Tag Archives: college

Three Rules for Living a Good Life: A Game Plan for After Graduation

Lou Holtz
Ave Maria Press, 96 pages

 

If you’ve heard Lou Holtz speak at a public event anytime in the last couple of decades, you’ll recognize some of the entertaining stories and anecdotes he tells in his brief but highly engaging book. His stories and lessons work because they’re timeless; and although addressed to new college graduates, his advice provides sheer wisdom for us all — not just about faith, but how to apply it. “If you truly want to be happy for a lifetime,” Holtz writes, “put your faith in Jesus Christ.” Give it as a gift to a grad, or keep it by your beside for inspiration… and a good chuckle.

 

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Entrust kids to schools teaching ultimate Truth, moral law

Parents, as the first educators of their child and participating in the selection of an institution of higher education, are faced with challenges that perhaps their own parents had not faced: Will their teenager embrace the truths of the Church after their college experience? Historically, if a young person selected a Catholic college parents felt confident they would be supporting an educational experience supportive of Church teaching. Current anecdotal evidence suggests this may not always remain the case. Numerous mandates interfere with Catholic higher education’s unique role in preparing graduates to respond to the escalating moral questions of the day. These mandates may be from regulatory agencies, policies concerning academic freedom, legal claims labeling natural moral law as intolerant and discriminatory, and most impactfully, the demands of politically correct cultural relativism.

Catholic higher education has a unique role that extends beyond the education of the next generation. During Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 address to Catholic educators in the United States, he indicated how education plays a unique role in shaping a society respectful of natural moral law based on ultimate truths: “The Church’s primary mission of evangelization, in which educational institutions play a crucial role, is consonant with a nation’s fundamental aspiration to develop a society truly worthy of the human person’s dignity. … The Church’s mission, in fact, involves her in humanity’s struggle to arrive at truth. In articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should serve as the basis of praxis.” [Benedict XVI, Address to Catholic Educators (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, April 17, 2008).]

The most effective method of fulfilling this mission is by preparing graduates capable of shaping a society that respects natural moral law. However, society has become hostile, not only to the ultimate truths of natural moral law, but also to those who espouse them. Catholic colleges may find it financially and socially expedient to deemphasize such a mission. In so doing, students may be cheated of an education in ultimate truths consistent with reason, vital to the holistic development of the human person. The question remains: What is a parent, in assisting a college-seeking child, to do?

There are indicators of a Catholic institution’s willingness to fulfill its unique role. These include: the nature of institutional sponsorship; the composition of the institution’s board of directors and their membership in organizations which publicly advocate for positions inconsistent with Church teaching; the public positions taken by board members, the administration, and the faculty; the sources of institutional funding; the nature and number of mandated core courses in religious studies and philosophy; and the institution’s collaborative relationships with other agencies in meeting the educational needs of students. One very telling indicator is how the institution describes itself and its mission in promotional materials. Is its mission defined solely in terms of secular goals or in terms of the foundational goal of enabling students to discern ultimate truths consistent with natural moral law? Perhaps, most importantly, does the institution identify itself as Catholic, or merely as value or faith-based?

Catholic institutions of higher education have remained critical to the scientific, socio-cultural, and moral development of this nation. If parents, with their college-seeking children, are comfortable with what they have learned when assessing these parameters, they have a basis for entrusting the next generation to Catholic higher education.

 

DR. MARIE HILLIARD, MS, MA, JCL, PH.D., RN, is Senior Fellow at The National Catholic Bioethics Center. She has an extensive background in nursing, medical ethics, and public policy (former Director of the CT Catholic Conference). She is a canon lawyer, co-chairs the Ethics Committee of the Catholic Medical Association, is president of the National Association of Catholic Nurses USA, and is a Colonel (Ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, where she served as RN for over 20 years. Having published extensively, she has likewise won Catholic Press Association award recognition.

Real Catholic education yields a Truth-seeking thinker

I was a history major in college. One of my history professors loved to tell us that our job as students was to be our own historians. He meant we should not simply read a history book and then believe we understood the topic, without further exploration of what we had read. We should study other books on the same topic and compare what the different authors put forth as explanations. In short, we were to become informed, independent thinkers who made critical judgments of the ways facts were chronicled and evaluated. Just because something is in a book does not make it true. It may be true, or partially true, or totally false. It is up to each student/historian to exert the effort to discover what is reliable, accurate, and reasonable, against what is mere conjecture or outright falsehood.

