The following meditations on the mysteries of the rosary were written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.
The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
Mary must say “Yes” to carrying Jesus in her womb for nine months, and in her heart forever. Her “Yes” would bring with it the probability of being set aside by Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, because he would know the child was not his. Being set aside by Joseph would bring with it either death—for she had ostensibly committed adultery, and the just punishment for adultery was stoning—or else a life of shame and of being ostracized by her “spiritual betters.”
Joseph must say “Yes” to that which his reason and nurturing would insist he say, “No.” From his human perspective at the moment, Mary is guilty of adultery. If he does not divorce her or marry her but instead exposes her to the Law, she—and hence the child she is carrying in her womb—will almost inevitably be stoned to death as her just punishment (Dt 22:21-24). This is important because Joseph’s “Yes” is not the “Yes” of justice under the Law; it is the “Yes” of righteousness, the choice of doing out of love—and contrary to his own interests—God’s mysterious and unfathomable will. This “Yes” of Joseph’s is the earthly father of Jesus saying, “Thy will be done, not mine,” thirty-three years before his son, also against His own earthly interests, would say the same thing.
And the third, “Yes,” is God’s. God, “who is love (agapé),” must say “Yes” to becoming a human being, a member of a humanity long ravaged by and long subject to every manifestation of evil capable of expressing itself through the choices, including the choices of violence and enmity, of these same human beings. In Jesus, God, “who is love (agapé)” must be the human incarnation of that agapé—unconditional, nonviolent, self-sacrificing love for all, friends, strangers, and enemies alike. This Divine choice—to become incarnate as a human being in an environment in which legions upon legions of evil dynamics are operating within human beings and within the institutions they have erected, and to become human with only the power of love (agapé) available to confront and conquer these diabolical forces—is a choice that infinitely surpasses any understandings of justice and of reality. It is a Mystery that is beyond human fathoming because such a choice will inevitably result in a life of having to struggle to love, having to suffer to love, and having to die at the hands of other human beings to love—as God must and will always love on earth He loves in heaven.
In the Mystery of the Annunciation, from the perspective of human beings in their spiritually fallen state, these three “Yes”es defy all notions of what is reasonable, even reason itself. Yet all three “Yes”es were freely given—and of what follows from these three gifts of “Yes,” we are all aware.
The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
We are told that, when Mary came into the physical presence of Elizabeth, “the babe in my womb [Elizabeth’s] leaped for joy.” (Lk 1: 41). Again, the Visitation is a Mystery that underscores the profundity of the Christ-event from the earliest moments of God’s incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. How does a child in the womb communicate anything to a child in another womb such that the second child would be moved to respond? And, not simply to respond, but to respond with such a superabundance of joy: “leaped.” The awe and joy of the presence of the glory of God, the Shekinah, experienced by John, a child in the womb of Elizabeth, who comes into the proximate physical presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary, points to a Mystery, not separated from but infinitely more wondrous than even the great mystery of a human life in the womb. It points to the daughter of Abraham, Mary, being The Ark of the Covenant, the complete fulfillment of everything the Ark was and represented in Hebrew Scriptures. Or, more precisely, Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant was the sign of God’s real presence among His people. In Jesus the Christ, born of Mary, God was really present among his people in an even more direct way. The Ark of Hebrew Scriptures held the Word of God written in stone, the Ten Commandments. Mary bore the Word of God “made flesh” in her womb. The Ark of Hebrew Scriptures held the manna from heaven. Mary’s womb held the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ (Jn 6:48-50).
Mary as the Ark of the Covenant, the New Covenant, in the Visitation is not an interpretation of the Gospel artificially place onto the Gospel. It is a truth presented by the New Testament writers themselves.
“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man,” Mary at the Annunciation asks the Angel Gabriel regarding the birth of a son by her. Gabriel replies that it would happen by the power of God: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35). The Greek word translated “overshadow” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. In fact, it occurs only one other place in Scripture, if we refer to the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which Luke was familiar with. The book of Exodus says Moses had the Ark of the Covenant placed in a great tent that was to serve as the dwelling-place of God among His people. It then reads, “Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling” (see Ex 40:34-35). In the Greek Old Testament, the one Luke knew, the word translated “settled down upon” in English is the same word that is translated into English as “overshadow” Luke is telling us that the presence of the power and glory of God, the Shekinah, will settle down upon, overshadowed, dwell in Mary just as the power of God overshadowed, settled down upon, the Ark of the Covenant and dwelt in the great tent.
There is much more, e.g., when David finally is able to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, it says, “He leaped before it.” That is the same word in Greek as is used to described John’s actions in the womb of Elizabeth when she meets Mary is who now carrying Jesus in her womb. But the basic question that the Mystery of the Visitations and the symbolism of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant in it present to the Christian, perhaps revolves around this thought. Wherever the ancient Israelites went, they followed the Ark of the Covenant. If Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, how should we as Christians, people of the New Covenant, be following her? The answer to that questions is found in Mary’s last words and only command in the Gospels: “Do whatever He tells you“?
The Baby Jesus—who is the Bread of Life for all humanity, and who, many years in the future at His Last Supper on earth will take bread into His hands and say to His Apostles and disciples, “Take, eat. This is my body”—is born in the little town of Bethlehem whose name in Hebrew, bet lehem, means “House of Bread.” He is laid in a manger from which animals derive their daily nourishment in order to live. What a Mystery: Born in a town called the House of Bread and dying loving His lethal enemies, so that He could be the Bread that nourishes human beings along the Way of becoming one with the Holy One, along the Way of Eternal Life. People can now freely choose to be and to become what they can now freely choose to consume, namely, the Bread of Life for the spiritual nourishment and sanctification of others and self. People can now receive the Bread from heaven that is offered to them in the Person, Words and Deeds of the Word of God Incarnate, Jesus, as well as when they receive the consecrated Bread at the re-presentation of the Last Supper, at the Holy Eucharist. What a Mystery! What had been exclusively the Bread of Angels in Eternity is, since the birth of Jesus the Christ in the House of Bread, now also the Bread of human beings in time. But God does not force His gift of the Bread of Eternal Life down any one’s throat. He simply daily offers it: “Take, eat.” And then promises, “Whoever eats of this Bread will live forever” (Jn 6:35-51).
“God, here he is. He is yours.” This is what Mary and Joseph are saying to God by bringing Jesus to the Temple. They, as faithful Jews, are following the Law of Moses: “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.”The Presentation is about trustfully handing Jesus back to God for God’s purposes. Then something unexpected and mystifying happens. Simeon prophesies to Mary, “You yourself a sword shall pierce.”
In Christian spirituality, it has often been said that on Golgotha there are two altars, where two people freely and nonviolently sacrificed their lives in order to do God’s will. First, there is the Altar of the Cross on which Jesus agonizingly fulfills His Gethsemane commitment: “Father if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done.” Then there is the Altar beneath the Cross, where Mary, Jesus’ mother, agonizingly fulfills her Nazareth commitment from long ago: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
Can anyone doubt that the anguish that the mother of Jesus suffered as her Son was beaten, brutalized, tortured, tormented, and ultimately killed was anything less than monstrous and nightmarish? Can anyone doubt that, when the lance was thrust into the heart of Jesus, it also pierced the heart of His mother, bringing with it heartbreaking and mind-breaking pain and grief? Can anyone doubt that such is the suffering of every mother and father, regardless of the age of their child, who sees or learns that their child has been torn apart in body, mind, and/or spirit by the violence and enmity, callousness, indifference and mercilessness of other human beings?
What a Mystery that the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of the Christ, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Savior of humanity, has herself—like all other mothers and fathers whose precious children have been treated as worthless pieces of trash by other human beings—had to suffer the ravages of hell brought to earth through men and women in the service of the Satanic spirits of violence and enmity.
As we mediate on Mary as a mother in sorrow, whose heart a “sword has pierced,” our thoughts and prayers and deeds should go toward all mothers who sorrowfully suffer because of what others have done to their precious child, whether he or she be five months oldest or fifty-five years old.
