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SMC series fosters relationship between faith, reason

and | Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday night, Saint Mary’s Center for Spirituality launched “Unitas, Veritas, Caritas: Catholicism and the Liberal Arts and Sciences” fall lecture series. The series will probe the relationship between faith and reason across several academic disciplines, including economics, nursing and biology.

“The series will provide students with an opportunity to engage in conversation with women of extraordinary intellectual accomplishment about the relation of faith, reason, and the profession that God is love,” Elizabeth Groppe, Center for Spirituality director, said. “The endowed lecture series is one way in which the Center for Spirituality fosters conversation about the relationship of faith and reason, a discussion that is foundational to the intellectual culture of a Catholic college.

“The scholars speaking in the series have advanced degrees in theology and another discipline and are uniquely qualified to lead this interdisciplinary exploration,” she said.

Professor Mary Hirschfeld of Villanova University, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame, opened the series Thursday night with her lecture “What Difference Does Caritas (Love) Make? A Conversation between Economics and Catholic Social Thought on the Nature of the Human Person.”

Hirschfeld said both economists and people who criticize economists end up over-valuing or over-loving material goods.

“We should love God, but what does economics have to do with loving God?” Hirschfeld said. “God created this world and it is a world that is ought to be loved, it’s unintelligible to love a God and then scorn his creation.”

Hirschfeld said material goods are a part of human life, and having goods can still be virtuous if they are used for a higher purpose.

“Our desire for material goods should be absolutely measured by or bounded by the ends they serve,” she said. “The real thing we need to love are the goods we are trying to distribute back and forth, because when we think we love our neighbor more by giving them stuff, we’re thinking about a conception of love that involves having, not being.

“That, in turn, is what causes us to have a disordered relationship with material goods. It makes it very hard to be genuinely charitable and open to the human good.”

Dr. Marie Hillard, director of bioethics and public policy at The National Catholic Bioethics Center, will deliver the second lecture in the series on Tuesday, Oct. 7. She will speak on “Catholicism, Caritas, and the Vocation of the Health Care Professional.”

Hilliard has graduate degrees in Maternal-Child Health Nursing, Religious Studies and Canon Law.

Professor Celia Deane-Drummond will conclude the series on Thursday, Oct. 30, with her lecture “Tracing Common Ground in Biology and Theology: Caritas and the Drama of Kinship.”

She earned a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from Reading University and a Ph.D. in Theology from Manchester Victoria University and is currently a professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, with a concurrent appointment in the College of Science.

The lectures are open to all members of the Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross and Notre Dame communities, and the broader Michiana community. They all begin at 7:30 p.m. and will take place in Vander Vennet Theatre in the Saint Mary’s Student Center.

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