Sunday, July 2, 2017

Conscience and Conversion at the Spiritual Life Center

If my blogging lately has been pretty light, I have an excuse: I've been working on three presentations for next month. One is on the depiction of conscience in a Pre-Raphaelite painting; another on St. Thomas More and Conscience, and third on Blessed John Henry Newman and Conscience. More information, including registration, here:

The Spiritual Life Center will host a three-day Symposium on Conversion and Conscience July 13-15 for adult faith formation, prayer, celebration, and intellectual exchange. The theme is “Conversion and Conscience: Freedom, Will, and Truth in the Human Quest for Meaning.”

The faculty for the 2017 symposium consists of Dr. James Madden, professor of philosophy at Benedictine College; Fr. Thomas Hoisington, priest in residence at St. Mary’s Parish in Garden Plain; Fr. Joshua Lollar, priest at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Lawrence; and Stephanie Mann, local author of “Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation.”

The symposium begins with a keynote banquet Thursday evening, July 13, and continues all day Friday and Saturday with a schedule consisting of morning prayer, Mass, and lectures in four pillar content areas.

The symposium will discuss how the life of Christ provides us with a model for obedience. In the person of Jesus, human will was perfectly aligned with divine will. But with lives filled with distraction and cross-pressures, and minds filled with confusion and doubt, how are we to follow in his example? How can we overcome the dissenting voices around us, and the sinful impulses within us, which tempt us to follow the example of the world, rather than the example of our Lord?

Utilizing Christological, philosophical, and historical perspectives, the symposium will provide insights into ways our forebears have pursued authentic human liberty by focusing on the transcendent, even in the midst of persecution.

The painting chosen for the program is the Call of St. Matthew by Caravaggio. Whom to you think Jesus is pointing to when He gestures to the future St. Matthew? The man with the beard or the young man counting coins? Do you think that Caravaggio wanted us to wonder?


  1. Just FYi I once heard the gesture described as a south Italian hand signal that calls someone over to the person making the gesture. So, rather than pointing, Jesus is literally "calling" Matthew out of his old life.

    1. Thank you. And the apostle/disciple next to Jesus is gesturing something like, "Him? You're kidding, right?"!

  2. I am thinking of the pre-Raphaelite where a young woman, most likely “living in sin,” is springing from the lap of a young man (sitting on a piano stool?). I think the title is something like “Awakened Conscience.” I wish I didn’t have my responsibilities here; I would love to hear your lecture on that painting.