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St. Francis was born into a world in the throes of radical transformation, arguably one of the most decisive periods of change in European history. It was a period that witnessed the birth of the modern state, the early formation of market economies, the birth of the first European universities, and much more. In short, it was a world in need of a saint, like St. Francis, who could channel its wild energy without dampening it. After a brief survey of the political, economic, and religious transformations of Europe from the 11th-13th centuries, we will give our attention to St. Francis’ own writings, the writings of fellow Franciscans (especially Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure, the principal biographers of St. Francis), and works by contemporary historians, both Franciscan and non-Franciscan for other perspectives on the way in which Franciscan charisma encountered the world.
This interdisciplinary course continues the exploration of the relations between faith and culture begun in Catholic Thought and Culture I, beginning with the medieval period up until the present day. Students will engage areas of artistic expression (literature, music, visual art) in the light of philosophical and theological currents affecting Catholic life in a given era. Upon completion of both Catholic Thought and Culture I and II, students will have some grasp on the fascinating interaction of Gospel and culture marking Catholicism's development, demonstrated skills in the interpretation of literature, music, and visual art, and an appreciation for how the arts can embody Catholic truth and goodness in beauty. Students will also have a broad sense of the contexts of the Catholic tradition, parts of which will then be filled in by other, more specific, courses in the program. NOTE: It is not required (though it is recommended) that students take CSMA 500 prior to taking CSMA 501.
At the Last Judgment the Lord will ask us what we have done for the poor, the hungry, the sick and the naked, those in prison, and those without a home. This course is not just academic, it is life-changing. Christians throughout the centuries have sought to put into practice Christ’s command to love our neighbor, and the Church has created a social tradition. We will walk with her on this exciting journey.
This course provides an investigation into the ways in which Catholicism is inherently social and ecclesial. Its specific focus is on the Christian engagement with the world. The course’s framework will be taken from the analysis of society into three spheres of action (culture, economics and politics) as described in Centesimus annus. The course examines the ways that Revelation, the sacramental life, and the teachings of the Church call Catholics to seek holiness and to witness to their faith in the world. Specific topics will include social and economic justice, politics and public policy, lay and religious apostolates, and marriage and family.
Christian communities have always understood, intuitively at least, that culture has a powerful impact on human persons, who are made for the common life of society. For many centuries the Catholic tradition has taken a lively interest in expressions of Christian culture—architecture, art, and literature—but rarely reflected on the concept of culture itself. This changed in the 20th century as many Catholic thinkers, laity and clergy alike, began to examine the relationship between religion and culture more deeply.
One of the leaders of this new inquiry was Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), the preeminent English Catholic historian of the century. Dawson wrote extensively on the nature of culture and on topics related to the importance of Christian culture to Western civilization. This course will acquaint the student with some of Dawson’s work in this area but at the same time put Dawson in “conversation” with a number of other important voices, modern and contemporary, such as Jacques Maritain, Hilaire Belloc, Josef Pieper, T S Eliot, Joseph Ratzinger, Dorothy Sayers, Mary Ann Glendon, Barbara Ward, and Simone Weil. Topics may include secularization, education, the restoration of Christian culture, and technology, among others.
Much of what is called apocalyptic fiction and film does not live up to its name. Apocalyptic literature is not just about the end of the world but how these events reveal the truth about both this world and the world beyond. In this course we will look at the biblical depictions of the end of the world as well as Catholic doctrinal sources on the end times. We will then look at a number of Catholic apocalyptic tales including but not limited to: Robert Hugh Benson’s The Lord of the World (1907), Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), and Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah (1996).
Everyone wants happiness, but does anyone know how to find it? Should we even expect to find it in this life—or just pursue it? In this course, we will examine ancient, medieval, and contemporary writing about the universal human desire for happiness—and the many ways it can elude us. How can we identify true happiness, and why are we often drawn to false imitations? Is everyone happy in the same way? Is it possible to be happy without virtue—or without God? Can suffering and happiness coexist in the good life? Drawing on philosophy, theology, literature, and art, we will map out the unique character of Christian happiness.