St.Thomas Lumen A Catholic Studies Publication WINTER 2020
“ As the family goes,
so goes the nation and
so goes the whole world.”
ST. JOHN PAUL II
St.Thomas Lumen WINTER 2020
Published by the University of St. Thomas Center for Catholic Studies 55S
2115 Summit Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105 (651) 962-5700
Catholic Studies Communications Jessica Zittlow Aleman ’13 CSMA Associate Director, Center for Catholic Studies Editor Brant Skogrand ’04 MBC, APR, CPPM Designer Carol Garner Photographers Mark Brown Liam James Doyle
The Grace of Encounter . ....................... 3 Cover Story – Invite Them In: Family as Mission .................................... 4 Catholic Studies News: Sitzmann and Bernardi .......................... 8 What We’re Reading and Watching ......................................... 12 St. Newman and Online Learning ..................................... 14 Alumni Profile: To Love and Be Loved .......................... 18 CSMA Essay: Lift Up Your Head .................................. 20 LOGOS Journal: Dorothy Sayers’ Jesus .......................... 22 Murphy Institute: The Beauty That Saves ......................... 24 Latino Scholars 20th Anniversary and Alumni Notes ................................. 26
Contributors John F. Boyle David Deavel David Foote
Kristen Grant ’18 CSMA Mackenzie Hunter ’21 Billy Junker Elizabeth M. Kelly ’08 CSMA Erika Kidd Michael Naughton Michelle Rash ‘16, ‘24 CSMA Father Martin Schlag Cassandra Schwetz ’17 Brant Skogrand Gerriet Suiter ’19 CSMA Joan Weiland ’20, ’22 CSMA
Kathryn Wehr Cover photo
Melissa Hamilton ’09 and her husband Ryan with their kids. St. John Paul II quote from Homily of John Paul II, Perth, 30 November 1986.
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THE GRACE OF ENCOUNTER In a 2016 meditation from St. Marta Chapel, Pope Francis challenged his flock to “work and ask for the grace to build a culture of encounter, of this fruitful encounter, this encounter that returns to each person their dignity as children of God, the dignity of living.” His plea did not seem nearly as heavy then as it does today. This year has been a reminder of the fragility of truly life-giving encounter. It has been a reminder that working for and preserving the common good cannot be reduced to prescriptive and proscriptive norms; it needs the operation of grace to be a life-giving antidote. It has been a gift to explore this with our alumni. One of the most touching reflection is from alumna Cassandra Schwetz ‘17 , a staff member with Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family residence in St. Paul ( Page 18 ). Despite the new suffering that her residents and their families, staff and religious sisters are experiencing under pandemic restrictions, the face of Christ remains with them. Alumna Kristen Grant ‘18 CSMA uses historian Christopher Dawson as a guide to understand humanity’s need to encounter the “world of spirit” in the struggle to repair a broken world ( Page 20 ).
Graduate Program Director Dr. Erika Kidd and alumnus Gerriet Suiter ‘19 CSMA consider the significance of St. Newman’s “genius loci,” understood not so much as “place as place” but “place as people,” in effective online education ( Page 14 ). Pope Francis often reminds us of the significance of the family in Catholic social teaching as the primary institution – or “cell of society” – for realizing the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Especially in the family, individuals mature in relationship to one another, and children are born and nurtured. These goods of the family, developed through the intimate encounters of family life, can influence how these principles are expressed in our larger economic and political institutions. This summer we sat down with three alumni families to explore the grace of mission and encounter in their own lives ( Page 4 ).
JOHN F. BOYLE, CHAIR DEPARTMENT OF CATHOLIC STUDIES
MICHAEL NAUGHTON, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR CATHOLIC STUDIES
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INVITE THEM IN FAMILY AS MISSION
By ELIZABETH KELLY ‘08 CSMA
The “mission of family” is as vast and diverse as the stars in the sky. We sat down with three alumni families that have made their focus on “saying yes” a way of life.
The Wald family
“FAMILY FIRST” AS HOSPITALITY On any given day, you might find JackieWald ’10 in her beater of a van – it’s a 15-passenger beast of a thing that her kids make fun of – filled with her own five children, several foster kids and any number of friends and neighbors who might need a leg up, driving through St. Paul’s East Side to deliver meals to the homeless or the homebound. “None of this is official or organized,” Jackie says laughing apologetically, “It’s more a way of life. We’re just ordinary people doing ordinary things.” She and her husband Jeff Wald ’09 , an assistant attorney for Ramsey County in Minnesota, met as St. Thomas undergraduates and married in 2010. The couple always had a desire to serve the poor but as their family grew, they came to understand that service wasn’t something that would propel them
outside of their home. Rather, the goal became inviting others into their family. “We’ve always said that we wanted our home to be a place of hospitality,” Jackie says. “Our call was to put our little family first, but that didn’t mean to be insular or isolated.” Adoption and foster care naturally fit that model of family life and service. They have adopted two children, continue to provide foster care, and open their home on Tuesdays and Thursdays to at-risk youth. They will plan activities like delivering meals, taking a nature walk or visiting a sculpture garden. They might have a fishing day, a farm day or a beach day with the children, perhaps a teen mom and her baby ... Everyone is invited. “Everything we do, we do it together,” says Jackie. “We’re always asking, can we minister together?
