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An Urban Legend of Holy Cross (Satire) - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:26 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

A conversation overheard at Crossroads, 9/15/2018, 11:47 P.M.

Student 1: “Last time, I’m pretty sure they trapped a Dominican friar and then released him inside Campion house. I’m pretty sure it’s true, too.”

Student 2: “I’d believe it. Kind of like the Exorcism Room.”

S1: “Yeah, initially it was like a ghost story. Everyone heard sounds in the walls as the Dominican scurried about, but they dismissed that as the pipes or the house settling. The chaplains thought it might’ve even been a squirrel on the roof collecting acorns or a mouse chewing on wires. The building’s pretty old – early 1900s, I think, and it actually used to house Jesuit priests for a while. Mice wouldn’t be out of place, right? But anyway, next they noticed additional St. Thomas Aquinas icons lying about, and the cookies kept disappearing.”

S2: “A shame. Those are good cookies.”

S1: “Oh, but that’s just where it started. There were reports of a figure in all-white – a ghost, perhaps – talking about existence and essence, synthesizing faith and reason so well that it terrified the students greatly.”

S2: “That really does sound terrifying. I thought faith and reason were completely separate entities.”

S1: “That’s what most people seemed to think, so the students reported their fears to the chaplains. The chaplains, hearing that report, assembled and came clean to each other about some of their own paranormal experiences. One mentioned that he went back to his office and found that his decorative Summa Theologica was open, while another chaplain explained that when he was having lunch, his Twitter had been used to correct James Martin.”

S2: “James Martin, S.J.? Bold move.”

S1: “Eventually they mustered up the courage and headed into the attic to investigate. As the story goes, they saw the form of a man in all-white speaking in some demonic tongues (and I took Latin 101 last semester – looks like those were actually prayers). They all screamed ‘ghost!’, but then they remembered that the supernatural doesn’t exist. They thought back on all their experiences: the Aquinas icons, the open Summa, Jesuit fights on Twitter, synthesis of faith and reason so well that students were converting at a rate much higher than the 15-person RCIA cap, the Salve Regina being sung from the ceiling, and they realized that it must be a Dominican.”

S2: *visibly shudders.* “I’m glad I wasn’t there. Anything that serious would’ve freaked me out.”

S1: “It got even spookier, though. At every theological error, the Dominican would pop out of the floorboards or descend from the ceiling to make a correction. The chaplains tried to catch him with bear traps and theological books from Dinand, but they weren’t in the original Latin, so he wasn’t interested. Apparently, they even tried to lure him out of the attic with a prostitute.”

S2: “That doesn’t sound very Jesuitical.”

S1: “Well, this is all hearsay anyway. He chased her away with a fire poker, as the story goes, although I’m not sure where he got the hot poker. He then collapsed on his knees, receiving a chord from an angel and growing in power.”

S2: “But I’ve been in Campion – how come I haven’t seen him? After all that, did the chaplains finally manage to get him out?”

S1: “I’m not sure. He got pretty heavy from the cookies, at least, so that might’ve been his undoing. Maybe he headed up to Ciampi, the new Jesuit residence. I’ve never been up there, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been sneaking in and out of their hallways. In fact, I don’t even know if Ciampi has hallways. I’ve never gotten so close as to see in a window.”

S2: “That friar is probably still creeping around here somewhere. I get the feeling, somehow, that he hasn’t left – that he watches, disapprovingly, from afar.”

S1: “Who knows. Let’s get our pizza, though, before Croads closes. At least that isn’t a theological error.”

 

Catholic Rite of Catholic Lite (Satire) - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:24 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:25 PM ]

By John Buzzard '19

In a shocking turn of events, the Vatican has released a new encyclical that will “fit our modern times.” As the Church faces a time of crisis, it seems as if more and more people are turning away from Catholicism in response to unanswered questions from their clerical leadership. In order to address these questions, the Vatican has decided to avoid controversy by refusing to initiate any dedicated discussions on the topic. Instead, the minds of the Holy See have released Tempus Boomerorum, a brand-new, full-length document that confronts the current trends of modernity.

 Many proponents of the encyclical are lovingly referring to the document as “Catholicism Lite.” One Vatican official added, “We call this Catholicism Lite because sometimes tradition is hard to uphold. We’re in a very fast-paced time, and it’s up to us to meet that pace. At the same time, through Tempus Boomerorum, we can appeal to many of the lost sheep and be the “lite” to bring them back. It’s a very fitting name.” Inside the encyclical, we find encouragements from papal authority to reduce all the difficult aspects of Mass, such as kneeling, being silent, and paying attention. The specifics are clear: the Church wants to work with us and base itself on our example rather than thousands of years of tradition.

The press release indicated that Tempus Boomerorum will address several Mass-related issues. Mass attendants will be encouraged to keep their phones on and with them at all times. One congregant stated, “I’m glad I can finally feel guiltless about when my phone rings during Mass. Sure, it’s usually just my friends inviting me over to watch football, but it could be something serious.” As we can see through the above example, sometimes we have to give people the benefit of the doubt; they might be attending to important matters rather than mindlessly browsing social media. The encyclical also encourages congregants to wear shorts and sandals into Mass. The Vatican wants to encourage comfort – not a hot, unfocused congregation – when commemorating Jesus Christ’s suffering and dying for our sins. A parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church told reporters, “I mean, I never saw the problem with wearing sandals at Mass. Jesus wore them, right?” The encouragement to bear more skin seems like a net-positive for Church attendance. Dress codes are, after all, the most significant factor in most people’s Mass attendance.

