March 23, 2019

In the Voice of Moreau:  Everywhere I look I see the consequences of postmodern philosophy.  The burger joint’s slogan is “Have It Your Way.” Trendy athletic gear is stamped with an emphatic “I Will.”  Medicines advertised on television nonchalantly report “thoughts of suicide” as a potential side effect. The financial planning company exhorts you to “not outlast your money.”  Does life have any enduring meaning? Is there a point to it all? Does anyone care? This intellectual disease has successfully deconstructed Western thinking, but offers no alternative vision for life.  People are instead left to wallow in the mess of their own emotions, desires and insecurities. Postmodernism is a crucifixion that has no hope of new life – just a complicated and frustrating darkness that has no exit.  The Cross is the antidote that cures us of this cunning illness. Our crucified Lord does not fear deconstruction, but in fact welcomes the probing eyes of postmoderns as a way to reveal the undeniable truth of the Resurrection.  Let us stare this phantom in the eye, proclaiming with the prophet Isaiah, “I have set my face like flint against a stone, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (50:7). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Holy Cross Educator’s Response:  In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the character Polonius gives this advice to his son Laertes prior to his son’s departure for school in Paris:  “This above all: to thine own self be true”. On the surface this might appear to be good advice, and, today, it is often interpreted to be such.  But it is not good advice because Shakespeare is being sarcastic when he has these words coming from the bumptious and bombastic Polonius. The proper interpretation of the lines is to look out only for yourself without regard for others.  Look inward for your own created truth rather than focus outside yourself for the truth of the Cross. Being “true to you” only works if that truth aligns with God’s will. Blessed Moreau asserts: “This is what you can and should do for your students, if you are really zealous for their salvation.  [T]ake up this work of resurrection, never forgetting the special end of [your vocation], to sanctify youth. It is by this that you will contribute to preparing the world for better times than ours; for these students who attend your school are the parents of the future, the parents of future generations.  Influence them, then, by all the means of instruction and sanctification. Then and only then, can you hope to attain the end of your vocation by the renewal of the Christian faith and piety. May it be so! May it be so!” (Christian Education, Part Three. 1854).  In another of Shakespeare’s plays Henry V, the playwright borrows from Psalm 119:105 when King Henry declares that “Henry will to himself / Protector be, and God shall be my hope, / My stay, my guide, and lantern to my feet.” The psalmist’s actual words are “Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet and Light Unto My Path.”  Holy Cross educators as co-parents need to give this advice to their students rather than the anemic and false advice from Polonius.  Just another moment when we can relate information to Christian formation. Such moments occur throughout all of the academic disciplines.  We teachers need to be alert to the many times that we can debunk postmodernist fatalism. Ave Crux Spes Unica!

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