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And the gift that we’re giving is relationship. It’s not the thing we’re doing but the relationship – contact with our children, with the people receiving the meals. We’re inviting them into a family.” “[T]he gift that we’re giving is relationship. It’s not the thing we’re doing but the relationship.” Jeff credits his time at St. Thomas in helping to form his approach to family life. “We heard [the term ‘mission’] a lot at St. Thomas and in Catholic circles,” he remembers, “thinking of the family as a place of mission. ... Sometimes as Catholics I think we can be thinking ‘we’re not out there enough, we need to be out there evangelizing.’ ...We started looking for opportunities to serve the poor as a family. Adoption was another opportunity for our family to be on a mission, bringing people into the life we already have.” “Sometimes when the [at-risk] boys come over there’s this temptation to entertain,” says Jackie, “They’re 15, 16 and there’s a lot going on, but then I remember, no, this is our home and I’m going to cook and you can join me. Or Jeff will play basketball with them. We’re going to be here for you.”
Jackie adds, “It’s what Dorothy Day used to say about ‘presence.’ If I’m serving you soup but I’m not looking you in the eye, I should have stayed in my room. It’s not about the doing or what we accomplish, it’s about acknowledging that you have dignity and being present to you in that moment. I want to listen to you, to hear you, to look at you and through that presence, you experience Christ.” RELATIONSHIP AND CONVERSION Living this model of family life is shaping how their kids interact with others. When delivering meals, it will often be the children who notice someone on the street in need. Jackie says, “The kids will say, ‘Hey, Mom, we have two milks left and there’s someone over there who really needs it.’ There’s no fear in them, instead there’s an urgency to meet the needs they see. ... It connects them back to the reality that our life is a privilege and a gift. ... They are learning to understand and accept the differences between us and not try to make everybody the same.” Jackie’s Cuban, Jeff’s German, their adopted children are African American and several of their
children have special needs. The Walds are very open to discussions about differences in race, especially with their own children. “It can be a real stumbling block down the road if you ignore the fact that you look different,” says Jeff. “For good or for ill, the country that we live in is very divided and they’re going to have something to say about race to [our children]. So, we talk about it and just try to normalize it.” This model of family life isn’t easy. In fact, it requires constant, ever- deepening conversion on behalf of Jackie and Jeff most of all. “I used to live for 7 p.m.,” says Jackie, “or whatever the bedtime was because then it was our time, but there’s something that’s not in the right order when you’re living like that. ... [So] often what I want is comfort, what I want is ease, a cold dark room alone. But I can meet the Lord in that tension, it brings me back to him and I’m grounded again.”
Jackie Wald assembling food and clothing donations.
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“There’s an opportunity to be a sign of contradiction and a sign of hope,” says Jeff. “The most evident way we can express our hope in society is by having children. It demonstrates not just our hope in God but hope in our country and in the goodness of life.”
MORE SACRIFICE, MORE MERCY
After a miscarriage very early in their marriage, Justina ’13 and Matt Kopp ’14 learned in their next pregnancy that they would need to prepare a little more room than expected, four times more. Justina was pregnant with quads. “I had this realization: ‘I am five people right now,’” says Justina, “and the importance of recognizing all of us as unique people.” And from the beginning, even before their children were born, the Kopps have been intentional about recognizing each of their children as individuals. “We want to really stress that as parents,” Justina says, “to see them as individuals and not just lump them together as ‘the quads.’” Because the pregnancy was high- risk, the Kopps were advised to terminate two of their children.
The Kopp family during their first trip as a family of six to visit relatives in Kenya.
“The doctors kept talking about the dangers to my health and my safety,” Justina says, “There was never any discussion about the very obvious danger to these two children whose lives they were going to take.”
The Kopps told their doctors, “We want to hear your plan for four healthy babies and one healthy mamma.” “You always hear about the sacrifice that it requires to be parents,”
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says Melissa Hamilton ’09 , “but I didn’t realize how real that was ... it takes every bit of you and every bit of your emotions and time and commitment. It stretches you. It’s incredibly difficult to articulate the impact because it’s so profound.” Her husband, Ryan Hamilton, added, “I can be incredibly selfish ... but I’ve found that it’s coming quite naturally [to make sacrifices as a dad]. The juice is coming from somewhere – it’s the overflowing mercy of God. He didn’t give me these kids to break me ... he gave them to me to strengthen me. I am able to sacrifice and think of something more than myself and then apply that to other areas of my life.” “The universality of Catholicism is so important,” says Melissa. “What other institution spans every continent, every country, every culture. I can’t think of another one.” As they raise their young children during a particularly tumultuous time, not least of all with respect to U.S. race relations, they draw strength from their faith. “It’s the Church’s duty and responsibility to lead on [matters of race relations],” says Ryan. “The Church needs to be the voice of truth.” “I don’t want to be on any committees just sitting around talking about things or outsourcing [works of mercy],” Ryan says. “I want to be with a community that will go find a family in poverty and uplift them. Bring these people who are marginalized into the mainstream. When you’re ready to do that, come talk to me.”
The Hamilton family
their Catholicism, lead with their faith in terms of their worldview, and see where it takes us. I think that will be our role in making things better.” It’s something Ryan and Melissa want to impress upon his young children as they grow and consider their own identities. “I’m going to tell my kids they’re Catholic,” Ryan went on to say. “I’m going to teach them to lead with that.”
Ryan and Melissa have been trying to do their part as a family of faith that leads with truth. Ryan was featured on a Catholic podcast and in local and national newspapers this past summer, challenging people to live their faith daily, not just on Sunday: “If people are leading with their whiteness, and it just so happens [they are] Catholic, then that’s the problem,” he said in a June conversation with The Catholic Spirit. “I invite people to lead with
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Catholic Studies News
REQUIESCAT IN PACE Gene Si tzmann who with his wife Faye was a longtime benefactor of St. Thomas, passed away on Sept. 16. The Sitzmanns are the namesakes of Sitzmann Hall, the home of St. Thomas Catholic Studies. The Sitzmanns began their support of the Center for Catholic Studies in 1998 when they provided the gift that purchased the Christopher Dawson Collection for the center and for the university. Years later, they contributed the funding to renovate the building that became Sitzmann Hall.
Benefactors, including the Sitzmanns, gave $4.2 million to expand Sitzmann Hall with a 4,700-square-foot addition, which provided more office and classroom space, a chapel and an elevator. Sitzmann Hall reopened in 2009, and the expansion won a “New Addition to a Historic Building” award from the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission. Yet, Sitzmann Hall continues to be much more than a building. For Catholic studies students, who come from a range of other academic disciplines and professions around campus, the building, foremost, provides a home where they can come together for study, prayer, classes and other activities. “We believe that the hallmark of the St. Thomas Catholic Studies program has always been our ability to model and cultivate a deeply integrated life of study and faith. And, Sitzmann Hall has played a foundational role in creating this distinctive, transformational experience for students,” says Dr. Michael Naughton, director of the Center for Catholic Studies. “Gene Sitzmann was a wonderful friend of St. Thomas and Catholic Studies, not only in his generous contributions but also in a life well lived. He was a model not only for us but for our students.” Gene was honored with the Catholic Studies Truth and Life Award in December 2018 at the Catholic Studies 25th anniversary celebration.
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Catholic Studies News
N icole B ernardi who served on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board from2015-18 and the Catholic Studies Advisory Board from 2004-18, passed away on Aug. 18. She is survived by her husband of 29 years, Luigi ’85, ’89 MBA ; and daughters Francesca ’16 and Antonella ’18 . “Nicole and Luigi Bernardi have been exceedingly good to St. Thomas. They are exceedingly good people,” says President Emeritus Father Dennis Dease. “Nicole cared. She was kind, gracious, effervescent, and a woman of deep and committed faith. We shall miss her, but never forget her.” The Bernardis are the namesakes of the Iversen Center for Faith’s Nicole and
Luigi Bride’s and Groom’s Suites. They also funded the recent restoration of the Mary Peace Garden. And thanks to Luigi’s parents Antonio and Cecilia Bernardi, the Bernardi Campus in Rome opened its doors in 2000. “There is a Latin phrase that catches the spirit of Nicole Bernardi, ‘via pulchritudinis’ – the way of beauty,” says Naughton. “She had an eye for the beautiful. Nicole brought a great conviction to the arts and she also brought this beauty to the deepest realities of life such as faith and human relationships.”
St. Thomas Catholic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences has a newwebsite!We encourage you to visit stthomas.edu/catholicstudies to see the newwebsite, which includes more links to videos, virtual events and alumni story highlights.
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Catholic Studies News
SAFELY LEARNING AND MAINTAINING COMMUNITY
It goes without saying that the fall 2020 semester looked and felt very different for students, faculty and staff in the effort to keep everyone healthy. Yet, undeterred by COVID-19 limitations, Catholic Studies found new, creative and safe ways to continue to engage students and the broader community. This past summer the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Social Thought, Law and Public Policy, a College of Arts and Sciences Catholic Studies and School of Law partnership, hosted a Zoom series titled, “The Common Good in Uncommon Times,” that covered a range of timely topics including incarceration during pandemics; taxation and distributive justice; achieving just wages; and religious liberty. Moving into early fall, Rachel Paulose, visiting
law professor, spoke at a virtual event on “The Christian Duty to Create a Beloved Community.” Later in the month, Murphy Institute relaunched “Hot Topics: Cool Talk,” this time online, with a conversation on physician-assisted suicide that was rescheduled from last spring. In November, Professor Emeritus Kenneth Kemp gave a virtual presentation on his recently released book, The War That Never Was: Evolution and Christian Theology . Upcoming event topics for Murphy Institute include J. R. R. Tolkien and current social and political dynamics, government accountability in sexual assault cases, and themes from Obianuju Ekeocha’s book, Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism in the Twenty-First Century .
A June 2020 graduate program course sampler hosted by Dr. Erika Kidd on St. Augustine’s Confessions .
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Catholic Studies News
In the last installment of Ryan’s “History of Economic Thought and Christian Faith” series, Professor Bobbi Herzberg explored the economic contributions and success of Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. On Dec. 3, Ryan hosted an online discussion for students titled, “Colloquium on Catholicism and Economic Liberalism,” which explored questions and challenges concerning interactions between Catholic theology and liberal economic theory.
The Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought moved online in rescheduling a series of spring and summer events, providing an opportunity to reach a much larger audience. The “Future of Work: Human Dignity in an Era of Globalization and Autonomous Technology” event, which built off the canceled conference under the same theme, garnered more than 900 registered attendees from around the world, and featured Cardinal Peter Turkson; José Manuel Barroso, former prime minister of Portugal and current chairman of Goldman Sachs; and Nobel Prize- winning economist Professor James Heckman.
The Department of Catholic Studies and Habiger Institute for Catholic Leadership created new formats for student events and activities to bring safety, health and community together as part of a culture of care. These included a virtual “Port and Poetry” night for graduate students; smaller masked, distanced gatherings following “Common Good” room capacities for Latino Scholars meetings; and the temporary move of evening prayer for leadership interns to the much larger Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.
An event from Murphy Institute’s summer Zoom series “The Common Good in Uncommon Times.”
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DR. BILLY JUNKER I read C.S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature , in preparation for a summer seminar, and Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories in preparation for my fall undergraduate teaching. I read Calcidius’ commentary on Plato’s Timaeus . I really have no justification for reading Calcidius except that I like reading ancient commentaries. DR. DAVID FOOTE This past summer I made my way through several books that have been staring at me for quite some time and asking to be read. The first was Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales, one of the great spiritual writers of the tradition. Then the events
WHAT WE’RE READING AND WATCHING
A popular question Department of Catholic Studies faculty get asked from students and alumni alike is how to make sense of everything that has happened during 2020 and, it follows, how to respond fruitfully and faithfully as Catholics. As teachers their natural inclination is to, foremost, dive into learning more so they can, too, think critically as to act wisely. Here is a sample of what some of our professors have been reading and watching.
FATHER MARTIN SCHLAG I read John Finnis’ Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory this past summer. Finnis uses about 60 different works of St. Thomas. One of the chapters is great for my graduate course I am teaching this semester. Next, I read White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era by Shelby Steele. To relax I picked up the detective story The Guardians by John Grisham, about a group of Christians, especially a lawyer who is also an Episcopalian minister, who defend innocent people against wrongful convictions.
surrounding the death of George Floyd hit and I added more to my list. I found Thomas Sowell, a prolific writer, an economist by training, especially helpful. His short essay, “Race, Culture, and Equality,” gave a nice picture of his general approach. I am now also reading his more recent book, Discrimination and Disparities . Finally, I am
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Catholic Studies News
almost through A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach by Ruby Payne, an educator who has
Eichmann in Jerusalem , for her take on racism, complacency and
NEWBOOK RELEASE FROMCENTER DIRECTORS, THE LATE BRIEL AND NAUGHTON Former Center for Catholic Studies director the late Don J. Briel, St. Thomas Professor Emeritus Kenneth E. Goodpaster and current Center for Catholic Studies Director Michael J. Naughton recently released a new book, What We Hold in Trust . Drawing upon the rich history of the Catholic university, this book considers how universities can rediscover their deepest purpose and, as a result, best confront their current weaknesses and challenges. It aims to demonstrate the significance and efficacy of Catholic university faculty, administrators and trustees who: understand the roots of the institutions they serve; can wisely order the goods of the university, distinguishing between primary and secondary purposes; and who can distinguish fads and slogans for authentic, lasting reform. The authors claim that without a Catholic vision that is grounded philosophically, theologically, historically and institutionally, these universities may grow in size, but shrink in purpose. What We Hold in Trust will be available for purchase through The Catholic University of America Press beginning March 2021 at cuapress.org .
what she terms “the banality of evil” (which doesn’t mean what you might think). DR. MICHAEL NAUGHTON I recently picked up Helen Pluckrose’s and James Lindsay’s new book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody . I found it helpful in developing a talk on “Woke Capitalism” that I was asked to deliver this fall. I am also reading Jean Leclercq’s book The Love of Learning and the Desire for God . It has been helpful in finalizing the text for my latest book collaboration, What We Hold in Trust: Rediscovering the Purpose of Catholic Higher Education .
spent her career writing about the relationship between poverty and education. DR. JOHN BOYLE In times of pressing difficulty, I turn first to the deep thinkers. And so, I have taken up Romano Guardini’s The Faith and Modern Man . He writes for those who are troubled, in doubt, anxious, wondering what they are to do, and he helps them keep hold of the deepest truths and be formed by them. I also watched John Ford’s “Fort Apache” with my wife and youngest son. It tells a story about bigotry, racism, the media and sin. DR. ERIKA KIDD I read Go Tell It on the Mountain , James Baldwin’s semiautobiographical novel of racial injustice, family, and faith in 1930s Harlem. I also watched “Jim Crow of the North,” a documentary about racial covenants and redlining in Minneapolis. Finally, I’ve been revisiting Hannah Arendt’s book
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St. Newman and Online Learning
William (Billy) Junker, assistant professor in the Department of Catholic Studies, during a teaching module for his online graduate course on Dante.
William (Billy) Junker, assistant professor in the Department of Catholic Studies, during a teaching module for his online graduate course on Dante. CONSIDERING ONLINE EDUCATION t h rough n ewm a n ’ s p r i n c i p l e s
By GERRIET SUITER ‘19 CSMA AND ERIKA KIDD
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St. Newman and Online Learning
E veryone’s talking about online education these days – and it’s not always complimentary. For many, it’s particularly hard to imagine how online education could fit with the liberal arts. There’s perhaps no one better to help us think about such a pairing in a richly Catholic way than St. John Henry Newman. His The Idea of a University – a foundational text for St. Thomas Catholic Studies – outlines his theory and ideal of university education. It also can offer us some important principles to guide our thinking about the possibilities of online education. In Idea , Newman makes two key arguments: 1) that a university is a place of teaching all knowledge – no discipline can be excluded on principle, and 2) that the characteristic result for students is the development of a philosophical habit of mind. Such a mind is characterized by discipline and an ability to see the reality of things; it perceives relationships and connections, and recognizes and applies proper methods to each discipline. The method of mathematics is not the method of literature, nor is either the method of philosophy or theology. Yet these all together form a whole, as the well-formed mind begins to recognize. Truth is one, and there is a unity to faith and reason. To think about online education with Newman must not mean to entertain a change of ends. There are those in the present day, as there were those in Newman’s day, who argue for utilitarian ends for education and who would say that the sole point of education is productive employment. Newman assails this position in his writings. Of course, liberal education may well, in a secondary way, be useful, he acknowledges, “but that is a further consideration, with which I am not concerned. I only say that, prior to its being a power, it is a good; that it is, not only an instrument, but an end.” ( Idea , 112) Thus, following Newman’s principles, we should first ask ourselves if there is any fundamental incompatibility between online university education and teaching universal knowledge. The answer appears to be no. No subject matter is inherently excluded. All the disciplines of a university and the integration of all fields of knowledge can be both taught and learned either online or on ground.
Dr. Michael Naughton during a lecture for the online graduate course “The Heart of Culture: The Story of Western Education.”
Father Martin Schlag provides a “Deep Down Minute” Lenten study break reflection for students during the spring 2020 semester.
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St. Newman and Online Learning
Second, we should ask ourselves whether there is anything in principle that precludes the cultivation of a philosophical habit of mind in online education. Again, there is no “a priori” reason to think that this cannot be the goal of online education or that online education cannot achieve it. Such a habit of mind is rather a mysterious thing – not easily conjured, even in person. Nonetheless, it can, and must, remain the standard of judgment for the success of both on-ground and online programs. The goal of any true university program is the cultivation of such a habit in students. That we are aiming at this goal is not in doubt, if we are thinking with Newman. For Newman, the indispensable means of education is personal influence, and this emphasis serves as a further test for designing an online course of study true to Newman’s principles. Personal influence – a notion developed less in Idea
and more in Rise and Progress of Universities – is an overriding, even predominant, theme of Newman’s entire life and has an especially strong role for his theory and practice of education. At the Catholic University of Ireland in the 1850s, for example, Newman places the highest value on the personal influence of tutors and professors: “With influence there is life, without it there is none; … an academical system without the personal influence of teachers upon pupils, is an arctic winter; it will create an ice-bound, petrified, cast-iron University, and nothing else.” ( Rise , 74) Because we agree with Newman, personal influence has always been an important part of St. Thomas Catholic Studies, and that value can be seen in the development of the department’s online graduate program. It affects countless things, great and small. Lectures are recorded in professors’ offices, allowing
far-flung students a peek at faculty members’ book titles and art. Students receive welcome videos, rather than dry welcome emails. Students hear the tremor of emotion as a favorite professor reads and interprets a poignant passage from Virgil. Guest faculty sometimes appear in online classes, helping students get acquainted with more than just their immediate teachers. In such ways, faculty help point Catholic studies students – both online and on ground – toward deeper love of what is true, beautiful and good. A final way of thinking with Newman about online university education may be found in Newman’s phrase “genius loci.” He describes it variously, as “a self-perpetuating tradition” or “the spirit of the place,” which will depend “mainly on the intercourse of students with each other .” While authorities can’t create this spirit, they can encourage, foster and influence it.
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The Catholic Studies Graduate Program is
Newman’s genius loci can arguably be understood not so much as “place as place” but “place as people,” yet the place itself serves a role. It is a great advantage that St. Thomas Catholic Studies has a place in beautiful Sitzmann Hall, that its professors are there in community, that it has students there in community. Online students will ever benefit from that, even at a distance. Newman speaks of students being “the gainers by living among those and under those who represent the whole circle,” ( Idea , 101) and we consider that abundantly true in the case of Catholic Studies. The place and people, the genius loci, of St. Thomas Catholic Studies informs the content of all our classes and the character of our whole community. And sometimes the genius loci extends out from Sitzmann Hall, nurturing friendships at conferences and out-of-state student meetups.
