Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Maybe John Paul II should have consulted a three-year-old for yet another set of mysteries? I love the "astonished" adjective. But "liberty"? A little American for the universal Church, perhaps.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
If, after completing your education, you feel you still in any way reduce life to the "practical," you vote based on the "progressive" or the "evolution of civilization," or you measure happiness in terms of "efficiency," it's time to hit the books.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
That is why I was also moved to learn of this beautiful ministry to families near Bethlehem. Truly, peace begins in the womb. From their website:
"Holy Family Hospital is an obstetrical/gynecological facility-the only one in the region that can handle the complicated medical conditions of women living in extreme poverty and under the shadow of political strife which stalks the birthplace of the “Prince of Peace”.
The women who give birth at the hospital may have different traditions but they are united in the primal need of all laboring women: safety and care as they bring their children into the World.
Like Mary and Joseph, these families are on journey to find a place of refuge, a place of promise, a place where their babies can be delivered safely."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"Marriage -- marriage such as Jesus defined it -- is the foundation of society not simply because it is the best environment for raising children, though it is. It is the foundation because in it man and woman commit themselves one to another, as if they were, so to speak, gods freely bestowing freedom upon what they create. They are like God Himself in that free and freedom-making relinquishment of themselves, and they find themselves in that greater thing they create, the one flesh, the love that embraces them and that stands as an example to all others of the beauty and grandeur of that complete gift."
Really the best witness to that grandeur is the faithful marriage. I have been blessed to witness many faithful marriages, some are good and wholesome, others filled to overflowing with pain. But fidelity to the vows--in and out of season--has its own inimitable joy. And then, at the end, when one spouse has died, and the marriage is over, that joy overflows. It is finished!
Esolen is much more articulate, so give him a read.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We ninety-nine obedient sheep;
we workers hired at dawn's first peep;
we faithful sons who strive to please,
we virgins who take pains to keep
our lamps lit, even in our sleep;
we law-abiding Pharisees;
we wince at gospels such as these.
From this month's First Things.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The president's discourse was predictably lofty and vague. He urged us to respect all human life, equated adult and embryonic stem-cell research, insisted on his complete sincerity, on and on. I have no doubt of his sincerity. I also have no doubt that, when respectful dialogue must end and action must be taken, that he will always--barring the road to Damascus--decide for the will to power over and to the detriment of human dignity.
UPDATE: To see what I mean, read Wesley J. Smith over at the First Things blog. Talk is cheap. Theater is just ... theatrics.
But I was not nauseated by his words. I've heard them all before, as has Amy Welborn who says it all.
Fr. Jenkins was nauseating. The man should know better. Archbishop Chaput reprimands him so eloquently, that I really can't add anything. The blog is superfluous!
"Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man. By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good -- insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning.
We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness. Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.
In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics. Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.
There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it."
For the whole thing, click here.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
A friend facetiously asked me to teach him humility this week. Naturally, I rejected the humorous tenor of the request in favor of intense musing, "How on earth does one teach humility?" As a mother, I want above all to teach my daughters humility--the total submission of their lives to the Truth (who, we believe, is a Person). How? How can I, or even Todd and I together, teach them to the joy of humility when I myself struggle so much to be humble?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I have to admit that of the mental gymnastics proffered thus far by Douglas Kmiec, this exercise, appearing in the most recent America magazine, takes the gold medal for pathos. The prose is affectedly breezy, but the overall impression is that of a desperate puppy wanting a pat on the head. His mission: To prove empathy as a primary qualification for the newest Supreme Court justice. (And perhaps to thus invite a nod of approval from our nation's leaders? I cannot say.) I thought the image above appropriate: This Lady Justice ain't blind.
I don't think he realizes (at least I hope he does not realize) that inserting the idea of "empathy" into jurisprudence is actually selling out to an entirely anti-Christian (un-Christian, pre-Christian, post-Christian, whathaveyou) worldview. Some thoughts:
1. The notion of impartial justice, the rule of one law judging each human action, which goes hand-in-hand with the idea of equality before the law, arose only as a result of the Christian revolution. The coming of Christ, opening up salvation to all human beings, changed the whole notion of the role of government and law. "Render unto Caesar" did not demand that Caesar start feeling the pain of every litigant who felt wronged. It did demand that Caesar (1) exercise authority only where God authorized him (remember Pilate?) and (2) that his laws be in accord with or not contrary to the divine law.
2. God came and "stood on our shoes," as Kmiec puts it, not so that he could "feel empathy" when we came before him in judgement (I think he already had a pretty good idea of what we feel when we either sin or do good). He came so that we might become perfect in every way, living testaments of God's self-gift of love. He came to redeem human action and call us to a higher law than any government has the right to impose. He thus freed Caesar to be just Caesar--not a psychiatrist, not our collective savior--and he freed us to obey Caesar (insofar as he is just) and the Father at one and the same time.
