Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Father Jordan Zajac on Shakespeare’s Connections to Catholicism

July 13, 2023 Classic Learning Test
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Father Jordan Zajac on Shakespeare’s Connections to Catholicism
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Anchored, Jeremy is joined by Father Jordan Zajac, Dominican priest and assistant professor at Providence College (PC). The two discuss the role of Dominican priests in establishing PC in 1917 and maintaining its enduring Catholic identity. They defend the universal nature of Shakespeare’s works to show what is real and the nuanced discussion surrounding his religious affiliation. They also discuss the importance of college students observing the joy and sustaining power of a life fully surrendered to Christ.

Jeremy Tate:
Anchor fans, welcome back to the Anchor podcast. I am in beautiful Providence, Rhode Island today at Providence College. And I'm here with Father Jordan Zajac, Dominican priest, who is also a specialist in Shakespeare, early modern English literature, religion and literature. Maybe has more formal education than anyone I've seen on the Anchor podcast. Pretty amazing. Father. Thanks so much for being with us. Jeremy, it is a pleasure to be with you and all the listeners. And the Lord keeps me humble though. I'm kind of a simplex, you know, simplex priests from the old right, sort of a simplex Thomist. You know, I know just enough to be dangerous. I think in addition to Father Monsignor Shea, I think Father Jordan, you are the second priest on the Anchor podcast. So welcome as well. I love the presence of the Dominicans on campus here. 40 Dominicans, which is amazing. Father, we'd love to start off as we often do your journey both into the priesthood and kind of your early academic formation as well. What was schooling like for you as a young child? Did you imagine yourself as a priest, even as a young boy going to Mass? Catholic school education right from preschool onwards. I'm the son of a very holy and devout couple and I'm so grateful to God for that and their witness of my mom and dad. So Catholic school education from preschool on but of course I grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 80s and 90s, which means a cultural Catholic You know a lot of still some felt banners and things like that And some good old-fashioned kind of like Christian moralism was like, you know, why do you love God? Because you so you don't go to hell, right? So that and so it took time for me in high school and college and beyond to you know develop a more mature faith and understanding of God. But Catholic education from the beginning and was an altar server from third grade on. And so I became very familiar with life at the altar and by the altar. And so I think even in high school, I could see the pre-suit as something eventually that I'd be interested in. But it was only years later. So we're, Providence is more than the name of this college. Providence is more than the name of the city. It's the name of God. his loving plan for us in our lives. And he allowed me, um, as he does with many of his, um, beloved to kind of. Forge my own path and he gave me these natural loves and desires, one for English literature, so that by the time I came to Providence college as a student, you know, I had, I had fallen in love with the life of the mind, the academic life, and especially with, with Shakespeare and literature. And so by the time I entered Providence college thinking, maybe seminary at some point, and I. graduated thinking I want the tweed jacket and the pipe and the elbow patches and I want to be a Shakespearean at some small liberal arts college Yeah, ideally in New England And so I embarked on that instead and so went to the University of Virginia for my master's degree I see an incredible experience down there. Mr. Jefferson's grounds And then from there went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for my doctorate in Shakespearean drama And it was there in I dare say godless Amherst that that's where the Lord, yeah, that's where, that's where he truly drew me. Wow. Okay. So what year were you ordained? I was ordained in 2020 under, um, under lockdown. Wow. So I was already here. I was doing a pastoral year here as a, as a Deacon in preparation to be a full time professor, just to get to know the culture again, um, and this generation of students unique as they are. And so lockdown meant. you know, ordination in place while all my classmates were ordained down in Washington, D.C. It's right here on campus. First Dominican friar in over 100 years of the campus to ever be ordained a priest here on campus. So it was a blessing. Now, as a convert to Catholicism in 2010, I'm always amazed when I meet folks who went through as cradle Catholics the 80s and 90s, which perhaps in the history of the church may have been the worst decades ever for catechesis. And so it's... kind of a miracle when you meet Catholics who grew up in the church during that time and they love Jesus and they love the church. So Father, about half of our audience is not Catholic. Many Christians who love the classical