Faith in Action Blog
In December, the family of Loraine (Ivers ‘81) Hoonhout invited friends to join them in praying to Servant of God Frank Duff (founder of the Legion of Mary) for healing in Mrs. Hoonhount’s struggle with cancer. By God’s grace, those many prayers have borne good fruit! Mrs. Hoonhout writes:
“Great news. My UCLA hematologist/oncologist said that my cancer is stable, and the blood work looks good. I’m tolerating the oral chemo regimen and monthly shots regimen well. This comes after extensive testing and reversing his Feb/March 2013 prognosis of possibly a year or two. Also, I was able to dodge back surgery in December due to robotic exterior radiation.
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Your letters, calls, prayers, Masses, sacrifices, gifts, and outpouring of tremendous love has made this journey so much more easy. Your gift of love has drawn me closer to the Tremendous Lover, Healer, and our ultimate source of all happiness, beauty, goodness, truth and peace.”
With grateful affection,
Thanks be to God!
A professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. S. Adam Seagrave (’05) has published an article in The Public Discourse, arguing that Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species fails the “eye test.” That is, he says, elements of the theory of evolution contradict what we can perceive with our own eyes. Dr. Seagrave writes:
“Darwin is clearly aware — and bothered by the fact — that his theory of evolution through natural selection is not only unsupported by, but actually contradicts, the reports given to us through our senses, as well as the ‘common sense’ we gain from these reports over time. So he argues, in response, that this common sense is founded on mere ‘imagination’ rather than ‘reason,’ and with a Kantian determination he asks that we repress our ‘empirical’ impressions in favor of our abstract theoretical convictions.
“Yet why, we can ask, should we trust Darwin’s theory more than our own eyes? As persuasively as this theory explains many phenomena of nature and archeological discoveries, is its acceptance worth having to admit that the world is actually nothing like our experience of it? If a theory that the earth rests on the shell of a giant sea turtle explained enough phenomena, would it similarly command our assent?”
That article, perhaps not surprisingly, generated some controversy, leading Dr. Seagrave to issue a follow-up:
“The sort of ‘eye test’ I have in mind, and which I believe poses an underappreciated challenge to Darwinian evolutionary theory, involves much more than simply ‘looking’ or physically seeing; it is, rather, precisely what Aristotle describes as ‘the originative source of scientific knowledge’ in his Posterior Analytics. According to Aristotle, all scientific knowledge must build upon previous knowledge, leading to the problem of knowledge’s ultimate origin. This origin lies, according to Aristotle, in a process of induction or intuition whereby sense impressions become memories, and memories become ‘experience.’
“This experience is defined by abstraction — we human beings experience the world in terms of stable and defined universal concepts, and these concepts in turn form the building blocks of all subsequent knowledge. Our experience in this special Aristotelian sense, for example, tells us that elephants are different in kind from human beings, and not in degree, however large this degree may be. Our experience, on its own and apart from whatever scientific education we may possess, tells us that human beings are separated from elephants by rationality — not by millions of years of differential development.”
Meanwhile, one of Dr. Seagrave’s classmates, Greg Pfundstein (’05), has also published a story in The Public Discourse, based on a recent comment from kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart. Miss Smart remarked that, when she was sexually abused, she thought her life had “no value” — because one of her teachers had once compared those who were no longer virgins to a “chewed-up piece of gum.” That recollection quickly inspired a rash of denunciations of school-based abstinence programs from a wide range of critics, including some Christian conservatives, who argued that such programs present a warped, even dehumanizing, image of sexuality.
Not so fast, says Mr. Pfundstein. A board member of the National Abstinence Education Association (as well as the president of the Chiaroscuro Foundation), Mr. Pfundstein has co-authored an article for The Public Discourse, in which he argues that the sort of messages that Miss Smart received are not representative of most Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) programs:
“While no one can vouch for every abstinence program that has been used by well-intentioned presenters over the last two decades, we can confidently say that the sort of demeaning messages received by Smart and others are outside the mainstream of state-of-the-art abstinence-education programs.
“Perhaps most relevant to the current controversy is the fact that the SRA approach is the only one that believes in ‘another chance’ for any individual who has made unhealthy decisions in the past. Far from being ‘used up,’ teens are given renewed hope for starting over. ‘Renewed abstinence’ is an articulated goal of SRA programs, and there is some evidence that it is easier to get young people to choose renewed abstinence than to get them to use condoms.”
On Saturday, Rev. Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01), received the Sacrament of Holy Orders at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Fr. Drogin is the College’s 59th alumni priest, and the fifth at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, Calif., where four other alumni are currently seminarians or novices. Ordaining Fr. Drogin was the Bishop of Orange, the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, J.D., D.D., who will serve as the speaker at the College’s Convocation exercises on August 26. Numerous members of the Thomas Aquinas College community were on hand for the joyous occasion, including President Michael F. McLean and his wife, Lynda.
God be praised!
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!