St.Thomas Lumen A Catholic Studies Publication SPRING 2021
lessons in wood A Cabinetmaking Philosopher on Beauty
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 1
St.Thomas Lumen SPRING 2021
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 Jamie Tjornehoj Contributors Melina Arguello Sotro ’18, ’20 CSMA
Cover Story: Lessons in Wood . ........... 4 St. Joseph Business Guild .................... 8 33 Days, One Saint ............................... 12 News/Did You Know? .......................... 14 Alumni Profile: Offenses Against Human Dignity Converge ................... 16 CSMA Essay: Our Daily Bread: “Babette’s Feast” .................................. 18 LOGOS Journal Launches New Podcast . ........................................ 20 From LOGOS Journal: “You Aren’t You, Are You?’ Transhumanism and the Netflix Series “Black Mirror” . ............ 22 Monsignor Murphy Digital Archive . ...................................... 25 Alumni Notes .......................................... 27
John F. Boyle David Deavel Mackenzie Hunter ’21 Elizabeth M. Kelly ’08 CSMA Erika Kidd Allison Maddock ’22 CSMA Eamon Naughton ’22 CSMA Lyssa Newlove ’15, ’17 CSMA Michelle Rash
Brant Skogrand Erika Zabinski ’12 Jessica Zittlow Aleman ’13 CSMA Cover photo Dan Purkapile ‘12, owner of Capstone Woodworking in his New Brighton, Minnesota, workshop. Photo by Liam James Doyle Correction: Photo credit for the Winter 2020 cover image is Chickadee Photography & Design (instagram.com/chickadee_photo)
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What isAccomplished in theQuiet
honors the mystery of beauty in both the material and spiritual world (Page 4). The St. Joseph Business Guild, established by a four-time St. Thomas parent, is a growing network of Catholic small business owners, professionals and tradespeople that come together for material and spiritual solidarity (Page 8). And graduate alumna Lyssa Newlove ’15, ’17 CSMA , reminds us of the profound reality of a meal shared (Page 18). In a very noisy world, these are indeed quiet things. Yet, to quote Guardini again, “the silent forces are the strong forces.” We are so very proud of the quiet work of our friends and alumni because we know that their work, in the light of the Incarnation, is enduring to eternity. Many of you have asked for more opportunities to continue to explore thought and culture with us after you leave St. Thomas. This is why we are delighted to announce a new podcast from the LOGOS Journal, the “Deep Down Things” podcast, which you can learn more about on Page 20 and listen to at either patreon.com/deepdownthings or on podcasting platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud.
“The greatest things are accomplished in silence – not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision.” Many of you will no doubt recognize these words of Romano Guardini. Our time has its own versions of the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness. In Catholic Studies, we strive rather to see the truly great things that are accomplished in silence. In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, many of our friends and alumni are consecrating themselves anew to the man St. John Paul II called the “Guardian of the Mystery.” Father Bryce Evans , Catholic studies adjunct professor and Leadership Interns program coordinator, explains that extending the practice of consecration to St. Joseph, a relatively hidden and silent figure of the Gospels, “finds its warrant in the indispensable role of Joseph in the economy of the Incarnation, and thus in the economies of salvation” (Page 13). Dan Purkapile ’12 graduated from St. Thomas with degrees in philosophy and Catholic studies. Today, he owns a woodworking business through which he
JOHN F. BOYLE, CHAIR DEPARTMENT OF CATHOLIC STUDIES
MICHAEL NAUGHTON, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR CATHOLIC STUDIES
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 3
Dan Purkapile ’12 in his Capstone Woodworking LLC workshop.
LESSONS IN WOOD A C A B I N E T M A K I N G P H I LO S O P H E R ON B E A U T Y
By ELIZABETH KELLY ‘08 CSMA
Every woodworker has their favorite species. For Dan Purkapile ’12 , it’s a toss-up depending on the project, but walnut and cherry are pretty high in the ranking. “When it comes to walnut or cherry, I never want to stain those woods,” he says, “If you’re going to stain something, use maple! Walnut is so beautiful, why would you stain it?” Walking around his workshop in New Brighton, Minnesota, the philosophy major and Catholic studies minor, now full-time
cabinetmaker, is happy to point out the characteristics of the wood pieces that lean against the walls, almost as if they were old friends. He selects a rough slab of red oak and holds it lovingly. “You see all the flecking in that wood, all the character?” he says, brushing his hands over it with admiration and care. He’s a bit like a child in a candy shop, delighting in each piece for its own unique contribution to the world of beauty and for what it will become – cabinet, vanity, church altar or pew.
