Culture of death
September 5, 2012
A well-known Catholic blogger announced a couple of weeks ago that he will not be voting this year because he cannot support either presidential candidate. This led me off on one of my philosophical jaunts into the subject of filial piety and patriotism, a phrase that keeps popping into my mind from my Catholic education in the 1940s and fifties. Back then St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings were the touchstone for presenting a Catholic approach to all aspects of our lives, even in grade school.
My chief problem with this blogger’s stance is that it sweeps aside what I firmly believe to be a fundamental obligation we Christians have in the eyes of God towards our country – that of exercising, as St. Thomas put it, “the natural virtue of justice.” Because of our political structure, the chief way of doing justice is by voting. It is not, of course, the only way, but who we place in office has a great deal to do with whether we do justice to ourselves and to our neighbor in most other ways available to us. Thus, the act of voting is a moral issue.
Unfortunately, there is not and never will be a perfect candidate, because earth is earth and heaven is heaven. We are living in an imperfect society which will remain ever so until Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead. Thus we must sift the candidates to discover the ones that are the best, even if they are the best among what we believe to be the worst. Why?
Filial Piety and Patriotism
Filial Piety and Patriotism disposes us to honor, love, and respect our parents and our country. Paul J. Glenn at his site, A Tour of the Summa, gives us a simple explanation of what St. Thomas writes:
Piety is the virtue which disposes a person to show due deference, honor, and veneration to those who hold a place of excellence, and who have conferred benefit upon him. Piety is paid first to God [as in the First Commandment], the supreme excellence, the giver of all good gifts. Secondly, piety is honor and veneration shown to parents [as in the Fourth Commandment]. Further, piety is due reverence and respect paid to kinsfolk, to superiors in Church or state, to one’s government itself and its allies and friends [patriotism].
Piety is a special virtue which springs from justice. It is specified (that is, given its character as a distinct virtue on its own account) by the fact that a special debt is owed to the principle of one’s being - God first, and then parents. The same virtue extends to those that represent the principle of spiritual and political citizenship, that is, leaders in Church and government.
Nobody who has paid attention to the culture of death could disagree with the fact that the United States is at a turning point. This November we will choose either life or death. We will either give our government the unequivocal rights to take away our religious freedom or we will refuse to surrender it. The life issues and the religious freedom issues cannot be separated, and they both are inalienable rights bestowed upon us by God. But these choices don’t reside solely in the vote for President.
In spite of the grave deterioration of justice in the court systems of our country and the abandonment of our Constitution by all too many leaders, we have one branch of government for sure that we can influence for the better. Even if the strongest pro-death person ever to occupy the White House is re-elected, we can and must vote for Congressional candidates who recognize and will act upon the preservation of life at all stages of existence and the preservation of religious liberty. Persons with these priorities are running in every state. This November we can move pro-life, pro-religious liberty politicians into the majority in Congress. That should be our primary goal. If we can prevent another four years of the current pro-death administration as well, we are obliged to do so.
Re-directing our country towards the good for which it was founded doesn’t happen over night. It took a long time for us to arrive at the mess we’re in and it will take a long time to set things right. Avoiding voting because we are in a snit over the quality of the candidates or their negative campaigning is an abdication of our rights. Abdication’s direct result is total loss. Worse than that, abdication is a failure to do our part in practicing the virtues of filial piety and patriotism – a failure in practicing justice and charity towards all.
Let’s let the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen have the last word:
The treatise on Patriotism in the writings of the greatest philosopher of all times, St.Thomas Aquinas, is to be found under the subject of “Piety”. This at first may strike as strange those who think of piety as pertaining only to love of God. But once it is remembered that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God, it is seen that love of our fellow citizens is a form of piety. In these days when so many subversive activities are at work, a reminder of the necessity of loving our country is very much to the point.
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R. Now and forever!
(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)
February 26, 2011
Welcome to Sabbath Moments, a meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Visit her to see the “God times” other bloggers experienced this week.
(1)This week I’ve started my daily Lenten reading/meditation program with Meditations and Readings for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas. I am just loving this book which begins with Septuagesima Sunday and carries through to the Triduum. Here’s a part from Thursday’s meditation:
Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his labor (1 Cor. 3:8).
