Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Graphic abortion images: coming soon to a campus near us

A pro-life group, the Center for Bi0-Ethical Reform, has plans to rent billboard trucks and use airplane banners to display graphic abortion photos in the South Bend area. The press release is here.

I'm pretty ticked off that they go out of their way to mock ND Response's efforts and accuse them of "covering up the horrors of abortion." This kind of infighting in the pro-life movement serves no one. ND Response has decided that aborted baby pictures will not change any minds or hearts here, and I tend to agree with them. The Obama supporters are more likely to be angry at the protesters for "ruining graduation" than to actually stop and think about the implications of those violent images. They have hardened their hearts to the reality of abortion. Such pictures will not make them look outside themselves, but rather turn them further inward and convince them of the righteousness of their anger towards all those opposed to Obama's appearance.

And to say that ND pro-lifers are "responsible" for the Obama invite is ludicrous. Why are peaceful, non-violent protests being equated with capitulation? Why do some people insist that anything short of a "scorched-earth" response to the opposition amounts to surrender? Again, ridiculous.

These actions only add fuel to the fire for the people on campus who insist on lumping all pro-lifers together with Randall Terry. I'm sure this will bring on another bushel of letters to the Observer peppered with words like "extremist" and "jihad" and comparing pro-life activists to terrorists. Clearly, pro-lifers at Notre Dame just can't win this one. At times like this it is tempting to be consumed with frustration and just give up. Now is not the time to quit, but to redouble our prayers and try to respond as Christ would.

Edited to add: I saw one of the airplanes with banners as I was going out to grab some dinner. Pretty graphic stuff...I would be upset if I were a parent and my child saw it. It will be interesting to see the reactions if they do this during the day when people are going to and from classes. I will be gobsmacked if the responses are anything but "Those nutcases are at it again." So much for changing minds.

I'm also engaged in a discussion with people on CAF who are all for this approach and accuse the ND students of "not doing enough." I wonder if those people would approve if anti-war protesters used images of dead soldiers to protest the war in Iraq. A soldier hit by an IED probably looks much like the image of the mangled baby I saw. I'm thinking there will be a blog post soon on the power of images and the dignity of the human body...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't bite Padre

Fr. Z offers a catechetical note on receiving Communion on the tongue. The logistics can be a bit intimidating - especially when you have only ever been taught to receive on the hand.

I first received on the tongue when attending the beautiful St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. They did not have the EF Mass at the time I was there (summer of 2006) but the priests there offer the Ordinary Form of the Mass with extraordinary reverence. Masses are said ad orientem and all receive communion kneeling at the altar rail and on the tongue. It was a profoundly moving experience for me. When I kneel to receive, there is a great feeling of reverence and awe that washes over me. Not that I don't feel awed when receiving my Lord in my hand - but I think that posture emphasizes the sacred nature of that moment.

After seeing some people recieving on the tongue at the Basilica, I was emboldened to try it during Holy Week, when they had enough priests that no EMHCs were used and priests were distributing communion to all. Luckily I was able to make my wish to recieve on the tongue understood, and I think I prefer that way over receiving in that hand.

A little intellectual honesty, please

From the Observer: Jenkins to meet with Obama invite supporters
Yet another slap in the face to pro-life students and ND Response. Although ND Response pretty well botched their chance to meet with Jenkins, I can't help but wonder if Jenkins will permit the press to be present as he is lauded by the Obamaites.

A quote from one member of this group:
"There are a lot of [students] who are more moderate, who say, 'I'm pro-life, ... but you're not going to get anywhere if you just reject people out of hand," he said."

My good man, why not be honest with yourself? Why not just admit that you could not care less about abortion as long as Obama is being honored? Why not admit that the unborn are not people to you? Why not just admit that Obama's abortion policy means nothing to you because he's the first black president and therefore "historic?" I would respect the Obama supporters much more if they completely gave up any pretense of caring about Catholic doctrine and Notre Dame's duty towards that doctrine.

"I'm pro-life, but..." Three little words that are the surest sign that their speaker has not understood in the least what it really means to be pro-life.

