04 October 2012

28 September 2012

Last post? A Valediction

This may well be the last post on the Vandy+Catholic blog.  We have to leave that name behind by October 1 so this seems to be a good time to reboot!

I have to say that I am not reluctant to leave the Vanderbilt name behind.  The concept of "Vanderbilt Catholic" becomes more and more oxymoronic.  Obsessed as it is with rankings, the university can now claim to be top ten -- not in academics or athletics but in partying, determined by no less of an authority than Playboy magazine.

The culture of student life at Vanderbilt is generally unhealthy and in many particulars corresponds with the culture of death.  The Gospel of life proposed by the Catholic Church gives the fulness of life.  A Christian at Vanderbilt needs to leave the one and to embrace the other.  I had a powerful experience at Mass yesterday: what I would call practically a mystical experience, at least it seemed so this this very mundane man.  After the ablutions following Holy Communion, I returned the the chair as the servers finished clearing the altar.  The light was beautiful in the Cathedral, as it often is.  As I looked up at the clerestory, I thought that I could see the beauty of the Christian life actually lived: the beauty of the virtues of chastity, patience, generosity, meekness, and all the rest being lived in the lives of the students sitting in the congregation in front of me.  What a world that would be!

Earlier in the week, Vanderbilt had brought to campus the author of the freshman summer reading book who is proposing solutions to be truly horrific reality of human trafficking in our world.  This a very laudable effort.  But some of the "solutions" proposed are just the same old traps of the culture of death rehashed, in particular the spread of artificial contraception.  Hers is not a noble quest using such means.

The virtuous life is possible.  The Gospel of life can be lived.  It is not spread through public policy but by conversion.  I was advising a young man not to go to Washington for an internship but to do something more personal.  I am convinced that it was only by the grace of God that I did not go to Washington as a young man to be chewed up and spit out as Washington does so well to idealistic young men and women.  I told him that if he decided to go to have an exit strategy in mind before he went.  A couple of very dear alums have escaped the Beltway in this way.  This young man in particular is too real for the artificiality of Washington.

Conversion is not a mass movement.  It happens person to person: cor ad cor, as Bl. John Henry Newman's motto proclaims.  That is what makes it so hard.  We must freely choose to obey, rather than to settle: "if you love me, keep my commandments." 

25 September 2012

What's missing?

What is missing from this column in the Daily Pennsylvanian, the newspaper at Penn?  In an article written by a cultural Catholic, there is no mention of Jesus Christ.  Although the author is obviously conflicted about her "conversion" to agnosticism, her experience of Catholicism has been cultural and not personal.

Let's keep proposing Jesus Christ!

22 September 2012

Please Read This Link!

Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles begins a series of articles on voting according to a Catholic Conscience.  If the first installment is any indication, this series is a MUST read.  He lays down the principles with clarity and with authority, not like the politicians.  The most important point is not on this or that issue but on the totality of putting on the mind of Christ and thinking with the Church.

Go read it.

17 September 2012

Ancient Faith

As I have said before, the Catholic part of our name is the ancient part and the eternal part.  Long after this university is in ruins, the Catholic Church will still be around.  So have no fear, we are trying to be as faithfully Catholic as we can be, even if Vanderbilt considers us unfaithful as a student organization!

The weekend was a good case-in-point.  On Friday afternoon, a small group of students went to Bordeaux -- no, not the south of France, but north Nashville -- to begin serving at St. Pius School.  That is definitely outside the Vanderbubble!  In the evening, we hosted our first Twilight Retreat.  This one was for freshmen.  It was a good start to Friday night!

Yesterday was another holy sabbath, with delicious homemade Sunday Supper, holy hour, and Holy Mass.  It is great to see so many people at Mass.

Happy Monday!

14 September 2012

New Name

Well, we have finally done it: decided on a new name.  It's harder than you think.

We are now University Catholic -- UCat for short!

It is pretty generic, but it is easy to remember.  It also opens up our mission to all university students, not just Vanderbilt ones.

I would have liked to bring in our heavenly patron, Bl. Pier Giorgio or Bl. John Henry Newman, but we went for brevity instead.  I hope that they will still be praying for us!

I ask the same of you!

09 September 2012

Grace Abhors a Vacuum!

OK -- that post yesterday was pretty gloomy!

I am not suggesting that good things don't happen at Vanderbilt too.  Of course they do.  But what sort of meaning do even those good things have ultimately?  I have been to too many funerals of professors whose work has now been superseded.

Now is what matters.  Pray for us now... And grace is what makes now matter.  Full of grace.  Now is the time...to love...anything or anyone that is before us: homework or a sad hallmate; a Friday night with friends or a call to my parents.  Those are actually of eternal significance, if done for and with Love!

08 September 2012


There is a terrible vacuum at Vanderbilt.  The university is a wasteland when it comes to giving any sort of plan for living a good life.  Looking at the campus crime report from last weekend, one sees intoxication, mixed with throwing up and passing out, over and over again until one reaches the final entry of rape.

If you want a more visual experience, go drive around Greek row tonight -- or better early tomorrow morning.  Look not only at the mobs of drunken people but also in the shadows at the ones crying or trying to make themselves throw up.  What are they looking for so desperately?

Is this desperation what Vanderbilt wants for its students?  The truth is that Vanderbilt has nothing to offer it students to give any meaning to the grind that they put themselves through to be here.

The sealed vacuum of Vanderbilt must be punctured; it must "be opened," as Jesus commands in the Gospel for this weekend.  When we are opened, we see that He "does all things well."  All aspects of our lives are enriched by Him.

But it is not easy to break out of secularism's vacuum of value, meaning and purpose.  We are made for more.  We need to be opened to the transcendence of Jesus Christ, imminent in all things.

05 September 2012

Human Formation

In the Community of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, we see ourselves as a house of formation, in a very loose sense.  Formation is actually what we offer.  We organize ourselves according to four pillars of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and apostolic.

But what is formation?  Formation is the idea that we need structure, guidance, and practice in coming to maturity as human beings.  Formation is the development of the interior life according to the wisdom found in tradition.  Formation is thus a foreign concept to American culture, which is so individualistic and activist.

It is a hard sell!  Self-help, "spiritual but not religious," self-directed study, social media and entrepreneurship are catch words of our culture that resist the docility to traditional wisdom necessary to undergo formation.  There is, of course, an individual element to formation.  Each person is actually his own formation director.  But we grow in formation to the extent that we are docile to the traditional wisdom proven and given to us through the crucible of human experience.

It is easy to see what formation means in a spiritual setting.  It means living the sacramental life.  It means following the wisdom of a proven path of prayer and asceticism.  Intellectual formation is also pretty clear: scripture, creeds, the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church give us a clear path of intellectual formation.  Apostolic formation requires some technique to share the Gospel or to share a meal, but the impulse is one of spiritual generosity.  But just what is human formation?  It is the most fundamental of all, and without it we are stunted in all other areas.  It is the art of living the good and virtuous life.

Human formation is about living well.  But even that concept is distorted in our American society to mean living extravagantly.  Human formation is learned from contact with wise men and women, who themselves have been well-formed.  It is about the day to day death to self that they practice every day.  We have constructed a society that almost prevents us from sustaining the contacts necessary for good human formation.  Families are driven to distraction by activities and work.  Schools are chopped up into so many programs.  Churches are activity centers, if they are in the picture at all.  Neighborhoods -- what is a neighborhood?

Human formation requires us to be.  To be accepted -- by other people.  To be challenged -- by other people.  To be with other people.  We learn what is kind, generous, thoughtful, and noble from other people.  We start to choose other people's needs to our desires.  We start to live well.

I hope that Frassati House becomes a center of human formation, where we take the time to be with each other and for each other.  Where we unplug.  Where we get off the treadmill of agenda and manipulation.  Our heavenly patron, Bl. Pier Giorgio is an excellent example of the humanly well formed man.  Get to know him better!

01 September 2012

Meet the People!

If there is one lesson of evangelization that I want to teach the students here in the Community of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati it's: MEET THE PEOPLE!  All the planning in the world and all the promotion in the world and all the events in the world are pointless as evangelization unless one meets the people.  Invite, invite, invite!  Be where the people are, talk to them, invite them, bring them!  Facebook friending won't do it!

Growing up in a small Tennessee town, I was accustomed to the first question that anyone asked you was where you went to church.  My parents were constantly asking people to come to church with us or greeting people who were new at church and asking them to a meal or offering them a ride.  And I grew up an Episcopalian!

Every member of the Community of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati should always come to Mass, Adoration, or any Frassati event with someone they have invited.  We should always speak first to anyone at Mass or at any event who is unknown.  We should always follow up with an invitation of some sort.

More than anything evangelization is a habit -- like most things in life.  Form a habit of the heart to share Jesus personally.  Meet the people!

Here is a good article on good campus ministry.
Notice where meeting the people is on the list:  #1!

27 August 2012

Amazing weekend

Amazing for how much was accomplished this weekend!

We had our first regular 9 p.m. Mass last night.  Isn't that practically what Roman Rush is all about?  From what I can tell, we should plan on getting kicked off campus regularly!

18 August 2012


Well, even though we are the same organization we have always been, we are beginning a transition to a new name.  This could be fun!  At least for a little while, we will still use Vanderbilt Catholic because we don't have another name, and everything that we have says that on it.  But we are definitely changing the name.  To make sure that we are in compliance with the university's wishes, we will submit some names to them to see if they are OK, then we will announce a change.  So it will be a bit of a transition.  Stay tuned!

08 August 2012

Vanderbilt Catholic has its groove back!

If you missed the Open House last night, you missed a great party and a celebration of the past, present, and future of Vanderbilt Catholic.

Sitting on ready and rocking on go for the Year of Faith!

07 August 2012

Finishing touches!

The Frassati House is looking great.  We are ready to show it off tonight at our open house.  But even more, I am eager to show off our new Director of Campus Ministry, Caroline Duffy; our seminarian Brendan Johnson; our FOCUS team; and (she will hate me for saying this) our administrative assistant, Kathleen Cordell.  Of course, she will be slaving in the kitchen and refuse to take a bow for all her hard work.  But don't be fooled.  All the beautiful improvements, both the real ones and the virtual ones on line, are due to her great talent, dedication, and hard work.  Come celebrate with us.  Next, it's full steam ahead to Roman Rush!

22 July 2012

Getting Back to Normal

After a week's vacation with my family, my summer is finally returning to normal.  The best sign of this is that week day Masses resume on Monday!  Regular schedule: M -Th at 5:30 p.m. with confessions at 5 at Cathedral and on Fridays at 12:15 p.m. at Children's Hospital Chapel with confessions at noon.  Yea!

I will blog more about all that has happened this summer, but not now!  There's work to be done.

07 July 2012

it really is about contraception

I've said this before, and I'm saying it again.  We need to seize the opportunity given by the HHS mandate to shout from the housetops the Church's teaching about human sexuality.  We want the best sex.  Sex that does not cost is just that: cheap.  Yes, yes, religious freedom is at stake.  But at the end of the day is all we want the freedom to go back to being bad Catholics who live cheap and easy lives?

This is about souls!  Souls of husbands and wives.  Souls of children.  Souls of priests.  We cannot be silent, and it will cost us to speak out.  Everything good costs.  I have had a number of conversations in the past week with sincere young Catholics who want to live their faith in the world.  I want them to.  Of course, discern your vocation to celibacy (see my post here), and if you find it, look for how you are to spend yourself in the Church and its apostolates embracing celibate chastity.  But if you are called to marriage (and you probably are), embrace marital chastity and get to work making the world fit for your family!

Don't worry about the darkness.  We spend way too much time worried about the darkness.  It enthralls us.  Turn to the light.  Hold up the light.  It will be a struggle to be joyful raising a family and fighting the good fight!  Those of us living celibate chastity need to be joyful too.  We are all struggling together.

There is a big lie that we have to put to rest: that there can be joy without struggle.  We have to make struggle look so fun that everyone wants to join in the the struggle for holiness.  Because it is so fun to find meaning and purpose in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

06 July 2012

Yes, it is beautiful

As people slip in for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, I hear gasps in the chapel.  Yes, it's that beautiful.  Come see for yourself.

28 June 2012

Here's the news!

Vanderbilt Catholic's team is in place for this year, including a new director of campus ministry and two new FOCUS missionaries.  Also, the renovations to Frassati House are being finalized -- it's beautiful.

I decided not to wait any more for pictures, etc.  I will get to those in time.  I wanted to share the news.

Caroline Duffy will be joining us from Baltimore.  Caroline has experience in education, campus ministry, mission work, a Master's degree from the John Paul II Institute in Marriage and Family -- all great things for Vandy Catholic!  She will be starting in July.

Caralyn Towey and Chris Hauerwas will be joining Elizabeth Watkins and Jerorme Ibarra on FOCUS Team Vandy!  I spent couple of weeks with them at FOCUS training.  They'll be great!

Kathleen Cordell has her hands full trying to get me organized and has overseen the beautiful transformations at Frassati House.

And then there's me.  Here we go!

09 May 2012

Truer words have never been spoken...

"There have been no winners in the hurt, confusion, division and pain that have been caused by this policy."  -- Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

This has been a hard day for me and so I appreciate these words.

08 May 2012

The Catacombs are getting more crowded...

Welcome to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) to the shadow world of religious life at Vanderbilt.  Let's pray for our friends at the BCM.  We know what it's like.

07 May 2012

I've always loved Chattanooga...

In this case, the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

"First, the obvious: Vanderbilt University's 'non-discrimination' policy is wrong -- to say nothing of absurd, counterproductive and unrealistic.

But it shouldn't be illegal."

wrong, absurd, counterproductive, and unrealistic -- I think that about sums it up!

06 May 2012

Culture of communion

Yesterday I celebrated a funeral Mass for lady who was 95 years old.  Her family shared with me a talk that she had prepared in 1974 as part of her involvement with the Cursillo movement.  It was on the Church as the people of God.  It was a very good talk: theologically sophisticated but direct and simple.  It made me think well of the Cursillo movement of that time that provided such robust intellectual formation.  The night before at her wake, we prayed the rosary together at the funeral home.  I told one of her sons who is a friend of mine that I had not led a rosary at a funeral home with such strong participation since I was pastor in McEwen, an Irish enclave in rural Middle Tennessee.  The recitation of the rosary at the funeral home embodied what her talk described: an experience of a culture of communion.  It bonded all together in common prayer, even those who had been "trapped" in the room when we started and stood there mute throughout.

I have been reflecting on the experiences this semester with the Vanderbilt administration.  What we have is a clash of cultures.  That is why it really can't work out.  The administration is beginning with a premise of radical individual autonomy.  It holds that everyone should be able to be whatever he chooses to be.  The protection of individual autonomy is the ultimate value.  In this light the non-discrimination or all-comers or whatever policy makes perfect sense.  And opposition to it is down right evil.  At the funeral home, for example, the concern would have been on those who were uncomfortable praying the rosary.  They would feel excluded and so that element of communion would have to be abandoned.

The culture of communion is being driven off the stage at Vanderbilt.  The only groups that will be tolerated are those with a weak identity.  But this is far from unique to Vanderbilt.  It is true everywhere, even in the Church.  The rosary is one of those powerfully bonding elements of Catholic culture, but I could tell that there was a lot of discomfort with Catholic faith and practice at the Mass, even in that overwhelmingly Catholic crowd.  Here at Vanderbilt, one of the religious groups' leadership wrote that they are comfortable with the policy because their group seeks to promote open questioning.  I think that is great, and the policy definitely allows for such groups.  But just do not dare to offer answers!  Because, you see, answers are exclusionary.  Some are right and some are wrong.

I suggest that a culture of radical individual autonomy like that being promoted at Vanderbilt is really not a culture at all but a denial and rejection of culture.  Culture makes demands on individuals, whether through cultivation or through cult.  I had a wonderful experience of culture at Vanderbilt this spring at the performance of Hayden's Lord Nelson Mass.  A common cult and the cultivation of common talents resulted in something so much greater than any individual act of a spontaneous genius.  You know, academics know that radical individual autonomy is a cultural dead end.  They would not tolerate it for a moment in their disciplines.  The critical apparatus has to be there or the peer reviewed experiments.  But when it comes to the far more important area of the art of living, they balk.  What a loss of culture.

02 May 2012


Gov. Haslam has just extended to Vanderbilt the kind of toleration that Vanderbilt will not extend to religious groups:

“I don’t agree with Vanderbilt’s ‘all-comers’ policy. It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization,” he said in a statement. “Although I disagree with Vanderbilt’s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution."

Chancellor Zeppos likes to be treated the way he refuses to treat religious groups:

“While we respect the governor’s position on Vanderbilt’s policy, we are gratified by his rejection of government intrusion into private institutions and their ability to govern and set policies themselves,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said in a prepared statement.

Doesn't he get it yet?  Go see the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).

28 April 2012

11th Commandment....

Thou shalt not condemn other religious groups.

I have been getting some "fishing expedition" questions that seem to be inviting me to comment on the decisions of other religious groups at Vanderbilt.  I won't do it, and I encourage others not to either.

The problem with the policy is the Vanderbilt administration's illiberal application of it, not the conscientious decisions of religious groups.  I know that there is not a religious group on campus that does not have some problem with the policy -- if not for themselves, then in solidarity with those who do.  I have experienced the low morale at the chaplains' meetings.

I regret that there has been fragmentation of the religious response to the policy.  I believe that the administration has used fear and intimidation to bring about the fragmentation.  All the power in this situation, of course, is in the administration's hands.  Power is also the reason that the Greeks have been exempted from the policy.

26 April 2012

Preparing Lay Faithful (and some clerics and religious, too)

As we adjust to the new reality in our relationship with the university, I am learning to like it.  It is more realistic.  I think that it is actually better for us to have a relationship that respects the fact that the Catholic Church and Vanderbilt University are different entities with different interests.  Clear boundaries make for better relationships.

I think that the new relationship with the university will allow the students to exercise their apostolate of friendship on campus more effectively.  They do not need an organization or title to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.  As the chaplain, I will be able to offer spiritual formation for the students to accept in a spirit of freedom.  In the world, the activities of the Church are not sponsored by secular institutions.   I do not see how the approbation of a secular university matters much in the mission of the Christian faithful.

I am excited about the adventure that the Holy Spirit has launched us on!

23 April 2012

Guess Who's the Patron of Religious Freedom?

O God Our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

20 April 2012

All comers

We have been questioned lately about the number of "members" Vanderbilt Catholic has. Is is a hard question to answer because, you see, we actually operate on an "all comers" basis!

