University of Mary commencement

We have University of Mary commencement today in Bismarck, and started the day off at Our Lady of the Annunciation chapel for mass, then Our Lady of the Word chapel for our bioethics program’s closing remarks from Dr. Karen Rohr and hooding ceremony. I’m in an Uber, heading with classmates downtown to Fireflour for lunch. Commencement takes place later this afternoon in downtown Bismarck. Final views from campus:

And here is the University of Mary’s alma mater, written by Sister Mary Elizabeth Mason:

Standing on the bluffs of the Missouri
Is Mary our fair University.
For love of Christ at peace with every creed,
She welcomes all who long to learn and lead.

The wisdom of past ages we would see
With eagerness for all that yet might be.
Transformed by grace we gladly work and play;
Good friends and teachers guide us on our way.

May holy Benedict, the man of peace,
Guide us as servant leaders without cease.
O Mary, may you come to greater fame
And may we all add honor to your name!

University of Mary views

I delivered my bioethics capstone talk this morning and had lunch afterwards in the Lumen Vitae University Center. While waiting for my Uber and back to my hotel after lunch, I took in these scenes:

It feels like a lot longer than only a year ago that I was looking out onto the Missouri from near the University of Mary’s grotto.

Benet Chapel and a low-key night

I’m working while I’m here in Bismarck for University of Mary, so these are full days. We’re working up to our major spring event at Americans United for Life, “Women Speak 2019: A Symposium on Life Without Roe,” which takes place in Washington, DC next week. And I’m also participating in the final components of my bioethics program, namely today’s seminar with Dr. Marie Hilliard on health policy and tomorrow’s capstone presentations.

When I got in yesterday, I visited Dan Supermarket across Ivy Avenue from my hotel to pick up some supplies for these next few days like apples, pretzels, juice, etc. And in the lobby, I overheard and engaged in conversations that are different from what I’m used to hearing or participating in—especially the story of a woman who had been three hours north of Bismarck earlier in the morning, just a few miles from the Canadian border.

After today’s seminar concluded, seven or so of us visited Benet Chapel for evening prayer before heading back to the hotel for what will be a low-key night.

Back to Bismarck

I’m writing from Chicago at O’Hare, where I’m on a brief layover before heading to Bismarck, North Dakota for my final visit related to my M.S. in Bioethics. This will be my fourth time in the Roughrider State since my first visit in 2011, and I’m looking forward to seeing the plains again. Sharing two scenes; one from Washington National Airport early this morning, and one with the view from my window on the way to Chicago:


I’ll be in Bismarck for the next few days, returning to Washington on Sunday night.

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

I attended the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast for the second year this morning, which took place at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. Speakers this year were Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Mick Mulvaney, Curtis Martin, and Sr. Bethany Madonna. We also had an exhibitor booth for Americans United for Life prior to the 7am breakfast, and we met many good people, mostly from the Washington area.

After work, I took a Capitol Bikeshare bike home, docked it at the M and Potomac station, and walked home from there.

Roman pietas

Louis Markos approaches Virgil and the Roman interest in pietas:

I’m glad to see that your age has not forgotten Rome. But please, children of the future, do not think that Rome was only a city or an empire or a people. She was also an idea, the noblest idea the world has ever known.

And behind that idea was a single word: pietas. Pietas means the duty one owes to the gods, the ancestors, the state, and the family. It is an orientation that places one’s own personal pleasures beneath the good of the whole. Rome held the bodies of men in fear through her military might, but she held their souls in awe through her pietas. …

Please understand, my Aeneas did not want the job that was given to him. Every step along the way, he tried to stop and build his kingdom there. He was a Trojan and not a Roman. Indeed, if Aeneas could have had his way, he would have gladly died in Troy alongside Hector and Priam and his own dear wife.

How does one attain pietas? By learning to take the long view of things. By recognizing that none of us lives or acts or dreams alone, but that our lives and actions and dreams serve a higher goal and purpose. We may not survive long enough to see that goal become a reality, but we will have played our role in bringing it about.

Let the barbarian live only for himself! The civilized man exists in a complex web of relationships to the past, the present, and the future. His life is not his own, but belongs to the gods, the ancestors, the state, the family. It belongs as well to the world.

When Aeneas met with Anchises in the underworld, his father left him with a challenge, a code that he must abide by if Rome were one day to step into her greatness and achieve her divinely-appointed mission. Put simply, Rome was to be the civilizer of the world, the one that would lay down laws and abide by them, that would mingle justice with mercy, that would establish the great and lasting peace of Caesar Augustus. …

Power without mercy brings tyranny, while mercy without power quickly grows weak and ineffectual. But joined together by pietas, the two can bring order and virtue to a chaotic world of greed and pride.

There can be neither order nor virtue without solemn vows, oaths, and pacts, but none of those covenants can survive for long without pietas. When a man is bound by pietas, his word will be his pledge. He will act, not for personal profit alone, but with the full weight of tradition in his bones. In honoring the ancestors, he will be honoring himself, and in serving the greater good, he will be ensuring his own happiness.

Tacitus at Easter

We celebrated Easter Vigil last night at Saint Raymond of Penafort in Philadelphia:

To mark Easter I’m sharing John Burger’s piece on Tacitus, the Roman historian:

Tacitus is known for his chronicles of the Roman Empire, but he was also a high official in Rome’s imperial administration. Among the many stepping stones he had in his career, there is one that, in light of Christian history, suggests why he might have included a certain Jesus of Nazareth in his famous history, the Annals. …

… there were Christians living in Rome, and a historian like Tacitus, born 25 years after the crucifixion, would have wondered who these people were and why they believed the way they did.

Tacitus refers to the Christians of Rome in the context of the great Roman fire of A.D. 64. He says that to dispel rumors that Nero was to blame for the fire, he:

“…fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”

Little Neshaminy Creek

I wrote about visiting the WREC in Warminster, Bucks County a few years ago before the township demolished the community center to build homes. I visited today for the first time and saw those new homes, and was glad that the little woods nearby still remain, and that Little Neshaminy Creek is alive:

In the Philadelphia area for Easter to visit family. When we got in yesterday we visited with Fr. Chris Walsh at Saint Raymond of Penafort in Mount Airy, Philadelphia, and then visited Holy Sepulchre Cemetery where my grandparents rest. Today we visited my childhood neighborhood and places like Little Neshaminy Creek.

We’re heading to Easter Vigil tonight at Saint Raymond of Penafort.

Everything is mysteriously entangled

In Death on a Friday Afternoon, Richard John Neuhaus writes:

By these three days all the world is called to attention. Everything that is and ever was and ever will be, the macro and the micro, the galaxies beyond number and the microbes beyond notice – everything is mysteriously entangled with what happened, with what happens, in these days.… Every human life, conceived from eternity and destined to eternity, here finds its story truly told. In this killing that some call senseless we are brought to our senses. Here we find out who we most truly are because here is the One who is what we are called to be. The derelict cries, “Come, follow me.” Follow him there? We recoil. We close our ears. We hurry on to Easter. But we will not know what to do with Easter’s light if we shun the friendship of the darkness that is wisdom’s way to light.

J.D. Flynn pointed out how strange and unlikely it is (even more so if we bracket the Christian belief in resurrection) that we remember the story of a Roman peasant. But it’s not so strange or unlikely if it’s true that everything “that is and ever was and ever will be … is mysteriously entangled…”

Near the Capitol

We caught the Nats v. Giants tonight at Nationals Park. It was my first time back at the park since September, and it felt like summer is nearly here. Afterwards we walked from the park north up New Jersey Avenue until we came near the Capitol and Supreme Court.