I'll say it again because the opposition insists on obfuscating this important fact: Abortion is not a religious issue, this is not a political issue. This is a matter of human rights. It's tragic that so many do not seem to understand this. What are they really teaching them here at Notre Dame?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dialogue - really?

In this controversy over inviting Obama to be commencement speaker, the word "dialogue" gets tossed around an awful lot. We should be open-minded, say the Obamaites, and engage in dialogue with the whole world.

Well, the comment about the need for open-mindedness brings to mind a Chesterton quote about the mind being like the mouth - we open it so that we can shut it firmly on something - whether a morsel of food or a truth. But I am more baffled by the constant insistence that inviting the president to speak at commencement and honoring him with a degree is "dialogue." Here's the definition of dialogue, courtesy of Webster's Online.

Note particularly the second definition, which is what I believe these folks are driving at: "a) a conversation between two or more persons b) an exchange of ideas." I really wish some Obama enthusiast would explain to me how a commencement speech amounts to a dialogue. It sounds more like a monologue to me. (We're awfully fond of those at Notre Dame, it seems, whether they are delivered by female sexual organs or presidents with teleprompters.)

Is POTUS actually going to sit down and discuss his views on abortion with pro-life students and professors, and listen to their arguments? Is he going to explain to us why he believes it is just to deprive the unborn of the rights of personhood? Or is he just going to show up, pay lip service to "diversity of thought" and "freedom of religion", and leave with his pro-choice agenda completely unchallenged by his hosts at Notre Dame?

I am sure the last scenario will be what actually happens. But the Obama enthusiasts will continue to insist that a monologue is actually a "dialogue" so that they can frame the opposition as simply being closed-minded and against academic freedom. See how much easier it is to debate when you can simply make words mean whatever you want?

To quote Inigo Montoya, "That word you are using, I do not think it means what you think it means."

Bishop Latino joins bishops in opposition to Obama honor at ND

A seminarian friend brought this to my attention via Facebook: Bishop Joseph Latino makes statement on invitation to President Obama

I'm happy to see the bishop of my former diocese chiming in. Although I have moved out of state, I still receive the Mississippi Catholic. From the letters to the editor, I could see that Catholics in the diocese of Jackson were troubled by this. It goes to show how far-reaching the influence of Notre Dame is. And in spite of those who insist that the controversy over this invitation is a matter for the "Notre Dame family" alone, it shows that Our Lady's University is the common patrimony of all American Catholics. Notre Dame has great symbolic value for many who have never even set foot on campus.

I hope to find the complete text of the letter and post it for you here.

Friday, April 17, 2009


After reading this letter, and the comic in today's Observer, I have come to the conclusion that Notre Dame students are passionately attached to tradition. Not Catholic tradition, though...just any football weekend or spring scrimmage weekend tradition that involves binge drinking.

Honor Obama with a degree? "Totally, we should be, like, open minded and tolerant. Abortion is, like, not really a big deal. We have no idea why the Church is so uptight about it. They need to get with the times and stuff. Whatever. And Obama is so AWESOME!!!1111eleven YES WE CAN!!!!!1111eleventy"

Take away our gigantic party were we can get drunk and hook up? "OUTRAGE!!! ur killin our tradishun down with THE MAN"

Can you tell I'm feeling just a bit cynical today in spite of all this gorgeous weather?

(I know this is definitely not representative of all Notre Dame students! But I am seriously disturbed by how much drinking seems to be mandatory for a good time, even for the more serious students I've met. It's not like people didn't drink at my alma mater. But I only knew a handful of hardcore "partiers" who went out and intentionally got drunk on a regular basis. The really ridiculous partying was confined to the frats and sororities.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Jesus, take pity on me!"

This is several years old, but was recently reposted on a Catholic forum I frequent: Terrible Crosses to Bear

Crucifixes sold in the gift shop of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York were found to have been produced in Chinese sweatshops under horrible conditions. The complete report from the National Labor Council is heart-wrenching. The workers, some as young as 15, subsist on a meager vegetable broth and the occasional "meat" dish. They live in crowded, filthy dorms. They are forced to work overtime for an hourly wage that wouldn't even buy us a can of soda in the U.S. After a mandatory deduction for their dorms and food, their gross pay is 9 cents an hour. They work up to 108 hours in a week. After working a 19-hour shift, one worker cried, "Jesus, take pity on me! I'm going to die of exhaustion!"

