Be grateful for “the joy that comes from knowing the truth,” Bishop James D. Conley exhorted the 2011 graduating class of Christendom College. He prayed that the graduates acknowledge themselves as fellow disciples of a single “Teacher,” Jesus Christ.
“You have consecrated yourselves in this great service of the truth. You have built your school on the foundation of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life — and the true light that enlightens every man and woman,” the auxiliary bishop of Denver said in his homily at the May 13 Baccalaureate Mass.
The Front Royal, Va. college graduated 80 students with bachelor’s degrees and one student with an associate’s degree over the weekend.
“Our faith in Christ changes the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves,” the bishop continued. This change is the starting point of an authentic Catholic higher education which “joins the insights of faith with our natural faculties of intellect and reason.”
Catholic education is built on the nature of man as “a truth-seeking creature,” but higher education in general has shed its assumption that wisdom and virtue are its ideals.
“Higher education today reflects a profound divorce of faith and reason,” he lamented, noting its over-reliance on scientific proof. The “dictatorship of relativism” is real and it is almost impossible in many academic departments to argue for the objective reality of the good, the beautiful and the true.
“Knowledge has become one-dimensional. The only knowledge that matters is a practical, utilitarian, problem-solving kind of knowledge. There is no appetite any more for what the philosophers call ‘Being,’ or the mysteries of existence,” Bishop Conley said.
The bishop’s comments on the Mass readings discussed how St. Paul shed his “inner blindness.” Paul’s recognition of his sinfulness led to repentance, penance and his baptism which miraculously cured his physical blindness.
The reading from the Gospel of John’s Sixth Chapter shows Jesus “trying to unfasten us from our preoccupation with the things of this life. He is trying to set us free from the prisons of the material world and the materialist mindset that believes only what it can apprehend by the physical senses.”
“Jesus seeks to enlighten the eyes of our hearts -- so that we can see the things that are above, the things unseen, the realities of the Spirit,” the bishop explained.
“That is the greatest truth we can ever know — the knowledge that in him we can have eternal life.”
Bishop Conley, who once taught a group of Christendom students at the college’s Rome campus, received an honorary degree at the May 14 commencement ceremony.
In his acceptance remarks, he expressed “deep admiration” for Christendom College’s work. He called the college “a sign of contradiction and hope in an academic world that is increasingly secularized and often politicized.”
“Let us consecrate ourselves once more in the service of the truth,” he said.