Tuesday 25th June 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Thomas Aquinas College Commencement… Let Your Great Souls Be Unleashed!

May 22, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles delivered the homily below at the May 11 commencement exercises of Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif. It is reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved.)

+ + +

It is indeed a high honor for me to be speaking to the 2019 graduating class of Thomas Aquinas College, an institution that I have admired for decades and which is situated, I am proud to say, within the borders of my own Santa Barbara Pastoral Region. I am deeply grateful to President McLean, as well as to the Board and faculty of this wonderful college.
I want to offer a word of sincere and hearty congratulation, of course, to the Class of 2019 but also to the parents of these gifted young people. It is your love that has sustained them over the years, and this day belongs to you as much as to them.
I distinctly remember my first visit to this beautiful campus five years ago. I had been invited to speak to the community and had brought a fairly serious academic paper. After the long plane trip from Chicago and the surprisingly arduous car journey from LAX to Santa Paula (I wasn’t yet accustomed to Southern California travel), I was fairly worn out, and I was convinced that my dense presentation would bore the students — and probably myself — to tears.
With some trepidation, I made my way through the text and then, to my delighted surprise, entertained smart and challenging questions for the next hour and three quarters. As I remember, President McLean had to intervene to bring things to a close, even as dozens of hands remained in the air.
In my wildest imagination, it would never have occurred to me that night that I would one day be the bishop presiding over this region, but I must say that one of the particular joys of my current assignment is that I can make frequent visits to this college and experience again the thrill of that initial encounter with the bright and delightfully feisty students here.


How could I not take as my point of orientation today some thoughts from the patron of this school? I would like to draw your attention to a fairly obscure section of St. Thomas’s Summa Theologiae, namely, question 129 of the secunda secundae, wherein the master considers the virtue of magnanimitas (magnanimity), which is to say, the quality of having a great soul.
There is an intriguing etymological link, by the way, between the term magna anima in Latin and the Sanskrit title famously ascribed to Mohandas Gandhi: Mahatma, which means precisely the same thing, “great soul.”
So how does Thomas elaborate upon the notion? Here is the beginning of his respondeo to article one of question 129: “Magnanimity by its very name denotes stretching forth of the soul to great things (extensio animi ad magna).” And this has to do, primarily, with great moral acts, or acts for which one would expect to be honored.
Thomas is quick to clarify that the magnanimous person is not interested in honors for their own sake, for such an obsession would amount to vana gloria or vainglory; rather, he or she is interested in doing those things that rightly deserve honor. Following Aristotle, Thomas further specifies that true magnanimity is ordered to high honor, which another way of saying to the performance of those moral acts that are particularly hard to perform.
Here is part of the respondeo to article five of question 129: “Accordingly it is clear that magnanimity agrees with fortitude in confirming the mind about some difficult matter.” And this is from article six of the same question: “magnanimity is chiefly about the hope of something arduous” (magnanimitas proprie est circa spem alicuius ardui).
But what is the ground for such hope? It is, says Thomas, in the moral and intellectual character of the one who knows himself capable of attaining to high, difficult, and great things. Were one not in possession of the capacity for greatness, it would be presumptuous and proud to strive toward excellence.
Some further light can be shed on our theme by considering the opposite of magnanimity, namely, pusillanimity (literally, small-souledness), and this Thomas does in question 133 of the secunda secundae. If presumption makes one strive beyond one’s capabilities, pusillanimity “makes a man fall short of what is proportionate to his power, by refusing to tend to that which is commensurate thereto.”
In light of this clarification, we see why some translators choose to render pusillanimitas as “faintheartedness,” for it amounts to a fear of attempting the moral excellence of which a person is capable. In article two of question 133, Aquinas makes the contrast unmistakably clear: “For just as the magnanimous man tends to great things out of greatness of soul, so the pusillanimous man shrinks from great things out of littleness of soul” (ex animi parvitate).
And what causes this shrinking of the soul? Thomas says, “on the part of the intellect, ignorance of one’s qualifications and on the part of the appetite the fear of failure in what one falsely deems to exceed one’s ability.”
I trust by now it has become plain why I chose to take us on this brief tour of a usually overlooked corner of Aquinas’ masterpiece. It seems to me that the entire purpose of the programs here at Thomas Aquinas College is to produce magnanimous people, young women and men of great souls, capable of high moral achievement, willing and able to undertake arduous tasks for which they will rightly merit great honor.
Thomas Aquinas College has no interest in giving rise to pusillanimous graduates, men and women with small souls, who would shrink from the difficult moral challenge of the present time. Given what you have learned here through strenuous effort in the classroom, given how your souls have been shaped by steady exposure to people of exemplary virtue, given the formation that has inevitably come from the Mass and the sacraments, none of you graduates should feel unqualified, either intellectually or morally, to seek the most honorable course.
God knows that the world is filled with moral mediocrities, not to mention the craven and the wicked, but you have been made of sterner stuff. Aquinas tells us that one of the principal marks of the magnanimous person is confidence; we send you forth today as confident men and women, ready for the high adventure of the spiritual life.

Two Challenges

Now sufficient challenges certainly rise to meet the confidence of the magnanimous today, and many of those who have preceded me in this role of commencement speaker have articulated them: materialism, ideological secularism, moral relativism, and the fruit of these three, namely, a culture of self-invention, a Nietzschean voluntarism, which has emerged as the dominant philosophy of our time.
But I would like, in the short compass of this speech, to focus on two particular challenges that call forth heroic moral excellence: corruption in the Church and the massive attrition of our own Catholic people, especially the young.
There is no need to rehearse the sickening details regarding the sexual abuse of young people by priests these last several decades. Suffice it to say that attacks on the bodies and souls of the most vulnerable members of the Catholic community precisely by those ordained by Christ to be their shepherds and guardians constitutes the gravest scandal in the history of the Church in the United States.
Compounding the problem, of course, has been the tragic mismanagement of the crisis on the part of some bishops and religious superiors. Far more concerned with the reputation of the institution than with the safety of God’s people, too many ecclesial leaders allowed the rot to spread.
If you seek distant historical mirrors of the present troubles, take a look at St. Peter Damian’s writings in the eleventh century or the story of Eli and his wicked sons Hophni and Phineas from the first book of Samuel in the Old Testament.
Wicked priests and clueless religious superiors are, sadly, nothing particularly new in the life of God’s people. Undermining the work of the Church in practically every way, the clerical sex abuse catastrophe has been the Devil’s masterpiece, and I realize that, in the wake of these revelations, many Catholics are tempted to abandon ship.
In fact, in a very recent poll, fully 37 percent of Catholics said that they are seriously considering leaving the Church because of its corruption.
But it is my conviction that this is not the time to leave; this is the time to fight.
And here I call upon every magnanimous graduate sitting here before me today. Fight by entering the priesthood or religious life and live up to the dignity of your calling; fight by your very holiness of life, becoming the saint that God wants you to become; fight by doing a Holy Hour every day for the purification of the Church; fight by calling for real reform; fight by insisting that the guilty be held accountable; fight by doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; fight by evangelizing in your everyday life; fight by ordering your life according to the virtues; fight by playing your priestly role in the sacrifice of the Mass.
And more to it, fight by sanctifying your family, your workplace, the market, the political arena, the world of high finance, the realms of sports and entertainment. In other words, be what the Church is supposed to be in the world. In the second book of Samuel, we hear that David’s corruption with Bathsheba commenced precisely when the King, instead of going on campaign as was his wont, lingered at home, indulging his private desires.
As Pope Francis has often reminded us, when the Church fails to go on campaign, when it turns in on itself, corruption is never far behind. Don’t wait for other reformers to arise; this is your moment to meet this crucial moral challenge. And no pusillanimous people need apply.
The second great crisis to which I will draw your attention is the rise of the “nones” or the religiously unaffiliated. When I was a child, in the early 1970s, roughly three percent of our country identified as non-religious. By the early 1990s, that figure had doubled to six percent, but still, in terms of absolute numbers, the overwhelming majority of the nation was religious.
However today, nearly 25 percent of Americans surveyed claim no religious affiliation, and the situation is direr still when we focus on young people. Among those under 30, fully 40 percent claim the status of “none,” and among Catholics under 30, the number rises to 50 percent.
Any way one looks at these statistics, one must conclude that we are hemorrhaging young people from religion in general and Catholicism in particular. In point of fact, one of the most damning figures is the ratio between those who join the Catholic Church and those who are leaving. It stands at 1:6, that is to say, for every one person who enters our Church, six are going out the door.
I call on the magnanimous graduates sitting before me, rise to meet this challenge! And may I say that as alumni of Thomas Aquinas College, you will be uniquely positioned to do so.
Numerous studies have indicated that the principal reason that people are leaving the Church is that they no longer believe the doctrines put forward by classical Christianity. Though many commentators are tempted to say that the mass exodus is prompted largely by the scandals, this in fact is not true.
When queried why they have left the practice of the faith, most people, especially the young, tell us that they have done so because faith and science are implacable enemies, because God is an unnecessary hypothesis, because Jesus is one questionable mythic character among many, because the Bible is a collection of prescientific, bronze-age fairy tales. In a word, they find Christianity intellectually untenable.
You who have had the incomparable privilege these past four years carefully and critically to read Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Newton, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and Bertrand Russell are specially qualified for the arduous task of engaging the army of skeptics who have wandered from the Church.
The contemplation of the great intellectuals is indeed an intrinsic good, but may I stress that especially at this moment in the Church’s life, such contemplation can and should give rise to active evangelization and compelling apologetics. So, become university professors of theology, college and high school teachers of religion, catechists at the parish level, online evangelists — and know that the moment you exit any Catholic church in America you have entered mission territory.
And may I suggest to those who have a particular interest in the physical sciences that you are in the front lines of this battle for souls. In survey after survey, young people report that the supposed conflict of faith and science is the chief intellectual obstacle to remaining a believer.


For many years, I lived and worked at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago. A blend of extraordinary natural beauty and extremely fine Georgian architecture, the seminary is one of the most striking places in the American Catholic world.
Cardinal Mundelein, who actively presided over its design and construction, said that he wanted the splendor of the seminary to give the future priests an idea of Heaven, so that they would never lose sight of the ultimate goal of their pastoral work among the people.
This place, with its own distinctive blend of natural and man-made beauty, has always reminded me a bit of Mundelein. And indeed, this campus, where liturgy, prayer, fellowship, deep communion with the saints and geniuses of the Catholic tradition are on steady offer, is something of a Catholic Heaven on Earth, an anticipation even now of the splendor of life on high with God and the saints.
But just as the students at Mundelein were not meant to stay on the grounds of the seminary, so you are not meant to stay at this lovely place. Rather, you are meant to go forth, carrying what you have received and cultivated here, in order to sanctify our suffering world.
Is this an arduous task? Yes! But magnanimous people like arduous tasks, for they are ordered to the moral work that will give the highest honor. Are these choppy seas? Yes! But only pusillanimous people are afraid of choppy seas.
Your four years here have given you great souls. Let them be unleashed! God bless you all.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

As one shepherd I encourage all faithful lay Catholics to continue to pray & speak up for the truth expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let this truth be your guide. Pray that priests & bishops will speak against any who teach false doctrines that contradict truth.

Load More...

Rosary Rally in Reparation for Homosexual and Transgender Grooming of Kids in “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Public Library in Md

A small group ranging from ten to 15 LGBTQ-obedient bots danced and played loud gay anthems like “YMCA” and “We are Family”, and holding a sign which read “Toleration is Godly”, sequestered behind yellow tape on one side of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Rosary Rally Sunday to Protest Maryland Drag Queen Story Time for Kids

Personhood Maryland is asking pro-life Christians to gather at the Lexington Park Library for a peaceful prayer vigil on Sunday, June 23rd from 3:30-5:30 pm Eastern to stand against the Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) and Drag 101 event scheduled…Continue Reading

Supreme Court rules WW1 Peace Cross memorial is here to stay

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 this morning in favor of a nearly 100-year-old World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, known as the “Peace Cross,” allowing it to remain standing.…Continue Reading

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican…Continue Reading

Illinois bishops oppose abortion law, disagree on Communion for pro-choice lawmakers

Baltimore, Md., Jun 14, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- While two Illinois bishops are unified in their strong opposition to the state’s new abortion law, they differ on the question of prohibiting to receive Holy Communion the Catholic state legislators…Continue Reading

‘The Decalogue’ for Nuncios (Pope Francis’ Full Address to Meeting of Papal Representatives)

The following is a ZENIT working full English translation of the discourse Pope Francis prepared and delivered today, June 13, 2019, to all the Papal Representatives, meeting in the Vatican from June 12 – 15,  2019: **** Dear Brethren, I’m…Continue Reading

Vatican rejects idea that people can ‘choose one’s gender’

The Vatican on Monday released an official document that rejects the idea that a transgender person has the right to “choose one’s gender,” according to reports. The Washington Post reported that the Catholic Church said in the document that the right to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell awaits verdict after prosecutor stumbles in appeal hearing

June 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The two-day hearing in Cardinal George Pell’s appeal before the Victorian Court of Appeal against his conviction for alleged child sex abuse in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1990s ended Thursday with a positive impression for the defense.…Continue Reading

Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis announces synod

St. Paul, Minn., Jun 7, 2019 / 06:04 pm (CNA).- Minnesota’s largest diocese will hold a synod— a meeting designed to help the bishop shepherd his local flock— during Pentecost Weekend 2021, Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced yesterday. It will be the…Continue Reading

Jerry Falwell, Jr., Rev. Kevin Cusick and the Satanic War Against Sex

Some entity or other doesn’t want me writing. First, my carpal tunnel has flared up something fierce. It hurts me to pet the beagles, much less to peel them off the dirty plates they’re licking inside the dishwasher. My favorite…Continue Reading

Biden Buckles, Flips on Hyde Amendment Under Pressure From Democrats

Former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment Thursday after facing intense backlash from within his own party. Biden, while speaking in Atlanta, first reaffirmed his support for Roe v. Wade

Biden names pro-LGBT ‘Equality Act’ as top priority if elected

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Passing the radical pro-LGBT and pro-abortion Equality Act “will be the first thing I ask to be done” if elected president, Joe Biden said at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala Saturday. The…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Cdl. Burke: Relaxing priestly celibacy for Amazon region would affect universal Church

ROME, June 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke is challenging recent assertions made by Amazon Synod organizers, saying “it is not honest” to suggest that the October meeting is “treating the question of clerical celibacy for that region alone.” “If [the synod] takes up the question, which I do not think it is right for it to do, it will be treating a discipline of the universal Church,” Cardinal Burke told LifeSiteNews on June…Continue Reading

Indianapolis archbishop revokes Jesuit prep school’s Catholic identity

Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 20, 2019 / 01:49 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Indianapolis announced Thursday that a local Jesuit high school will no longer be recognized as a Catholic school, due to a disagreement about the employment of a teacher who attempted to contract a same-sex marriage. “All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communic

Archbishop Viganò clarifies points arising from new interview

ROME, June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In the wake of two recent pieces in the Washington Post relating to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, an article and an extended interview (the first the archbishop has granted since his initial allegations concerning Pope Francis), renewed insinuations and smears have been directed at the former diplomat of the Holy See. In his June 10 interview, the archbishop claims that the actions so far taken against McCarrick are chiefly…Continue Reading

Pope backs carbon pricing to stem global warming and appeals to deniers

Carbon pricing, via taxes or emissions trading schemes, is used by many governments to make energy consumers pay for the costs of using the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming * Pope Francis tells top energy executives to act now * Pontiff urges world to heed scientific findings

U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14. On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the…Continue Reading


Collective Achievement… Reconstruction And Notre Dame

By JUDE DOUGHERTY “A Gothic cathedral is a collective achievement, the outcome of countless craftsmen working across the centuries toward a common goal. It is not the arena for idiosyncratic personal expression,” so wrote Michael J. Lewis in a timely essay. (1) Something similar may be said of an intellectual tradition that was being formed…Continue Reading

Memo To Youth Ministers… Stop Preaching Self-Esteem

By ARTHUR HIPPLER (Editor’s Note: Dr. Hippler is chairman of the religion department and teaches religion in the Upper School at Providence Academy, Plymouth, Minn.) + + + Many forms of outreach to Catholic young people want to get them fired up about the faith. They give an example of enthusiasm by which they hope…Continue Reading

Why Moral Values Are Disappearing

By DONALD DeMARCO Benjamin Franklin, among his numerous contributions to civilization, bequeathed to the world a stream of deathless aphorisms: A penny saved is a penny earned; time lost is never found again; nothing is certain save death and taxes; there was never a good war, or a bad peace; honesty is the best policy.…Continue Reading

War With Iran Would Become “Trump’s War”

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran. Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s reelection. It would widen the “forever war,” which…Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court . . . Reverses Oregon’s Decision To Punish Bakers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a victory for Sweet Cakes Bakery and Melissa and Aaron Klein, on June 17 the U.S. Supreme Court sent their case back to the Oregon Court of Appeals in light of the June 2018 decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Sweet Cakes by Melissa v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Doing God’s Will Is Perfect Freedom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21 Gal. 5:1, 13-18 Luke 9:51-62 In the second reading today, St. Paul tells us we were called for freedom, but then he says we are not to use this freedom for the flesh, but to serve one another through love. Normally we would think…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Week In Review

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “For as those rich dishes cannot be eaten without salt, so this simple virtue may be adorned with the glory and honor of different virtues, but if a man lack the love of God and of his neighbor, he is wholly worthless and contemptible” — St. Ephrem the Deacon. The website Canon 212 strove mightily…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I asked my parish priest if one can be a conscientious objector with respect to paying taxes when your government uses your money for things antithetical to your belief system, such as giving money to Planned Parenthood. Before he gave me what I thought was a good answer, he wanted to know if I had gone to a Jesuit…Continue Reading

The Barbarians Have Won

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Deacon Toner has contributed numerous columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, and The Wanderer. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. This is a two-part article. Part one appeared in last week’s issue.) IV. The Church has long taught lex orandi, lex credendi (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,…Continue Reading

God’s Greatest Gift To Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR C) Readings: Gen. 14:18-20 1 Cor. 11:23-26 Luke 9:11b-17 The Holy Eucharist is the greatest gift and the greatest treasure we possess on Earth. God has given us many great gifts, but the Eucharist is God Himself! It is such a marvelous mystery that the whole universe cannot contain God, but…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Anchieta

By CAROLE BRESLIN At the delta of the Benevente River on the coast of Brazil lies the city of Anchieta. With a population of 30,000, it is about 200 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Famous for its long sandy beaches, Anchieta houses the Espirito Santo state government offices which overlook the Atlantic Ocean. More than four centuries old, this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marcellin Joseph Benedict Champagnat

By CAROLE BRESLIN The end of the 18th century in France was a time of persecution for the Catholic Church with many priests and religious driven from convents and rectories, and others put to death. As more and more priests were martyred, the Church searched for good young men to replace them. In the history of the Church, there have…Continue Reading