Photo by Robert Phelps
An Elder Ponders What Shall Not Perish
27 February 2023
To Be An Adult: Two Views
The Williams Elementary school in Chesapeake, Virginia, recently held its first after-school Satan Club meeting. The Club was organized by parents of “nontheistic” elementary school children in reaction to (or against) a Christian club. The Satan Club is sponsored by the Satanic Temple which celebrates the “rite” of abortion as a “sacrament.”
The ACLU calls this “a victory for free speech and religious (yes, religious) liberty.” The irony is unmistakable. Satan’s name defines him as God’s loveless adversary - and ours. Satan exists to create in us doubt, distrust, excessive shame, anger, revenge. He is the Father of Lies, dedicated to disobedience, to hatred of authority, to betrayal and duplicity, to violence and sinful self-indulgence, to moral chaos – to evil for evil’s sake.
It is reasonable to wonder if adults who promote the Satan Club believe the minds and hearts, souls and character of their “nontheistic” children are bettered with Satan as their sponsor?
When I hear the word “satanic,” I immediately recall my visit to Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp in Poland, where 1.5 million innocent Jewish persons were murdered during the Holocaust.
My visit also informed me of the goodness of 300,000 Polish people - including countless children - who risked death to aid their Jewish neighbors. Among these heroic protectors of innocent Jewish persons were the nine members of the Ulma Family who lived in Markowa, a small, rural community in Southern Poland.
Before the War, 120 Jews lived in Markowa. The villagers hid twenty-nine Jews; twenty-one survived. No family paid a higher price for their love of neighbor than the Ulma Family – including the Ulma children. Briefly, here is their story.
The Ulmas Of Markowa
The Ulmas - Josef and Wiktoria and their seven children - were a farming family in Markowa. They are remembered as “good people, beloved by the local community.” Josef built the first wind-driven power station in the village and was the first to have electricity in his home. He also had a collection of books he’d lend to his neighbors.
When the Nazis occupied Poland, the Ulmas sheltered eight Jewish persons for two years. One can imagine the constant anxiety Josef and Wiktoria felt for their children. Finally, they were betrayed by a local police official who informed Nazi authorities that the Ulmas were hiding Jews.
On March 24, 1944, Nazis invaded the Ulma home. First, they shot the eight Jews whom the Ulmas sheltered. Then they shot Wiktoria and Josef, as the children watched. When the Nazis had slaughtered the Jews and the Ulma parents, they decided to shoot the children – the children.
When they were murdered, the oldest child, Stasia was 8; her sister, Barbara, was 7. The oldest son, Wladyslaw, was 6. His brother Franciszek, was 4, and his youngest brother, Antoni, was 3. Their little sister, Maria, was almost 2. The Ulma’s unborn child died with them. Witnesses confirmed that Wiktoria started to give birth to their seventh child upon her death.
The Ulma Family - including the children - died for their Catholic belief that they must love their neighbor. Recently, the Vatican confirmed the martyrdom of the entire Ulma family (including their unborn child). All nine members of the Ulma family will be beatified September 10th. The ceremony will be held in Markowa.
The entire Ulma family - including the children - are recognized by the Catholic Church as loving exemplars of heroic virtue. And, for the first time in history, an unborn child is on the path to sainthood.
A surviving family member said, "It's important that the next generations remember the Ulma family’s sacrifice, remember the Jews who were killed with them, so we never forget they all died because of lack of love in the hearts of the murderers.”
The goodness of the Ulma Family - including the children - and their example of Christian Love stand in stark contrast to Satan as loveless exemplar for “nontheistic” youngsters.
The Price Our Children Pay
So, what’s my point?
Satan’s Club, designed by adults for their own children, highlights the mounting conflict between faith and culture and, worse, the price our children are paying. It reveals distortions and excesses of “freedom, human values and civil rights” infesting our morally-wounded culture, especially our schools. Examples:
- The increase in violence and murder by children;
- Availability of hard-core porn for children of all ages;
- Millions of father-less families and increase in gangs;
- Extensive drug use among young people;
- Myth that a boy doesn’t have to be a man anymore - a stunning example of adult scorn for biological facts;
- Professional persons (e.g., teachers) must now use the pronoun re-gendered kids assign themselves;
- Aborting children is now a “human right” paid for by the State, celebrated by countless public officials;
- The widespread lie that abortion is healthcare (see this link)
Doctor Confirms Abortion is Not Health Care, It's "Ending a Baby's Life" - LifeNews.com
- The idea that parents have no right to know when their child seeks re-gendered identity, with schools hiding the facts;
- Physicians prescribe medications and surgeries for children who seek new genders (as children self-diagnose);
- The public desire of some adults to normalize pedophilia;
- Concern about climate instead of curriculum;
- Focus on “equity” of outcomes over equal opportunities;
- Belief that children must be pampered, not led to maturity, never tested nor allowed to risk failure (trophies for losers);
- These - for starters.
The Toxicity Of Moral Relativism
Is it not clear that these concerns reveal America’s acceptance of, and indifference to, moral relativism? Do we not realize that moral relativism changes American identity, erodes our Constitution, our laws, our religious sensibilities, our schools and common sense?
Our misguided tolerance for moral relativism - especially in the lives of children - adversely effects our culture in many ways:
- It aims to eradicate traditional family and marriage, the God-given bases of raising healthy, loving children;
- It deliberately distorts our Constitutional freedoms;
- It re-defines “rights” as unlimited, without legal precedent, with no religious origin or historic boundaries.
- It destroys the link between rights and responsibilities.
- We are accountable only to ourselves, not to law, not to God nor our neighbor, not to our children nor our nation’s future.
How Does This Happen ?
Why are some people seduced by moral relativism? Here are a few reasons:
- Our basic psychological instinct is ego-protection. We use numerous defenses to avoid admitting that we have irrational thoughts and cognitive distortions (as all humans do).
- We develop interior dialogues, personal excuses, myths and fantasies to buffer ourselves from truths we should face.
- Eventually, we absolve ourselves of responsibility for our behavior, and lie to ourselves to protect “self-esteem.”
- We shun anyone who threatens us with abrasive truths.
- We use denial and avoidance as habitual justifications.
- We shun family and friends who might tell us truths we should hear.
- Self-deception gradually becomes a life-style.
- At long last, we believe the cumulative untruths we’ve told ourselves; we shed responsibility and avoid accountability.
- Finally, we are comfy with moral relativism, which tell us: A) there are no moral absolutes, not God, church or culture; B) to avoid, even disparage, those who threaten our self-image.
How does moral relativism gain widespread cachet in our culture? Why do people buy in? Many individuals are attracted to persons who demonstrate these qualities:
- Persons who preach a “cause” which sounds worthy, such as “civil rights” or “medical necessity,” or “Black Lives Matter,” even when the “cause” is fabricated or a scam;
- People who promote the “cause” with apparent conviction and ardent “certitude;”
- People who claim oppressed “victimhood,” then use their “abuse” and “oppression” as credentials;
- People who persuasively appeal to listeners guilt, shame and empathy with self-righteous passion;
- Persons who effectively use group pressures and mob psychology to weaken resistance and render opposition risky, even dangerous.
When the cause sounds worthy, the powerful suasion of group emotion often stifles rationality. Group pressure and the subtle, but incessant, need for “inclusion” motivate people to suspend their beliefs, doubt their intelligence, accept the group mindset.
Examples of “crowd power” abound. Think of the millions who applauded the vicious rants of Hitler; followers of Aum Shinrikyo’s deadly doctrines; the palpable mob-urgency at home football games or partisan political rallies.
The “cause” may be propagandistic babble or a chic, mindless fad, yet some people succumb to group pressure simply to be ahead of the social curve. Some are seduced by “experts” claiming victimhood; others, by superficial rhetoric or the glitz and savvy in glib, but empty, “causes.”
For The Children
Gullibility, naivete, irrational thinking and the desire to be “with it” can be more powerful than moral principle, right reason, logic, facts and independent thought. Even the boundaries of discipline set by loving parents can be lost in a culture of self-gratification.
Recall Solzhenitsyn’s insight -- that the line between good and evil (the line separating right reason from irrationality, and accountability from moral relativism) runs through every human heart. So, every intelligent adult is aware of his/her propensity to faulty thinking and moral error. Knowing the difference and acting accordingly is what mature adulthood is all about.
Thus, for our children’s sake and for ourselves, we adults are supposed to avoid temptations and pitfalls which we know lurk in human nature; pitfalls which, we also know, invariably emerge when we reject our Christian heritage and ignore the “better angels” of our nature.
Therefore, why would we (as individuals or as a culture) ever think our children - our immature, needy children - possess the moral sense to recognize their own irrationality, or possess the wisdom of mind and the strength of character to pursue goodness and common sense on their own?
Community And Consequences
We are born into many communities … family, church, society, school, countless relationships, marriage, work, friendships, nation. Life soon teaches us that, by ourselves, without God’s Wisdom to give us direction, we soon stray from goodness and responsibility.
So, we ask, “Where do we find guidance?” No matter how many distractions we pursue or excuses we allow, we know we need God to show us the way; we need our Creator’s light to find our true path. We know God’s Wisdom speaks to human nature - when, that is, we choose to listen.
Whether we admit it or not, we know God has imposed certain absolutes upon us. We know our rights come with responsibilities which we must always honor, especially for our children.
We know it is right – that it is God’s will – to feed the hungry and visit the sick and shelter the homeless. We know it is right to bear trespasses patiently, to forgive those who offend us, to shun violence and beget kindness in this world. We know it is God’s will that we comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead.
We know it is right to give hope to the doubtful - especially to our children. We know it is right to confront error - especially in our children, rather than let them float in confusion, or betray their trust in us with our “nontheistic” palaver.
Finally . . .
We are God’s creatures, not our own. We have been created to listen to God and heed our call to goodness and self-restraint. We know God expects us to make morally right choices and stand as moral exemplars for our children. That’s what mature adults do.
This is our gravest responsibility: to exemplify this heritage of goodness for our children – but only in God’s name, only in God’s name.
That’s why we are here upon this earth.
Given our gift life, given the goodness we are called to do for one another, and given the abundant needs of our children - how could we think or do otherwise?
16 February 2023
What Do You Think ?
My first semester in high school (a very long time ago) changed my life. Here’s why.
Early in freshman year, I posed a question to my teacher, Father Gerard Benson (a fine priest and good man whose kindness is well-remembered). He thought for a moment, then looked at me and asked, “What do you think?”
That semester in his class was a revelation. Fr. Gerard listened carefully to me, asked questions, probed my arguments, gently pushed me to offer reasoned evidence for my answers.
With exquisite patience and humor, he gradually taught me to value right reason over impatient impulse, to trust reliable evidence over group pressure, to value logical thinking over handy hunches, to respect rationality rather than be seduced by flighty approval of mindless peers.
It was exhilarating. For the first time in my very young life, a respected adult attentively listened to me, led me into a new cognitive cosmos, started the process of reasoning - and changed my life.
Throughout that year, Father Gerard taught me to respect tradition, to value history, to seek facts, not to trust egocentric irrationality or unexamined feelings, not to be a crowd-pleaser or fall back on snarky self-righteousness.
I learned to be wary of evasive people who rely on subtle duplicity and barbed denial; people who disdain solid principles; people ruled more by infantile emotions than objective evidence; people who do not value thinking and right reasoning - and, worse, who do not have the gumption to face their ignorance nor pursue the truth and honor the facts.
What’s The Big Deal ?
My coming-of-age may seem insignificant to people who might say, “Everyone thinks; everyone has ideas and opinions. It’s no Big Deal.” Maybe so, but for me, learning to respect human reason and to seek evidence opened doors … doors which have never closed.
So, it was a “Big Deal” for me when I learned to see the importance of The Truth. It was a lesson which extends to this day, for I am still awed by our miraculous ability to think at all, to use our brains in so many astonishing ways.
And all of our human capacities begin miraculously when we are but a zygote, i.e., a fertilized, single human cell which contains all the programs we need for our lifetime as unique persons.
Moreover, all our thinking (even nutty daydreams) arises from our brain’s reservoir of life experiences, stored over decades.
We pay conscious attention to some thoughts, prioritize certain values and beliefs. Other thoughts drift away, and merit scant attention. But the gift of thinking is always a Big Deal.
In fact, our identity and character form by how we think and judge, remember and imagine, learn and change, honor Truth or settle for evasion and falsity; in short, how we use our cognitive powers.
All our thoughts flow from billions of brain cells with which we process incoming data and weld our experiences into what we eventually call our “worldview.”
Our “worldview” is our overall philosophical outlook on the world: what we think about the meaning of life, the value of everything (ourselves included), how things come about, how things are, how life ought to be. Eventually, our worldview reflects (for starters):
- our moral and cultural assumptions and values, including our beliefs about marriage, family and children;
- what we think of others and of ourselves;
- how we speak and act . . . in short, our character;
- who we are as adults;
- what virtues and ideals (or lack thereof) we possess.
