Building "A Civilization of Love"

Just yesterday at the North American College, we seminarians had the privilege of hearing the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Sir Carl Anderson, give a brief talk on his new book, A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World. Although at first the title may seem a bit nondescript, Anderson's presentation of the book certainly caught my attention in a bold way. His effort to break open the dialogue among Catholics regarding the place of love in society is certainly a timely one, and one very much in line with Pope Benedict's effort as the Roman Pontiff.

The name of the book, as Anderson noted, stems directly from St. Augustine's magnum opus, the ever looked-to City of God. In this work, the eminent Augustine seeks to draw a comparison between the earthly city of Roman rule (which proved to be crumbling heavily at that point in history) and the heavenly city, present at least in its seminal stages within the framework of the Catholic Church. Whereas the ancient Father drew on the barbarian invasions from the north as an occasion of courageous resistance to decadent powers, Anderson utilizes the recent 9/11 attacks in the US to showcase a similar truth; namely, that it is in time of trial that we truly possess the ability to construct the Civilization of Love. "We are talking about a revolution of virtue," he said in a recent interview, "but of the theological virtues: faith, hope and love...And this is the message Benedict XVI has given us with his two encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est, on love, and Spe Salvi, on hope." In fact, in his presentation at the NAC, the Supreme Knight even likened Pope Benedict to his favorite theologian, St. Augustine, saying that the current pope's work resembles an Augustinian approach to this type of societal theology.

Although I haven't read the book yet, I would certainly endorse it. Carl Anderson's reputation as a solid Catholic teacher stretches beyond his time as Supreme Knight; he was formerly a professor at the John Paul II Institute on Family Life in Rome, as well as a delegated member of various Pontifical Commissions over the past decade. The message of the Knights of Columbus has always been that of a culture of life, and Anderson certainly supports this in his new work. In addition to supporting causes for life, the Knights are also avid supporters of religious and priestly vocations, and for this Sir Carl will receive, on behalf of the Knights, the Rectors Award at the North American College's annual Rector's Dinner tomorrow evening.