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Chicago priests serving in Springfield will celebrate Novus Ordo on First Sundays

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, under whose canonical authority the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are. / Daniel IbanezCNA

Springfield, Ill., Jan 26, 2022 / 17:32 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has instituted regulations on members of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius serving there that are similar to those of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where the canons are incardinated.

The canons regular are under the canonical authority of the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“All Masses celebrated by the Canons Regular in the Diocese of Springfield will be celebrated on the first Sunday of the month according to the Novus Ordo,” said a Jan. 25 policy of the Springfield diocese.

Additionally, the policy regarding the canons’ parish in Springfield stated that a “plan of catechesis” will be issued in order to “assist and accompany those attached to the former rite and to fully appreciate the restoration of the liturgy and the teachings of the Council.” 

Priests who currently celebrate the traditional Mass in Springfield but who are incardinated in the Archdiocese of Chicago “will be asked to affirm in their written petition to celebrate the sacraments in the earlier liturgical form that the restored liturgy of the Council is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” 

The diocese also declared that Sacred Heart Church in Springfield will be designated a “non-parochial church for the eucharistic celebrations according to the Missal of 1962,” as is required by Traditionis custodes. 

In 2014, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius was entrusted with the pastoral care of Sacred Heart Church in Springfield. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the Society of St. John Cantius, and the Diocese of Springfield made a joint agreement that the canons regular would be able to minister in the Diocese of Springfield. 

The canons regular, which was founded in 1998, follows a form of vowed religious life that celebrates both the Tridentine and the post-Second Vatican Council forms of the Mass. 

Springfield’s release aligns the canons in the diocese with the policies implemented by their archbishop. That policy, which was announced in December, also went into effect on Jan. 25. 

Under the updated policies, the canons who wish to use the “old rite” must submit their requests to Cardinal Cupich in writing and agree to abide by the new norms under Pope Francis’ motu proprio.

The usus antiquior is also said in the Springfield diocese at St. Isidore’s in Mt. Zion, and at St. Rose of Lima in Quincy, a parish entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

In a July 19, 2021 decree implementing Traditionis custodes, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois had permitted the usus antiquior to be celebrated at both St. Rose of Lima and Sacred Heart “on any or all days of the year.” He also said that “Priests who already celebrate Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are authorized to continue to enjoy this faculty upon request”.

Invasive but not illegal? Pro-abortion light projection on Catholic basilica part of debated trend

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 26, 2022 / 17:06 pm (CNA).

A pro-abortion rights group drew wide condemnation from Catholics, including Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, for projecting pro-choice slogans on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Mass and Holy Hour on the eve of the March for Life last Thursday. 

Whether the display broke the law, however, is another question.

The basilica, located next to the Catholic University of America, lists a private property policy on its website.

“The basilica exists to provide a respectful, distraction-free place of prayer, pilgrimage and worship,” the policy says. It bars trespassing and “distribution of any non-basilica approved materials on its private property regardless of the cause or issue represented.”

“No activity, event or use shall take place upon the basilica’s property, other than those sponsored by the Basilica, unless the individual or group involved has received prior written approval for such activity, event or use,” the policy continues.

Failure to comply with the policy will result in notification to local law enforcement and the filing of “all appropriate criminal charges,” the basilica says.

At the same time, targeted light displays on property might not constitute illegal trespassing under current law, the Thomason Reuters Foundation reported in June 2019. Protesters have been using this tactic for more than a decade. Union members have projected their messages on businesses during labor disputes, and a critic of President Donald Trump projected a message on the Trump Hotel in D.C. 

One group opposed to abortion has projected graphic images of an unborn abortion victim on the buildings of abortion provider Planned Parenthood. 

CNA contacted the basilica for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.

Catholics for Choice, the group behind the Jan. 20 display, has repeatedly been rejected by the U.S. bishops as a non-Catholic group. Cardinal Gregory said the projection demonstrated that the protesters “really are external to the Church,” and cited a biblical verse, John 13:30, that referenced the betrayal of Judas.

The group is largely funded by wealthy non-Catholics who favor legal abortion. Recent major donors include the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, funded by the financier Warren Buffett and family; and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, funded by the family of a co-founder of the Hewlett Packard company.

John Czarnetzky, dean of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, was at the National Shrine during the Mass while the display was taking place outside. When he saw the news of the light display, he found it “immature,” he told CNA Jan. 25. 

While he was not an expert on whether the display could have violated local law, he said it’s possible the organizers of the light display projections calculated their actions to avoid breaking the law.

If the light projection had disrupted services inside the basilica, there could be a stronger case that a law was violated, Czarnetzky said. If the basilica had known of the effort ahead of time, it could have asked for a restraining order.

In New York City last Saturday, protesters of a Catholic pro-life vigil were much more militant.

Attendees at the Archdiocese of New York’s Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral were greeted by about 100 rowdy protestors. The protesters included members of the activist group New York City for Abortion Rights. Some of the protestors chanted insults and screamed vulgarities at them.

They made obscene gestures as a range of people from young children to elderly men and women who entered or exited the midtown Manhattan church. 

Toward the end of the protest, a light projection system displayed pro-abortion slogans including "God loves abortion," and "Abortion forever" on the exterior of the cathedral as demonstrators cheered. 

While light displays and obscene, aggressive protesters can be provocative, Czarnetzky advised Catholics to respond by following Christ’s advice to “turn the other cheek.” 

Any physical altercation between a person angered by protests could result in legal action against the person angered, he warned. 

The light projection protests at Catholic churches leave no damage, but they come amid a wave of vandalism in American cities. Some vandals have faced criminal charges for damaging churches with painted messages that object to Catholic opposition to abortion.

Puerto Rican archbishop condemns toppling of colonist's statue ahead of Spanish king's visit

The statue of Juan Ponce de Leon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. / P. Hughes via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jan 26, 2022 / 15:08 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Roberto Octavio González Nieves, expressed his sorrow and repudiated the demolition of the city’s statue of Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish colonizer who was Puerto Rico’s first governor.

“I would like to express my sadness over the acts that led to the demolition of the statue of the first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León. Said action must draw our strongest feeling of repudiation,” the archbishop said in a Jan. 24 statement.

The statue was torn down the night of Jan. 23-24, shortly before the visit of Felipe VI, the king of Spain, to the U.S. territory. The statue was reinstalled later on Jan. 24.

Felipe’s visit marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of San Juan, and is meant to strengthen commercial exchange.

Archbishop González said that "any feeling of recrimination that one has with the facts of our historical past, is not resolved with acts of vandalism or damaging historical places or places valuable for tourism."

The prelate said that "to protest past events you have to act uprightly, openly and without violence."

“Past injustices are rectified through orderly processes of reparation. The mistakes and wounds of the past are corrected through decisions and actions achieved as a result of a dialogue, coordinated by the Government, between the social, economic, educational, cultural and political institutions of the country,” he commented.

The prelate also stressed that "past errors cannot be remembered in order to act with a present marked by violence, but rather we all must learn from these errors by taking steps forward with a reconciling, healing spirit and with respectful, open and fruitful dialogue.”

Archbishop González acknowledged that "in the process of the conquest and colonization of Puerto Rico, blows were suffered that still require reparation and healing, such as the mistreatment of indigenous people, slavery and colonialism."

However, he said that "during recent centuries Puerto Rico has achieved a relationship of friendship and brotherhood with Spain."

"For example, cultural exchange, economic trade and specifically the aid from Caritas Spain to Caritas Puerto Rico have been significant blessings and have helped overcome the disasters of the recent hurricanes," he added.

The Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico extended "a cordial, fraternal and affectionate welcome" to Felipe, and asked "our people to pray that his visit may be of benefit to our sister nations, Spain and Puerto Rico.”

"I hope that this visit of His Majesty is an important occasion to strengthen the Hispanic and Christian roots that define us as a civilized and respectful people."

“This visit not only invites us to look at the past, but also at the future, strengthening our roots of Hispanicity, faith and language. In a word, that it may reaffirm our Puerto Rican national identity in the mosaic of the families of humanity,” the archbishop concluded.

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reportedly to retire

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks at Brookings, Jan. 21, 2016. / Paul Morigi/Brookings Institution via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 26, 2022 / 11:07 am (CNA).

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will be retiring from the court, NBC News reported on Wednesday, Jan. 26. The network cited “people familiar with the decision” in its reporting.

Breyer, who at 83 is the Supreme Court’s oldest member, was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton (D). He has served for 27 years.

Details on when exactly the associate justice will be retiring were not announced.

The White House did not confirm or deny the reports that Breyer would soon be announcing his retirement. Shortly after NBC’s story was published, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted, “It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today.”

Paski added that the White House had “no additional details or information to share” at the time. CNN reported that Breyer could formally announce his retirement as early as Jan. 27.

A member of the liberal wing, Breyer has consistently supported abortion rights throughout his time on the court.

In 2000, Breyer authored the decision in Stenberg v. Carhart, which found that Nebraska’s law banning partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional as it did not have an exception to preserve the health of the mother. In Hill v. Colorado, which was decided one day before Stenberg v. Carhart, Breyer joined with the majority in upholding a Colorado law prohibiting protests outside of abortion clinics.

If Breyer were to retire, it is a near-certainty that President Joe Biden (D) would appoint someone of a similar ideology to the Supreme Court. This is Biden’s first chance to appoint a justice to the court.

Due to Breyer’s age, calls for his retirement have been increasing since Biden’s election, to avoid a repeat of what happened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020.

In 2020, shortly before the presidential election, Ginsburg, who was considered to be on the court’s liberal wing, died after a battle with cancer. President Donald Trump (R) then appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, to the Supreme Court, shifting the balance of the court.

The Supreme Court’s new term begins on Oct. 3, just under one month before the midterm elections. As the Senate could change hands with these elections, it is likely that Biden would seek to confirm a new member to the Supreme Court before that date.

According to CNN, Breyer wishes to remain on the court until a new member is confirmed to replace him.

Speculation about who would replace Breyer began as soon as rumors began swirling that his retirement was imminent.

Biden pledged multiple times in 2020 to appoint a Black woman to the court, saying in June that, “We are putting together a list of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court,” and that he would not be releasing that list until they are vetted.

How big was the March for Life? Here’s how one pro-life group came up with a massive total

Students for Life of America estimates that about 150,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022, based an analysis of a video of the marchers. / Screen shot of Students for Life of America video

Washington D.C., Jan 26, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pro-life Americans recently traveled from across the country to attend the 2022 March for Life. Despite the pandemic and local COVID-19 rules, marchers gathered in numbers comparable to years past, leaving people to ask: How many marched for life?

The nation’s largest annual pro-life event in Washington, D.C., is held on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. While the march condemns abortion every year, marchers exhibited a new momentum on Jan. 21, as the Supreme Court considers a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.  

In other words, the 49th march could also be the last.

While neither the March for Life nor the police provide specific numbers, organizers estimated that tens of thousands attended the 2022 March for Life, in a statement to CNA. 

Another pro-life group made a more exact estimate: roughly 150,000 marchers. Students for Life of America (SFLA) made the estimate by reviewing footage from their timelapse video capturing the entire 2022 March for Life. They shared the 45-second clip just hours after the march concluded.

“We froze a frame of the timelapse, counted all the people individually, and multiplied that by total frames,” Lauren Enriquez, deputy media strategist for SFLA, told CNA.

Ahead of the 2022 march, organizers guessed that 50,000 Americans would attend, in their permit application. After the event, news reports estimated anywhere between “thousands” and “tens of thousands” of Americans attended. SFLA stands by their 150,000 estimate.

“The Pro-Life Generation showed up in force to remember the sisters, brothers, friends, classmates, children, and neighbors lost to abortion in our lifetime — millions of priceless, beloved individuals who should be here with us today,” Enriquez told CNA. “We also showed up to represent the nearly five decades of activism and hard work that have led to this truly historic moment of potentially reversing Roe.”

She emphasized the resilience of the pro-life marchers.

“What’s more is that those thousands and thousands of marchers, young and elderly, braved sub-freezing temperatures to be out there,” Enriquez added, commenting on the harsh weather that day. “Their sacrifice is a testament to the unshakable fervor of this generation — and this moment. We are ready for a Post-Roe America!!”

State drops charges against Father James Jackson, but he's still being prosecuted. Here's why:

Father James Jackson, FSSP, appearing at a Nov. 15 arraignment before the Rhode Island District Court. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Providence, R.I., Jan 25, 2022 / 16:56 pm (CNA).

State charges accusing Providence priest Father James Jackson of possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited have been dropped, according to the state court website

But the ex-pastor, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), still must face federal charges of distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his lawyer John Calcagni III told CNA. He declined further comment.

The state’s move to drop charges was an expected procedural development that allows the federal case against Jackson to move forward.

Jackson, formerly pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Providence, was arrested on Oct. 30 by the Rhode Island State Police after an investigation by a Rhode Island computer crimes task force.

The state police had executed a search warrant that day at the parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of child sex abuse material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states. 

The investigation revealed that an internet subscriber geolocated to St. Mary’s rectory shared child sexual abuse material via the peer-to-peer network on four occasions between Sept. 4 and Oct. 17, 2021, the affidavit states. 

His state charges could have amounted to a maximum penalty of up to 21 years in prison. 

The federal charges of distributing child pornography is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of five years. Possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his other federal charge, is punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration.

Prior to becoming pastor at St. Mary’s on Aug. 1, Jackson spent 15 years at the FSSP apostolate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado.

Under the terms of his release from federal court in early November, Jackson is free on an unsecured bond with electronic monitoring. He was allowed to return to his home state of Kansas to live with a relative while waiting for the charges to be adjudicated.

Fresno parish church vandalized

Damage at St. Alphonsus parish church in Fresno, Calif., where the building was accessed late on Jan. 14, 2022. / Chandler Marquez/Diocese of Fresno.

Fresno, Calif., Jan 25, 2022 / 16:52 pm (CNA).

St. Alphonsus parish in Fresno was broken into overnight earlier this month. Both the tabernacle and a Marian shrine were vandalized.

Father Carlos Serrano, the pastor of St. Alphonsus, first discovered damage to the tabernacle the morning of Jan. 15. 

“When going through the church, he saw the other damage,” Chandler Marquez, communications director for the Diocese of Fresno, told CNA.

The parish has a Marian statue behind glass, where people often come to pray. Beside the statue is a box with monetary donations for the parish made in thanksgiving. Marquez said the vandal took the box with the donations.

The Fresno police investigated the incident, and were able to recover surveillance images of the vandal. Police assessed the monetary damage to the church at $35,000.

Marquez told KMPH that “The community is devastated. To begin it's a direct attack on the most sacred part of the church but also to have the Shrine of our Blessed Mother attacked. Culturally that means so much to this community.”

Marquez added that the tabernacle's doors were damaged enough that it is being examined to determine whether it can be restored.

St. Alphonsus parish was established in 1908, and it serves 700 families. Masses at the parish are said in English and Spanish.

In a message marking Religious Freedom Day earlier this month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York stated that “For nearly two years, the U.S. bishops have noticed a disturbing trend of Catholic churches being vandalized and statues being smashed.”

“We are not alone. Our friends from other faith groups experience these outbursts too, and for some communities, they occur far more frequently,” he said.

Study will investigate impact, evolving role of maternity homes in US

_Nezemnaya_ (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Denver Newsroom, Jan 25, 2022 / 15:49 pm (CNA).

An upcoming study will consider the impact and evolving role of maternity homes in the United States, in the hope of better serving women with crisis pregnancies. 

The study is projected to launch this spring and continue for three to five years. It is a collaboration between the Catholic organization Heartbeat International and the University of Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunity. 

It will center on five maternity homes in the South and Midwest. 

The study aims to assess the impact of maternity homes today, standardize care across maternity homes, and better serve women experiencing crisis pregnancies across the nation.

Organizers also hope to secure funding for maternity homes with an “all-comprehensive approach to support for the entire family.”

“The heartbeat of this housing movement is to approach her more about the value of her own life, and help her with some long-term help,” said Valerie Humes, a housing specialist for Heartbeat International and director of the National Maternity Housing Coalition. 

“Now the mom can live in the home, or if she chooses, to live out of the home,” Humes said. “The mom still receives care and support through the process in the community through these maternity homes.” 

This shifting role of maternity homes reflects the reality of many women facing crisis pregnancies today, Humes suggested in an interview with Pregnancy Help News, which is managed by Heartbeat International. 

When maternity homes first began in the 1980s and ’90s, society was less forgiving of crisis pregnancies, she said. There were few school programs and state or federal subsidies to support women. But women would frequently return to their families after seeking the support of a maternity home. 

Today, maternity homes are reporting a rising correlation between crisis pregnancies and broken families, trafficking, or substance and domestic abuse, Humes said. 

“Now we are seeing that (reuniting with family) is not the case, because now these women are totally alone, abused and trafficked,” she said. “Now we see fourth-generation displaced family units, 50% to 70% in maternity homes experienced…foster care or have aged out of foster care.”

The maternity homes included in the study are Maggie’s Place in Phoenix, Ariz.; Our Lady’s Inn in Saint Louis, Mo.; Bethlehem House in Omaha, Neb.; In My Shoes in Dallas, Texas; and Aid for Women in Chicago, Ill.

Lawmakers: FDA should regulate prenatal tests in wake of bombshell report

Prenatal blood tests for genetic conditions have become an enormous unregulated industry generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jan 25, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Over 90 members of Congress are requesting that the Food and Drug Administration oversee non-invasive prenatal testing after a bombshell New York Times investigation showing that these tests are wrong far more often than they are correct.  

"We write to you today because it is our understanding that many of these tests have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and we seek further clarification from the agency on this important matter," said the Jan. 21 letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock. 

The letter was led by Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). 

While these types of tests have been on the market since 2011, and about one and three pregnant women take non-invasive prenatal testing during their pregnancies, the tests have “largely escaped FDA regulatory review,” said the letter. 

“Companies that market and sell these products continue to see their profits grow and more products enter the market. According to a Pew Trust report from January of 2021, more than 40 non-invasive prenatal tests are now available on the market,” the members of Congress said.  

“Unfortunately, many of the test manufacturers do not publish data on the accuracy of their tests, and others point to less than satisfactory studies to support their products.”

On Jan. 1, the New York Times published the results of their investigations into the tests. 

The Times interviewed researchers and combined studies “to produce the best estimates available of how well the five most common microdeletion tests perform”: DiGeorge syndrome, 1p36 deletion, Cri-du-chat syndrome, Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, and Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes.

The tests’ positive results are wrong around 85% of the time, the Times found. Many women are pressured or moved to consider abortion after a test comes back positive.  

“While these tests can help parents prepare for the arrival of their child, we are concerned that they could be a predatory financial windfall for manufacturers and directly result in the termination of innocent human life,” said the letter. 

Prenatal testing for conditions such as Down syndrome has been commonplace for decades, but these non-invasive tests for rare diseases are newer. In some countries, upwards of 95% of babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted. 

The letter asked Woodcock to release information regarding the efficacy of the tests, what the FDA knew about the tests, and if there was anything the FDA could do to evaluate the efficacy of these tests, as well as any potential FDA approval steps for certain non-invasive prenatal tests.

A spokesman from Roy’s office emphasized the need to ensure that these kinds of tests are accurate. 

“The results of these tests have literal life or death consequences for unborn fellow Americans, yet it turns out some of them are wrong about 85% of the time,” the spokesman told CNA. 

“Some parents might use this information to help prepare for the arrival of a child, but we know that others are pressured by the medical system and our pro-abortion culture to abort a human life based on dubious information.”

“Eugenic abortion is evil enough to begin with; basing it on unreliable test results is even worse. The American people deserve answers about these tests,” the spokesman said.

Funeral Mass homily: Catholic intellectual Alice von Hildebrand 'defended all that is worth defending'

'Memoirs of a Happy Failure' cover design by Marylouise McGraw. / null

New York City, N.Y., Jan 25, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Editor's note: Catholic intellectual Alice von Hildebrand, whose husband was the late Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, died Jan. 14 at the age of 98. Revered as a "tigress" in defense of objective Truth and the Catholic Church, von Hildebrand appeared more than 80 times on EWTN and contributed many outstanding essays over the years to Catholic News Agency. Some of those CNA essays are referenced in the homily below, given by Father Gerald E. Murray at von Hildebrand's funeral Mass on Jan. 22 at her parish, Holy Family Church in New Rochelle, New York.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” — Letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans 5:1-2

As we join together in prayer at this Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of our beloved friend and mentor Alice von Hildebrand, known as Lily to her friends, we pray that she who had such deep faith in the truth who is our Lord Jesus Christ, that she who radiated the peace that God bestows on those who love Him, may now see the fulfillment of her hope, sharing in the glory that God bestows on His good and faithful servants who have received the supreme gift of the beatific vision, seeing God face to face.

