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Hildebrand conference examining love sees continued momentum after second day

.- Friday marked the second day of a conference on Dietrich von Hildebrand's philosophy of love at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. The day’s sessions were explained to CNA / EWTN News by event organizer and Hildebrand Legacy Project Director John H. Crosby.

Three presentations, a panel discussion and a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Raymond Burke were Friday's major events. In the two morning sessions, lectures were given by Crosby's father, John F. Crosby, and German theologian and philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz.

Speaking with CNA / EWTN News Friday evening, the younger Crosby recalled his father's contribution as particularly valuable. "The opportunity to hear from that first generation of Hildebrand students is special," he said, "because they understand it from within."

The Legacy Project director also noted the "great importance" of Gerl-Falkovitz' inclusion in the conference, which brought her to the attention of English speakers and completed one of the objectives of the conference, connecting people from all over the world. Her "extraordinarily rich paper" was dedicated to Hildebrand's conception of "The Gift of Love."

The panel discussion offered the "most down-to-earth and concrete" session of the day, Crosby went on to say. In uniting the stories of three people, one a Protestant, the session "took what had been mountain-top experiences from the conference and it converted them into ordinary, lived experience."

He commented that "in the midst of these very high-level conversations, to have something that was both deep, but down-to-earth was wonderful, and the audience responded with great enthusiasm."

However, it was the "eminent" Robert Spaemann's late afternoon lecture on the "Paradoxes of Love" that received the biggest turnout of the first two days. The philosopher, whose work,  Crosby noted, is also studied by Pope Benedict XVI, filled the 280-person auditorium to capacity.

In addition to these, the mid-afternoon timeslot breaking activities into six different classrooms saw 17 papers presented a wide variety of studies carried out in regard to Hildebrand's philosophy. Presenters were divided into categories in themes such as his ideas on dialogue and art and papers posing his thought together with that of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Another highlight of the conference Crosby to date was Friday's attendance of six members of the Hildebrand family, including a great-great grandson. He said there's "something Catholic about having the flesh and blood descendants of him here and to see them so excited to have his legacy honored is, of course, a great joy."

Completing the review of the day two, Crosby recounted the "beautiful, solemn occasion" of the final event, the conference Mass. Principal celebrant, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, focused his homily on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, quoting extensively from Hildebrand's thought on how much Jesus' human heart reveals about his divinity.

The Legacy Project director had told CNA / EWTN News during day one that Archbishop Burke has been closely involved with their efforts. Crosby said that he wasn't there to celebrate just by chance, rather he had been invited to say the Mass as an example of the Hildebrandian principle of living one's philosophy.

"Let's put it this way," said Crosby, "Alice von Hildebrand says of her husband, 'He had the soul of a lion,' and I think, also in his own way, you could say that Archbishop Burke also has the 'soul of a lion.'"

Commenting on the complete turnout of participants in the Mass, Crosby remarked that "it was remarkable to see so many people there ... caught up in the beauty of the event."

In regard to the conference as a whole, he said that the momentum following the second day was "great.”

“When you consider especially that ... day two of a three-day academic conference, you would expect people to peter-out a little bit but there were a few things along the way that allowed the conference to maintain its momentum."

The Hildebrand Legacy Project offers full videos of all plenary speaker's presentations on their website www.hildebrandlegacy.org, which will include the live feeds from the conference's final day.


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