"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

October 22, 2017

Fr. Joseph N. Moody

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 3:44 pm

It was a great blessing in my life to have had Fr. Joseph N. Moody as a teacher, mentor, and, eventually, friend. Some years ago, I wrote this appreciation of him for dot-Commonweal, the blog which, unfortunately, has since been dis-continued for reasons that continue to escape me.

Fr. Joseph N. Moody was one of the great priests of the Archdiocese of New York in the last six or seven decades. Tall, athletic, and handsome, he was first encountered by most of us as a professor of modern history at Cathedral College, the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of New York. We knew him to be the nearly polar opposite, physically and ideologically, of another great character on the faculty there, Florence D. Cohalan. Fr. Moody was a passionate teacher who could come close to tears in describing a particularly dramatic moment in history. He took a great deal of interest in his students and actually sought their views on historical personages. He was also the only teacher whose language in the classroom occasionally betrayed his experience in the navy.

We were eventually to learn that Fr. Moody was an acknowledged expert on nineteenth-century French history, was a participant in the National Council of Christians and Jews, a vigorous defender of the rights of labor, and a champion of efforts on behalf of Negroes (as the word was then). He edited a 914-page volume, Church and Society. Catholic Social and Political Thought and Movements, 1789-1950 (New York: Arts,. Inc. 1953), many of whose chapters, including especially his on France, are still worth reading. He served as pastor in two parishes in the suburbs of New York City. He also taught at the College of New Rochelle and at The Catholic University of America. (Upon his death in 1993, a lovely appreciation of him appeared in the American Historical Review.)

During World War II, Fr. Moody served as a navy chaplain, and would receive citations for his service on the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. While at sea, he arranged for $50.00 to be sent to Commonweal every month so that its editors could send books from current reading lists. He sent a letter of thanks to the Editors which included this encomium:

The Commonweal is more valuable to me than ever before, for it keeps me informed, better than any other vehicle, in those areas that are of deepest significance. Each week, after reading my copy, I place it in the officers’ wardroom, and I have found that it is the only bridge we possess to reach the secularized American mind. Recently when our officers drew up a list of magazines they wished to obtain, they included The Commonweal, a striking testimony of its power to reach a segment of our reading public that would otherwise be untouched by things Catholic.

In March 1944, Commonweal published an article by Fr. Moody: Moody as naval chaplain , “Routine: Days in the Life of a Navy Chaplain,” which recounts with his typical combination of down-to-earth realism and hearty optimism the challenges and joys of his work with the men at sea. The whole piece is worth reading, but I draw attention to the last two paragraphs, which can usefully go into any account or appreciation of pre-conciliar Catholicism:

A census showed that the great proportion of Catholics aboard were more active in the practice of religion than they had been at home. The explanation is obvious: the intimacy with which the priest lives with them and his opportunity to influence their personal lives; the activity of lay apostles; the increased occasion for reflection that came in lives freed from all distraction. In practically all cases where a radical change for the better occurred, it was necessary to buttress it with a full course of instructions, for lack of religious training is the prime defect in our adult Catholic. Rarely was fear an important element, as modern naval war-fare is too impersonal to inspire terror, and men’s mental habits are too firmly grooved to be deeply affected thereby. The conviction was always present that although the spiritual results were gratifying, they could have been achieved by intensive missionary activity on Main Street, almost as well as aboard a man-o’-war.

The chaplain’s greatest help in bringing his men to God is the liturgy. The use of Father Stedman’s missal is universal among them, and the regularity of their attendance is increased by their growing appreciation of the beauty of the Sacrifice. They frequently aver that they had no concept of its meaning until they had learned to follow it intelligently. The numbers at daily Mass tripled once the “Missa Recitata” [jak: the “Dialogue Mass”] was introduced, and the response on Sunday was almost as noteworthy. There is little doubt that they were being prepared for a real interest in liturgical participation, which gives one hope that some abiding spiritual result may have been obtained from their experience aboard ship. At least in their religious life, the influence of routine was diminished. Coupled with the aid furnished by the Confraternity Home Study Courses and pamphlets, it was felt that a firm basis was afforded for their further religious development.

Here is the AHA tribute:

Monsignor Joseph N. Moody, professor emeritus of history at the Catholic University of America and a founding member of the Society for French Historical Studies, died in Statesboro, Georgia, on March 2, 1994. He was 89 years old.

A New York City native, he received his A.B. from St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1925 and his Ph.D. from Fordham University in 1934. His graduate major was classical history and literature, but he later switched to modern European history, doing postdoctoral work at Columbia University under Carlton J. Hayes.

