13 April 2011
Christ in the Lab
One of the jewels of this year at Vanderbilt Catholic has been the inauguration of Faculty Fridays as a part of iFacts (Institute for Advancing Catholic Thought and Studies) under the direction of Chad Cunningham. These events have brought Catholic faculty members together with students to share the motivations of faith in their professional work. They have been great events.
The best of all, in my opinion, was last Friday night when Dr. Jacek Hawiger of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Medical School spoke on his research into treatments for Downs Syndrome. It was a masterful lecture on a complex topic delivered with passion. It was also the perfect manifestation of what I believe Faculty Fridays are supposed to be. It showed Jesus Christ in the lab.
Dr. Hawiger's science was all science and excellent science, without a dash of theology, but with a difference. It's passion and excellence derived from Dr. Hawiger's ultimate motives, which were plainly those of charity -- the Love of God. It was Jesus Christ in the lab.
On Sunday morning after Mass at the Cathedral, I confess to seeing Dr. Hawiger from the sacristy at prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Forgive me if I am disclosing a private moment, but what I saw was a man humbly and fervently in prayer before his God. This was prayer and not science, but the same passion was evident at this moment as in the lecture on Friday. There was no difference.
This is what it means to be secular: God loves the world and shows us how. Dr. Hawiger has learned the lesson well.