstitute.


St. Francis and Pope Francis

Sean Fitzpatrick (’02),a frequent contributor to Crisis, has a new column that looks ahead to what we may expect from our new Holy Father, named for St. Francis of Assisi. The article begins …

As the newly elected pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s papacy has already been historical. His is a part of the world no other pontiff has hailed from. His is an order no other pontiff has claimed. His is a name no other pontiff has taken. Even from this, it may be fair to expect that the pontificate of Pope Francis will be one to break with precedents and blaze new paths for the faithful. If ever there was a saint that did such a thing, it was his namesake. If ever there was a time that the Church would welcome a Francis, it is now.

… and it proceeds by looking at the life of St. Francis and the life of Pope Francis. See the whole story: Pope Francis — The Journey Begins.

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Sean Fitzpatrick ('02)Writer, illustrator, and educator Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has a new story for Crisis magazine about the Pope’s surprising resignation, The Radical Return to Ratzinger. Long billed as a “radical” the Holy Father’s abdication, argues Mr. Fitzpatrick, is his first truly shocking act:

“For being such a radical Pope, the rest of the world can now truly say that Benedict came around to their meaning of the word. His resignation was, in a sense, the first radical thing this radical Pope ever did. If it is nothing else, it is at least surprising. But surprises are to be expected from those who follow Christ.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick is becoming something of a regular in Crisis, having penned two literary columns in December about fiction for the Christmas season.

 

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Time MagazineAlthough many pro-lifers cheered Time magazine’s recent cover-story pronouncement that abortion champions have “been losing ever since” their 1973 triumph in Roe v. Wade, ethicist and theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) is less sanguine. Writing for the National Catholic Register, she observes:

Framing the abortion movement as in decline is particularly interesting, since the story was published just days before Planned Parenthood released its annual report marking a record number of abortions: 333,964.

The family-planning organization also received $542 million in government funding, possibly an all-time high, and had $87.4 million in excess revenue, with $1.2 billion in net assets. It seems that, for Planned Parenthood, business is booming.…

Noting Time magazine’s unflinching support for legal abortion, Dr. de Solenni suspects that political calculations are at the root of its assessment about the state of the abortion wars:

In Washington, D.C., it’s widely accepted that the party or issue that loses a political race inevitably gets a windfall in donations. After all, there’s nothing like a political loss to prove to supporters how desperately their cash is needed to advance this very important cause just before it’s defeated forever.

On the flip side, it’s much harder to create a fundraising urgency when people think that a particular issue is succeeding and well-supported by government policies. There’s no evidence that their donations are needed, at least not nearly as much. After all, they’ve reached the goal for which they donated, whether it’s getting a candidate elected or putting a policy in place.

Nevertheless, a well-placed article — let’s say, on the cover of Time — making the case that major advances are about to be lost creates a great sense of urgency for the supporters of that allegedly about-to-be-lost cause.

Dr. de Solenni (’93) discusses the matter further on “Register Radio” with host Tim Drake, audio of which is available online on the Register’s website.


Sean Fitzpatrick ('02)Writer, illustrator, and educator Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has reviewed two Christmas-season classics for “The Civilized Reader” feature in Crisis magazine. First is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which, he warns, “is no Hallmark affair to be taken lightly, much less dismissed as tacky and trite”:

A Christmas Carol is a preparation, and the process it initiates is not an easy one. Everyone knows in his or her own way that it is a steep path fraught with difficulty. But, as the ghostly mentors of Scrooge held up a mirror to him rigidly, relentlessly, and sometimes reluctantly, so too must we face our own inward conversions and cleansings, looking to don a garment worthy of the Bridegroom’s coming. Alongside of Scrooge, groveling in the shadows of our own tombstones, all are beckoned to declare themselves not the men they were but for the holy intercourses of the Advent season prompted by this wonderful story. Many hearkening to this call, swear to lead a changed life, an altered life that will honor the spirit of Christmas in their hearts, and try to keep it all the year, living in the past, the present, and the future.

Next, Mr. Fitzpatrick revisits The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter:

The Tailor of Gloucester is a tale that keeps alive the belief that there are ordinary things in the world that can accomplish extraordinary things. With God all things are possible. This is the principal theme of Christmastime, making it a time to faithfully hang our stockings by the fire with care in the hopes that elves will soon be there — because they are there, under the wooden wainscots, (“though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say.”)

Those looking to purchase these works may want to do so by way of the College’s Amazon Gateway. Meanwhile, when the Christmas season is past, be sure to see Mr. Fitzpatrick’s review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes.


Joseph Susanka ('99)A film critic, a cultural commentator, and a regular blogger at Patheos.com, Joseph Susanka (’99) recently participated in a bloggers’ roundtable on Relevant Radio with host Sheila Liaugminas. The discussion, which broadly covered current issues of faith, culture, and media, is available in both streaming and downloadable formats.


Laudamus Te, inaugural issue coverThe arrival of Advent brings with it the launch of a new Catholic magazine, Laudamus Te, which aims “to bear witness to the sublime beauty of the ancient Latin liturgy, to foster renewed devotion to its merits, and to aid the faithful in entering more deeply into its sacramental mysteries.” The magazine’s publisher and production manager is an alumna of the College, Margot (Foucht ’92) Davidson.

A homeschooling mother of five, Mrs. Davidson owns and operates Hillside Education, a small publishing house that produces educational materials for homeschoolers — and now Laudamus Te. The magazine publishes six times a year corresponding with the liturgical seasons of the 1962 Church calendar. Each issue of Laudamus Te includes that season’s daily Mass readings for the extraordinary form of the Mass, plus explanatory essays and commentaries by various saints and Doctors of the Church, as well as devotional writings by priests, religious, and laity.

Just in time for Advent, the magazine’s first issue is now available, both in print and electronic formats.


 Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) Yesterday we noted that Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) had penned an op-ed keyed to election day, and today we note that she has written a thoughtful, post-election analysis of what comes next for faithful American Catholics:

As Catholics, we have just begun the Year of Faith. If anything, this election tells me that we need to proclaim the truth that our faith teaches, particularly as it concerns the dignity of the human person. Let’s not try to sanitize the values issues with talk of the economy. It hasn’t worked. At the same time, there are a lot of Catholics voting who don’t understand or accept the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching on social values. That’s a great place to start our Year of Faith. As a church, we need to teach. As citizens, we need to voice our opinions, even when we fear that they might be unpopular.

Election Day has come and gone, but the Year of Faith has only just begun!