Friday, November 07, 2008

Culture of Death

I am a little shocked by some of the comments here, I have allowed them, in part because they fascinate me. Many of them illustrate quite well what Pope John Paul described as the "Culture of Death" in Evangelium Vitae.

As Christians we belong to the Culture of Life, not because of our political stance. Not because we are against abortion but because we belong to Christ.

Christ is Life! in all its fullness. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Resurrection from the dead. He is Eternal Life.

The Culture of Death isn't simply a single issue matter, it goes to the very heart of what we are, it is not unconnected to the loss of a sense of sacredness, of holiness, of communion with God. If we are rude we belong to the Culture of Death, if we cannot forgive we belong to it, if we insult one another we belong to it, if we use harsh and unkind words we belong to it, if we lack mercy belong to it, if we destroy we belong to it, if we are violent we belong to, if we seek war we belong to it, if we seek to destroy we belong to it. If we destroy the planet, if we are racist, if reject the poor or the stranger, if we are a warmonger, then we are on the side of Death, not Life.

Yes, it is most manifest in a society that rejects life and kills the infant in the womb, but it is much deeper than this, as one of the commentators pointed out, just because a society, like communist Romania or Albania, rejects abortion does not mean it is has anything to do with "Life", we do need to look deeper at how the most vulnerable are treated, the sick, the imprisoned too, it touches the use of the death penalty as well.

However abortion above all is the litmus test of whether a society is directed towards to Life or Death, if we see the next generation as "a punishment" as Mr Obama does, there is a terrifying manifestation of the culture, the thinking, of Death. If human sexuality is ordered merely to personal or even mutual pleasure, we denying its procreativity, then we have a disordered understanding of what a human person is. When a mother, the life giver and medical professionals, kill then something is very seriously disfunctional in a society.

If we refuse to see life in the womb, or if we turn marriage into a sterile desert, we are on the side of death, and we direct society towards death. The fundamental human right is to life, on this hinges all other rights, the fundamental human duty is a duty to support life. When we as individuals but more so as a society fail to support this right and duty then all other rights fall a part, then the poor, and the elderly, the sick and the imprisoned are treated as less than human. Society becomes increasingly divided and plumets headlong towards destruction.

Christ alone rescues us and our society from the culture of death!


Delia said...

Most beautifully put, Father!

PJA said...

There is much to reflect upon in your post, Father, thank you.

We are called to be saints, and sometimes, our desire to stand up for the fundamentals of the faith can cause us to "blow up". That said, some people believe that there is such a thing as "righteous indignation" and I must confess to having great sympathy with those who criticize their fellow American Catholics for voting for Obama. Regardless of party politics, I could not vote for any politician who supported abortion. I can’t understand Catholics who can and do. That said, I realize that I’m considered by some Catholics as bit of an oddity: for going to confession regularly and not receiving Holy Communion without due preparation, for praying the Rosary, for not talking out loud before and after Sunday Mass…

As you say, “abortion is the litmus test” and as Bl Teresa of Calcutta said: “The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for you to kill me and me to kill you? There is nothing between.” In the UK, we have good people who do great things for their fellow men and women. Recently, Jackie Parkes asked for people to consider the propriety of inviting Claire Short MP to address the pupils of a Catholic school. Ms Short has a long track record of good social works; but, at the same time, she enthusiastically condones the murder of unborn children. She cannot comprehend that those things that she most hates: injustice, poverty, violence are caused by the selfishness, irresponsibility and unchaste attitudes that she condones when she supports a “woman’s right” to kill her unborn baby. If you really do believe that this is your right, think how that will pervert your behaviour in all other matters. If society actively encourages you NOT to love your own child, who will you love; can you ever feel loved, yourself?

Again, Bl Teresa says this: “That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of ‘freedom’ can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God's gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women— the ability to love as a woman.”

The election of Obama is literally uncivilized. What’s he really saying? —“We’ve already done a great job by destroying the family as it’s a patriarchal institution that belittles women; now, let’s destroy that sacred bond between mother and child and in doing so, let’s replace it with a selfish love of self.” What form might God’s judgment take? Their blood cries out to God for justice!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Father. Many people are justifiably angered by the Obama campaign's deliberate distortion of the Church's doctrine on abortion as a political strategy. This was contrived by astroturf master David Axelrod. It worked like this: groups were set with names like "Catholics United", "Catholics for Obama", "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good", even "Pro-Life Obama." (Funded by George Soros). This was all designed to get out the Catholic vote for a candidate with a shocking record on abortion. (That's also why Biden was chosen as VP running-mate). So shocking that on the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act, for example, he was more extreme than NARAL Pro Choice America. (NARAL had no objection to babies born alive after botched abortions being given medical treatment. Four times Obama voted against a law mandating as much in Illinois). No President has won an election without majority Catholic backing since 1972. Axelrod and Obama knew that and acted accordingly.

Many of your commenters on the other thread have bought the con and like to run the same distractions concocted by Obama's top strategists. 'Sure he voted to allow infanticide to continue, sure he was upset when the Supreme Court upheld the ban on late term infanticide but - hey, look over there - immigration reform! poverty! Hope! Change! George Bush!, a passing squirrel!," whatever.

I agree that the Culture of Death has many facets and there's a lot of blame to go around - for 'us' and not just for some hypothetical 'them'. But incorporating rudeness or no-holds-barred debate into the Culture of Death seems to me to be lowering the bar on the seriousness of the phenomenon. Having said that, I do agree ultra-extreme vilification should be considered culturally deathly and there was no more sickening example of that in the presidential campaign than the orchestrated verbal and spiritual violence unleashed on Sarah Palin, her pregnant daughter and even her Down Syndrome baby.

The Church Fathers were often extremely rude in their debates with one another. Jerome, for example, once called Augustine a "little Numidian ant." John Paul II once gave a priest a terrible public dressing down. I agree there's a difference between righteous anger and rank hatred, though, sure. The broader point is that many Catholics (I would say most practising Catholics) feel mocked by the Obama campaign's tricky and, frankly, evil duplicity on abortion and they're hurt by it. I think Catholics also saw Governor Palin - flawed non-messianic human that she is - as a providential example personified regarding the Culture of Life and feel vicariousy wounded (maybe even confused faith-wise) by her treatment at the hands of the Obama-worshipping media.

Finally, yes, abortion is the litmus issue. Many Catholics feel that Obama is simply too antagonistic on this crucial issue to be afforded much in the way of respect as a prospective (and now future) President. Ironically, one of the American bishops (Arch Chaput, I think) made the point during the campaign that we wouldn't argue that it was OK to vote for a man who strenuously supported slavery or segregation just because he had a few other good qualities. Such a man would be disqualified absolutely from consideration. Abortion is THE civil rights issue of our time. Arguing - as Axelrod's minions do - that the wonder of Obama's novelty, the breakthrough of his emergence or his flimsy rhetoric about social programmes somehow offsets his anti-life philosophy and record is self-evidently mendacious when you apply Archbishop Chaput's truthful analogy.

From this, Axelrod's schismatics can run but they can't hide.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

A lot of the furore I have experienced for objecting to the pro-death MPs invite to my children's school has actually come from truth from the Sisters of St Paul, one of whom I thought was a friend, practically sneered at the fact I had 10 children. It was like I'd polluted the planet or something!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Sorry just read Philip's above..thanks..

alban said...

Dear Fr Blake,

I completely agree with your comments on the posts regarding President-elect Obama. You must have been deeply saddened by the vicious comments expressed by a few. None of those who posted were in favour of abortion (God forbid that they would be) and yet amongst Christians (presumably all Catholic) some expressed a total lack of charity.

From my previous postings you know that I would also agree that the issue of abortion is paramount, as it deals with the most defenceless members of society; there is absolutely no compromise to be made in this matter. Perhaps some of us who post need to spend more time in silence - silence - before the Blessed Sacrament; I know that I would place myself in that company.

May our hearts be open to the healing touch of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Yes, very well put together.

I suspect the 'culture of death' is an indication of when a society has become so 'developed' aka materialistic/selfish that it is on the point of its own collapse. The various facets are all closely linked.

The haunting verse from the end of the Lamentations at Tenebrae comes to mind: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum, Deum tuum!

Anonymous said...

Father, speaking of the culture of death, are you aware that you link to a website that proclaims it - Clerical Whispers. The person who runs this blog does not hold to Catholic teaching. He describes himself as an RC priest. I have asked him to confirm whether or not he is a Roman Catholic priest and he refused on each occasion to confirm this. I can link you to some of his comments to confirm what I am saying here.

I am aware some of the articles that he posts are interesting. However, he holds ideas that are way off the radar.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Ma Tucker,
I have become a bit worried by that site recently, it has been deleted.

I include rudeness because of its use on my blog, because St Paul would include it, because it is the result of a coarseness in society.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Father -- I loved what predicates the Culture of Death -- we must make sure to keep watch of our actions and thought and comport them with good Christian living through Christ!

Anonymous said...

Alban, here's a fraternal encouragement from a brother Catholic. While you're praying before the Blessed Sacrament, call to mind your dishonest comments regarding Benedict and Obama vis-a-vis Benedict and George W. Bush.

I remind you that the Holy Father treated President Bush with a theretofore unprecedented degree of personal attention when he visited the Vatican earlier this year. Pressmen secular and ecclesiastical remarked on it. So much so that many of them believed the rapport between the two men was a further sign of a possible intention on the part of the President to emulate his brother Jeb and convert to Catholicism. Benedict is using his own protocol, not radically departing from one to hail the Chicago community organiser.

Kindly stop masking Democrat spin with religiosity a la Douglas Kmiec and I'll think about taking your outrage about the insults directed at Barack Obama (the man who voted four times to allow babies to go on dying in hospital linen closets and rubbish bins) seriously. And while you're at it please say a prayer for the baby who whistleblower Chicago nurse Jill Stanek nursed till he died after a botched abortion. By insulting people's intelligence and roping the Blessed Sacrament into your transparently phony sales pitch, you're being revoltingly offensive.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Please do not presume people here are not being deliberately mendacious.

Terry Nelson said...

Father this is a wonderful post - thank you very much - you have explained the depth of it.

Anonymous said...

I am sickened that ANY Christian let alone Catholic would be happy to see someone who wants more and more babies slaughtered put in a position where he can see it happen.
Destroying families will see to the killing off of the old and frail. It is already happening in so many places-even in America.
God tends to allow people what they want when they are so so far away from Him.
Doesn't anyone read Scripture or study history any more?

I have great sympathy with Karen in her anger. Why aren't we more angry?

Londiniensis said...

The US Catholic Church has for so long been the Democratic Party at prayer, the damage done by "Father" Congressman Robert Drinan so deep and the damage done by the overwhelming rejection by Catholics of Humanae Vitae (with the connivance of so many of their shepherds) deeper still, that the belated efforts by a minority of US bishops to bring the Culture of Life to the forefront of the debate was too little too late.

We reap what we sow.

gemoftheocean said...

I will confess to deliberately kicking over a rock to see the underside of what was there re: the INTERNAL tension between the "Catholicism as bowling club" members and those who actually try and not undercut the truth the church teaches about protecting innocent life. I was betting if I opened with that volley the apologists for the proabortionists would show themselves.

Last Sunday,, I was beyond shocked when I woman at church I've known for some 13 years informed me that not only was she against proposition 8 (the one by which voting yes meant outlawing so-called "gay marriage") actually not only was going to vote "no" on the issue, not only for the wishy washy misguided "we can't force our morals on other people" reason, but because she actually bought into the concept of so-called gay marriage hook, line and sinker. Not only that but the married woman had also poisoned the mind of her 12 year old son with same. A boy she spends good money on to send to Catholic school. Hubby hustled the family out of there before the discussion went on too long.

At least the catholics who admit to themselves they no longer believe can't be accused of being hypocritical intellectually. IT's one thing to leave the church because you can't believe in the Trinity, Eucharist...whatever. One prays those people can be reconciled with the faith. One prays for the "cafeteria Catholics" too - but it's more difficult to accept, because they are so insistent they can bend the rules and "it doesn't apply to me, because I'm smarter than the church and 4 bazillion years of natural law." They not only hang a millstone around their own necks for betraying the faith to their children...they endanger their own flesh and blood posterity.

Time has long been over not to challenge "the enemy" within.

Being "too nice" has cost us all but not calling them on it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, mum6kids. Either Catholics are serious about what we say regarding abortion or we're not. The world was certainly angry about the Holocaust. Its reaction to those directly and tangentially responsible can't be thought of as rude. Our Lord was certainly angry with the money-changers in the Temple. And what they were doing was comparable to what the Obama campaign did: it came into the (Catholic) house of God to sell a lie and change objective morality into the more convenient currency of relativism. This was a deliberate strategy, a purposeful attack on the Church and its unity. It was, in a word, evil.

Anonymous said...

A very good and interesting post, Father. Surely in such a complex world, when electing a President one cant take only one issue into consideration? I want to ask all the good Catholics who hate Obama and seem to burn with righteous indignation, whether they would prefer someone like Sarah Palin? she is certainly anti-abortion but what about all the rest? I guess they'll answer yes but I would be very scared if she or someone like her was the most powerful person in the world.

Anonymous said...

Was the world angry about the holocaust? There are people calling themselves Christians who deny that it took place.

gemoftheocean said...

Michael, you must be out of your mind if you think Nobama will be a better president than Sarah Palin.

Are both thin on experience?

But of the two, who would be better.

Someone with EXECUTIVE experience for two years? The buck-stops-here person who got there through cleaning out "old boys business as usual" in her own state AND HER OWN PARTY? Versus a snot-nosed MOST LIBERAL SENATOR in the US Senate who got there through the corrupt political machinery and backing from absolutely vile people?

Who has more CHARACTER? Sarah Palin also negotiated the Alaska-Canada-lower-48 oil pipeline deal. Something that was talked about for 20 years but NOT DONE.

You were suckered into buying in to the "ignorant hillbilly" line your press beat you over the head with.

Watch the middle east radical muslims go to down as soon as that fool Nobama takes office.

The man loathes the military and has no business being commander in chief of a sock drawer, much less our armed forces. I still want to see what becomes of his "civilian force" just as "well funded as the military and well trained."

To do what, precisely, act as his little brown shirted jackboots?

Why you think Nobama is "competent" is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

No, Gem, I dont think I am out of my mind and I try to be a faithful Catholic. But I think that referring to Obama as a son of a bitch and snot-nosed really adds nothing to any point of view that you wish to express. A point of view to which you are entitled as I believe I am to mine.

gemoftheocean said...

Mike, people with "Bush derangement syndrome" always claimed he smirked.

Next time Nobama's on TV, turn the sound down, and notice how his nose in ALWAYS in the air, and he always looks like he's on the defensive. Very thin skinned guy too. Underreported was how 3 reporters, who'd been assigned by their respective reporters, virtually from day one of the campaign, got tossed from the plane within days before the election when their newspapers endorsed McCain. This guy is going to get really old, real soon.

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