Month: January 2010

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

Dr. Ralph McInerny died on Friday, at the age of 80. Zenit reports:

Ralph McInerny was a professor of philosophy and the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He held degrees from St. Paul Seminary, University of Minnesota and Laval University, and had taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1955. He directed the Jacques Maritain Center from 1979 to 2006.

He was an acknowledged expert on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and a prolific author. He penned over two dozen scholarly books, many more scholarly essays, and over 80 novels.

He wrote the popular book series Father Dowling Mysteries, which became a successful television program starring Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson. …

In 1982, he co-founded Crisis Magazine with Michael Novak. The publication is now known as InsideCatholic.

In 2006, he published his autobiography titled I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life And Pastimes.

Perhaps it is fitting, that he should pass one day after the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

January 28th, is the feast day St. Thomas Aquinas, my chosen saint as a convert. (It was a toss-up between Thomas the philosopher-theologian and Thomas Merton, the not-quite-saintly Trappist — both exercising an influence on my journey to Rome).

Here is a favorite prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas — for a holy life. It was said that he prayed this every day before the image of Christ:

Grant me, O merciful God, that what is pleasing to Thee I may ardently desire, prudently examine, truthfully acknowledge, and perfectly accomplish for the praise and glory of Thy name.

Ordain, O my God, my whole life, and what Thou requirest that I should do, grant me to know it and to fulfill as is meet and profitable to my soul.

Give me Thy grace, O Lord my God, that I may not fail in prosperity or in adversity, avoiding pride in the former and discouragement in the latter.

May I rejoice in nothing but what leads to Thee, grieve for nothing but what turns away from Thee. May I wish to please or displease n one but Thee.

May I despise, O Lord, all transitory things, and prize only that which is eternal. May I shun ant joy that is without Thee, nor wish for anything outside of Thee.

May I delight in any work taken up for Thee, and tire of any rest which is without Thee. Grant me, O my God, to direct my heart toward Thee, and in my failings constantly grieve, with the purpose of a amendment.

Make me, O Lord, my God, obedient without contradiction, poor without depression, chaste without corruption patient without murmuring, humble without pretence, cheerful without dissipation, mature without dullness, prompt without levity, fearing Thee without despair, truthful without duplicity, doing good without presumption, correcting my neighbor without haughtiness, and edifying him by word and example without hypocrisy.

Give me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no curious thought will turn away from Thee; a noble heart, which no unworthy affection will drag down; a righteous heart, which no irregular intention will twist aside; a firm heart, which no tribulation will break; a free heart, which no violent affection will claim for itself.

Grant me finally, O Lord my God, science in knowing Thee, diligence in seeking Thee, wisdom in finding Thee, a conduct pleasing to Thee, a perseverance trustfully awaiting Thee, and a confidence finally embracing Thee. May I endure Thy punishments by penitence; profit by Thy benefits by grace in this world, and enjoy Thy blessedness by glory in the next; Who livest and reignest, true God, forever and ever. Amen

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St. Thomas Aquinas Online

Readings and studies of St. Thomas Aquinas

My very first introduction to The Doctor was by Peter Kreeft’s A Summa of the Summa, by way of my dad, featuring a broad selection of his philosophical work along with Kreeft’s commentary.

A few years ago I did a poll/post on introductions and studies of St. Thomas Aquinas for beginners or newcomers (and delving into the Summa from time to time is a good reminder that I’m exactly that). Here are some recommendations that were offered on my blog and elsewhere:

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The Great Catholic Blog Torture Debate resumes …

And while, for the record, I believe waterboarding is among the many wrongs commited by the Bush administration, and that other oft-cited incidents of detainee abuse (particuarly those resulting in death) should be investigated, and their perpetrators — if guilty — prosecuted, I concur with Jay Anderson:

… I am reluctant to join anything billing itself as the “Coalition for Clarity” for a number of reasons: (1) I am uncomfortable with the whole “Coalition for Fog“/”Coalition for Charity” dicotomy since I have faithful Catholic friends (Shea would label them “Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM]”) who oppose torture, yet who have been unfairly accused of being for “fog” in the torture debates; (2) I’m not so sure that “clarity” is actually being sought, but rather see the effort as something more along the lines of “we’re not like the the people who Shea has labeled as being ‘for fog'”; and (3) nothing about the name overtly or otherwise indicates exactly what it is the group stands for.

So, I beg your indulgence while I offer this humble suggestion. How about you drop the cute euphemism, which is really nothing more than a play on Mark’s overly theatrical name calling, and adopt a straightforward name that says what you REALLY mean and what you REALLY stand for? Something like … I don’t know … “Catholics Against Torture”?

Lastly, my opinion of Mark Shea remains the same as it was last year, around this time (when, curiously enough, I found myself blogging on this same topic):

… that any legitimate disagreements with the Bush administration that could be mounted are obfuscated by his tendency to play fast and loose with the facts; imbue dubious motives to his critics, and substitute the virtual equivalent of sheer playground bullying for civil, rational and charitable debate — which has, over the course of the past three years, alienated a number of erstwhile friends and readers within the Catholic online community who would have otherwise supported him.

That Shea is credited as both the inspiration for, and a participant of, ‘The Coalition for Clarity‘ gives me a bad impression. Chalk it up to past history. (At the same time, I’m always open to surprises).

(Prior posts on the subject are compiled here).

"a sad infidelity to America’s highest ideals"

[N]o one in the world who prizes liberty and human rights can feel anything but a strong kinship with America. Yours is the one great nation in all of history that was founded on the precept of equal rights and respect for all humankind, for the poorest and weakest of us as well as the richest and strongest.

As your Declaration of Independence put it, in words that have never lost their power to stir the heart: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” A nation founded on these principles holds a sacred trust: to stand as an example to the rest of the world, to climb ever higher in its practical realization of the ideals of human dignity, brotherhood, and mutual respect. Your constant efforts in fulfillment of that mission, far more that your size or your wealth or your military might, have made America an inspiration to all mankind.

It must be recognized that your model was never one of realized perfection, but of ceaseless aspiration. From the outset, for example, America denied the African slave his freedom and human dignity. But in time you righted that wrong, albeit at an incalculable cost in human suffering and loss of life.

Your impetus has almost always been toward a fuller, more all embracing conception and assurance of the rights that your founding fathers recognized as inherent and God-given.
Yours has ever been an inclusive, not an exclusive, society. And your steps, though they may have paused or faltered now and then, have been pointed in the right direction and have trod the right path. The task has not always been an easy one, and each new generation has faced its own challenges and temptations. But in a uniquely courageous and inspiring way, America has
kept faith.

Yet there has been one infinitely tragic and destructive departure from those American ideals in recent memory. It was this Court’s own decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) to exclude the unborn child from the human family. You ruled that a mother, in consultation with her doctor, has broad discretion, guaranteed against infringement by the United States Constitution, to choose to destroy her unborn child.

Your opinion stated that you did not need to “resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” That question is inescapable. If the right to life in an inherent and inalienable right, it must surely exist wherever life exists. No one can deny that the unborn child is a distinct being, that it is human, and that it is alive. It is unjust, therefore, to deprive the unborn child of its fundamental right to life on the basis of its age, size, or condition of dependency.

It was a sad infidelity to America’s highest ideals when this Court said that it did not matter, or could not be determined, when the inalienable right to life began for a child in its mother’s womb.

Mother Theresa, Letter to the US Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade (February 1994)