Before the body of a deceased Catholic is brought to the parish church for the Requiem Mass, the Church offers this prayer at the wake: “O Lord, we commend to you the soul of your servant Alice, that having departed from this world, she may live with you. And by the grace of your merciful love, wash away the sins that in human frailty she has committed in the conduct of her life.” Lily asked for Masses to be offered for her soul. She was very conscious of the need that sinners have to seek God’s pardon. In December of 2016 she told a friend: “You know, I have lived a long life. I will tell you a secret. I am ready for it to be over. I think I have done what God wanted me to do. If I died tomorrow, I think I would be grateful. Also, I am a coward: I am afraid of what is coming. I pray for the younger generation. I think we are coming back around in history when people will be killed for their faith. If you are there when I am on my deathbed remind me to say, forgive me my sins, thank you to God and I love you. Have you ever thought about the words you will say on your death bed? Of course, not; you are too young but for me it is very close.” She was only off by five years in predicting her departure from this vale of tears. Those five years, indeed all her 98 years on earth were a gift from God both to Lily and to all those who loved her. Her gratitude to God for all He did for her in this life never wavered, but rather grew stronger. She marveled at her long life as she marveled at everything that God did for her. 

In August of 2017 Lily told a friend: “I love the story of Abraham, how Isaac asked him on the way to the mount where God had told him to sacrifice his son, ‘but where is the sacrifice?’ and Abraham responded, ‘God will provide.’ That is how I feel about my death — God will provide the right people and the right circumstances.” The Lord did indeed provide for her as Holy Mass was celebrated in her apartment, and she received the Anointing of the Sick and the Apostolic Pardon, on January 13th. She went to the Lord that very night, shortly after midnight.

Her death brings to an earthly close a truly amazing life. Born in 1923, her journey through this world into the world to come took her in 1940 from her native Belgium to New York, in flight from the Nazi invaders. Her first home here was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel with her aunt and uncle. Little did she know then that she would spend 38 years at a nearby secular school, Hunter College, teaching philosophy. It was her love of books and learning that led her to Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart and then to Fordham University, where she studied philosophy under the guidance of the brilliant and courageous Dietrich von Hildebrand, who had fled Munich for Vienna when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party took power in Germany. His writings against the Nazis put him at the top of the Gestapo list of people to be arrested when the German army marched into Austria. He escaped on the last train out of Vienna and made his way to New York, where he resumed his work as a philosopher and as a Catholic writer and speaker who inspired his students and friends with a deep love of Christ, of the Church and, in particular, of the Church’s sacred liturgy.

Lily soon became his secretary, and after von Hildebrand’s wife Margarete died in 1957, he asked her to marry him in 1959. They eventually moved to New Rochelle and were members of this parish of the Holy Family. My family were also parishioners here. I remember as a grammar schoolboy wondering who this couple was as they sat a few pews ahead of our family at Sunday Mass. I was to find out, to my great benefit, a few years later, when I decided to enter the seminary to study for the priesthood. I discovered the greatness of these two philosophers who defended all that is worth defending so that man may live at peace with himself, with others and with God.

One of the most central themes in the lives of Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand was the crucial importance of reverence if man is to order his life properly and fruitfully in this world.

Lily wrote extensively about matters of faith in various Catholic publications in the years that followed her retirement in 1984 from teaching at Hunter College. Reverence was a central topic. Let me cite three passages from her articles.

  1. “The curse of modern men is that so many of them have lost their sense for wonder and gratitude. Boredom is a punishment for irreverence. Alas, our mind-boggling technological progress has brought with it the curse of taking things for granted and assuming with blind stupidity that there is nothing we cannot know — nothing that he cannot master. Having a small gadget in his hand, one feels that he is the master of the universe. He can click on a button and have the world at his fingertips. Regretfully, we never hear homilists say a word about the sin of being ‘blasé.’ It is a sin because it is a consequence of ingratitude — because it is a fruit of pride and metaphysical arrogance. Every sin brings with it its own punishment.” (“Reverence: The Mother of All Virtue,” Catholic News Agency, April 26, 2016.)

  1. “What is ‘reverence?’ It is an uplifting and joyful feeling of awe, a response that man is called upon to give to God’s creation which clearly points to the Creator; it is an ever renewed and grateful discovery of the mysteries of being; it is an overcoming of one’s moral blindness preventing us from perceiving the glories of the universe that we live in. It is a joy to perceive how marvelous it is ‘to be,’ and consequently, should make us respond with horror at abortion, willingly and brutally denying existence to others (for I doubt that abortionists would have chosen to be aborted themselves had they had a chance of doing it.) They deny life to others, not to themselves. We all should tremble with respect at perceiving a little creature making its dramatic entrance into our world.” (Ibid.)

  1. “Irreverence is spreading through modem society like a cancer. It is metastasizing and has infected virtually ev­ery facet of our everyday life. The authentic meaning of ‘culture’ refers to a refinement, an elevation, a spiritualiza­tion of everyday life —that is, it aims to put the seal of the Spirit on our daily activities. Today, however, the word ‘culture’ refers to whatever has been most recently produced. We have forgotten that true culture elevates; it does not drag down. I dare say that much of what we see today is an anti-culture. It certainly cannot be read as a sursum corda (Lift up your hearts) — a call to look upward, triggering gratitude in our souls. It was typical of Plato's genius that he would warn us that one of the main aims of education is to train a child to ‘love what is lovable, and hate what is mean and ugly.’ This is the antidote to the disease of irreverence that is ravaging our society and sickening our culture. When will we avail ourselves of it?” (“The Disease of Irreverence,” New Oxford Review, June 2011.)

Lily’s love for the truth was a fruit of her love for Christ, who is the Truth. She did not speak about Catholicism in the classroom at Hunter, a secular school. She taught philosophy not theology. But her students who heard about the existence of objective truth in her classes were free to ask themselves questions about the origin of truth. And that led a good number of them to seek answers beyond philosophy. Lily recounted one incident that occurred shortly before she retired:

“Not long ago, in my ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ course, I was discussing truth. I gave my students the classical argument against subjectivism and relativism, namely, that whenever one tries to deny objective truth one must simultaneously claim that one’s own statement is itself true, really and objectively. Suddenly, a male student raised his hand, rose (a most unusual occurrence), and said in a strong, clear voice: ‘I object, Professor, to your spreading Roman Catholicism in this classroom.’ There followed a moment of great tension and my thoughts rushed to God for help. Then I said quietly: ‘I’m afraid that you are guilty of an anachronism.’ Since the student in question did not know what it meant, I explained: ‘The argument I have been using is taken from Plato who lived some four centuries before the birth of Christ. He can hardly be called a Roman Catholic. This should answer your objection.’ I then proceeded with my teaching. Some 16 months later I received a phone call just as I was about to leave for the university, where I was scheduled to proctor exams for the evening. The person who was calling, a former student, said she urgently wanted to see me. I told her that this was not possible since I was to be on duty the whole evening and, furthermore, it was my last day at the university until the fall term. She started to cry over the phone and insisted that she had to see me immediately. Surmising that her problem was truly serious, I contacted a friend of mine who agreed to proctor in my stead.

I then rushed to the university. I hardly had time to take off my coat when the girl who had phoned me came in. I immediately recognized her even though she had never spoken to me personally when she was my student. She had a fine, sensitive face and I had been impressed by her attentiveness and eagerness to listen. To my utter amazement, she told me abruptly that she wanted to become a Roman Catholic. I was so surprised that I was speechless, but I then decided to test her. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Your courses convinced me.’ ‘But,’ I responded, ‘I didn’t say a word about religion in my classes; my topic is philosophy.’

‘l know,’ she answered, ‘but do you recall an incident about 16 months ago when a student got up and objected to your refutation of subjectivism and relativism on the ground that you were spreading Roman Catholicism in the classroom? I had been brought up with strong anti-Catholic prejudices. But just when the student spoke out, the grace of God struck me. I suddenly understood that the Roman Catholic Church does stand for the objectivity of truth and that I had been blinded by prejudices.

‘Your course helped me very much and I decided to take another one with you,’ she continued. ‘I heard through another student that you were the wife of a famous Roman Catholic writer, Dietrich von Hildebrand. I rushed to the library and read a couple of his works. Now I am convinced. Please, help me to find a good priest so that I can take instructions in the faith.’

This is how L.C. found her way into the Church. I learned a great lesson through her experience: God is so powerful, so great, that He can use anything for the good.” (“Classroom Conversion,” National Catholic Register, March 20, 1983.)

We give thanks to God for the life of our dear departed friend Lily von Hildebrand. We owe her many debts of gratitude for all that she did for us and for countless others who learned, and will continue to learn, from her example, her writings and her public speeches and media appearances, especially on EWTN. She taught us how to live, and how to die. May she rest in God’s peace, knowing the One who made her, redeemed her, and has now called her to Himself.