Father Moody was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1929 and soon became renowned as one of the best preachers in the archdiocese. Additional responsibilities included teaching at Cathedral College and the College of New Rochelle, where he founded a labor school and acted as its first dean.

During this time, he started speaking out against the “vicious new” anti-Semitism. With strong backing from Cardinal Hayes of New York, he wrote an important pamphlet debunking anti-Semitic canards. He also gave a nationally broadcast speech attacking anti-Semitism at Madison Square Garden before Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and a large audience. For his efforts, B’nai B’rith honored him with its 1938 Human Rights Award. When war finally came, Father Moody, a naval reserve chaplain, was assigned to the Pacific theater, where he served with distinction on both the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. Later, he received both a naval and a presidential citation.

After 1945, he taught successively at Notre Dame College, in Staten Island, N.Y., Ladycliff College, in Highland Falls, N.Y., and Catholic University, where he became a full professor in 1965. He retired in 1975, but he loved teaching so much that he continued offering courses at Catholic for an additional year. Then he moved on to teach at the College of New Rochelle, Boston College, St. John’s Seminary, in Brighton, Mass., and, finally, Georgia Southern University. Countless students over the years remember him as a vibrant teacher who won their enduring affection and inspired them to a love for both history and rigorous scholarship.

Father Moody published a variety of books and pamphlets, including Church and State: Catholic Social and Political Movements, 1789–1950 (1953); The Church as Enemy: Anticlericalism in Nineteenth-Century French Literature (1968); and French Education since Napoleon (1978). He also contributed seminal articles to major historical journals and a steady stream of book reviews. A member of several professional associations, he was especially active in the Association of New York State European Historians, serving as president in 1960 and 1977; the Society for French Historical Studies, serving as vice president twice and president once (1969); and the American Catholic Historical Association, serving as president in 1978. Editorial commitments included acting as consulting editor for Church History, modern European history editor for The New Catholic Encyclopedia, and from 1965 until his death, associate editor of the Catholic Historical Review.

Father Moody continued to participate in history conferences even after his health began to decline. At the bicentennial conference on the French Revolution, in Washington, D.C., in 1989—his last conference—the Society for French Historical Studies awarded him a distinguished service medal.

Father Moody had a great many friends in the profession, all of whom fondly recall his enduring human qualities. A full list of these qualities could be given here, but perhaps the most important were his unfailing cheerfulness and his genuine concern for the careers of young historians. Father Moody will be greatly missed.
James Friguglietti
Montana State University at Billings
Sandra Horvath-Peterson
Georgetown University

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April 10, 2016

The Ordination of Women

Filed under: Essays, Uncategorized — Tags: — komonchak @ 1:38 pm

In November 1975, a conference in Detroit on the ordination of women attracted over a thousand participants. One of the results was the determination to hold similar conferences around the country. In the Spring of 1976, an all-day meeting on the topic was held in the Borough of Queens, in New York City, and I was invited to speak at it.

I constructed my talk as a commentary on a document issued in 1973 by the Committee on Pastoral Research and Planning of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that gave various arguments against ordaining women to the priesthood. I rapidly reviewed seven of those arguments and offered my opinion about them.

Meanwhile, the acts of the Detroit Conference were being prepared for publication. Someone alerted the editor, Sr. Anne Marie Gardiner, to my paper and she expressed a desire to include my talk in the volume, but because it was so late in the editorial process, it could appear only as an appendix to that book, Women and Catholic Priesthood: An Expanded Vision (New York: Paulist Press, 1976). My essay also appeared in The Catholic Mind, 75 (1977) 13-28.

It was to such movements, of course, that subsequent magisterial statements were to respond.

You will find the essay here: JAK – Ordination of Women

February 16, 2016

Celibacy and Tradition

Filed under: Essays, Uncategorized — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:51 pm

As the note on the page facing my page indicates, this essay originated as a study of the recent scholarly literature on the history of the discipline of sacerdotal celibacy.

JAK – Celibacy and Tradition

July 20, 2013

Martha and Mary (again)

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 1:52 pm

In tomorrow’s Gospel we pay our tri-annual visit to the home of Martha and Mary, just at the time they are playing host to that Jesus of Nazareth.  Last time, we had quite a conversation about what we witnessed and heard.  Has anything changed meanwhile?

Here’s what I made of it then: https://jakomonchak.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/martha-and-mary/

St. Martha’s feastday is coming up: July 29th.

