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Inaugural Theme

Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University

Reflections on the Cardinal Virtues

The inaugural year theme includes a focus on the four cardinal virtues. Each month of the spring 2011 semester focuses on one of the virtues: justice in January, prudence in February, temperance in March, and fortitude in April. Members of the CUA community have been invited to share a short reflection on the interplay of one or more of the cardinal virtues and the exercise of their profession.

 

On Justice and the Academic Discipline Called Marketing


By Brian Engelland

One of the reasons I chose marketing as my scholarly discipline was because I was fascinated with its potential for helping improve both distributive and social justice in this world. When marketing is practiced correctly, it can have a profound effect on educating people about available products and services so that they become better consumers and make better decisions about how to spend their money.

Knowledge is power and a well-informed consumer can make sound purchase decisions that can significantly improve life for family, friends, and community.

“But wait a minute,” you say. “Are you telling me that all those bimbos-and-beer commercials, GoDaddy.com teasers, and revealing Victoria’s Secret ads are really the marketing discipline’s attempts to educate consumers?”

My response is a resounding, “Absolutely not!” Commercials that rely on manipulation of consumers do not meet the standards of the discipline and are not good marketing.

Unfortunately, there is great potential for harm and injustice when the concepts of marketing are applied in a manipulative fashion. Consumers can be hoodwinked into buying products and services that in reality aren’t in their best interests, and this can result in unjust harm, injury, and loss of personal resources. Marketing professionals must be cognizant of the potential harm of their actions, and apply marketing tools only in a virtuous manner. Practitioners have a moral obligation to operate ethically so that customers are treated with utmost respect and legitimate customer needs are served. Only in this way can the practice of marketing serve the cause of human justice.

Brian Engelland is a professor of marketing, Department of Business and Economics

 

On Prudence and Art


By
Nora Heimann

  Raphael's Orudence

This February, Prudence is the cardinal virtue being highlighted at Catholic University. Prudence, the virtue of being careful and circumspect in conduct, shares this month with another aspiration also honored by many on campus, especially on Valentine’s Day – Love.

In art, both Love and Prudence are often symbolized by a woman holding a mirror. Venus — the Roman goddess of love and fertility — shown admiring her own reflection, was a favored topic in antiquity and in the Renaissance. A splendid example of this can be seen in Titian’s Venus with a Mirror, ca. 1555, now at the National Gallery of Art. Here, the woman and her mirror evoke beauty and vanity.

The figure of Prudence with a mirror also appears in numerous important Medieval and Renaissance images.

  Raphael's Prudence - detail
   

In Raphael’s remarkable murals for the Stanza della Signatura in the Vatican (1508-12), for example, a larger than life personification of Prudence appears beside the School of Athens (a painting honoring philosophers throughout the ages), that is now considered the epitome of the High Renaissance. Seated in profile between the smaller figures of Temperance and Fortitude, Raphael’s Prudence is a beautiful young woman with two faces — one young and intent, gazing earnestly into a mirror held before her; the other is male, snowy-haired and bearded. Janus-like, on the back of Prudence’s head, this second, aged face looks away into the distance. Contemporaries of Raphael interpreted this figure as a complex meditation on the source of true wisdom and knowledge symbolizing the belief that a clear understanding of self and of the past can lead to a prudent anticipation of the future.

Thus in art, as in life, we can see that although the gift of external beauty can be lost to vanity, when intellect is united with virtue the grace of truth can be found!

Nora Heimann is chair of the Department of Art and associate professor of art history.

 

On Temperance and the Balanced Life


By
Anthony Albence

The word “temperance” has many connotations in our society. When some hear it, they think of images connected to the Prohibition movement. For this reflection, I am considering not this more contemporary definition of temperance, but the classical definition of temperance as the ability to “master the balanced life”.

Many, like me, are often not successful in realizing this balance. My professional and personal lives are defined by commitments to public service which, on the surface, would seem to be an ideal way to achieve this goal. While this is true, an orientation to service sometimes leads me to want to change the world on a massive scale — rather than focus on what is feasible and realistic.

When frustrated by the limitations of daily life, I always find reassurance in the words of St. Francis de Sales, a personal patron saint. St. Francis encourages all to “do the ordinary extraordinarily well.” I have always thought this meant that, whatever my station in life and given whatever resources I have, I am empowered and challenged by God to do the very best I can for as many people as possible. I can’t do everything — but I can do something, and can make that something count.

Francis de Sales offered practical advice for lay people. He advocated a life committed to temperance, calling each person to be holy and temperate, regardless of his or her station. Francis also urged folks to not be so hard on themselves when they fail. We don’t need to punish ourselves, but to try to do better.

I am doing my best to live a temperate life. I know that if I keep Francis de Sales as my constant companion, I will remain on a path marked by temperance and, ultimately, satisfaction in knowing that I am — in some small way — doing God’s will.

Anthony Albence, Class of 1993, is director for the Department of Elections for New Castle County, a State of Delaware agency; he volunteers for his parish and the Delaware Italian-American Education Association.

 

On Temperance and Prayer


By
Sharon Boynton Kenny

When I was asked to provide a reflection about the virtue of temperance and where it fits into my life, I smiled. “Imagine”, I thought, “asking a high school teacher about working toward a balanced life — a busy teacher with a family and an elderly parent to care for.”

There does not seem to be a perfect formula that one follows to live a balanced life. In fact, the problem with a formula, no matter how perfect on paper, is that “life” intervenes to disrupt plans for the right amount of sleep, the right amount of exercise, the right amount of family time with enough time left for study, work and chores. A perfect antidote to imbalance is a prayer life filled with reflection, gratitude and wonder at the many opportunities we humans have to show others how much God loves all of us. Mother Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, gives us a working model of temperance that we can follow when she exhorts us to live a life filled with simplicity, humility, charity and joy.

So the recipe for temperance-the balanced life — seems to be an individual one. As for me, I strive to follow Cornelia and her sisters’ example of living with simplicity, humility, charity and joy.

Sharon Boynton Kenny is a professional educator, a wife, a mother, and a volunteer. She and her husband Joe, are both CUA alumni, Class of 1976.

 

Examples of Fortitude


By
John Garvey

At the Cardinal Leadership celebration on April 13, 2011, honoring nine members of the Catholic University community with the Cardinal Medal for Fortitude, President John Garvey offered a reflection on the virtue of fortitude. Citing the Blessed Mother and St. Bernadette as examples of fortitude, he congratulated the honorees for reminding us "that the mark of a Catholic university, like the mark of the Church itself, is not merely what we think, but how we live." 

> Read the full text of President Garvey's reflection

 

A Homily on Fortitude


By Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P.
(Feb. 15, 1952 – Feb. 21, 2011)

In a 2005 Lenten homily at St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill, the late Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., links the virtue of fortitude to the other cardinal virtues: "When we know the right, noble, and loving thing to do (prudence) and we are able to overcome our innate drive just to care about ourselves rather than to be balanced, fair and just (justice), then our perseverance and endurance in acting for the good, despite difficulties, and our patience in the face of obstacles, opposition, and setbacks constitute genuine fortitude."

> Read the full text of Father Pritzl's homily (PDF)