Sunday, October 27, 2013
We continue in prayer & reflection on respect for life in our death obsessed culture. Let us look at the causes. Needless to say there are many root causes but perhaps the greatest of these is the home. The domestic situation is both the cause and the cure.
If we look into our homes with domestic violence we will find a root cause. Abortions, murder, suicide, and euthanasia are all residents in our domestic violent setting. Domestic violence is not an exception but a norm in our society. In our state of New Mexico, our numbers are some of the highest in the nation. Child protection services, mandate reporting, and other such safeguards are no longer the exceptions.
Think of all the TV movies that teach disrespect. Children and teens are taught that adults are dumb. The plot line is often laughing at them. Belittling others is one of the first lessons in disrespect. And we call this entertainment.
Anger is a common condition of being human. Jesus was angry in the temple. He was furious with the scribes and Pharisees. Anger is a feeling. It becomes a sin when we are entitled to blow off at any one over anything that offends our ego. Anger not managed - manages us. When anger reigns, disrespect is the invited guest.
Think of all the novellas you have seen where the melt down scenes are the norm. Think of those you avoid in family or at work because of their anger being unleashed. Perhaps another way of saying all this is: if you are respectful, you are weird. If you are happy and responsible for your actions, you are weird. If you speak up for life and respect of life, you are naïve and out of touch. We have all witnessed the public displays of disrespect: hateful, unfiltered language coming out against a loved one. Disrespect is all too common and visible.
The home is the domestic church. Wedding vows are about starting a home with Jesus Christ as the head of the house. When this foundation is returned to, the home becomes the school of virtue. Respect is not just talked about but experienced in the home such as this. There is both a protection and nurturance of life.
All of us are instructors of respect in a world of disrespectful people. We must not lose heart but endure to the end. Our respect for life does not change because we are in a minority. Life needs to be upheld all the more in the tougher times. All respect is local. All respect begins at home.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
We continue in this month of October our reflection on respect for life. October is also the month of the rosary. The rosary and life respect go together very well.
In 2002, Blessed John Paul II added the LUMINOUS Mysteries to the existing 15 decades of the rosary. These mysteries call us to pray and reflect on very specific dimensions of life. These areas would be the sacraments themselves.
The first luminous mystery is Baptism of the Lord. What a call to the life of the sacred. He who did not need baptism called all us to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. If indeed we are in a culture of death: what a wonderful way to affirm life! Our baptisms are a respect for life.
The wedding feast at Cana is the second luminous mystery. In our Hollywood culture of glamour, our weddings can become parties, glitz, and just plain show-time. True holy weddings are about being called by God to a vocation. True holy weddings are about family life in God’s plans. Respect for life has to be the first part of matrimony.
The third mystery is the proclamation of the kingdom. How do we evangelize? How do we speak truth in a culture of lies? It is as tough today as it was in the time of Jesus. Disrespect for life is not a new theme in our time. In our daily lives we must defend life at every turn.
Mystery four is the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. Here he dialogues with those heroes who have already died and are nowhere to be buried. Moses and Elijah are dead and now Jesus speaks to them. Respecting life is also respecting death and the dead. These mysteries are truly into the daily reality of life.
The fifth and final mystery is the Eucharist. What can call us more to respect life than this sacrament? The documents of the Second Vatican Council and all the popes following it stated that Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives. What is life giving to us? What is life sustaining? What gets us through the darkest moments? The word “Eucharist” in Greek means thank you. To be of life means that we do not presume life but are grateful for it.
In our respect for life these mysteries are luminous. The light goes on when in the darkness of disrespect and irreverence for life we carry the light of life entrusted to us in baptism; carrying it until we go out and meet all the saints.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Continuing in our reflections for life, we can see disrespect all around us. Disrespect is the norm in our society, not the exception. One of the great blessings of having a month of prayer focused on respect for life brings us to recognize true holiness. We will come to the origins of how we are formed and made. We did not make ourselves.
In classic philosophy of the Dominican, St Thomas Aquinas, he said that grace was built on nature. He spoke about the natural order moving into the divine order. Often these are seen as separate from each other. They are one—just as Jesus is true God and true man. The divine and the natural are interconnected. God has married the human family.
We are taught respect as children. Children are taught manners. Manners are the foundation of respect. This is the natural order becoming a foundation for the supernatural. Having the social skills from the early years on, we are formed with the behavior of respect even if it is not respect that is from the heart or even from any values. Have you noticed that manners and social skills have faded from the cultural landscape? Language and behavior that is saturated in “thank you,” “please,” and “I am sorry” will be a great foundation in creating respect in our world. We are most comfortable with disrespect in our homes, workplace and dare we say, even the political world.
We often subscribe to the thinking that people need to earn our respect. That may be the reason why we are where we are. If respect has to be earned, how can it happen within the voicelessness of the womb? How does it happen with the chronically ill? How does it happen with those who have no respect for themselves? How does it happen with the least among us? We must cause respect and model respect. We must make respect a non-negotiable of our daily lives. People must not have to earn our respect. Rather, our currency of life is spending time affirming, respecting, and valuing life. We must respect those who do not know how to respect themselves.
Beyond human life, how does nature earn our respect? Respect is about relationships: everything of the Creator’s work is worthy of respect. Nature can take decades and centuries to speak, but respect is still needed. Blessed John Paul II declared St Francis of Assisi the patron of the environment. The youth were asked to see in Francis the harmony of nature. Respecting our world is not an option but a necessity.
Respecting life can be overwhelming when we witness so much destruction, irreverence, bullying, abuse, and disregard. The call remains. This month of October calls us to our roots of respect in our stewardship. We are the caretakers of this world and all its peoples. We have a divine mandate that causes us to be responsible. We will be the happiest with ourselves when we cause and maintain respect in every part of our lives.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
For some decades now our USA bishops have asked us to bring both our awareness and prayer to the intention of the month of October: Respect for Life. The late Blessed John Paul II said often in his many visits to our country that we live in a culture of death. Mother Teresa (now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) referred to the USA as the poorest nation on earth because of the way we disregard life.
Just take a moment to think about their comments. We supposedly solve problems with death solutions. Abortion is our solution for an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy. We use euthanasia on the elderly and seriously ill. We use Capital punishment on criminals thinking that will solve our crime problems. War seems to be the way to negotiate with our enemies. Both murder and suicide are common in our culture: more common than we think. Remember, also, that divorce is a death of a marriage. Even of our entertainment is a death rehearsal with violence on television and games of destruction that amuse us.
Let us not forget the disrespect for life that comes with domestic violence, better called domestic warfare. The rate of child abuse is very high in New Mexico. Our state ranks in the bottom of care for children and their education. There is a darkness in our culture that as Christians we must address with prayer, truth, and courage.
Those who destroy their young are barbaric. We are an uncivilized people who kill both unborn and elderly. Pope Benedict XVI said many times that what our world needs is a healthy secularism. He was not even talking about faith; he was talking humanism. This means that even an atheist or agnostic would have a sense of respect for all human life, the life of the planet and, an agenda of stewardship.
This Respect for Life month is not something separate from our faith. Respect for life is our life. Respect for life is our faith. When we become comfortable in a culture of death, we have become creatures who no longer reflect in our Creator.
Our culture is a culture of comfort and convenience. We are a “throw-away” people. We often hit the delete button on life itself. When everything around us is disposable, it is easy to see how everyBODY can also become disposable.
This is a month of prayer that hopefully will bring us to the truths of who we are, how we were made, and the integrity to live a life of virtue. We are light to many darkened spaces. Being respectful in a disrespectful environment is the gospel we live today. We have many truths needing to be heard in a world of lies.