Friday, May 22, 2009

Some thoughts on BC

Circulating on the internet is a Youtube video speaking about the growth of Islam in traditionally Western countries and how this threatens the West. Additionally, Christianity is in decline. The second largest religious body in the US is ex-Catholics. What this says about the state of salvation of souls is important. The West needs a New Evangelization just like the first one. How was the First Evangelization of Europe accomplished? Benedictine monasteries spread throughout Europe and preserved knowledge. We see the same spread of monasteries today, with the founding of such new institutions as Clear Creek, the Carmelites of Wyoming, and the new foundation of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in the Diocese of Phoenix. We’ve also seen a growth in the teaching orders, who are going to go out and teach a new generation of school children the faith, most notably the two group of Dominican Sisters, one of Nashville, the other of Ann Arbor. At the same time, Boston College can and must join in this effort of the New Evangelization if it wants to succeed in becoming the world’s leading Catholic university. As the document Ex corde Ecclesiae says,

By its very nature, each Catholic University makes an important contribution to the Church's work of evangelization. It is a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism, or where Christ and his message are still virtually unknown. Moreover, all the basic academic activities of a Catholic University are connected with and in harmony with the evangelizing mission of the Church: research carried out in the light of the Christian message which puts new human discoveries at the service of individuals and society; education offered in a faith-context that forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment and conscious of the transcendent dignity of the human person; professional training that incorporates ethical values and a sense of service to individuals and to society; the dialogue with culture that makes the faith better understood, and the theological research that translates the faith into contemporary language (49).

The way to become the world’s greatest Catholic university must include two parts: 1) being great 2) being Catholic. To achieve the first, one needs excellent professors and excellent students. To be the second, one needs to follow Ex corde ecclesiae, among other things. Boston College has room to improve in both areas.

First, there are many good things happening in both areas at Boston College. In terms of excellence, the German department is known to be a Fulbright machine. In terms of Catholicity, Boston College has begun once more to place Jesuits in dorms, Mass is offered daily multiple times, many students are undertaking the Spiritual Exercises, and crucifixes have been returned to classrooms. At the same time, it would be good to continue to put more of these young Jesuit priests in dorms.

Additionally, in ECE Pope John Paul II spoke of how the university must be involved in the local Church (27). Boston College is already very involved through its hosting of the Boston Catholic Men’s and Women’s Conferences, along with various workshops for local Catholics, helping local Catholic schools, and commissioning a history of the Archdiocese for its bicentennial. However, some of these workshops are questionable in content, which is sad, is this is one thing that JPII mentions himself as a good the university can offer the local Church (36). Additionally, university campus ministry has done a poor job of advertising monthly events sponsored by the Archdiocese in the North End, including the annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults. Furthermore, at no time in my four years did I ever hear students encouraged to attend the ordinations to the transitional diaconate that take place each year in the Cathedral. I’ve also never heard of any institutional organizing of trips to local Theology on Taps for those who are 21.

Pope John Paul II encouraged (34) the promotion of justice. This takes place at BC through the Arrupe groups, the Pro-Life Club, 4Boston, PULSE, and the Appalacia service program. Sadly, the attendance at this is low for BC students because the University does not formally give student’s the day off. As it is during add-drop, there is no penalty for going, but most students want formal permission to go. It should be granted and Father Leahy, along with many members of the Jesuit community, and administrators should all attend.

One of the criteria given in ECE is that the majority of the faculty be Catholic. “In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.” (Article 4.4) Currently, Boston College does not ask whether those being interviewed are Catholic, and so BC has no way of knowing the proportion of Catholics at the university. BC must begin asking this question, and should allow tenured faculty who desire to seek the magis, to do more than necessary, to take an oath of obedience to the Magisterium like some Catholic universities do. This allows student to know what type of professor they are studying with. Alumni can establish chairs in each department for these Catholics who have done more to advance Catholic identity, donating with such a stipulation. In the same way, in theology, professors should be encouraged to get the mandate to teach theology. After the end of Father Ken Himes time as chair, and Frank Kilcoyne’s time as undergraduate chair, the chairs of the department should be chosen only from among those who have the mandatum, and all those seeking to teach Catholic theology who are new hires should be required to get it before they can be tenured. Boston College should establish positions in theology in each of the world’s religions, Buddhism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These professors would not be required to get the mandate, but all others, those who teach Catholic theology, should. Alumni can establish chairs for only those who have the mandate in theology as well. The faculty can advance the theology and philosophical debate within the Church, as JP II called for (29) but always in union with the Magisterium.
In conformity with ECE, Boston College should never honor pro-abortion politicians. “If need be, a Catholic University must have the courage to speak uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society” (32). Boston College should invite them to speak only at academic lectures, and BC should get involved politically by allowing its property to be used to electoral debates. Boston College should do this for both parties, as having a pro-life Democrat candidate is something that all Catholics should want.
Moreover, Boston College should make every effort to implement Vatican II’s decrees on the liturgy by having at least one Sunday Mass in conformity with the rubrics, including those on music. This creates a dialogue with the culture (37) and maybe could even include the commissioning of polyphony for the Mass, contributing to the culture’s growth. Boston College should have Eucharistic and Marian processions like Notre Dame does. One day a week, all students, faculty, administrators should try and get to Mass together, as a sign of unity. This could take place at the Wednesday noon or some other day of the week. Eucharistic adoration should happen more than two days a week on campus. Holy Hours for vocations or other important intentions could take place once a month. Lastly, BC should have, at least once a month, the extraordinary form offered for students to experience.

Lastly, Boston College should seek to lower the cost of tuition, so that the brightest students, no matter how much money they have, can always come to BC.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

And BC should make a serious effort to put chapels in each of the new dormitories...and renovate the older dormitories to include chapels as well, as resources allow.

Mass in every dorm. The Eucharistic Presence of our Lord in every dorm. If you think having a Jesuit in the room down the hall keeps students on better behavior, try having Jesus dwelling on the first floor.

After all, what kind of Society doesn't want to dwell with its Leader?