Wednesday 4th May 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

At Thomas Aquinas College . . . Hold Fast To Jerusalem, Athens, And Rome

June 4, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By EDWIN CARDINAL O’BRIEN

(Editor’s Note: Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Grand Master, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, delivered the following commencement address to the Thomas Aquinas College class of 2014, May 17, in Santa Paula, Calif. Thomas Aquinas College, www.thomasaquinas.edu, provided the text. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

An old Irish joke has it that a commencement speaker is like the deceased at an Irish wake: You have to have him so that the party can begin!
Thank you for inviting me to share this special day with you on this beautiful campus, which so magnificently evokes both faith and reason, and which reminds us that beauty is a unique path to God in our confused and sometimes ugly age.
Dear friends of the Class of 2014 of Thomas Aquinas College:
Your commencement day falls between the canonization of Pope St. John Paul II, which was celebrated on April 27, and the ecumenical pilgrimage of Pope Francis to Jerusalem, Greece, and Rome, which will begin in just one week — the Greek Patriarch, the Pope of Rome on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. That seems an entirely appropriate and happy coincidence for a school like this.
For Thomas Aquinas College, which seeks to train young minds in the classics of Western civilization and does so in an authentically Catholic spirit, is a school which appreciates that Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome are the three pillars of Western civilization — the civilizational heritage of which you, the class of 2014, are the heirs and trustees.
Permit me a few brief thoughts on Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, their place in the civilizational project that we call the “West,” and the challenges which that project faces today.
Jerusalem: From biblical religion, the West learned the crucial lesson that our lives are not cyclical repetition or chaotic happenstance. Rather, the Bible taught the West that our lives are in via, “on the way,” a journey, a pilgrimage, with an origin, a design, and a destination. The origin is God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and the destination is the Kingdom of God, in the wedding feast of the Lamb, of which St. John wrote in the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation.
This notion of life as journey or pilgrimage has been crucial to the forward thrust of Western civilization, its orientation toward the future, and its striving to improve the human condition. Life as journey and pilgrimage is never dull and never boring; life as journey and pilgrimage is always an adventure. And if so many of our contemporaries seem, today, dazed and bored, perhaps that’s because they have paid insufficient attention to Jerusalem — to the biblical foundations of our civilization.
And perhaps, in your families and professional lives, you can do something to remind the world that biblical religion liberates human beings in the deepest meaning of human liberation.
Athens: From classical Greek philosophy, which lives here in Santa Paula as it lives in few other American institutions of higher learning, Western civilization learned that there are truths embedded in the world and in us, and that men and women can arrive at those truths through the exercise of reason. That confidence is at the root of our convictions about the natural moral law, as it is at the root of Western science.
You have learned here, I’m sure, that reasoning is hard work. But I expect you’ve also learned that the exercise of reason can be exhilarating. Love lifts us out of ourselves; so does learning. As heirs and trustees of the tradition of Athens, my hope for you is that you will all be lifetime learners, who never tire of stretching your minds, as I pray you will never tire of opening your hearts.
And in a culture that is increasingly confused about the truth of things, be, like John Paul II, witnesses to the truth: the truth that there is more than “your truth” and “my truth,” the truth that there is something properly called “the truth,” and we have access to it by our reason.
There are other avenues to truth, of course: But it will be the task of your generation, tutored by the Pope and saint who wrote the encyclical Fides et Ratio, to remind the West that reason is part of our civilizational heritage, and that the Catholic Church is the great institutional safe-deposit box of reason in the 21st-century West.
Rome: From Rome, and from great figures like Cicero, who through your studies have become your traveling companions on the pilgrimage of life, Western civilization learned that the rule of law is superior to the rule of brute force in the exercise of arbitrary power. That lesson has to be learned in every generation. But in learning it, we recapitulate the lessons learned, not without cost, in the Roman forum and in the building of a law-governed polity that once ruled the entire Mediterranean world.
As that Roman lesson about the superiority of the rule of law worked itself out in the Christian Middle Ages, other ideas were added to the mix: that there is an inherent sense of justice in the people to which just government must attend; that consent is essential to just governance; that positive law must be tethered to the natural moral law if law is not to decompose into an instrument of tyranny. Pope St. John Paul II reminded the West of these truths in his social Magisterium; and it must be your care and concern to be witnesses to these truths in your lives as citizens.
Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome: three pillars of the West; three mutually dependent pillars of the West. All must be sturdy, each must reinforce the others, if the Western project is to continue, and continue in ways that support genuine human flourishing. Let me take a brief moment to explore this along the via negativa: by way of the bad example of recent history.
As the great French theologian and friend of John Paul II, Henri de Lubac, taught us in his book The Drama of Atheistic Humanism, 19th-century European high culture misunderstood the God of the Bible as the enemy of human maturation and freedom. So the God of the Bible had to go, in the name of liberation. The rapid and often virulent secularization of European culture followed.
But then what happened? It turns out that, if you throw the God of the Bible over the side — if you throw Jerusalem over the side — the Athenian pillar of Western civilization begins to crumble. Reason, left to its own devices, is diminished, and then begins to question its own capacities. Or, to put it another way, if you no longer believe that the God of the Bible imprinted the divine reason on creation, in his very act of creation, then, sooner or later, you will cease to believe that creation is “reasonable:” that there are truths built into the world and into us that we can get to by reason.
And that is precisely where we find ourselves today: in a post-modern world that can no longer affirm “the truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”
But as John Paul II pointed out, that collapse of faith in the truth is socially and politically unstable. For if there is only your truth and my truth, and neither of us recognizes anything as the truth, then how do we settle the argument when your truth and my truth come into conflict? Against what horizon of judgment do we resolve our dispute? There isn’t any. So either you impose your truth on me, or I impose my truth on you.

