International Institute for Culture


Studies in Faith and Culture

Pope John Paul II has noted that "Faith in Christ who became incarnate in history does not only transform individuals outwardly, but also regenerates peoples and their cultures. Thus at the end of antiquity, Christians, who lived in a culture to which they were greatly
indebted, transformed it from within and instilled a new spirit in it." Even the most cursory survey of the history of American and Western Civilizations will reveal the overwhelming influence of the Christian Faith imprinted in its art, architecture, music, literature, social institutions such as universities and hospitals, political structures and documents, and everyday patterns of life and manners.

These manifestations can rightfully be identified as "cultural." As Josef Pieper has expounded in Leisure, the Basis of Culture, these cultural manifestations traditionally grew out of a living organic relation to cultus or the worship of the Divine.
In our day, this synthesis is often lacking and the rupture between the Gospel and culture is 'without a doubt the drama of our time' (Paul VI). This is a tragedy for the faith, because in a society where Christianity seems absent from social life and the faith relegated to the private sphere, access to religious values becomes more difficult, especially for the poor and the young, that is to say, for the vast majority of people who are unconsciously becoming secularized under pressure from the models of thought and action spread by the prevailing culture. The absence of a culture to support
them prevents the young from having contact with the faith and from living it to the full.
This situation is also a tragedy for culture, which is undergoing a deep crisis because of the rupture with the faith. The symptom of this crisis is primarily the feeling of anguish which comes from the awareness of finitude in a world without God, where one makes the ego an absolute, and earthly affairs the only values of life. In a culture without transcendence, man succumbs to the lure of money and power, pleasure and success. He also encounters the dissatisfaction caused by materialism, the loss of the meaning of moral values and restlessness about the future.
These reflections of John Paul II are corroborated in the writings of the cultural historian Christopher Dawson, who argues that "the society or culture which has lost its spiritual roots is a dying culture, however prosperous it may appear externally."
This series will investigate the vital relationship that has traditionally existed in the Christian West between faith and culture in light of the insights of some of the great scholars of culture in the 20th century, including Christopher Dawson, Josef Pieper, T. S. Eliot, Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Pope John Paul II.

Restoring a Sense of the Sacred

DATE: January 10th
Time: 7:30 p.m. followed by a reception
Speaker: Sister Mary Paula Beirerschmitt, I.H.M., President of the American Academy of the Sacred Arts
Topic: Restoring a Sense of the Sacred
Cost: $15/person, $25/couple, free for students and religious
There is an urgent need to rethink the role of the arts in education, particularly sacred art. If the artist's vocation is thwarted by sincere but misguided persons, a crisis of faith is bound to occur in the human family. Artists hold the key to restoring a sense of the sacred in our culture. We learn primarily through our senses and artists are the masters of expressing the human condition. Truth, therefore, must be incorporated into the arts if faith is to be fully proclaimed. Reverence permeates all of creation because creation comes directly from the Creator. Those to whom the gift of creativity is given must also be educated in philosophical and theological truths simultaneously because these disciplines hold the structure together, more or less, like hidden beams.
Suggested Readings:
  • Scripture:
    • Luke 1:26-38
    • John 2:1-5
    • Luke 11:33-36
    • Matthew 5:13-16
    • Mark 5:21-23
    • John 8:12
  • Vatican II Documents:
    • Constitution on Sacred Liturgy -chapter VII
    • Constitution on Christian Education
    • Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
Sr. Mary Paula Beirerschmitt is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and is the Founder of The American Academy of Sacred Arts in Philadelphia. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Sr. Paula's sculptures include one of the founder of the Pallottine Fathers in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.. The American Academy of the Sacred Arts in Philadelphia is dedicated to responding to the Second Vatican Council's call "that
schools or academies of sacred art should be founded ... bearing in mind that, they are engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator ... to edify the faithful and to foster their piety and their religious formation". The academy, established in 1993, has committed itself to the "encouragement and placement of artists", "preservation of artistic treasures of the Church", and "artistic quality and spiritual insight". The Academy hopes to expand its support primarily of visual artists for the purpose of developing both their Catholic faith and their artistic skills "in an environment that appreciates the Church's tradition in sacred art". Sr. Paula will address the importance of restoring the role of sacred art in the life of the Church to its prominence in past ages.


