On Tuesday Jules and I drove in to New York City for a Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project event. It featured a talk by his widow, Alice, on his life-long fight against relativism: "Relativism in the intellectual sphere and relativism in the moral sphere."
She spoke of her husband's dramatic and often very difficult life. "When I met him, he was a refugee. He had lost everything, because of his fight against Naziism, and yet, he radiated joy." His joy came from his faith, and his total confidence that "truth would win in the end."
She contrasted this joy with the kind of shallow optimism that brushes problems aside, that doesn't take evil seriously, that imagines that everything's basically okay. Von Hildebrand was far from being an optimist of this kind. On the contrary, his rootedness in Truth, his keen philosophical perceptiveness, his almost extreme sensitivity to error and wrong, and his total dedication to moral and religious values gave him extraordinary insight and prescience when it came to threats--threats to the dignity of the person or to the teachings of the Church. About our earthly prospects, he was under no illusions. Any yet, so potent was his joy and his hope in God that it drew many of his friends and associates into the Catholic faith.
We could use some more of that these days, couldn't we?
John Henry Crosby founded the Legacy Project with his father John F. Crosby. Madeleine Stebbins, widow of Lyman Stebbins, who founded Catholics United for the Faith, has been Alice von HIldebrand's closest friend for more than 60 years. [I'm sorry abou the poor quality of the photos! I don't understand cameras.]
Here is a photo of Jules with Dr. Crosby and Gregory Woodward of the Raskob Foundation.