“I love the products that you can make out of wood,” he says, “and there’s nothing to compare with the beauty of the natural product.” Even as a child, Purkapile loved working with his hands. His father, a motorcycle mechanic, would occasionally give Dan things to tinker with – like an old VCR – which Dan promptly took apart to see how the motor worked. After graduating high school, Purkapile decided to study stringed instrument repair and
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Common Good Profile
He and his wife Robyn, a pacemaker nurse, have a daughter, Eliza (1), and a son, Robert (3). Purkapile says that becoming a parent has only heightened his appreciation for working in a business that is built on creation. “Having the opportunity to bring life into the world and holding your own baby,” he says, “it’s a really profound experience of participating in creation, and to see the goodness and the dignity of life, to be able to participate in that. Even at the ultrasound, going to hear the heartbeat before meeting our son ... how can someone deny the beauty of life, even at this stage? [Being a father] has given me such an appreciation for so much of what the Church is fighting for.” “My first and most important obligation is to my family, loving my wife and forming my children to be good Catholics. At the end of the day, the work that I ammost proud of and brings me the greatest joy is building a family with my wife, Robyn, and enjoying the children that we have and the joy they bring to our lives.”
construction at a technical college. There he learned more detailed woodworking skills that set him on his current course. But there would be a few detours first. He served for a year with Net Ministries and then felt called to the priesthood, which brought him to the University of St. Thomas to study for the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. A critically important part of his formation as cabinetmaker was the St. Thomas Catholic Studies Rome program. His time in Rome fostered a love for beauty and its power to communicate theological truths. “Seeing how much detail went into making those churches,” he recalls, “it was so incredible. It gave you an appreciation for people who had an eye for that – the painting, the architecture, the stonework, how many different people had to have these skills in order to complete the vision – it might take generations to complete a building but it was built to last.” Purkapile also grew in appreciation for what he calls the mystery of
beauty and its imperative role in the life of the soul. “What draws us to a certain church or piece of artwork,” he wonders, “What makes something beautiful? Our culture really struggles to define this, but even nonbelievers are going to visit the Cathedral of St. Paul. Why does that draw people in? There’s a mystery to it. Something transcendent.” Purkapile enjoys a taste of this transcendence every time he finishes a project. “It brings me a lot of satisfaction after installing a job and getting to see the whole project come together and transform a space,” says Purkapile. “I don’t know how many times customers have come to see the project in its final stages and comment on how much it changes the space for the better. That, for me, is what I enjoy the most about what I do and is really what brings dignity into the workplace.” After discerning out of seminary, Purkapile started working for various cabinetmakers. He soon launched his own shop, Capstone Woodworking.
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Common Good Profile
The famous mosaic apse in the Church of San Clemente, which St. Thomas students study during their Rome semester Art History course.
AMOST SACRED SPACE In the spring of 2020, Purkapile’s mother fell gravely ill – she was terminal. And as sober a task as it was, Purkapile decided to make his mother’s casket. “It was a nice gift to be able to give the family,” he recalls, “but it was also a really hard process to go through, to know what it would ultimately be used for. It was meaningful.” His mother was never healthy enough to see the finished work, but she knew her son was making it for her, and that it would be beautiful. It was time-
intensive, detailed and personal. Since then, he has designed and created other caskets. “Designing sacred spaces,” says Purkapile, “there’s so much theology that goes into that,” and it was a notion he took up when selecting the images that would adorn his mother’s casket, which has become a prototype for other caskets he’s working on. The lambs that appear on the side are reminiscent of those in the mosaic apse of Rome’s San Clemente, one of his favorite churches from his Art History course at the Angelicum.
“I even put the twelfth lamb on there,” he says, running his hands along a casket that currently sits in his shop, “He’s looking away to signify Judas.” “I was really blown away by the use of art in early Christianity to communicate the basic truths of the faith,” he remembers, “and how simple beauty can move the hearts of people to God. Rome is a good example of how our perception of beauty has changed over time, but certain aspects of art seem to be timeless and effective through the ages.”
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BUSINESS GUILD OFFERS SPIRITUAL, MATERIAL SOLIDARITY NEW ASSOCIATION HAS LINKS TO ST. THOMAS CATHOLIC STUDIES
By ERIKA ZABINSKI ‘12
A Vasko family photo, including six St. Thomas alumni, pictured left to right: John Wehrly ‘10 J.D., Kristen Vasko Wehrly ’12, Sister Marie Carmen Vasko ’12, Nick Vasko ‘11, Megan Keller Vasko ‘12 and Ben Vasko ’15.
Roger Vasko is a parent of four St. Thomas alumni, three of whom were Catholic studies majors. He knows a thing or two about business – at age 28, he and his brother bought his father’s trash hauling company. Over decades, they grew it substantially into multiple locations across central Minnesota before selling the business and retiring in 2005. After retiring, in conversations at his parish, Roger noticed a theme of young families struggling financially, especially when it came to affording Catholic education. He also knew there wasn’t a coordinated way to connect job seekers with local businesses that wanted to hire Catholics, or to help customers find Catholic businesses to patronize.
