Sed Contra: The Bright Future

Deal W. Hudson
July 1, 1997

Anyone who thinks the Church in America is in danger should spend a few weeks with me on the road. In the past few months, I have witnessed many many instances of renewed vitality among Catholics. Emerging out of this remarkable growth is a new alignment among orthodox Catholics, a network that is already challenging the wearied hegemony of establishment liberals.

While those who are informed only by the mainstream media continue to think that Catholics are clamoring for women priests, the real story is elsewhere. At the heart of this realignment are Catholics fiercely loyal to John Paul II and just as determined to bring dissident influence to an end. The recent episcopal appointments in Chicago and Denver reflect less the determination of Rome to nurture orthodoxy than the desire of the grassroots faithful for leadership. Archbishop Chaput, bless him, didn’t waste much time taking on the association of Catholic theologians who, ignoring the infallible teaching of the Church, continue to press for women’s ordination. Indeed, I am told, that the passing of Cardinal Bernardin has bequeathed a tentative mood to the United States Catholic Conference.

There was nothing tentative about the mood at EWTN in Birmingham, Alabama where I spent a week filming a 13-part series of television interviews entitled, “The Church and Culture Today.” Mother Angelica knows exactly what she wants to accomplish and clearly has the faith to do it. She is building a new monastery for forty nuns, starting a house of studies, and closing a deal to broadcast EWTN to four countries in Europe, in addition to her broadcasts throughout North and South America.

It is Mother Angelica’s radio and television networks, not the USCC, that are connecting the dots between Catholics dedicated to orthodox teaching and genuine evangelism. Her apostolate is undoubtedly the biggest ongoing Catholic news story in this country, yet receives little or no coverage.

As I followed her into the studio for “Mother Angelica Live,” I watched the members of the studio audience reach out to touch her. I recalled Leon Bloy’s famous line that “the only sadness is not being a saint,” but this time I experienced it.

This was my second dose of humility in a week. I had gone to Nashville to lecture for the sisters at the Dominican campus. Unexpectedly, I was taken into the cloister to visit over twenty of their novices. Looking around the room I saw face after face filled with the desire for holiness and the love of God. “If only every Catholic in America could be where I am sitting right now,” I thought to myself, “they would see how bright is the future of the Church.”

The Dominican campus in Nashville contains one of those handfuls of small Catholic schools that affirm their identity without turning “catholicity” into an excuse for ignoring the moral and doctrinal substance of the Catholic faith. St. Thomas More in New Hampshire, where I recently had the pleasure of addressing the alumni, is another. With fewer than a hundred students, the college demonstrates a heroic commitment to the Catholic tradition of liberal arts education—it’s like getting a Catholic education on Walden Pond, without the bad transcendentalism.

In addition to these, colleges like Thomas Aquinas in California, Franciscan University in Steubenville, the University of Dallas, Christendom College in Virginia, and Assumption College in Wooster present Catholic families with more choices for their college-age children. Joseph Hagan, president of Assumption, is an example of a college president, like Father Michael Scanlan, who has stayed at his job long enough to ensure the Catholic identity of his institution.

Leadership takes time to bear fruit, but today we are reaping the results of some courageous initiatives. I remember in the early ’80s, I visited Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. in San Francisco. He had already launched the exemplary St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco and was getting ready to publish the first vol

umes from Ignatius Press. Catholic publishing, at the time, was owned lock-stock-and-barrel by liberals. Almost anything worth reading had to be plucked from the dusty shelves of a used bookstore. I was wide-eyed, to say the least when he told me he was going to publish everything he could find by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, and Joseph Pieper. And, now looking up at my bookshelves, I see more Ignatius Books than old Sheed & Ward classics.

As with Mother Angelica, there are few who give Father Fessio the credit he so richly deserves. A new Catholic Renaissance has indeed started, and we can give thanks to those who began laboring twenty years ago, just when everyone predicted the game was over.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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