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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

1994, St. Dominic of Silos' Chant and JPII

It is hard to believe that in 1994 when the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos released an album of Gregorian chant, my little league baseball coach played it for us.  He was a former bull-pen catcher for the Boston Red Sox and truly reached heroic status for our team (hitting homers from both sides of the plate @ 350 yards!).  When he started playing chant though, we were a bit skeptical...until we started hearing it everywhere.  St. John Paul II had been Pope for nearly 16 years!

I still love this chant, and had memorized the whole album by the time I was 12.

St. Dominic de Silos, ora pro nobis! (memorial 12/20) 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thatcher and JPII

Recorded history attests to a cross-continental alliance between Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.  After all, she celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall: but to her dismay, the Euro, the Maastricht treaty (EU) and political integration followed.  Recent events with Brexit, however, may prove to be her last laugh!

Margaret Thatcher was raised in the Methodist tradition in rural England.  John O’Sullivan calls her, “the incarnation of provincial Methodist virtues—a very simple person, not riven by doubt about essentials, and decisive for that reason.” (ibid)  She was decisive about a few principles that appear in the Pope’s Centesimus Annus: subsidiarity and moral free-market capitalism.  These two Catholic social teachings unconsciously informed her worldview, although she may have called them simply “Euro-skepticism”.  As I mentioned, the EU formed soon after Thatcher’s resignation, but her legacy continues even to the present day, as seen in the British patriotism of Daniel Hannan .   

But for a British Prime Minister to align herself with the Bishop of Rome in the Cold War is truly an irony of history as well.  Certainly Elizabeth the 1st would not have made such an alliance.  Yet, Thatcher and the Pope were not necessarily aligned afterward as best indicated by the dispute over the Falklands.  The Pope openly opposed her aggression in that regard.  For this and other reasons of sheer stubbornness, she was known as the “Iron Lady Thatcher”.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The "Banker" turned Undertaker St. Callistus

Along the lines of St. Matthew and T.S. Eliot, Today’s St. Callistus the 1st was a repentant banker.  Early on in his life, he squandered the entrusted funds of widows in Rome. 

Sent to the mines to do hard labor, Callistus later encountered the mercy of Christ in his exile and was released on account of his own confession of faith.  As proof of his repentance, he took charge of a cemetery in Rome, which was posthumously named the Catacombs of St. Callistus. 

JPII says of the place:

«I am conscious of the important historical and spiritual significance of these monuments» John Paul II said in a recent address to the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. «By visiting these monuments, one comes into contact with the evocative traces of early Christianity, and one can, so to speak, tangibly sense the faith that motivated these ancient Christian communities... How can we fail to be moved by the humble but eloquent traces of these first witnesses to the faith?». Then considering the goals of the Year 2000, the Pope concluded: «Today attention is focused on the historic event of the Great Jubilee, when the Roman catacombs will again become a favourite place of prayer and pilgrimage... Together with the great Roman basilicas, the catacombs should be a necessary destination for the Holy Year pilgrims».[1]       

From squandering money at the bank for widows to his conversion as an undertaker, St. Callistus could have been remembered merely for the events of his early life.  But he actually was elected Pope in the 3rd Century AD!  Then he was martyred in Rome, not far from where he had been a banker years before.

[1] http://www.vatican.va//jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-70_en.html#top

Monday, October 10, 2016

Santa Maria

Coming from Columbus, Ohio I have always admired Christopher Columbus.  There is a beautiful replica of his flagship, Santa Maria, in my hometown and I have boarded it many times for tours, etc.  The Knights of Columbus are named after the Explorer of course and JPII was a staunch advocate of theirs, including in his native Poland.

Rather than try to defend Columbus or the Knights, who are easily defended in the faith, I was impressed a few years ago to see Apocalypto.  This is the story of a native of the new world who was captured and nearly subjected to human sacrifice.  He then escaped, and after finding his family well, views in the distant a ship much like the Santa Maria. 

The question is, were the natives of the New World better off without the Conquistadors like Columbus?  Were they better off with human sacrifice and slavery by dominant tribes?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

T.S. Eliot, St. Matthew, and JPII

On Eliot's Friends

The Ex-patriot poet Eliot worked at Lloyd’s Bank in London from 1917-1925[1].   Upon leaving, he published his more famous Waste Land, but I have come to thoroughly enjoy his Choruses from the Rock.  Especially on this feast of St. Matthew, who was himself called from “el banco” to follow the Word Incarnate, I find Eliot’s story fascinating.   He says in the Rock:

We will build with new timbers/ Where the Word is unspoken[…]/ When the Stranger says: “what is the meaning of this city?/ Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”/ What will you answer? “We all dwell together/ To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?/ Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger./  Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

St. Matthew rose and followed “the Stranger/ the Word”.  Eliot did the same, though in sickness, heartache and feeble attempts at marriage and family life.  He may have known well the words of Jesus: “Those who are well need not the Physician, but the sick do” as his health deteriorated after the death of his father:

Yet the years of Eliot's literary maturation were accompanied by increasing family worries. Eliot's father died in January 1919, producing a paroxysm of guilt in the son who had hoped he would have time to heal the bad feelings caused by his marriage and emigration. At the same time Vivien's emotional and physical health deteriorated, and the financial and emotional strain of her condition took its toll. After an extended visit in the summer of 1921 from his mother and sister Marion, Eliot suffered a nervous collapse and, on his physician's advice, took a three month's rest cure, first on the coast at Margate and then at a sanitarium Russell's friend Lady Ottoline Morell recommended at Lausanne, Switzerland[…] Whether because of the breakdown or the long needed rest it imposed, Eliot broke through a severe writer's block and completed a long poem he had been working on since 1919. Assembled out of dramatic vignettes based on Eliot's London life, The Waste Land's extraordinary intensity stems from a sudden fusing of diverse materials into a rhythmic whole of great skill and daring.[2]

Only after he passed through the Waste Land (1922) did he stumble upon the Rock (1934).  His wife loved his tenure at Lloyd’s, as it was conducive to family life and stability.  He himself spoke highly of it at times, despite pressure from his communist peers to abandon it (esp. Ezra Pound) [2b].  Unlike other radical poets of those days, Eliot had the combination of business and art at his disposal.  However, the time came in what appeared to be a prolonged conversion for Eliot (not to communism!), immediately following his sickness:

A lucky chance allowed him to escape from the demands of his job at the bank. Geoffrey Faber, of the new publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber), saw the advantages of Eliot's dual expertise in business and letters and recruited him as literary editor. At about the same time, Eliot reached out for religious support. Having long found his family's Unitarianism unsatisfying, he turned to the Anglican church. The seeds of his future faith can be found in The Hollow Men, though the poem was read as a sequel to The Waste Land's philosophical despair when it appeared in Poems 1909-1925 (1925). In June 1927 few followers were prepared for Eliot's baptism into the Church of England. And so, within five years of his avant-garde success, Eliot provoked a second storm. The furor grew in November 1927 when Eliot took British citizenship, and again in 1928 when he collected a group of politically conservative essays under the title of For Lancelot Andrewes, prefacing them with a declaration that he considered himself a "classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglo-catholic in religion."[3]

He followed the Word from despair to hope.

Not long after the Rock, Eliot also published a Catholic play based on the life of St. Thomas Becket.  Murder in the Cathedral marked the proof of a profound change of his worldview.  It’s no wonder that these later works of his are not recognized in the secular canon.  But in the life of the Church, they are small memorable and instrumental steps in re-uniting the Anglican to the Catholic Church.  St. John Paul II said of St Thomas Becket:

In making my pilgrimage to the shrine of the martyr, Saint Thomas Becket, I sought to play a part in healing the terrible wounds inflicted on the Body of Christ in the sixteenth century. We prayed together there, Your Grace and I, for that wholeness, that fullness of life in Christ which is God’s gift of unity[…] My pilgrimage to Canterbury was motivated by obedience to the will of Christ our Lord who, on the night before he died prayed “that they all may be one”. Today the divisions among Christians require that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome should also be a primacy in action and initiative in favour of that unity for which Christ so earnestly prayed. I see our celebration of Evening Prayer together as a further moment in that ecumenical pilgrimage that Catholics and Anglicans, together with other Christians, are called to make. Our goal is to discover once more that common inheritance of faith which was shared before the tragic sequence of events which divided Christian Europe four centuries ago.[4]

And again, Eliot and JPII intersect in the person of Emmanuel Mounier whom Eliot featured in his 1937 edition of his periodical The Criterion.  Eliot's French Catholic friend, Montgomery Belgion, introduced Eliot to Mounier:

By the January 1937 number of The Criterion (XVI, 63), a very incisive analysis of the fast-shrinking economic middle way is given once again by Montgomery Belgion in the “French Chronicle.” After observing that “To-day the French Right is as revolutionary as the Left,” Belgion points to a corrective third path, to be found in the work of Emmanuel Mounier. [2c]

And the footnote given for the above quote goes on to say:

In “The Need for Economic Personalism” can be found the major influence that Mounier’s work had on Karol Wojtyla’s development of the tenets that would become personalism: ‘Wojtyla and his Polish colleagues read Mounier with intense interest. In Mounier, they found the first philosophical account of the human intellect and intersubjectivity’ [2d]

I also recommend Wyoming Catholic College’s study of Eliot’s life in the light of Christian hope:

In my own life, I remember being at the bank in Westerville, OH when once a week I began to go to Mass at Mt. Carmel-St. Anne's Hospital.  There, I heard the call of the Divine Physician to fatherhood, and within the next nine months my first son was born at that same Hospital.  I was so familiar with the place, that the doctors thought I was on staff there! 

[1] http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/Our-Group/our-heritage/2015-our-milestone-year/250-years-of-lloyds-bank/did-you-know/
[3] http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/eliot/life.htm
[4] http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1989/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19890930_xxvi-domenica-per-annum.html

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friendship, Chaput and JPII

Update 12/28/16:

It’s been a long while since I took a course in symbolic logic, but I have thoroughly appreciated the method ever since 2005.  It’s an excellent reminder that communicating can be as simple as an equation, whether using a validly deductive method or a validly inductive method. 

Here’s a stab at an ongoing approach to friendship that I put together from Wojtyla’s Love and Responsibility:

ᴲ Sympathy→ ᴲ Conformity of Wills ᵾ (ᴲ Trust & ᴲ Sympathy) → ᴲ Virtue of Hope ᵾ (ᴲ Trust & ᴲ Sympathy)

The key to interpreting the above is as follows:



In summary, the ᴲ’s and ᵾ’s serve as ends in themselves for the qualifiers (means) expressed in concepts like “trust”, etc.  After all, no one would argue that “Trust” is an end, but is rather an aid toward friendship of persons.

Overall, it’s easy to see how particular friendship is with 7 out of 9 ends being ᴲ.  The few absolutes may need some explanation then, seeing as how they could easily be argued as either/or.  When I assign ᵾ to “conformity of wills”, I am referring to what is ideally being conformed to, namely, God’s laws/the natural law in terms of chastity, well informed conscience, etc.  Likewise, when I assign ᵾ to hope, I am referring to the end of hope which is the Lord Himself.
Update 9/5/16:
A few great points by Chaput, differentiating between loyalty and fidelity,

"The root of loyalty is the French word loi (law).  The root of fidelity is the Latin word fides (trust).  Loyalty is ordered to duty and fidelity is ordered to love.  And real love, as every mature adult knows, is both beautiful and demanding." (213).

I find this striking insofar as cuts to the quick of much of Jesus' own critique of his contemporaries.  It also speaks of St. Faustina's image: Jezu ufam tobie.  Loyalty can be done for all the wrong reasons, as in adhering to the illogical conclusions of Roe v. Wade in America.  Fidelity, on the other hand, clings to the trustworthiness of a Person, the Son of God.

This makes all the difference in the world for Wojtyla's approach as well; since without trust, there is no sympathy down the road, and vice versa:
Sympathy→ Conformity of Wills (Trust & Sympathy) → Virtue of Hope (Trust & Sympathy)

A few lessons I've learned from the Capuchin Archbishop Chaput after reading his Render Unto Caesar:

Evangelization should accompany friendship
  • If it does not then the friendship is not genuine (190)
    • The reason being that Christ himself is the 1st love and Cause of friendship
  • An aspect of missionary activity should also be involved (193)
His main premise is that "the Gospel spreads by personal contact and friendship" (190).  It is hard to argue against this, seeing as how many saints were close friends: Ignatius and Xavier, Francis and Claire, to name a few.

But what exactly mission would have to do with a potentially insular relationship like friendship would be a harder sell.  For this reason, immediately following his statement on friendship, Chaput references JPII's Centesimus Annus:

We need to root the social dimension of our Catholic faith, and everything else we do, in God's love, which is the fuel for our mission of evangelization.  Pope John Paul II reminded us that Catholic social doctrine, at its root, is missionary.  It is 'an instrument of evangelization'. (193)

When I speak of friendship on this level of evangelization I am often met with a major misunderstanding and offense.  "You mean friends aren't those I choose to 'just get along' with?" and, "there needs to be some kind of agenda when it comes to spending time with my friends?"

My answer, for theirs and for one's own sake, is "that's correct, friendship is for evangelization and mission too".

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wojtyla y Amistades

Differing definitions of friendship: “people who hang out together”, “people who just get along”, “share each other’s interests”, etc.  Rather than friendship, I would classify these explanations under what Karol Wojtyla called in Love and Responsibility: “sympathy”[1].  Sympathy certainly has a place in many relationships, but it is not true friendship.

Wojtyla draws his definition of friendship unmistakably from St. Thomas Aquinas[2]. While sympathy plays an initial and later supplemental role in fostering friendship, it is ultimately the will according to Wojtyla and Aquinas which sustains friendship.  Even more specifically, the will as gifted with hope in turn provides for true friendship.  Placed in sequence then, ideal friendship between persons runs this course:

Sympathy→ Conformity of Wills → Virtue of Hope   

Far too often today, “friendship” remains on the sentimental and sympathetic level.  And unfortunately, Wojtyla indicates in romantic relationships especially, “As soon as sympathy breaks down they often feel that love too has come to an end”[3].  Yet, the other danger, in which Wojtyla seems to differ from Aquinas, is that when friendship grows cold it must be supplemented by sympathy[4].  As in the case with marriage, a “union of wills” does not necessarily provide for a successfully long-term relationship.  Likewise, Daniel Schwartz notes about Aquinas’ view of friendship that the virtue of hope must be active in addition to “conformity of wills”[5].      

The necessity of sympathy is a given as it fosters many relationships anyway, strictly based on “subjective intensity”[6] of encounter with another.  Hope, on the other hand, does not reveal itself as necessary until the temptation towards distrust begins to creep into relationships.  That is to say,

uncertainty about what a friend or potential friend wants and desires can be an obstacle to friendship. And the same goes for certain sorts of uncertainty about what a friend will want and desire in the future. In chapter five Schwartz discusses, first, Aquinas's view that we should presume good of others, unless there be evidence to the contrary, and hence that we should presume that people mean what they say, other things being equal and unless there be evidence to the contrary. (Schwartz calls this a ‘presumption of authenticity’.) Second, Schwartz tries to show how hope, for Aquinas, can be an aid to friendship, by being a cause of friendship, by sustaining friendship, and by warding off the ‘destructive social impact of despair’.[7]

So again, Wojtyla appears to differ from Aquinas in this respect by supplying sympathy as a ‘cause’ of friendship while Aquinas supplies ‘hope’.  But as I have indicated elsewhere, St. Thomas Aquinas does not exclude emotions from the dynamism of love as many suppose he does!  Rather, Aquinas’ proposal of hope as crucial to sustaining friendship includes the emotions and sympathy just as Wojtyla would not exclude the virtue of hope either.  The following sequence continues to apply to both Wojtyla and Aquinas’ view, though I would note a supplement of sympathy moreso in Wojtyla’s approach:

 Sympathy→ Conformity of Wills (& Sympathy) → Virtue of Hope (& Sympathy)

This sequence would readily agree with Pope Francis’ more recent insistence on the necessity of tenderness in relationships, or more aptly named “mercy” which Aquinas deemed as God’s most potent attribute! 


[1] Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility.  “From Sympathy to Friendship” 88-94ff Ignatius: San Francisco, 1981.

[2] Aquinas’ own definition surprisingly differed from Aristotle’s: Justice was essential to Aquinas’ view of friendship whereas to Aristotle, ‘when men are friends they have no need of justice’ (Nicomachean Ethics 1155a 26).

[3] Ibid, 90.  See also Wojtyla’s ‘Libidinistic’ Interpretation (61).

[4] Ibid, 91.  See also Wojtyla’s ‘Rigorist’ Interpretation (57).  Pope Francis has also termed sympathy as ‘tenderness’.

[5] Daniel Schwartz, Aquinas on Friendship, Oxford University Press, 2007, 189pp.,

[6] Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility.  “From Sympathy to Friendship” 90

[7] Michael Rota, University of St. Thomas reviews: Daniel Schwartz, Aquinas on Friendship, Oxford University Press, 2007, 189pp.

Although originally 2 different posts I have combined these under common theme

A group of friends drawn initially together by the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, included: Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Hedwig Martius, and Roman Ingarden. There were many more great minds in the following of Husserl (including Heidegger and Von Hildebrand) but I find the relationships of these four significant on the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross because of the effect that they had on the person of Edith Stein and her legacy.

Max Scheler, for his part, is credited by lecturer Benjamin Gibbs as having empowered Stein “to take religious ideas and attitudes seriously for the first time since her adolescence”[1] In Stein's own words, Max Scheler had almost mythic status:

One’s first impression of Scheler was fascination. I have never encountered the phenomenon of genius so clearly in any other person. His large blue eyes seemed to radiate the light of amore exalted world. His features were handsome and noble; yet life had left some devastating traces in his face.[2]

It's interesting to note, that Husserl and Scheler authored philosophical works which provided an alternative to 'psychologism' or the scientific pretentions of psychology.[3] Since Freud's work would have been popularly widespread in their day, I can only guess as to why they would be formulating a much more sound phenomenology than the be-all/end-all discipline of psychoanalysis.  I have written elsewhere of Scheler’s refutation of psychology and was unaware that this was also one of Husserl’s tenants of Phenomenology.  Indeed, Gibbs notes that this point was one of the first things that drew Stein to Husserl.  Gibbs notes, “Edith studied psychology at Breslau University for four semesters. By then she had become discontented with psychology’s lack of a scientific basis”[4] What is meant by “science” here is simply an ordered, logical basis in accord with reality.  Something she found much more apparent in Husserl’s Logical Investigations.

Besides Scheler, Stein found lifelong friends in Hedwig Martius (later Conrad-Martius), Roman Ingarden and Adolf Reinach (and his wife Anne).  Though Hedwig decided to convert to Lutheranism, it was in her family library that Edith found the Life of St. Teresa of Avila.  Famously, though the exact details are lacking, Edith’s own words relate:

For twelve years Carmel had been my goal, since the summer of 1921 when the Life of our holy mother Teresa came into my hands and put an end to my long search for the true faith.[5]

Her friend Roman Ingarden, a Polish philosopher from Krakow, would later become a teacher of Karol Wojtyla.  The two friends corresponded about numerous topics, both philosophical and personal.  Gibbs notes that both Ingarden and another professor named Hans Lipps may have been romantic interests for Stein,

According to Hedwig Conrad-Martius – Edith’s philosophical colleague and friend Hans Lipps. But her love for him was not reciprocated; at least, it was evident that Lipps didn’t want to marry her. Another object of Edith’s affections may have been Roman Ingarden, to whom she wrote over 150 letters, mostly reporting the details of her work with Husserl. In one letter Edith addressed Ingarden as ‘Mein Liebling’ – ‘my dear’.  But he returned to Poland early in 1918 and married a school doctor the following year. Edith wrote congratulating him on his marriage, and asked him to burn any personal letters from her that he might have kept.[6]

Roman Ingarden would have been the teacher to relay Max Scheler to the young Karol Wojtyla in Poland.  Gibbs notes, “The future Pope wrote his Habilitationsschrift on the ethical theory of Max Scheler”.  Through Ingarden as well, Wojtyla must have been introduced to the person and though of Stein.  He too would later canonize her as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. 

It’s fascinating to trace how the friendships that arose from the initial followers of Husserl made a tremendous impact on history, even to the degree that Karol Wojtyla would adopt much of the thought of the Phenomenologists.  However, a sad note is the subsequent break of Husserl with his students as he distanced himself especially from Stein on account of her being an ambitious woman in a “male profession”.  His own thought became more and more disjointed, whereas his students carried the integrity of the Göttingen school far beyond his reach. 

Benjamin Gibbs study of Edith Steins life, to which I refer often here, does not claim to cover the entirety of her story and makes no mention of her sister Rose’s journey to Carmel with her.  What he intended to do was to collect previously untranslated German letters of Stein, as well as include her unfinished Autobiography, Life in a Jewish Family, as major sources in the corpus of Stein’s life (because only the popular but imprecise memoir of Teresa Benedicta as written by Sr Teresia Renata Posselt was available as yet).  He does well to fill and blanks in her life, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the network of philosophers who influenced her ultimately toward Catholicism. 

A final note regarding Stein's "friendship" with Husserl.  It lacked "sympathy", even though Stein herself attempted to reconcile "empathy" with Husserl's discipline in her own painstaking work on the subject.  Their relationship only reflected the "conformity of wills" aspect of the following sequence (although the conformity of Husserl's will is questionable):

Sympathy→ Conformity of Wills → Virtue of Hope  

Indeed she often refers to him as "the master", which unfortunately reveals a master/slave dynamic at work, especially since he would not allow her to become his peer professionally and kept her at the level of secretary.

On the other hand, her longstanding friendships e.g. Roman Ingarden did reflect this sequence:

Sympathy→ Conformity of Wills (& Sympathy) → Virtue of Hope (& Sympathy),

and she found that they too disagreed with Husserl.  Her work with empathy turned out to be the last scholarly chance for Husserl to change his thinking, and unfortunately he did not.



[1] Gibbs, Benjamin. ‘My long search for the true faith’: The Conversion of Edith Stein. www.carmelite.org/documents/Heritage/gibbsconversionofstein.pdf, May 2012 p.12. It's important to note also that Gibbs mentions often how Stein was not an atheistic philosopher in principle, she merely 'stopped praying' at one point in her young life, and she did not begin again until interacting with brilliant philosophers in Gottingen, Germany.

[2] Stein, Edith. Life in a Jewish Family, An Autobiography. translated by Josephine Koeppel, OCD. http://www.sistersofcarmel.com/edith-stein-life-in-a-jewish-family/ 1933­

[3] Gibbs, Benjamin. ‘My long search for the true faith’: The Conversion of Edith Stein. www.carmelite.org/documents/Heritage/gibbsconversionofstein.pdf, May 2012 p.7. “For Edith, the attractive features of Husserl’s phenomenology were:(1) Husserl’s repudiation of the scientific pretensions of psychology, and of ‘psychologism’ -

the error of conflating the formal sciences of logic and pure mathematics with the empiricalmethods of psychology.”  Psychologism is essentially the belief that psychology can explain all phenomena.


[4] Gibbs, Benjamin. ‘My long search for the true faith’: The Conversion of Edith Stein. P.6  Edith herself says, All my study of psychology had persuaded me that this science [phenomenology] was in its infancy; it still lacked clear basic concepts; furthermore, there was no one who could establish such an essential foundation. On the other hand, what I had learned about phenomenology so far fascinated me tremendously, because it consisted precisely of such a labour of clarification and because, here, one forged one’s own mental tools for the task at hand. (LJF 222)

[5] in die Hände gefallen war’. The translation in Posselt (2005) renders the German incorrectly as ‘had happened to fall into my hands’, thus appearing to support Posselt’s claim that Edith came across the book by chance. (ESGA I, 350; cf. Posselt 118).

[6] Gibbs: Letter of 1948 to Fr John Oesterreicher, in Never Forget, ed. W. Herbstrith (ICS 1998), 266.
Final Installment: 12/29/16

Wojtyla and Tymieniecka’s friendship

I was unaware of a 30+ year relationship between Karol Wojtyla and the Polish-American philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka: a student of Roman Ingarden, a first-hand Polish follower of Husserl as I expressed in my post, “Wojtyla y Amistades”.  She is the founder and former president of the World Phenomenology Institute , and a translator of Wojtyla’s own Acting Person.  Her entrepreneurial spirit garnered the support of not only her former teacher, Roman Ingarden, but also a crucial contributor to the Theology of the Body: Paul Ricoeur.

The Institute’s founding president and principal intellectual guide for more than three decades was the European philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, a student of Roman Ingarden and close associate of Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur.  Ingarden, Levinas, and Ricoeur joined together with other well-known philosophers such as Hans-Georg Gadamer and Stephan Strasser in supporting and advancing the Institute’s programs and publications during its early years and ever after.  It is but one measure of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka’s personal accomplishment that she was  able to attract and engage the very best philosophical minds of our time in the Institute’s programs and publications, in large part as a direct consequence of her own reputation and philosophical achievements.

Tymieniecka was married to Hendrik Houthakker, an economics professor in the United States, and together the couple hosted Wojtyla in 1978.  She became good friends with the Pope in 1973, while he was Cardinal of Krakow, and they remained “pen-pals” of sorts until his death in 2005.  She passed away in 2014, leaving the World Phenomenology Institute in the hands of:

Dr. William S. Smith, Executive President, and to Co-Presidents, Dr. Jadwiga S. Smith and Dr. Daniela Verducci.  These three have been involved with the Institute for nearly thirty years, and Dr. Tymieniecka entrusted the future of her life-long work to these three individuals.  Dr. Jadwiga Smith will organize conferences and programs on the American front, while Dr. Verducci will continue her excellent work in Europe and beyond.  Together these three talented organizers and scholars will continue the work of the WPI.   They very much look forward to working with a newly constituted Editorial Board of peer reviewers, who will continue the high-quality  of scholarship for the WPI’s three major publication, Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, Phenomenological Inquiry: A Review of Philosophical Ideas and Trends, and Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology in Dialogue.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Archbishop Dziwisz & Archbishop Wojtyla

 Godfather Dziwisz!
A prominent figure in the latter days of Karol Wojtyla’s life was (now) Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.  A native son of Poland, born in 1939 in Raba Wyżna, he received his Doctoral degree in Krakow and was appointed Secretary to then Archbishop Wojtyla in 1966.[1] 

Among many other duties and offices, the Cardinal serves as head of the WYD Local Organizing Committee in Poland and spoke some timely words in connection to the theme of the Pilgrimage itself:

''Sister Faustina wrote in her diary that a spark will come out from Krakow that will make the world ready for the final coming of Jesus Christ. We would like to pass this secret of Divine Mercy onto youth. May they gather the thought and spark of peace from Krakow. At this time, we have unrest, peace is at risk here in Europe – there is terrorism and a brutal terrorism at that. This is why we would like to create peace, reconciliation, solidarity, mutual kindness, and may this atmosphere cover the whole world, starting from this meeting here in Krakow”[2]

Having just finished the Diary, I know the exact passage to which the Cardinal refers in Paragraph 1732 of Notebook 6.  In fact, that same passage about the “Spark” appears in the official WYD prayer as well.

It is a fitting theme as events begin to escalate toward violence aimed specifically at Christians worldwide.  I am referring especially to the martyrdom of Fr. Jacques Hamel yesterday during his celebration of the Mass in Normandy, France (a place of great bloodshed in WWII).  The Final Coming of the Lord would be much welcomed in the face of increased terrorism by ISIS.

The Cardinal specifically referenced the slain priest in his homily for the opening Mass in Krakow:

“During this Mass, let us pray for all the victims of the recent terrorist attacks. Let us pray for the priest who was murdered today while celebrating the Eucharist in France.”[3]

[1] http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/documentation/cardinali_biografie/cardinali_bio_dziwisz_s.html
[2] http://www.krakow2016.com/en/card-stanislaw-dziwisz-we-would-like-to-pass-on-to-the-youth-the-secret-of-divinemercy-about-the-spiritual-message-from-world-youth-day
[3] http://www.krakow2016.com/en/cardinal-stanislaw-dziwisz-it-is-the-hour-we-have-been-waiting-for-three-years

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Little Sisters of the Poor

Dioceses in the USA are celebrating Fortnight for Freedom at this time of year, and the Bishops have proposed the Little Sisters of the Poor as the first example of Religious Freedom. 

The founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Jeanne Jugan was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1982.  For the past few years, my wife and I have visited nursing homes for Christmas Eve and played Christmas Carols on piano for the residents.  Since moving to St. Paul in 2014, we have been able to go caroling at the Little Sisters Holy Family Residence down town.  There, I have begun to learn more about the Sisters and have truly appreciated their fight for freedom. 
Whereas at other nursing homes the employees smiled and waved at me for playing piano, the Sisters brought us a gift basket, sang along, and truly have been interested in our family ever since.  They just downright care about people. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Venerable Solanus Casey

Fr. Solanus Casey was declared Venerable by St. John Paul II in 1995.  I first visited the Capuchin’s tomb at St. Bonaventure Monastery in 2008 and continued to do so nearly every week until 2010.  I never figured that I would be living in the State where Solanus worked as a logger, prison guard, andstreetcar operator and also where, honestly, he is more often invoked for intercession than in Detroit.  There are more pilgrimages from Minnesota and Wisconsin to his tomb, than anywhere else. 

Yet, despite my proximity to his burial place in Detroit I admit the least impression of his holiness on me while I was there.  Not until I moved to Minnesota have I begun to realize his influence.  I am rooting for his canonization (insofar as that’s possible), and can fully reflect on how fruitful his prayers are.  His simplicity in particular is an attribute that I most want to imitate, with his characteristic emphasis on gratitude to Christ.    

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cor Jesu: Furnace of Charity

While visiting the Parish where my wife and I married in 2012, St. Isidore of Grand Rapids, I came across a book by Dr. Timothy O’Donnell entitled Heart of the Redeemer.  In it, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is thoroughly accounted for both historically and mystically.  References from early Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, and especially St. Margaret Mary Alacoque make a compelling argument for the authenticity of the Heart of Christ as a revealed source of grace. 

Here’s what St. John Paul II has to say verbatim: “The Heart of the Redeemer vivifies the whole Church and draws men who have opened their hearts to the ‘unfathomable riches’ of this one Heart” (p. 229 of O’Donnell as quoted from 6/24/79 Angelus of JPII).

I have had the privilege to participate in the Sacred HeartEnthronement offered at St. Patrick Parish in Columbus, as well as the SacredHeart Congress in Ohio.  There, a priest said to those listening, “I am going to bless the hell out of your homes!”  Truly, hell cannot abide the “furnace of charity” (fornax ardens caritatis) that is the Heart of Jesus.    

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Conrad and Wojtyla

The first novel of Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) I read in 1998, by recommendation of a priest—himself a navyman/sailor, was …of the Narcissus.  Even then, I was impressed by how well a Pole could write in English as a second language.  Turns out, Conrad (the Author’s) father Apollo was quite a linguist and translator: French, German, and English.  Apollo’s father, Teodor Korzeniowski, was a captain of the Polish army during the 1830 Insurrection against Russian rule.  Much like Captain Wojtyla, Karol’s father, the military influence of the family brought a sense of honor and belonging to the Polish cause for independence (from Russia, etc.)—not to mention the fact that the Konrad Korzeniowskis were devoutly Catholic[1]. 

Unlike Wojtyla, however, Joseph Conrad has been accused of ex-patriotism, as though his exile were chosen and voluntary.  In reality, Conrad’s father was imprisoned by occupying Russian officials in Warsaw and then his entire family was sent to Vologda in Northern Russia in 1862.  In 1863, the family was allowed to move to Chernihiv in the Ukraine, but Joseph lost his mother there to tuberculosis.  Six years later, Joseph would also lose his father even though they had returned to Poland—specifically Krakow. 

So, Joseph Conrad and Karol Wojtyla held a number of things in common, the most severe of which was being orphaned—though Conrad at a much earlier age than Wojtyla.  This, and not ex-patriotism, was the reason for Conrad’s British citizenship after more than 20 years as a seaman.  And, it’s interesting to note that Conrad appealed to the British government on behalf of Poland, acting as a kind of ambassador to his homeland for the sake of freeing her from the clutches of Soviet Russia. 

Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Joseph Conrad visited Poland only once and was subsequently detained there by the First World War in 1914.  Concerning his popularity in Poland: During World War II, his Lord Jim, “became one of the leading moral authorities for the young members of the Polish underground army and civil resistance.”[2]


“The first ever full edition of Conrad's works (27 volumes) was published in Poland in 1972-74, with one supplementary volume containing material confiscated by the Communist censors, and published by Polish émigrés in London.”[3]

Therefore, Conrad’s physical absence from Poland allowed him to be much more influential the world over.  Secondly, it put him in touch with a more lucrative English-reading audience which in the wake of the British Empire still fed on stories of the sea and colonies. 

My favorite of his works has become his largely auto-biographical Mirror of the Sea which details his prosaic and poetic account of nearly every nautical circumstance imaginable to a pre-iron ship sailor.  He personifies all the winds and their characteristics, and boasts of his recognition of them in contrast to other “deaf” sailors who subsequently risked the lives of the crew on account of their deafness.  He also specifically mentions rosary beads when trying to describe his perception of business on the river Thames:

Such as the beads of a rosary told by business-like shipowners for the greater profit of the world they slip one by one into the open: while in the offing the inward-bound ships come up singly and in bunches from under the sea horizon closing the mouth of the river between Orfordness and North Foreland[4].

His imagination is thoroughly Catholic on many accounts, and I admire his recognition of devotional prayer in such things as ships. 

I had the good fortune recently to travel with my nuclear family on an iron Steam Ship, much like the Patna of Conrad’s Lord Jim, across Lake Michigan from Manitowac Wisconsin to Ludingtion.  The original ship owners name was Conrad too.  While on board, I envisioned the predicament of Jim--although in my case with two children—as the 900 foot depth of waters surrounded us on every side.  I showed my oldest son the lifeboats and the waves, knowing with conviction that he, my wife, and youngest son would all take my place in the event of an emergency.  I would see to it that they survived or else I would be left with the same shame as Lord Jim.

 That’s the type of circumstantial courage-testing that Joseph Conrad is able to evoke in his works.  It brings out a kind of magnanimity akin to Karol Wojtyla’s.  When I looked at the open water onboard the SS Badger, I could almost breathe in the strength of soul necessary to lay down my life for my family.  The very passage inspired me to greatness and memories of the same.          
Wojtyla's way of laying down his life was celibacy.  Conrad's was marriage and family, although in those days much of that vocation was spent on the ocean.  Nevertheless, he loved his wife and sons amidst tremendous danger and hardship caused by World War--and for that, in addition to his written works, he should be commended.

[1] http://culture.pl/en/artist/joseph-conrad-jozef-teodor-konrad-korzeniowski
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Conrad, Joseph. Mirror of the Sea.  Chapter 31, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1058/1058-h/1058-h.htm