Would Newman support online university education? That must remain an open question. But it is clear that those seeking to develop enriching online educational opportunities would benefit from reflecting on Newman’s principles and insights – and holding fast to the ideals of university education he articulates. If online university education is to offer something of value, it must look not just to technologies and techniques, but more importantly, to the true ends of education. Dr. Erika Kidd is the director of the St. Thomas Catholic Studies Graduate Program. Gerriet Suiter ’19 CSMA is program manager for the new Department of Catholic Studies at Duquesne University and a scholar at the National Institute of Newman Studies.
pleased to offer a variety of online and on-ground courses during the spring 2021 semester: Philosophy Catholics Need (Online) , Dr. Cathy Deavel Science and Catholicism (HyFlex instruction) , Dr. Peter Distelzweig Augustine’s City of God , Dr. John Boyle
Crisis in the Church , Dr. Robert Kennedy The Catholic Novel , Dr. Ray MacKenzie
For more information about theOnlineMaster’s in Catholic Studies courses and other program options, visit our new website: link.stthomas. edu/onlinegradcathstudies
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To Love andBe Loved
CARING WELL FOR THE ELDERLY DURING THE PANDEMIC
a workplace. The residents are always first, and their families are also part of this family. She explained this to me not only through words but, more than anything, through her actions. Our residents are human beings who were created for community. They need to be able to love and be loved. Above all else, our residents are to be treated as Christ. Within the struggles of human frailty and sinfulness, it is no surprise that this can be more difficult with some residents than with others. In a way,
and he breathed his last. We prayed, cried and said our goodbyes. It was beautiful. I have worked in the activities department at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Holy Family Residence in St. Paul for a year and eight months and became the activity director in December. Whenever a resident passes away, I grieve another loss. Each resident is a unique, beloved child of God – some loud, some soft-spoken – and all part of the Little Sisters of the Poor family. When I first began working, Mother Maria made it clear to me that our Holy Family Residence was a home, not
By CASSANDRA SCHWETZ ‘17
James was the first person I had ever seen die. Staff gathered in his room after we were notified that he was actively dying. As I arrived a volunteer was on his knees finishing the Divine Mercy Chaplet. His family was at his bedside. Mother Maria Francis, our mother superior at the time, was kneeling near his head at the top of the bed. The staff, which included housekeepers, kitchen aides, activity and nursing staff and maintenance men, filled the rest of the room. Mother attended to James and led the sisters in a hymn,
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A time like this makes it obvious that physical health is only one part of well-being.
care. Residents are to keep to their floors and stay six feet from everyone. To say that working in a nursing home during COVID-19 has been difficult is an understatement. When a resident reaches out for a hug you hesitate and redirect for fear of getting too close. It is heartbreaking. One of the most natural, loving
A time like this makes it obvious that physical health is only one part of well-being. We are not merely machines that, with a little grease, will soon be back to “normal.” I am seeing a health decline speed up for many of our residents due to the current situation. Our residents are human beings who were created for community. They need to be able to love and be loved. I cannot solve this with more bingo games and happy hour carts. No matter how hard I try to fill the void, I cannot satisfy their desire to see and touch their children and grandchildren. They cannot satisfy my desire to see my grandparents. Yet, I can say with absolute surety that we at the Holy Family Residence will continue to work tirelessly to love and nurture our residents. For us they are not only family, they are the face of Christ.
though, that is the point. Mother finds out what is important to a resident, whether it is having daily visits from a pet or eating chocolate cake, and embraces it. Families are always welcome to eat dinner with us in the dining room or join activities around the home. Staff are encouraged to sit down with residents and enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation. This is their home, after all, so it is essential that they feel at home and are known and seen by all. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has dramatically changed how the residence functions. No longer can we spend “unnecessary” time with our residents, drink coffee with them, or allow their families to embrace them – or even enter the building. We are required to not only wear masks, but also goggles or face shields when doing direct
human actions has become stunted. Since the pandemic began, part of my job has been to help facilitate window visits and video chats with family members. While it is a blessing to assist residents in seeing their loved ones, even if only through a window, it is also incredibly overwhelming. My heart aches to see families coax their loved ones closer to an open window only for staff to have to usher them back. To try to comfort residents as they cry in their rooms because they miss their families. To sit with a resident with dementia during a visit and continually remind them, “Yes, this is your daughter,” when you can sense that, if family wasn’t prevented from coming into the building to visit in person, they likely would not have forgotten who they were.
St. Thomas Lumen Winter 2020 Page 19
Lift Up Your Head CHRISTOPHER DAWSON ON HOPE AMID CRISIS
By KRISTEN GRANT ‘18 CSMA
The topic for my Master’s essay was conceived in what should have been the most mundane of situations – a parent-led committee at my children’s public charter school. That year, however, this committee on “School Climate” became the center of an emerging battle in that season of the interminable culture wars. The school was equipped with the full apparatus of liberal democratic society for dealing with controversy: committees, boards, elections, public comment, parliamentary procedures and so forth.We were supposed to be able to engage in rational discourse and work toward compromise. But there was no reasoning, and there was no compromise, because there was no common moral vision or vocabulary with which to engage these difficult questions together. Even appeals to such ostensibly shared ideals as dignity, truth, equality and justice were less a call to a unifying vision of the school’s purpose than an ode to the righteousness of one’s own side and its absolute demands. And as we sat through months of meetings and listening sessions and public comment periods, I foundmyself thinking again and again, “I don’t think this works.”
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What “this” was and why it didn’t “work” only began to crystallize for me the next year in the Catholic studies graduate course Catholic Social Thought, in which I encountered the work of the English historian Christopher Dawson on the phenomenon of secularization. Dawson’s entire intellectual project was marked by a conviction about the intrinsic relationship between religion and culture.While this relationship varied in many particulars, he observed that across time and place, from the most primitive tribes to the greatest civilizations, religion always provided culture with two vital elements: order and unity. Order, because the culture was anchored, morally and spiritually, to higher realities, and unity, because
he knew that no human civilization could ever “progress” beyond what he called the “nature and destiny of man,” which was to be “a bridge between two worlds, the world of sense and the world of spirit.” A culture may cut itself off from that world of spirit, as ours has, but that does not mean that the human need for higher things will cease to compel us. Rather, it means that that we will turn in on ourselves to find what we are no longer permitted to seek outside of ourselves, and the hollow place at the center of our common life will be filled by all that is left, that is, human will and human power. In the secular society, all politics become totalitarian politics in one form or another. This is a gloomy picture, to say the least. But I must say that I find Dawson to be the source of a kind of bracing hope. Not in the form of a comprehensive strategy for de-secularizingWestern culture – Dawson was a historian, and his primary work was to describe, not prescribe.What he offers us instead is the keen perception that what the Church has to offer our materialistic age is actually its most dire need. When faced with the crises of our time, our impulse is often to try to repair the world on its own terms, to search for a policy or a structure or a leader to bring healing. And of course, we should seek to use those temporal tools for the good if we can. Yet Christians cannot help but be formed by the culture of which we are a part, and we have to resist within ourselves the modern reflex to dismiss the transcendent as fundamentally less “real” than the political and technological mechanisms that appear to drive our world. Dawson reminds us that what our world needs above all is the
eyes to see beyond itself, to catch a glimpse of the ultimate reality from whomwe come and for whomwe are made. When faced with the crises of our time, our impulse is often to try to repair the world on its own terms, to search for a policy or a structure or a leader to bring healing. … [W]e have to resist within ourselves the modern reflex to dismiss the transcendent as fundamentally less ‘real’ than the political and technological mechanisms that appear to drive our world. Dawson encapsulates this vision of hope amid crisis in the conclusion of his essay on “Christianity and Politics”: “When our Lord spoke of the future He gave His disciples no optimistic hopes, no visions of social progress; He described all the things that we are afraid of today and more – wars, persecutions, disasters and the distress of nations. But strange to say He used this forecast of calamity as a motive for hope. ‘When you see these things,’ He said, ‘look up and lift up your heads for your redemption is at hand.’ That may seem a strange philosophy of history, but it is the authentic philosophy of Christ, and if the prospect of these things causes us to hang down our heads instead of lifting them up, it shows that there is something wrong with our point of view. I know we are apt to feel this does not apply to us – that it merely refers to the end of the world. But to the Christian the world is always ending, and every
all people stood on common ground underneath a greater
mystery. Yet religion also served as a dynamic force, as it opened up the imagination of a people to realities and aspirations beyond the temporal and material. A culture may cut itself off from that world of spirit, as ours has, but that does not mean that the human need for higher things will cease to compel us. What happens, then, when a civilization embarks on a project, entirely novel in human history, to excise all metaphysical claims from the heart of the culture and fence them off into the private realm? For most of Dawson’s contemporaries in the modernWest, the answer was obvious: progress happens! The common assumption, then as now, was that secularization is the natural end of any human culture as sophisticated and complex as ours. Dawson was a notable dissenter from this conventional wisdom, because
historical crisis is, as it were, a rehearsal for the real thing.”
St. Thomas Lumen Winter 2020 Page 21
The Light and Heat of Dorothy Sayers’ Jesus
From the beginning St. Thomas Catholic Studies has been distinctively Catholic and also catholic, recognizing the great work of Catholics as well as other Christians. In the Summer 2020 issue of Logos we feature “Dorothy L. Sayers’ Christology in The Man Born to be King ,” an article by Kathryn Wehr on the marvelous depictions of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, and those surrounding him in Sayers’ cycle of 12 radio plays produced for the BBC in 1941 and 1942, and published in book form in 1943. Sayers, an Anglican of Catholic leanings, saw that though the historic creeds might seem abstract on first glance, what they taught about Jesus was not only based upon but illuminated the accounts given in the Gospels. In her radio plays she sought to make a new generation hear the Good News and the excitement that those creeds and the Gospel
stories carry with them. She did so by using her own dramatic and literary gifts in a way that was accurate but not pedantic. Wehr writes: “Readers should not expect to find a systematic theology; Sayers protested that she was not a theologian and she neither was trained in nor wrote academic theology. Nevertheless, she wrote and spoke confidently when she believed herself to be finding fresh words for creedal theology – giving flesh to “the strong, bony structure” of “‘dry’ official theology.” In the following excerpt Wehr discusses how Sayers used light and heat imagery to depict the one who is both light of the world and thus the life of all mankind. Mary Magdalene experiences guilt and contrition, like Matthew and Simon, but her experience of Jesus is not only because of his divine presence but also of his perfect humanity.
Dorothy L. Sayers
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M artha : W here have you been ? L azarus : W ith life . M ary : D o you know who called you back ? L azarus : L ife . H e is here and he has never left me . The light and heat imagery also returns at the end of Sayers’ treatment of Judas, as he gets his only theophanic glimpse during Jesus’ crucifixion. Judas goes to Caiaphas to return the
Lazarus too, though more naturally depressive than
a fire.” Without faith, the light and heat of Jesus’ presence is unbearable. Judas is consumed by pride and hate, and even in this realization of Jesus’ innocence and his own guilt he still cannot humble himself: “If I crawled to the gallows’ foot and asked his pardon, he would forgive me – and my soul would writhe forever under the torment of that forgiveness.” The searing, painful brilliancy of holiness is all that Judas, in his pride, can
Mary Magdalene, can feel “that immense vitality at which a man may warm himself as at a fire.” It is this life, this vitality, which forms an important part of Jesus’ mission in Sayers’ eyes. “That is what I’m here for,” Jesus says, “I came that men should lay hold of life and possess it to the full.” Jesus quotes from Proverbs 8:29-31 about Wisdom taking part in creation. The line that follows has the note, “John: (a little startled – it sounds almost autobiographical): Master, of whom is that said?” Sayers was specifically taking this opportunity to make Christological connections, as the scene is otherwise based on two Gospel stories, that of Mary and Martha from Luke 9 and the sinful woman of Luke 7 and other details that set up several scenes that follow. It expresses both the ordinariness of friends sitting around, telling stories (including a suggestion that Jesus prefers fig-stuffing) and the glimpse into Jesus’ divinity. In the beginning notes for this play Sayers even describes the scene as “shot through with a strong mood of ‘God-consciousness,’” a term which she uses to simply mean Jesus was consciously thinking about his divinity. When Lazarus later succumbs to death, it is that vitality that brings him back in Play 7, Scene 4, Sequence 3: M ary : Y ou are smiling – you are laughing – you are alive ! L azarus ( joyfully ): Y es , I am alive !
30 pieces of silver and says that the knowledge of Jesus’ innocence gives him a vision of “what hell-fire is”: “It is the light of God’s unbearable innocence that sears and shrivels you like flame.” Notice how starkly this compares to Lazarus’ description of Jesus’ presence in Play 7: “that immense vitality at which a man may warm himself as at
experience of what others know as warmth and aliveness. Sayers uses light and heat imagery to show that Jesus’ divinity becomes clear when characters are at their most honest – either in faith or in hate .
St. Thomas Lumen Winter 2020 Page 23
The Beauty That Saves
By JOAN WIELAND ‘20, ‘22 CSMA
When Russian novelist and philosopher Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave his Nobel lecture in 1970, he could have spoken on any topic he wanted. He could have shared his experiences of turmoil and perseverance living as an artist under Soviet censorship, but instead he spoke of the nature of art itself. He went to an extreme, selecting in his speech a quotation from Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Beauty will save the world.”
novel In the First Circle , which features a motley array of intellectual characters exiled by the Soviet state. Together the characters write and study in a prison-like university, not unlike the philosophers in Dante’s first circle of the inferno. In the characters’ variety, color andmutual suffering, Solzhenitsyn captures more than just his own experiences as an artist in the most lenient tier of the gulags. He demonstrates something about the human spirit which speaks between the lines of censorship. My studies of Solzhenitsyn ledme to The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. The current exhibit is “Leaders and the Masses: Mega Paintings from Soviet Ukraine.” The largest of the collection is an astonishing 12-by-19-foot canvas depicting Stalin stoically advancing in a proscenium theater packed with applauding civilians. The color-packedmassive scenes were intended for public
spaces. Sponsored, crafted and exhibited under Stalin’s communist dictatorship, their objective was to affirm state agendas. Though the Ukrainian painters bowed to the artistic mode Stalin demanded, that the creations should be “nationality-specific in form and socialist in content,” their scenes are unconvincing beyond a first glance. The paintings are not satirical. Rather, they are beautiful fantasies of a functioning state, which I think makes them unsuccessful as propaganda. The wonder of the museum’s exhibit is that, despite the limitations imposed on the artist, truth impresses in desolation. The lie on display dissolved under its own weightlessness, and the truth that the nation was suffering gurgled up in the negative space. In Soviet Russia the truth of daily human turmoil was a universal secret, evident even when cleverly framed. It is this truth that made the paintings beautiful.
The more I read of Solzhenitsyn’s literary genius in Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in theWest , edited by St. Thomas Catholic Studies professor David Deavel and former visiting professor Jessica HootenWilson, the more enchanted I was with Russian artistry.While American artistic and literary traditions have grappled with democracy, freedom and individuality, the Russian soul has never coalesced around a standard set of ideals. James Pontuso, a Solzhenitsyn and American Culture contributor, wrote, “To be Russian can mean a myriad of things … there has never been a consensus on what Russia should become. Does Russia venerate tsarism, the Orthodox Church, the Third Rome, communism, liberal democracy, or autocracy?While Americans make things simple and comprehensible, Russians look for complexity in the simplest of things.” Such can be seen, Pontuso goes on, in Solzhenitsyn’s
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