Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Culture of Death and Newtown

In Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the Gospel of Life, (Latin “Evangelium Vitae”) he states:

“Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale…

“Unfortunately, this disturbing state of affairs, far from decreasing, is expanding: with the new prospects opened up by scientific and technological progress there arise new forms of attacks on the dignity of the human being…

“All this is causing a profound change in the way in which life and relationships between people are considered. The fact that legislation in many countries, perhaps even departing from basic principles of their Constitutions, has determined not to punish these practices against life, and even to make them altogether legal, is both a disturbing symptom and a significant cause of grave moral decline.” (Evangelium Vitae, henceforth EV)

Anyone who cannot see that there is a profound relationship between a culture that is ‘pro-choice’ and one where mass shootings become more and more common is clearly blind to an important reality: human beings live an integral life, where all aspects affect the others. A culture of death in one area will lead to a culture of death in others. No one is saying that one who votes pro-choice is thereby a prime candidate to become a murderer of those who are born, and this article should not be misunderstood as such. Nevertheless, a culture forms its individuals. The very term ‘morals’ is related to customs. As the Online Etymology Dictionary states, morals come ‘from L. moralis “proper behavior of a person in society,” lit. “pertaining to manners,” coined by Cicero (“De Fato,” II.i) to translate Gk. ethikos (see ethics) from L. mos (gen. moris) “one’s disposition,” in plural, “mores, customs, manners, morals.”

A view against life in the general culture can only aid a view against life in those who would have more extreme tendencies.

The president says that last Friday was his hardest day yet in office. ‘But Friday’s shooting, which left 20 children and eight adults dead, appears to have spurred some soul-searching by Obama, who told Connecticut’s governor that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.’

From the Associated Press:”Obama said Sunday that he had been reflecting on whether the country was doing enough to give its children ‘the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose.”And if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough, and we will have to change,” Obama said.”
Is that how you feel, Mr. President? Are you, then, really prepared to change your anti-life, pro-death policies after having pushed them for so long? Or are you God and get to define who qualifies as a child who should have ‘the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?’
The pope, in the same encyclical, has some (what should be common sense) advice for you to finally understand: “The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.” (EV)
Certainly Adam Lanza is a special (although, sadly, not rare enough) case of extreme evil, but the prevailing mentality of selfish and anti-life positions in this country form the foundation for this very type of thing to become “routine”, as you, Obama, complain: ‘”We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?’No, Mr. President, we are not completely powerless. We can move again towards a just society. It will be one that honors the right to life for all, and it will have a great effect on those who grow up in it, honoring life, and making events like last week’s much more rare. We need a culture of life, and it will have a far reaching effect.
Being as we are so close to Christmas, how can we not here reflect on the event that brings that great dignity to every person; the Incarnation of God? In fact, the beginning of the same encyclical of John Paul II practically begins such:
“At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Saviour; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).” (EV)
May the Christmas season bring us great joy, knowing that God became one of us. No greater dignity could be given to man than that God become one Himself. And as we wait for the Savior to be born, may we recall that John the Baptist leaped in the womb at the approach of Mary, who in her whom already had God Incarnate, even though yet to be born.

Building Catholic Character

The posts in this section offer some reflection on the course at Holy Apostles College and Seminary called Building Catholic Character.

1. Course Description

This course is an analysis of character: how it is constituted, developed, preserved and perpetuated. What are the hallmarks of the good human being, and how can integrity and virtues (as in 2 Pt. 1:3-9) be taught and learned? The course will examine the cardinal virtues and their integration into character development; explore possible remedies advanced by “character education” and approach the relationship of the virtues with an authentic Catholic character formation from both speculative and practical perspectives. Through Scriptural readings, lectures and other literature, the course will reflect upon particular examples as they occur in various cases in the Old and New Testament, culminating in the perfect human character demonstrated in the Life of Christ.

2. Envisioned Learning Objectives

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the meaning of character, and how it relates to habit, human effort, and grace.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of why the speculative aspect of the virtues is important for their practical development in our own lives.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the four cardinal virtues and their interrelationship
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the examples of the virtuous life in the Scriptures, especially as shown forth in the life of Christ.