Absolute control by the state or a governing branch of a highly centralized institution is the basic definition of totalitarianism and, neo is a fancy way of saying ‘new’.
I mention this at the outset because the Allies fought a multi-year war against the Axis powers in WWII to overcome such horror and waged the cold war for the same reason and rail, rightly, against those governments which continue to oppress their people.
Yet here is what is truly an Alice through the looking glass experience of daily life, more and more in particular in the United States and Canada: national, state, provincial government policies which are truly totalitarian: for example in the US the Obama government imposition upon the hospitals of people of faith to insure contraceptive and abortion drugs; in Canada, one example, the Supreme Court upholding provincial legislation which denies parents the right to exempt their children from classes which impose anti-Christian teaching.
I am reminded of a word from the great Father of the Desert, Abba Anthony, who when asked by his monks what the future held said: “The day will come when the world will go mad. They will come to us and tell us WE must be mad because we are not like them.”
Western Europe, Russia, North, Central, South America in particular are rooted in what is commonly known as Christian civilization and, along with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, share a common heritage rooted in faith in the one true God, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We not only dishonour our ancestors in faith, but also the countless men and women who past and present have laid down their lives to retain our freedom from totalitarianism, when we abandon the clear command of God for our lives and society in favour of a totally disordered, evil and totalitarian assault on freedom of belief and practice.
Bl. Pope John Paul in his homily at St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai during the Jubilee 2000 reminds us that “…our faith leads us to become pilgrims in the footsteps of God.”
Where does He lead us?
“…..He is indeed the God who does set His people free as He promised….God seals His love by making the Covenant that He will never renounce….The encounter of God and Moses…enshrines at the heart of our religion the mystery of liberating obedience, which finds its fulfilment in the perfect obedience of Christ in the Incarnation and on the Cross…We too shall be truly free if we learn to obey as Jesus did.”
If we allow governments to take away our freedom we have chosen to become slaves.
It is fundamental, as Bl. John Paul teaches that: “To keep the Commandments is to be faithful to God, but it is also to be faithful to ourselves, to our true nature, to our deepest aspirations.”
There are two ways of becoming an enslaved and oppressed people: 1] an individual or government by sheer force of military might conquer and enslaves a nation; 2] silent acquiescence in the face of totalitarian legislation.
Attributed to the German Christian Pastor Niemoller: “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. They came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
They have come for the Catholics and all believers, they have come for parents: who will speak out?
Monday, March 12, 2012
So millions of people have already viewed the KONY 2012 film yet numerous are the warmongers.
Millions of our brothers and sisters suffer violence daily.
If we start in Asia, for example being aware of the suffering people of Tibet, North Korea, Burma, then move further on and become aware of people suffering in places like Central Africa, Somalia, even consider the tens of thousands of families in Mexico suffering the death or wounding of loved ones, or simply living in fear, glance at the Middle East and the continuous conflict between the people of Israel, the people of Palestine, then as horrific as the violent Kony is, the daily horror Bashar al-Assad inflicts on his people no less evil, ……well I confess it is difficult to pray for peace without interiorly being filled with a combination of rage and weariness.
When O Lord will You grant us peace?
When will hatred be banished from the face of the earth?
Most of all when will I embrace with a repentant heart, begging the grace to be converted into a man of peace, a true heart of love for every human being, understanding that here within my own heart, my own being, lie the seeds of conflict, of failure to forgive, of harsh judgment, the seeds of war?
So long as I need to have a sense of control in relationships, put any of my emotional, material, even spiritual needs ahead of those of my brothers and sisters, so long as even a hint of resentment is within me, because of a perceived slight or even a blatant aggressive, hateful act against me, then I am part of every disorder and conflict, of every war and hatred.
To be a true person of peace, to plea for an end to war, hatred, anywhere on the face of the earth I must, approaching to stand before the face of the Father in the Name of Jesus to make the plea for an end, for example to the suffering of my brothers and sisters in Syria, I must beg the Holy Spirit to purify me of everything within me that is not Christlike.
Twelve years on since the Great Jubilee I admit, perhaps not unlike most people, rarely do I return to mediate upon the critical teachings of Pope John Paul connected to the Great Jubilee.
The documents of Vatican II continue to be a template for the Church, for all of us, moving in pilgrimage across the ages.
I believe the various teachings of Pope John Paul, in particular his teachings specifically related to the Jubilee are templates for this new millennia, new century.
So I have been meditating on Bl. John Paul’s message for the World Day of Peace, 2000, of which just a few quotes:
“….To everyone I affirm peace is possible….a need deeply rooted in the heart of every man and woman…humanity, however much marred by sin, hatred and violence, is called by God to be a single family…..” [cf. Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, January 1, 2000, para. 2]
This understanding of shared humanity, personhood, making us one single family, is critical for if I understand every human being is indeed my brother and sister then whatever happens to them becomes very personal and to intervene to protect them when they suffer becomes truly urgent.
“Clearly, when a civilian population risks being overcome by attacks of an unjust aggressor and political efforts and non-violent defence prove to be of no avail, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measures to disarm the aggressor.” [cf. para. 11]
It may seem at bid at odds with a message of peace to discover this papal endorsement for such intervention!
It should be noted that later in 2000, coming from an initiative of the government of Canada, which established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty and first proposed “ responsibility to protect”, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council formally adopted this duty to our suffering brothers and sisters.
How we need to pray the UN will fulfill its duty!
Bl. John Paul teaches for each of us: “….there remains a fundamental duty for all men and women of goodwill…to commit themselves personally to the cause of peace….” [cf. para. 12]
So certain questions then pose themselves, for example: Am I truly at peace with everyone? Is there anyone I fail to love, be patient with, compassionate to? How do I love Kony, al-Assad …whomever?
Our emotions may appear to contradict our hearts.
Love is not a feeling in the first instance but a choice.
Do I choose to love?
Do I choose to be a peacemaker?
Jesus [Mark 9:29] teaches some evil spirits are not easily cast out; there must be prayer and fasting.
Lent is a good time to pray and fast for peace.
Regina Pacis come and help us!