The Cornerstone: A monthly digest from the Institute for Human Ecology
March 2022
A Message from Our Executive Director

The Lenten season began on March 2 in the shadow of the Ukrainian war. In the midst of conflict and uncertainty, the promise of the cross and the meaning of the ashes emerge most clearly. Our Lord comes into death bringing life; into chaos bringing order; into sorrow bringing joy. The Lenten season is one of purgation and penance because it is time set apart to contemplate the totalizing reality of our salvation.

Josef Pieper, the great Thomist philosopher and German survivor of both World Wars, dedicates the final chapter of Happiness and Contemplation to answering a poignant challenge: How can we praise contemplation when there is so much evil in the world, so much work to be done?

He says: "Earthly contemplation means to the Christian . . . that behind all that we directly encounter the Face of the incarnate Logos becomes visible. This is not meant in any gnostic and mythical sense. Rather, we mean something simultaneously superhistorical and historical. The historical element is this: the Face of the Di­vine Man bears the marks of a shameful execution. Contemplation does not ignore the 'historical Gethsemane,' does not ignore the mystery of evil, guilt and its bloody atonement. The happiness of contemplation is a true happiness, indeed the su­preme happiness; but it is founded upon sorrow."

At The Catholic University of America, our ties to the Ukrainian Catholic Church are deep and proud. Among them is my dean in the School of Theology and Religious Studies: Father Mark Morozowich, a Ukrainian Catholic priest. We earnestly seek the intercession of Blessed Nicholas CharnetskyBlessed Leonid Feodorov, Venerable Andrey Sheptytsky, and above all, Our Lady of Fatima, to petition Our Lord for an immediate and miraculous cessation of violence.

May we recall that even in the desert, Our Lord was never alone, but united to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our union in Christ, and His union to the Trinity, brings all suffering together in the single Body that suffered to make all other burdens light. 

– Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Institute for Human Ecology
Newman on Liberal Education
By IHE Graduate Fellow Joe Gazaille

A puzzle arose during the Newman session of the Art and Modernity reading group last semester: a liberal arts education involves reading great literature, but great literature often exposes one to immoral lifestyles. This conundrum might make one think of St. Augustine’s lament of classical studies from Book I, Chapter XVI, of the Confessions: “[H]ow woeful are you, O torrent of established custom. Who can resist you or when will you run dry? How long will you continue to roll the sons of Eve into that vast and terrible sea in which even those who mount the cross scarcely escape drowning?” The same literature that educates one about the great tradition of mankind is the very literature that can lead one into moral peril. How does Newman solve this puzzle?

Read the rest of Mr. Gazaille’s piece here.

The Future of the University

IHE Fellow and Baylor University Professor Thomas Hibbs sits down with Public Discourse managing editor Elayne Allen for a wide-ranging conversation on the trends and challenges that face higher education today.

Read more here.

A Catholic Case for Liberalism

IHE Fellow V. Bradley Lewis argues that the idea of the common good is both central to Catholic thought and solidly compatible with liberalism in an essay for American Purpose.

Read more here.

Cohabitation and Divorce
IHE Fellow Brad Wilcox presents research in the Wall Street Journal demonstrating that marrying young without ever having lived with a partner makes for some of the lowest divorce rates in the nation.

Read more here.
Ryan Anderson on The Federalist Radio Hour
IHE Fellow Ryan Anderson and National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis joined Emily Jashinsky on The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss their forthcoming book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing.

Listen here.

C.S. Lewis on Evolution

In a piece for Evolution News, IHE Fellow Jay Richards analyzes C.S. Lewis arguments on naturalism and evolution.

Read more here.

Dominion Over All the Earth

In his column for The Catholic Thing, IHE Fellow Michael Pakaluk lays out a Catholic approach to environmentalism.

Read more here.

Women of Ordinary Times
“On Ordinary Times” is a biweekly column by IHE Fellow Lucia Silecchia reflecting on ways to find the sacred in the simple. In her latest piece, she considers the diversity of female saints and their influence during Women's History Month.

Read more here.
Stairway to the 'Other': Edith Stein's Insights on the Person
IHE Fellow Dr. John McNerney discusses empathy in the life and work of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). 

Read more here.
Upcoming Events
2022 First Things Lecture
8 March 2022  7:00 p.m.

In this lecture, Georgetown University professor Dr. Joshua Mitchell will survey longer developments in the conservative movement and more recent politics, with a view to clarifying the crisis in which American citizens now find themselves. He will discuss the politics of competence and explain why a healthy American future should be built around it.

Please join us for this lecture on March 8 at 7:00 p.m. in Heritage Hall at The Catholic University of America.

Learn more here.
AI, Virtue, and Military Ethics Conference
5 April 2022  6:30 p.m.

As artificial intelligence is deployed across the military, it is becoming an essential component of the contemporary warfighter’s toolbox. This conference will explore whether, and in what ways military AI systems can foster virtuous action. Because of the complex nature of these problems, the conference will bring together both scholars and practitioners: philosophers, theologians, military experts, policy-makers, and programmers. Interdisciplinary discussion will allow the development of new pathways for guiding the ethical use of these rapidly expanding tools.

Learn more here.
Featured Podcast
Ross Douthat on Vox Conversations
IHE Fellow Ross Douthat joined Vox Conversations and Zack Beauchamp to discuss how worried the public should be about the health of American Democracy.

Listen here.

Recommended Reading
The Silent Knight: A History of St. Joseph as Depicted in Art

By Elizabeth Lev

Images of Saint Joseph are ubiquitous in the modern Catholic devotional landscape, with his statues and figurines standing sentinel in every church and creche, but this was not always the case. The husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus spent the first centuries of Christian art as a great absentee, unaccounted for in visual representations of Christ’s birth and infancy.

The Silent Knight, by art historian Elizabeth Lev, explores and chronicles the remarkable rise of Joseph’s iconography through masterpieces by some of history’s greatest artists. Each chapter of this book reveals a different facet of Joseph, contextualized in the history, spirituality, or controversy of the age, and demonstrates how artists applied their creative talents to communicate Joseph’s intercessory power to their audiences. Through the words and prayers of Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Bridget of Sweden, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, Pius IX, and John Paul II, readers will learn how devotion to Joseph expanded both the breadth of his intercessory powers and his geographical area of influence, galvanizing painters and sculptors to produce fascinating innovations in his iconography.

Read more here.
To bring clarity and truth to a world in need, the Institute for Human Ecology secures a free space of inquiry where scholars plumb the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The IHE sponsors multidisciplinary collaboration to tackle key contemporary issues and to unlock the fullest realization of human dignity in society.  

Your support will help the IHE promote greater freedom and prosperity for all.
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