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CUA’s Renaissance… Should Not Be Impeded By The Likes Of NCR

June 13, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

So the National Catholic Reporter — bastion of barely tolerable mummery from what remains of the over-50 crowd of aged-out hippie Catholicism — has decided to take aim at the Catholic University of America for its conservative-tinged orthodoxy (NCR, “Saving the Catholic University of America: The cardinals need to talk,” June 4, 2018).
The author of the recent salvo is none other than Michael Sean Winters — because why have one first name, when two will do?
Rather than dive into the muck of his vituperative first-person commentary regarding the Catholic University football team discussing their conquests over the weekend between deadlifts, let’s ask: Is the Catholic University of America in trouble? Does it require the attention of our cardinals, as the screaming headline suggests?
Allow me to defend my alma mater in the strongest possible tone. The Catholic University of America, despite the drive-by Catholic media’s attempt to target and destroy even the possibility of a few green shoots of authentic Catholicism here in the United States, is very much alive and well.
It wasn’t always this way. When I attended CUA as an undergraduate over 20 years ago, Brother Ellis was the president of the university. A good man and a very kind man, his administration was nonetheless marked with a great deal of uncertainty.
Violence on campus was a very real concern, as radios and laptops seemed to disappear at a remarkable clip. So serious was the problem (and so numb was the administration to the concerns) that the CUA baseball team organized a vigilante patrol known as “Bat Patrol” — which at one point caught an unfortunate perpetrator who held a couple at knifepoint in front of Gibbons Hall before being chased all the way to the Metro station.
CUA’s student publication — The Tower — began running comparisons of means between what the students were being fed (Salisbury steak) and what the faculty dining hall was offering (filet mignon). That is, until the administration demanded that The Tower stop running such items.
Campus housing was, to be charitable, a joke. Warehoused across Michigan Avenue, freshmen and sophomores had to play frogger just to get to classes. Buildings were literally falling apart. The politics department, long a bastion of orthodoxy, had succumbed to the administration. The theology department was still haunted by the ghost of Fr. Charles Curran.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae — Pope John Paul II’s document on how Catholic universities should be governed — was never truly debated. In practice, much of it was frowned upon (and as students, we understood our cues).
Fast forward to today’s campus. The legacy of Edward Pryzbyla — a longtime benefactor of Catholic University — now forms the focal point for America’s premier Catholic university. Where memories trails once dotted the campus, brick and concrete allow students to glide. Once dark spaces are now well lit, security roams freely, dogwoods and crape myrtles make the spring even more glorious, and as always there is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception hovering like an atlas.
Other notables? The Knights of Columbus maintain a splendid presence on campus. Greek life is notably absent (with the exception of Jesuit-inspired Alpha Delta Gamma, known by friends of course). It is the home that inspired Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Cardinal O’Malley, and many others. Countless vocations have been inspired by this place; countless men and women have discovered a calling to the religious life; countless others have learned that the Catholic faith is neither a straitjacket nor an open field — rather, we are a faith that includes a multitude of backgrounds, cultures, traditions, and inspirations.
It comes as no small wonder why the National Catholic Reporter — a publication whose bishops have repeatedly demanded they not brand themselves as Catholic, yet in defiance continue to do so — and their ilk have targeted the sole educational institution in the United States supported by the Catholic bishops for destruction.
In fact, no cardinal needs to talk about CUA. Most of them already know what Catholic University is and is becoming because they graduated from CUA, see the endowment, see the new buildings going up and the old ones going away.
Yet the war isn’t against Catholic University. The wider war is against all of the Catholic universities who present themselves in the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Among the others are Ave Maria, Christendom, Franciscan at Steubenville, Thomas Aquinas — and in due course, one hopes, Notre Dame — all of them are under siege by the professional left. All of them are targets, and why? Because they are authentically Catholic.
One of the true marvels of Catholic University was that it was truly and authentically Catholic in every definition of the word. Every religious order, every topic, every course of study seemed to be on offer.
Newman’s Bookstore — sadly gone — reflected the very best of this charism, because one could truly find everything there. Within it was a sincerity that could not be faked and is rarely imitated.
The Catholic University of America is a special place that does not deserve the execrations of a handful of malcontents and worn-out reformers.
The renaissance is on; long may it endure.

+ + +

I would like to thank readers for the many kind and heartfelt letters responding to the call on how to pass down Catholic culture and habits. Faithfully attending Mass was a very popular choice, as was reciting the rosary.
But there was a single thread that seemed to link them all, and that was a devotion to the Blessed Mother whether recently acquired or applied over a lifetime. Of course, as good Catholics we know the reason why. Mary will always guide us to her Son.
For my own part, my maternal grandparents were the ones to pass down the Catholic faith, not only to my own mother, but in the small things they carried and did. My grandfather’s rosary, my grandmother’s own picture of the Blessed Mother prominently in her living room, and dozens of prayer cards stashed away in missals, Bibles, tracts, and even in run-of-the-mill books.
An amazing thing, considering how few prayer cards — and I mean truly beautiful ones — one actually finds in parishes today.
For myself, my path to the Blessed Mother has involved someone put distant by a latent Protestantism that seems to imbed itself in every American. Why go to Mary when you have Jesus?
The answer is simple: because Jesus went to Mary, because the salvation of the world came through Mary, because God Himself chose Mary to be blessed among generations (Luke 1:48).
Is it any small wonder that when the generations stop calling Mary blessed, that our generations stop being blessed? Worth a thought.

Write To Us!

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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