There is first the cry, the admission: “There is an inertia in our nature that makes us dull; and in our attempt to penetrate Your truth we are held within the bounds of ignorance by the weakness of our minds.” Then the assertion of trust in grace: “Yet we do comprehend divine ideas by earnest attention to Your teaching and by obedience to the faith which carries us beyond mere human apprehension.”
Those words are from St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.
Praying for and seeking, some capacity to grasp, not the horrible evil event which took lives, wounded others, last Saturday in Tucson, but rather to try and comprehend the stream of disconnect from the US President in his remarks at the memorial service, to the various pundits and others who have been flooding the airways with their musings, here are some of my own!
For days I have hesitated to add my own voice, until I meditated on those words from St. Hilary, part of today’s Divine Office.
My intent in what follows is not to assign blame, argue about political discourse, the issue of guns or the lack of mental health services, rather it is to pose some broad questions about the disconnect between what is presented as the ideal of contemporary culture, faith attitudes, and the stark reality which confronts us but has become the third rail of common discourse in these days of rights trumping responsibility, political correctness trumping respectful, but clear, truth-speaking.
So I pose a few questions first.
More than one news outlet reported with some awe that the assassinated judge went to “daily” Mass – what has happened to lived Catholic faith that such praxis has become remarkable?
The President spent a significant end portion of his remarks lauding the nine year old child who also was assassinated, and mourning - yet where is the national angst in face of the millions of aborted children, abused children, children living in extreme poverty?
The national reaction to this particular horror causes me to wonder, why are we not so horrified by the tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters being murdered in Mexico, our sisters being raped, daily, in the camps in Haiti, Darfur?
We seem to cherry pick which horror horrifies us, as if we have lost both the capacity and the willingness to see, relate to, embrace every human being from the child in the womb to the persons we live, work, pray with, to the people of another race, religion, as truly one like myself, of the same flesh and blood, created by the loving God as I am in His image and likeness.
The definitive us of the word ‘we’ in times such as these when a whole nation is in shock and mourning, in reality, is a parsed word: do ‘I’ truly live and breathe ‘we’, that is ‘us’, or does ‘we’ only apply when ‘I’ feel vulnerable?
In the book: The Light of the World, Pope Benedict teaches: “You see, man strives for eternal joy; he would like pleasure in the extreme, would like what is eternal.”
Is not part of the global reaction to this most recent horror a shock response, that is, we are confronted by the stark reality that, as the Pope teaches: “…when there is no God, it is not granted to him, and it cannot be. Then he himself must now create something that is fictitious, a false eternity.”
What could be more fictitious than that we mere humans can declare to be true that male and female, as created by God, are mere suggestions and that ‘sexuality’ is a matter of personal choice or that we mere humans are the definers of who shall be born, who shall not?
The Holy Father continues: “This is a sign of the times that should be an urgent challenge to us, especially as Christians. We have to show – and live accordingly – that the eternity man needs can only come from God. That God is the first thing in order to be able to withstand the afflictions of this time. That we must mobilize, so to speak, all the powers of the soul and of the good so that a genuine coin can stand up against a false coin – and in this way the cycle of evil can be broken and stopped.”
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