There is an integral relationship between Mary having been a mother in sorrow on earth and Mary being the Mother of Mercy in heaven, whose Son performed His first miracle for a bride and groom at Cana because His mother in her empathy for their distress requested it of Him.
“When His parents saw him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching for you sorrowfully’” (Lk 2:48). And so would it be with any mother and father who had lost their child in a department store crowd, at a ball game, or in a snowstorm; they would search for him or her sorrowfully. Mary and Joseph’s concern here is not for Jesus the Messiah, but for Jesus their beloved child. They dread that something awful might have happened to him.
When one person loves another and that someone is hurt, the person who loves him or her is also hurt. It is not the same hurt, but it may be a more terrible hurt. Love generates empathy unlike any other experience in the human situation. This universally embedded truism is a piece of the Mysteries of Creation and of Redemption in which we live.
It is therefore a fact of life that it is impossible to harm only one person. When you harm someone, all those who love the harmed person will also be harmed. When, for example, one kills another human being, one inflicts suffering and kills forever something in each and every person who loves that human being. It is only calculatingly nurtured, normalized superficiality that dupes people into thinking that the only person injured when they inflict harm upon another is the one on whom they are directly inflicting the harm. The experience of each and every one of us tells us that this is a lie. The sorrow and suffering that tears one person’s life to pieces, tears to shreds the lives and hearts of all who love him or her. Remembering this, and nurturing the habitus of mind that continually reinforces that remembrance is necessary for putting on the mind and heart needed for Christlike merciful love towards all, friends and enemies, great and small. Especially is this essential for living as Jesus desires His chosen disciples to live in a society where motivating and teaching children from the toddler stage onward how to play and enjoy making believe they are killing other human beings is a mainstream big and profitable business.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
In the Catholic Church, October is “pro-life month” – an organized focus on the Church’s teaching that life should be respected from the moment of conception to the time of natural death. Yet, “time of natural death” notwithstanding, the issue of war doesn’t even get a sentence.
The letter of the Archbishop of New York City, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the bishops’ committee on Pro-Life Activities, introducing this year’s activities, says nothing about war. There are brochuresavailable for free download – on mercy, abortion, suicide, euthanasia and end of life care, fertility treatment, adoption, and the Care of Creation. War however is not a topic of concern. The bishops suggest intercessions and bulletin notes for the month of October, but invite no one to pray about war. The 18 page catalog of pro-life resources has nothing about war or peace. The bishops’ website section on Pro-Life Activities, has 15 topics, but nothing about war and peace. They provide lots of free social media for posts and tweets, but again, we find not one mention of war.
This cannot be an accident. How can it be anything other than a deliberate decision to marginalize the issue of Catholic participation in the unjust wars of the United States government? Alas, this latest maneuver is consistent with the U.S. Catholic bishops’ attitudes since the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.
When the United States attacked the people of Iraq in 2003, Pope John Paul II judged that to be an unjust war, a decision confirmed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict. He famously stated that there was no justification for a preventive war in Catholic teaching.
The US bishops’ position was summarized in their November 2002 statement: “With the Holy See and bishops from the Middle East and around the world, we fear that resort to war, under present circumstances and in light of current public information, would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for overriding the strong presumption against the use of military force.”
It is fair to ask, in light of subsequent history: Did the US bishops actually believe what they and Pope John Paul II said about this war? What actions – if any – followed their words?
One bishop certainly believed the Pope. The Most Reverend Michael Botean, of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton for the Romanians, wrote to his people during Lent 2003, saying: “Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See, Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory. Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion.” (Emphasis added.)
That level of moral certitude was not shared by the rest of the Bishops. Their response, as we moved directly to war, can only be described as moral relativism:
- “People of good will may differ on how to apply just war norms in particular cases, especially when events are moving rapidly and the facts are not altogether clear.” Nov. 2002.
- “People of good will may apply ethical principles and come to different prudential judgments, depending upon their assessment of the facts at hand and other issues.” Sept. 2002
- “War has serious consequences, so could the failure to act. People of good will may and do disagree on how to interpret just war teaching and how to apply just war norms to the controverted facts of this case. We understand and respect the difficult moral choices that must be made by our President and others who bear the responsibility of making these grave decisions involving our nation’s and the world’s security.” March 2003
The Most Rev. Edwin O’Brien, then Archbishop for the Military Services, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25, 2003, advised Catholic members of the US Armed Forces:
“Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience.”
Praising the war by their faint condemnation of it.
Subsequent to these statements, the U.S. Bishops did not distinguish themselves as peacemakers. Indeed, for most of the bishops, the Iraq War was not an issue of concern. It may fairly be said that they praised the war with their few and faint criticisms of it. In 2006, I researched the individual statements about Iraq of the bishops who are responsible for dioceses in the US I searched the website of every diocese, the website of the primary daily newspaper in the diocese, and did searches via Google on the bishops’ names for statements made between 2002 and 2006 on the subject of Iraq.
- Only 39 diocesan bishops made public statements calling for prayers for the people of Iraq.
- Twenty publicized or endorsed the various statements of the bishops’ conference on Iraq.
- Twenty-eight provided some sort of catechesis about just war teaching.
- One hundred forty-six of the bishops responsible for dioceses had nothing to say about Iraq.
I found all the bishops on the Internet talking about other issues –mostly about the clergy sexual abuse crisis – so the problem was not that the bishops were absent from the Internet. What they were absent from was public teaching about just and unjust war and a firm and unequivocal witness to the right to life of the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sine poena nulla lex. (Without penalty, there is no law.)
The refusal of bishops to issue canonical declarations such as that of Bishop Botean, and their public embrace of moral relativism on this critical Gospel of Life issue, gave the government and the armed forces tacit ecclesiastical approval to wage an unjust war against the people of Iraq. Their unspoken message was clearly understood by everyone concerned:
“Do what you will to the people of Iraq, we will not use our canonical authority to stand in your way. We will thus make it easy and morally comfortable for you to kill hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom will be women and children.”
The Iraq War had an objective moral reality that was independent of any person’s perception of its morality. It was either a just war or it was an unjust war. It could not morally be”both-and.” While it is true that people can come to different moral conclusions about international issues, it is not true that all of those opinions are correct, nor are they morally equal. Unjust war at all times and under all circumstances is a moral evil on the part of the aggressor.
Here is how Bishop Botean constructed his argument on the moral equivalency of involvement with the Iraq war and murder:
- Botean starts with – “The Church teaches that good ends do not justify the use of evil means. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states this principle succinctly: ‘One may never do evil so that good may result from it.’ (1789) .”
- He writes – “Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism states: ‘The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy.’ Since war is about the mass infliction of death and suffering on children of God, Christians can enter into it and fight in it only if the war in question strictly meets all the criteria of the just war theory, and only if these same standards are likewise meticulously observed in the course of fighting the war. Vague, loose, freewheeling, conniving, relaxed interpretations of Catholic just war theory and its application are morally illegitimate because of the gravity of such a decision.”
- He continues – “’The evaluation of these conditions of the just war theory for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good,’ states the Catechism. (2309) However, the nation-state is never the final arbiter or authority for the Catholic of what is moral or for what is good for the salvation of his or her soul. What is legal can be evil and often has been. Jesus Christ and his Church, not the state, are the ultimate informers of conscience for the Catholic. This is why the Church teaches as a norm of conscience the following: ‘If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order such arrangements would not be binding in conscience.’(Catechism 1903) She also warns ‘Blind obedience [to immoral laws] does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out’ (Catechism 2313). When a moral conflict arises between Church teaching and secular morality, when contradictory moral demands are made upon a Catholic’s conscience, he or she ‘must obey God rather than man’ (Acts 5:29).”
It is a tragedy of historic proportions that the United States Catholic Bishops turned a deaf ear to the cry of the people of Iraq for life and opted instead for moral relativism. Their behavior was so egregious that it seems to me to be material cooperation with the objective evil of unjust war.
The Fruits of Moral Cowardice
Since one-fourth of the US armed forces are Catholics, if the bishops had gone as far as Bishop Botean, the United States would have had difficulty waging its unjust war on Iraq. The impact of their moral relativism is all too evident. Millions of people throughout the Middle East hate us because someone that they knew and loved died in our war. We laid the foundation for the birth and success of terrorist groups such as ISIS. The Christian communities of Iraq and Syria have been devastated.
So if we look at what the bishops have not done in the past and are not doingtoday regarding the unjust wars of the United States, it’s hard to take them seriously when they speak about the “Gospel of Life.” Their own inactions and silences boldly proclaim that the United States Catholic Bishops don’t really believe that everyone has the right to life, from the moment of conception to the time of natural death. The people of Iraq never had that right in the eyes of our bishops. Too bad for them that they were in the way of the geopolitical maneuvers of the United States.
The bishops will no doubt protest “this is slander,” but let’s ask the people of Iraq what they think about these bishops’ “defense” of their right to life. This is a scandal as bad as the clergy sexual abuse tragedy, yet it flies under the radar. No one sees that the empire’s bishops are morally naked when it comes to war and peace.
One has to wonder when peace will get a chance with these bishops and they will defend all life, from the moment of conception, to the time of natural death, with the same intensity and vigor that they dedicate to raising funds for their annual diocesan appeal. In view of the lack of attention given to this issue by the bishops during their official “pro-life month,” the answer is evidently “don’t hold your breath.”
“Thus says the LORD regarding the prophets who lead my people astray; Who, when their teeth have something to bite, announce peace, But when one fails to put something in their mouth, proclaim war against him. Therefore you shall have night, not vision, darkness, not divination Then shall the seers be put to shame, and the diviners confounded; They shall cover their lips, all of them, because there is no answer from God. . . . Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem reduced to rubble, And the mount of the temple to a forest ridge.” Micah 3:5-7, 12
Bob Waldrop is the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City, which works in food security and for justice and peace. He has consistently opposed all of the United States military adventures since the 1970s when he met Justin Raimondo and Eric Garris tabling for the Libertarian Party at the San Jose Flea Market. He has been a consistent critic of the poor performance of the United States Catholic Bishops on the issues of war and peace since the embargo on the civilian economy of Iraq. His anti-war paper trail is at http://www.justpeace.org/warresponse.htm. He gardens, reads science fiction, and works as a church musician.
Today I came across some sentiments posted by a priest on Facebook. I have copied and pasted his words here along with my response. I absolutely hate political discussions on Facebook, and comment thread “flame wars” in general, and my intent was not to stir up something like that. However, these issues do need to be addressed and sometimes you just feel a responsibility to say something. I don’t know if posting my response was the best thing to do, but I couldn’t just let it go without offering a different perspective and, yes, a bit of a challenge.
I have removed identifying information from the priest’s post and have informed him hat I am posting his words here, and I will remove this blog post if he asks me to.
Anyone who read the thread on Facebook is most welcome to comment here and add some food for thought. I will read anyone’s comments with great consideration. Please be respectful. We are all in this mess of a world together, and we all want what is best for ourselves, our families, our friends, our Church, our nation, and humankind. God bless.
***The Priest’s Post***
Happy Fourth of July everyone! This year I am spending a few days while recovering from Cancer, with my Brother … who is serving in the Navy as a Lieutenant. … is a helicopter pilot. I also have a nephew, …, who is an officer in the Air Force, and a niece …, who is serving in the Army. I also have a niece …, who is in the Army reserves.. I am very proud of my family who is serving in the Military, and I am eternally grateful that they are protecting our Freedom as Americans.