Tempus Boomerorum is a groundbreaking encyclical because it adds another optional Mass that the celebrant may offer. The “Lite Mass” is one that can fit the pace of society. Each Mass has a maximum run time of 30 minutes; while God only asks for one day a week, that time can always be repaid later on in the future. The celebrant is also encouraged to offer Mass from the pews with the laity as a way to involve everyone in the proceedings. While ad orientem Masses may seem “hip,” they exclude the people in attendance, who are the backbone of the Mass itself. At the same time, versus populum may seem like a happy medium, but for the Lite Mass, it just isn’t enough. The rest of the Mass remains the same, but the attendees are also encouraged to join in holding hands for the music. The music will also feature the “instruments of the people,” the guitar and piano, rather than the exclusionary organ and choir. At St. Cecilia’s in New York City, a parishioner added, “Well, the organ is nice and all, but if I can’t see the person playing the instrument, what’s the point? I want to feel involved rather than excluded.” The proponents of this encyclical are willing to abandon outdated, traditional liturgical music for a more relatable soft-rock atmosphere.

 Perhaps the most lauded piece of Tempus Boomerorum is the 100 page warning against global warming: an absolute must for this update to the Church. Vatican officials wanted global warming to be the focus of the encyclical, despite commotion from detractors that “wanted to focus on Church-based issues rather than political debates.” The response to these detractions was to include another 50 pages that were loosely related to Church issues, but were sure to mention the importance of separating trash and recyclables. “Our Earth is ours for future generations, and we are called to be stewards of creation”, stated one Vatican official. While it seems like no one was criticizing the statements about respecting our environment, the inclusion came at an interesting time of deflection (or, rather, reflection) in the Church.

The greatness of this document will shine for generations. Each Youth Synod will be allowed to make alterations to the document, which is a novel idea to the eternal Church. As the youth are the next to take charge of the Church, officials felt that their input on the encyclical will begin a new bridge between two out-of-touch generations. One staple of each Youth Synod is the inclusion of a suggestions box for how the Church may improve. The youth in attendance are encouraged to write down their suggestion on a notecard or tweet with #MyModernChurch to @Pontifex. The very nature of this document being open for changes is a sign that the Church is going in the right direction. In such open-ended and free responses, there had to be some restrictions. For example, the Minister for the Youth noted, “The youth think they’re humorous in writing their responses in Latin, but frankly, the Latin language isn’t very inclusive for most of the world. Please write your response in the vernacular. The Minister of Vernacular Languages added, “I’m glad to announce that our Catholic Church has received suggestions in over 60 languages, and am looking forward to appointing a committee to go through each response in their native tongue.” Truly the Church can say to its critics, “we’re keeping up with the world, so how about that?”

Tempus Boomerorum is sure to be the stepping stone for a Third Vatican Council. One can only hope that the Church can better fit with the world governments today and make the necessary changes to exist in the 21st century. As we await the positive outcomes of this encyclical, rather than addressing the negatives, we hope to be able to stay in touch with Vatican officials in order to see a new, tolerant, and truly universal Catholic Church. 

The Sexual Revolution: What Went Wrong - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:23 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

By Anonymous

It seems that we are starting to subtly backpedal on many of the leaps towards progress we have made in recent history (particularly the 20th century) because we realize what we once thought was progress is actually destructive. The Sexual Revolution, in particular, stands out as a prime example of a reach for respect and equality that, in many aspects, took those virtues away. Many components of the Sexual Revolution have led to some of the most challenging problems people, and specifically young adults, face.

First, one of the most visible effects of the Sexual Revolution is the widespread acceptance and prescription of “The Pill.” While the benefits and risks are widely debated, the medical community has accepted the birth control pill as Gospel. They use it as a band-aid solution for additional issues young women deal with while simultaneously promoting it as the most legitimate form of contraception (second only to the IUD). If so many women are on the pill, what is the problem? For one, many women begin taking birth control hormones as teenagers; according to one study done by Reuters, approximately “eighteen percent of teenage women ages 13 to 18 filled prescriptions for oral contraceptives in 2009.” The first time a doctor recommended hormonal birth control to me, I was twelve. Young women are hardly developed before they begin to take regular doses of hormones, which many of them will take for years on end. We do not even like to drink hormones in our milk, so why does it make any sense to put regular doses of hormones into our bodies for years without blinking? For many, the answer is fear.

Second, that fear of pregnancy and loss of respect for motherhood can also be accredited to the Sexual Revolution. While unplanned pregnancy was one of the great fears that led to the development of birth control and, in part, the Sexual Revolution, the irony of it all is that women are more afraid of an unplanned pregnancy than ever. The Women’s Movement that coincided with the Sexual Revolution put women in the workplace, which is monumental and ought to be appreciated. But the culture of working women led to many people looking down on motherhood as less than a career - as if women are not living up to their potential or succeeding if they become mothers. Young women are so afraid to have children because there is glory in a career, but shame in early motherhood.

Third, another destructive component of the Sexual Revolution is the liberal view of sexual relationships that led to modern day “hookup culture.” The increasingly lax view of sex has perpetuated it in the form of casual one-night stands. Attempting to eliminate emotions from sex has caused feelings around it, committed relationships, and interactions with the opposite sex to warp. Emotions only become more confusing and misunderstandings more likely to happen, especially if snapchat usernames are exchanged. As a result, kids are growing up with sexual pressure coming at them from all sides. Part of hookup culture is the expectations that society and we, ourselves, place on our peers and friends. Women are expected to have sex, but not too much sex. Men compete with their peers to be seen as sexually, and therefore, generally, competent. As a result, we are all boxed into some kind of shame, while our sexual actions and abilities are examined as some sort of measure of our value as people. This is why millenials do not have a clear idea of true feminine and masculine virtues. These virtues have been twisted into things that become toxic: in hookup culture, we are all just using each other.

Fourth, an offshoot of hookup culture is one of the most well-known effects of the Sexual Revolution: the increasing occurrence of sexually-transmitted diseases. It is estimated that one in four college students will contract an STD during their time at school. I mean, yikes. So gross. Nothing more to say about that one.

Fifth, there is less respect for religion, the sanctity of marriage, committed relationships, the unborn, and women. Things that we once saw as sacred are now seen as disposable, for they do not align with the way people want to have sex. Just like everything else in a culture of instant gratification, we want pleasure like our fast food (immediately! yesterday!), or if we are particularly patient, our Amazon Prime shipping (two days is tolerable, same-day is preferred). When we treat sex and love in this way, we cheapen it, we make it less valuable. We dilute the greatness of marriage when we try to imitate it, only resulting in a knock-off. When we women try to “have sex like men” we are just exhausting and hurting ourselves to even the score, just to say we are “equal.”

Sixth, a sub-effect of viewing people as disposable is a normalization of abortion, and therefore, an increase in abortion. According to the World Health Organization, approximately  40 to 50 million people are aborted each year; 125,000 people are aborted each day. This is the world’s greatest poverty; we run a 125,000 person deficit each day worldwide. The selfishness on part of our culture, large institutions with larger lobbying budgets, and the media prey on terrified women in difficult situations.

Seventh, and last, is another sub-effect of the objectification of people as a means to an end: rape culture. When we start to treat each other as disposable and worthless, we step into dangerous territory. People are complex, multi-dimensional, and full of value and potential for greatness. When we look at anyone and simply see an opportunity to fulfill our sexual desires, it is a massive oversight of the value another person carries. When we see other people as objects, our culture loses its humanity.

So, what are we to do? We should backpedal on destructive activities and change what we can to create a healthier view of sex in society. For example, the medical community should be encouraged to explore holistic medical treatment for ailments young women face. Natural Family Planning should be more accessible to all people and recognized as the credible pregnancy prevention and health tracking method it is. We need to start talking about sex and sexuality in a way that does not pose sex and morality as mutually exclusive. We must reframe sexual education so that it can be informative and not posed as a battle between abstinence and Godless” sexual teaching. We have to start appreciating mothers for what they are: heroes who shape human beings through hard work and endless effort. We must start respecting each other, regardless of sexual rumors and reputations on college campuses. And, most importantly, we must make a conscious effort to view people as full of worth rather than just sexual potential.

These are big problems that require big changes, but if respect grows, so can solutions. Perhaps the “modern woman” will not have to use people to feel equal to men, and men will not use people to feel manly.

 

The Triumph of the Holy Rosary - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:20 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

By Ryan Foley '21

Pope Leo XIII said that “the rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life”. Popes throughout the centuries and the greatest of saints have spoken of the marvels of this prayer in bringing souls to Christ through His Mother. Leo XIII promoted October as the month of the rosary; as October is the prime month for farmers’ harvests, so too may the rosary be the way in which souls are harvested.

In attestation to the power of the holy rosary, God has shown us great miracles throughout the ages. Many have heard of the tremendous miracles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession at Fatima, Lourdes, and Lepanto (but if you have not, look them up!). Such events to this day astound historians and scientists, leaving no explanation except for the miraculous. There are also many lesser-known miracles that are just as astounding. Here, I will tell of two.

 

The Battle of Muret

The Albigensians were a neo-Manichean sect of heretics that were prominent in southern France during the 12th and 13th centuries. They were a violent opposition that denied the Incarnation of Christ, and their ideas were growing rapidly.

A man named Dominic Guzman of Spain (St. Dominic) was a great opponent to the Albigensians and would preach from village to village about the errors of their heresy, while simultaneously proclaiming the truth of incarnational Christianity. His efforts, however, were a failure. Despite the fact that he was well-educated and a great orator, he could do nothing to rid France of the Albigensian poison. He needed help.

In 1208, when Dominic went into a forest in France, that help he needed came: not from Earth, but from Heaven. After three days of prayer and fasting, tradition holds that Our Blessed Mother appeared to Dominic and gave him the prayer which we now call the rosary, instructing him to use it as a preaching tool to win souls back to Christ and his Church. From that point on, as he resumed his campaign - but now with this new method of prayer and preaching - he found miraculous success and brought back countless souls from the heresy of Albigensianism. Such apologetic victories began to reunite France in orthodoxy, but the Catholics were triumphant on the battlefield as well.

In 1213, Pope Innocent III sought to put an end to Albigensianism, so he called for a Crusader force to go fight in southern France in the city of Muret. Only 1,500 men led by Simon de Montfort showed up for the battle. The Albigensian forces, however, had over 30,000 men ready to fight, and all were ambitious to wipe out the Catholics. Such a lopsided matchup stirred great confidence in the Albigensians. As they had 20 soldiers for every one Catholic soldier, an absolute rout was inevitable. Providence, however, had other plans.

Cemented with the conviction that they were invincible, the Albigensians drank and relaxed the night before the battle. All of the Catholics, on the other hand, spent the night praying the rosary and the morning celebrating Holy Mass. As the Catholic militia knew well, they needed divine help if they were to come out of this battle alive.

When the time to fight arrived, Dominic retreated into a church. He spent his time in the church praying the rosary with the intention that the Catholic forces might be victorious against the Albigensians who had caused so much havoc among Christians in France. Miraculously, by the time he finished praying his rosary, Simon de Montfort and the Catholic troops had already obliterated the Albigensians. Confused and hungover from the night before, the 30,000 Albigensians barely made a dent against the 1,500 Catholics. In fact, the Catholic force killed a staggering 20,000 Albigensians while sparing only 8 of their own men. This was truly one of the greatest military upsets in world history.  

Following the Battle, as Fr. Donald Calloway writes in Champions of the Rosary, “the territorial expansion of the Albigensian heresy ended” and “every Catholic in the area attributed the victory to the rosary.”