Romance in the Catholic Tradition:
The Age of Chivalry Revisited

DATE: February 14, 2003 (St. Valentine's Day) at 7:30 PM
Speaker: Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, City University of New York
Topic: Romance in the Catholic Tradition: The Age of Chivalry Revisited
Cost: $15/person, $25/couple, free for students and religious
On this St. Valentine's Day, Dr. Von Hildebrand will investigate the nature and beauty of love in the Catholic Tradition and the customs, mores, and dispositions which help preserve it. In the past, traditions of courtship and marriage were predominantly shaped by the Church's understand of the nature of man and women and their relationship to one another. Many contemporary social ills can rightly be blamed on the loss of this understanding. This is an appropriate day to relfect on the the fulfilling beauty of love and marriage - its tasks, its joys - and love's power to lighten its burdens and sorrows.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand is an international lecturer, philosopher and author. She was a professor of philosophy at City University of New York for thirty-seven years with several visiting Professorships including Thomas More College in Rome, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and Ave Maria College. She received her M.A. and Ph.D in Philosophy at Fordham University. She have authored several books including By Love Refined, By Grief Refined, The Soul of a Lion (The Biography of Dietrich
von Hildebrand), The Privilege of being a Woman, and A Philosophy of Religion. She has giving over 200 lectures in many countries with several television programs and published approximately seventy articles.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand Tapes available here.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand writings available online.
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G.K.Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc on the Historic Reality of Christian Culture

DATE: March 14, 2003
Time: 7:30 p.m. followed by a reception
Speaker: Mr. Joseph Pearce, writer-in-residence, Ave Maria College
Topic: G.K.Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc on the Historic Reality of Christian Culture
Cost: $15/person, $25/couple, free for students and religious
Joseph Pearce has written books on two of the 20th century's literary giants, G.K. Chesteron and Hilaire Belloc. Friends in the same Faith, these men sought to understand and articulate the glories of the Catholic past and the contemporary ideological challenges of their own day. G. K. Chesterton once remarked that the Catholic Church saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his own age. Mr. Pearce will investigate the freeing intellectual breath of two great champions of Catholic culture.
Mr. Joseph Pearce
is a scholar from England who is presently teaching English and writing at Ave Maria College in Michigan. He is the author of a number of literary biographies including: Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Literary Converts, Tolkien: Man and Myth, Tolkien: A Celebration, and Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile among others. In addition, he is a co-editor of The Saint Austin Review, an international review of Christian culture, literature and ideas. His latest book is Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc. More info on Pearce is available here.
Publications by Joseph Pearce:
  • Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration In an Age of Unbelief
  • Tolkien: Man and Myth
  • Tolkien: A Celebration
  • The Three Ys Men (A novel)
  • Flowers of Heaven: One Thousand Years of Christian Verse
  • Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile
  • The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde
  • Small is Still Beautiful
  • Bloomsbury and Beyond: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell
  • Roy Campbell: Selected Poems
  • Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc
Pearce's books can be found at these locations:
read more about the Faith and Culture lecture series

The Dynamics of Catholic Culture: The Thought of Christopher Dawson

DATE: April 11, 2003
Time: 7:30 p.m. followed by a reception
Speaker: Dr. Dermot Quinn, Associate Professor of History, Seton Hall University
Topic: The Dynamics of Catholic Culture: The Thought of Christopher Dawson
Cost: $15/person, $25/couple, free for students and religious
The historiography of the 20th Century scholar Christopher Dawson exhibits a vast erudition in history, sociology, religion, and culture rarely achieved in contemporary scholarship. An Oxford-educated Catholic convert and professor of Catholic Studies at Harvard University, his work investigates the relation of religion and culture, Christianity and the development of Western Civilization, local cultures and landscapes, industrialism and the many ideological movements of the 20th century. Dawson is most unique in his stress on the vital role which religion plays in forming and sustaining civilization. Dawson saw religion as the great creative force in any culture and its loss, paramount to social dissolution. Among his numerous books include Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, Progress and Religion, and The Historic Reality of Christian Culture. Dr. Quinn will purview the dynamism and intellectual legacy of this great mind of Catholic culture, offering us the conceptual tools to understand more perfectly our historic heritage and present condition.
Dr. Dermot Quinn is associate professor of history at Seton Hall University. Born in Ireland, he has taught at Oxford University and held a fellowship at Amherst College, MA. He is the assistant editor of the Chesterton Review, author of two books, Patronage and Piety: English Roman Catholics and Politics, 1850-1900 and Understanding Northern Ireland and is author of numerous articles on Christopher Dawson and G.K. Chesterton's social thinking. He has written the introductions for ISI's reprints of Dawson's Dynamics of World History and Wilhelm Röpke's A Human Economy.
read more about the Faith and Culture lecture series

Latin Lives at Ivy Hall
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The IIC offers Latin classes throughout the year in the evening on Wednesdays, as well as full-time summer intensive courses. For more information, click here to contact the Institute.

Saturday, October 12

Saturday, October 12

Wednesday, January 1
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