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."