Join us on Saturday, April 25 at Montminy Hall of Ste. Marie’s Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire for an opportunity to hear engaging speakers discuss great literature from a Catholic perspective. The theme of this year’s Catholic Literature Conference is: Does Literature Matter? Reading in an Age of Distraction.
Speakers include Thomas More College Writer-in-Residence Joseph Pearce and Teaching Fellow Amy Fahey, as well as Fr. Michael Kerper of St. Patrick’s Parish in Nashua and Professor Janet Benstead of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. Lunch is included in the ticket price. You can purchase tickets online via Eventbrite. Brief talk descriptions are provided below.
Does Literature Matter? It’s a Matter of Life and Death!
Literature not only matters, it’s a matter of life and death. Joseph Pearce shows how fictional stories and poetry are the God-given way of leading us to goodness, truth and beauty—and ultimately to God Himself.
Take the Plunge: Confronting Reality in Hawthorne and Flannery O’Connor
Dr. Amy Fahey, Fellow, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
In a world so full of artificiality and apathy, vice and violence, don’t we rely on fiction to help us escape—at least momentarily—the burdens of everyday life? Yet Flannery O’Connor argues that fiction isn’t an “escape from reality,” but a “plunge into reality.” The short fiction of Hawthorne and O’Connor challenges readers not only to confront, but to stare fixedly at what is grotesque, broken, and evil in humanity. “The serious writer,” says Flannery O’Connor, “has always taken the flaw in human nature for his starting point.” If “the flaw” is the starting point in Hawthorne and O’Connor, what is the destination?
Befriending Dead Writers: Franz Wright, a Friend I Never Met
Fr. Michael Kerper, Pastor, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Nashua, New Hampshire
Can you become “friends” with writers through their literature? Fr. Kerper will look at poet Franz Wright and present a “case study” of mysteriously befriending an author. Wright, who died in 2015, was the author of several volumes of poetry, including God’s Silence (2006) and the Pulitzer-Prize winning Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (2004). One critic notes how the “urgency” of his poetry gives voices to “the wounded openness of a speaker struggling to find faith.”
Manzoni’s The Betrothed: The Church’s Response to Wickedness and Cruelties in the World
Janet Benstead, Professor of Philosophy and Literature at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts
The Betrothed is a “tale” about two Italian peasants, Lucia and Renzo, whose plans to marry are foiled by a local petty prince who has designs on Lucia and a cowardly parish priest who refuses to marry the couple. The most important words in the novel are spoken to the negligent priest by his learned and holy Archbishop: “You should have joined what men put asunder . . . .” Thus, Manzoni reveals the principal theme of his work: the particular role of the Church in the world. No matter what is transpiring—military invasion, occupation, famine, plague—priests must still baptize, hear confessions, preach the Gospel, perform weddings, and anoint the dying. Even when the world is a “living hell,” exquisitely depicted in Manzoni’s scenes of Milan during the plague, Christian men and women—mothers, fathers, fiancés, doctors, lawyers, government officials, even peasants—bear Christ to one another and forgive those who have persecuted them.