15 April 2012

15 minutes of fame ;-)

I hope that our 15 minutes of fame at Vanderbilt Catholic are just about up. This has been a challenging time to remain faithful to religious principles in the midst of a secular controversy. The student leadership of Vanderbilt Catholic and I are not seeking publicity and are not making decisions for political impact or leverage in this policy issue. We are trying to be who we are: a Catholic chaplaincy to a secular university. We have been willing to play by whatever rules that the university set up until they conflicted with our ability to "propose Jesus Christ and to form his disciples" at Vanderbilt according to our Catholic faith. That's our mission, and we cannot compromise it. During the course of the year, we have tried to influence the application of the university's non-discrimination policy. When the policy was ultimately promulgated about a month ago we realized that we could not subscribe to it. We informed the university, and we have been willing to accept the consequences of our decision, however unjust we think them to be. We have continued to talk with the university about "unregistered" status, and those talks have been productive. I believe that we have come through this controversy with our integrity intact. As I feared, the administration's position has damaged the university's commitment to the principles of liberal education. The administration has narrowed religious expression at Vanderbilt. The easiest solution to the problem would be for the university to have a separate category for religious organizations because they are different. They are not groups held together by interest but by identity.

12 April 2012


I am not very worried about losing the name "Vanderbilt." Keeping us "Catholic" is what this has all been about!

The name above all names? The Holy Name of JESUS! Let's keep proposing Him!

10 April 2012

On We Go!

After my last chaplain's meeting last week, I was more convinced than ever that Vanderbilt Catholic has chosen the better way. The morale in the room was absolutely, well, demoralizing! I was in complete sympathy with the Hillel director, who pointed out that most of the fraternities had taken their members and dates off for the weekend on their "formals." He was concerned because Passover began last weekend. It was an important weekend for Christians too ;-) But the buses for formals pulled out on Friday.

What a terrible idea these "formals" are! The decorated coolers are such a sad emblem of these events. Yet the university supports the fraternities. In contrast, FCA was called on the carpet by the university for planning a mission trip to Haiti over spring break. Go figure.

I am so glad not to be involved in the politics and the political correctness of being a registered organization!

Also, in today's newspaper 11 other religious groups announced that they are not complying with the policy. They have submitted constitutions with religious requirements for leadership, I guess, in the expectation of being rejected. I wish them well whatever happens. They have named their group: Solidarity! Bl. John Paul the Great, pray for us!

31 March 2012

"All animals are equal..."

Here is the best refutation to the claim that Vanderbilt's administration is applying its non-discrimination policy to "all" student groups.

It reminds me of the seventh commandment of Amimalism from Orwell's Animal Farm: "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The Greeks at Vanderbilt are certainly more equal than religious groups!

29 March 2012


It is time for us to set our faces to the future. The university has made its decision, and we have made ours. Let's move on!

How are we called to propose Jesus Christ and to form His disciples in these new circumstances? That is our question now. Let's ask it broadly!

Give me your ideas!

28 March 2012

"In Him, it is always 'Yes'"

"Jesus, the Word made flesh, is truly God-with-us, who has come to live among us and to share our human condition. The Apostle Saint John expresses it in the following way: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). The expression, "became flesh" points to our human reality in most concrete and tangible way. In Christ, God has truly come into the world, he has entered into our history, he has set his dwelling among us, thus fulfilling the deepest desire of human beings that the world may truly become a home worthy ofhumanity. On the other hand, when God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man, and frustrates creation’s true vocation to be a space for the covenant, for the "Yes" to the love between God and humanity who responds to him. Mary did so as the first fruit of believers with her unreserved "Yes" to the Lord.

For this reason, contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation, we cannot fail to turn our eyes to her so as to be filled with wonder, gratitude and love at seeing how our God, coming into the world, wished to depend upon the free consent of one of his creatures. Only from the moment when the Virgin responded to the angel, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), did the eternal Word of the Father began his human existence in time. It is touching to see how God not only respects human freedom: he almost seems to require it. And we see also how the beginning of the earthly life of the Son of God was marked by a double "Yes" to the saving plan of the Father - that of Christ and that of Mary. This obedience to God is what opens the doors of the world to the truth, to salvation. God has created us as the fruit of his infinite love; hence,to live in accordance with his will is the way to encounter our genuine identity, the truth of our being, while apart from God we are alienated from ourselves and are hurled into the void. The obedience of faith is true liberty, authentic redemption, which allows us to unite ourselves to the love of Jesus in his determination to conform himself to the will of the Father. Redemption is always this process of the lifting up of the human will to full communion with the divine will (cf. Lectio Divina with the parish priests of Rome, 18 February 2010)."

Pope Benedict in Cuba!

About my patron saint!

Read this wonderful adventure story!

The Man Who Saved the Original Papers of San Juan de la Cruz — Crisis Magazine

27 March 2012

Reason and Heart

Pope Benedict "off the cuff" on the way from Mexico to Cuba:

"And, on one hand, we must begin from the common problem: as today, in this context of our modern rationality, we can rediscover God again as the fundamental orientation of our life, the fundamental hope of our life, the foundation of values that really build a society, and to proclaim a God who responds to our reason, because we see the rationality of the cosmos, we see that that there is something behind, but we do not see how close this God is, how he concerns me and this synthesis of the great and majestic God of the small God who is close to me, orients me, shows me the values of my life which is the nucleus of the evangelization. Hence an essential Christianity, where the fundamental nucleus is really found to live today with all the problems of our time. And on the other hand, to take into account the concrete reality. In Latin America, in general, it is very important that Christianity is never so much something of reason but of the heart. Our Lady of Guadalupe is known and loved by all, because they understand that she is a Mother for all and has been present from the beginning in this new Latin America, after the arrival of the Europeans. And also in Cuba we have Our Lady of Cobre, who touches hearts and all know intuitively that it is true, that this Our Lady helps us, that she exists, that she loves and helps us.
But this intuition of the heart must be linked with the rationality of the faith and with the profundity of the faith that goes beyond reason. We must try not to lose the heart, but to link heart and reason, so that they cooperate, because only thus will man be complete and really be able to help and to work for a better future."

26 March 2012

Best Students. Ever.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. In the course of an ordinary Sunday, they planned a way to surprise me with a celebration during our Sunday supper. It was kind and thoughtful -- just right! I appreciated it very much.

