My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Tribute to Dr. Warren Carroll: UPDATED

"Truth Exists. The Incarnation Happened."

Yesterday, July 17th, was the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Warren H. Carroll, the founder of Christendom College. By the time I came to Christendom in 2008, he was no longer teaching, although I did attend some of his lectures my Sophomore Year (Spring 2010); but I never knew him personally.

I feel like I've come to know Dr. Carroll better since his death than I did while he was alive. They say that sometimes you have to lose someone to appreciate him, and that was the case, sadly, with Dr. Carroll. I respected him as the founder of my alma mater; I loved Christendom College; but I did not appreciate the man, and his vision, and his impact until he died the summer before my Senior Year.

That was when I slowly came to realize the impact of his life and legacy. Without Dr. Warren Carroll, there would be no Christendom College. Without his vision and persistence in founding Christendom College, I would not have met the people who have since become my best friends. Without his belief that America and the world needed an authentically Catholic college, I would not have a Bachelor's Degree in Theology.

Without that authentically Catholic college, I would not have had the beautiful opportunity of daily Mass during the school year, of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, of Sunday afternoon Vespers. Without the Chapel of Christ the King right there in the middle of campus, I would not have known where to turn during the difficult times of college.

Because Dr. Carroll founded a college that is faithful to the Magisterium--a college where, at the beginning of every school year, each professor makes an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium--I was able to study our Catholic Faith with the confidence that I would learn what the Church teaches, that I would learn sentire cum Ecclesia, and not be taught some watered-down version of Church doctrine.

I am who I am today because Warren Carroll listened to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and founded Christendom College.

I try to visit his grave whenever I'm on campus, to pray for the repose of his soul, and also to thank God for the many, many blessings that have come to me through this college that Dr. Carroll founded.

Dr. Carroll's grave (c) Emily C. Hurt, June 16, 2012

I've also prayed to Dr. Carroll.

He died on July 17, 2011, three days before our beloved history professor Dr. Brendan McGuire had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his leg; and he was buried on campus on July 26.

I began visiting his grave that summer, especially to pray for Brendan; and during Senior Year, it became my self-designated hidey-hole.

A grave is a good place for quiet prayer, thinking, and studying; for quit conversations with Professors, and reflection on the impact that one man can make. People aren't likely to disturb you when you're sitting at a grave, even though they can see you from across the field; it's quiet and peaceful; and it's taught me a lot about the Communion of Saints. I went there often--especially during the last semester of my Senior Year--after a stressful day of classes, or to relax between the end of my 2:30 class and dinner, or to pace while waiting to talk to one or the other of my Professors. Many, many times, I asked Dr. Carroll to pray that a conversation with a Professor about problems with grades or other problems would go well.

"Truth exists. The Incarnation Happened."

That was Dr. Carroll's motto; it could very well be the motto of Christendom College (although Christendom's motto, "To Restore All Things in Christ," in a sense means the same as Dr. Carroll's motto); it should be my motto.

"Truth exists." There is objective truth, there is a God. I believe that. O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man and died for our sins, and that He will come again to judge the living and the dead; I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. (Act of Faith, cf. Baltimore Catechism.)

"Truth exists." Objective truth exists; there need to be blacks and whites in moral standards and not just a mushy gray area. Because if there is no objective truth, if it's okay for me to be manipulative and controlling, but not okay for a Political Science Professor to be manipulative and controlling, then there's a problem. I'm not imposing my morality on you by telling you that by virtue of our human nature we have to obey the same laws like "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery." That's not "my" morality, nor is it "The Catholic Church's morality." It's God's morality, and it's something that needs to be obeyed by everyone--whether you're Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist. I'm not imposing "my" morality or "the Catholic Church's morality" on you by telling you that there is a God; anyone can reason to the existence of God, or the existence of the natural law, without bringing in theological principles at all.

"The Incarnation Happened."   In his History of Christendom series, Dr. Carroll posited that the center of history is the Incarnation.   I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man and died for our sins.  The Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became Man to save men.   He took our flesh, our human weaknesses, our sins, upon Himself; "like as we are, without sin" (Heb. 4:15).

"The Incarnation Happened."  I believe that the Son of God became Man.   I'm trying to imagine my life without the Incarnation...without the Crucifix on the wall above me, my copy of Sheen's Life of Christ sitting on my desk, the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel 30 minutes away from me...and I can't imagine it.  My life without the Incarnation is...mind-boggling.  And yet I can't explain what the Incarnation means to me.  I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!

Truth exists. The Incarnation Happened.
To Restore All Things in Christ.

"One man can make a difference"--Dr. Warren Carroll
You were that one man, Dr. Carroll, and you made that difference. Not just to me, but in the lives of so many alumni in the (as of 2015) thirty-eight years since you founded Christendom College.
Thank you!
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

UPDATE: As of August 16, 2012, Dr. Carroll's grave has a tombstone:

(c) Emily C. Hurt, August 16, 2012

(c) Emily C. Hurt, August 16, 2012

(c) Emily C. Hurt, August 16, 2012

(c) Emily C. Hurt, August 16, 2012

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