I. This reward is at once common to all men and particular to each.
(1) It is common to all because that which all see and enjoy is the same, that is to say, God. Then shalt thou abound in delights in the almighty (Job 22:26). In that day the Lord of hosts shall be a crown of glory, and a garland of joy to the residue of his people (Isa. 28:5) and therefore St. Matthew says (20:9) that to every laborer in the vineyard there is given one penny.
(2) The reward is yet special for each individual. One man shall see more clearly than another, and shall enjoy more fully, according to the measure allotted him….
These short meditations afford much food for thought throughout the day and night and are a constant inspiration toward living a better life. I especially like how St. Thomas presents so many quotes from sacred Scripture to make his points.
(2) A huge storm front came through Wednesday night with a lot of thunder and rain that continued for half the day Thursday. Since my sleep was gravely disturbed I spent many hours repeating the wonderful words from the Good Friday Reproaches and the end of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – Holy God, Holy mighty One, Holy immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
With the revolutions and killings in the Middle East, a Canadian hospital and death panel sentencing a little baby to death before his time (over money, not compassion), and elected officials in Midwestern states going AWOL, I really felt called to acknowledge God as supreme and plead for His mercy.
These words struck me for the first time as very Hebrew – very Old Testament. Each phrase increases in greatness the attributes of our Father, heaping declaration upon declaration. His holiness is inseparable from His might and immortality. Lots to meditate on here.
Next to the prayer I use to end my posts, this prayer is special to me. It has become one of my favorites to pray in the dark or in heavy pain – a great reminder of who I am and Who He is.
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R. Now and forever. Amen.
(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)
November 15, 2010
Patriots come in all sizes and shapes, in good health and infirmities, from all classes and occupations. What they have in common is love of country, a fine sense of justice, and resolute determination to prevail against tyranny.
November 12, 2010, God took to Himself a great Polish composer, Henryk Gorecki, who died of a lung infection in his home town of Katowice, located in beautiful Silesia of southern Poland. Gorecki had a long career as teacher, composer, and patriot, resisting the Communist government continuously over the years.
In 1975 Gorecki became Professor of Composition at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice where he became extremely aggravated at Communist interference with the academy. He continually battled the Party, protecting the staff, students and the school itself from political pressures until he finally resigned in 1979 in protest over the government’s refusal to allow Pope John Paul II to visit Katowice.
This was not the end of his resistance, though, but the beginning of a new way of fighting the Communist Party. Gorecki founded the Catholic Intellectuals Club and remained a thorn in the side of the government through the 1980s while remaining an active but not prolific composer.
Although Gorecki began his career in the dissonant style of modernism, he, abandoned this approach to composition and began to turn out extraordinarily beautiful, ethereal works that sound like the soul straining for God. He, like Bela Bartok of Hungary, returned to his country’s folk roots for inspiration, and turned out one-of-a-kind compositions inspired by significant events or themes.
To me, the prevailing art, music, architecture, and literature of the western “intelligencia” of the 20th century expresses man’s hopeless self-centeredness and his subsequent disintegration in a falling away from a right relationship with God. As a devout Catholic, Gorecki did not remain a slave to the screeching dissonance and mad explosions of modern music that sound like a hellish and never-ending train wreck, but rather carved his own way into expressing beauty in sound. The harmony of a Christ-centered life produced works of passion and transcendent beauty that the Iron Curtain could not contain.
Westerners – and indeed the whole world – fell in love with Gorecki through his Third Symphony, composed in 1976. Also known as “The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”, this three part work for orchestra and soprano links three themes of universal suffering.
Movement I’s libretto comes from a 15th century lament. Movement II’s libretto gives voice to a prayer invoking the protection of the Blessed Virgin, written on the wall of a Nazi prison cell in Zakopane by eighteen-year-old Helena Blazusiak, who was held there at the time. Movement III’s libretto contains the words of a Polish folk song – the cry of a Silesian mother looking for her son who was killed in the Silesian uprising.
Gorecki never again composed in this style, leaving the symphony a unique jewel among many gems. Perhaps he thought it was enough to give the frenetic world one hymn of mourning, a statement of grief, a pause in the disharmony of death, a stopping point for introspection that only music can provide.
