Wednesday, November 07, 2018

LIVING IN THE NEW REALITY OF WAR - PART 2


                                           

A powerful scene from the film version of The Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers, comes to mind as a metaphor for the war we are in, a war which is simultaneously visible and invisible, the invisible aspect being the more dangerous.

In the scene referred to, with the focus on King Theodon, as his aide dresses the king with armour, and the King begins his soliloquy, scenes of the advancing enemy and of the king’s people preparing for battle, alternate with the speech in which the most heart wrenching line is: “How did it come to this?” [1]

Given the extent of anger, hatred, violence, disorder, anguish, fear, increasing loss of hope within the human family, indeed, “How did it come to this?”

It has come to this, today and throughout history, because Adam and Eve listened to the evil one. It is all there in Genesis chapters 3-4.

We are all bearers of the wounds of original sin.

This is the origin of how, universally in the human family, it has come to this.

The late Greek philosopher and theologian, Paul Evdokimov, stresses, when it comes to human freedom, a gift willed by God for us, this freedom is at its most ‘titanic’ as the ‘power of refusing God’. He also stresses that “The hand extended towards Christ never remains empty” [2]

St. John Paul II teaches us that: The analysis of sin in its original dimension indicates that, through the influence of the "father of lies," throughout the history of humanity there will be a constant pressure on man to reject God, even to the point of hating him: "Love of self to the point of contempt for God," as St. Augustine puts it. Man will be inclined to see in God primarily a limitation of himself, and not the source of his own freedom and the fullness of good. [3]

When Pierre Manet asserts that the word for this reality in which we are now living is war [4], this is certainty accurate as connected to the revealed truth the enemy of God, the hater of Christ, the father of lies, is indeed at war with us, because he and his minions lost the original war, lost their attempt to destroy Our Lady and Her Holy Child Jesus: Rev.12.

The Catechism teaches the gravest of satan’s works is the seduction leading to our disobeying God: The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and His kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him." [5]

The armour King Theodon wears for the battle is as tissue paper compared to the armour we are vested with in Baptism: Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power. Put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.  For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armour of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones….[Eph. 6: 10-18]

Another aspect of how it has come to this in our own day, within the human family, in our own lives, comes from how we choose to dialogue within our selves, the thoughts and images, the imaginings, we fill our minds with, all these setting the stage for emotions that often lead to external words and actions.

It is a salient truth that we become what we contemplate. Our primary contemplation should not be the self, nor any other human being for such contemplation inevitably leads to distorted notions of self and other. Rather the one we should contemplate is  our Divine Lord and God, the Divine Lover of whom we are the Beloved, by trusting Jesus’ word: “….the kingdom of God is within you.” [Lk.17:21]

A classic 16th century work, by Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli, titled UNSEEN WARFARE, eventually came to the attention of St. Nicodemus and St. Theophan the Recluse, who read and endorsed the work, assuring we have this important source for understanding the reality of the war we are engulfed in, and must do battle in: Self-love and high opinion of ourselves gives birth in us to yet another evil which does us grievous harm; namely, severe judgement and condemnation of our neighbours….This evil habit or vice, being born of pride, feeds and grows on pride; and in turn feeds pride and makes it grow…..[6]

To be in a church with stained glass windows, when the sunlight is pouring through those windows, is to be our selves permeated by the multi-coloured light and beauty. External darkness cannot penetrate any window if there is light within the church, home, any place.

We cannot see darkness. What we see is the absence of light.

If there is darkness within us it is because we have rejected the light of Christ within us and invited darkness, a.k.a satan, to take abode within our beings.

St. Evagrios the Solitary reminds us that: …all thoughts producing anger or desire in a way that is contrary to nature are caused by demons. [7] True enough, however these thoughts of darkness cannot penetrate us, nor displace the light within us unless we freely choose to become fixated on dark, evil, bent towards self thoughts rooted in pride and disdain for our brothers and sisters. The resulting dialogue with self becomes communication with satan, rather than conversation with the Holy Trinity. The resulting cacophony within us drowns out the voice of God, indeed it becomes ever more difficult to hear Jesus knocking at the door of our being, that He might have leave to enter and cleanse the temple of our being. If we refuse to recognize His knock at the door, refuse to welcome Him in to heal and restore us, then sooner or later, by word and deed, we will give external expression to all the arrogant hatred and violence within us.

If we ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and teach us, He will help us see that we are, each of us, members of the one human family. Diverse of colour, language, religion.

It is the heart that helps us discover the common humanity that links us all…The free heart frees others. [8] Such a heart is offered to us by Jesus: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. [Mt. 11:29] It is our baptismal vocation to be burden bearers for one another: Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. [Gl. 6:2] …..we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. [Rm. 12:5]

The weight of the current reality-war, of so much anger, loss of faith, disruption, immorality, causing such pain within the human family, should not discourage us, not cause a loss of hope, for we are baptised into, live within Christ’s victory in His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Let us recall that the way of human maturation is the course of love itself, which goes from receiving care to the capacity of offering care, from receiving life to the capacity of giving life.  To become adult men and women means to be able to live the spousal and parental attitude, which manifests itself in the various situations of life, such as the capacity to take on oneself the burden of another and to love him without ambiguity. Therefore, it’s a global attitude of the person that is able to assume the reality and is able to enter into a profound relationship with others. Who, then, is the adulterer, the lustful, the unfaithful one? It is an immature person, who has his life for himself and interprets situations on the basis of his own wellbeing and his own contentment. [Pope Francis Oct.31.18]

Two images of the power of one person, fictional admittedly, yet symbolic, and one person in ‘real life’, as the saying goes, stand as example of what we, in union with Christ, can accomplish: The first is Gandalf, standing on the stone bridge, confronting the creature from the deep, and declaring: “You shall not pass!” [9]  In his song-poem, Democracy, Leonard Cohen starts with: It’s coming through a hole in the air  From those nights in Tiananmen Square [10]…an event perhaps not remembered by many, but vivid still for those of us old enough to have watched it unfold, one man, standing in front of a column of tanks, no weapon other than his personhood, his whole being saying “You shall not pass.” [11]

 © 2018~Fr. Arthur Joseph

[1] Lord of the Rings the Two Towers film ~ 2002

[2] cf., The Struggle With God, Paul Evdokimov, Paulist Press, 1966

[3] DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM, On The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World; Part II – The Spirit Who Convinces the World Concerning Sin; 3. The Witness Concerning the Beginning: the Original Reality of Sin, 38.2; St. John Paul, 1986, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1996

[4] op. cit. Beyond Radical Secularism, Pierre Manet, St. Augustine’s Press, 2016


[6] cf. Unseen Warfare, p.197, St. Valdimir’s Seminary Press, 2000

[7] cf. The Philokalia, p. 19, Faber and Faber edition, 1979

[8] Becoming Human, p. 86; Jean Vanier, House of Anansi Press, 2008

[9] Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings, 2001

[10] Democracy, Leonard Cohen, 2011





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

LIVING IN THE NEW REALITY OF WAR: PART 1


                                                                                                                    



As I begin this, thousands of Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorians, Mexicans are continuing their long trek to the US. The public claim is flight from violence, unemployment, poverty. True as those reasons maybe it is highly unlikely this is a truly spontaneous event.  There is manipulation of these people in the shadows. This and other harsh realities call for deep and prayerful concern for the present situation and future of the human family.

I write the essay which follows, because of what is so widespread within the human family: anger, discrimination, individual-mob-state violence. Anxiety and despair dominate, and of all religions Christianity, more than any other, is under constant assault: in democratic countries by government and media, in others, persecution by blood. As I did the final edit, this has proven to be much, much longer than anticipated so is divided into sections. Also, though not my custom, while I research before writing, this time, given the urgency of the topic, I am including references to quotations and recommended book resources I have used as research.

More than anything else flowing, from this is: my urgent plea we reflect, ask the grace needed, so that in our suffering, no matter the cost, we become authentic witnesses to Christ and with Him become ever more compassionate. Should we fail to do so we shall all find ourselves overtaken by a global, human, catastrophe beyond imaging.

Mass illegal migration is the hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the countries of western Europe and North America. The established populations of these countries are understandably overwhelmed, and seeing the free housing, food, medical care offered these illegal newcomers, feel ever more the weight of their own strained resources to care for their families.

Left leaning politicians, intellectuals, tv pundits, - the elites - compound the stress by poorly articulated reasons why the newcomers should be so generously accommodated. At the same time these elites, who tend to be high income earners and thus virtually immune to the stresses on ordinary people, assert those who object to this lavishness to the illegals as hardhearted rightist populists, less then true citizens/Christians, translation: less human. This extreme rhetoric only adds to the mounting confusion, righteous fury, of ordinary people.

There are many causes of this global spread of anger, violence, anxiety, despair within the human family: ever higher taxes, yet infrastructures continue to crumble, affordable housing is lacking, gang violence is out of control, border security is virtually non-existent, add on the ever increasing cost of food, fuel, housing, medical care, schooling, the dearth of stable employment, the war against faith and family, by the elites and we see anger, frustration, despair weighing ever more heavily on ordinary citizens.

The tone deafness by mostly leftist elites is a major factor in the rise of so-called populism throughout the world.

If, as priests and bishops, we are to encourage people, in the midst of the extreme stress of life today, to live out the Gospel, in particular Christ’s call to active-compassionate-love, [cf. Mt. 25:31-46] then we need to live out this from the Second Vatican Council:  Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Saviour and sent Him to evangelize the poor, priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them. [1]

Within all the dissension in contemporary social and political life, there is one ray of hope: the rise of moderate populism [2] which engages people to bring back right order into the life of our countries.

Again it must be stated that it is the tone deafness of elites to the real concerns of real people about all that is happening in the world today which intensifies the anxiety and discouragement, the anger, so as a human family we no longer see, speak, hear, reflect, make choices based upon people, that is upon every human being, for we all are children of God, brothers and sisters, one family created in His image and likeness.

Increasingly our seeing, speaking, hearing has become a reflexive response that sets the mind, the emotions, on autopilot hence: all immigrants are potential terrorists or violent criminals, all politicians are only concerned about themselves, all elites utterly disdain the rest of us and seek to impose their agenda on us.

More important than any writing, my primary priestly mandate, a mandate also for every baptized person, is to pray for every human being on earth, irrespective of their race, religion, or no religion, social status, regardless be they friend or enemy. A mandate given by Jesus: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. [Mt.5:43-45]

As Our Lady tells us at Fatima, applicable still in our day: "I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day. Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people. "

All freedom comes from God, for He Himself breathes life into us and endows us with free will.

Exercise of freedom means mature, intelligent reflection upon the options, and a clear understanding of the consequences, and potentially unintended consequences, of the choices we make. This obligation of mature responsibility in the exercise of freedom is incumbent upon leaders in the realms of society, politics, religion, media, economics, the arts, medicine, science etc., as well.

We must believe, trust, live out the truth as Jesus tells us: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” [Mt.5:13-16] It is the call to preach the Gospel with our lives without compromise.

Pierre Manet notes something applicable not just to the situation in France, but to all the situations around the world causing ordinary people to be so angry, frightened, despairing: The word that fits the new reality is war. A war against us has been declared and is happening. [3]

There is a well of anger people keep going to, drawing out buckets of hatred, frustration, discouragement and all the social divisions and chaos that flow therefrom. This is of immense danger, global war danger, for the entire human family.

As Jean Vanier expresses it: Among humankind, the family represents that basic social unit. However, everywhere we look, the basic place of belonging is breaking down……everywhere more and more people are frightened of commitment. And why is this happening? I believe it is because out Western societies have placed the power, rights, and needs of the individual above those of the group. [4]

Only a radical, rooted in Jesus Christ metanoia, that is conversion of our own hearts, as individuals, societies, religions, will open for us the door of hope, allowing us to see hope is not a thing desired, but a person encountered who, Himself, is our hope, because He alone is the way we seek, the truth we need, the love, the life we hunger for. Opening the door is not that difficult since we already know He is here: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me.” [Rev.3:20 & Lk. 24:13-35]



© 2018 Fr. Arthur Joseph

[1] cf. DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS, Ch. 111, sec. 2, para 17

[2] cf. Stephan J. Harper: Right Here Right Now, Politics and Leadership In The Age of Disruption

[3] cf. Beyond Radical Secularism: p.33- Pierre Manet

[4] Becoming Human: p.50- Jean Vanier






Monday, September 24, 2018

EROSION OF THE PRINCIPLE: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY


                                

These days the statement should be expanded to: proven in a court of law and not in mainline or social media, or screaming mobs in the streets, as we all witness the tsunami of accusations against public persons in media, business, religion, education, policing, the entertainment industry.

Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is rooted in the Roman maxim: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”).

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Canadian Charter of Rights, 11[d]: (d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. [In Canada this means the onus is on the Crown [prosecution in the US] to prove the case.]

What we are witnessing increasingly over the past several years, mostly when it comes to accusations of crimes of sexual or physical abuse of women and children, is conviction in the various forms of media, accusers NOT going first to the police for an investigation and laying of charges, but to the media of one sort or another, and triggering a mob-like reaction among the public, who assert absolute belief in the accuser’s version and proceed to destroy the reputation of the accused, without a shred or irrefutable proof that would stand scrutiny in a court of law being offered.

It seems to be becoming de rigour to convict and destroy by media.

This is not justice. This is unadulterated vengeance. Lives are destroyed.

Yes, some of the accused may be guilty.

Not all are.

In the use of traditional and social media by accusers, rather than going through the judicial process first, this enables other people with their own agendas to flip things and become a mob, using in their turn the same medias, going after the accuser.

In the end, because due process was not followed, the lives of both accused and accuser are left in shambles, no matter the eventual judicial outcome.

The justice system is thus seriously weakened, and the day will come when the tide will turn, and the ugliness of real victims not being believed will happen again because the ever fickle media, and the fickleness of people in general, will move onto some other cause.

This current climate of accusation and conviction by media is evil.

No Christian, unless abandoning the Gospel of Mercy and Truth, can be a participant in such egregious breech of the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence unless guilt is proven in a court of law.

© 2018 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Friday, August 17, 2018

THE URGENT NEED FOR A THIRD VATICAN COUNCIL

                                 
The Second Vatican Council, called by St. Jean xxii as a pastoral council of renewal has had, in the decades since, enormous unintended consequences: in liturgical life, the poverty of new church designs, the abandonment by many religious orders of the charism of their founders/foundresses, religious habits, common life, lack of vocations, aging of their members.
Yet the newer orders are vibrant, adhere to common life, religious habit and have lots of vocations.
The decimation of thousands of parishes and many dioceses, primarily because of the seemingly unending scandal of priestly sins of abuse against the innocent, is exacerbated by people leaving in droves because they are not being fed from the pulpit as they hunger for.
St. John Paul ii, tried to call religious back to wearing their habits, being faithful to the original charism of their founders and was, in one egregious example, for doing so, publicly chastised by a nun, in front of television cameras, while on a pastoral visit to the United States.
Around the streets of the city in which I live Muslim men in traditional garb and the long dress veiled women are visible.
Priests, religious men and women are not visible because the women, wearing make-up and jewelry, the priests wearing business suits or casual attire are indistinguishable from the secular world.
So-called Catholic schools in many countries have been secularized and the teachers ignore the wishes of the parents, in violation of the Charter of Rights of the Family and ignore the bishops and priests as well.
The Third Vatican Council should hold sessions on each of the above and other issues or in the famous phrase of Pope Francis asserting the Church should be a field hospital soon there will be no one to staff it and, like as not, the field hospital itself will look like any tent put in place by the UN or the Red Cross.
If we love the Church, if we love humanity, if we want the Church to be visible, we should become active participants in a renewal of the Church, a restoration of holiness, starting in our own lives, families, parishes, dioceses, religious orders.
That is the first and necessary step towards restoration/renewal of the holiness of the Church and truly building the field hospital the human family desperately needs.
We will only take the journey, restore a holy and visible Church, if we constantly ask the Holy Trinity for the needed grace and Mary, Mother of the Church, to take us by the hand and lead us.
© 2018 Fr. Arthur Joseph



Thursday, July 19, 2018

DO YOU HEAR?


                                                               



The rights of the person, even though they are expressed as rights of the individual, have a fundamental social dimension which finds an innate and vital expression in the family….[ From the Preamble of the Charter of Rights of the Family: promulgated by the Holy See, October 22, 1983]

The Soviets did it, the Nazis did it, the Maoists did it, now the left leaning governments do it.

The it?

Overriding the rights of the family by usurping the inalienable rights of parents when it comes to the education of their children: Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. [op. cit. # 5]

In arrogant denial of the reality happening in various countries at the national or provincial/state level, through the election of right or centre right governments, the leftist parties/press/pundits etc. have been in a petulant, at times viciously angry, frankly whiney-infantile stance ever since things started to shift, most dramatically with the presidential election in the United States.

The left is all for ‘the people’ so long as ‘the people’ go along with the left’s social engineering and remain silently complacent.

Dare ‘the people’, the ‘basket of deplorables and irredeemables’ as Hilary Clinton named them, while Obama called them ‘clingers’, whereas in truth they are, those not listened to men and women, the backbone of democracy, hard working families, people who only seek to be heard, yet dare they speak, the left pounces, demeaning the very people they claim to be for.

This is the great lie of the left, that they listen to and care for ordinary citizens: the left is not for ordinary people, it is for their own leftist determination of how the people should transform themselves into automatons of extreme socialist notions of human life on earth.

Recently, in Canada, byelections have had the electorate at the federal and provincial level resoundingly boot the left out. In the province of Ontario kick them all out all together, and elect a conservative majority government who recently culled the left’s sex education program, which, without parental consent taught children, starting in kindergarten, about sexual orientation, transgender options, copulation and more.

The left and the teacher’s unions across Canada are apoplectic because they know better than parents which age is most appropriate for all that to be foisted on underdeveloped brains and emotions. Really?

Furthermore, as the left stresses: clearly parents who objected to that program are……well name your phobia because they listed them all.

The oppressive regimes listed above knew, as does the radical left know, if you want to reengineer society you need control of the children, at the tenderest age possible, so you can implant in them the mindset you want.

The arrogance of the left is such that even when the people, the voters, elect a majority government the left froths at the mouth that the new government does not have the consent of the people!

Most human beings, of any faith or nor faith at all, are not on the extreme left or right of religion or politics.

Most could best be described as centre left or centre right, simply wanting to practice their faith, raise their family, be neighbourly to everyone.

Victor Hugo’s book, Les Misérables –  about the struggle of the ‘deplorables, irredeemables, clingers’ of his day – shown powerfully in the films and musical derived from his masterwork, is, for the left, this telling of ground down, oppressed people interpreted not as the voice of the people in any objective sense, but as only the people rejecting the oppression of the right and thus clamouring for the agenda of the left.

In truth, if studied carefully, the teaching is clear: let any oppressor grind down people by any means, economic, social engineering, political extremism, etc., and the people, one way or another, hopefully only by the ballot box and not violence, will rebel.

….the family, a natural society, exists prior to the State or any other community, and possesses inherent rights which are inalienable;….. Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them….Every family has the right to live freely its own domestic religious life under the guidance of the parents, as well as the right to profess publicly and to propagate the faith, to take part in public worship and in freely chosen programs of religious instruction, without suffering discrimination…..The family has the right to exercise its social and political function in the construction of society……Families have the right to form associations with other families and institutions, in order to fulfill the family's role suitably and effectively, as well as to protect the rights, foster the good and represent the interests of the family. On the economic, social, juridical and cultural levels, the rightful role of families and family associations must be recognized in the planning and development of programs which touch on family life. [op.cit.: preamble D; article 5 C; article 7; article 8].

The current national and international profound wounds and divisions, the growing angers and resentments within nations and among nations is at a point of spinning out of control in ways which have the potential to become too horrific to imagine.

The Catholic Church in Canada and the US continues to hemorrhage its people to the Evangelicals because our bishops and priests, many of them left-leaning themselves, are apparently tone deaf as well.

Unless, like St. John Paul who gifted us with the Charter of Rights of the Family, and like Pope Francis, bishops and priests become courageous and steadfastly, boldly, yes even to martyrdom within the culture of death, make defense of, support of the family, our primary evangelization and pastoral care service, then, by the end of this 21st century, the Church in Western Europe and North America will be a very, very tiny reality indeed, no longer having the capacity to be a field hospital, it may well be only a tiny wayfarer’s tent.

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men? It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again…..[ Do Hear The People Sing? From the Les Misérables musical]






© 2018-Fr. Arthur Joseph






Tuesday, June 19, 2018

THE CAGED CHILDREN WAIL


                                                    
Unlike in the aftermath of the Second World War when the displaced peoples of Europe where cared for by the victorious Allies through various programs, such as the Marshal plan and programs by NGOs, which helped people either re-establish themselves in the home country, return to their country of origin, or be accepted as new citizens in Allied Nations, we have these past many, many years failed to efficiently, compassionately address the millions of displaced people, displaced by oppressive violence, civil wars, famine, lack of work with which to earn a living and thereby raise a family.


Mostly from African and Middle Eastern countries, Europe is inundated; mostly from Central America, but increasingly from South America as well as the Caribbean, the United States is facing a tsunami of people, desperate, frightened people, not unlike Europe; Canada, triggered by a frankly ill-conceived statement by the Prime Minister, is experiencing – like the US and Europe but so far on a dramatically smaller scale – a river of the desperate illegally crossing the border.

This global influx of desperate people – men, women, children, has no disciplined order to it, thus the thousands who drown in the Mediterranean, the women and children trafficked by the evil men who sell vulnerable human beings, the small but no less dangerous numbers of criminals and terrorists who mingle with the desperate and then disappear within our countries, not to surface until they rob, rape, do an act of terror – is unending.

Even the most charitable of citizens in the countries inundated by this flood of desperate people are feeling the strain and demanding governments get some control over things, while on the one extreme the disingenuous liberal mindset wants a world without borders – which will be a world without any rule of law or common sense – and on the other extreme the rightist mindset wants everyone deemed not to be like us, sent packing.

President Trump, both in a tweet and a recent speech is adamant he does not want his country “infected” by illegal immigrants.

This reveals a not uncommon attitude which fails to see frightened, desperate, of perhaps a skin colour, language, religion not like us, as human beings, as children of God, just as we are.

Do not oppress and act ungodly toward the resident alien, the orphan or the widow. [Jer. 22:3] Do not rob the poor because they are poor, nor crush the needy at the gate…[Prv.22;22] Father of the fatherless, defender of widows—God in his holy abode, God gives a home to the forsaken…[Ps.68:6,7] The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal; Nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds…[Sir.35:21]

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” [Mt.25:34ff]

It is from the above words of God we must, as Christians, using the power of love’s creative, compassionate imagination, work individually, as communities, as voice for the voiceless to push the body politic and world leaders to seriously address, at their source, the wars, unemployment, famine, epidemics, violent oppression of people which forces thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters to risk everything to flee to countries they deem safe, welcoming.

We cannot ignore the thousands of bodies floating in the Mediterranean, be deaf to the wailing of the more than 2,000 children being held in cages, separated from their parents who are caged elsewhere in the United States – protecting our borders, seeking to prevent illegal immigration should not be at the cost of traumatizing little children.

When the AIDS epidemic seemed unstoppable scientists around the world worked tirelessly to find Patient Zero, in a word where did it start; when Ebola was ravaging African nations, the same thing was done: find the source and work backward from the source to find a cure.

We need to follow the trail of bodies from our borders back to where this massive movement of populations unfolds, find the triggers, address the triggers – for like after WWII when the clear majority of those displaced by the war just wanted to return to their homeland, so would most of the current displaced peoples return to their homeland if the causes of their leaving could be addressed and eliminated.

In his 2017 Christmas homily Pope Francis teaches us: …..Mary and Joseph found themselves forced to set out. They had to leave their people, their home and their land, and to undertake a journey in order to be registered in the census. This was no comfortable or easy journey for a young couple about to have a child: they had to leave their land. At heart, they were full of hope and expectation because of the child about to be born; yet their steps were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their home behind……So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.

Towards the end of the film The Day After Tomorrow, after in the film the entire northern hemisphere has been plunged into a new ice age and the survivors, who have lost everything except their lives, flee south: the character of the President says: “The fact that my first address to you comes from a consulate on foreign soil…is a testament to our changed reality. Not only Americans…but people all around the globe are now guests in the nations…we once called the Third World. In our time of need, they have taken us in and sheltered us.”

If we keep rejecting our brothers and sisters today, fleeing towards the north, how shall we be received should the day come when we must flee south?

Monday, June 11, 2018

MOST ALONE TIME


                                                          

Last week the media repeatedly re-told the stories of two recent suicides by celebrities, mostly stating that “she died, he died”, when the tragic fact is she killed herself, he killed himself.

The moment immediately prior to the act itself must be the most alone time for any human being. It is the moment when the mind is filled with poisoned thinking and lies, the emotions are in profound darkness and hopelessness, and in that aloneness the yearning to be freed from the pain disables rational thought and the weakened will chooses to stop the pain, without the person having any prior experience of the finality of their action, for death is a one of.

Once the act is done it is final.

Time we avoid the almost banal word: suicide and name it truthfully: self-murder.

There was a time, before the development of modern psychiatry, when it was assumed self-murder was a purely free-will act.

The openness of the Church to what can be learned over the ages from greater understanding of human emotions, impact of trauma upon a person’s ability to endure physical and emotional pain, put an end to the erroneous understanding of self-murder always being a purely free-will act.

That said in our day the issue has become complicated by, in Canada for example, the legalization of doctor assisted self-murder.

Truly we are deep in the cold darkness of the culture of death.

Often there is intense social pressure, lack of a vibrant social life, in the lives of individuals who act alone to self-murder, while often familial pressure, upon the infirm and the elderly forces them to chose assisted self-murder.

The Church teaches: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honour and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of……[Catechism of the Catholic Church #2280]

At the same time the Church takes compassionate note of the fact that: Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. the Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. [see op. cit. paras: 2282,83]

St. John Paul II reminds us: To concur with the intention of another person to commit suicide and to help in carrying it out through so-called "assisted suicide" means to cooperate in, and at times to be the actual perpetrator of, an injustice which can never be excused, even if it is requested. In a remarkably relevant passage Saint Augustine writes that "it is never licit to kill another: even if he should wish it, indeed if he requests it because, hanging between life and death, he begs for help in freeing the soul struggling against the bonds of the body and longing to be released; nor is it licit even when a sick person is no longer able to live". …. euthanasia must be called a false mercy, and indeed a disturbing "perversion" of mercy. True "compassion" leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear. [cf. The Gospel of Life, Ch. III, para. 66]

No government can morally legislate any laws which contravene Divine Law, therefore such laws require Christians, indeed everyone who acknowledges or at least knows of Divine Law, to disobey such ersatz laws.

When it comes to human beings, as acting persons we have free will.

 Killing ourselves is the ultimate abuse of the freedom gifted to us.

 If the decision has already been made it is well nigh impossible to prevent because such of our brothers and sisters who have made the decision tend to be extremely capable of keeping their choice hidden until family and friends are left with the profound pain of not having prevented death.

The violation of charity which is constitutive of self-murder is made visible in the survivors, family and friends, blaming themselves for something NOT their fault.

The command of Jesus to love one another as we love ourselves should compel us to act if we notice someone we love, family, co-worker, neighbour, suddenly, for example, giving away personal treasured items, speaking ways not part of their normal discourse, revealing they are depressed, overly anxious, lacking hope, posting hints on social media.

Our loving, compassionate action may well prevent another tragedy.

Charity is the total self-gift to other remembering: “If I give a little, it costs a lot. Give a lot, it costs a little. Give everything, it costs nothing at all.” {word of Melkite Archbishop Joseph Raya [1916-2005]}

A major contributing factor to self-murder, or assisted self-murder, is as a society we have forgotten the difference between pain and suffering.

So much so that in 1984, seeking to remind us of the difference, St. John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter: Salvifici Doloris [On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering]: …..interior maturity and spiritual greatness in suffering are certainly the result of a particular conversion and cooperation with the grace of the Crucified Redeemer. It is he himself who acts at the heart of human sufferings through his Spirit of truth, through the consoling Spirit. It is he who transforms, in a certain sense, the very substance of the spiritual life, indicating for the person who suffers a place close to himself. …… Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation. By his suffering on the Cross, Christ reached the very roots of evil, of sin and death…… ….slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within. And Christ through his own salvific suffering is very much present in every human suffering and can act from within that suffering by the powers of his Spirit of truth, his consoling Spirit. [op. cit. Ch. VI, para: 26]

Pain is treatable, both physical and emotional pain, while the suffering aspect of pain is a gift to embraced, in and with Christ.

Let us not however forget that it is an act of authentic self-love to avail ourselves of any moral means to ease pain.

People who self-murder do not opt per se for death as much as they opt for an end to the pain.

…..although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. [2 Cor. 4:16-18]

Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who are in the most alone moment that they will hear Jesus knocking at the door of their being [cf.Rev.3:20], open to Him, allow Him to fill them with His light and love.