The Dictatorship Of Relativism

And that brings us, in short order, to what Pope Benedict XVI called the “dictatorship of relativism.” In a society where Jerusalem and Athens have crumbled, Rome, too, must crumble. When the God of the Bible has been jettisoned and, as a consequence, faith in reason has disappeared, the rule of law will inevitably disappear as well, sooner or later.
In being formed by the unique education offered here at Thomas Aquinas College, you have been formed for a mission: and that mission is nothing less than the rescue of the civilizational project of the West.
Some of you will do this in the beautiful microcosm of the family. Others of you will do this through a vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated religious life. All of you will do this, I pray, as citizens. It is a challenge that you have been uniquely equipped to meet, a task for which you are singularly well-formed. The challenge and the task are daunting, to be sure. But the challenge and the task are also exhilarating.
Pope St. John Paul II, at your age, lived under a draconian Nazi occupation that seemed to mark the end of civilization: the end of faith, the end of reason, the end of law, the end of mercy and compassion and love.
Take heart from his example. By holding fast to Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, by holding fast to his conviction that Christ has conquered death and that God’s purposes will be vindicated, the young man who became John Paul II survived the Nazi tyranny and defeated the Communist tyranny.
That example can inspire you to be witnesses to truth, witnesses who will help give the West a new birth of freedom: freedom tethered to truth and ordered to goodness; freedom lived beautifully, as you have been taught to live here in this beautiful and noble place.
Godspeed on your journey.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Serving LGBT Students in Catholic Schools

April 28, 2016, at 9:03 AM  |  By Dan Guernsey  |  Opinion How do Catholic schools best serve students who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (popularly called “transgendered”)? What should a school’s policies prescribe in order to prevent…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group Lists Every Company Backing Planned Parenthood

A pro-life organization that has spent decades working to try to get corporations to stop giving financial donations to the Planned Parenthood abortion business has released a revised listing of companies backing the abortion giant. Life Decisions International has released…Continue Reading

Trump completes 5-state sweep; Clinton beats Sanders in most Super Tuesday III contests

Donald Trump completed a five-state sweep in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primaries, strengthening his shot at avoiding a contested convention – while Hillary Clinton scored convincing victories but was denied the same bragging rights of a primary sweep by a surprise…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Caught Again

Kentucky is suing a new Planned Parenthood clinic after Governor Matt Bevin found out that they have illegally killed 23 unborn children. The clinic knowingly operated without a license for nearly two months. The request for a license was later…Continue Reading

Top Vatican cardinals aren’t commenting on pope’s exhortation

April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, both known for taking a strong stand for the Church’s tradition at the Synod on the Family, are declining interviews on Pope Francis’ controversial apostolic exhortation. Vatican reporter…Continue Reading

Indiana diocese: Catholic teachers must uphold Church’s moral teachings

FORT WAYNE, Indiana, April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Catholic bishop has taken steps to reinforce Catholic identity in the schools of his diocese. Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades promulgated “The Mission of Our Catholic Schools and the Importance…Continue Reading

Abby Johnson to Georgetown: Pray for Cecile Richards because no one is beyond conversion

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – No one is beyond conversion, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson said at Georgetown University Wednesday, just hours after Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards delivered a lecture to a packed room at…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Pro-life NFL star Matt Birk reveals real reason he skipped meeting with Obama

April 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When football star Matt Birk decided to quietly decline an invitation to meet President Obama after winning the 2013 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, he said at the time that he was acting on…Continue Reading

Head of US Bishops’ news agency resigns, blames ‘far right blogosphere’

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—The editor-in-chief and director of the U.S. bishops’ official news service resigned Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference general secretary. Tony Spence, who had worked for Catholic News Service since 2004, had…Continue Reading

Scandal: More ‘Drag Shows’ at Catholic Colleges

Annual drag shows — where individuals dress up and perform as the opposite sex — have become a consistent presence on several Catholic college campuses, punctuating the spring semester with scandal and disregard for Church teaching on human sexuality. Despite…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood: Ted Cruz is ‘the biggest threat we face’

April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Ted Cruz’s pro-life views make him the “biggest threat” Planned Parenthood faces, the abortion giant said in a fundraising email last week. Citing the Texas senator and presidential candidate’s opposition to abortion in cases of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .  

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Planned Parenthood CEO: My Proudest Moment is Forcing Christians to Pay for Abortion Drugs

richards

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards seems to jump at every chance she gets to do an interview with a journalist who will flatter her abortion work. In her latest interview, Richards revealed her proudest moment on the job – forcing Christians to pay for contraception, including methods that many say can cause early abortions. She told the Texas Observer: TO: And your proudest moment at Planned Parenthood? CR: Definitely the day President Obama called to…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: No to Double Lives!

pope(picture)

You are in communion with God, walk in the light. Do works of light, don’t say one thing and do another •April 29, 2016•ZENIT Staff• Pope Francis today exhorted Christians to avoid the “double life” of saying one thing and doing another. This was a main message of his homily this morning in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio. “If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light.…Continue Reading

Top Catholic Philosopher: Amoris Laetitia Will “Split the Church”

Today, 28 April, an important exclusive interview with a well-known Catholic philosopher has been published in Germany. The important statements of Professor Robert Spaemann might well indicate that the wind is turning now against the “Francis Revolution”. Spaemann – who is a personal friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – says about Amoris Laetitia that there are some ways of interpreting the document against the continuous teaching of the Church. He then continues: However, the article…Continue Reading

Christians in Crisis: Report Details Dire Situation in Iraq and Syria

ZENIT.ORG People of all religions will miss Christians’ contribution to education, healthcare •April 28, 2016•Fr. John Flynn• With no end in sight to the fighting in Iraq and Syria the remaining Christian population continues to experience very difficult conditions. A recent report, “Salt of the Earth: Impact and Significance of the Christian Presence in Syria and Iraq during the Current Crisis,” details the significant contributions Christians have made to the region and what it stands…Continue Reading

Pope: Do We Know the Other Lesson From the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

Zenit.org At General Audience, Says There’s More to Learn Than ‘Who Is My Neighbor?’ •April 27, 2016•Kathleen Naab• We know the parable of the Good Samaritan is a lesson to teach us that we must love our neighbor, and that there’s no one in the category of non-neighbor, but beyond that, Pope Francis asked today, have we also learned the parable’s lesson that God treats us with the compassion of the Samaritan? “In the gestures…Continue Reading

Dishonoring General Jackson

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Samuel Eliot Morison’s The Oxford History of the American People, there is a single sentence about Harriet Tubman. “An illiterate field hand, [Tubman] not only escaped herself but returned repeatedly and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom.” Morison, however, devotes most of five chapters to the greatest soldier-statesman in…Continue Reading

Euthanasia In Canada… Liberty Without Freedom

By DONALD DeMARCO On April 14, 2016, Canada’s Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The long-awaited draft is intended to amend two Criminal Code sections that formerly prohibited euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Supreme Court of Canada, in a 9-0 decision on February of 2015, declared these sections to be unconstitutional.…Continue Reading

And A Child Shall Lead Them

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK College students are not children, yet the line from Isaiah 11:6, about how “a little child shall lead them,” may fit the role they will play is correcting the disorder at our Catholic universities. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but one cannot help but wonder if the day will come when…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . On Defending Doctrinal Truth Without Compromise

By JAMES MONTI Several years ago I had the curious misfortune of having to listen to several homilies regarding St. John the Baptist in which this great Forerunner of the Christ was cast as somewhat of a villain. The homilist claimed that John was being too judgmental in condemning Herod for his adultery and incest,…Continue Reading

Luther 1517-2017… Five Hundred Years Of Heresy And Doctrinal Confusion

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 7 (Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment in a series by Wanderer contributor Raymond de Souza on Henry VIII’s book defending the seven sacraments against Martin Luther. De Souza edited this updated version of Henry’s work, which is presented to readers in this series. (This series will appear…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

“Love One Another”. . . But Logic Cannot Be Separated From God

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: Fr. John De Celles, pastor of St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church, Springfield, Va., gave the following homily on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016, at his parish. (Fr. De Celles based his homily on the readings for that day, including the Gospel which has the passage, “Love one another as…Continue Reading

Race And Religion . . . Commitment To Religion Improves Lives

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (We are running this commentary in the space usually reserved for Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column, as Fr. Cusick appears on…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Inquisition: Answering Objections

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 52 First objection: The Inquisition was intolerant! Reply: Before we dissect the Inquisition, we first have to define the terms we use, to ensure that we share the same meaning. What is “tolerance”? In today’s liberal parlance, it means something like accepting other opinions, views, and preferences, so that we are not seen to…Continue Reading

The Liturgy — Work Of The Holy Trinity

By DON FIER Part 4 The cooperation between the Holy Spirit and the Church that is at work in the liturgy is so close that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) treats the two together. As stated in the section’s opening paragraph, when the Advocate “encounters in us the response of faith…the liturgy becomes the common work of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding the question of whether Jesus after the Resurrection appeared first to His Mother, which is not mentioned in the Gospels, or to Mary Magdalene, which is mentioned, F.A. of Massachusetts called our attention to the following comments by St. John Paul II in an audience on May 21, 1997: “How could the Blessed Virgin, present in the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the western border of Italy lies Monaco. Driving northeast along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for about 110 miles, the traveler arrives in the coastal city of Genoa, home of a truly remarkable woman who served the Kingdom of God as a wife, mother, widow, layperson, and religious. Although she suffered from hidden wounds, she…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading