Saturday, January 31, 2009
Life Wisdom and Tribute to Drs. Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand
Please see the website of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project:
LETTER TO A YOUNG GIRL by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand (http://www.priestsforlife.org)
My dear young friend:
I know that young girls like secrets, and I am going to share one with you. God has chosen your sex for you; He made you to be a girl. You know that girls today are often told by feminists that the Church is "sexist" and has "discriminated" against them from the very beginning. She is accused of having treated them as "inferior", less talented, less gifted, made to be man’s servants. She has denied them power in the Church, and prohibited them from receiving the highest honor, to be ordained to the priesthood and so on.
No doubt, you have heard this siren song, because the media are good when it comes to spreading this negative message. And this is why, to rebut these false claims, I would like to make you realize that women – far from being discriminated against – have been granted a unique place by God in the work of redemption. The beauty of their mission is already hinted at in the Old Testament, but it finds its fulfillment only in the New, that is in the sweet Mother of our Savior; in Mary, the gentle Maid of Nazareth who was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer.
Let us take off our "secular" eyeglasses, and then we shall be able to see that women, far from being "discriminated" against, are in many ways privileged. And this is the "secret" I wish to share with you. The body of every little girl born into this world is mysteriously sealed by what is properly called the "veil of virginity". That is to say, a "secret" is entrusted to her body, and a secret is always "veiled". According to Christian teaching, this veil closes the entrance to a mysterious garden which belongs to God in a special way, and for this reason cannot be entered into except with His express permission, the permission that God grants spouses in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Any little girl aware of this "mystery" will feel that her body is to be modestly clothed, so that its secret will be hidden from lewd looks.
Little girls, of course, grow up. How beautiful when a bride can say to her husband on their wedding night, "I have kept this garden virginal for you, and now, with God’s permission I am giving you its key, knowing that you will enter into it with reverence".
Moreover, when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child’s soul in her body, (as you certainly know, neither husband nor wife can produce the human soul; God alone can create it.) In other words, there is a personal "contact" between God and the woman which, once again, gives to the female body a note of sacredness. Don’t forget that He whom the whole universe cannot contain, was "hidden" in the womb of the Holy Virgin for nine months. Once you realize this, you will be awe-filled for the double mystery that God has confided to you: to conceive a human being made to God’s image and likeness, and to give birth to it in pain and anguish. Do not forget that it was also in pain and anguish that Christ re-opened for us the gates of paradise – which had been shut by sin. To women has been granted the awesome privilege of nobly suffering so that a new human being, made to God’s image and likeness, might come into the world. Meditate upon this for a moment, and you will feel a deep reverence for your body. It belongs to God, and is not a "play thing" that you can dispose of as you please.
If you ever study pagan art, you will discover that it pays tribute to the male reproductive organ, representing it in various sculptures and paintings as a symbol of strength, virility, creativity, power. But from the very moment that the Catholic Church became a recognized religion, she fought relentlessly against this pagan cult. But the Church introduced a prayer uttered millions of times every single day in which the female organ par excellence, the "womb" is mentioned. "Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus". I am sure, my dear young friend, that if you meditate on this, you will understand that it is a privilege to be born a woman, and will respect the mystery that God has put in the female body.
Thank God that He has made you to be born a woman; I am sure now that you understand that it is a great privilege.
Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand
History of Drs Deitrich and Alice Von Hildebrand
Alice von Hildebrand
Alice Jourdain von Hildebrand was born in Belgium March 11, 1923. She came to the U.S. in 1940. Soon afterwards she met Dietrich von Hildebrand and began philosophy studies at Fordham University as his student where she took nearly 18 courses with him. Later she became his secretary and collaborated with him in the writing of a number of his books. Starting in 1947, she began teaching at Hunter College in New York City. She was eventually appointed Professor of Philosophy at Hunter where for 37 years she was an extraordinarily successful teacher. A number of her students converted to Catholicism under her influence, despite the anti-Christian spirit at Hunter. She married Dietrich von Hildebrand in 1959.
Upon her retirement in 1984 she was given a special award by Hunter in acknowledgement of her great distinction as a teacher. Dr. von Hildebrand counts it as one of the great and ironic moments of her career that the award, which is made on the basis of student evaluations, was presented to her by then-President of Hunter, Donna Shalala, who later served for eight years as President Clinton's Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Dr. von Hildebrand is the author of numerous books, including Introduction to a Philosophy of Religion, Greek Culture, By Love Refined, By Grief Refined, The Soul of a Lion, and The Privilege of Being a Woman, as well as numerous philosophical papers. Since her retirement she has been active in the Catholic world as a lecturer on countless topics and her journeys have taken her to South America, Canada, to thirty-five U.S. states, and to many European countries. In her very active television career, she has made over eighty appearances on EWTN and two hundred and sixty at the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Ohio, many of them about her husband. She has devoted her entire life to making known the thought and witness of her husband, Dietrich von Hildebrand.
Why Is Dr. Deidrick Von Hildebrand Important Today
Dietrich von Hildebrand in
Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote prolifically throughout his entire life. Beginning with his two dissertations and culminating in his magisterial work in the philosophy of beauty, the Aesthetics, von Hildebrand's work is marked by the fact that he wrote with originality and brilliance on a great variety of subjects; always in search, to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, of the "permanent things."
Von Hildebrand's writings can be classified in many different ways. Yet however one makes these classifications, one must realize that whatever the subject, von Hildebrand always remained true to his fundamental identity as a philosopher. Not that everything he wrote was difficult or complex; philosophy is, after all, not about complexity but about a certain way of probing to the very depths of things. (Someone once said very wisely that philosophy studies the questions that children ask.) Von Hildebrand's faithfulness to his true self as a philosopher give all of his writings a freshness and special clarity. One of von Hildebrand's students perhaps summarized von Hildebrand's philosophical spirit best, namely that for von Hildebrand the question of truth was always primary. Convenient, popular, marketable, and so on, where all secondary questions, as his works eminently testify.
Despite the fact that Hildebrand always wrote as a philosopher, his works can be usefully classified into at least three basic categories:
1. Philosophical Texts. Approximately half of von Hildebrand's writings are works of formal philosophy, among them his classic work in fundamental morality, Ethics, and his important book on metaphysics and epistemology, What is Philosophy?. Von Hildebrand also made important important contributions to perennially themes in Christian philosophy - man and woman, sexual purity, virginity, and marriage - as books such as Purity and Virginity, Man and Woman, and Marriage testify.
2. Religious Writings. From the time of his conversion to Catholicism in 1914, von Hildebrand wrote ardently and prolifically on religion, spirituality, and apologetics. His masterpiece in this area, Transformation in Christ, is considered by many to be a classic in Christian spirituality.
As a deeply committed Catholic, von Hildebrand did not shy away from bringing his philosophical gifts to bear on questions of religion. And though he always remained true to the rightly understood autonomy of philosophy, many of von Hildebrand's writings were deeply inspired and motivated by his profound Christian faith. Thus it is that his religious works, notably Transformation in Christ, are filled with important philosophical contributions, and his philosophical works, such as Ethics, are filled with important, religiously inspiried insights.
3. Political Writings. Fleeing Germany in 1934, von Hildebrand put his intellectual talents to work in opposing the poison of the rapidly rising German National Socialism. As the founder of his own anti-Nazi newspaper, The Christian Corporative State, he did intellectual battle at the very roots of the Nazi ideology.
A Special Appeal From Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand
A Critically Important Project
"I welcome with joy and gratitude the founding of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, which is capable of ensuring that my husband's contributions will be preserved and his message spread for years to come. Pope John Paul II has called for a renewal of philosophy and Catholic higher education; he has also referred to my husband as "one of the great ethical thinkers of the twentieth century." The work of translating and publishing Dietrich von Hildebrand's writings??which can only be accomplished with the generous help of many friends??represents a beautiful response to this call for a rebirth of Catholic spirituality and culture.With humility, I ask for your help and collaboration in this mission by your financial support of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project."
- Alice von Hildebrand