We are born with the gift of choice. As years pass, our choices contribute to the formation of our character; eventually we become who we choose to be. We may inherit certain traits, but we are the result of what we learn (especially from elders), what priorities we hold, how responsible we are to our obligations, what we choose to think, say and do.
So, who we are as adults is the cumulative result of our own making. Even personal tragedy does not change this. Our learning and choices, character and values, conscience and behavior are the ingredients of our worldview.
As our worldview develops, we face unavoidable questions:
- What are we here for?
- Where do we come from?
- What’s life all about?
- Does God exist: If so, why is He so hard to reach?
- How should we treat one another?
- What and whom do I/we value?
- What are the best moral standards to follow?
- What prevents me from following those standards?
How we answer these questions reveals our worldview.
How we avoid answering these questions also reveals our worldview.
And The Answer Is . . .
A worldview prominent in our culture teaches that personal possession of social control and power defines human nature. It preaches these principles:
- Self-assertion is the highest form of morality.
- The role of society (including government and education) is to reaffirm individual choice as the highest form of “inclusive” society.
- Laws, including traditional laws promulgated by church and police, intrude on the “sacred” arena of individualism.
- Furthermore, secular laws and religious prohibitions are sexist-racist tools of white, Christian oppression and male domination.
- The exercise of “civil rights” and individual “freedoms” as I define them is paramount in a diverse and equitable society.
- My only responsibility is to “be myself,” to fulfill my self-defined “therapeutic destiny” as only I define it.
- Whoever restricts my “fulfillment” must be met with self-righteous condemnation and punishment, particularly Christians, especially Catholics (e.g., florists, bakers, clergy and laity) who promulgate sexist/racist ideologies.
This worldview obviously rejects God and dismisses the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights and centuries of religious history, cultural traditions - and common sense. In addition, long-standing laws and scientific facts which contradict this worldview are ignored and, often, vilified, as we see daily.
Individual power is everything – including power to punish contrarians. Power defines morality and culture. Nothing else matters, not people nor family, not tradition nor science nor human life, including life in the womb.
And what does power actually mean in everyday language?
- It means no one can interfere with my “freedom” to do exactly what I choose, including denying biological facts.
- I account to no one, and am not responsible to others (including God).
- Only I decide what the terms of “freedom” are.
- Past laws and restraints of Church and State are tools of white racist oppression, to be overthrown by any means.
In this worldview, no ultimate meaning or revealed purpose or objective moral standards can exist. It’s everyone for him/herself.
With this worldview operating, nihilism reigns. Even normal humor is intolerable.
Think About It
When nothing matters except personal desire, when no objective (i.e., obliging everyone) social or religious criteria exist, then good and evil have no meaning.
Nothing has intrinsic value – not my children, my family, church, science, law … and certainly not you, my neighbor.
The outcome is frightening. Laws are not enforced. No objective standards exist. No moral norms bind us. No stable definitions of reality, truth or goodness exist. Chaos reigns.
Given this worldview (as Shakespeare said): “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
What Are Our Options ?
Several less-extreme worldviews have existed for centuries, linking (for starters) rights with responsibilities.
But that’s not enough.
Most of these “naturalistic” (i.e., secularist) worldviews speak of Nature-as-God. This approach seems myopic. Why? Because something – or Someone – is missing.
- Nature does not create itself;
- We do not create ourselves;
- The Universe did not just “pop” up out of nothing;
- Nor did the Universe set itself in motion.
These Nature-As-God worldviews are incomplete. The evidence for God as Cause and Creator of Nature - including human beings - is just too logically powerful to ignore or deny, too rationally cohesive and insistent to dismiss.
The voices of history, Revelation and Tradition are simply too reasonable to ignore. The weight of evidence for a Creator is entirely too persuasive to resist.
The evidence of God’s creative power and abiding presence is simply too obvious and too overwhelming to deny.
Now What ?
Consequently, the one worldview I have found most logically coherent and reasonably persuasive all my life - the worldview that best befits our created human nature - is the Christian worldview.
The Christian worldview teaches (again, for starters) that we have two goals in life, a natural goal and a supernatural goal.
We learn about our natural goal through thinking and right reason.
We learn about our supernatural goal through reasoning which is inspired by Scripture and Revelation, seasoned for centuries by theological traditions which emphasize Faith, Hope and Love, along with a panoply of virtues for mind and body, spirit and soul.
It is the worldview of faith AND reason united, of thinking AND believing united.
The cumulative evidence of the Christian worldview gives it inescapable heft and undeniable validity. What evidence?
- Its realistic understanding of our flawed, needy humanity;
- its emphasis on forgiveness and its encouragement to persevere, despite our flaws and errors;
- its insistence on virtuous mutuality in our human community;
- its emphases on the value, dignity and moral beauty of traditional marriage and solid family life;
- its vision of many virtues as paths to our supernatural goal;
- its vision of these virtues as the very best way to treat one another in this created world in which we live and breathe and have our being.
- its elevation of the human condition through the redemptive intervention of Christ Incarnate in ways which astonish;
- its insistence that our natural and our supernatural lives are inextricably linked;
- its respect for truth and human dignity, starting in the womb;
- its comprehension of the pitfalls we face as we seek to be loving human beings, come what may;
- and much more . . . much more.
The initial facts about the Christian worldview are, of course, presented in the Bible, refined by the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is the blueprint for how we should view ourselves and how we should treat one another.
When We Stumble
There are, of course, many times when faith and fad collide, and the faith of some people is, unfortunately, diminished. The result for individuals or to a culture is usually anger, uncertainty and the tendency to be seduced by populist trends and by persons fluent in duplicity.
We are wise, then, ever to guard our vulnerability against arrogance and moral snobbery; ever wise to embrace the Christian worldview and to express our gratitude to God for the gifts we possess - the gifts of thinking clearly, of holding to the truth, of respecting facts and preserving our rationality.
To aid in our endeavors, the Christian worldview teaches us:
- to honor compassion rather than dismissive ambition;
- to hold tenacious respect for proven tradition;
- to practice self-restraint, kindness, humility, gentleness but never to back away from what we know is true;
- to be patient with one another - and with ourselves;
- to respect hard truths, especially about ourselves;
- to search for peace to which we are all called;
- to express our gratitude in soul, mind and heart; and
- to hold onto faith and hope when we’re tempted.
We all have periods of hesitation, anger, despair and doubt, sometimes for many years. But let us never forget the overriding lesson which life constantly teaches us - namely, that the Will of God (not our will) always prevails and is always present to us.
Our job is simply to stay the course . . .
Our Years Tell The Tale
As we age, God’s purpose becomes less murky - if we admit the humbling reality that we will never know it all, nor have it our own way (which is the way life is, anyhow).