 

Our Lady of Las Lajas

Just as the Battle of Muret astounds historians, so too does a little-known event, which occurred in Colombia some 500 years later, leave even contemporary scientists and geologists at a loss for words.

       In 1754 a woman named Maria Mueses de Quinones was walking with her deaf and mute daughter, Rosa, when a great storm came down upon them. Underneath cliffs in a grotto at the Guaitara Canyon, they

sought shelter until the storm passed. Maria had heard rumors that this area of the Canyon, Las Lajas, was haunted. Distressed, she began invoking the Virgin of the Rosary. At that moment she felt someone tapping her on the back. Terrified, she fled back into the storm and walked back home with Rosa.

Several days later they were walking along the same path when Maria sat down near the grotto to gather her breath, as the area was rocky and steep. Suddenly, her deaf and previously mute daughter spoke out saying that she saw a beautiful woman who held a little child in her hand and had “two little mestizos” next to her. Maria was astonished that her daughter miraculously spoke for the first time, but she did not see the woman.

Several days later, Rosa disappeared from home. Maria looked all over town, but Rosa was nowhere to be found. She then went to check the grotto at Las Lajas to see if Rosa had gone to look for the woman. Sure enough, it was here that Maria found Rosa playing with a little boy whose mother stood before them. Knowing that it was Christ and His mother who were in her presence, Maria fell to her knees in awe. After this, Maria returned to the grotto frequently with Rosa to pray for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession.

Several months later, a great miracle occurred that spread the news of this apparition throughout the lands. Out of the blue, Rosa became very sick and died. Everyone in the village had heard of her tragic death. Her mother was devastated, and at a loss of what to do, she panicked and brought her dead child to the grotto to pray that Our Lady might ask her Son to bring little Rosa back to life. As an answer to her prayers, the child was miraculously returned to life. The people of the town had heard of her resurrection at Las Lajas and went to explore this area where such a great miracle had occurred. What they found imprinted upon the cliffs, however, provoked even more attention than the resurrection of Rosa.

Upon the rocks was a magnificent image of the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus in one hand and, in the other, a rosary that she was handing to St. Dominic. The Child Jesus in this image is handing a friar’s cord to St. Francis of Assisi at His side. Maria had not seen this painting before, nor had anyone else. No one knew who made this spectacular piece of art.

Over time, when no one was looking, some people began to chip away at this image on the rock; it could have been worth a grand sum of money. Even after they chipped away over three feet into the rock, the image remained. Geologists and civil authorities concluded that the image was not a painting at all. Rather, the image was a part of the rock itself! It penetrates several feet through, as the colors of the image are quite literally the colors of the rock itself. The only artificial parts of the image are the crowns upon the heads of Christ and Mary, which were added in later years.

The image still exists today in near-perfect clarity at the shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas in southern Colombia. It has been a site of devotion that brought forth many pilgrims, each desiring to see this miraculous image. In 1951, the site achieved Vatican approval as a miraculous site worthy of pilgrimage.

These two miracles attest to the power of the holy rosary. In fact, Our Lady, in her 15 promises to those who pray the rosary, said to St. Dominic and Bl. Alan de la Roche that “you shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary”. Yet these are just two of the thousands of miracles attributed to the rosary. We truly do not understand what great power every rosary prayed has in our world. We may not feel it and we may not see it, but the holy rosary delights our Lady and terrifies demons beyond our imagination. As St. Padre Pio said, “the rosary is a weapon in our hands with which we can overcome the devil’s attacks.” Now, when evil is present everywhere, even in our own Church, let us turn to the Blessed Mother and her rosary so that she may lead us all to her Son.  

A Cause for Celebration - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:14 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

By Michael Raheb '20
    
    In the beginning of chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, the prophet states: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. As we move through a multitude of crises – on our campus, in our Church, in our government – it is only fitting that we discern what “time” envelops us and our actions. Most, I suppose, would reply with “a time to speak” from Ecclesiastes 3:7. “We have to vote. We have to be heard. We have to muster up the courage to say what hasn’t been said before, and we need to stand our ground.”

That, of course, is unequivocally true. Whether regarding sexual abuse, scandals within the Church, or dissatisfaction with the government, we ought to voice our concerns. Silence lets open wounds fester. And thus, many discontented voices flutter about in the air like bats on the wing: those of mourning, those of loss, those of hatred, those of warrishness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. On either side of the aisle – Democrat or Republican, atheistic or theistic, women or men, destitute or swimming in money, you name the divisions – finding someone who doesn’t admire speech is rather difficult.

Yet I must raise a question. Since when must speaking only entertain the wrongness in the world? Why must there be so much denigration and bitterness? To those of you speaking and fighting for your convictions: by all means, continue to do so! I have no desire to dissuade you, and I encourage you to continue debating. But in Ecclesiastes the verse’s juxtaposition is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak” (3:7). The prophet does not specify the qualifications for speech and silence, only that each has its time. I think that, in this time of speech, what we are desperately, wretchedly missing is a voice of joy and celebration.

Celebration, in our current climes, might seem out of place. Take James Christie’s resignation from the College, for example. You must wonder: how can we celebrate after the revelation that a man, who was much-admired by many of our students, sexually abused others? Can we celebrate knowing that some of our loved ones have been harmed by someone we trusted? Consider also that, in the wake of Christie’s departure, Holy Cross has met with its 175th anniversary. At a celebratory Mass with His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, belting out hymns in St. Joseph Chapel, I am sure that many of us could not help but let the darkness of scandal simmer in the back of our minds. At the picnic outside of Kimball afterwards, many of us must have wondered who will teach the choir in Christie’s absence.

