Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Monday, March 13, 2006

Father of 10 will fast for Catholic universities

One can never have too much prayer. But this story stretches the limits. It seems a father of 10, whose oldest are college age, is concerned about the dangers his children will face as they leave the nest. To remedy the situation, he is offering prayers and supplications this Lent. Joe Gill has resolved to fast for 40 days. Yes, you read that correctly. He will not consume anything but water (and presumably the Eucharist) from Ash Wednesday until the Easter Vigil. I didn’t know the human body could take that kind of abuse.

He is praying for “the intention of protecting and loving and teaching and forming our Catholic youth with the authentic teachings of Holy Mother Church.” Mr. Gill is very concerned that many Catholic universities have not followed the mandatum of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” And the place he chose to make his stand is the University of Notre Dame.

My reaction is mixed. Certainly, Notre Dame is an obvious choice because it is very well known. Its recent discussion of academic freedom has garnered some national press coverage. ND certainly offers a good opportunity for publicity. Furthermore, ND has not complied with “Ex Corde.” Mr. Gill’s blog links to an article that paints the Theology Department as barely Catholic. This is where I beg to differ. I’ll refer you to a previous post for a defense of ND’s Catholic character. There are certainly other schools, particularly some “in the Jesuit tradition,” that have fallen further away from the Catholicism. Mr. Gill might do more good there. But then I can’t think of a better campus than ND's to spend time fasting and praying. That being said, Our Lady’s university has drifted away from orthodox Catholicism over the years. But I am very hopeful, especially in light of Father Jenkins’ leadership, she is drifting back. Of course, we always welcome prayers.

I have a much more practical concern. Will Mr. Gill survive his 40 day ordeal? If he does, will he be in good health? He has a wife and ten children to think about. Mortification is one thing. Putting your life in danger, especially when so many depend on you, is quite another. I appreciate the prayers. But this seems a little much.

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