3. The Supreme Court is not a place for a collective therapy session. It would be nice if we were not fallen, finite beings. Then, when someone felt wronged, we could all group together, express our sense of hurt, and enjoy the empathy of a group of justices who then made everyone feel happy by redistrubting to each according to his or her need. But this is not the way we are. I understand that litigants are real people with feelings and moral tragedies in their lives. Feelings, however, cannot be the measure of good jurisprudence, because that will necessarily result in injustice (inequality before the law). Law will no longer mirror the unconditional love of the Father in judgment, but rather the pathetically limited feelings of the individuals on the Court. Kmiec's idea that it is "possible to feel empathy for all parties involved" is ridiculous. It simply will not happen because every individual justice will feel more or less the pain of each side of the case. We are human, not divine, and cannot know the inside of every other human person. To ask the Court to feel everyone's pain equally would be asking them to play God, which they cannot do. Acknowledging our human need for an impartial law is simply acknowledging our nature. It is limited and fallen. (Further, Kmiec's invocation of Micah against justices who are simply trying to stick to the law--which is the limit of their authority--is self-righteous and violates one of basic tenets of a liberal democracy.)
4. St. Augustine would roll over in his exalted tomb at the idea that: "If the California Supreme Court, for example, chooses to uphold Proposition 8 in a way that validates the selective oppression of one class of citizens, the empathy animating federal equal protection will be put to the test." In the Christian tradition, just law does not arise when law-makers (or interpreters) feel the pain of the people. It arises when, again, the government acts within the limits of its authority (which does not include the definition of marriage) and in accordance with divine and natural law.
5. For Kmiec to suggest that decisions based on an attempt (however imperfect) to judge actions according to the agreed-upon law of the nation (the Constitution) rather than upon a judge's personal ability to "empathize" are somehow "cold" or "heartless," is infantile. It reminds, me, actually, of what Miriam hopes I will do every day. She may find me to be cold and heartless because I suppress my empathy for her in service of a higher good--her safety or the harmony of our family. Empathizing with Miriam when she is angry and hits Isabella is good. But it does not fulfill my vocation to bring justice to my home. Allowing Miriam to express her anger in that way would mean doing injustice to Isabella. Similarly, "empathizing" with an underqualified minority teacher and forcing a school to hire her is to do injustice to her students.
Now, I know I just posted Strunk's viatribe againt opinion pieces. But, really, an unjustifiable opinion requires the response of a valid one. (I smirk wryly as I type that.)
Sunday, May 10, 2009
"Do not inject opinion. Unless there is a good reason for its being there, do not inject an opinion into a piece of writing. We all have opinions about almost everything, and the temptation to toss them in is great. To air one's views gratuitously, however, is to imply that the demand for them is brisk, which may not be the case, and which, in any event, may not be relevant to the discussion. Opinions scattered indiscriminately about leave the mark of egotism on a work. Similarly, to air one's views at an improper time may be in bad taste. If you have received a letter inviting you to speak at the dedication of a new cat hospital, and you hate cats, your reply, declining the invitation, does not necessarily have to cover the full range of your emotions ... [Bear] in mind that your opinion of cats was not sought, only your services as a public speaker. Try to keep things straight."
I will try, dear Strunk, I will try.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
There is a world of difference between being "exclusive" in the sense of "not allowing you in the club" and being "exclusive" in the sense of following a very specific (and dare I say narrow) way of life. That way of life, which is in part what Christ is ("I am the Way"), is open to anyone with a heart of adventure and a hand to the plow. It is a straight path, a narrow path, but anyone and everyone may enter upon it. And anyone and everyone who falls off the path may return to it.
In fact, the Way has accommodated through history human beings of every imaginable talent, gift, sin, past, parentage, state of life, and class. He--and his faithful sheep--delight in variety and the high adventure of the universal family.
There is not one human person excluded except by his own decision that his way is better than the Way.
But that Way does, yes, exclude other ways. "There is no other name under heaven by which we are saved." Just as my marriage to the Scientist excludes "all others," our union with God excludes all other gods. Not because God is a spoilsport or party-pooper, but rather because there is only one of Him. The others are false gods that cannot save, because they are simply creatures themselves, passing fancies, or--worst--nothing at all (as in, evil). So, sacred cows, idol worship, sexual pleasure (as an end in itself), child porn, gluttony, hatred... yes, these, among other things, are excluded from the kingdom of God.
Because if they weren't, to hell with the kingdom of God. To hell with it all, because there would be no meaning, no transcendence, no hope of the eternal. It's either Christ or ... whatever.
Friday, May 1, 2009
"That which in our eyes seems unjust is often the extreme logic of love which is justice. It seems unjust to us, when young men in the Maytime of their lives, and often the gentlest of them, must go to war and be slain, when the poet must die with the poem still in his heart, the lover with his love still unconsummated [and surely this was Joseph, husband of the ever-virgin Mary].
"But it is Christ on the cross who dies all their deaths. In him, in the Word of God's love, all poetry is uttered; in him, Incarnate Love, all love is consummated. On the field of Calvary, the battle between love and death is fought which restores the kingdom of heaven to the children whom Satan has despoiled."
She goes on, and I, too, could go on. These few words on justice are my only response to all those "hot-button" questions: homosexuality, contraception, abortion, just war theory, the principle of subsidiarity. All the hard, moral questions lose their angst for me before the figure of Joseph, the silent one who "does such violence to himself" for the sake of the weak. All our various difficulties have no power over us under the shadow of the Cross, which finally made sense of Joseph's own sacrifice. Alleluia!