The same goes for the recent resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his position in the clerical hierarchy. Can we celebrate the Church, knowing that a vast web of abuse and sly coverups have been hidden inside the chapel woodwork for years on end? When we enter our own parishes, can we look up at the kindly faces of our priests with the same reverence and respect? During October’s Synod on the Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, we youth – and the families and friends who support us – cannot help but let our perceptions be colored by the pain of the Church.

Even in the wake of such scandals (and the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but for more on that subject, please refer to Mr. Smith’s article), I believe that there is space for joy and celebration. We can, first, be joyful that justice is finally being served in places where there was once a drought. We can also celebrate our College’s 175th anniversary. Even with its stains, Holy Cross has given us grand opportunities and grander futures. Charging our voices with bitterness in lieu of appreciation will keep us from seeing the picture in full. Having magnificent professors is worth our joy. Having a beautiful chapel and the capacity for daily Mass is worth our joy. Having a student body with many intelligent young men and women who strive for the good of society is worth our joy. We ought to do our best to recognize what has been uncharacteristically unjust or foolish, but we should not let those problems make us cynical pessimists.

Christ did not put us into the world to be harbingers of doom and prophets of horrible things to come. He granted us our lives so that we might love like He did, sacrifice like He did, and bring other people to the Lord. That may, sometimes, require us to use our speech for fraternal correction. But it might be more fitting for us, before correcting each other, to recognize that we are first brothers and sisters. Our sheer existence within the will of God is cause for celebration, as are our relationships to one another. All our present scandals, in fact, can be traced to misconstrued relationships among God’s people, a lack of respect for each other, and capitalization on weakness and strife. I do not wish that our voices be used to propagate that strife.

Instead, I call you to look at the world, your community, your family, with unclouded eyes. There is much that we can give thanks for. To you fathers and mothers: the children you have raised with devotion, the dinners together and the laughs shared over their first steps – these are cause for celebration. To you students here: the multitude of classes you can choose from, the status of Holy Cross as a top-tier liberal arts college, even your ability to receive higher education – these are cause for celebration. To you alumni: Holy Cross, in its days of glory and darkling hours, has granted you wonderful futures, and it soon shall do the same for us – so this is a cause for celebration.

Our world, unfortunately, has quite enough toil and trouble in it. While those voices of discontent can fill the sky with a cacophony as tremendous as a roosting flock of sparrows in autumn, remember that fresh air does good for one’s constitution. Taking a moment to appreciate our blessings and celebrate them would benefit each and every one of us.

 

The Political Consequences of Justice Kavanaugh's Confirmation - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:00 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:10 PM ]

By Cameron Smith '20

    It has been a little over a month since the beginning of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process, and the fiasco is finally over. The 50-48 vote in favor of his confirmation on the Senate floor on Saturday, October 6th, brought him into the Supreme Court’s fold. This confirmation process has further accentuated the sharp divide between the political Right and the Left, given that the sexual assault allegations levied upon Judge Brett Kavanaugh were the main focus of the process: not from a sense of moral right and wrong, but from a political standpoint. Whether the allegation was true or false, Democrats, and particularly Senator Dianne Feinstein, clearly used the allegation of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as a political ploy. Their intent was to delay the floor vote on confirming Kavanaugh or to destroy his nomination before even making it there. At the same time, Senate Republicans claimed that the Democrats were pushing false claims against Kavanaugh. They stated that the Democrats, rather, were willing to take advantage of Dr. Ford in order to obtain a political advantage. Senate Republicans also attempted to push Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a vote before an official FBI investigation could take place into the sexual assault allegations, but were only stopped by Senator Jeff Flake, a pivotal vote in the confirmation. Flake stated that he was uneasy about voting for Kavanaugh before an FBI investigation could better ascertain whether the accusations were justified. Senator Flake’s move was a last-ditch effort to achieve some sort of unity between the members of both parties, but unfortunately, it failed; the ensuing FBI investigation became a major source of contention between the two sides, particularly in regards to its time restriction and scale. Regardless, the investigation seemingly found nothing that would potentially disqualify Kavanaugh from being placed on the Supreme Court. He was confirmed in the Senate almost completely on party lines. Only one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, went against the rest of his party and voted in favor of Kavanaugh.

    While the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh certainly has a conservative impact on American politics as a whole in the coming decades, it is uncertain what effects his confirmation will have on the upcoming midterm elections – especially congressional elections – in November. While the house was certainly expected to flip to Democratic control, the confirmation of Kavanaugh actually raises more questions about the upcoming elections than answers. Could Kavanaugh’s confirmation, another promise Donald Trump made on the 2016 campaign trail, be enough to energize the Republican base to vote with hearts reaffirmed by his kept promises? Or could this be what the Democrats needed, riling up their voting base’s anger at a Republican Party which they perceive does whatever it takes to keep hold of political power? It’s difficult to tell, however, whether the defeat in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight will raise or lower enthusiasm for Democratic voters in this election cycle. According to a Gallup Poll taken on September 27th, both parties’ voters are expressing a the highest enthusiasm for voting since 1994, with Democrats at 61 percent enthusiasm and Republicans at 58 percent. The most important figure, however, may not even have anything to do with the Democrats. The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll has just been released, showing President Donald Trump at a 51-percent approval rating among likely voters a day before the confirmation vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Odds are, that number will rise among conservative voters even further now that the Supreme Court has a solidified conservative majority. With a majority of Republicans aligning themselves with the President, it’s quite likely that with Trump’s increased approval rating, Republicans across the board may receive a bit of a bump in votes in their respective races.

    At the same time, the Democrats have developed a tumultuous discord among their own party, with many Democrats adamantly opposed to appointing Nancy Pelosi, the current Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, as Speaker of the House.