tradition, I think have a respect for the Catholic intellectual tradition, but maybe don't get kind of the order thing, the different orders. If folks have never really heard much at all about Dominicans, talk to us about the role of Dominicans within the Catholic church. Yeah, absolutely. It's a great question. Even if we just take a step back and like, what are all these religious orders or these groups where it's like we have different teams in the same league, they have different colors, but it's all kind of old fashioned garb, what's going on there. Throughout the life and times of the church, there are specific peoples and places and needs and the Lord puts in the history of the church, saints ordinarily. in contact with those people and places in particular needs. Mother Teresa is there in Calcutta and she sees one leper, you know, she sees one ill person in the streets, she cares for them, she continues to do it. Other women are inspired by that, they're drawn to her way of life, and very naturally and organically to fit the times and the needs of a particular place and time. The Lord kind of gives these charisms, these graces to bring people together in a way of life. where we take these vows, poverty, chastity, obedience, and live in a radical kind of gospel way. For the Dominicans, it was 800 years ago in the midst of just as we are kind of an intellectual crisis and confusion now, so too in the Middle Ages, just as in the life of the church right now, we're struggling in the wake of terrible scandals. So too, there were many dissentifying examples in the church in the Middle Ages, 12th century, 13th century. And it was there that not only St. Dominic, but also St. Francis, they were contemporaries. You know, they wanted to live. They saw the errors of members of the church, clergy especially, and they felt called to live in a more authentically, radically, you know, Catholic, Catholic way and clerical way. It was, well, at least for St. Dominic. So he was already a priest and, you know, he's out. long story short, he just finds himself in southern France on a journey and all these people that have been drawn away from the faith, and he finds himself preaching to them, trying to teach them. Those who had, you know, it's almost like they're inoculated against the gospel because they grew up with it. And so he, and he starts to have success and he draws other men to himself and this order of preachers develops in the 13th century where we're preachers and teachers, we're kind of... Everyone was, it was, it was a radical form of, of life in the church. People knew monks. You leave the world, you join a monastery, you pray to God, you contemplate. And then, you know, you have an intellectual life, but that it stays in the monastery. These are like monks that are busting out, out under the streets because everyone needs it. Everyone needs that saving message. And, and, you know, being that the beginnings, people are like, what are these monks doing around and around? Um, but it's, uh, became a very attractive way of life. Our, our most famous. Saint other than Saint Dominic is Saint Thomas Aquinas. Okay. If Dominic is our spiritual father, then Thomas is our intellectual father. I mean, we're all shaped by the thought of Aquinas. That goes down. So they, Dominic sent the brethren out two by two and went to University cities. Okay. Anywhere and everywhere they could. So we've always had a great impact on- scholarly tradition and university systems in Europe and now in the United States here. Okay. Tell us a bit about the origins of Providence College. I believe the first Catholic university in America was Georgetown. You know, you think of schools like Harvard and Yale and Princeton that have these Puritan roots. And, you know, we've seen the mission drift there. We'll get into that in just a few minutes. But tell us first if you would about the Dominicans establishing. What year was this? What was the context? Absolutely. The year was 1917 and our roots, the Dominican roots in the United States go back to the 19th century. We arrived, the first Dominicans arrived just after the Jesuits and they go to Washington, DC and they appeal to the bishop and say, we'd love to found a college or a university. He says, you know, I just... told these Jesuits they could found this place called Georgetown. We have all these Catholics that are out in Kentucky, Ohio, migrating out that way for opportunities, and they have no priest minister to them. So would you go out that way? That's where the Dominicans started in Kentucky, Ohio. We're the first Bishop of Ohio out there. Then we'll eventually make our way back east, end up in major cities like Boston and New York. And in 1917, seeing the needs of the church in New England at that time, where both Catholics and Jewish people were not being allowed into some of those other institutions, it was like, we've got to find a school for Catholic immigrants and others who are not given the same educational opportunities. And so that was the founding mission and ethos for PC. Okay, okay, fantastic. Now many of the CLT students base, many are homeschooled. They're doing Mother of Divine Grace or Colby or