So in 2019, Roger and a team of collaborators – including his son Ben Vasko ’14 – launched a nonprofit organization, the St. Joseph Business Guild . The guild is open to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It includes businesses, individual workers, nonprofits, students and people seeking jobs. The concept comes from the artisans’ guilds of medieval Europe, groups of local craftsmen who banded together for spiritual and material solidarity. Guilds safeguarded the dignity of work, upholding just wages, ethical working conditions, and fair prices for both sellers and buyers. Apprenticeships allowed trades
to be passed down through generations of families in a formative environment. In a time before company pensions or state safety nets, the guilds were a way for Catholics to practice the works of mercy for each other and for the poor. Guilds helped members who were unable to work due to sickness or disability and provided support for families of deceased members. Just as important was spiritual support. Guilds gathered for public expressions of faith, including prayers for their dead and celebrations on their patron saint’s feast day. They might patronize a chapel or contribute to the building of a new church, such as the guild-
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St. Joseph Business Guild
Faithfulness to Catholic teaching is one condition of membership. Also, members are asked to practice relational networking – which the guild’s website describes as “giving without the expectation of receiving in return.” Roger says, “Because of our common faith, we’re like-minded and motivated to help one another.” He also notes that the element of shared faith “speeds up the whole process” of trusting someone enough to do business with them. WORK IN THE CATHOLIC TRADITION The guild’s chaplains, Father Spencer Howe and Father Byron Hagan , assist with the spiritual aspects of the guild, including liturgies and retreats. Their parish, Holy Cross Catholic Church in northeast Minneapolis, hosts some of the guild events. Howe says that “the centrality of the family and the dignity of labor are two of the primary values of what the guild is about.” He draws a connection between the guild’s support of family-based business and the economic theory of distributism, which is rooted in the principles of the Catholic social
sponsored stained-glass windows in many medieval cathedrals. Although the St. Joseph Business Guild isn’t limited to a single trade or profession, it shares the principles of fraternal support and family- centered focus. “Our ultimate goal is to help Catholics provide for their families,” Roger says. “We want to direct our business and our best jobs to the faithful Catholics who support the parishes and schools.” St. Joseph, saint of families and workers, was an obvious choice for a patron. Members can access job boards where businesses post positions they’re hiring for, and job seekers post resumes. Amember database and quarterly meetings facilitate connections to mentors or networking contacts. A business directory is available
to the public on the guild’s website. It showcases the
spectrum of member businesses – manufacturers, mortgage brokers, construction companies, web designers, bakers and more. Membership is free for students. In the spirit of its medieval counterparts, the guild plans to start offering apprenticeships and internships later this year.
Guild chaplains Father Spencer Howe ’09 (top) and Father Byron Hagan ’12 (bottom).
tradition: “One of the hallmarks of distributism according to the articulated tradition of Chesterton, Belloc and friends …was the idea of broad distribution of the means of production – effectively to ennoble the family to make it possible for people to create their own wealth as a result of hard work, ingenuity and dedication to a trade.” Center for Catholic Studies Director Dr. Michael Naughton is on the guild’s advisory board. He sees the guild’s mission as a natural connection for the Catholic studies academic degree program, in which
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St. Joseph Business Guild
(Above) Katzie and Ben Nelson; (Right) Andy ‘10 and Mal Gikling wedding in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.
students are encouraged to pair their major with another degree that reflects a career path. For students graduating and moving into the professional world, participation in the common good through business is an important part of their vocation. “Work does not exhaust a vocation,” Naughton says. “Their first vocation is to be holy. The second vocation is to participate in a state of life: priestly, religious or lay …But they’re also called to work. They’re called to animate the public order, the temporal order that we live in, through the incarnation and through the spirit of Christ in everything they do.” He notes that a key aspect of the guild’s mission is that it is an environment where members can integrate faith and work.
“So many of us, we often divide our lives. We have faith over here, and business over here. I think the guild is trying to provide an organic relationship between one’s faith – and the importance of that faith, which has a social dimension to it – and what one does, spends one’s time, in terms of the day-to-day living that you get from business.” A RESOURCE FOR FAMILIES Guild members and 2015 St. Thomas alumni Ben and Katzie Nelson are a husband-wife teamwith a wedding photography business, Katzie and Ben Photography. The two met as Catholic studies undergraduates and started dating after graduation. Katzie, who also works in the St. Thomas IT department, had been a
photographer since high school. Ben started helping out at her gigs, and turned out to have a knack of his own with the camera. They joke that as their courtship moved through “relationship promotions,” Ben got “business promotions” – “After we got engaged, I got my name in the business,” Ben says. They now have a young son. Often clients seek them out specifically because they’re Catholic, knowing Ben and Katzie will understand and highlight what’s truly important about the wedding day. Katzie appreciates being able to suggest the guild as a resource for other wedding services, given that those couples already are looking to do business with fellow Catholics. She hopes the guild connections will provide support not only on the wedding day, but beyond.
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St. Joseph Business Guild
That’s certainly been their own family’s experience. “Our realtor is from the guild, our insurance agent is from the guild, we did some photo headshots for one of the guild members and now we’re using them for some financial planning … Now that we’re homeowners too, I have an extra keen eye of wanting to support other Catholic businesses as often as I can.” A HIGHER STANDARD Nestor Arguello is a real estate agent, as well as a part-time program coordinator for the Center for Catholic Studies’ Habiger Institute Latino Scholars. “I love the service that [real estate work] offers,” he says. He’s intentional about getting to know each client well so he can help themmake a good decision about buying or selling a home.
As a guild member, he values the expectation of excellence that comes with promoting himself as a Catholic professional. “You’re putting a target on your back,” he says. “To perform at a higher standard of excellence, of professionalism, of faith and understanding.” He’s had a number of clients who chose him because they wanted a Catholic realtor – which initially surprised him. “I never thought that my clients would think to themselves when looking for a realtor, ‘First I’m looking for a Catholic’ … But it was something that some of my clients have said, ‘I wanted someone who had Catholic values.’ Their assumption is if you’re promoting yourself as a Catholic you are going to be ethical, you’re going to not create loopholes.”