    Many Democratic nominees are being judged by voters with regard to their stances on Nancy Pelosi, which may very well lead to some lost votes from Democratic voters in close races during the midterms. This focus, combined with the red-state/red-district Democrats who voted against Kavanaugh in the confirmation vote, will make these toss-up races more interesting, because it may give a slight edge to Republicans running against Democrats in those districts.

    However, the Republicans aren’t necessarily going to escape the Kavanaugh confirmation unscathed. Many voters on the Left will consider the confirmation of Kavanaugh as a violent push-through of an immoral man into the most important court in the land. This could ramp up the animosity that the Democrats already hold towards the Republicans, whipping them up into a frenzy that could cause some Republicans trouble in the polls in November. However, with President Trump’s approval rating as high as it is among those likely to vote, it may be difficult for the potential Democratic wave to take back as many seats in the house as they plan.

    In all, the most likely case is that the Republicans will still lose control of Congress, albeit by many fewer seats than most expect, and they will keep a hold over the Senate, which is less contested, in this election cycle. Although many are expecting the Democrats to make huge gains in this cycle, there are simply too many factors in favor of the Republicans to completely write them off as losing double-digit seats in the upcoming elections. While many still hate the President and his political party, enough of the American people still stand behind him and the promises he has kept to his supporters. They could feasibly carry a few more Republicans to wins than most voters might think. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, arguably the most important of President Trump’s promises, will certainly help Republicans to increase their approval ratings; these will, in turn, help with their election chances. Whichever way the elections in November go, the impact of Kavanaugh’s confirmation will certainly have a strong presence in politics for years to come. 

 

 

 

An Open Letter on the Church and Abuse - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 6:54 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:11 PM ]

By Jack Rosenwinkel '21, Representing the Review's Staff

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the beginning of St. John’s Gospel, it is written: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). In these months of darkness following widespread revelations of abuse within the Catholic Church and on our campus, John’s words gain a deep relevance. Darkness, pain and confusion are everywhere. It seems, at times, as if John was wrong, as if the darkness has finally overwhelmed the light.

At the Fenwick Review, we felt that we had to say something. At the same time, we grew sick of hearing scripted apologies, cagey legal defenses, and words that seemed shallow, insincere, and ill-equipped to affect actual change. We wondered how we could possibly respond to the crisis in an adequate, thoughtful and loving way. How could we condemn systemic abuse and its coverup without sounding redundant or obvious? How could we verbalize our love, admiration and support for victims without sounding hollow? And how could mere words do anything to bring healing, justice or hope?

Confronted with these questions, we at the Fenwick Review have come to the conclusion that, even though this letter will likely fall short, silence is no longer an option. It was the silence of bystanders, bishops and other Church authorities that perpetuated abuse and made victims feel isolated. As a publication, we feel responsible to help break the silence surrounding abuse. Speaking out is the first step toward real reform, change and justice. We at the Fenwick Review are committed to using our voice to call bishops to accountability, to cry for justice, and to speak up for the silenced. More than anything, we are committed to voicing our support for all victims of abuse. We also want to acknowledge that courageous victims were the first to break the silence and expose the evil that has slowly been infecting the Church.

We want all victims of abuse to know that they possess an inherent, inalienable human dignity. We affirm this dignity, and wish to remind all victims, and those they love, of the numerous resources on campus that can aid in the healing process. Anyone who wishes to discuss sexual abuse can reach out to the chaplain’s office, the counseling center, or in the case of an emergency, to Public Safety. SGA, Fr. Boroughs and the College Chaplains sent out school-wide emails with resources for victims, as well as opportunities for dialogue and healing. More information can be found in these emails and on the Holy Cross website.

      We also want to express our frustration with every Catholic Bishop who participated in abuse or its cover-up, through action or inaction. The Fenwick Review is a Catholic publication that often defends the Church and her teachings. Our founder, Fr. Paul Scalia, is now a Catholic priest. It is because of, not despite, our Catholic identity that we call our Bishops to reform. In any other institution, child abuse and coverup would never be tolerated. So why is such evil permitted in Christ’s Church? Why are some of our bishops– the very shepherds tasked with risking their lives to protect their flock– complacent in the face of horror? We demand justice, reform, and authentic sanctification. We demand more than apologies; we demand sympathy and understanding. And now, more than ever, we need leaders: real leaders willing to imitate Christ and die in order to protect their people.

      Finally, we have a message for our peers on the Hill. First, we want to express a message of hope. Healing is possible. Justice will come. Reforms are on the way. Abuse is like a cancer or an infection within the Church. The first step to effectively rooting out the cancer or infection is a diagnosis. Without a diagnosis, treatment is impossible. The Grand Jury diagnosed a cancer within the Church, which is a tremendous step in the right direction, even though it has been tremendously painful and confusing. In Luke 8:17 we are told, “Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open, and whatever is covered up will be found and brought to light.” The Grand Jury report effectively brought what was hidden out into the open, giving victims a voice, naming abusers, and forcing the Church to take action. Through the courage of the members of the Grand Jury and victims of abuse, evil has finally been exposed.

Second, we wish to remind our fellow students that they are not powerless. Here are three practical steps that lay Catholics can take to shift the Church in the right direction:

Support victims. It is likely that we all know vic- tims of abuse, whether we are aware of their abuse or not. It is imperative that we love and support one another, especially because we do not know if someone or someone they love has been abused. We also caution you to not let your anger– though justified– distract you from loving the people God puts in your life.

Contact your Bishop. Bishops are not mythical crea tures or far-off men hidden away in magical towers. They are priests whose entire job is to guide the people living in their diocese. They want to hear from you. Write letters, call their office, encourage them, and remind them that even after the media storm blows over, you will not ignore or forget the crime of clerical abuse.

Finally, pray. Too many people write off prayer as an excuse for inaction. Prayer and action are not mutually exclusive. So work, advocate, and love, but also pray: for victims, for their loved ones, for the Church, and for all abusers. After all, we all need Jesus.

