Saturday, January 31, 2015

"A new teaching with authority"

I am afraid that I am getting myself get worked up about the completely inadequate (and sometimes extremely misguided) response of Vanderbilt University to the rape case that happened on its campus. It seems to me mainly to be an effort by Vanderbilt to keep itself free from criminal and civil liability and not much more than that. It is all superficial, bureaucratic window dressing.

Here are a few concrete things that Vanderbilt could do if it were serious about keeping its students safe:
1. Eliminate co-ed dorms
2. Eliminate unrestricted dorm visitation
3. Ban alcohol use and possession on campus
4. Enforce public drunkenness laws
5. Forbid sexual activity on campus
6. Restrict access to pornography on campus internet
Some of these might sound puritanical, but their purpose would be to create a safe space by showing the expectation of humane communal living in concrete reality. I could imagine a family having such rules. If you want to pursue activities outside of these limits, you do so elsewhere. Here we will take the steps necessary for students to be safe from violation on their own campus.

Here are a number of deeper, spiritual responses:
1. Acknowledge and explore the gift of sexual identity -- bodies matter
2. Acknowledge and explore the dignity and purpose of sexuality -- sex matters
3. Promote the disciplines of sexual self-mastery
4. Promote the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude
5. Care and nurture over competition and utility in relationships -- all relationships

As a note, I think that these are all things, both the practical and the spiritual, that Belmont University -- my other campus -- explicitly affirms.

I want to give a specific example of what I am talking about. One of our students attended the first night of the Love and Responsibility study. It was his 21st birthday. His girlfriend was in a class or otherwise committed. He is an officer in an organization that asks its officers to refrain from alcohol use. And so he was at Frassati House talking about virtuous friendships, being ribbed a bit by other students. But that is where he was, and he seemed happy to me! I doubt he regretted the evening.

Friday, January 30, 2015

JPII, we love you!

The Love and Responsibility study began last night at Frassati House with a fantastic first session. 50+ students were there from three campuses, that I know of. What a contrast to this event happening on Vanderbilt's campus. Yikes!

We teach children how to eat, don't we? Otherwise, they would get to college feeding like animals. So why not teach the important stuff, like what was talked about last night: virtuous friendship? We don't teach our young how to be authentically human in relation to each other. No wonder there is sexual assault and everything else going on on campus.

Thank you, St. John Paul II for seeing this need and responding with Love and Responsibility and The Theology of the Body. And thank you to Caroline Duffy, Peter Bryant, and Eric Bishop for bringing it home to us!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just in time...

UCat presents the Love and Responsibility study. It starts tomorrow evening!

Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions, not primarily legal or administrative ones.

You see, the virtue of chastity is the good news of the Gospel. A lot better than what is in the newspaper.

Here is a great read along these lines.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I can't help myself

The Nashville paper is full of coverage of "the Vanderbilt rape case," the details of which are not important here. This coverage has prompted even more than usual talk about how to deal with sexual assault on campus. I have the answer: virtues.

How about these for starters: prudence, temperance, chastity, and fortitude?

Prudence in knowing right from wrong. Prudence in choosing the good. Prudence in avoiding situations of temptation and danger.

Temperance in the use of alcohol.

Chastity in reserving sexual contact for marriage. Chastity long before this in avoiding pornography.

Fortitude in confronting evil.

If you would apply these virtues to the concerns raised about sexual assault, I think that you would agree that they would be far more effective in bringing about a just and safe solution than those being put forward. The benefit of virtues over such programs as green dots or instruction in when no means no is that virtues are universal. They apply all the time, everywhere, to everyone. No guessing.

And finally, let me add another: charity. Charity in always seeking the good of the other.

I think that would take care of it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home again!

We made it home early - well before 5 a.m. so no problem with getting to Mass at St. Mary's by 9 ;-)
We had the best bus driver ever. He could not do enough for us. A big thank you to James!

We also had a wonderful time on the bus, after stopping at Chick-fil-a for supper, to discuss the whole trip but especially to continue the panel discussion from the Cardinal O'Connor Conference. My sister, Sr. Margaret Andrew, O.P., was able to be with us for the day at Georgetown. She expressed some dissatisfaction with the way the conference had ended, and I agree with her. Instead of following up on the prompts of Cardinal O'Malley from the keynote in the morning to commit to a civilization of love, we basically went back into discussion of how to tweak the status quo. I threw this out to the students on the bus, and they really ran with it. I am so proud of them. 