The supplier of these crucifixes is a member of the Association of Christian Retail, but there is nothing Christian about the conditions these workers are subjected to. What's more, they are making religious items, supposedly objects of devotion. What must they think of the supposed Christians who buy these crucifixes at markups of 1000%? Christ shares in their suffering - but trapped in what amounts to slavery, they will probably never hear His message.

I have avoided buying religious items made in China due to their government's repressive policies toward Christianity and their policy of forced abortions. This has only strengthened my resolve to stay away from Chinese-made products. Importers of religious goods need to take responsibility for their supply chain and stop claiming ignorance of their suppliers' actions. Maybe in some cases they are willfully ignorant. After all, it's easier not to know, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not Yours to Give

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about American folk hero Davy Crockett? Do you picture a frontiersman in a coonskin cap, or maybe the hero of the Alamo? What about fiscal responsibility? It seems like a non-sequitur at first, but Crockett was a respected Representative from Tennessee as well as the stuff of frontier folklore. This snippet from his life has much to teach us about the way our elected officials should treat taxpayers' money. It's long, but please read the whole thing:
Not Yours to Give, from The Life of David Crockett

A number of things are striking about this story:
  • Crockett actually listened to and respected the opinions of his constituents. He knew he could be easily replaced if he lost the peoples' trust.
  • His constituents are literate and informed, in spite of living in the "backwoods" of Tennessee. They keep an eye on what their representatives are doing in Washington. They care about the way they are governed. They have read the Constitution and understand the limits it places on Congress. Can we say as much about ourselves?
  • Crockett realized he was wrong and admitted it. When was the last time you caught a politician doing that?
  • Crockett came to understand his responsibility with regards to taxpayer money. He realized that he was only a steward and did not have the freedom to distribute money at will from the public treasury. He clearly makes the distinction between private charity and government aid.
How our nation has changed - and not necessarily for the better. Food for thought on Tax Day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kristin Lavransdatter

Reprinted from Crisis Magazine, an excellent biographical sketch of the Norwegian Catholic writer Sigrid Undset.

Most of us here in the United States have probably never heard of Sigrid Undset. I remember it was my grandfather who first introduced me to Kristin Lavransdatter, her brilliant trilogy of novels set in medieval Norway. My father's father was and is a very taciturn, stern man. He was the child of Norwegian immigrants and proud of his heritage. He told me once that my name in Norwegian would be "Kristin." Maybe he liked it because it reminded him of Kristin Lavransdatter. Like Sigrid Undset, he was a convert to Catholicism (something I didn't know until very recently.) His conversion from Lutheranism was probably precipitated by his marriage to my devout Irish Catholic grandmother, in an era when "mixed marriages" were not well looked upon. Whatever the circumstances, he soon became as devout a Catholic as she (somewhat to the dismay of his Lutheran relatives). He probably found much to relate to in the conversion story of Sigrid Undset.

As a child, I was a voracious reader. (I still am!) One summer while we were visiting my grandparents, Granddad suggested I read The Mistress of Husaby (more properly called The Wife as that is the title Undset gave it, translation notwithstanding). Unfortunately the translation was the older one by Charles Archer, and while I was reading well above my grade level at the age of 10, I wasn't quite precocious enough to manage a book chock-full of archaic language like "I trow." Not having read the first book, I also didn't quite understand why Kristin, the heroine of the novel, was constantly depressed and thought that her child would be born deformed. Needless to say I didn't make it all the way through the book.

However, in college something sparked the memory of the Kristin Lavransdatter stories. Maybe it was a blog article about Sigrid Undset, the Catholic author. I logged on to Amazon, ordered the trilogy (in a newer, more accessible translation), and was instantly hooked. Somehow I found I could relate well to my supposed namesake. At twenty I could understand the guilt that sin leaves behind it much better than I could as a child. Kristin is the apple of her father Lavrans' eye - yet she defies him to marry the man she loves - or thinks she loves.

Don't be deceived by the seemingly chick-lit plot I've described so far - this is not light reading. In contrast to today's more popular romances, sin has consequences in this story. Kristin's defiance of her parents, her society, and God has its price. She gets her heart's desire - yet she is somehow never happy with Erlend. He is not the perfect knight she believed him to be, but a weak, fallen man. Although he loves her in his own way, he constantly betrays and disappoints her. However, Undset shows us how Erlend's betrayals great and small shape her into an iron-willed woman and mother. And when Kristin is most in need, it is her former fiance' Simon who keeps faith with her in the most unexpected way.

Perhaps what I like best is that no character in this trilogy is a cardboard cutout. Simon, unassuming at first, soon reveals himself to be one of the most complex characters in the story. His life is inextricably and painfully bound up with Kristin's. The revelation of the secret burden of Kristin's mother Ragnfrid gives us insight into how regret and guilt have shaped her life - as they do her daughter's.

The end of The Cross, the last novel in the trilogy, is perhaps its most powerful moment. Kristin recognizes her utter weakness and fallibility - yet she comes to understand that she has served God in her life. She has been an unmindful, disobedient servant perhaps - but a servant nevertheless.

I have read Kristin Lavransdatter again and again, and every time I read it I find something new in it that I never noticed before. I have yet to read any other novel that has been so enriching to my spiritual life. It is both catholic and Catholic in its appeal. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Bishop Bruskewitz's letter to Fr. Jenkins


Reverend and dear Father Jenkins,

Permit me to add my name as well to the long list of Bishops of the Catholic Church who are utterly appalled at your dedication to immorality and wrong-doing represented by your support for the obscenity called “The Vagina Monologues” and your absolute indifference to the murderous abortion program and beliefs of this President of the United States. The fact that you have some sort of past connection with the State of Nebraska makes it all the more painful that the Catholic people here have to see your betrayal of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University. I am

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,

The Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz
Bishop of Lincoln

Wow! The good bishop certainly pulls no punches. I'm not sure what the reference to Nebraska is all about, but I'm sure Fr. Jenkins knows. I'm also not sure how I feel about the tone of this letter, as I greatly admired Bishop D'Arcy's gentler response. But it is refreshing to hear a bishop call a spade a spade, isn't it?

I hereby give Bishop Bruskewitz the St. Nicholas Award - named after St. Nicholas who reportedly punched the heretic Arius on the nose at a council. This letter is the epistolary version of a punch in the nose, for sure.

A moment of doubt

I'm feeling a little anxious tonight...well, really anxious as a matter of fact. I found out today that a midterm in a class where I've been floundering somewhat, did not have the expected good result. It's so frustrating to really, honestly try your best and then feel that all your work was for nothing. Even if I get a 100 on the next exam, I won't have a high enough grade to get credit (a B for those of us in graduate school). This is pretty mortifying because it's an undergraduate level class, in a subject where I considered myself well grounded until now.

I talked to my advisor and while I'm sure he isn't pleased, I can tell he doesn't think it's the end of the world. I'm grateful for that because I would be crushed if I thought he was disappointed in me. He encouraged me to go talk to the professor to see what I can do. I'm not sure it will help at this late date, and besides, this prof was described to me as "soulless" by a friend. (Ha ha.) But at least I can try to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

This is just the latest in a series of moments of FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt. I know everyone has them but I seem to be especially plagued ever since I got to graduate school. I constantly question if this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. Is this my real vocation? Am I really supposed to spend five more years in school? And after I get my degree...then what? God, is this how I'm supposed to be serving you? Would I be better off serving you in motherhood now instead of a few years down the road? How much can I really help people while ensconced in the ivory tower of academia?

One thing I do know: God, for some reason, never sends me those convenient lightning bolts to knock me off my high horse. His guidance to me is much subtler. I hardly ever recognize His handiwork until the moment has passed. I'm praying now for the courage to do His will...whatever that may be.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Notre Dame theology prof says being pro-life is too political

Well, I said I'd hold off until Monday - but I couldn't pass this one up, from the South Bend Tribune:

ND's pro-life center raises faculty concern

Apparently Dr. Porter is concerned that being actively pro-life is too "political" for Notre Dame. This is yet another example of how the focus has been taken off the human rights aspect of pro-life work. As Mr. Cassidy said in his talk at the ND Response rally - protecting life in the womb cannot be seen as just a political or religious issue, but must be viewed in the wider context of human rights. I believe the attempt to frame the rights of the unborn as a solely political issue is a deliberate attempt by the pro-choice side to marginalize the pro-life argument.

I'm not sure what Dr. Porter's concern is - she seems to think that pro-life work can only manifest itself in political activism. Apparently the only pro-lifers she's ever met are of Randall Terry's ilk. Political work is important, but it is only one aspect of pro-life advocacy. Perhaps she has never talked to any of the volunteers at the Women's Care Center. I think someone really ought to make Dr. Porter aware of the wonderful work that the staffers at these crisis pregnancy centers do. That's something Notre Dame should be proud to support, in my opinion.

In my experience, and the experiences of many of my colleagues, it is already very difficult to get undergraduates to discuss abortion in any kind of open-minded and balanced way. They are afraid to explore their own questions and concerns on this extremely difficult subject — afraid of what their peers will think, and perhaps afraid of losing the good opinion of their professors as well. Once the university gives its official approval to an anti-abortion agenda, I suspect that any kind of real academic exploration of this question will become almost impossible.

A very odd comment indeed. I would tend to think that most Notre Dame students are either pro-choice or apathetic, given that so many support Obama. If students really are afraid of ostracism for having pro-choice views - well, all I can say is that they have a taste of what it's like to be a conservative student at a public university. Growing a backbone is also part of the learning experience. Public universities often claim to give equal time to all points of view - but in practice, liberalism prevails and anyone who is pro-life is automatically viewed as anti-woman and "hateful." At least Notre Dame is honest about giving pride of place to a particular ideology - it's a Catholic school for pete's sake!

I never cease to be amazed at faculty and students who exhibit shock and horror at the fact that a Catholic university upholds and actively promotes Catholic values. Is it not enough that we have a multitude of public and private universities in this country which uphold the prevailing values of secularism and moral relativism? Must we also turn Notre Dame into one of them too?

Happy Easter!

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you!

I have some things to post about from Saturday's South Bend Tribune - but it can wait until Monday. There will be time enough to talk, discuss and debate about everything. For now, let us rest and give thanks to God. Christ is risen - Alleluia!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

"This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD." - Exodus 11:11

The Israelites were already dressed for their journey out of Egypt when they ate the Passover lamb. They were strangers in a strange land - not just strangers, but slaves. The Egyptians had held them in bondage - but God would deliver them and bring them home.

Thinking about the flight from Egypt makes me wonder if we realize that we are also strangers in a strange land. This world is not our home, as Jesus reminds us so often in the Gospels. We are made to yearn for heaven. In the words of St. Augustine, "God, Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."

How often do we think about our final destination, our heavenly home? Are we content to stay in Egypt, in the pleasant chains of bondage to this life? Or do we gird up our loins like the Israelites, and set out on our journey, eager to reach the Promised Land?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Observer Roundup

As fellow Domeblogger Dan noted, today's Observer provides plenty of food for thought. First up is the interview with radical pro-life activist Randall Terry, he of the bloody baby dolls and aborted baby pictures. He goes out of his way to chastise ND Response as "not equal to the task before them," for which I am profoundly grateful, since it is now crystal clear that Terry is not here at ND Response's behest and that ND Response does not condone his tactics. While I believe that graphic pictures of abortion have their place, we are not going to change any minds by trying to "wreck" graduation for the seniors. Unfortunately many see Terry's tactics as emblematic of the pro-life movement. We need debate, not sensation - and above all, we need to respond in a Christlike manner. ND Response is on the right track.

Next is a letter from an alumnus bemoaning the fact that the students protesting Obama's appearance are "isolating themselves from the outside world." A common complaint among our detractors - one of the students from the article I posted yesterday basically said "stop complaining, America is looking at us funny." To which I reply - since when are Christians supposed to care what the rest of the world thinks? Jesus warns us repeatedly that if we follow him, we can expect ridicule and ostracism. Doing the right thing frequently gets you criticized by the secular majority. What part of "in the world, but not of it" did not come through there?

It's true that just because we are going counter to society, it does not mean that we are following Christ - something important to remember. But this alum seems to completely misunderstand the reason for the protests - not to disengage from the world, but to engage with it on a Catholic Christian basis. He mistakes students' unwillingness to conform to the world for a misguided hermetic isolation. Unfortunate, really.

Prof. Freddoso's speech from the prayer rally

For those who are interested, Dawn Eden has the complete text of Professor Alfred Freddoso's speech from Sunday's prayer rally at her blog: Prof. Freddoso addresses rally:
Notre Dame protest is about President Obama's actions & intentions, not merely his beliefs

Go check it out - it's worth a read. (And my apologies to Prof. Freddoso, whom I initially referred to by his son's name in my post on the rally! I've corrected my error. Somehow I don't think he would mind too much :) )

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Personhood, Race and the Unborn

From the Observer:
Group starts petition in support of Obama

"The College Democrats, the NAACP, the Black Students Association, La Alianza, the First Class Steppers and the Hispanic alumni group MEChA have given their support to the petition drive, according to Miller."
"'Being a Catholic isn't based on one particular thing and I just think that more tolerance is needed in this community,' said Tipton."

It's good to see reasonable, peaceful action from the other side (other than a few people simply showing up and shouting at speakers during ND Response rallies.) But I really wish that this issue would not be turned into an issue of race. I know I don't care whether Barack Obama is black, white, green or purple. I do care about his policies and how they affect the born AND unborn. I judge people on their actions, not on their skin color, because that's what I've always been taught to do.

1,452 black babies die from abortion every day in this country. And Obama seems not to have a problem with this. I wonder how many of these students know about Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and her love affair with the eugenics movement which sought to keep blacks and other "undesirables" from having "too many" children.

It wasn't so long ago in our nation that black people were not considered persons, either. (Remember the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Dred Scott decision from your high school history classes?) Even after emancipation the repressive Jim Crow laws kept black Americans from exercising the full rights of citizenship. Yes, we have come a long way, and I can understand that the first black president is a powerful symbol for all that has been accomplished. Is it really something to celebrate, though, if that president denies the rights of personhood to another powerless, voiceless group - the unborn?

But for some strange reason, our opposition to Obama is being characterized as intolerance by our fellow students. I'd argue that denying the personhood of the unborn is about as intolerant as it gets.


Greetings to all who may have found my blog via Google! I was surprised to get comments, but a commenter told me that she found Seat of Wisdom by Googling the ND Response prayer rally.

I have to give a little disclaimer - I am not involved in ND Response in any way, other than giving them my support in prayer and at public events such as Sunday's prayer rally. I feel that this is very much the undergrads' battle, since it is their commencement at which Obama is speaking. They are doing a fine job. I encourage all of you to visit the ND Response website if you want to help. God bless.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

ND Response Prayer Rally/Protest

Well, I have returned from the prayer rally and sufficiently thawed my fingers to post about it! :) (No pictures, unfortunately - I left my camera at the house. Maybe next time.)

When I arrived at the Main Building around 2 pm, there was a sizable crowd already gathering. The atmosphere was hushed, but excited. Students were gathered around tables, writing on the red envelopes to be sent to Fr. Jenkins to give to President Obama. A Right to Life member handed me a carnation, and I learned that we would walk down to the Grotto after the rally to lay the flowers in front of the statue of Our Lady.

The prayer rally was kicked off by an invocation from a priest (whose name escapes me, sadly). Most appropriately, he began with a verse from Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." This verse is so dear to me as it embodies my approach to life and work - to lift it up in praise to God. I think Father Sorin must have known this verse as he strove to raise up this university. Now we are all wondering whether Fr. Jenkins remembers that this university should glorify God.