Allegedly, Napoleon once captured the pope and promised to destroy the Catholic Church. The pope responded, “We’ve been trying to destroy the Church for 1,800 years and we haven’t succeeded, what makes you think you can do it now?” Amusing as it is, this anecdote is a powerful reminder of the way that Christ is at work: after 2,000 years of scandal, abuse, corruption and sin, the Catholic Church is still standing. St. John was right: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). There is still hope, even in this time of darkness.

Brothers and sisters, hold tightly to Christ. It’s the only way to get through this storm.

Sincerely,

The Staff of the Fenwick Review

 

Editor's Note - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 6:51 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:12 PM ]

Dear Reader,

We have finally come about to publishing the very first Fenwick Review in a very new year. Much of our writing staff—and our two editors—graduated last year, gone like fluttering leaves in the wind, off to see new places and live new lives. We wish them well, and we miss them.

This Review arrives in your hands during a period of tension. Scandals of sexual abuse have ravaged the Catholic Church like wildfires, and even we, a little campus atop a hill in Worcester, haven’t escaped abuse unscathed. Moreover, Justice Kavanaugh, in a massive victory for the Republican party, has been confirmed to the Supreme Court. The Church is at odds with itself, the government’s parties are at odds with each other. What a time to be alive.

During this semester, I have found less than a few people walking with smiles on their faces. Perhaps we are all worn by the constant battering of negative media, fight after fight, argument after argument: shootings, assaults, names dragged through the mud, lies and deceit circling the whole mess like flies around a dungpile. Many of us are disappointed in each other, or even in ourselves.

This issue of the Review is emblematic, in part, of those disappointments. Our first article dolefully discusses sexual abuse; another article looks back on the sexual revolution with disappointment. Our two satire pieces each also have their own gripes. The other three articles, however, are cheerier in some respects, covering topics such as the rosary, celebration, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

To you, dear reader, holding this Review  in your hands—I would like to remind you that despite our struggles, the world still has hope and beauty in it. I would like to think that our work as a newspaper has contributed to that hope, although it has often met with contention on the Holy Cross campus. We are committed to truth, to the virtues and codes found in our Church, and to our writers, who find value in gracing the pages of our little paper with their words.

If you take a quick glance at the photo on the cover, you’ll see the faint glow of the sun behind a forest’s dark limbs. I find it a fitting image for this issue and our current moment in time: amid darkness, light suspended in the distance. Do not forget, in all our society’s turmoil, that the sun is just hiding behind the clouds.

 

Sincerely,

Michael Raheb

Editor-in-Chief

 

Editors' Note - May 2018

posted May 8, 2018, 1:42 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

           Dear Reader,

We have come, at last, to the end of the year at Holy Cross—another semester, another sequence of months, an arbitrary measurement of elapsed time.  But it is far more than that, as you invariably knew we’d say. It’s the end of a time together, by turns terribly stressful, thrillingly contentious, and wondrously exhilarating. So too this year, for this publication.  A sponsored lecture in Rehm Library, a published interview with a prominent public intellectual, six issues, a substantially expanded readership, a growing list of alumni supporters.  As one of our predecessors put it, “All in all, not a bad run.”

The Fenwick Review has been around for twenty-nine years.  When it was founded, publications like this one had been springing up for a decade across the country. Many of the social changes of the last few years were inconceivable.  Much of that has changed.  Iraq and Afghanistan discredited the neocons; social conservatives have lost on most of the issues they ever cared about; the neoliberal economics of Hayek and Friedman, once conservative bread and butter, now face increasing criticism from the Right, and particularly from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  Does a magazine built on this synthesis still have anything credible to say?

We believe we do.  “Traditional Catholic principles and conservative ideas” are perhaps less popular in academia today than they were thirty years ago, but they aren’t any less relevant.  Thirty years ago, the Right was all about freedom. While the contemporary left might claim the banner of liberation, it continues to fundamentally undermine the authentic sense of freedom.  It isn’t merely a political problem, either: the de rigeur understanding of human beings is extremely toxic in this regard.

That is precisely where this magazine becomes important. We’ve taken our stands in defence of life, conscience, and religion.  We’ve published cultural criticism and spiritual reflections. We’ve touched frequently on contemporary politics, particularly on the relationship of freedom and the common good.  All of these resist the identitarian flattening of human beings into acronyms or protest movements. All of them communicate the freedom and the dignity of every human person.  In our lives on this hill and beyond it, there are truths to be discovered, and choices to be made. We have to seek them freely, and make them truly.  We hope that we have sometimes helped to do that.

Petite Veritatem,

Claude Hanley ‘18

William Christ ‘18

Editors in Chief

 

10 Years Later: Re-Examining Montserrat - May 2018

posted May 8, 2018, 1:40 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated May 8, 2018, 1:41 PM ]

By Seamus Brennan '20

Montserrat holds a unique place at Holy Cross.  The first-year program is extolled by school officials as a key facet of a Holy Cross education and is advertised to prospective students as a foundational academic experience for studies in the liberal arts.  Yet many current students and alumni seem to loathe the program and frequently cite it as one of the low points of their time at Holy Cross. Clearly there remains a disconnect between administrators and students regarding the purpose and practicality of the Montserrat program: what the College describes as “an enduring quest for intellectual, personal and spiritual growth” represents a frequent source of disappointment within an otherwise collectively esteemed academic experience.  As the College commemorates the program’s tenth anniversary this year, the Montserrat program remains noble in intent and appealing in principle, but it has three primary problems: inaptness of structure, ambiguity of purpose, and incongruity of curriculum.