Habiger Institute Latino Scholars pro- gram coordinator and real estate agent Nestor Arguello, pictured above giving a presentation for first-time homebuyers.
He appreciates the support of a group that holds itself to that standard. “There’s something spiritual that’s being gained through those meetings, through encountering other businesspeople, even if they are other realtors, people who would be my competition. I appreciate seeing other people who are like-minded who are going to serve people.”
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Consecration to St. Joseph
A CAMPUSWIDE CONSECRATION 33 DAYS,
ONE SAINT By MACKENZIE HUNTER ‘21
Several times each semester, the Habiger Institute Leadership Interns, on behalf of the Department of Catholic Studies, plan and execute the Tommie Catholic events. In December they coordinated an event about the power and protection of St. Joseph and how Catholics can grow in devotion to him. The Leadership Interns desired to provide further opportunities after this event. The idea of a campuswide consecration to St. Joseph was born. The word was spread around campus that the consecration was to take place the beginning of January, and students who signed up were organized into small groups of five people with designated leaders. The groups met weekly for discussion, prayer and fellowship. At the end of Tommie Catholic is a weekly student event sponsored by Catholic Studies, Campus Ministry and St. Paul’s Outreach. These Catholic campus groups come together for faith, formation and fellowship.
the 33 days, the small groups came together for a privately-held Mass for the formal consecration. There was a lot of divine providence involved with the planning of this event and consecration, according to Teresa Perrin ’22 , one of the event organizers. The Tommie Catholic event took place on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The group found it providential to be celebrating St. Joseph on his wife’s feast day. Dec. 8 was also the day Archbishop Bernard Hebda was consecrating the archdiocese to St. Joseph. The morning of the Tommie Catholic event, the group discovered that Pope Francis proclaimed Dec. 8, 2020, to Dec. 8, 2021, a Year of St. Joseph. “Everything fell into place so perfectly,” Perrin says.
Perrin believes that this was an incredibly important project. It was her idea to make the Tommie Catholic event more than a one- night event. “We didn’t just want to teach people about St. Joseph,” Perrin explains, “but bring them on a journey closer to him so that they would know him deeper and love him.” Perrin did the consecration back in October and then again while leading a small group in January. She believes that it was significantly more fruitful as a group. Perrin was especially touched by the power of seeing the other female students bloom in their unique love for St. Joseph and be present during the vulnerable parts of the conversation.
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Consecration to St. Joseph
The first Consecration to St. Joseph was published in 2020 by Marian Press and written by Father Donald Calloway, a priest of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Calloway has a deep devotion to St. Joseph and was surprised to discover that a consecration to him did not already exist. A consecration is an act of fully entrusting yourself to the help of a saint, so that they may bring you and all of humanity closer to the heart of Jesus. Encouraged by other religious orders, Calloway prayed, researched and ultimately wrote this book, Consecration to St. Joseph , which follows a 33-day format similar to a Marian consecration. The purpose of devotional consecrations is to draw out and concretize the meaning of the baptismal consecration. Baptism is, of course, the first and most important consecration of the Christian. Through baptism we become holy: persons belonging to God in the covenant relation of mutual love established in Christ. But this primal consecration is profitably expressed in those acts of devotion by which the Christian faithful renew their commitment to Christ and freshly embrace its radical implications. Consecrations to Mary and to the Sacred Heart, for instance, thus help believers to meaningfully live out their Christian discipleship. Because of this connection to baptism, devotional consecrations depend on the universal significance of their devotional objects for their justification. Not every saint can be the object of a consecration. Consecration to Mary, for instance, is only justified on the basis of her pivotal role in the Incarnation of Jesus, which extends to the special role she has to play in the spiritual life of every Christian. Thus to be baptized is, among other things, to be brought into a special relationship with Mary, and consecration to Mary draws this out more explicitly. The same must be said of a consecration to St. Joseph. While the move is not without its risks of theological daring, Calloway’s instinct to extend the practice of consecration to St. Joseph finds its warrant in the indispensable role of Joseph in the economy of the incarnation, and thus in the economies of salvation, the Church, and the spiritual lives of each and every Christian. As guardian of Christ, he is guardian of the Church (the Body of Christ), and also our guardian. St. Joseph, pray for us!
Joseph the Carpenter (La Tour), 1640s.