The more time I spend with them, the better I become!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

18 March 2012


Would the Catholic chaplaincy serving Vanderbilt University be turning away from our mission if we did not seek registered student organization status for the upcoming year?

At first glace, the answer is yes. Registered status is the way to go to be a student organization at Vanderbilt. To fail to register is to turn away from our responsibility to reach out to the students. Don't we risk making ourselves even more irrelevant to the life of the ordinary student if we are not a registered student organization? It would be downright odd.

On the other hand, the newly defined non-discrimination policy that religious organizations have to abide by undermines our mission. There are numerous problems for a Catholic organization in the non-discrimination policy. The most obvious is the exclusion of religious criteria for membership and leadership. We are, after all a religious organization! It seems plausible that applying the teaching of the Theology of the Body, for example, could be found in violation of the provisions on sexuality and gender. Who knows? Single sex Bible studies clearly are a violation. Want to look for more?

Taken as a whole, the policy is at odds with our mission as a Catholic organization. We serve not only Vanderbilt but the Catholic Church. For example, am I as a priest here to serve an organization of food, fun, and fellowship? No. I am here to serve the spiritual and sacramental needs of the students, which includes teaching the fullness of the Catholic faith. I am responsible to the administration of Vanderbilt; but first I am responsible to my bishop, who connects us to the Apostolic teaching.

Being unregistered would make the Catholic chaplaincy different. But we are different. We are Catholic. We think that the Catholic faith should inform every aspect of life; that is, we should live by what we believe. What else does "catholic" mean but whole, entire, and universal? That goes for our lives.

The non-discrimination policy represents a more narrow view. Life is to be lived according to nice bureaucratic policies. Can we cram the fullness of truth into the cramped quarters of Vanderbilt's non-discrimination policy? Truth is wild and free! It does not always play nice. It claims and requires things that are at odds with the world and at odds with ourselves. By signing the non-discrimination policy we domesticate the transcendent. How can that be a fulfillment of our mission?

Vanderbilt's new non-discrimination policy actually contradicts a university's mission to seek and to follow the truth. A priori, the university is ruling out the possibility that religion offers truth. Religion can be tolerated only if it gives up claims to truth. We are doing Vanderbilt a favor by pointing out how narrow this policy makes the university.

But back to practicalities. How can we live the fullness of the Catholic faith and offer it to students if we are not a registered student organization? Through institutions and policies? Yes, to the extent we can; but better through witness of life! We are always free to do that. How can we do that on campus? The same way we will do it in life. There will not be a Catholic chaplaincy at your workplace or where you work out or socialize -- maybe not even in your neighborhood. You will let your light shine in your life and with your friends in the faith. Others will be attracted, and you will invite others. The Church, I hope, will be there to offer a rich sacramental and spiritual life. But you will have to work at it!

Could we not do that here? Might that not be better training for real life discipleship? Are we being called out into the deep? It is scary, indeed; but it is also exciting! It is nothing less than an adventure. Does Jesus really mean what He says to rely on Him? Let's find out.

17 March 2012

On the non-discrimination policy

I realized yesterday that I need to communicate more and better about the non-discrimination policy and its effect on Vanderbilt Catholic. I have tried not to talk about it very much because to do so involved so much speculation. Now the policy is finally in writing, along with extensive commentary.

From the policy and commentary, it is established that Vanderbilt Catholic is forbidden to use religious belief and practice as criteria for leadership. Here is a quotation from the official commentary on the policy: "9. Does the University’s nondiscrimination policy permit RSOs to impose faith-based or belief-based requirements for membership or leadership? No." Catholic belief and practice are the only reason for Vanderbilt Catholic to exist. They are the only reason certainly for me to be assigned here as a priest chaplain.

In order to register as a student organization for next year, the leadership of Vanderbilt Catholic is required to sign an affirmation that the policy will be followed. Among other things, this means that religious belief and practice will not be used as criteria for leadership. Such an affirmation would undermine the very identity and mission of Vanderbilt Catholic. It would also be untrue.

Vanderbilt Catholic is Catholic first.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

14 March 2012

Excellent article on you know what!

Not that right reason will have any influence the totalitarian administration of Vanderbilt, but here is a great article on the non-discrimination policy. The title is awesome: "Vanderbilt's Right to Despise Christianity"!

13 March 2012

"Timeless Sex"

I guess that I should not be so reactionary, but we selected this title for my "Love and Responsibility" Week talk in contrast to another program called "Sex in the 21st Century." I don't think that sex changes all that much ;-)

Anyhow, the timeless and natural reality of sex is that children can result from it. As a matter of fact, there is no other natural way to have children. To engage in the act from which procreation can flow, it is necessary for an individual to surrender his autonomy and enter into communion with a complementary human being for the long term. One has to say: "I am not enough" to procreate and raise a child. It takes another, and it takes another who has what I do not have. There is risk in this, but there is so much hope! It is the natural "yes" to communion.

The marital commitment, including the marital act, is thus the natural basis for communion. No wonder it is under attack in a society that values radical autonomy above all else. I fear that is what sex in the 21st century is all about: destroying communion in order to preserve autonomy.

Prayers, please

I am going to stop venting about the manifest injustice of the administration's non-discrimination policy toward religious groups. But feel free to carry on without me ;-)

What we here at Vanderbilt Catholic have to do now is to decide if we must "bear wrongs patiently," as in the spiritual work of mercy, and submit to this injustice for the greater good of continuing to work with students in relative tranquility or whether as a matter of conscience we must not submit to a lie and rather trust in God to show us a new way to carry out His work for the salvation of these students.

I am tormented by temptation and doubt in every direction. I want only the truth. I think that I know what it is, but I realize that my decision in this matter influences many other people. For this reason, I need to be right. So I am praying, and I ask for your prayers, too.

12 March 2012

Reasons to discriminate, Vandy style

The list of permissible forms of discrimination (from the FAQs portion of this page) is particularly Vandy-esque. Of course, money is an acceptable form of discrimination -- see #3! And being smart -- #2. As well as being a good "company man" or woman -- #4 & #5. And what #6 means, being limited and open at the same time -- you've got me. I think it has something to do with Greeks and all those important form of discrimination that they practice like hair style, handbags, Daddy's bank account -- you know, the important stuff. That's all OK with Vanderbilt.

