Friday, January 4, 2013

Catholic Stories at the WSJ Today

The Cleric Behind Les Mis

As Hugo worked on the novel, his son Charles, then in his 20s, objected to the reverential treatment of the bishop. He argued to his father that the portrayal gave undeserved respect to a corrupt clergy, bestowing credibility on a Roman Catholic Church opposed to the democratic ideals that he and his father held. Charles instead proposed that the catalyst for Jean Valjean's transformation be a lawyer or doctor or anyone else from a secular profession.

The pushback didn't work. Not only did Hugo hold his ground, but he amplified the importance of Charles-François Bienvenue Myriel, affectionately known in the novel as Monseigneur Bienvenue (Bishop Welcome). The book's first hundred pages or so are a detailed chronicle of Myriel's exemplary life, showing that his intervention on behalf of Jean Valjean was part of a long track record and not a singular aberration. Apparently Hugo recognized no contradiction between his anticlericalism and the possibility—or certainty—that grace could be mediated by a just priest who was transparent to the divine and never betrayed the human.
Rose gave us the priest's back story before we saw the film because she was worried the film wouldn't do a good job. She needn't have worried even though the bishop was only in the piece for a few minutes. A great piece that you can read here.

Notre Dame's Holy Line

Before Monday night's national championship game, a University of Notre Dame football captain will lead the team through a prayer called Litany of the Blessed Virgin. "Mother of our Savior," a captain will say. "Pray for us," the team will respond.

It's a ritual familiar to Catholics. But most players on the Notre Dame squad aren't Catholic. So participation in that ritual is voluntary. And should any concern arise about praying to the Virgin Mary—a concept some non-Catholic Christians find objectionable—team chaplain Father Paul Doyle stands ready to respond. "We're not praying to our blessed mother," he says. "We're asking her to pray for us."
And that ain't all. I had no idea ... read it here.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Anchoress's piece and I'm glad to see it being shared around.

    I'm also happy to see the WSJ piece on ND getting some attention. I'm an alum and a current employee, and it stings when I see or hear implications or outright accusals against our Catholicity. It's a complicated, multi-faceted subject, of course, and it's hard to talk about well briefly. For my own part: I was no fan of any part of the Obama debacle in 2009; for that and many other reasons, it's an imperfect place. Yet, this campus (and the global community it's grown) remains the most thoroughly, deeply, authentically, pervasively Catholic place I've ever been in it's environment and it's people. Anyone who has visited the campus in the last decade walks away marked by the experience.

    Anyway, it's a wonderful place. Come visit, everyone! Hospitality is part of our charism!