The professor’s advice applies to more than just studying history. University students should realize that much of what they’ll be taught needs to be analyzed and considered in the light of other facts and approaches. They need to be aware that in many fields of knowledge there is enormous pressure to conform to one set of ideas that reflect the modern secularist outlook. That outlook rejects the notions of eternal truths and natural moral laws. Instead students are confronted with subjectivism. Robert Cardinal Sarah describes this problem in his book God or Nothing: “Subjectivism is one of the most significant traits of our time. Feelings and personal desires are the only norm. Often modern man regards traditional values as archaeological artifacts.” Thus a college student will be told that the reason he should agree with (or at least not criticize) a blatantly immoral lifestyle is that everyone gets to decide what is right or wrong for himself. Making a judgment that certain ways of thinking or acting are wrong and harmful is treated as a violent intellectual assault on someone else’s unquestionable right to do whatever he wants, free from any criticism or disapproval.

Cardinal Sarah continues: “Since the social revolution in the sixties and seventies, it has been common practice to pit individual liberty against authority. Within this context, even among the faithful, it may seem that personal experience becomes more important than the rules established by the Church. If the individual is the central point of reference, everyone can interpret the Church’s message in his own way, adapting it to his own ideas.”

To be a faithful Catholic, especially in today’s university setting, a student must be aware that being a truth-seeking thinker means treating Christ’s doctrine as the basis upon which to judge everything else. Going along with fashionable trends and drinking in politically correct relativism that admits no other way of thinking is a sure formula for drifting away from the Church’s teaching and demands of the Gospel. Going along to get along can easily lead one down the road to denying certain teachings of the Church in the illusory pursuit of showing love and respect to people who reject those teachings. True love and respect for others involves sharing with them the liberating truths of the Gospel as taught by the Church. If they refuse to hear you, you at least have made the effort to help them. They have had the perhaps unusual experience that someone out there does stand firm when the world wants him to be silent and capitulate to the coercive worldview of relativism.

My history professor was a wise man. Being your own historian is a good way to approach the rest of life. For the Catholic student, it means looking at everything we encounter with the mind of Christ and not caving into the demands of a relativistic spirit in which there is no truth, only opinions.

 

FATHER GERALD MURRAY is pastor of Holy Family Church, New York, NY. He holds a Doctorate in Canon Law from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and appears as commentator on religious topics on TV and radio, including EWTN, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, NY1, Radio Maria, Relevant Radio, Fox News Radio, and the Voice of America. He writes a monthly column for The Catholic Thing website. He served in US Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps from 1994 to 2005.

When the state exposes Catholic identity concerns

Faithful Catholics are rightfully concerned about how some Catholic colleges and universities have rejected their Catholic identities because so few Catholic college leaders have implemented Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope St. John Paul II’s vision for authentic Catholic higher education.

Anne Hendershott

Anne Hendershott

Now, the federal government, through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has stepped into the void. In a series of rulings that might have been more appropriate coming from bishops, the NLRB has pronounced that a number of Catholic colleges are eligible for unionization because they have “clearly demonstrated that they are not providing a religious educational environment.” Not surprisingly, it has ruled in nearly every case that “the Catholic mission plays no part in the hiring and evaluation of the faculty.”

The NLRB’s new test assessing faculty support for the Catholic mission emerged as a way to circumvent the 1979 Supreme Court case, NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago. The case denied jurisdiction over lay teachers at a Church-operated school because, the justices ruled, such interference would create a “significant risk” of violating the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses.

Today, faculty contributions to the Catholic mission cannot be assumed. Beyond a few dozen faithful Catholic colleges and universities, the NLRB knows that most Catholic colleges qualify for unionization because these institutions cannot demonstrate that the faculty are actually expected to uphold and advance Catholic teachings.

In 2015, the NLRB issued a “Certification of Representation” allowing adjunct professors and lecturers at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Earlier that same year, adjunct faculty at St. Michael’s College of Vermont voted in favor of joining the SEIU, and the NLRB ordered its regional officials to reconsider labor disputes involving employees at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., St. Xavier University Chicago, and Seattle University. School leaders had attempted to block unionization, claiming that such efforts posed a threat to their schools’ religious character.

Sadly, some had already sacrificed their religious character. It’s difficult for St. Mary’s to claim that its faculty supports Catholic teachings when the school has honored abortion proponents like Amy Richards, who visited the Catholic campus to positively proclaim her decision to “selectively reduce” two of her three unborn children.

Manhattan College is also an easy target for the NLRB. Religious studies professor Judith Plaskow published a book arguing that “heterosexism is the fundamentally religious endorsed form of oppression.” Two of Seattle University’s philosophy professors published A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion, in which they argue that performing an abortion on a non-sentient fetus is like removing plant life.”

In each of these cases, the NLRB has judged that the institutions had distanced themselves so far from the authority and teaching of the Catholic Church that they no longer merited government recognition as religious institutions.