ST. JOSEPH AND A BACKGROUND ON CONSECRATIONS By MACKENZIE HUNTER ‘21 AND FATHER BRYCE EVANS, PROGRAM COORDINATOR FOR LEADERSHIP INTERNS AND ADJUNCT PROFESSOR IN CATHOLIC STUDIES
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 13
Catholic Studies News joint degree, and the Mission and Culture in Catholic Education Graduate Certificate. Beloved by Catholic Studies students as a dynamic and engaging teacher, Junker will continue to teach courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. Watch for his HyFlex Dante seminar in spring 2022 – a perfect option for both online and local students. Junker will bring fresh vision for the program, as he looks to expand the program’s internal and external partnerships with the Opus College of Business, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and beyond. With Junker at the helm the graduate program will continue to be a place for rich conversation about things that matter. JUNKER TAKES HELM OF GRADUATE PROGRAM Did you know? Dr. William Junker will begin his new role as director of graduate students for St. Thomas Catholic Studies during the 2021-22 academic year and is eager to build upon the double-digit growth the program saw under Dr. Erika Kidd’s leadership. Drawing on his experience as a former co-director of the Murphy Institute for Law and Public Policy, Junker will oversee the full slate of Catholic Studies Graduate Program offerings, including the online and on-ground Catholic Studies MA, the J.D./CSMA
ALUMNUS BUILDS BUSINESS TO SERVE CATHOLIC RELIGION TEACHERS, FAMILIES
When Greg Aitchison ’04 arrived at his first Catholic school teacher in-service, he discovered he was on the hook to teach second, fifth,
the encouragement of his students that finally led him to create a website to share his resources with other religion teachers. While the project started small, the site was eventually receiving web traffic from around the world – Canada, Cambodia, Chile and Cameroon, to name a few. In 2020, with baby four on the way, he stepped away from the classroom to devote time to building his CatholicReligionTeacher.com business. Lesson plans and teaching resources on Catholic Religion Teacher span from pre-K up to 12th grade and dozens of topics and needs. One of his most recent teaching bundles is the “Pick, Click and Pray” Catholic Prayers bundle, which includes Pope Leo XIII’s Prayer to St. Joseph for the Year of St. Joseph along with material dedicated to helping students and kids with impromptu prayer. Visit teacherspayteachers.com to order and download the bundle for your classroom, kids or grandkids, and visit catholicreligionteacher.com to learn more.
sixth, seventh and eighth grade religion, along with fifth grade science and social studies. His first year teaching was, clearly, not without challenges. Though to his surprise it wasn’t the science or social studies classes that were his biggest struggle, but his religion classes – the subject for which he had studied most extensively and for which he was the most passionate. It was the lack of relevant, interesting and age-appropriate, yet still challenging, resources that left himwithout an oar paddling upstream. After some stumbles and false starts he decided to create his own lessons, assignments and activities which, while time consuming, proved immediately rewarding for his students and himself. It was due to
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Catholic Studies News
FORMER HABIGER INSTITUTE COORDINATOR, ST. THOMAS ADJUNCT RELEASES BOOK ON BIBLE Laura Stierman , former program coordinator for the Habiger Institute and Center for Catholic Studies special projects, released the new book I Own A Bible and I’m Not Afraid to Use It: An Operating Guide for Daily Life in early 2021 through The Word Among Us press. In it Stierman invites readers to find guidance and inspiration through the words of Scripture in a more personal, thoughtful way. The book is meant to provide a simple, concise technique from which to draw deeper hope and greater relevance from the stories of eight biblical women. The book is available for purchase at bookstore.wau.org . CENTER’S LOGOS JOURNAL MANAGING EDITOR RELEASES LATEST BOOK ON CULTIVATING VIRTUE In March, Logos managing editor, Lumen feature writer, syndicated columnist and award-winning writer Elizabeth Kelly released her latest book, Love Like a Saint: Cultivating Virtue with Holy Women . More like a “workbook” than book, each chapter includes prayer assignments and questions for journaling or small group discussion. Kelly features a range of female companions to accompany a reader’s journey, including students, wives, employees, friends and mothers. It is designed and written to be read in Adoration, as a study, or in prayer and meditation either alone or in a small group and can be purchased at lizk.org .
BOOK ON ‘INTERESTING PEOPLE’ BY WELL- KNOWN CATHOLIC AUTHOR INCLUDES CENTER FOUNDING DIRECTOR Author, papal biographer and Vatican correspondent George Weigel released Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable in early 2021. Among many others it profiles Don Briel, founding director of the Center for Catholic Studies. Briel is included with a diverse collection of characters and personalities like Flannery O’Connor; St. John Paul II; Jackie Robinson; James Schall, SJ; and even Einstein. Not Forgotten is available for purchase through Ignatius Press at ignatus.com .
The Center for Catholic Studies has launched an online newsletter. Stay up to date on all St. Thomas Catholics Studies events and news by visiting link.stthomas.edu/centerforcatholicstudies to sign up.
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OFFENSES AGAINST HUMAN DIGNITY CONVERGE
By ALLISON MADDOCK ‘22 CSMA
P assion took precedence over discernment in the early days of my commitment to the pro-life movement. In the winter of my junior year of high school, I began pacing the sidewalks outside an abortion clinic in downtown Minneapolis, training to be a sidewalk counselor. Sidewalk counseling involves offering oneself as an alternative resource for women entering clinics, attempting to compassionately persuade them not to follow through with their scheduled abortion, and communicating alternative options when no one else can. Needless to say, there was a lot of pressure. After shyly following my trainer around for a couple stressful months, I had an encounter that will stay with me forever. A clinic escort (the volunteer counterpart to pro-life sidewalk counselors)
was shepherding a woman and her father away from us as my trainer tried to encourage the woman not to be pressured by her father into getting an abortion. The father kept repeating, “This is her choice. This was her decision.” He also told us they had prayed about it. The woman never spoke. They disappeared inside. Half an hour later, the father came outside to smoke a cigarette. (I never knew his name, but I’ll call him John.) My mentor began to call out that it was not too late for John to save his unborn grandchild; it wasn’t over until it was over; he could help his daughter get out. John’s first response was to feign deafness to her words, but then he decided to have a loud conversation with his escort about the wonders of the abortion business.