Chris, the chairman of ND Response, then introduced the keynote speaker, Harold Cassidy, a prominent pro-life lawyer. In his speech, Mr. Cassidy refuted the arguments used by Catholic politicians to justify their support of legal abortion. He made the case that the right to life is based not in a particular faith, but in science and law - indeed, the right to life is written into the founding documents of our nation. He shared some stories from his legal work with post-abortive women - stories that eloquently illustrated the harm that abortion causes women. He told of one woman who had survived a suicide attempt brought on by post-abortive depression - the scars of her attempt covered her entire forearm.

It was at this point that we had a bit of a disturbance. I was surprised, actually, to not see any counter-protesters, or at least mockers or scoffers. Given that there are dorms around the quad in front of the Main Building, I half expected to see some foolishness precipitated by people hanging out the windows. Maybe the gray weather and threatening rain kept them away.

But, I did notice during Mr. Cassidy's speech a group of two or three girls on the edge of the crowd, on the east side of the quad. Their body language suggested they were itching for a confrontation. Right about when he started to talk about the harm caused to women by abortion, I heard one girl begin to shout something. He simply raised his voice and kept talking -but she was apparently determined to be heard, as she started yelling for people to "get out of her face." I couldn't really tell what she was trying to say, other than "this isn't about abortion" and something about Obama. She seemed very angry, and frankly, a little scary. Mr. Cassidy asked that she be left alone - I couldn't see what was happening, but I guess someone was attempting to get her to move off. He continued on with his speech but the girl kept shouting indistinctly until a camera moved her way. The chance to air her grievances to the media apparently placated her and we didn't hear any more for the rest of the rally.

After Mr. Cassidy's speech, we all prayed the rosary together as the rain began to fall. The rain came harder and I thought that the girl and her friends had given up and left. I looked up, though, and saw her watching the student leaders pray the rosary with a sneer on her face. I thought for half a second that she would take advantage of the prayer time to rush the podium - but we were undisturbed.

I've never prayed the rosary with such a big group before - they estimated the crowd at about 400 people. It was an amazing, incredible feeling of unity. When the rain got heavier, a sympathetic undergrad - a complete stranger - moved over to share her umbrella.

After the rosary, Prof. Alfred Freddoso spoke for a few moments. He said that campus security would not allow him to drive into campus, even with his faculty tag - drawing a murmur of disgust from the crowd. He told us that he was here as a sign of solidarity, as a representative of the tiny minority of faculty who also opposed the invitation to Obama. His words were absolutely energizing - I wish all those on the blogs who are ready to write off every Notre Dame professor as an utter heretic could have heard him.

Finally, the rally drew to a close and we walked down to the Grotto with our carnations. I said a Hail Mary as the rain continued to fall. My feet and hands were completely numb, but my heart was warm. No, all is not lost here at Our Lady's University.

Now, let's pray that God will bless me with awesome productivity this evening to make up for those two hours I probably should have been studying/working on my term paper! ;) I don't at all regret going, though. Some things are just too important to miss.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Notre Dame students speak out

Via fellow Domeblogger Mary Liz:
Notre Dame Response

This is the official site for news on what the pro-life and orthodox Catholic groups at Notre Dame are doing to protest Obama's commencement appearance. I am very impressed with how fast this appeared, and the media savvy that the student leaders have shown. Some of the group's members have been interviewed on the national news, including a classmate of mine (go Emily!). I have signed up for the email updates.

The first official protest event will be a prayer rally on Palm Sunday (this upcoming Sunday - Lent has really flown by!). Students and supporters will be gathering in front of the Basilica after the noon Mass, and the event officially starts at 2 pm. I plan to take a break from term paper writing and join them in prayer. Hopefully I will see some familiar faces from my TOB class and elsewhere.

I hope for a good turnout - the media has really been focusing on the excitement of the Notre Dame students over Obama's visit, and some of the student quotes have been appalling. The opposition may be a minority - but let's be a vocal, significant, and prayerful minority.