Still, there is reason for optimism as earlier this year, Carroll College in Helena, Mont., became the first Catholic college to convince the NLRB that the school “has always been and will continue to embrace and be guided by our mission.” Pointing to the faculty handbook which clearly states that a faculty member can be fired for “continued serious disrespect or disregard for the Catholic character or mission of the College,” the NLRB noted that it would “decline jurisdiction as long as the university’s public representations make it clear that faculty members are subject to employment-related decisions that are based on religious considerations.”

The SEIU is now helping to organize faculty at Loyola University of Chicago. Loyola’s interim president John Pelissero told the faculty that the SEIU was “not consistent with our deeply rooted Catholic intellectual tradition.” That may be difficult to argue as its law school hosts a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice — an organization dedicated to helping to produce a new generation of abortion advocates.

Father Dennis Holtschneier, president of DePaul University (which also hosts a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice), recently wrote: “Ultimately, the freedom to determine what is or is not religious activity inside our Church is at stake.” Perhaps it’s time for all faithful Catholics to reclaim the role that the state has attempted to assume in ensuring that Catholic colleges and universities protect what Pope Francis has called the “uncompromising witness” to the Church’s magisterial teachings.

ANNE HENDERSHOTT is an author, a professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

How to help your children keep the faith in college

MONSIGNOR MICHAEL BILLIAN: Mother Teresa’s simple advice is gold for youth . . .

Monsignor Michael Billian

Monsignor Michael Billian

I recently heard a story about a businessman who had lost his sense of interior joy. He was struggling to find meaning in his life. Work had taken over, and he was constantly jet-setting from city to city on business, taking precious time from his family and parish life.

On one business trip, he found himself sitting next to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He couldn’t believe the opportunity! He was quite nervous, but he was sure that if he could get up enough courage to speak to her, she could help him through his spiritual crisis.

Not knowing how to start the conversation, he decided bluntly to ask, “How do I find joy in my life?” Mother said you have to have joy. He interrupted, thinking she didn’t understand the question, “Yes, but that is what I need to find — joy.”

Kindly, she continued, “You must make J.O.Y. your priority in this order — Jesus, Others and You — and only this order. Then you will find the spiritual joy you are looking for and the joy God wants for you.”

As Legates we must all keep this priority order for ourselves and offer this lesson to others by our words and actions — especially to your children and grandchildren as they go off to college.

I’m often asked by parents and grandparents how they can help their children or grandchildren stay close to the Church and the faith while they’re in college. Since I am a university parish pastor now and spent the first 15 years of my priesthood working in Catholic high schools, I have a unique perspective on the important transition from high school to college.

Heeding the advice of Blessed Teresa on the priorities of life regarding J.O.Y. is a good foundation for forming and talking to young people about life as they move into college. When it comes to putting this into practice on a college campus, here are some practical steps to faithfulness you can share with the young adults in your life:

Pray daily and go to Mass. One sure way to keep the faith in college is to stay in communication with God through both private prayer and community prayer, especially the Mass. Even if you only spend five or 10 minutes daily in prayer, it will be a great help. Remember always to allow God to speak to you during this time. That means you shouldn’t do all the talking; allow God to speak to you during quiet prayer. As nice as this private time with God is, He touches us most profoundly through the community. Jesus promised not to leave us alone but to form us into the family of God, the Body of Christ. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to celebrating Sunday Mass each week so that we can hear the Word of God proclaimed within the community of the Church and participate in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our lives.

Join a Catholic campus group. Campuses across the country have FOCUS, Newman Clubs, or Catholic student associations. These groups offer the opportunity to meet fellow Catholics who share your values and are interested in growing in their faith while enjoying the exciting years of college. They often offer the opportunities for retreats, educational programs, prayer experiences and great social events.

Get involved in Christian service. Sharing your gifts and talents with the under-served is a great way of actively answering God’s call to care for your brothers and sisters. By participating in these service opportunities, remember that you do this in answer to Jesus’ call — and not just to be a good humanitarian. While the work is always good, the reason we do the work can raise us to a higher level. It’s also good to spend some time reflecting on the service you do, remembering that you’re answering God when you do this work.

Avoid the temptation of pure independence. You’ll not only have time on your hands, but also have the opportunity to make your own decisions about the time you have. This newfound freedom can be a challenge. It’s easy to embrace independence without realizing that it can be a big temptation to turn away from God and the values that are at the foundation of your life. It’s important to live your new freedom with the support of a good faith life.

By keeping the priorities of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s advice in mind — and following a few practical steps — college students will always enjoy the embrace of God in the Church.

MONSIGNOR MICHAEL BILIAN is the chaplain of Legatus’ Genesis Chapter and pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Toledo, Ohio.