Mr. Martin Chouinard, graduate of the Thomas Moore College of Liberal Arts and now teacher at the I.H.M. school, spoke at this year’s S.B.C. conference about Our Lady’s Reply to the 20th Century Secularist Utopia. This was Mr. Chouinard’s first time speaking at the annual conference, which was held this past weekend.
The Conference is a meeting held in Richmond, New Hampshire to promote the educational and missionary apostolate of St. Benedict Center. A variety of important persons, including Charles Coulombe, author of many books of high erudition, and Mr. C.J. Doyle, executive director of Boston’s Catholic Action League, attend every year to speak on certain issues of the modern world. It is hosted in the St. Joseph’s hall and in a large covered portion of the grounds. This year, Mr. Chouinard decided to stand up on the podium and talk about the paradox of trying to create a paradise on earth.
Mr. Chouinard spoke of the eerie similarities between the events of World War One, and what was recorded in the (fictional) pages of a book written by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World. Monsignor Benson wrote the book to display his conviction that Modernism was the greatest threat to the Church in his day.
Mr. Chouinard spoke of much, but his recurring point was that “Utopia is not where you can have anything you want; it’s where you’re closest to God.” The term “Utopia,” a deliberate play on words, was coined in the Renaissance by Saint Thomas Moore and literally means, equally, the “good place” and “no place.” The rest of the Renaissance men turned the term into what it is today without “getting the joke.”
Mr. Chouinard also discussed the rise of secularism in the 20th century, as manifested in the atrocities of World War One. President Woodrow Wilson entered the European conflict after his re-election to “shape the post-war world according to his vision of the utopian future,” according to Mr. Chouinard. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties being written off as acceptable sacrifice to achieve Wilson’s dream.
Mr. Chouinard’s overall point was that we shouldn’t try to make this world heaven, but we should still strive to get there.