1. Singing groups require students to audition.
2. Honor societies and others have GPA cutoffs
3. Groups may require members to pay dues.
4. Groups may require members to attend meetings regularly.
5. Groups may require that only those students who have been in good standing for a specified period of time or have served on at least one committee are eligible to be officers.
6. Groups may have numerical limits to membership as long as membership is open to all students.

11 March 2012

"All Comers" policy back to "Non-discrimination" policy

The ill-advised use of "all comers" language was quietly scrapped in the "non-discrimination" policy that has finally appeared.

It is a remarkable document worthy of the best tradition of totalitarian double speak! The most amazing statement in it is that nothing has changed, even though such a coercive document has never before appeared. But nothing has changed!

I have to give whomever came up with this thing credit for painting a bull's eye right on the backs of religious groups who believe that their religious identities matter. It "tip toes" all over the place creating all kinds of exceptions so that favored groups are exempt. In particular, the hurtfully discriminatory Greek organizations can continue to discriminate as they have always done whereas religious groups, which are in fact the most open groups on campus, are targeted very carefully. The policy is impressive -- impressive in its duplicity.

Well, it is too soon to say what we will do. We have to think about what the words actually say, and what we can say in response in good conscience.

Go watch this movie to get your conscience in shape for such a crisis:

07 March 2012

It Really Is About Contraception

The controversy embroiling the Catholic Church in the United States and the federal government really is about contraception. Of course in a pluralistic society, the first line of defense is the protection afforded to all citizens: the free exercise of religion. The federal government is barred by the Constitution from burdening the free exercise of religion as it proposes to do in the HHS mandate requiring insurance coverage for morally offensive and medically unnecessary contraceptive practices. This freedom is one that all Americans can rally around. So as a political matter, fight the battle on the grounds of religious freedom; but as a matter of proclaiming the Gospel, stand up for the civilization of love, which is undermined by the use of contraception.

The real issue is contraception itself. The federal government, for example, is happy for us to abstain from meat all we like on the Fridays of Lent. The problem is not our religion but our religion's teaching about this particular topic. The federal government has an agenda to undermine all limits on contraception, and that is why the Catholic Church is a problem. Contraception is the linch pin of a whole array of social experimentation meant to exalt the radical autonomy of the individual at the expense of marriage, family, and society. Contraception is a necessary weapon for a culture of death to disconnect sex from love and responsibility.

Let's not be embarrassed by the beauty and integrity of our Church's teaching on contraception. This is the moment to proclaim it and to defend it. It is a matter of the natural law which we have a duty in charity to share with all -- and now is the chance! When will we have so much of the attention of our county on this issue? This is THE teachable moment! Whether we win or lose the political fight, let's win the fight for souls! Empires come and go, but souls are forever.

Let's claim and propose the beauty of natural love as God created it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

03 March 2012

Kempmas Carols

As promised, here are your Kempmas carols! If you have forgotten, Kempmas is the Feb. 29 observance of Thomas a Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ.

The Devotio Moderna is not the most upbeat school of spirituality, you might have noticed. These young gentlemen did! I am afraid that they have been under the influence of Thomistic (as in Aquinas) theology and Salesian spirituality and are just too happy!

02 March 2012

Spring Break is Here!


We have made it to mid-term and to spring break!

This has been a challenging and wonderful semester. But I am ready for a little rest before we set out into the second half.

Happy Lent!

01 March 2012

And so what?

Vanderbilt's administration is relativistic. And that is news? Of course it is!

I really want to be more than a pebble in the shoe of the administration. I want to be a beacon of light in the darkness!

Despite fits of crankiness, I really am happy. Deeply happy. The students that I work with the most are even happier than I am because they are holier than I am. Let me give you just one example of holy silliness: Kempmas!

What is that? Very good question. Some of the boys who live together in a suite have become, shall I say, obsessed with Thomas a Kempis. They appreciate his rigor, but approach it with something more of a Thomistic (Aquinas, that is) optimism. Noticing that the Roman Martyrology has no saints at all listed for February 29, they claimed it for Thomas a Kempis, hence Kempmas. They even composed dreary carols for the occasion.

I will try to provide links, if I can. It defies explanation. But the joy is infectious.

29 February 2012

The Dictatorship of Relativism

Once again, I am faced with the question of exactly what we are doing here at Vanderbilt. Although I do not seek to impose on anyone, proposing Jesus Christ necessarily involves defending the dignity of the human person. We were talking about that fundamental moral norm in RCIA last night as we finished up the 10 Commandments. The dignity of the human person leads to the following propositions, which come up in life here at Vanderbilt:

getting drunk is wrong

sex is made for marriage

marriage is made for a man and a woman

human life begins at conception

human life is inviolable

abortion takes human life

embryonic stem cell research takes human life

natural law cannot be contradicted by human law

None of these propositions relies on faith or revelation for validity. They are all propositions that can be demonstrated by reason and so they are not impositions on anyone. As propositions, the radiant person of Jesus Christ illumines the truth of these statements. They are not the horse but the cart of the Christian life! The horse -- the power -- of the propositions is The Way, The Truth, and The Life which is Jesus Christ. Have you stopped to look at Him lately? Whether by reason or revelation, we must propose the Truth.

The administration at Vanderbilt do not hold these propositions as principles. I feel sorry for them. They try to moderate some of the worst effects of violating these principles without admitting that these are principles. No wonder it does not work. Let's take the least serious of these propositions, the one about drunkenness, since spring break is coming up! One high administrator was making excuses to me for the sorority girls arrested or hospitalized for drunkenness after rush was over. He said that things in Greek life were getting better! I looked at him, not able to believe what I was hearing. Is this the best life that Vanderbilt has to offer to these young women? Having "fun" that ends in being arrested or hospitalized? The administration are caught in the intellectual dead end of relativism that prevents them from saying that practically anything is wrong. The only thing that is wrong absolutely is to say that anything is wrong. And if nothing is wrong, nothing is right either. They have nothing to propose about drinking...or about sex, or about marriage, or about human life itself for living the good life! "Be nice" and "don't get hurt" is about it.

Getting drunk is not the worst thing in the world. But it is wrong. As a Christian and as a rational human being, I can say that. It demeans the dignity of the human person by overthrowing reason, one of the jewels of the human soul. Christian anthropology allows me to say that. I can say more than "be careful" to students going out for a binge. I can say "don't do it." And what is more important, I can say "let me propose a better Way."