Sometime we take for granted what it means to be Free! We often confuse Freedom with License to do whatever we choose. As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “True Freedom is not license to do whatever we want to do, True Freedom is making the choice to do what we OUGHT to do!” We have politicians today who distort the true meaning of Freedom. In fact, in my opinion our current President, and many others do not truly understand what freedom is. They continually infringe on our religious freedom and they rob the unborn of the freedom to be safe in the womb with the false and distorted reasoning that Killing the unborn protects a woman’s freedom. This is such a travesty. The rhetoric of Freedom of Choice is actually an assault on human dignity, the dignity of women and reproductive freedom! To justify abortion in the name of freedom is truly a political end run, robbing every one of us of true freedom. Killing a child is not Freedom! It is murder. No one is ever truly free, if everyone is not safe…Including an unborn child. Freedom can not be true freedom, if another person threatens my life and dignity..I also find it very frightening that there are many people who cannot tolerate this belief. In fact, if you want to be truly POLITICALLY INCORRECT, attempt to tell a pro-choice person that you are appalled by abortion, because you truly believe an unborn child is an innocent, human being. Somehow those who hold a pro-choice position find this believe incomprehensible and irresponsible. But in all honesty, it makes far more sense then the distorted reasoning that people like our president, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, among many, and even some of our Supreme Court Justices, attempt to suggest to the American people.
I desperately try to understand the reasoning behind their argument that this is reproductive Freedom. It always ends the same for me.. .There is no Freedom when we place ourselves in a position of superiority over another human being… Freedom belongs to every human being equally, in spite of age, politics, gender, ability, beauty, money or whatever a person claims as their own place in the world.. Freedom is a God Given Human right…Every Human being has a divine right to Freedom, and my freedom ends the moment, I infringe on yours… A women’s freedom ends when it destroys the life of a child… a man’s freedom ends, when he denies the dignity of a women, and my freedom ends when I decide my choice is superior to yours… Logically that means I must respect the beliefs of others. I understand that… except I don’t truly believe that any person who decides to terminate a pregnancy, truly believes the fetus is not human, and alive. I suppose if someone could convince me that the unborn are just blobs of tissue, with no potential for life, and are not alive, I could understand their belief that abortion is like removing a piece of tissue, like they did when they removed my Cancer.. But does any rational, education and intelligent person truly believe that tiny fetus is just like a cancerous tumor? If so then are we sure they have the brains to lead our country, protect our rights, and uphold our dignity.. I am not sure I want someone that stupid protecting my freedom. When will they decide I am not human? When I am black, when I am cripple, when I am poor… Oh yeah, that is the story of the history of the human race…Freedom dies, when we deny the humanity of any one different then ourselves… including the unborn…
Finally, I seldom address politics on Facebook..But this weekend, as I give gratitude to God for my life, my family and my freedom. I also question what is wrong with us as people when we deny the TRUTH to protect our politics… I wish someone was running for president who truly understood FREEDOM, and was able to articulate clearly and honestly the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, who understood Freedom so well and risked so much to protect it… for all of us… Where is he when we need him…
This fourth of July lets pray together, first for protection for our Freedom. Secondly for the men and women fighting to protect us. Third for the unborn who have a right to the life we enjoy.. .And finally for our politicians that they will stop lying to us about Freedom, and start protecting it…
Dear Father _____,
I have utmost respect for you and wish you well in your recovery. I don’t really know you, but I attended your Mission talk on Mercy in … around Christmas. It was the highlight of my Christmas season, and for that I thank you. Your posts show up occasionally in my Facebook feed, and I always enjoy them. You mentioned that no one was willing to post with a different point of view. Well, I’ll take you up on that. I have ventured into Facebook comment waters before, only to experience a tidal wave of emotional vitriol and reactionary backlash, even, if not especially, among Catholics. However, I do believe the issues you raise are important, and I will try my best to say what I have to say in a calm and respectful manner, though I care deeply about these issues and it is as difficult for me as it is for the next person to control my passion.
I am a Catholic, and I don’t wish to challenge anybody’s pro-life position. I am pro-life. What I want to challenge is the apparently highly selective and restrictive nature of the your “pro life” definition… and some of the underlying assumptions that are built into your post. I agree with you that serious moral problems arise when we — as you so astutely point out — justify the immoral and reprehensible act of killing by wrapping it with the practically meaningless word of “freedom.” I say “apparent” because I hope that if I have the wrong impression of your views, you will correct me. I don’t want to miscategorize your attitudes and beliefs, but I only have a couple hundred words of yours to work with here, so I am going with what I have.
When I read your post, I experienced some of the same emotions of befuddlement and frustration that you described when hearing the explanations of other people’s “pro-choice” positions. I have two brothers who were Marines and have some other former military personnel in my family. Both of my brothers were Marines at the time of 9/11. I worked across from the World Trade Center at that time and was there that day. Both of my brothers were in Iraq at the start of the war. While I love them and admire them in so many ways, I do not believe their mission in Iraq ever had, and certainly does not currently have (thirteen years later), anything to do with fighting for Americans’ freedom here at home. I do not believe I am betraying them by saying that; one of my brothers completely agrees with me. If you look at the Bill of Rights as a gauge for political freedom, and the developments that have happened since 9/11 with the Patriot Act, the behemoth Department of Homeland Security, the NSA, the NDAA, the militarization of local police, the endless machinations of our secret police (FBI, CIA, etc.), it is hard to imagine that we in this country are headed for anything but a totalitarian nightmare of truly historic — and maybe global — proportions. We are not more free as a result of these wars. We are less free. These wars do not make us safe. They make us less secure. These wars do not prove our moral superiority as Americans; they are evidence of our moral degradation.
Perhaps you are thinking, “I was writing about abortion, not foreign policy, and regardless of what you think of these wars, we still need to support the troops.”
I disagree. I believe the issues abortion and war are interlaced, morally, spiritually, politically, and intellectually. They are both pro-life issues, though the American Catholic hierarchy never seems to want us to think of it that way. The Republicans are the Party of War, and they pretend to be against abortion. The Democrats are the Party of Abortion, and they pretend to be against war. But it’s all pretend. The Republicans had complete control of the White House and the Congress for over four years when Bush was the president. Why did the Republicans fund Planned Parenthood during this time? And why did conservatives not criticize them then for doing so? The idea that the Republicans are a “pro life” party that actually wants to end abortion…why do Catholics continue to be so hoodwinked after so many decades?
By forcing us to choose “the lesser of two evils” (abortion or war), it’s all leading us down the Primrose Path of a Satanic Culture of Death. The ugly truth is: It all involves the justification of the act of killing with the the facile term “freedom.” As Orwell said, the world of politics uses meaningless words and euphemisms to make “lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and… give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” We need to stop equating abortion with “choice” and the American policy of endless war with “freedom.”
I highly recommend the article “Christians and the Pro-Life Ploy” by G.C. Dilsaver.
“In traditional Christian morality a good end never justifies an evil means, and even if it did an evil means never procures a good end that lasts. A strikingly relevant case in point was the Fascist government in Italy. Mussolini’s state banned abortion, birth control, and homosexuality activity. As a Catholic I hold these things as intrinsically evil and their curtailment good. However, supporters of Italian fascism, even those who supported it primarily for the advancement of these moral issues, are responsible for facilitating a cataclysmic evil. This evil culminated in Catholics sheepishly submitting to national conscription and participation in an unjust and horrifying war. In addition, it led to the subsequent weakening of Catholic culture, morals, and faith in Italy and to the final eradication of European Christendom. The result now being a de-Christianized Italy that fully accepts those very moral issues some sought to address by compromising with the fascist regime. If even a fraction of the effort and sacrifice that was squandered by Italian and other Catholics in World War II had instead been brought to missionary efforts the world would be looking at the rebirth of Christendom rather than its demise. Moral decadence always comes in the wake of war…”
Abraham Lincoln once stated, “True Freedom is not license to do whatever we want to do, True Freedom is making the choice to do what we ought to do!”
Pope Benedict XVI said unequivocally in response to the American invasion of Iraq, “There is no allowance for preemptive war in the Catechism.” He called the Just War Theory “a problem,” and said, “we OUGHT to be asking ourselves if it is licit to even suggest the existence of a just war in this day and age.”
In 2003, John Paul II said in his message to American military chaplains: “By now it should be clear to all that the use of war as a means of resolving disputes between States was rejected, even before the UN Charter, by the consciences of the majority of humanity, except in the case of legitimate defense against an aggressor.”
It should be, but it’s not.