As we age, clarity may still elude us, but ambiguity no longer discomforts us - as long as we maintain trust in God, which is the basis of faith and hope and love.
As we age, God still withholds much from us, but not hurtfully so.
As we age, whatever hurt occurs is best returned to God through our intention to persevere in trust and love . . . no matter what.
As we age, we are called to live in gratitude and to think with God’s own Wisdom, trusting in our hearts that we are beloved in His eyes.
So, with the cleansing clarity of faith and hope, and in an abiding spirit of gratitude, we choose to persevere.
Even when wonderment arises and pain persists, we stay the course. We persevere in trust, for this is why we are here – to trust God.
So, let us indeed persevere . . . and be grateful.
2 February 2023
An Elder Ponders What Shall Not Perish
We all have something - or someone - of incalculable value in our lives. For some people, it’s a treasured object, a Maserati, for example, or a glittering Rolex or other emblems of caste and class.
These folks are usually driven by a more-than-ample ego which delights in symbols of affluence, often at the expense of traditional family life and the invaluable lessons which family imparts about the subtleties and nuances of giving oneself thoughtfully to others.
On the other hand, some people hold family at the center of their hearts and hopes. They learn to gratefully revere their core relationships, especially the traditional family, as irreplaceable treasures.
For these folks, the lessons and insights which they learn in the family become life’s cornerstones, the center of their identity, the origin of their character and values - for them, for those who love them, and for those they learn to love in years ahead.
To Destroy Family
History teaches us that the traditional family is our God-given core of stable community life and is, in fact, the historic foundation of cultures in which family values are honored and defended.
Today, many forces in America vigorously attack traditional family as a “male-dominated, white supremacist tool of oppression through the racist rigidity of Christianity’s intolerant moral codes.”
Efforts to destroy traditional family are common among groups such as Black Lives Matter and supporters of Sophie Lewis’s ideas, explained in her book "Abolish the Family." There, Ms. Lewis depicts traditional family as "a terrible way to satisfy all of our desires for love, care and nourishment."
Marxists, Progressive militants, Socialist ideologues and a host of ill-advised followers attack traditional family as capitalism’s dastardly sexist instrument which victimizes bourgeois classes who seek “inclusion” and “equity” and the right to kill unwanted babies as “liberation from forced pregnancy.” Traditional family values are, they say, capitalism’s technique to maintain power over private property, to limit “genderized” freedoms, to perpetuate rigid Christian morality, and so forth, ad nauseum.
To our nation’s detriment, we have only to look at some schools and corporations, some elected officials, professional associations and far too many “Woke” clergy to realize that the spiritual and cultural traditions of our Judeo-Christian heritage (centered around traditional family) are being annihilated with stunning effectiveness.
These are some reasons why I am concerned about the future of our nation and (much closer to my heart) about the intellectual and spiritual welfare of my grandchildren – and yours.
Children At Risk
My days as doting grandparent are long passed, but I frequently think of my grandchildren – two very bright college Freshman. I often recall, with nostalgic relish, the blessed days, two decades ago, when my Beloved wife and I would babysit them, feed them, play with them, and find ourselves happily immersed in enthralling moments of sheer delight amid the inescapable aura of childhood’s innocence . . . loving them all the while, simply for the pure sake of loving them.
Thus, I am ever so aware that countless intellectual and spiritual pitfalls exist in our culture. We’re daily exposed to rancid philosophies and corrupting ideas which seduce even some adults who know better (or certainly should). My grandchildren - and yours - inevitably encounter absurd ideas as they proceed into young adulthood and seek the gifts of maturity and discerning insight.
So, I pray my grandchildren - and yours - will safely traverse that period of life from the vulnerability of youth to the blessings of Wisdom, with its transcendent gifts of clarity of mind and will, well-reasoned thoughts and deeds, sincere heart and principled soul.
I have great hopes for them both, great faith in their ability to meet the relentless challenges of a morally imploding culture, which we elders never had to face.
What specific hopes do I hold for my grandchildren? Let me express my hopes and prayers for them – and yours, too.
To Hope Is To Live
Above all, I hope my grandchildren will find God’s peace in their lives and in themselves. I hope they will recognize the enormity of the gifts of life and Creation, and realize their best response is gratitude and a humbled sense of “Deo gratias” (“Thank you, God”) in the face of such astonishing goodness.
Certainly, life takes its toll on us all, but we always - always - have redemptive options and hopeful choices before us. So, as my grandchildren move through the decades ahead, they’ll encounter the costly lessons which Wisdom requires, but they will also have the choice to find the transcendent path.
Along that path, they will inevitably face five fundamental realities:
- ) the perishable nature of “things,” including our years upon this Earth and the uselessness of denial and subterfuge;
- ) the nagging burdens of vanity, excessive pride and the temptations to which flesh is heir;
- ) the obvious, yet soul-moving, value of true love, especially Christo-centric love incarnated in Him Who chose death as proof and promise of His fidelity to our fallen, yet ever-hopeful humanity;
- ) the necessity of giving one’s love to other persons not in flighty, shallow fashion, but always through virtues such as kindness and patience, empathy and self-restraint, moderated by prudence and humility and the readiness to face the truth about oneself;
- ) the ability to give love responsibly and receive the love of others, and not be overwhelmed by their own needs and urges; needs and urges which God’s love redeems if we ask.
My hopes may seem a tall order to some, but it is the path to which they are called . . . the path to which we are all called. The “secret” is, of course, to choose that path willingly and gratefully, knowing that every other path leads only to wonderment frustrated and, eventually, hope unfulfilled.
To Live Rightly Is To Love Responsibly
Our culture is filled with skewed, distorted notions of what love is, so I hope they will realize that true love - true love - is not simply an emotional experience, not simply a short-term “feeling” nor justification for consensual sex, as our pop culture endlessly preaches and shamelessly prompts.
Yes, love’s first flush is always emotional, often powerfully sexual, especially for the young and inexperienced - which is in accord with their budding sexuality. But Wisdom reveals that sex has little to do with the fidelity and self-sacrifice which true love requires.
So, as they mature, I hope my grandchildren recognize that the emotional sheen soon wears off, and true love - love that lasts - requires commitment of heart and mind, fidelity to virtue, and determination to remain morally truthful, reliable, prudent and accountable . . . qualities all too rare today.
I hope they soon understand that Nature established traditional marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. That’s why traditional marriage involves shared lifetimes in which husband and wife mutually learn to express the love and fidelity which defines their union, as their love grows and deepens in ways which only such marriage affords.
Much To Learn
I also hope my grandchildren learn that a commitment to true friendship - especially in marriage - makes demands on both persons for mutual empathy, self-restraint, sacrifice, diminishing egos and a fierce hold on truth.
This is also a tough lesson. Why? Because we’re all subject to regrettable foibles and errant urges of shared human nature. So, true love and fidelity to the Beloved does not guarantee that loving the other is without strife or misunderstanding. Indeed, there are times when painful truths must invariably surface, hard truths be shared, mutual intentions be made clear.
Facing hard and painful truths with the Beloved confuses and stymies us. Pain from someone we love seems contrary to our deepest need for trust and acceptance, especially from our Beloved. But candor and truth-telling - which are forms of “tough love” - are not only valid in marriage; they’re essential.
Because truth in marriage seeks the greater good, namely, 1) our mutual assent (even painfully given) to listen to one another, 2) our willingness to move beyond our defensive walls, and 3) our rejection of any deception or deliberate evasion between us.
At such times, loving candor is Wisdom’s costly crown.
This sort of “tough love” may be difficult even when reasonable. But hard truths shared are:
- the best way to love one another for the long haul;
- the best way to banish deception and to respect oneself and one’s Beloved;
- the best way to build mutual trust, which is the essential basis of all love;
- that’s why marital infidelity is a threat to every marriage: mutual trust is very difficult to recover;
- and that’s why fidelity in every phase of marriage is salutary and life-enhancing.
And that’s not all that I hope for my grandchildren,
We know love is kind, even when kindness is costly. In fact, when we are misunderstood, love tells us to still persist in kindness, even in silence. Why? Because true love is not boastful nor envious, not arrogant nor rude nor pushy about rewards. It does not advertise nor impress with sly modesty, and it certainly does not retaliate vengefully.
Love does not insist on always having its way, does not play “victim” nor assert its bruised and flailing ego for all to see. When love is snubbed or treated with indifference, it does not become irritable or resentful, or nurse grudges, nor wish others ill, nor return insult-for-insult in a childish, back-handed manner.
Furthermore, love never seeks to manipulate others under the guise of feigned interest or, worse, crass exploitation. It never rejoices in gossip or falsehoods or wrongdoing . . . but love does rejoice in the truth; quietly, perhaps, and always with gratitude.
So, I hope my grandchildren learn how to treat people responsibly and not selfishly. I hope they see that loving others in proper manner requires knowledge of their own motives, goodly measure of self-respect, gratitude to God and a listening, responsive heart.
Endless sources - including the Life of Christ - insist that self-respect involves true love of one’s self. That means:
- we are aware of our own needs and intentions;
- we are patient with our own foibles when we err;
- we are repentant about our sins, forgiving of our mistakes, and ready to seek forgiveness from others, when called for;
- we are always learning about ourselves, forever seeking and finding the goodness and forgiveness of God through Christ and His love for us …
Finally, Hope Springs . . .
So, I hope my grandchildren learn that love is intended to grow and flower within the traditional family, where we learn the nuances of gratitude, moral decency and responsibility. It is in the traditional family that God intends us to be touched by the grace of love given and love received.
Especially in family, we learn to be loving human beings who bear all things, who believe in one another, who hope and strive for all good and Godly outcomes, who endure all things with-and-for those who are our Beloved.
I pray my grandchildren will realize the grandeur and mystery of life and of Creation.
I hope they do not overlook the importance of Christian Charity in small, everyday moments, in a kindly smile or gentle words to those in need -- or, for that matter, a stern, honest confrontation when it’s appropriate and timely.
I hope they never lose sight of the Christian vision of life and reality, a vision richly enlightened by Revelation, as no other is.
I hope they never lose sight of Faith and Hope, which are central to our lives as Christians.
I hope they will look with awe at the stars, and realize that some of those blinking lights have traveled eleven billion years through "space," and are reminders of our Creator’s Will.
I hope they remember that everything we have in life is given as a gift, even the light from those stars, of which there are trillions upon trillions, so many, in fact, that they are uncountable in numbers and in distances.
In the face of Creation, our Christian hearts tell us that gratitude is the only reasonable response for us humans. And our knowledge, such as it is, seems so fragile and so small before God's Wisdom.
And, given all of this, I hope my grandchildren remember these truths:
- God is infinite in His caring for us;
- Even when pain and confusion are upon us, God is with us;
- God endows us with personal freedom so we may cherish and nurture our gift of life . . . or, most unwisely, reject and ignore our dependence on God as His children;
- Christ reminds us - in His gentle, forgiving way - that we have been created for our relationship with the Divine;
- To assist us each moment, Christ remains always in us and among us, repeatedly befriending us by His crowning act of love, His act of redeeming Charity;
- We are all called to accept His message of redemption and transcendence. Acceptance is a choice we can all make.
Finally, then, I hope my grandchildren will gratefully remember to say every day, many times each day: “Deo gratias, thank you, God,” for life and love and whatever else each day may bring, be it joyous or painful. I hope they say each day, “God, I do indeed thank you . . . for everything!” May it be so. May it ever be so.
16 January 2023
A Look At Mystery
Next time there’s a lull in conversation with friends, you might ask (nonchalantly, of course): “What is reality?” People don’t often think about “reality,” so your friends might respond, “Reality? Well, reality is, ah, what’s real? Right?” And a few suspicious folks might ask: “Is this a trick question?”
To most of us, reality is commonplace, self-defining. It’s just … there!! But it’s also elusive, ambiguous, mysterious, with numerous subjective interpretations.
One way to perceive objective reality at its most glorious is to look up at a starry sky. There, we see “reality” and, more importantly, we gaze upon the mystery of Creation. However, even as we behold the stars, we really don’t know much about them. So, yes, they’re familiar, but they’re ever-mysterious.
The Ordinary Is Extraordinary
In fact, mystery is everywhere in our lives - above us, around us and in our very being. Mystery is healthy and life-enhancing; it reminds us that there’s so much in Creation we will never know, and are not meant to know.
Creation is mystery beyond our grasp, yet we often take it for granted. But complacency can be counter-productive because mystery is essential for a balanced life. We’re wiser to nurture awe, wonder and reverence.
No matter how self-assured we are, we’re still mysteries even to ourselves. For example, consider our brain, with its 100 billion (or so) neurons and its trillions of connecting synapses. Our complex brain is a gift from our Creator but, to us, it’s still a mystery. For such a gift, our gratitude is a starting point for recognizing which mysteries we can resolve and which mysteries are rightly beyond us - and for good reason.
The Euclid Mission
Here’s another example of the inescapable, perplexing grandeur of mystery.