I love Gorecki’s approach to his life’s work. In a 1994 interview he said:
I do not choose my listeners. What I mean is, I never write for my listeners. I think about my audience, but I am not writing for them. I have something to tell them, but the audience must also put a certain effort into it. But I never wrote for an audience and never will write for because you have to give the listener something and he has to make an effort in order to understand certain things. If I were thinking of my audience and one likes this, one likes that, one likes another thing, I would never know what to write. Let every listener choose that which interests him. I have nothing against one person liking Mozart or Shostakovich or Leonard Bernstein, but doesn’t like Górecki. That’s fine with me. I, too, like certain things.
Gorecki’s Miserere, which he boldly composed for a large choir in response to police brutality against the Solidarity movement, is sung here by the 130 person Choir of the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra. The visuals are paintings by artist Józef Stolorz, a fellow Silesian who also suffered under the Communist regime.
R. Now and forever. Amen.
(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)
April 8, 2010
Today we met with our insurance agent because I received notice that my supplemental Medicare policy was going up $40 a month. No way is that in the budget. When he came over he told us about an all-day meeting he attended yesterday on the Deathcare bill Congress just foisted on all of us while exempting themselves and all federal employees. Among the many evils of the bill, he said that by 2015 Medicare will no longer pay for Home Health Care, Hospice Care, or “swing beds” – that is when someone has a major operation and can’t go home right away but must go to a nursing home for some days. It seems that people will be expected to pay for these things with some kind of private insurance, yet everything in the bill is designed to drive private insurance out of business. Moreover, few will be able to afford the premiums. Without these services, many, many, many people will die. It may not be euthanasia outright, but it is still going to lead to death by denial of care. Eventually we will be forced to submit to being murdered. I wonder how long it will take for all the people clamoring for free health care to find out that not only is it not free, they aren’t going to have access to what they need in the first place.
Pray, pray, pray for the deliverance of our country.
My condolences to the families of the fallen, and heartfelt prayers for all who died or who were wounded in the Jihad at Ft. Hood this week. Here’s a first hand account a doctor wrote of how the emergency was handled by the medical staff and the local hospitals. Very inspiring. God bless our troups. We can be so proud of them. Now the military needs to look into better ways to protect our soldiers from within their own ranks.
The culture of death is more than abortion, euthanasia, and life styles that lead to bad ends. It is also about religions that advocate killing those who oppose their faith and religions that enslave people. Islam is not and never has been a religion of peace. A web site I recommend to people interested in hearing from former Muslims is FaithFreedom.org. They have an article posted by the title: Massacre by Political Correctness.” Well worth the read.
If ever there were a time in the history of the world where an army of quiet penitents is needed to offer up all the pain and suffering God asks of them in union with the Sacrifice of the Cross, redemptive suffering, it is now. Pray for the conversion of Muslims to Jesus.
“From the beginning and before the world was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.” Eccl. 24:14.
Catholics praying the Divine Office will find this Biblical quote in the hour of Lauds from the Saturday Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a favorite of mine because not only does it apply to Our Lady, it applies to every person created. In this one verse God tells us that we are in His mind from all eternity, and that we will live forever after death, worshiping and praising Him.
I am constantly struck by the love God has for each person – that He made us and His we are. (Ps. 99:3) When we are struggling with pain and illnesses of all types we can sometimes forget that One greater than we has us in His heart. Often we are so preoccupied with just getting by under our own power we forget to surrender to His power – to stop and ask what He is asking from us.
With the culture of death gaining greater ascendance daily, it seems to me that we must practice our Faith ever more diligently and especially to pray for the conversion of others. (We must pray daily for our own conversion, too, but that is another topic.)
For those of us who cannot do much in the physical realm, there remain the intentions of the heart: the unseen sacrifices we make in union with Christ. The value of these sacrifices cannot be measured in earthly terms. We will only know their true worth at the Last Judgment. Fortunately, we have great examples to follow from Our Lady to our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone on before us. Saints such as Catherine Laboure, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. John Cantius, and Blessed Herman Joseph of Steinfeld – all spiritual giants who called no attention to themselves but left us the example of quiet holiness and the desire that all come to know and love Our Lord.
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