By: David Campo
Last Thursday night, the Church in the 21st Century Center sponsored a panel headed by Fr. Robert Imbelli, Professor Marina McCoy, and Professor Khaled Anatolios, all of whom discussed what embodies the Catholic Intellectual tradition. Fr. Imbelli highlighted that through spirituality, Catholics encounter the living Christ (by means of Sunday adherence) and how according to 1 Peter 3:15 we must “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to give an account of the hope that is in you”. Fr. Imbelli also implored Catholics to take on the mind of Christ by contemplating the Incarnation and Resurrection, through ontological and epistemological arguments, from the Body of Christ to the marriage of faith and reason.
Professor McCoy reiterated the need to elevate faith and reason, and how the more we know ourselves within God, the better we may spread that to others. Professor Anatolios embarked upon the lesser fulfilled half of our relationship with God. He emphasized how often we proclaim God’s love for us yet fail to espouse our love to God.
What breathed life into the presentation and sparked contemplation issued forth from the Q&A session. The first person asked why Jesuit institutions, let alone Catholic ones, levied such tuition costs, if they truly sought to address the needs of the poor. Fr. Imbelli replied that up until the past several decades, priests and clergy held such responsibility in educating the youth, yet today hardly such vocations may be seen. The torch has been passed to the laity, who require some level of subsistence.
The next man, a priest, conveyed his respect for the presentation, but probed the panel to be forthright in affirming why the Catholic faith is the greatest among many. After a moment of silence settled, Fr. Imbelli referenced Stephen Greenblatt’s final thought in his book Swerve, how the affirmation should not be in the forefront, but rather the unifying elements of all other traditions. Professors McCoy and Anatolios concurred that what mattered most resided within the common elements shared between Catholicism and other traditions.
Coming from a Catholic, writing within the Catholic Issues section of a Catholic newspaper at a Catholic institution, and in the words of the querying priest, is it too “polemical” to believe this faith as distinct from all other traditions? Well, for appetizers, we believe that Christ appointed Peter as the head of his apostolic ministry, and through him the most direct, holy, and universal Church had been established. Each sacrament is sacred and in accordance with the teachings and actions of Christ (we are alone in believing that the bread and wine are literally transformed into His flesh and blood). We believe that Mary the Mother of God, who was born sinless and is honored above all saints and choirs of angels, guided the apostles and serves a special role in salvation history. We believe in consequences after death, a Heaven, a Hell, and yes a much forgotten Purgatory. We believe in the power of the Rosary. And we believe that to love God, we must carry our cross, offering up every thought word and action in the same way Christ did for us on earth and continues to do today. Why are you Catholic, and if you are not, or unsure, what makes you so? I ask only in earnestness for those seeking the Truth, and not to force-feed but as food for thought.