For ten years, the European Space Agency (ESA) has been preparing the Euclid Mission to explore mysteries within the stars (e.g., their ages, how they form, distances and chemistry). Euclid’s instruments will scan billions of galaxies to “investigate the expansion history of the Universe and the growth of cosmic structures over the last 10 billion years...” Euclid will also study radiation which saturates the Universe but is invisible to us.
Scientists measure “space” in billions of miles, “time” in billions of years. These are attempts to squeeze these mysteries into conventional categories. But time and space exceed all efforts to conveniently delimit Creation.
Here's a superficial look at a few of the extraordinary mysteries Euclid will examine:
- Our Milky Way is only one small galaxy among billions of galaxies in space.
- Our sun is only one small star amid 100 billion to 400 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone.
- Again, billions of galaxies exist, and
- They’re all moving away from us and each other at incredible speed.
Creation’s challenges are astounding - yet Euclid’s designers have faith they’ll bring some clarity to its mysteries. They have faith in the evidence of the Universe; faith in their scientific methods; faith in themselves, as they take huge risks; faith in their search for truth.
Belief In Action
The faith of Euclid’s designers inspires them to confront some astonishing mysteries, such as:
- They believe the expansion of space and the growth of stars and galaxies are influenced by the so-called “dark universe.”
- They believe the “dark universe” is composed of “dark matter” and “dark energy.”
- “Dark matter,” ESA scientists say (they’re not certain), is a collection of unknown particles which contribute to gravity.
- “Dark energy,” they believe, is a still-unidentified component of the Universe. They think (again, they’re not sure) it’s present in such a large quantity that it overwhelms all other matter and energy combined.
- Some suggest “dark energy” is the Big Bang as it still expands, even after billions of years.
- Scientists calls these elements “dark” because they cannot see “dark matter” or “dark energy,” which are invisible.
- They believe these invisible “dark” elements exist from studying the effects of gravity on the fabric of space.
In sum, then, science believes 1) “dark energy” accelerates the expansion of the Universe, 2) “dark matter” accelerates the growth of galaxies, and 3) gravity provides a unifying force.
ESA admits they do not know what “dark energy” and “dark matter” really are. Yet they believe “dark matter” and “dark energy” comprise about 95 percent of the Universe, though we cannot see them.
So, the Euclid Mission will study Creation’s ultimate mysteries. Euclid illustrates the indispensable value of, and need for, living faith. Despite doubts, pitfalls and challenges, faith moves Euclid’s people to courageous action.
Of course, there are messages in all of this for you and me!!
What Messages ?
For starters, we are born into mystery, born to learn and confront the unknown, not to avoid or flee it. We are born to know - but not to know everything. Even with our accomplishments, we know far less than we think. Our ignorance of Creation, of ourselves and of others is extensive, but these mysteries are blessings, not dead ends nor reasons for us to scoff.
Blessings? Why? Because science, medicine and all human endeavors are sometimes brought to a halt by mystery. Despite our knowledge, we’re often stuck in ambiguity and uncertainty. Let us remember that humanity is heir to a host of neuroses and oddities, to ignorance and weakness, to unseemly urges and frustrations, and to occasional elations. All this makes us mysteriously normal and grandly human.
- Without mystery’s ambiguity and its demand for serious thought, its confounding challenges and provocative allure, its benign promises and jubilant revelations, what would life be like?
- Without mystery’s generous rewards, unsettling trials, consolations and delights, what would life be like?
- Without mystery’s benign prod for us to have faith in our patient Creator, what would life be like?
- Mystery is a blessing, often in disguise, but a blessing, nonetheless.
We need the challenges of mystery in our lives if we are to live as we’re intended to live, in faith in ourselves, in one another – and with hope in our Creator, to Whom we lovingly belong.
Mystery Does Not O’ershadow Truth
There are basic principles about mystery which fund our temporal and spiritual enrichment, such as:
- Mystery is meant to stimulate our faith, not our fatalism; meant to bolster our belief and hope, not our doubt and cynicism.
- Mystery does not close doors to knowing; it opens doors to understanding, acceptance and, with perseverance, to wisdom and discernment.
- Mystery urges us to think about the person we wish to be, and how (with work and generosity) we may become that person;
- Mystery challenges us to be worthy of the trust and affection of our family and of those we influence (even unwittingly);
- The mystery of personhood (which everyone possesses) challenges us to respect the dignity of others, even strangers;
- Mystery moves us to find greater dignity in ourselves beyond indulging fleeting whims or mourning fictitious victimhood.
Faith And Mystery
Given all this, we are wise to treat mystery (even suffering and loss) not as an obstacle but as a benefit to mind and heart. We are wise to view mystery as an invitation to wisdom, rather than a step into darkness. In this way, we rise from natural faith to transcendent faith in our Creator.
To that end, consider:
- If we look at the sun, we’re bedazzled by its power, cast into temporary darkness but no one can say the sun is not bright.
- By the same token, when God is mentioned, some people see only darkness and choose to look away in anger, denial or resentment.
- Doubts in mind and heart are universal. We all experience darkness and disappointment (Mother Teresa spent forty years without consolation, but she persevered).
- Darkness does not mean there’s no clarity to be had, only that we must see with different eyes and seek new vision.
- Stumbling blocks are A) our lack of perseverance and B) lack of trust in our Creator, Whose ways are often not to our liking, Whose gifts we often take for granted.
Mystery is at the very core of everything we see and feel, taste and touch, smell and think. Given our dependence on our Creator, it’s wise to 1) trust God with tenacity and hope, 2) defuse the energy of our conceits, 3) calm the raucous roar of our oft-wayward ego, and 4) express our gratitude to God for our freedom and our ability to think and struggle, to seek and find.
Some people disdain God when they face ambiguity or encounter a rough patch. They want answers right now, quick-and-easy answers, on their terms. They’re stymied if they have to wade into the evidence of Creation. But Creation’s mysteries are not intended to confuse or taunt us, but to enlighten us, to move us to trust in God; to assure us that His ways are better way than what we demand.
Insight into God’s mysteries comes not with power or control, but with our surrender to our Creator. We know that God does not spurn a contrite heart. So, we’re wise to listen (humbly, if possible) to our deeper self and heed our need for solace and understanding, the hopeful engines of every life.
As we pursue faith in our Creator, mystery gradually unveils understanding, as faith reveals its simplicity. Gradually, we realize it is not our intellectual acuity nor our sophisticated status which gives meaning to life. It’s our response to the call of divine mystery.
Our human limits tell us we will never comprehend the gift of life by ourselves. Only faith affords the understanding and discernment which always exceed human knowing.
We are offered the gift of faith because mystery will always be with us, even if our doubts rule us for decades. But, unless we choose to activate our gift of faith, mystery’s meaning remains in the “dark universe” of denial and our inevitable refusal of Love, faith’s greatest gift.
The gift of faith (when we activate it) allows us to look at the mystery of the Universe and of ourselves, and recognize the work of God, where we find human and divine meaning. Gradually, we realize that the gift of faith is actually God’s revelation of Himself to each of us through His Creation – and that includes us.
- So, despite bouts of frustrated retaliation against “fate;”
- Despite our fleeting moments of gentle reverie in the arms of our Beloved;
- Despite years of toil and travail as we seek our fortunes;
- Despite the hurtful failure of friends who let us down, or whom we disappoint by our infidelity;
- Despite our clever inventions or our egocentric indulgences, even our heartless intrusions into Creation’s flow;
- Despite all this, the gift of mystery abides as the gift from-and-of God, Who awaits each of us.
Some people dismiss faith’s challenges. Others persevere and, at last, the mercy and love of God become part of their reality.
For believers - new and old - it is always God Who is the Final Mystery; God, the fullness of reality, God awaiting, with all the love and kindness we ever could hope to find. Therefore,
- We are wise to direct our thoughts and hopes to faith.
- We are wise to direct our uncertainties and needs to faith.
- We are wise to believe with contrite heart that we are already embraced by our Creator - for this is precisely what faith asks us to believe.
First and finally, then, it is God Who bestows upon us our gift of mystery. It is God Who assigns meaning to the billions of stars and galaxies which Euclid will soon scan.
It is God Who is our Final Reality; God, who patiently and lovingly awaits you and me.
4 January 2023
Is Truth Old-Fashioned ?
The New Year so often revives memories from my youth. Of course, memories prompt comparisons, especially when profound changes are obvious. So, with slight trepidation at being adjudged a nostalgic elder (or merely grumpy), let me share a few of my youngster memories of a long-ago time in America.
First, I recall when married parents ruled family life - and we kids knew it. Our parents could be strict at a moment’s notice, so we watched our step. In fact, in those days, all adults (parents, teachers, neighbors, even strangers - all of them) made it clear to us kids that adults were in charge.
Only foolish youngsters pushed limits or tried to manipulate the sympathies of easily distempered grown-ups who possessed uncanny (sometimes spooky) ability to see through every gossamer excuse we might conjure.
Schools were in cahoots with parents and reinforced parental authority with strict codes of behavior. Glib alibis did not excuse errant or unprepared youngsters from stern measures by unsmiling teachers. If a youngster crossed the line, discipline was swift, and parents went along. No arguments. No recourse. Guilty by being a kid.
In my school, our no-nonsense Nuns (trusty rulers in hand) grilled us in math and history, religion and literature, geography and spelling, and subjected us to daily tests to assure studious attention. When necessary, they used those trusty rulers (a whack across the knuckles did wonders to bring us back to reality).
Nature’s Wise Pattern
Today, modern research attests that growth and development are constants in the arc of human life. From the instant of conception, change is steady (except in sexual identity, which is instantly assigned by Nature, for a lifetime, to every cell). Throughout life, we require nourishment for body and soul. This includes healthy family influences and proper formation in intellectual, cultural and moral principles, essential for individual and cultural stability.
Our powers of reason, logic and critical thinking must be carefully shepherded, our moral sensibilities aligned with civic virtue and religious expectations - if, that is, we are to live a principled life.
- As our mental, moral and emotional skills unfold, our educated conscience should also develop.
- An educated conscience provides us with moral facts and prudent judgments which bridge the gap between divine mandates and secular life.
- Moral balance is achieved through the integration of revealed religious principles into the daily activities of individuals and of the culture.
- Our well-formed, educated conscience is the key to the transcendence for which we are born . . . and the accountability which a moral society demands of its citizens.
Every rightly-formed conscience (personal and societal) follows objective moral standards, not subjective feelings nor sexual urges nor recalcitrant whims. Without objective standards, chaos ensues.
The Common Good
In my early years, we gradually realized that beneath the easily-ruffled feathers of adults, they actually valued us children. Adults were actually guiding us, buffering us from corrupting influences such as the soul-curdling crudity of pornography, the seductive delusions of reckless sex, the risks of “recreational” drugs and the harm in shattered family life and morally-empty education.
We realized that adults valued our innocence and delighted in our achievements. They smiled at our eager naivete and showed genuine interest in our budding abilities to learn, to think and to make sound judgments with logical precision and moral acuity.
By word and example, adults revealed to us the necessity of the Common Good and our role as citizens in State and Church.
The need for courtesy and civility became evident. We learned to respect moral boundaries as the bases of civilized community. And we learned to curb our wayward impulses, channel hasty immaturity, calm our emotions and exercise self-restraint.
Religious Principles Were Once Central
History taught us that America is rooted in Judeo-Christian Scripture, Revelation and Tradition, not in enslavement or oppression. In fact, our Christian origins are the source of our historic freedoms and abiding values in our culture.
Unfortunately, the Christian message rankles some people, who deny God’s primacy as Creator, and wish ruin upon our nation.
They attack Christian tradition (and Christians) as “judgmental” and “prejudicial.” They enthrone extreme individualism, polarizing self-righteousness, rambunctious narcissism and petulant claims of oppression. With reckless accusations, these self-declared victims work for a mean-spirited society in which each person is cast darkly adrift from our Redeemer. Their rebellious actions erode the very foundations of our culture. What inspires such dreary rebellion?
Willful ignorance, moral instability and today’s popular but inane mystique of victimhood come immediately to mind. Two additional factors must also be mentioned.
- Some aggressively over-eager apologists have introduced excessive rigidity into Christian Ideals, distorting the message with grim, heavy-handed terms long on threat and short on compassion.
- Worst of all, Christian Ideals have been scandalously violated by some who profess to be Christians - even by ministers of the Gospel.
But let us be clear: these violations of Christian standards result from calculated disobedience or importunate weaknesses of the violators, not from the principles of the Christian Ideal.
The truth is that the infusion of Christian values into our secular culture elevated America to the Grand Ideals of Christian life, encapsulated in the Law of Love.
Christian principles teach respect for Nature, divine and human laws, justice, traditional family and the dignity of every person, including the unborn. Christian fidelity demands truth, decency, empathy, self-sacrifice and restraint for the Common Good.
Christian principles are often stated in uncompromising terms. “Should” and “ought” are part of the Judeo-Christian vocabulary. This befits humanity’s frequent rejection of Creation’s limits (in which we only participate). But there is much more to the Christian Ideal than “shoulds” ad “oughts.”
Long ago, we learned the Christian Ideal is summarized in the Law of Love. This is the heart of Christian Faith – and, for that matter, it’s also the core of adult maturity, which always involves sacrifice for others.
To love maturely requires humility, discipline, self-restraint and obedience to God’s Laws, which lead to Wisdom and prudent self-knowledge. But Wisdom, prudence and self-control are difficult to find in human affairs . . . are they not?
The Wisest Path
At first, we youngsters were confused by adults because of their unwavering standards and unyielding attitudes. Eventually, we understood their goal was to illuminate the path of civic virtue and religious fidelity, infused with Christian Ideals and regard for law.
We youngsters came to see the wisdom of staying on the moral path, not acting out or sullying our own reputations, not reveling in wrongdoing or listening to those who would lead us astray. We learned to honor the Judeo-Christian norms upon which our families, our society, our government, our schools, our entire culture was - and is - built.
We knew this was the wisest path for us children - and for adults, too. It was the only sensible path if our culture were to maintain responsible behavior, integrity, justice, accountability and respect for others.
Lessons Well Learned
In my youthful days, reputations mattered. The worst that could be said about a youngster was that he was “untrustworthy,” or he had “to be watched,” or he lacked moral gumption, or he had no regard for truth, self-restraint, kindness and a forthright heart.
Lying or cruelty, cheating or stealing, fudging truth or weaseling out of our responsibilities were character flaws, soon known in the community. Thus, we learned early that a person’s reputation is built on truth-telling, accepting responsibilities, honoring the limits of law and Nature, and respecting others.
Facing reality and earning trust were jewels in childhood’s crown … BUT “reality” in those days included 1) secular culture’s rules and 2) the moral mandates of religious faith.
American history taught us that the ideals of the secular and the sacred were mutually beneficial and mutually essential.
- We learned that our Constitution favored religious faith.
- In fact, from America’s founding, the secular and the sacred (Church and State) were meant to complement each other.
- Rightly understood, the so-called “wall of separation” between Church and State (Jefferson’s private phrase) had many open doors and windows.
- Neither Church nor State sought to invalidate the value of both to the Common Good, as our founding documents convincingly demonstrate.
- If you doubt this, I refer you to Benjamin Morris’ massive volume, “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States.”
In fact, Christian belief focuses on transforming individuals into religiously conscientious persons and citizens concerned with the Common Good of our neighbor, whom we are commanded by God to love as we love our selves, as the Law of Love dictates.
Clearly, then, the Common Good is based on Christian Idealism, which stresses the good of our neighbor (even across the world).
Love of neighbor is the basis of the Common Good. It is now a cultural ethic, a civic virtue, enshrined in our Constitution and in countless laws.
Our nation has benefitted incalculably by the integration of Christian values into our culture - and so has the free world.
Abuses of freedom are well-known in our history, but Christian Ideals remain the foundation of our culture. Human error has not (at least not yet) canceled the ideals which inspired this nation.
Freedom Rightly Held
What’s more, in my youthful days, every rational citizen knew our many “freedoms” (Constitutional and religious) meant “freedom for” the individual, not “freedom from” religious expression or from the revealed mandates of our Creator.
Even as children, we understood the exercise of “freedom” must be limited and monitored because of our wounded human condition. We knew that the “tug” of evil was rooted in human weakness and in the seductive façade which sin often adapts.
Moreover, we knew everybody was vulnerable to that “tug” of evil, not just “the bad guys.” We knew some people would distort and gravely abuse the meaning and purpose of American “freedom” into reckless license to do anything they wanted to do.
We knew sin and excessive pride are constant dangers for each of us, hovering over human affairs. As Solzhenitsyn says, “…the line between good and evil runs through every human heart...”
Consequently, we saw in others – and in ourselves – that universal “tug” toward selfishness and greed, lust and avarice, sloth and vanity, all the dodges and conceits which the Christian Ideal warns us about, which lead to major abuses of “freedom.”
There’s Always A Choice
We learned the potential to choose evil is within us. But we also learned that the power to choose goodness and virtue is within us, too. We always have a choice.
We also learned (sometimes the hard way) that the individual is simply not sufficient by her/himself.
The persistent ubiquity of our “tug” toward sin and evil is why objective, God-given standards (not subjective, personal, morally-adrift standards of today) are essential for the Common Good and for individual transcendence.
This also explained why a morally principled, rightly educated conscience (not just “feelings” or self-righteous palaver) is crucial for individuals and for our culture.
And (especially these days) this explains why Revelation, i.e., God’s loving intervention in our lives, makes complete sense, and why an educated conscience is a must, if we are to survive.
We finally understood that our “freedoms,” both sacred and secular, do have limits - divine and human limits.
We realized “freedom” must be regulated by law - divine and human law.
We saw that every “freedom” must be earned by accepting responsibility for the consequences of our actions.
We learned the first requirement for the exercise of “freedom” is self-restraint. This takes will power, determination and humility, insight and sacrifice, traits for which our culture seems ill-inclined.
A Worrisome Issue
Mention of sin and self-restraint, of sacrifice and the Common Good has disappeared from our common language. Our culture now defines “freedoms” and “rights” merely as personal feelings, as release from “oppressive” mandates, such as the Ten Commandments or the Christian virtues. As a result:
- The dignity of human persons (even babies unborn) is obliterated by countless Federal and State laws.
- Every woman now has the “right” to kill her child, unborn or being-born.
- The number of aborted persons is now into the dozens of millions annually. (One wonders: what part of the Law of Love celebrates abortion?)
- In my youth (as I say above), children were treasures, not parasites or disposable clumps of invasive tissue. Today, children are condemned by Federal, State and local governments.
- We no longer honor the traditional man-woman marriage and family, Nature’s foundation for stable communities.
- In my youth, it was unthinkable that “Mother” and “Father” would be stricken from public record by government.
- It was unimaginable that schools would preach anti-history and undermine God-given parental authority in their children’s lives.
- In my youth, a claim to be of the other sex (or any of the varieties now available) was absurd.
- Inquiries about “preferred pronouns?”
- Surgery for children seeking sex-changes?
As we jettison our culture’s values, and as we abandon the Law of Love and erase Christian influence, who (including us elders) is safe anymore?
But enough. You recognize differences between then and now.
I said at the outset that I do not wish to sound as a grumpy elder, but my memories do reveal that the truths of Nature and the role of God in our lives are deeply threatened.
Accordingly, I am drawn to the psalms of David who sought God in the midst of travail. God said, “When you call upon Me, I am with you.”
I believe God when He says, “I am with you.” I do believe Him. Evil and sin exist but, given the abundance of evidence about God’s presence in us and in His Universe, I do believe Him.
Despite our nation’s travail, I do believe. How could I not?