Friday, January 12, 2007

Down an Old Road With a New Challenge

I have officially accepted (and alas, it means less frequent blog postings!) a new challenge. I am going to write and edit a sports book called Champions of Faith. But before you can say deja vu three times fast, this IS a totally new book (albeit with an old title), a baseball-only volume funded by the Catholic Exchange brain trust. The CHALLENGE comes from the fact that not only am I mostly editing someone else's work, but that I should aim at "those lukewarm Catholics that tailgate at Notre Dame" rather than "the EWTN crowd." In other words, no overtly religious lingo, no preachy tones. Okay, okay ... but what words do I use?

Ironically in the new issue of Notre Dame Magazine, Fr. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, appears to be confronted with somewhat the same task. In his article, Fr. Jenkins says unequivocally, "We can succeed in advancing the (Catholic) aspects of the University's mission only if we have, among our faculty, a critical number of devoted followers of the Catholic Faith." On the other hand, Jenkins also states that "the non-Catholic colleagues (just under 50 percent of the faculty) make us a better Catholic University," for the "Non-Catholic Christians," as well as the Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and agnostic professors "enhance our dialogue ... and help people of different faiths respect each other." One wonders what happens when a student is taught by teachers of different faiths, none of which happen to be Catholic. Has the dialogue succeeded if the once-Catholic student, for lack of Catholic input, loses his faith?

Similarly, my CE colleague says by not merely preaching to the choir, by being all things to all men, we can reach far more people. Jenkins says to be a Catholic university with a diverse faculty is a "greater challenge" than doing it the safe, Steubenville all-Catholic faculty way. To that I say "Amen Brother!" But to his conclusion, that this greater challenge will bring greater good, I am not yet certain about. Still as I embark on my new challenge to write a volume not Hannah Stormish but not (typical) Tom O'Toolesque either, I can only hope in God and pray to Our Lady that Jenkins' Vision (which includes a three-page article that, save saying his University's name, fails to mention the Blessed Virgin's name even once) proves accurate.

6 comments :

holyground said...

Congratulations on your new and surely challenging assignment.

You asked "Has the dialogue succeeded if the once-Catholic student, for lack of Catholic input, loses his faith?"

I believe so, especially if, as my experience shows, there are 10 new Catholics for, perhaps one, who has not valued and thus lost his faith...


"Jenkins says to be a Catholic university with a diverse faculty is a "greater challenge" than doing it the safe, Steubenville all-Catholic faculty way..."

I wholly agree too.

"But to his conclusion, that this greater challenge will bring greater good, I am not yet certain about"

I have seen this happen and so, i believe that the Holy Spirit is recreating, breathing new life. With regards to the lack of reference to Mary, she is never far from Jesus so, she is inexplicably present as any Catholic would understand.

God bless Tom & 'Netty'
Holyground

Tom O'Toole said...

holyground - I don't totally agree with Jenkins. While I can understand getting non-Catholic Math and (some) Science teachers, I think the Theology and Philosophy Dept. has to be solidly Catholic. At very least ND has to get rid of priests who teach against the Catholic Church (McBrien) and make sure all students take several very strong Catholicly-taught courses each semester.

While Mary is never far away, we also should acknowledge Her presence. Unless we are ashamed of it ...

JimAroo said...

The Aroos are smiling all over the place for the O'Tooles! Good job!
Please accept my order for 2 copies right now.

I am with you on Father Jenkins, Tom. I think in this and some of his other statements, he is throwing a bone to alumni donors to keep them on board. Send the bucks boys and let me worry about the faculty. I have also seen the Steubenville model up close and it is an awesome spiritual place of Catholic renewal.

Also we can never ever address our Mother Mary too often or too explicitly. Many Catholics have forgotten her and fail to ask for the graces she dispenses so freely to those who ask.

O Mary, Conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Go Irish! Love Our Lady!

holyground said...

Tom,
Don't totally agree? Would have been different if it was "don't totally disagree", hmm... well... perhaps i should have known better than to comment but, i have to test the ground... holiness is not an easy road.
Just a final word [literally final...]St Anslem says "theology is faith seeking understanding", surely premised on faith. Theology is the essential springboard for growth and those who reject it live in stagnation... a stance that surely deflects the graces of the Holy Spirit.

Catholic...? A priest forever! even if one is, or people think that he is a sinner... Jesus came for sinners remember? certainly, then those who consider themselves righteous will not see the light of Jesus, sadly, simply because they are full of themselves. These tend to highlight the one dark spot on a clean white paper... Vision of darkness?

Mary, is alway, always present... yet, notice even Scripture does not highlight this presence, except at significant moments. There is absolutely no shame involved in this beautiful and intimate relationship with the Mother of God... only humility on her part that is rarely understood.

So, Good bye and God bless Tom and Netty. My prayers are surely with you, and your prayers for me [whatever the reason] are most appreciated. Shalom!
Holyground

Tom O'Toole said...

holyground -- You seem to be having it both ways ... do you really think a priest who openly disagrees with Catholic Doctrine (i.e. maybe Mary Magdaline DID make it with Christ according to Fr. McB) should teach in a Catholic University and represent the University in public. I'm not saying he isn't saved, I'm just stating he should find a new job. If McBrien/Jenkins would rather highlight, say, the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (instead of Mary), that would be fine -- but I don't see that either.

JimAroo said...

My mother, Mary O'Dea, taught me to look for 3 things to know I was in a Catholic place. 1)Devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, 2)Loyalty to the Holy Father and teachings of the church, 3)Filial Love for Our Lady. What I see among the heterodox like McB, Rohlheiser, and Jenkins and many in religious life is a tiny nod to #1, contempt for #2 and making excuses for not expressing our deep love to Our Mother.

Any priest without a strong filial devotion to Mary is treading on thin ice. I am not ashamed of her. When you see the rosary and devotions to Mary alive, you know you are in the right place. She always leads us to Jesus.

And by the way Tom, if you are wondering who HG is referring to:

"These tend to highlight the one dark spot on a clean white paper... Vision of darkness?"

It's me! The original son of darkness because I believe we are all sinners in need of God's mercy, we have a true guide in our Church and I love Mary my mother and my queen. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY.
Lord I plead gulty on each and every charge! Praise God for this condemnation of me!

Go Irish! Love Our Lady!