Seton. Many go to schools like the Chesterton Academies, which are growing rapidly. Love that. Tell us a little bit if you would about kind of the Catholic identity of Providence College. Many of our students, when we talk to families, they're looking at places like Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan, Belmont Abbey, Benedictine. for families looking for a faithfully Catholic college or university, is PAC a good fit? That's a great question. I get it all the time because so many of the people that are listening to this podcast or the kinds of people that are listening to this podcast are the ones that are in the parishes and other ministries that we have in the Eastern province, the province of St. Joseph here. It's a great question. It's one of the things that makes me happiest about being a Dominican here and now in this province at this age, because it is such a crucial, crucial moment. And I'll be honest, you know, just as we are living in an apostolic age, so too the Dominicans are an apostolic order. You know, we see what the apostles did and we're trying to do the same thing. And we need that to happen. And we embrace the fact that we need to make it happen on campus just as much as in the culture. And so it is absolutely possible to find and receive and be nourished by an authentically Catholic education here at Providence College, but it is not a bubble. It's not a nest. It's preparation, I would say for the real world, but it's more like the rat race out there because what we see on the mainstream culture is not the real. There's nothing. It's well, it's not real enough. And so we're trying to give our students an education that prepares them for so many different experiences they're going to have in life and encounters with those who are not, who don't know the faith, who are hostile to the faith. So it's about, we're fighting daily for the soul of the campus, just as we are for the soul of the culture. And we're making great We're being blessed, the Dominicans and the province of St. Joseph, the kind of region that operates and oversees this college, the province is being blessed with a number of vocations where other communities and dioceses are seeing very few ordinations, if any. We've got, we're ordaining eight, 10, 12 men to the priesthood every year. A lot of them with higher degrees or they go on for doctorates. We're kind of flooding the campus. There's, as you said, close to 40 of us here right now. And so it's, um, you know, the, the future of Providence College, it's, it's only going in one direction and it's becoming more and more robustly Catholic. And we have, uh, and just faithful to the, you know, humanistic tradition, right? Because just anecdotally, you know, for me, um, as an English professor, there, there are a number of students who end up at Providence College. Not because they see, I mean, there are crucifixes all over the place. And we have mass, daily mass three times a day and confessions available in holy hours every day. They're not here for, for that. They're, you know, they're here for other reasons and they're, they come from the world and they're of the world. But then they take a Shakespeare course with me and it's not just a course on Shakespeare's histories and comedies. I sell them. It's, it's, this is a course on friendship. All right. We're going to look at this core, you know, aspect of our reality and we're going to explore the way Shakespeare dramatizes it and the impact that can have on the way we think about it in our lives. So let me give you some classic examples. And you know, so I've got these, some of them pretty progressive students and we're reading, all right, let's look at Seneca, let's look at Aristotle, just okay, here are the classics. Shakespeare would have known them and received them in the tradition, even somebody funky like Montaigne, but some really, you know, him on Friendship is still... But then, all right, let's apply that to, and then let's look at courtship, romantic love as an extension of friendship or interplay. And let's see how it plays out on the stage and in Shakespeare's imaginary. And what impact does it have in the way that you approach something so fundamental? Because no matter what the background or education, at least in my experience here so far at PC, I find that's one of the biggest things young people today struggle with is just understanding and trying to find authentic friendships and relationships with peers. And so in the classroom, we try to cultivate habits of mind and hopefully then correspond to actions and find ways with others. No, I think as our audience tries to think through Providence College, I think there's a comparison with University of Mary. I went out there in early March in a record snow season for Bismarck, North Dakota. And... did a podcast there with Monsignor Shay and I met two kinds of students. I met a couple of students from California and because of Monsignor Shay, because of the Catholic culture, they went to North Dakota for four years for college. But I met other students who said they came just because the nursing program is amazing or they came because, you know, the hockey is incredible. And they weren't thinking about that. They weren't considering their faith, but they had a transformative experience when they were there, which is incredible. One of the things you told me offline, which I think is just amazing, is you actually have 30, 40, 50 students every year who are getting confirmed, new baptism, students who may come here, they're not Catholic at all, but through the witness of the Dominicans are being introduced to the faith. Can you speak more about that? Yeah, absolutely. Through the witness of the Dominicans and also of the contingency of a very strong, intentional Catholic lay faculty that we have here. A lot of them... kind of concentrated in what's called the Humanities Program. And we like to go, it's kind of contrary to the Benedict option or those who would say, all right, let's retreat from the world. We're out there, both Dominicans and lay faculty and staff, to try to just be Levin in the culture. So we'll find students wherever they're at. We'll meet them wherever they're at and try to bring them higher, bring them closer to the truth and the love of Christ. And we have great success. There is our signature program is called the development of Western civilization You're loving us. I was such a fan and when I visited for the first time in 2016 And I have more people not know about this because we've talked about this extensively in the acre podcast You know, we really have seen half a century now of college and university One after another just trashing any kind of a serious core curriculum PC has not done that at all And tell us about the foundations in Western Civ here. We've doubled down on this and invested in it. So it's an interdisciplinary, integrated approach to the humanities. It's the core of the Providence College education. Every student is required to take it. It's four semesters, four credits a semester. Interdisciplinary. So it's history, theology, philosophy, and literature professors. And we begin. at the beginnings in the ancient world and through a four semester sequence or three semester historical sequence, going through the greatest hits of the Western tradition, looking at it from every angle, historically, philosophically, theologically and from the literary. And then it culminates with a fourth semester where they have a students can pick a colloquium a kind of special topics course where they can decide, do I want to look at the history of sports? Do I want to look at? I co-teach a course on. C.S. Lewis as a Christian thinker, his literature and theology, or you might look at Europe in between the wars. So you get to have this kind of signature at the end of the experience there. And so many students, that is, again, this is not for most listeners for the podcast here, but for so many students that come from the secular culture, this is the first time they've ever encountered the confessions or the Divine Comedy or a lot of these just core texts that- I would argue if you haven't read these, then you can't call yourself literate. And grace is real. They're transformed by their grace. Their minds and hearts are opened and they start to seek. And that's where the rest of us Dominicans and other faithful faculty members here, you know, we, the conversations after class lead to encouraging them to go to the chapel to pray and just seek God. And then they end up doing these programs or these other experiences. I just saw a student yesterday who's here for the summer. working on campus at the end of the semester this in May he went on a program through the humanities program over to Rome for three weeks okay he's describing to me how he's in this cathedral and he's looking at this one depiction of our lady the virgin child and he said father I must have stared at that thing for an hour because it became so real it was like they were looking at me and breathing they were living and breathing and father what other mass is available this summer There's a lot of inroads to grace happening here. Let's talk about Shakespeare. You are a Shakespeare scholar. Shakespeare has been one of many of the dead white men being debated right now. And there was an article that I believe was in the New York Times, a teacher saying, hey, how can my students relate to Shakespeare? But in the debate, I think some folks have walked away realizing and appreciating Shakespeare more than ever. Give us, if you would, a little bit of the context first of Shakespeare's life and kind of early influence, I guess, beginning in the 17th century. Absolutely. This is one of the ways I start to knock at the idol that is the bard and knock him off the pedestal and just make him more real for students. We start by describing what early modern London looked like and smelled like and everything. place that the theaters had, the commercial theaters. This is a brand new kind of entertainment enterprise that Shakespeare and others, there's the first generation where they're like, we can just make money. These medieval pageant plays and things that we take on carts around for festivals, we can just keep this in one theater and people will come to us. And it's in basically the red light district of these cities, it's outside the city walls. You are walking to the theater. And you know there's gonna be some form of entertainment there in the afternoon. It might be Hamlet or it might be bear baiting where you're gambling on whether a bear that's chained to a stick can fight off and defeat these dogs or the dogs are gonna beat him. And it's like, so this is popular culture. This is not, let's get dressed up and go to the theater and just sit there passively as we do, as we revere it now, it's worthy of reverence. But it's for everybody. Everybody went. something out of it. So what is that? What is that? And I think Shakespeare in particular, and he just, I also teach courses on his contemporaries, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, others are good, but they're always like, yeah, this is good, Father, but it's not, it's not, well, Shakespeare would have done something more. It's like, yep, he, this is a, it's an insight from another Shakespearean at Catholic University of America, Michael Mack. You know, he says, if Shakespeare had been a physician, If you'd gone to medical school, he would have been a pathologist. What do you, in the sense like a moral pathologist. Like he loves, he loves to show us. What's real, morally compromised characters in compromised or difficult situations, making incredibly challenging choices. And any one of us who knows what that's like, sees this and learns and gains valuable things from it, from this inquiry and from, and it's revelatory, I think all good literature is, it reveals something to us that we didn't know or we've experienced, but don't have the, can't articulate for ourselves otherwise. One of the classical schools, I think a hallmark of these new schools, there's a deep love for theater. And there's, you tour these schools and they're always advertising, you know, their next play they're putting on together. Is theater a part of the life at PC, Providence College? We have a theater, dance and film department. They're always putting, they will put on multiple productions every year. And it's. It's the kind of space where, again, I love it. It's not just that the drama majors come in and they rule the roost. One of my students from his freshman year in that Development Western Civ course, just a very thoughtful and kind of goofy guy, he walks on, he additions for the role of Macbeth and gets it. And he was phenomenal. And I see him on campus now, I'm like, I... You kind of scare me. I don't think you're going to like thrust me through the, you know, I'm going to be the Duncan to your Macbeth here. Cause he was so compelling and so good. So, uh, yeah, drama is one of those embodied art forms that, you know, brings just the whole of one's humanity into play and students, um, the, the lessons that enjoy acting and these, whenever they have a show on it's, it's always sold out every weekend. Okay. What are the, uh, the current, the Shakespeare books you teach? the current Shakespeare, what I like to do, we have two courses, Tragedies and the Romances, and then the histories and the comedies. And I love to give them a smattering, I don't wanna bore your audience to death, but I'd love to give them a smattering of different. literary theories and critics who approach, whether it's everything from Christian humanism and Christian humanistic approach to Shakespeare to a cultural Marxist approach. And it's like, the idea there is, you know, students discover for themselves that ideologies are not very life-giving. But, so I'll give them a smattering of literary critics and theorists and stuff like that to supplement. Okay, here's a feminist reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream. And here is what it... a recent scholar, Leozer up at Holy Cross, here's how he approaches it in his book, Christian Humanism in Shakespeare. And all right, you discuss, what'd you get out of these readings? So I'll do that. And then I also love to give them, one of the things that with Shakespeare, there isn't one Shakespeare, or at least he's seized upon and tries to be co-opted by so many different kinds of groups. I'll give them different biographies. of the Bard. There's a new one that just came out this year that I haven't even read it yet, but I'm like, it's a thin, it came through the art in Shakespeare. So it's, you know, legitimate press. And let's give them that and see what this guy does with the historical record. And who does he want to craft Shakespeare into? What are his interests and values? Because we impose so much. And that's through the history of Shakespearean reception, you see that. The number one question I get is, was Shakespeare Catholic? What's going on there? Interesting. And the more I see the context, he couldn't publicly be Catholic. Correct. Yeah. Correct. And there are those who Joseph Pierce most vociferously says, absolutely, he was Catholic. And here's all the evidence in the texts. And I admire his zeal, but less so is sort of literary finesse. Because if it's that obvious to us now, he would have been, if not beheaded, at least find. And he's, he wouldn't. There's also, there's a historian calls it the compliance conundrum. The state sanctioned religion goes back and forth throughout the entirety of Shakespeare's life. And he himself, he's baptized Protestant. He's, he is born five or six years after Elizabeth takes the throne, but his older sister Joan baptized Roman Catholic. His parents, but so how do you, there's, there is just a deep sense of. They call it the age of conscience as well. Like you, there's a state sanctioned religion and you follow that unless you wanna pay the price. Then there's also the interior of your heart and your private beliefs. And there's a whole nother landscape within there that was intentionally uninhabitable by anybody else. And they would, there are plenty of other records of those who would be, okay, closet Catholics and you don't realize it until well afterwards. Wow. So context here, Shakespeare, what year does Shakespeare die? This is early 1600s? He is born in 1564 and dies in 1616. So he lives through the reigns of Elizabeth I and then James I. Okay. So this is a time where you have a long reign of Elizabeth, you have Protestantism really being, you know, you have the Westminster standards, you have... low tolerance, I guess, for being Catholic. Were there mass is happening secretly during Shakespeare's age? There are Jesuits there in plain clothes in England trying to do what they can to sustain an underground Catholic culture. There are manners and estates, you know, Catholic families that remain faithful. And, you know, they have these things called priest holes, government officials come, just, you know, hey, we heard you got a priest here and you can do that math stuff. Well, there's a little foxhole. I mean, they're a little hiding, priest is down there. If you've seen the Bond film, Skyfall, he goes to his old estate, it's in Scotland, but there's the final battle sequence. It's kind of like James Bond does Home Alone. But, and one of the devices they use is like, okay, I'm gonna hide in the priest hole. because there's no Catholic family. So they would, there were those who remained faithful. There are Catholic martyrs in this, in England in this time. There are even, you know, like the Jesuits Robert Southwell, who is, who's writing about his, you know, the Burning Babe, this mystical poem about what it's like to encounter Christ, especially in the midst of a hostile culture that's hostile to the Roman Catholic faith. So they're there and they're I see in complicated period of religious history, but the Catholics are there. I want to go back if we could and kind of press this question a bit. I was so encouraged by your response. You said that Providence College is only going in one direction in terms of Catholic orthodoxy, which is exciting. But the culture and the history of higher ed is that has not been the trend. I think we've seen one institution after another. Go in a different direction. What is it that makes you optimistic about the future of PC? Yeah, it begins with you know, I mentioned this before it begins as a Dominican. I say it begins with us We all the men that and again, there are many men being drawn to the order and it's like this is the Lord's work clearly and All of us that are I mean we're We love we love the church all of her teachings all of her truths and we want to teach the truth and love and we will remain faithful to that. If the culture continues to go one direction, even if for some reason the culture on campus continues to go in that direction, we're gonna remain resolute and we would shake the dust from our feet before we let that happen. So we would... We'd say this, okay, there's no longer a ministry of the province. If, you know, we take that away, that's not going to happen because look at rank and file, uh, faculty members, you know, Dominicans that are rank and file faculty members and staff members will move to positions of administration. And it's, um, you know, we're, we know what we're about. We know who we're about. I love on the leadership. You said that Providence will always have a Dominican as president. As a president. Yep. That's part of the bylaws here. Yep. So we have both the president is a Dominican, other administrators are, and we also have the bishop of the diocese on the corporation. And so we have a new bishop now, and he's Dominican educated, he was at the Angelicum, and just seems like a really strong force for Catholic education. And so we're looking forward to having him here in the diocese for years to come. Yep, and many of our families are their big, big fans of the Cardinal Newman Society and the Newman Recommended Guide for colleges. And we're fans at CLT of the Newman Guide and they've been good, long time friends for us in the work that we're doing here. Providence College is not currently, at one time I believe PC was on that list of recommended colleges. And I try to tell families, you know, we love what the work that Cardinal Newman Society does, but there are other, there are colleges that are not listed. that are still going to be really, really great options. I think I talk to families who go to Notre Dame and they have a great experience. You've got to be more thoughtful in navigating it for sure. But it sounds like for PC, very similar as well. Yeah, it's absolutely. And that's, again, I try to be, the motto of the school is veritas, is truth. I try to be as truthful and honest as I can. And there are You can get a robustly Catholic education here, but is it possible to get something else? Yes. And therefore guides, like the Newman guide is gonna balk at that. So what I simply say to people, as Christ said, come and see. Come take a visit on campus, see what you see, see if it's for you. A lot of people, a lot of students will be, it's just funny, I'm smiling because I'm about to go, I've lunch with one of them afterwards, maybe late lunch. But... who came in, you know, Catholic, New England Catholic family, born and raised in the faith, but by the time she's graduating high school, she's agnostic at best, comes here. And the very first thing she does is a program for pre-orientation where it's called FaithWorks. It's 50 students who it's, it's faith-based. It's campus ministry that runs it. You do ministry in the city, you know, service to the poor. Things like that. Every day starts with mass. You do sort of spiritual and theological reflection at the end of the days and what you're getting out of it. And by the end of her freshman year, she's in the chapel every night for Holy Hours. And she's like, do you have any books on grace? I want to learn more about grace to everyone. And so, you know, she's now, um, uh, discerning religious life as well. So there's plenty of those. And then there are plenty of those who come in strong, the Catholics, stay Catholic, and there are those who have major conversion. I had this experience, I worked for two years at Mountain of Sails Academy in Catonsville, Maryland, which is run by the Dominicans of Nashville, the Sisters. I always believe conceptually, like sure, you could take a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience and be happy, but when you actually see it, there's something that kind of spilled over in the life of the Dominicans at Mountain of Sails. My daughters both go there now. That's great. And it's formative. It is. And it's... I myself, I feel this calling to the priesthood and to religious life and the Dominicans and I'm skeptical and like, how can I be happy giving? You do, you have to sacrifice a ton of natural goods. These are good things. But then you see, for me, it was going to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC and meeting guys like who are now Father Gregory Pine, meeting Father Thomas Joseph White and seeing this kind of joy that comes from surrounding your life to the Lord. living in close, close friendship with him every day by contemplative prayer in the presence of the Most Holy Eucharist. And it's like, actually, no, this can be and is sustaining. And I remember halfway through that first year as you're a novice, as you're just trying to life out, I thought to myself, I can never leave. The idea of living under a roof where the Blessed Sacrament wasn't there, it's like, I can't, that's repulsive to me. Now, some of our colleges, I think of a place like Thomas Aquinas or Christendom, Sam Phillips and a Christian. I asked him one time, is Christendom a good place for non-Catholic students? And he said, I think we had one time and then he became Catholic. But a place like the University of Dallas is pretty different. A lot of students, they come from classical Christian non-Catholic schools. They go to UD. They have a great experience there. Is PC also a place for non-Catholic? believers as well. What does that mean? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And there's so many students that we have that fit that bill. And for anyone, I mean, anyone who's just interested in being well-rounded, being more fully human, who has a little bit, you know, the background, especially in classical education or homeschooling, there's a place for you here. There are courses and topics and, you know, disciplines like through the Humanities program, that'll be both familiar, but also challenging, and they'll push you in terms of your intellectual growth. But you're also able to find a home where there's community and it's culturally renewing, and your participation in that is... I mean, just any student with an open mind and just a love for learning, our faculty recognize that and they see that and they'll give you special attention and you find the reason that God brought you here. And so there's a lot of mentoring, whether it's you see faculty members sitting in the just talking about what was in class and seeing where it goes. And so there's a lot of different ways that students from other traditions, yep, absolutely flourish here. Academic majors of excellence at PC, students want to go to med school, what are some of the majors that draw students here? Especially we've got a lot of high flyers in the CLT base, students that are scoring a 110 on the CLT or a 1480 on the SAT or something. What are some of the more compelling programs? The most popular programs are through the business school is really thriving. And that's a place where we have programs and ministries, like it's called Catholics in the Marketplace, where we have these open, you know, these luncheons with dialogues and things like that and try to, okay, what does it mean for Catholics to, and just people of good will and good faith to operate in the business world. And that's about half our students are business majors. Other... You know, robust programs include psychology and neuroscience. We're just about to beginning work to develop a school of nursing, nursing program and health sciences. There's a deep need for that. And so the humanities programs involved with developing that. There is a nursing program. So they were about to start the first class is coming in, in the fall now. Is that a direct admin or do students apply once they get here? You get into the nursing. It begins with the direct. Okay. You can work your way into. And so those are the, again, when you see the price tag for a private Catholic education like this and a lot of people think in a worldly way, to start out being in a worldly way, what career am I going to get out of this if I'm going to pay so much money for this education? Let you Google it. I'm not going to say it. And But then they get here and they discover other programs, even if they're not majors, then minors, like humanities or theology or philosophy, and that complements and enhances the academic experience that they have. Final question for you, we always conclude the Anchored podcast talking about great books, the books that have been most formative for our guests. Father, is there a book, a Shakespeare or a Lewis, that maybe you reread, that you just love teaching more than any others? Oh my gosh, yeah. I, we'll start with Lewis. And it just, it has, I mean, I think the most important book is The Abolition of Man that I keep going back to, but the one that I keep going back to and keep being renewed by is just The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. That's kind of the horror text, I think, for Lewis. Yeah. And precisely because it does such a good job, the literary term for it is kind of defamiliarization, right? You know, the gospel can become so familiar and with familiarity, you... You kind of lose that heart for it. You know, okay, I've heard this before. I know this story. Well, when you repackage it in the way that Lewis does so brilliantly, um, you kind of never stop, at least for me, like there's, there's always a tear that shed on that when Aslan is walking to make a sacrifice, um, there's a similar principle involved. People love the chosen right now. And I think for a similar reason, right? It's, it's defamiliarizing us from yet. And yet giving us the fullness of that same. gospel text. So, Lionel, Richard, and Wodro, but I always, I began my introduction literature courses with that and just to kind of like baptize their imaginations and just resensitize them to ultimate truths and that it's a great effect. Similarly for me, for Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale. So it's a late play of his, not as well known. You'd expect me to say Hamlet or something like that, but it is, think of, think of Othello. There's this jealous king, except there's no Iago. It's kind of completely self-deceived or self- he trips himself up thinking about his wife's infidelity. And for the first half of the play, you get this like, it's like a fellow in condensed form. I mean, it's going to this awful tragic conclusion. And then through a lot of just miracles of grace and providence and you could say, good fortune. All of a sudden you get comedy out of the grips of a tragedy. And it ends in a way that's kind of similar to Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and there's beautiful parallels. And it's just, it's a course, it's a play that I love to teach at the end of a course, because it fills you with a sense of awe and wonder and just a happy acceptance of things that are bigger than yourself and the ability for forgiveness to happen and become part of something bigger. As a scholar of both Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis, would you say that Shakespeare was one of the more influential? authors and thinkers in CS Lewis's imagination? I think so. Lewis, he astounds me. I wish if there were anyone I could, any literary figure I could have a meal with, it would be him, even over Shakespeare. His ability, he knew, he absorbed so much from so many different places. And it's hard to say where one influence begins and look. and the other one ends. But Shakespeare certainly, you know, suffused his imagination with, I think, you know, the possibilities that come from like kind of moral transformation, you know, choice, the effects of that choice, transformation through choices made in a way that, you know, for instance, I'm thinking of contemporaries of Shakespeare, I mean, Spencer was another big influence on Lewis, but it just doesn't, you know. doesn't register in the same way as the Shakespeare does. I think it is, especially in his literary works. Could pick your brain all day, Father. Again, we are here on campus at Providence College. Father Jordan, thank you for your ministry. Thank you for fighting for the orthodoxy and the future of this great college. We'd love to have you back on the program in the future. Jeremy, it's been a great pleasure. Thank you for having me on. God bless.