Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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!


Among the issues at stake in today’s election is the future of marriage in four states, including Washington. There, a group of dissenting Catholics recently published an open letter that defied Church teaching on the subject. In response, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) and two other prominent Catholics have published a rebuttal in the Seattle Times titled, We Are Catholics and We oppose Referendum 74 to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.

The article defends both the Church’s position and marriage itself, stressing the institution’s importance to families, society, and religious freedom:

The state does not involve itself in marriage in an effort to regulate its citizens’ sexual activities. It does so because marriage generally involves children by the very nature in which the spouses express intimacy and union. As such, the family becomes the basic unit of society and thus deserves special protection.…

As Catholics, we believe that marriage is the unique bond of love and life between a woman and a man, which is the source of the family. In union with our church and our bishops, we are voting to reject Referendum 74. We urge other Catholics and people of goodwill to join us.

Go read the whole article — and be sure to vote!
 


A Little Way of HomeschoolingSome 18 months after its publication, A Little Way of Homeschooling continues to elicit great interest. The second work of alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, the book profiles 12 Catholic homeschooling families and their use of the “unschooling” educational method, while drawing upon the works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John Bosco, and ancient philosophers.

On Friday morning Mrs. Andres appeared on the Mothers at Home radio program with Judy Dudich on BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to the broadcast in the player below.


Be sure not to miss these recent articles by alumni writers:

In The Public Discourse, S. Adam Seagrave (’05), a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, addresses the often unspoken question that lies at the heart of debates about marriage law: Why does the state concern itself with marriage in the first place?

Although civil marriage is now commonly understood in the elevated terms characteristic of marriage’s more fundamental and profoundly fulfilling aspects, the purpose of civil marriage is, in fact, more in keeping with its sterile legality. Governments assign legal responsibilities and benefits to marriage, rather than to other relationships, to help mitigate the potentially destructive and tragic consequences of irresponsible procreation.

Writing for the National Catholic Register, Sophia Mason (’09), a graduate student at the Catholic University of America and a blogger, describes an informal evening with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at Washington’s Catholic Information Center:

The separation of church and state is, Scalia noted, “a subject that has been particularly good for Americans and that Americans have been particularly good at.”

The American skill in distinguishing the two is due in part to the diversity of American religious views, the “300 religions,” which makes separation of church and state “more politically needful in the United States than elsewhere.” It is also due, Scalia added less happily, to the growing decline in religiosity. “If one is a skeptic, it is easy to believe that one’s religious beliefs should not be imposed. … After all, one might be wrong!”

Also be sure also to see Miss Mason’s September story in the Register comparing the sagas of superheroes to the lives of the saints.

Finally, The New Oxford Review, Christopher Zehnder (’87), the general editor of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, considers the question: What does it mean to “serve Mammon?”

The possession of great riches, thought not to be condemned in itself, nevertheless presents grave difficulties to the soul that seeks perfection. Great wealth coaxes us with a delight that “chokes the word.” It deludes us with a false security, tempting us to hoard our riches and to pull down our barns for larger ones. We become unwilling to live like the birds of the air or the lilies of the field and seek the Kingdom of God (Lk. 12:22-31); rather we are anxious to maintain what we have amassed and seek to amass more.

 

 


Greg Pfundstein ('05)The executive director of New York City’s Chiaroscuro Foundation, Greg Pfundstein (’05) has been actively defending life — from conception to natural death — in several publications, both print and online.

First, Mr. Pfundstein, who holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, weighs in on a debate in the pages of The Human Life Review over whether pro-lifers ought to frame their arguments in strictly secular terms. We will not reveal which side of the debate he takes (for that, go see the full article), but it is worth noting that, in making his case, he draws upon three authors from the College’s classical curriculum: Euclid, Boethius, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Next Mr. Pfundstein shifts his focus from the young and vulnerable to the old and vulnerable, writing in The Public Discourse about an effort to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Massachusetts:

Tens of thousands of Americans commit suicide every year. Nowhere in the U.S. is it a crime to do so. It is an unfortunate fact that some people determine that their lives are no longer worth living. But we see it as a tragedy; this is why high bridges often have signs encouraging troubled individuals to seek help rather than jump. Suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day because we hope to prevent as many suicides as possible. This consistent cultural message is contradicted when we give doctors the right to prescribe lethal drugs as a medical treatment. It is like replacing the suicide intervention signs on bridges and railroad tracks with signs that say, “Ask your physician if jumping is right for you.”

Finally, in National Review, Mr. Pfundstein looks at how the Massachusetts campaign and others like it are part of a deliberate effort to make doctor-prescribed suicide the law of the land by way of the Supreme Court, à la Roe v. Wade:

Now let’s look a few years down the line, when advocates bring the case of an individual in, say, Alabama who, being terminally ill, desperately wants his doctor to provide a lethal prescription. When that case proceeds to the Supreme Court, what will a look at the “laboratory” show? Suicide as a medical treatment was made legal in Washington in 2008, Massachusetts in 2012, Vermont and New York in 2013, and New Mexico in 2014. This looks like an “emerging consensus,” doesn’t it?

Mr. Pfundstein’s conclusion is powerful: “The lesson of the last 40 years is clear: Fight now, not later” — and so he leads by example.

Related:

 


Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 29), EWTN is sponsoring a Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, seeking Our Lady’s intercession and Our Lord’s blessing on the country as we approach the upcoming elections. The novena has the nihil obstat of one of the College's graduates, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

The inspiration for the Novena, says Fr. Selin, came from its author, Rev. Frederick L. Miller, S.T.D., of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, who spent last year in sabbatical at St. John Vianney. During that time, the two priests discussed the state of the Church in America, the elections, and what Catholics could do for their country.

“I was concerned, as the year was going on, that we Catholics in the U.S. — starting with us clergy, but also the lay faithful — were not looking at the election enough from the spiritual perspective,” Fr. Selin recalls. From there, he and Fr. Miller thought of the Novena, which, in keeping with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom this summer, would “continue that spirit of prayer and fasting for our country.”

It was important to both priests, says Fr. Selin, that the Novena call upon the aid of the Blessed Mother. “I know from history and my own personal experience,” he notes, citing events from the Battle of Lepanto to the fall of Communism, “that when we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in time of great need — when we go to Jesus through Mary — Jesus has come through with very special graces.”

Thus the timing of the Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, which begins on the Feast of the Holy Archangels (September 29), and concludes on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), just prior to the start of the Year of Faith (October 11). “Coming into an election, where so much is on the line for the Catholic Church and for our country with regards to attacks against religious liberty, the attack against the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and even the marital act,” Fr. Selin explains, “we’re callings upon God through the intercession of Mary for very special graces on our country.”

Fr. Selin adds, however, that the act of transforming a nation must begin with our own, interior conversions. “First and foremost in this whole issue of the election, we have to start with ourselves, asking: How have we been faithful to God’s commands? How have we lived a deep prayer life, avoiding sin, growing in holiness and in our dedication to the Holy Eucharist? Then our public acts will be a beautiful overflowing of that commitment of faith.”

Fr. Selin has long had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. His senior thesis at the College was titled, “Mary: Archetype of the Church.” The Mother of God, he says, “has always been close to me in my vocational discernment and leading me here.” Likewise, she must play a role in the future of the nation: “Work has to be done in the public sphere — and that’s the work of the lay faithful to get out there, and we priests have to preach and encourage — but we cannot forget Our Lady.”