Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More on Notre Dame

I have always felt an affinity for Notre Dame University. Granted, being a Catholic, I can relate to a Catholic college, but my attachment began with the novels of Ralph McInerny, who still is a philosophy professor at Notre Dame. He heads up the Jacques Mauritain Center and has been teaching for 54 years as well as writing copious books. McInerny wrote the Father Dowling mystery series, something he began early in his teaching career to supplement his income as his family kept growing. He has six children and sixteen grandchildren.

Ralph McInerny's writings include about 67 books as well as numerous articles in Catholic magazines, and he's received a number of honorary degrees from Catholic colleges as well as the St. Thomas Aquinas medal from the American Catholic Philosophical Foundation. His first book was published in 1967, and his fictional writings include the now famous Father Dowling series, as well as the Andrew Broome mysteries. Father Dowling was made into a series on TV. Ralph McInerny has received the Achievement Award for his work from Boucheron of America.

67 books! and I thought I had read most of Ralph's novels. I have exhausted our local library's supply which actually was quite extensive. They are not easy to find in regular bookstores as McInerny sets his novels in a Catholic genre, and if you are not familiar with that, you will feel a little dislocated. One of his early novels, The Priest, is one of my favourites. Written in 1973, in the wake of the changes wrought upon the Church by Vatican II, I found it to be an extremely realistic portrayal of what life was like in the church then. I had been a teenager in the 60's, when Vatican II was going on, and I became awake to my faith in 1967, just when it was in full upheaval. I remember the altars being turned to face the congregation, the Mass now said in English not in Latin, the lack of emphasis on receiving the Sacraments, especially the sacrament of Confession, and the general death of reverence in the church. It was the era of folk masses, of the kiss of peace, of having masses in homes with baked bread rather than the conventional hosts. Something terribly important was being lost during that time, and I could feel it.

In its place was the warm fuzzies, kind of like having New Age in the Catholic Church. So many people became confused, not knowing the difference between right and wrong, being told that "love covered a multitude of sins", and from that extrapolating that love meant sexual relationships. Everyone around me was jumping into bed with each other, and seeing no problem with that and keeping a moral code. The restrictions flew out the window.

Some of my friends did penetrate deeper into their faith at that time, but many simply fell by the wayside, for lack of good counsel. The priests were confused and unable to give direction to anyone, as they were drifting away from the essentials themselves.

McInerny's book The Priest captures the spirit of the age, and what a sad age it was. I would not wish to live through that again and I would never wish it upon anyone else. In it, McInerny touches the sadness that was pervading people's lives as their moral compass was being removed; the young priest in the book seems to grasp both sides of the problem, but in the end he too is won over by the spirit of the age. We are left with some glimmer of hope that he redeems himself however.

If you enjoy a good story, and most of them are mysteries, plus you like your fiction with a dose of moral deliberation, give them a try. There are so many to choose from. But you may have to purchase them used from Amazon, as many are not in print any longer, and regular bookstores won't have McInerny on their popular author lists.

In light of the upcoming commencement exercises at Notre Dame, at which pro-abortion President Obama is the invited speaker, it is worth reading what a long-time faculty has to say about it. I, for one, value everything that Ralph McInerny has to say.

Is Obama Worth a Mass? by Ralph McInerny

Bernie Madoff has declined an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Notre Dame, but all is not lost. Barack Hussein Obama, enabler in chief of abortion, has agreed to speak at the 2009 commencement and to receive an honorary doctorate of law. That abortion and its advocacy violate a primary precept of natural law reinforced by the Catholic Church’s explicit doctrine is a mere bagatelle. Wackos of all kinds will kick up a fuss, of course, but their protest will go unnoticed in South Bend. The pell-mell pursuit of warm and fuzzy Catholicism will continue. How better to defend the faith than to celebrate a man who advocates polishing off babies even after they are born? The newly created Herod Award will be added to the university’s recognition of the chief magistrate. Administrators are hugging themselves with delight at this massive publicity coup. The national championship in football has eluded Notre Dame for many years, but when the president dribbles onto the stage at the great event, the hall will erupt in ecstatic applause; the president, Father Jenkins, will wring his hand; and a final nail will be driven into the coffin of a once-great Catholic university. No one will note nor long remember what Barack Obama says on the occasion. Who listens to commencement addresses? But the Lady atop the golden dome, recalling the flight into Egypt, will exhibit one of her many titles: She who weeps.
-Ralph McInerny


Elena said...

I've been wondering what he had to say on the topic. Thank you.

Colleen said...

Thank you for this. He put it so well.