This past Sunday I had the privilege
of attending an evening on apologetics at Trinity Western University
and listening to a well known Catholic apologist, philosopher, and theologian, Dr. Peter Kreeft
. The turnout at this event was incredible and the evening as a whole was quite interesting. I know there were other St. Blogs 'parishoners' at the event as well, such as the authors from Et in Arcadia Ego
, and College in a Cottage
Throughout the course of the evening I was frantically taking notes, trying to get down on paper everything that was being said and with the intention of sharing those notes with you on my blog. After having had a few days to reflect upon the evening though, I don't think it would do it justice to simply spew back at you what I heard, but rather, I will share with you one aspect of the evening that really stood out for me.
First, I must provide you with a bit of background information. It was an evening of lectures on the topic of ecumenical dialogue co-sponsored by Redeemer Pacific College (Catholic) and Trinity Western University (Evangelical) and held on the campus of TWU. I wasn't sure how the evening would pan out but I knew that it would be interesting. It certainly lived up to that most basic expectation. I wasn't sure how Dr. Kreeft would be received on the evangelical campus where the event was being held and with a majority Protestant audience (although there were also many Catholics in attendance).
Throughout the course of the evening Dr. Kreeft spoke boldly on the role of ecumenical dialogue, particularly in relation to fighting the Culture of Death with the Gospel of Life. He did not hide the fact that he was Catholic and made frequent explicitly Catholic references to some of the most contentious issues in ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants such as the Eucharist. At first I almost cringed when he made these references, not because I didn't agree perfectly with what he was saying, but because I feared it would push us further away than bring us together by bringing up difficult and seemingly insurmountable issues of doctrinal differences. At the same time, I knew he was speaking Truth and as a Catholic I was happy to hear someone speaking about the importance of Eucharistic Adoration.
Dr. Kreeft pointed out that the Culture of Death is founded upon a denial of all truth and all reality while the Culture of Life, which reflects the Gospel of Life, is founded upon absolute truth and reality. Drawing upon this understanding, he made the connection between the importance of the Eucharist in fighting against the Culture of Death, since it is in the Eucharist that we find He who is the fullness of reality, He who is I AM. It was this connection that stuck with the most from the whole evening and which has been running through my mind since.
Dr. Kreeft suggested that perhaps the most powerful warriors fighting the Culture of Death are the contemplatives who spend hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament each day. This only makes sense to me since it is when I come before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer and adoration that I most powerfully see the light of Truth, perfect reality in God, shone on the circumstances of my own life and the world around me. It is through this light of Christ that I see the sorrow, desperation and death in our culture and feel the urgent need to pray in intercession for those who have been wounded by the Culture of Death.
It is only through the reality that is Christ that we can truly perceive the reality of the culture which surrounds us. And yet, it is this same Christ who guards us from despairing at what we see and calls us to participate in the New Evangelization, bringing His Truth and His reality to all those with whom we come in contact. In the fullness of Truth found in the Eucharist our eyes are opened to the tragedy which surrounds us and even infiltrates our own hearts through our sins. And yet, we are guarded from despair, for in this same Eucharist, we find the consolation of Christ. In the Blessed Sacrament our eyes are opened to reality, and simultaneously we are called to wait in joyful hope that, ultimately, the Culture of Life, the Gospel of Life, will prevail and Christ will reign triumphant.
Though we know the ultimate outcome, the battle is not easy and we must fight with all our heart, mind, and strength to further the Kingdom of God in the midst of a world plagued with disillusionment, deception, and indifference. In compassion and charity, yet holding the courage of our convictions, we must fight to bring His reality to this world which questions the very existence of reality and objective Truth. Through the strength we find in Christ in the Eucharist, and by our prayers, actions, words, and deeds, we must declare the Gospel of Life to the world. But first, we need to be equipped. It is in Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that we will find the strength and wisdom necessary for the battle, for without Him we are weak and powerless. In Him alone is the victory over the Culture of Death.
As you can tell, attending the lectures by Dr. Kreeft I was given much to think about. And despite my automatic response of not wanting to rock the boat too hard, I would have to agree with Dr. Kreeft that central to the question of the fighting the Culture of Death, even at the level of ecumenical discussion, we cannot ignore the importance and significance of the Eucharist.
After the formal events of the evening, about a dozen students from Redeemer Pacific College gathered together for pizza and good company with Dr. Kreeft at the college president's house. We had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and speak with him about a variety of topics and ask questions. It was certainly a privileged occasion to sit around the living room talking with one of the most well known Catholic apologists casually discussing our common Faith, philosophy, the current condition of the Church in North America, and our plans for the future. On which note, Dr. Kreeft approves of my interest in pursuing graduate studies in the Theology of the Body. He told me I couldn't be choosing a more cutting edge and on the front lines area of theology to study. At 1:30am Dr. Kreeft left to go to bed, since he had to get up at 6:00am to catch his flight home to Boston, where he teaches at Boston College, but before he left we snapped the picture that's at the top of this post.