While criticisms of the Montserrat program are varied, the most common relate to the program’s length and structure.  During the summer before their freshman year, incoming students are asked to select their top five seminar choices, in one of which they are guaranteed a spot.  However, the course descriptions available to incoming freshmen are vague and make no mention of the course’s professor, class readings, or assignments. If a student is placed in a course he or she does not enjoy or find worthwhile, that student is more or less “locked in” to an undesirable class for two full semesters, or 25 percent of their freshman year.

“I don't think reducing the academic component to a semester would be a bad idea,” said a member of the class of 2020.  “After a half of a year passes and we get back from winter recess, I do not see the need to extend the program into the second semester.  It occupies one fourth of the overall courses one can take freshman year, which seems a bit excessive. I think the proposed goal of community and discussion will have been accomplished after one semester if it will be accomplished at all.”

A member of the class of 2019 added, “I think most students right now see [Montserrat] as something that is in the way of them taking more classes that could benefit them, so being very clear about the skills that a student should gain through their Montserrat program and why it is beneficial to move forward in college and life is important.”

To be sure, the “living and learning” component of Montserrat is a desirable one: the notion of spending the entirety of one’s freshman year in an intellectual  residential community is attractive and commendable, and it is difficult to imagine that any academically serious students would be opposed to such an arrangement.  The Holy Cross website describes Montserrat as an environment in which “big ideas addressed in the classroom or at cluster events serve as springboards for conversations that continue over dinner or during a late-night study break—which in turn give rise to enduring friendships.”  As captivating as this description may be, is a structured academic environment that lasts for a full academic year really necessary to foster the sense of community and intellectual engagement the College deems so important? Most colleges that require a freshman seminar require only one semester, and many of those are not taken for academic credit and are focused solely on the communal aspect.  A “lively intellectual and social community that encourages engagement with a broad range of themes and issues” can be every bit as lively and engaging if the academic component of Montserrat were removed or even limited to one semester.

Because Montserrat is a required first-year seminar lasting two semesters, a large assortment of course offerings are available.  During the 2017-2018 academic year, thirty-seven courses or a grand total of seventy-four semester-long seminars within six broadly themed clusters were offered to incoming freshmen.  With enormity of size comes an extremely wide range of themes and syllabi, and having seventy-four distinct courses intended “to accommodate a range of interests,” as stated in the Holy Cross magazine, seems excessive and can potentially lead to extremely narrow curricula.  For instance, one may wonder how previously offered Montserrat seminars like “Images of the Latino in American Cinema” fulfill the program’s self-proclaimed mission of serving as a “dynamic introduction to the liberal arts.” As a Holy Cross professor suggested, “One might wonder, if we are going to have required freshman seminars at all, shouldn't they be of a sort that are grounded in serious, even classic books that introduce students to liberal education, rather than focusing on narrow topics that happen to be of interest to a particular instructor?”

The problematic potential for thematic thinness within the Montserrat program likely stems from various professors’ different approaches to their respective seminars and syllabi.  Holy Cross students have long complained about the inconsistency of academic rigor between various seminars. “I think Montserrat could be improved by having the curricula of the different seminars looked at more closely.  Having a common format and grading system could help the fact that many students feel like they landed themselves a ‘harder’ or ‘easier’ seminar than someone else,” said a member of the class of 2019.

The wild discrepancies in academic expectations between each Montserrat course have more than likely left a negative impression on some professors.  “Years ago a stalwart member of the faculty taught in the program and reported it was the worst mistake of her academic career here, as she was teaching a regular academic course and students kept complaining to her that she was making them do serious academic work while their classmates in other courses had very little work to do yet all earned high grades,” said a Holy Cross professor.  “The fact is, in my observation many faculty simply have little interest in teaching in the program, so the Montserrat director, even with the best of intentions, is compelled to accommodate the wishes, course-wise, of those who agree to take part.”

For a self-described foundational program at a highly ranked liberal arts school, this model of narrowly focused, specialized seminars with a captive audience of first-year students who signed up based only on a short description creates a dangerous possibility for extreme bias and subjectivity within each seminar.  “My Montserrat is shockingly biased. While I do not mind having an atheist professor, it is certainly hard to be in a class where [an] egotistical professor proclaims his atheism at every available irrelevant moment. All the readings we are given slant toward his personal beliefs and when we are given supposedly alternate viewpoints, he does not pick available respectable ones but goes out of his way to make the opposing side look bad,” said a current first-year student.

Despite the program’s potential to exist as a unique and immersive first-year experience for all students, Montserrat rests on a framework that mistakes narrow and potentially ideologically slanted professor-specific interests for a rudimentary introduction to the liberal arts and life at Holy Cross.  In doing so, whether it intends to or not, the program tolerates partiality, compromises its mission, and ultimately collapses upon itself. One must ask, for a program that is supposedly so foundational, so life-changing, and so intellectually riveting: why are many Montserrat seminars focused on relatively narrow topics as opposed to studying truly foundational texts and raising major questions that should be a foundation of liberal education?  Why are rising freshmen given close to zero information—beyond course titles and vague descriptions—about what the course will involve and what the syllabus will entail? Why are rising freshmen unable to know who is teaching a given course before they sign up so they might research the instructor's publications and interests prior to enrolling? Why must Montserrat last for two full semesters with no opportunity to switch courses or professors, especially considering that Holy Cross students only have room for thirty-two classes?

Like so much else at Holy Cross, the answers to these questions are unknown, but the potential for greatness still lingers.  Due to these shortcomings, the Montserrat program has failed to deliver the values it promotes and thereby ceases to maintain any sense of value at all.  As the Holy Cross website states, the program is named after the mountain at with St. Ignatius of Loyola decided to begin “a new life devoted to study, teaching, service, faith and purpose.”  Unfortunately, until Holy Cross can clarify its own purpose for the program and its supposed values, most students won’t be able to either.

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