My big dream is to get so many more students to go next year. It should be easier as the March is on Friday so please start praying for that!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I want to be honest about our March for Life trip. It has been amazing! But it also needs financial help! I think that it is very important to show the students of a secular university that the pro-life point of view is intelligent, faithful, charitable, and young. I can't think of any better way to show this than to bring as many as I can to the March for Life and related events. The Vigil Mass is one of the truest experiences of pilgrimage that I know, and the Cardinal O'Connor Conference has real intellectual fire power. It means that I decided to come to the March even in a year when it falls in the middle of the week and requires the students to miss classes. Not surprisingly, few were able to do so this year. Our group is mainly made up of seniors, who are less worried about such things! The smaller numbers means that our per student cost has gone up this year. I simply cannot ask the students to pay what the pilgrimage actually costs.

If you like what you see about the March and about University Catholic, please help us out! There is not a "donate" button on the blog, but there is at the web site, or send a check to University Catholic, 2004 Terrace Pl., Nashville, TN 37203.

The students and staff of UCat make us look so professional that it leaves the impression that we are financially well heeled. Do not be deceived! It is a wonderful case of genteel poverty!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Still Marching!

I am in Washington for the March for Life. Our group left at midnight on Wednesday morning to be able to get to the National Shrine in time to get seats for the Vigil Mass for the March. We got there by noon and did get good seats. That left several hours for prayer and seeing the Shrine! As I  am sure that I have mentioned before, this Mass is truly impressive. Every inch of the Shrine is packed with people, mainly young people. The procession of seminarians, deacons, priests, and bishops lasts literally 45 minutes. Cardinal O'Malley was the principal celebrant and homilist. Here is his homily that was spot on (even with my being dozy during it).

Yesterday was the March with the best weather I have ever experienced for the March. It is so impressive, but there are always those jarring moments. Because of our University Catholic banner, we were yelled at for being Modernists! (If he only knew...) I had to explain to the students what that meant.

We are staying over to Saturday for the Cardinal O'Connor Conference put on by students at Georgetown for other college students in town for the march. We will get to hear Cardinal O'Malley again as the keynote, as well as many other great speakers. And then through the night back home in time for Mass on Sunday...I hope! Please pray for that -- really!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Greeks and Romans

One of my least realistic ambitions as a college chaplain is to encourage a revolt against the immoral status quo of Greek life at Vanderbilt by Catholic fraternity and sorority members. I know that it is a lot to ask. I am considering this topic after being asked a moral question about a chapter activity by a Greek member. Here is part of what I wrote as an answer but did not send: 

"I wish that you and other members of Greek organizations who are committed Catholics and Christians would really try to change the status quo. If Catholics and other Christians are just going to go along with the bad stuff in Greek life -- maybe separating themselves from it personally but not making a change in the system -- then why be there? 

OK sorry for venting, but I really believe this is important. The only reason to stay in a system that has so many bad elements as Greek life does is to work to change it. I have no doubt about your personal integrity and many others in Greek life, but fraternities and sororities are the source of so much entitlement and bad behavior on campus."

I deleted this part, but I did ask for a chance to talk about bigger issues after answering the specific question.


Thursday, January 8, 2015


I knew it!

There was one of those silly quizzes that popped up on something I was looking at on the internet. It was supposed to tell you what state you really belong in. I couldn't resist. When I finished it, guess what it said? I really belong in Texas. Now maybe that is what it tells everyone, but it does confirm my strong fondness for the Lone Star State.

I have long said that if I were not a Tennesseean, then I would have to be from Texas. I think my affinity for Texas actually confirms my even stronger ties to Tennessee. You see, Tennesseeans have been attracted to Texas for a long time: GTT -- Gone to Texas! -- has been heard in Tennessee at least since the days of Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. There were actually more Tennesseans at the Alamo than Texans.

Anyhow, it has me looking forward to my retreat this year deep in the heart of Texas!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Where's the press?

Secular, Catholic, or bloggers? Or are 10,000 Catholic college students gathered in Nashville for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) SEEK 2015 Conference not news?

Anyhow, it is impressive. Go see for yourself!

UCat Dominicans -- not the one in the middle!

Newly named Br. Cyprian and newly professed Br. Pachomius, O.P. at St. Gertrude's, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 15, 2017

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