My mind whirled, attempting to sort through the disparity between John’s earlier claim that they had prayed about this decision and his current words that were so plainly meant to shock and offend. At last I found my voice. With tear-filled eyes, I said in a half-whisper, “You really think this is what God wants?” My question made him uneasy, and he became defensive. He then let slip the real reason he had brought his daughter there for an abortion. With the air of one presenting a challenging moral dilemma, he turned directly to me and asked, “Would you keep a Black child?”
THE CATHOLIC UNDERSTANDING
OF HUMAN DIGNITY My young self had never encountered such blatant racism.
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Student Essay Profile
The following essay is an excerpt from a paper written for the graduate program’s Catholic Social Tradition course. At the Last Judgment the Lord will ask us what we have done for the poor, the hungry, the sick and the naked, those in prison, and those without a home. The course, as with so many of the Catholic Studies Graduate Program, is not only designed to serve students academically but to be life-changing. The course’s framework is taken from the analysis of society into three spheres of action (culture, economics and politics) as described in the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus . It examines the ways that Revelation, the sacramental life, and the teachings of the Church call Catholics to seek holiness and to witness to their faith in the world, from social and economic justice to marriage and family life. The course will be offered during the fall 2021 semester. For more information about enrolling as a degree- or non-degree-seeking student, contact Catholic Studies Graduate Program Coordinator Vincent Ruiz-Ponce ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) .
owed to any human being, regardless of circumstances, merits, or choices; it is a grave offense to treat any person with cruelty or to withhold the necessities of life. All human beings have a right to authentic flourishing – that is, the actualizing of one’s potential in communion with God and neighbor – simply because of their nature as human beings. The necessary first step toward attaining that flourishing is to live. Therefore, it is natural for the Church to identify both abortion and racism as injustices. Even though I was not well suited for sidewalk counseling, it allowed me to see firsthand what happens when we leave the imperatives of human dignity out of our ethical framework: death, self-destruction and division. The Church sees human dignity as originating in the boundless love of the creator in whose image we are formed. Therefore, human beings of every race, born and unborn, possess the same measureless worth, and every human life deserves unconditional reverence and protection.
“unacceptable” race, then that being must be a human being. Still, the implication of John’s statement is that a human being’s right to life is not inherent but conditional; in this case, it depends on race and the family’s acceptance of the child. DIGNITY FLOWING FROM GOD’S IMAGE Without an understanding of what human dignity is and is not, we cannot recognize what constitutes injustice. The Church upholds that there is no such thing as a human being without dignity because dignity is rooted in the very definition of a human being as a creature formed in God’s image. As St. John Paul II writes in his encyclical Centesimus Annus , “God has imprinted his own image
I could hardly believe what he had asked me – and in such a serious way, too. He waited for me to respond as if I would have to think long and hard about it. Today, many years after that bizarre and heartrending morning, I cannot remember what happened after I said my confused but firm, “Of course.” Maybe John had no response. Maybe my trainer ushered me away before things could get worse. Regardless of the foggy memory, what I gained that day was an understanding of the truly countercultural nature of the Catholic vision of human dignity. Two prevalent offenses against human dignity converged: abortion and racism. Ironically, the racism against an unborn child confirmed the child’s humanity. We only attribute race to human beings, so if a being in the womb can have an
and likeness on man (cf. Gen 1:26), conferring upon him an
incomparable dignity ... [T]here exist rights which do not correspond to any work he performs, but which flow from his essential dignity as a person” (n. 11). Dignity requires a minimum of respect, which means that respect is the bare minimum
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 17
Our Daily Bread: A reflection on food, grace and ‘Babette’s Feast’
By LYSSA NEWLOVE ‘15, ‘17 CSMA
Actress Stephane Audran as chef Babette Hersant preparing the feast.
vital and necessary part of a Catholic understanding of community and spirituality. The short story and 1988 Oscar- winning Danish film “Babette’s Feast” was a great entry into why food, and the community formed around it, has much more than physical importance. “Babette’s Feast” introduces us to two elderly sisters, Filippa and Martine, who seek to forego the pleasures of the world as to keep their focus on their eternal reward. When they welcome refugee and notable French chef, Babette, to their home as a housekeeper and cook, this begins to slowly change. The story climax is an elaborate French feast that Babette prepares
for the sisters and their friends. The dinner surpasses all expectations of simple comfort. The food and gift of Babette’s cooking is transformational for everyone present. Hurts are forgotten, love is rekindled, and a grace is actualized at the table – an unexpected and almost ecstatic moment for the guests. The sisters’ experience how the things of the world have the powerful ability to draw us closer to eternity, rather than distracting from it. GOING BEYOND PHYSICAL NEED Eating as an activity, consuming mere bread and water, goes beyond physical need in the Catholic understanding. From the Church’s perspective, it is impossible to have
“For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” Psalm 85:10, from the dinner scene of “Babette’s Feast” Throughout college I lived with women who enjoyed cooking and sharing meals together.Whether it was a planned and hosted dinner, or an impromptu “let’s clear out the fridge” meal in Rome or in our small apartment kitchen, I experienced the joy of how food and a prepared meal draws people together in community, promotes conversation, and nourishes the body and spirit. My graduate degree master’s essay was slowly born out of the great blessing of these shared dinners. In the essay, I explored how food is a
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LOOKING BACKON 2020
Master of Arts in Catholic Studies Essay Presentations We congratulate the Catholic Studies graduate students who have completed their degrees this past year. Their master’s essay topics represent the depth to which Catholic intellectual tradition is related to the contemporary world’s most provocative and important conversations. Father Ryan Adorjan “The Christian ‘Yes’ and the Defeat of Nihilism in the Digital Age” Melina Arguello Sotro “Church: The Roadmap for a Lost Sojourner” Joseph Cavello “Reforming Catholic Legal Education with St. John Henry Newman” Shannon Dickson “Recalling theWords and Lives of Teachers with Augustine: Terence in the Teacher” Sister Sharon Rose Goellner “Accepting the Path to Sanctity: The Virtue of Acceptance in the Life of St. Therese of Lisieux” Katie Leahey , “Forming the Conscience in Family Life – St. John Henry Newman as a Guide for Parents” Karen Loome , “Mindfulness in a Secular Age” Sister Mary John Kramer “St. Augustine and Healing of Memory throughWord and Relationship at Cassiciacum” Sister Rita Marie Kampa “‘I Am Iron Man’: The Redemption of
Dinner guests of the sisters eating Babette’s feast.
a puritan or solely utilitarian attitude toward the material world because we see all as a gift from our creator. We are to see the physical as helping us, pointing us to the spiritual reality of a God who abundantly loves us and wants to draw us to him. Seemingly simple physical things point to eternal realities, revealing a deep sacramentality to the world. In seeking to grow in holiness and closer to heaven, we must seriously consider how the things of this world can help us on our journey. During “Babette’s Feast,” the lines between the physical and spiritual experience of a meal are blurred. This is one of the incredible gifts that mealtime can be: ultimately, leading us to God though a means of participating in his love and entering into a community of persons. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God – that is, a perfect Trinitarian community – we are also called to communion, first with God and then with others. A meal prepared with love and care has the power to draw a community together and lead to an experience
of grace. The feast that Babette prepares leads to the threshold of and ever so slightly lifts the veil of the divine. ETERNAL-LIFE-GIVING FOOD As Catholics, the paramount example and expression of food and community is the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, “what material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life.” Just “as bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity.” This is the incredible beauty and power of the Eucharistic feast. Every time we participate in and receive the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to enter into a tangible and sacramental experience of the heavenly banquet where God physically becomes eternal-life- giving food. He knew that human persons need concrete, sensual ways to experience his goodness and love. In his great wisdom andmercy, God becomes our food, nourishing us around the Eucharistic table.
Modern Man Through Fortitude” Katherine Montenegro Cortez “Narrative Medicine: ACatholic Analysis”
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 19
LOGOS JOURNAL LAUNCHES NEWPODCAST
The St. Thomas Catholic Studies and LOGOS Journal team launched the new podcast “Deep Down Things” in early 2021. It has been developed as a partnership between St. Thomas Catholic Studies friends and supporters, most notably alumnus Father Byron Hagan ’11 and current Habiger Institute Leadership Interns coordinator Father Bryce Evans , priests of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The podcast takes its name from a line in “God’s Grandeur,” a poem by the notable 19th Century English poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ: “And for all this
nature is never spent; There live the dearest freshness deep down things.” A fitting reminder during an especially challenging 2020-21. LOGOS Journal editor, popular speaker, writer and visiting Catholic studies professor Dr. David Deavel , and LOGOS managing editor Liz Kelly ’08 CSMA , syndicated Catholic columnist and award-winning author, host the show, which showcases the depth and breadth of LOGOS Journal’s most notable authors and their essays through more accessible conversation. Drawing from the hallmark Catholic studies approach, Deavel and Kelly chat with guests
Dr. David Deavel
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And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
from “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ
about how God’s grandeur, the impact of Christ’s Incarnation, can be found at the intersection of faith and culture through literature, history, art, philosophy, technology and more. The inaugural episode features iconographer and teacher Nicholas Markell of Markell Studios, the second explores transhumanism and the Netflix series “Black Mirror” with Paul Treschow (see the following article on Page 22). Additional season one episode topics include St. Thérèse de Lisieux , popular American political philosopher Russell Kirk , and relatively unknown German-Japanese Catholic writer Ida Friederike Görres.
Artist and iconographer Nicholas Markell is pictured in his home studio in Hugo, Minnesota.
St. Thérèse de Lisieux, age 15
Russell Kirk in 1962
“Deep Down Things” is available on all major podcasting platforms, including SoundCloud and Spotify. Listeners can become patrons of the show and receive additional content by visiting patreon.com/deepdownthings . Patron content includes digital copies of the featured articles as well as mini-episodes, which are corresponding spiritual reflections to the main episodes, provided by Evans and Hagan.
St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 21
YOU AREN’T YOU, ARE YOU?
Supper at Emmaus (Caravaggio), 1601.
In the LOGOS Journal Winter 2020 article “You Aren’t You, Are You?”, Paul Treschow engages the Incarnation’s effects through a look at the popular Netflix series “Black Mirror,” specifically the episode “Be Right Back.” He argues that the episode’s critiques of transhumanism pair well with Jacques Maritain’s personalist philosophy, ultimately offering the viewer “a fertile site from which longing for the beloved can reemerge in the form of desire for the person of Christ as ‘the risen Lover.’” In the following excerpt, Treschow illustrates the differences between the pseudo-body of the main character’s dead husband (which a technology company has “resurrected” based on his digital footprint) and that of the risen Christ. Through this comparison Treschow shows that “beneath [human] qualities lies not just ‘the power to objectify and remake,’ but the true object of love.”
Gerard O’Collins, building on Augustine’s understanding of the Resurrection, maintains that Christ’s Resurrection “brought no loss of personal identity.” In seeking to establish this continuity of identity, O’Collins breaks with the ambivalence towards the body that we noted as a feature of the Lockean punctual self and transhumanism. O’Collins understands bodily continuity to be the guarantor of personal identity: “To be and to be recognized as the same person, we must remain ‘the same body’.”
This understanding coincides with Maritain’s claim that “a soul separated from its body is not a person.” These claims lend new weight to Augustine’s insistence that “our Lord rose again in the very same body in which he had been buried.” Christ’s bodily continuity signifies the continuity of his identity and personhood. O’Collins emphasizes
is affirmed in the scars that remain on Christ’s resurrected body, which Augustine suggests are there “in order to remove from people’s hearts the wound of unbelief.” These markers of Christ’s embodied history become evidence of the continuity of his identity and personhood. Thus, Thomas’s verification of Christ’s body gives him faith in the Resurrection of Christ’s person, provoking his response, “My Lord andmy God!” There is a marked contrast in Martha’s response to Pseudo-Ash’s
the importance of “embodied histories,” noting that through
embodied interaction we “make and suffer our history.” This connection
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“body.” She notes that Pseudo- Ash looks like Ash “on a good day,” owing to the fact that his appearance is based on flattering photographs. Thus, Pseudo-Ash’s body omits parts of Ash’s embodied history. While this might make himmore attractive, it betrays the fact that Pseudo-Ash is not Ash. In a scene perhaps intended to evoke Christ and Thomas, Martha puts her hand up to Pseudo-Ash’s when touching his body for the first time. But where Thomas finds evidence of Christ’s embodied history, Martha experiences the unnatural smoothness of Pseudo- Ash’s fingertips, verifying that “the really tiny details [of Pseudo-Ash’s body] are visual.” His body bears the marks not of Ash’s life but of his own artificiality. Martha’s experience of Pseudo-Ash’s body is perhaps reflected in her complaint that “there’s no history to you.” One might suggest that Martha ultimately rejects Pseudo-Ash simply because he is a poor imitation of Ash. He lacks qualities that Ash had or basic human qualities, forgetting Martha’s sister or not breathing as he sleeps, for example. Martha does react negatively when Pseudo-Ash fails to imitate Ash. By this logic, the problem is just a failure of technology; given technological improvement or more data, Pseudo- Ash could be a true resurrected Ash for Martha. But a fuller account of Martha’s rejection can be found in Pseudo-Ash’s lack of personality. We can see this by analyzing Pseudo- Ash’s divergence from the two key
The character Martha, played by Haley Atwell, waiting for a “text” from her deceased partner “Pseudo-Ash” in the “Black Mirror” episode “Be Right Back.”
aspects of the person in Maritain’s account: depth and wholeness. Martha’s rejection of Pseudo-Ash is caused by the absence of Ash’s deepest “metaphysical center” (the person). This is suggested through two scenes involving the appropriately titled Bee Gees song, “How Deep is Your Love.” Before Ash’s death, Martha is surprised to learn that he likes the Bee Gees, objecting that “in ten years, you haven’t played them once.” When Ash names “How Deep is Your Love” as his favorite of their songs, Martha protests, “It’s not very you,” obviously seeing Ash’s affection for the song as uncharacteristic. Later, when Martha puts on “How Deep is Your Love” in the car with Pseudo-Ash, he smirks and calls it “cheesy.” Martha says nothing, but her disdainful look suggests that his reaction has confirmed his inadequacy. These two scenes verify Maritain’s observation that “love is not
concerned with qualities . . . but with persons.” Ash’s affection for the Bee Gees is not just another quality that Pseudo-Ash fails to imitate; it represents the depths of Ash’s person that could not be fully known to Martha even after years of relationship. Martha does not react negatively to Pseudo-Ash because Ash’s affection for the song was a quality that she loved or even was accustomed to. Rather, it is an indicator that beneath however many Ash-like qualities he might possess, Pseudo-Ash is not Ash. This constitutes Martha’s ultimate rejection of Pseudo-Ash: “You aren’t you, are you? . . . You’re just a few ripples of you.” Martha realizes that “you” was not an adjective to describe Ash’s qualities (“it’s not very you”) but an address to his person. Beneath his qualities lies not just “the power to objectify and remake,” but the true object of love.
To hear more fromwriter Paul Treschow, join LOGOS Journal editors Dr. Dave Deavel and Liz Kelly for Season 1, Episode 2 of the “Deep Down Things” podcast.
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