May 13, 2013

Nanuet Fire Siren 1953-1954

During the last year of the Korean War (1953-1954), my father, Joseph B. Komonchak, edited a newsletter for members of the Nanuet Fire Department and other citizens of the hamlet who were serving in the military to keep them informed about doings in the Fire Department and elsewhere in Nanuet and indeed in Rockland County, N.Y. I have copied and scanned the issues of the newsletter, which provide a series of snapshots of local history in the early 1950’s. Most of them are easily legible, but some issues were mimeographed on colored paper and are more difficult to read. (more…)

May 26, 2012

Pentecost

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 9:58 am

Here is a lovely image of Pentecost, ca. 1230 in England, from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

April 8, 2012

Alleluia

Filed under: Lent 2012, Uncategorized — komonchak @ 9:12 am


And now, to conclude, for it is hardly befitting on this Day to speak much, when God has done His greatest work. Let us think of it and of Him. Let us rejoice in the Day which He has made, and let us be “willing in the Day of His Power.” This is Easter Day. Let us say this again and again to ourselves with fear and great joy. (more…)

December 25, 2011

A Christmas Poem

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 7:56 pm

THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.
By Robert Southwell

Behold the father is his daughter’s son,
The bird that built the nest is hatch’d therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.

O dying souls! behold your living spring!
O dazzled eyes! behold your sun of grace!
Dull ears attend what word this word doth bring!
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this word, this joy repairs.

Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than his God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.

Man alter’d was by sin from man to beast;
Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh;
Now God is flesh, and lies in manger press’d,
As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!

Augustine on Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 7:54 pm

Three texts from Augustine for our great feastday, already sent in separately on other occasions:

What praise of the love of God we should express! What thanks we should give! He loved us so that he through whom all time was made for our sakes came to be in time; he who in his eternity is older than the world became younger in age than many of his servants; he who made man became man; he was created from a mother he created; he was carried by hands he shaped, sucked breasts he filled, and the Word without which human eloquence is dumb squalled in a manger, dumb, unable to speak [in praesepi muta vagiret infantia Verbum , sine quo muta est humana eloquentia].

See what God became for your sake; learn the lesson of such great lowliness, learn it even from a teacher not yet able to speak. Once, in paradise, you were so fluent that you gave names to every living thing (Gen 2:19-20); but for your sake your Creator lay speechless, unable even to call his mother by her name. In that broad estate of fruitful trees you lost yourself by failing to obey; he obediently came as a mortal into a very narrow lodge in order by dying to seek you who had died. Although you were man, you wished to be God, and you were lost; he, although he was God, wished to become a man so that he might find what was lost. So deeply did human haughtiness press you down that only divine lowliness could raise you up. [Tantum te pressit humana superbia, ut te non posset nisi humilitas sublevare divina.]” (Augustine, EnPs. 188, 2-3; PL 38, 1004)

Word of God before all time, Word made flesh at the appropriate time; maker of the sun, made under the sun; disposing all the ages from his Father’s bosom, consecrating this day from his mother’s womb; remaining there, coming forth here; the creator of heaven and earth, born beneath heaven on earth; speechlessly wise, wisely speechless [ineffabiliter sapiens, sapienter infans]; filling the world, lying in a manger; ruling the stars, sucking at a breast; so great in the form of God, so small in the form of a slave, that the greatness was not diminished by the smallness, nor the smallness crushed by the greatness. (Augustine, Sermon 187, 1; PL 38, 1001)

And lest we counterpose Christmas and Easter, there is this from a Lenten sermon:

Eleemosyna, our word for alms, is Greek for “mercy” or “pity.” What greater pity could be shown to the piteous than the mercy that brought the creator of heaven down from heaven and clothed the maker of earth with an earthly body, that made him who was equal to the Father in eternity equal to us in mortality, that lay the form of a slave on the Lord of the world, so that bread hungered, fullness thirsted, strength became weak, health was wounded, and life died? And all this so that our hunger would be fed, our dryness watered, our weakness comforted, our wickedness extinguished, our charity set afire. What greater mercy than that the creator be created, the Lord serve, the redeemer be sold, the one who raises be lowered, the one who revives be killed? We are commanded to give alms, to give bread to the hungry (see Is 58:7); he, in order to give himself to us in our hunger, first handed himself over for us to those who raged against him. We are enjoined to receive strangers; he for our sake came to his own and his own did not receive him (Jn 1:11). So let our soul bless him who forgives all its iniquities, who heals all its diseases, who redeems its life from destruction, who crowns it with mercy and compassion, who satisfies its desires with good things (see Ps 102:3-5). Let us, then, continue at our works of mercy all the more eagerly and all the more constantly the closer comes the day on which the mercy shown to us is celebrated. A fast without mercy is useless to the one fasting. (Augustine, Sermon 207, 1: PL 38, 1043)

All the blessings of Christmas to you all!

December 11, 2011

Comments are welcome

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 8:09 pm

I just want to make it clear that comments on my postings are welcome, with the usual exhortations, of course, to courtesy and charity….

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