Podcast of 10/07/14 Talk on St. John XXIII and his Pacem in Terris

October 11th, 2014

Just in time for today’s 10/11/14 first feast of the newly canonized St. John XXIII, I’ve posted the podcast of the just-completed 10/07/14 talk entitled, St. John XXIII and his Pacem in Terris, which was presented as part of the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center in Chicago.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


World Peace and Natural Law

October 4th, 2014

The postmodern turn away from theories of natural law appears to have led to a less peaceful world. For natural law theories, e.g., those brought forth in the US Declaration of Independence, argue that certain human rights, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are proper to the nature of humanity. These rights demand of others the duty to respect natural, human rights, thus binding together society. When there is no respect for natural rights, trust breaks down, and thereby peace breaks down among nations.

St. John XXIII made the above “natural law rights and duties argument” central to his famous 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris. He saw a connection between the duty to respect natural rights, and the establishment of peaceful relations between individuals and among nations.

Western political elites have turned away from natural law in recent decades, in part because they see in natural law a threat to homosexual rights and to abortion rights. At the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, several prominent Catholic politicians rejected natural law. While some few jurists like Justice Thomas argued that one can sometimes construct substantial law from natural law, other jurists, including the late Judge Robert Bork, argued that more than natural law was needed to properly form law.

Whoever claims to be making a commonsense argument is sometimes making a natural law argument and might not admit it. But these commonsense arguments are often the only remaining natural law arguments allowed among political elites.

This is unfortunate, because St. John XXIII’s natural law arguments for peaceful relations among nations could still bring nations to respect one another.

Regrettably, for the sake of elites supporting radical lifestyle choices, natural law recognition of general human rights and duties has eroded. The world is thus a less peaceful place, since there is no widespread, worldwide common sense of the natural rights and duties that build trust and lead nations to peaceful relations.

The corrosive affect of abortion logic thus again has spread beyond sexual relations into relations between nations, and weakened them. As soon as one allows an innocent human life to have no rights, one allows the logic of no-rights to spread throughout society. Once a critical mass of individuals do not respect one another’s rights, eventually, neither do nations, and thus, over decades, our societal capacity to build trust and thereby achieve peace breaks down.

The world should turn once again to St. John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris for a way to peace. . . especially for nations and peoples who have little in common with one another except the capacity to respect each other’s common human rights.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Talk on Tuesday, 10/7/14, at St. John Paul II Newman Center on St. John XXIII and his Pacem in Terris

September 28th, 2014

I’ll be presenting a free talk entitled “St. John XXIII and his Pacem in Terris,” for the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Newman Center at 6PM Tuesday, October 7, 2014, after evening Mass at the St. John Paul II Newman Center Library, 700 S. Morgan St. Chicago, info@schoolofcatholicthought.org, 312-226-1880. Here’s the Announcement_StJohnXXIII_PaceminTerris_092514.

Here’s a png version —


A podcast of the talk is here. Here’s the link for Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), the historic 1963 encyclical of St. John XXIII.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Podcast of 9/25/14 Talk on Pope Francis and his Joy of the Gospel

September 27th, 2014

I’ve posted the podcast of the just-completed 9/25/14 talk entitled, Pope Francis and his Joy of the Gospel, which was presented as part of the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center in Chicago.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Fighting College Sexual Assault Without Addressing College Alcohol Abuse Won’t Work

September 20th, 2014

The President and Vice President unveiled on 9/19/14 a national effort to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses.

While the President’s statement mentioned a few tips about protecting inebriated students from harm, addressing college alcohol abuse itself, so closely related to college sexual assault, is apparently not front and center in the President’s campaign.

The President’s statement enumerated a long list of individuals responsible for addressing the problem of college sexual assault. But he left out mentioning the liquor industry, of which several state legislatures are wholly-owned subsidiaries. The liquor industry makes big money off of college alcohol abuse, and this alcohol abuse helps drive the economy of many a college town. College sexual assault is one of the sad results.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,
Each year an estimated 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape.

I applaud the President’s effort on reducing college sexual assault. But I caution that this effort will not address a root cause of college sexual assault unless it also comes to terms with the very strong link between college alcohol abuse and college sexual assault, and changes the way the liquor industry interacts with the college-age population.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Talk on Pope Francis and his Joy of the Gospel at 6PM, 9/25/14 at the St. John Paul II Newman Center Library

September 14th, 2014

I’ll be presenting a free talk entitled “Pope Francis and his Joy of the Gospel,” for the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Newman Center at 6PM Thursday, September 25, 2014, after evening Mass at the St. John Paul II Newman Center Library, 700 S. Morgan St. Chicago, info@schoolofcatholicthought.org, 312-226-1880. Here’s the flyer in PDF format.

Here’s a png version —


A podcast of the talk has been completed, and is posted here. Here’s the line for the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Podcast of 8/28/14 Talk on St. Augustine of Hippo

August 31st, 2014

I’ve posted the podcast of the just-completed 8/28/14 talk entitled, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis: Saint, Bishop, Doctor, Opponent of Human Trafficking, which was presented as part of the School of Catholic Thought at the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center in Chicago.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Sontag and Augustine on Martyrs for Truth, Martyrs for Charity, Martyrs for Pride

August 23rd, 2014

Susan Sontag, 1963, on how each truth must have a martyr:

We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering—rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer’s words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr.

Susan Sontag: “Simone Weil,” a review of Selected Essays by Simone Weil, translated by Richard Rees, Oxford University Press, published in the New York Review of Books, February 1, 1963 (Premier) Issue, accessed 8/17/14.

St. Augustine of Hippo, 415, on how there are martyrs for charity, and martyrs for pride:

Et videte quanta opera faciat superbia; ponite in corde quam similia facit, et quasi paria caritati. Pascit esurientem caritas, pascit et superbia – caritas, ut Deus laudetur; superbia, ut ipsa laudetur. Vestit nudum caritas, vestit et superbia; ieiunat caritas, ieiunat et superbia; sepelit mortuos caritas, sepelit et superbia. Omnia opera bona quae vult facere caritas et facit, agitat contra superbia, et quasi ducit equos suos. Sed interior est caritas: tollit locum male agitatae superbiae; non male agitanti, sed male agitatae. Vae homini cuius auriga superbia est, necesse est enim ut praeceps eat. Ut autem non sit superbia quae agitet facta bona, quis novit? quis videt? ubi est hoc? Opera videmus: pascit misericordia, pascit et superbia; hospitem suscipit misericordia, hospitem suscipit et superbia; intercedit pro paupere misericordia, intercedit et superbia. Quid est hoc? In operibus non discernimus. Audeo aliquid dicere, sed non ego; Paulus dixit: moritur caritas, id est, homo habens caritatem, confitetur nomen Christi, ducit martyrium; confitetur et superbia, ducit et martyrium. Ille habet caritatem, ille non habet caritatem. Sed audiat ab Apostolo ille qui non habet caritatem: Si distribuero omnia mea pauperibus, et si tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam, caritatem autem non habuero, nihil mihi prodest. Ergo Scriptura divina intro nos revocat a iactatione huius faciei forinsecus; et ab ista superficie quae iactatur ante homines, revocat nos intro. Redi ad conscientiam tuam, ipsam interroga. Noli attendere quod floret foris, sed quae radix est in terra. Radicata est cupiditas? species potest esse bonorum factorum, vere opera bona esse non possunt. Radicata est caritas? securus esto, nihil mali procedere potest. Blanditur superbus, saevit amor. Ille vestit, ille caedit. Ille enim vestit ut placeat hominibus: ille caedit ut corrigat disciplina. Accipitur magis plaga caritatis, quam eleemosyna superbiae. Redite ergo intro, fratres; et in omnibus quaecumque facitis, intuemini testem Deum. Videte, si ille videt, quo animo faciatis. Si cor vestrum non vos accusat, quia iactantiae causa facitis; bene, securi estote. Nolite autem timere quando facitis bene, ne videat alter. Time ne propterea facias, ut tu lauderis: nam videat alter, ut Deus laudetur. Si enim abscondis ab oculis hominis; abscondis ab imitatione hominis, laudem subtrahis Deo. Duo sunt quibus eleemosynam facis: duo esuriunt; unus panem, alter iustitiam. Inter duos istos famelicos, quia dictum est: Beati qui esuriunt et sitiunt iustitiam, quoniam ipsi saturabuntur: inter duos istos famelicos, bonus operator constitutus es; si caritas de illo operatur, ambos miseratur, ambobus vult subvenire. Ille enim quaerit quod manducet, ille quaerit quod imitetur. Pascis istum, praebe te isti; ambobus dedisti eleemosynam: illum fecisti gratulatorem de fame interfecta; hunc fecisti imitatorem de exemplo proposito.

Miseremini ergo tamquam misericordes; quia in eo etiam quod diligitis inimicos, fratres diligitis.

S. Aurelii Augustini OPERA OMNIA – editio latina >PL 35> In Epistolam Ioannis ad Parthos tractatus decem, Tractatus 8; http://www.augustinus.it/latino/commento_lsg/index2.htm, accessed 8/17/14.

Consider now the works that pride may do: notice how they may resemble or even equal those of charity. Charity feeds the hungry, so does pride: charity, to the praise of God, pride, to the praise of itself. Charity clothes the naked: so does pride; charity fasts, so does pride; charity buries the dead, so does pride. All the good works that are willed and done by charity, may be set in motion by its contrary pride, like horses harnessed to a car. But when charity is the inward driver, pride must give place–pride which is not so much misgoverning as misgoverned. It goes ill with the man who has pride for his charioteer, for he is sure to be overturned.

How can we know or see that it is not pride that governs the good deed? Where is the proof? We see the works: hunger is fed by compassion, but also by pride; strangers are entertained by compassion, by also by pride; poverty is protected by compassion, but also by pride. In the works themselves we can see no difference. I would go further–though it is not I but Paul who says it: charity goes to death, a man (that is) who has charity confesses the name of Christ and becomes a martyr; and pride also may do both. The one has charity, the other has not; but let this other mark the Apostle’s words: “If I give all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to burn, and have not charity, it profits me nothing (I Cor 13:3).” So Holy Scripture recalls us from all this outward showing, recalls us from the surface appearance displayed before men to the inward truth.

Come back to your own conscience, and question it. Pay heed, not to the visible flowering, but to the root beneath the ground. Is covetousness at the root? Then you may have a show of good deeds, but of works truly good there can be none. Is charity at the root? Be easy, for now evil can be the issue. The proud may speak fair words, love may show anger: the one may clothe, the other may smite: the one clothes for the pleasing of men, the other smites for the correction of discipline. The stroke of charity is more to be welcomed than the alms of pride.

Come back, then, my brothers, into the place within, and in whatsoever you do, look for the witness of God. See, as he sees, the intention of your acts. If your heart does not accuse you of acting for the sake of display, it is well, be easy. And when you do well, have no fear of another’s seeing. Fear only to act that you may have praise for yourself; let the other see, so that God may have the praise. If you hide what you do from man’s eyes, you are hiding it against man’s imitation, and robbing God of His praise. There are two parties for whose benefit you give alms: two are hungry, the one for bread, the other for righteousness, for it is written: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).” Between these two hungering ones you are set for the working of good: if charity is the worker, it has compassion for both, it seeks to give help to both. For while the one looks for food, the other looks for an example to follow. As you feed the first, offer yourself for the second, and you have given alms to both. You have enabled the one to give thanks for the ending of his hunger, the other to imitate the example shown him.

Let your works of mercy, then, proceed from a merciful heart; for then even in the love of enemies you will be showing love of brothers.

Augustine, Homilies on I John, Sermon 8, in Augustine: later works; John Burnaby, Editor, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1955, pp. 322-323.

A martyr without a merciful heart may witness well, but may not witness to the bond between mercy and truth, and may instead witness to pride.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


St. Maximilian Kolbe Ministered Both at Nagasaki and at Auschwitz

August 16th, 2014

A number of social media postings memorialize St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941), who accepted execution in place of another prisoner, but few mention a most amazing fact about him: that his ministry took him both to Nagasaki (1930-36) and to his death at Auschwitz (1941), two among the most iconic places of dolor of the 20th Century.

The monastery founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe survived the August 9, 1945 atomic blast at Nagasaki, as did the Catholic community, in no small part due to St. Maximilian’s earlier witness. St. Maximilian’s feast day of August 14 follows shortly after the anniversary of the Nagasaki conflagration.

So let St. Maximilian Kolbe be remembered as the saint of both Nagasaki and of Auschwitz! His ministry at these two locations, among his many other works, presents to our suffering world a sign of hope in God’s mercy and love.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


In Hac Lacrimarum Valle: The Enduring Dark Age Revealed

August 10th, 2014

The notion of the “Dark Age,” after its coinage by Petrarch at the dawn of the Renaissance, may well have been propelled by later Reformation retrojectors–those projecting their own current views into the past–to blow at the candles illuminating Medieval culture so that the Reformation might better shine.

Modernity, post-modernity, and other contemporary cultural forces have especially resisted the words of the Medieval hymn to Mary, the Salve Regina, “gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle,” translated “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” which is thought to have its origins in St. Jerome’s rendering of Psalm 83:7 (84:7)–

6 Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te:
ascensiones in corde suo disposuit,
7 in valle lacrimarum, in loco quem posuit.

Vulgate Psalms, Chapter 83, accessed from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/vul/psa083.htm on 8/10/14.

–and which is now in many contemporary translations rendered as the “valley of Baca” instead of the valley of tears.

Contemporary Christians and agnostics likewise often reject the term, “valley of tears.” Garry Wills omitted the Salve Regina ending from his book on the Rosary (Catholics normally end their praying of the Rosary with the Salve Regina). The “valley of tears,” like St. John Paul II’s term “culture of death” from Evangelium Vitae, appears to make the progressive mind uncomfortable.

But I challenge contemporary thinkers to find a better expression to describe the terrible circumstances of those suffering from war, persecution, or poverty, than the “valley of tears.”

Scripture scholars have puzzled over the meaning of the Hebrew word Baca for centuries. Is it a place in Palestine, or a figurative state of sorrow?

In Arabic, Bakkah has a more precise meaning, the place of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca.

So those who suffer around the world today are indeed cast into the valley of tears, and into the collision of words and cultures–Baca, Bakkah–between Christian, Jewish, and Muslim interpretations.

Slavery has returned: it never left, but now is visible to the contemporary eye.

Yet can the contemporary eye fathom the meaning of the Enduring Dark Age that has exploded in our faces? What difference do progressivism, modernity, atheism, theory, narrative, etc., matter to Isis and their ilk? Atheists preaching their advantages to such a world merely sow into the wind. Can these violent fanatical forces be defeated by armies shaped today more to generate social change at home than the proper protective mission of a military force?

Fueled by almost a century of first Nazi and then Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda, a militant Islam is at war with the United States and Israel. Russia, Iran, and China are ready to pounce on their first geopolitical opportunities, and have an interest in prolonging the conflict. This general situation may not change for centuries.

Welcome, therefore, to the Enduring Dark Age, or if you prefer, the uncovering of a Dark Age that never really ended, but in which “enlightened” technological society collides with genocide, forced conversion, summary execution, and slavery–now made painfully visible by global communications, and catalyzed by the global proliferation of weapons down to the mad and genocidal local bully.

As long as hearts are darkened by hatred and fear despite our sophistication, and as long as the guns are not silenced, our age will darken still.

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae. . .

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. . .

Perhaps we can find hope and consolation in the words of the Psalmist beginning with–

How lovely your dwelling, O Lord of Hosts! (Psalm 84:1)

–and hear in the confluence of the contested words Baca and Bakkah the ending of tears and the presence of God.

O Clemens, O Pia, O Dulcis Virgo Maria!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved