The Works Of John Courtney Murray

1994 words - 8 pages

John Courtney Murray once said, “It was the force of a great tradition that launched our republic, and I suppose one of the problems . . . is how does this tradition fare today. . . . Back there you did have this extraordinary agreement on basic truth . . . certainly one great truth that lies behind this statement of political purpose—the truth to which customarily refer by saying in Lincoln's words ‘that this is a nation under God’—that political life has a premise beyond itself, a premise that is theological, the existence of God, and then joined with that there is the other truth about man, the essential truth about man, namely that man is a sacredness. . . .” (A Boat Against The Current) This quote essentially describes the main subject area of John Courtney Murray’s academic works and accomplishments; because of his vast works and accomplishments in this field, he is considered to be one of the leading historical and religious figures in the public spectrum. As discussed in class, most of his academic studies and areas of expertise revolve solely around tensions between religious ideals and social issues in public life. That being said, it is not surprising that he was also an important official within the Catholic Church for legal consultations and matters. His involvement with politics and public life also becomes clear and evident based on his education, lifestyle and written literary texts; his most famous literary work being We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition. The following essay will explore his early life, education and his involvement in the political atmosphere, with a close concentration on his most famous work of literature.
In order to understand John Courtney Murray’s writings, teachings and accomplishments, it is important to become familiar with his eventful life and education. John Courtney Murray was born in New York City on September 12, 1904; he was the son of Michael John Murray and Margaret Courtney. At the ripe age of sixteen, Murray joined the Society of Jesus, or more commonly known as the Jesuits; this occurred in the year 1920. After joining this chapter, he then continued to pursue degrees of higher education from Boston College. He graduated with a Baccalaureate Degree and a Masters Degree in 1926 and 1927, with a concentration in both Philosophy and Classical Studies. After graduating from Boston College, he taught both English and Latin literature in the Philippines until 1930. (Leon Hooper) Three years later, he returned to the United States. According to Leon Hooper, “He returned to the United States for theological studies at Woodstock College, Maryland, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1933, then pursued further studies at the Gregorian University (Rome). In 1937 he completed a doctorate in sacred theology with a specialization in the doctrines of grace and the Trinity.” (Leon Hooper)
After his education in Rome was completed, he returned to Woodstock College,...

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