I wish someone was running for President who understood the meaning of “pro-life” beyond the abortion issue.
You asked: “When will they decide I am not human?”
I’d like to venture an answer.
“They” will decide you are not human, and thus not deserving of life, human dignity, protection and safety, let alone love and mercy, when “they” decide you are an enemy, like so many human beings who happened to be Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Somali, Libyan, Syrian, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. We’ve killed so many, and it matters so little to us as a nation, that our military leaders even admit now: “We don’t do body counts.” I have an honest question. Have you ever led a prayer for the victims of war in the Middle East in your church, victims who were not Christian but still innocent? It has been my experience that in church we only pray for American soldiers or Christians. Do we ever pray for our enemies in church? In what sense can we, as Christians, say that we love them?
An enemy is anyone who threatens you. A mother who is pregnant with an unwanted child sees that child as a threat, and feels justified to destroy “it.” The government sees people as threats, too, and they feel justified in destroying them. That is just the way of the world. It should not surprise us. It is not the way of Jesus, of course. But two millennium after his death, we, Christians, are still, unfortunately, not getting that. This should surprise us. When will we listen?
Over 1 million Iraqis perished as a result of the war (5% of the population), and 3 million refugees were created. 200,000 Afghanis dead, 80,000 Pakistanis. And that’s not counting the havoc we’ve wreaked in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc. Millions of people have died, lost family members, lost limbs, been burned, bombed, maimed, and slain in the name of “American freedom” (as I said, I’m not buying it) meanwhile less than 5,000 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq, less than 3,000 in Afghanistan. How can we call this proportional. How can we call this just. How can I reconcile this 13-year slaughter with your talk on mercy during Advent? More American veterans of the Vietnam War died from committing suicide than died in the actual war. It will be the same for the War on Terror. What does this tell us about the truth and nobility of our modern day “wars” (if you can even call them that)? Why do pro-life Catholics keep cheerleading this madness? To borrow your words: We deny the truth (and the way and the life) to protect our politics. That goes for those who support war as much as it goes for those who support abortion. That is my feeling and opinion, with all due respect, and I thank you for reading.
In April 2016, President Obama approved new rules that allow ten civilians to be killed for every drone strike in the seven countries the US is currently bombing. Also, he returned to the use of “signature strikes” which target not terrorists, but behaviors and personal attributes.
In regard to the recent post by Cammy about the military’s offer to freeze the sperm and eggs of soldiers, I feel the need to comment if only to give myself a brief blog item to send to others who are better qualified or better positioned to raise an alarm about this.
In vitro fertilization (IVF), as a means of human reproduction, is an evil use of medical technology which is forbidden by God’s laws. That is not my opinion. That is the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Here is a link:
That’s one of the great things about being Catholic. You don’t have to agonize over every moral dilemma that comes along (and new ones come along at a breathtaking pace these days). You don’t have to make all decisions based on your own very imperfect intelligence, knowledge, feelings and judgment. Some things have already been decided for you. Save yourself the effort and the grave danger of getting it wrong. Believe what the Church teaches and live by it.
Here is the link to the recent speech by Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlining the new programs to “support our military families.” Many good Catholics who are strongly pro-llfe and pro-family still hold the American military and government in high esteem. I beg them to read Mr. Carter’s speech carefully and then get back to me.
The Force of the Future apparently requires the Family of the Future. Within the past year or two we have seen several rapid fire developments. Women can not only join the military but they are now able to engage in combat. They may even be required to register for the draft and forced to fight for the American Empire in the near future. Furthermore, in order to make all this more palatable, the Pentagon will now assist and encourage women to freeze their eggs and then provide the IVF technology to let potential moms serve the State first, and postpone having a family to a more convenient time. Evil on top of evil on top of evil. The military is not merely reflecting the evil in society, it is here acting as an innovator of evil in the cultural realm and it has specifically targeted young women and is now waging war against femininity and natural law.
Where are the Catholic priests and bishops, the Catholic fathers and grandfathers? Who will stand up to this?
Please readers, if you find examples of Catholic voices that condemn this atrocity let us know about it.