28 February 2012

Percy and Giusanni

I seem to be revolving around the idea of mystery as liberation -- the possibility that life and reality are just too big for human rationality to account for adequately. This was presented to me recently by Walker Percy and Luigi Giusanni. I saw a Percy quotation on the "Bad Catholic" bog, and I heard from Msgr. Giusanni by sticking my head into the small CL community that meets at Frassati House on Tuesday nights. I was listening to their discussion when I literally fell asleep, more or less, standing up. Strange.

Anyhow, I am really not philosophical enough to drink deeply from either Percy or Giusanni so I hope to translate their very good point into the more superficial language of the dilattante that I am!

Rationality is a wonderful thing. Really. But it is simply too flat to account for the amazing depths and heights of human life. There are not enough dimensions to rationality. I love going to the beach at the Red Neck Riviera with my family every year. Last summer, I rented a bike for the week. How easy to ride a bike where it is flat! But, you know, I miss the hills after a while. Where is the thrill of coasting down hill or the dread of the steep incline? Rationality is like that. It explains things so well on one dimension, but it entirely misses things like glory and despair. And love.

To use the words of Percy, rationality "won't do" to account for love. Only mystery can do that, and the mystery that does it best is the mystery that is grounded in rationality just like we are: the Incarnation.

27 February 2012

The Phenomenon of Ash Wednesday

Everyone comments on how many people come to Mass on Ash Wednesday, and many wonder out loud why this is the case. I think that the answer is simple: Ash Wednesday shows that there is something bigger to live for. Shows it.

We are Catholics on Ash Wednesday.

I was talking to a resident in the medical school over the weekend. He said that his attending physician took the residents out for pizza on Friday. The attending made a point of ordering veggie pizza and telling why: it was a Friday in Lent. He added that he was a pretty bad Catholic. But he abstained from meat on Friday. This led everyone else to as well.

What's that about?

Everyone has picked up the new translation without a hitch, "consubstantial" and all. The easiest Mass at the Cathedral to implement the changes that the Church is calling for is the Sunday evening Mass, which has by far the youngest crowd. They want to be more Catholic, not less.

If God can be contained by my understanding, then He is a pretty small God. The real God -- the BIG one -- pushes me beyond my understanding into the adventure of faith. He says, "I know more than you do. Trust me."

We express this trust in mystery.

So much for the mystery of Ash Wednesday!

26 February 2012

Unity of Life

What a great idea! I have a real hunger for it, and it seems that many students do too.

"For the love of God" was the theme of the students' Valentine's party. Party for the love of God? Indeed! Everything for the love of God. Pray for the love of God, work for the love of God, sex for the love of God, rest for the love of God. It all makes sense. It makes everything make sense!

That is the burden and the blessing -- but it is a burden of glory, the "weight of glory." We were made not to "slug it out for mediocrity but to sprint for glory." The Christian life is truly an adventure.

Live Jesus!

24 February 2012

Serves me right!

I should have known better than to schedule a party during Lent -- on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, no less. But God took care of it, and turned it into a mortification for me. Yesterday, Fr. Malloy called to say that because of bad weather in South Bend, he could not make it to Nashville in time!

So we scrambled -- or more accurately, Kathleen scrambled -- and everything was fine. She is the best caterer as well as the best pastoral assistant. Ever.

But I got the point!

18 February 2012

7 Points to the New Evangelization

Cardinal-designate Dolan was chosen by the Pope to address the group for today's Day of Reflection and Prayer on the vigil of the consistory.

The New York archbishop recommended the following seven pointers:

1) Remembering that even those who boast of their secularism have an innate longing for the divine; the first step of evangelization must be to keep the quest for God alive

2) "Be not afraid" -- confident, without being triumphalist, since it is the power of God who sends his people to evangelize

3) Knowing that the new evangelization is not about presenting a doctrine or belief-system, but a Person, whose name is Jesus

4) Nevertheless, this Jesus is the Truth. Hence, evangelization is linked to catechesis

5) An evangelist must be a person of joy -- someone who smiles

6) The new evangelization is about love -- the love of God made concrete in service

7) Finally, martyrdom. A reminder that the Church is now peopled by those who are suffering persecution for their faith, and that these martyrs give impetus to the new evangelization

16 February 2012

From the Vanderbilt of the north...

This letter, from the author of this year's Commons' summer book, sounds like deja vu all over again. Harvard has already been here! The administration is so last decade!

Read it and smile :-)

14 February 2012

Mandate Still Mandated

Six More Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”

2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.

3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption. These policies will be developed over a one-year delay in enforcement, so if they turn out badly, their impact will not be felt until August 2013, well after the election.

4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.

5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”

6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.

11 February 2012

What about the laity?

I hope that the bishops' will keep up the pressure to win conscience protection for lay employers, who after all employ many more people than Church-run institutions do.

The lay faithful have just as much right to have their consciences respected!

10 February 2012

Silver Linings!

Just as the discrimination against religious groups here at Vanderbilt has produced more prayer and more consideration of religion on campus than I have ever seen before, so too the HHS mandate has highlighted contraception in a way never before seen. It is a great teachable moment for the Church to educate on what is wrong with contraception.

We have neglected this teaching for a long time, and that neglect is haunting us now. The rational arguments for marriage, for example, are founded on the understanding that openness to procreation is naturally built into the marital act. If it is OK for procreation to be excluded from sex, then there is no rational argument against all kinds of sexual variations. Other than the unique relationship to children, sex need not be limited in any particular way. Eliminate the possibility of children, and anything goes! That is just what we see in the debates about same-sex marriage -- it is about preferences, not principles.

Let's propose Jesus Christ -- including His teaching about what God intended for marriage from the beginning: "be fruitful and multiply"! That is what marital love does -- naturally!

08 February 2012

To Live of Love

Here is the real answer to the Provost's question: "I’m Catholic. What if my faith beliefs guided all of the decisions I make from day to day?"

It is a poem by St. Therese. It really is our guide to how to respond to this whole controversy. Go read it and see what you think.

07 February 2012

Prayer...that's better!

Prayer Before Study
by Thomas Aquinas

Ineffable Creator.
You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
Refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
the goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
Who live and reign,
world without end.


06 February 2012

What's the deal with drag shows?

The big event this semester at the Commons Center, the student center of the first year "college" at Vanderbilt, was "Viva Las Vandy," which included a drag show. What's up with that?


When I am weak, then I am strong

Vandy Awakening X is now one for the history books! Thanks for your prayers. They were answered powerfully.

Let's pray for perseverance in the good resolutions made. And for a little rest :-)

03 February 2012

The Papist

Read this from a newish blog The Papist -- I like that, no modifiers!

(PJ just happens to be president of Vanderbilt Catholic!)


What is VAX? Believe it or not, it's Vandy Awakening 10! Please pray for a new Pentecost over the weekend.

I am sooooo proud of the leaders of this retreat for really reaching out to invite others to the retreat. They get the new evangelization. It is true for all of our student leaders. They are being so apostolic!

I am also excited for Awakening -- just like the "old days" when we began!

01 February 2012

Salus Animarum

Enough about the non-discrimination policy! We have fought the good fight. Anyone who cares to know, knows our problems with the policy. It is going into effect. We will have to wait to see what the administration intends to do. Fortitude consists primarily in patient endurance. Give it to us, Lord!

Let's get back to the work of "salus animarum" -- "the safety of souls." Actually, I hope that we have never left it. We have Awakening coming up this weekend! There is dinner at Dismas House tonight, adoration tomorrow, and Mass every day. There is so much good going on. And there are so many grave and immediate threats to the safety of souls here at Vanderbilt -- here and here. Jesus, save souls!


30 January 2012

And Religious Groups Are The Problem?

From the front page of last Thursday's Hustler:

"A number of sorority-affiliated women -- both new and active members -- were hospitalized Monday, Jan. 16 due to alcohol poisoning. Various arrests, on charges of under-age drinking and public intoxication, also took place both on- and off-campus. Crime logs confirm these reports.

...On Jan. 16, at 8 p.m., Bid Day restrictions related to the consumption of alcohol officially ended for sororities.

...No sororities are currently on probation"

29 January 2012

"New Co-ed Housing Options"

Bad as the non-discrimination policy is, this is worse:

In response to student demand, three new options that de-
emphasize gender will be available for the 2012-2013 academic
year. A floor of Lupton House in Branscomb Quadrangle will offer
and equal number of double rooms for women and men and a floor in
Carmichael Towers East Building 2 will offer an equal number of
single rooms and double rooms for women and men. Also in
Carmichael Towers, a small number of suites will be open to mixed
sex groups of students. The double rooms of the suites will be single
sex but otherwise the students will decide on the composition of their suites."
(From the Dean of Students Office of Housing and Residential Education)

"In response student demand...de-emphasize gender," indeed!

The last sentence of the quotation is the silliest thing I have ever read!

25 January 2012

You have got to read this:

"Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds."

Guess who said this? BXVI, of course!

go read the whole thing

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

24 January 2012

One last point about the non-discrimination policy

5. The Chancellor has made an absolute of the policy so that he does not think that it is possible for people of good will reasonably to disagree with the policy.

23 January 2012

Told You!

Here is what the Mass for Life looked like at the National Shrine in DC:


Why not just go along with the non-discrimination policy? Continued

Here are two more points of principle that the non-discrimination policy violates:

3. The policy unduly burdens freedom of religion and of association. The university is proposing to regulate what is acceptable religious practice as well as the mission and identity of student religious organizations. The university is mandating indifferentism in religious matters.

4. The policy results in Vanderbilt becoming a sectarian institution enforcing an intolerant secular orthodoxy. With this policy the administration has lost confidence in its students' ability to engage in liberal dialogue. Rather than trust its students' use of free inquiry, the administration is imposing a dogmatic position about how students must organize themselves. No peer institution of Vanderbilt enforces a policy like this.

21 January 2012

Why not just go along with the non-discrimination policy?

I am sure that many of you are asking: "How likely is it under this policy that someone who is not Catholic could become an officer of Vanderbilt Catholic?" I would answer: "Not very."

But that is not the point. Here are two points of principle that this policy violates (others will follow!):

1. This policy is applied inconsistently. There are numerous student organizations that operate in violation of this policy with the university's blessing and even encouragement: for example, all Greek organizations are discriminatory not only in leadership but in membership. The university is free to apply this policy to them but chooses not to. This is inconsistent on the part of the university.

2. This policy is discriminatory of a particular variety of religious groups. The policy is worded generally but in effect it targets only a certain category of religious groups. Discrimination that targets religious expression is highly suspect and invidious.

Inconsistent and Discriminatory

The non-discrimination policy that the Chancellor reinforced yesterday is both inconsistent and discriminatory.

It is inconsistent in that at least 35 student organizations are exempt by Vanderbilt from the policy.

It is discriminatory in that it has the effect of targeting religious groups.

20 January 2012

Alea Iacta Est

Well, it seems that the Chancellor, although a lawyer, does not get the message of a 9 - 0 Supreme Court decision protecting religious liberty. So we get to fight for religious liberty here at Vanderbilt. We are taking our stand. Come stand with us!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

19 January 2012

New Evangelization on Campus

I don't really think that there is much new about the new evangelization, except that it is always new! Let's work on being a community who has seen Jesus -- "come and see," He says. Adoration today ;-)

10 January 2012

Retreat -- giving one

There is not much that would take me away from Vanderbilt during the first week of the semester, but giving a retreat to 110 seminarians is one of them!

Once again, I get to see the hope of the New Evangelization. It is also great to be with Josh Altonji who just graduated from Vanderbilt and is now here at the Josephinum as a seminarian for the Diocese of Birmingham! Poor Josh, he just can't get away from me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

08 January 2012

Welcome Back!

Even though I am about to leave to give a retreat to the college seminarians at the Josephinum -- I ask your prayers for that! -- I am so excited about the semester just about to begin.

I was just on a retreat myself, and I have my "groove back" :-) -- pardon the silly expression. Anyhow, I hope that we are sitting on ready and rocking on go to know and share the love of Jesus, born in the stable of Bethlehem but now proclaimed to the nations! Praise Him!

04 January 2012

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Our Lady of Alabama! (stjudemonastery.blogspot.com)

I don't have time to say enough good things about my retreat here: www.stjudemonastery.org

Go read about it, and I will tell you more later!

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