Don't know how many saw the obituary of a gentleman that passed away recently. It was of Edmund Anton Stephan who was a prominent lawyer in the Chicago area who died January 16 at Evanston Hospital at the age of 86. What is significant is that this is the man who basically began the process that de-Catholicized that once noble Catholic institution known as Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. As a lay Notre Dame alumnus and trustee back in 1967 he drew up and framed the legal structure whereby a mostly lay board took over governing the University. It was a drastic change from the previous administration of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the religious order of priests who had founded the university in 1842. Though there are still some Holy Cross priests still teaching today, the majority of faculty and administrators are secular. The governing board remains totally lay run. Back in 1967 Stephan was elected chairman of the board of the trustees where he served through 1982 when he was forced to retire because of the mandatory 70-age limit. Yet he remained "chairman emeritus" until his death last week. Though Notre Dame's highly visible president Father Theodore Hesburgh praised this man highly, do not forget that this transition signaled the end of Catholic universities in our country as we used to know them when a solid Roman Catholic foundation was vital and not an elective. Hesburgh, in eulogizing this man said, "The important thing to remember when we moved to lay control, is that it affected not just Notre Dame, but ultimately almost every Catholic university and Catholic hospital in the country." That's right, like a domino effect every Catholic university. save for a select few, followed suit, abandoning the principles of Catholicism in favor of a "more open curriculum." The results over the past thirty years have spoken for themselves: catastrophic. By shifting the responsibility to the lay sector, the seeds of vocations have dwindled to but a few blooms in a growing field of weeds sprouting heresies and secularism. By turning it over to the lay sector, it paved the way for such notorious theologians as Fr. Richard McBrien to take hold under the golden dome. Hesburgh claimed the move from religious control to lay control was necessary because Vatican II dictated it. Sorry folks, he's wrong. He sites the Council called for people outside the clergy to be given positions "commensurate with their talents, their experience, their specialized knowledge and their dedication." In that he is correct, but his interpretation is what is in error for Vatican II never intended for the laity to "take over" which they did at Notre Dame and countless other Catholic institutions throughout the United States. The laity was always meant to use these God-given talents to compliment and support religious institutions and their projects, and through this valuable and specialized assistance, help Holy Mother Church as well as contribute to nourishing more vocations The Vatican II Council Fathers intended for the laity to be more involved because of their talents - a way they could participate in evangelization and tithe with their talents and time as well as treasures. In no way did the Second Vatican Council "dictate" that the laity take over.
Though many will mourn this man and we join them in regards to his soul and pray for him, we do not mourn this man for what he accomplished but rather we mourn what he wrought - a further watering down of the faith by diluting and, in some cases, eliminating a strict Catholic curriculum that had served Notre Dame so well for well over a century. This same strict Catholic curriculum thrives today at such loyal institutions as Franciscan University at Steubenville, Christendom College, and even diocesan universities like the University of Dallas to name a few. There are lay people involved with all of these, but they are there in support, not dictating change because the Council did not "dictate" this. Rather the Council "dictated" that the faith be deepened in all universities and institutions throughout the world. It's too bad Fr. Hesburgh and Mr. Stephan and countless others missed the point. The damage done has been considerable, but it is not irreversible if we wake up to the fact that, after thirty years the results are in: this experiment is not working. There is a huge mural of Christ flanking the facade of the campus library overlooking Notre Dame's hallowed football stadium and often referred to as "Touchdown Jesus." He has not been celebrating much over these last three decades. More often than not instead of signaling victory, He has had to issue penalty flags to the Notre Dame administration and other administrations who have wandered from the roots of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith. Call it "illegal procedure!" It's time we get the right signal callers and coaches into the game - dedicated religious committed to the Church - so that we can make up lost yardage and fully restore faith in our faith through education at all levels!
If we can eliminate the static, the distractions by going deep inside to spend a few quiet moments with Him, then we can better listen, learn and live God's Will and Word. If we can learn to do this with total reverence then God will never get a busy signal when He comes calling. Afterall, the interference always comes from our end because worldly things block Him out. We're too busy being about our own affairs. We need, more than ever to listen, learn and live what Our Lady - Refuge of Sinners - says, "Do whatever He tells you." No wonder Saint John Bosco's vision entailed the vital link between devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the bond of devotion to the Blessed Mother - the Immaculate Heart; no wonder Fatima and Medjugorje are indefatiguably linked as Our Lady has confirmed; no wonder the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is so vital to ushering in the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - the new era. By complying with her words in John 2: 5 and all she has imparted through private revelation - both officially approved by Holy Mother Church and that which the Magisterium has allowed to continue - we will become a true link in the chain that will bind satan, and we will play a powerful role in prompting God to allow Mary's Immaculate Heart to triumph sooner, thus issuing in the Reign of the Sacred Heart - the New Millennium of Peace - the Age of the Eucharistic Presence.
Yes, this is a special time. It is a special time to heed what our Mother of the Church is imparting, to heed all that the Holy Father - the saintly John Paul II is preaching. It is a special time to listen to what God is saying to each one of us and collectively through His Word - Sacred Scripture, through the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and through any private revelation that is totally in line with Divine Revelation. By heeding Saint Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17-22 to "Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus regarding you all. Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. But test all things, hold fast that which is good. Keep yourselves from every kind of evil." With that kind of formula we can more readily invoke the Holy Spirit to help us close our mouths and open our ears so that we may all truly hear God working in each one of us. If we listen, learn and live what God wants, then we will love Him, as well as our fellow man, all the more sincerely. It's that simple! All we need to do is listen and respond. But we cannot respond if we are not listening. As we conclude this segment of the THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS before continuing our chronological course of Marian Apparitions in the early nineteen sixties, we leave you with the inspiring words of David in Psalms 46: 10, "Be still, and know that I am God."
To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.
No. 1474, 1475, 1476, 1477 and 1498, page 371and page 374 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Chapter Two - The Sacraments of Healing; Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Urbi Et Orbi Communications:
The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God's grace is not alone. "The life of each of God's children is joined in Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian barethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person." [Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5].
In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their Heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in Purgatory, and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." [ibid.] In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.
We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is "not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer Himself, the satisfactions and merits of His Redemption exist and find their efficacy." [Ibid.]
"This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by His grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body." [Ibid.]
Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory.