At the link here you will find an excellent article about the moral code engrained in the pro-life movement. The article also examines the tricks used by the pro-abortion side so that they don’t have to engage the legitimate questions posed by those from the pro-life side. This is the first time I have read anything from the author of the article – Mene Ukueberuwa – but I will definitely be looking for more of his articles to read.
You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labour to keep that corruption from returning.
From a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom
In this section from yesterday’s Office of Readings, St. Chrysostom is quoting our Lord from the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13, RSV-CE). One interpretation I have heard of this passage is that it means we, as Christians, are supposed to add ‘flavor’ to the society in which we live. While this seems like a questionable understanding to me, there may be some truth in it. But there is a problem – if we are flavoring a society that is already rotten then it is not going to taste any better. Therefore, it seems to me that St. Chrysostom’s interpretation – of salt as a preservative of that which is good – is a better understanding of what our Lord is trying to convey.
Before we continue we must deal with an obvious question: is our society rotten? There are many who would say that we, as a nation, are actually on the right path because now there is marriage ‘equality’, gender sensitiveness (evidenced by the acceptance of Bruce Jenner’s ‘new identity’), and other re-interpretations of moral norms. Those in favor of these things would tell us that truth is what we make it: the sky is blue only because I call it blue and I can just as easily call it orange. But just calling it by a different name does not make it so and common sense, which is not so common anymore, tells us that this is true. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I think that a majority of people still have common sense. And if they were asked to take a critical look at the moral degradation of our society over the last 50 years or so, then they would have to agree that our society has indeed become rotten – in the least, parts of it have become so.
So, what do we do? Is there a way to fix our society as a whole? I suppose if we had an absolute monarchy with a moral and just leader then he could do away with all laws that are immoral and unjust. But we would still be faced with the problem of what to do with those people in our society who still believe in that which is immoral and unjust because they think it is a good thing: such as abortion or ‘marriage equality’. The number of people who truly believe in these things as good is considerable and just enacting proper laws is not going to change their mind. And so we would still be left with a cancer in our society – a cancer of a wrong understanding of mankind. And unless the cancer is cured our society will never be healthy. Instead, the cancer will continue to bring with it a certain amount rottenness to the whole of our society.
This brings us back to the quote from St. Chrysostom. Salt does not turn that which is rotten into something edible. And in a similar manner, just having Christians in a rotten society does not make that society healthy. But there is something, or rather Someone, who can bring healing to the individual members of our society: Jesus Christ. Notice that I say ‘individuals’. Even if we conformed all laws in this country to the teachings of the Church it would not be the same as bringing all the members of our society to Christ. Usually, when something is rotten there is nothing that can be done except to throw it away. But because of what Jesus Christ has done for us even the most rotten person can be renewed and made whole. And it is one of the duties of those who believe to tell the non-believer about Christ and to try to help them see the Truth.
I just received the most recent edition of Ethics & Medics: A Commentary of the National Catholic Bioethics Center on Health Care and the Life Sciences (wow, they need to shorten that). It is a four page newsletter that comes out every month with various medical ethical issues being discussed. This month the issue in question is whether or not to deactivate someone’s pacemaker in given situations. The issue itself is not my reason for this post but instead information within the first article that I was not aware of beforehand, which has to do with ordinary and extraordinary means of medical care.
The distinction between ordinary and extraordinary does not take into account the entirety of a patient’s medical situation; it can only concern the relationship between a specific problem, its corresponding treatment, and that treatment’s effects.
Ethics & Medics, Nov. 2014, vol. 39, num. 11, page 2.
What this means is that you cannot combine all of a patient’s various and unrelated symptoms and say that any care given would therefore be extraordinary. For instance, the type of situation it discusses in the article is when someone has a serious and painful disease that would cause them to die if it were not for the fact that they had a pacemaker. But, the disease and the pacemaker are totally unrelated. Therefore, you cannot deactivate the pacemaker saying that it is extraordinary means of treatment because what it is treating is unrelated to that which is causing the severe pain. There could be other reasons in which the pacemaker could be viewed as extraordinary and therefore could be removed but it cannot be removed because of an unrelated illness – no matter how bad it may be.
But before anyone says, “The Catholic Church is so mean; why do they want people to suffer.” The Church does not want anyone to suffer but instead recognizes that suffering is a part of our experience in this life. In addition the Church does believe in and promote the use of medicines that can alleviate pain. Lastly, the Church does not allow euthanasia or anything else that could be done that would be for the express purpose of ending the patient’s life because she (the Church) recognizes that we are not the creators of our lives but instead the stewards of it. And, therefore, we are bound to protect our lives with the ordinary means that are available to us.
For more information on the subject you can go to §2278-9 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or go to the USCCB document located here. (Helpful in particular is Part Five that starts on page 29 and especially §55-7 that starts on page 30.)
He who wishes to know and to do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own 'ideas', not upon his 'conscience', not upon 'values', not upon arbitrarily established 'ideals' and 'models'. He must turn away from his own act and fix his eyes upon reality.
From Living the Truth, by Josef Pieper
The quote above is from the second half of the book that is cited. The second half is titled Reality and the Good. Although I have only finished reading the first few pages, which the author titles “The Thesis”, it appears that this essay is in regards to how mankind can know right and wrong and therefore be able to do that which is good. This is evidenced by the three sentences that precede the above quote where Pieper writes, “All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality.”
When I first started this essay I had to read those three sentences several times. They seemed to me to be disjointed – that they did not fit together. It now seems to me that the reason it seemed disjointed was because of my lack of background in philosophy. After all, you cannot really understand what someone is trying to say to you unless you understand his frame of reference. But as I continued reading the thesis statement the point the author is making began to make sense to me.
In order to understand this we must first have a correct understanding of reality. First of all, mankind is not the author or definer of what is true or good, but he can come to know it. In other words, we do not create the reality in which we live, instead we exist within an objective reality. And we experience this objective reality through our sense perception. It is through our senses that we experience the things around us. 'Things' here is to be understood as the word res from philosophy. Pieper says, “Res is everything that is 'presented' to our sense perception or our intellectual cognition, all that has being independently of our thinking.” Another word from philosophy, realis, is taken from res and denotes reality. Of this Pieper says, “Reality (in the sense of realis) is the whole of being which is independent of thought.” And elsewhere says, “Reality is the basis of the good.” Also realis means “that to be good is to do justice to objective being…the good is that which is in accord with objective reality.” “All laws and moral principles may be reduced to reality.” 'Reality' here meaning objective being outside ourselves.
As a result of all of this the author makes the conclusion that this “makes impossible the attitude of always referring to oneself and to the judgment of one's conscience*, which is considered as providing the norm in each instance. We are forced now to look through and beyond our own moral judgment to the norm presented to us by the objective reality of being.” I most heartily agree with this conclusion. [*Just a side note: here the author is referring to people who use their consciences as an excuse to do whatever they want. He is not referring to the use of our conscience in the correct sense. The Church teaches that a “human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.” (CCC §1800) But the Church also teaches us that we must have a well-formed conscience that “formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience.” (CCC §1798) This is completely the opposite of using your conscience as a scapegoat to do whatever you want to do.]
But our modern society most certainly does not agree. The world is no longer viewed objectively by society but instead it is interpreted in a relativistic way. What I mean can be shown through an example: people who don't want to abide by traditional norms of moral behavior seem to have adopted the slogan, “What is right for you may not be right for me.” (You can replace right with moral or with good.)
Now to a certain extent this slogan is correct. For instance, if someone has cancer it would be right for them to have chemotherapy because that is one of the only methods we have to get rid of cancer. Whereas for someone else, who does not have cancer, it would not be right to have chemotherapy because to a person who is healthy chemotherapy is poisonous. Like I said, this would be a proper way to understand the above slogan.
But in saying this slogan our modern society means something completely different. For them the slogan turns everything upside down. To use the previous example about cancer – when modern society says “what is right for you may not be right for me” it isn't talking about whether or not a person should have chemotherapy. Instead, it is trying to change the rules to such an extent as to say that there is nothing wrong with cancer in the first place and that we don't need anything to fix it. Obviously, this is just crazy talk.
With this in mind we can begin to understand why our modern society is so disordered. It has left behind any idea of objective truth (like cancer is bad for you) in favor of just doing what feels right. And obviously, the chemotherapy this society needs (that being objective standards to determine morality) to fix its diseased nature would not feel right (because it would cause people to have to let go of the fantasy world they have created for themselves where right and wrong is determined by their own judgments). But nevertheless, objective truth is the only medicine that will cure us.
The quote below is an excerpt from one of Lewis' letters to his friend Dorothy Sayers. The reason I am posting it is because it has given me a bit of information that I did not know about Lewis, and I am sharing it because it is something that everyone who loves Lewis needs to know.
25 June 1957
I ought to tell you my own news. On examination it turned out that Joy’s previous marriage, made in her pre-Christian days, was no marriage: the man had a wife still living. The Bishop of Oxford said it was not the present policy to approve re-marriage in such cases, but that his view did not bind the conscience of any individual priest. Then dear Father Bide (do you know him?) who had come to lay his hands on Joy—for he has on his record what looks very like one miracle—without being asked and merely on being told the situation at once said he would marry us. So we had a bedside marriage with a nuptial Mass.
The important thing to note here is that Lewis' marriage to Joy was completely valid! I had always thought that Lewis was ‘living in sin’ in his marriage because he had married Joy, who was divorced. This always bothered me because Lewis does not seem like the type that would do such a thing. Also, for such a prominent Christian apologist to do such a thing it would cause scandal by making others think that divorce and remarriage is OK, which it is not. But from his own writing in this letter it appears that he knew that Joy's first marriage was invalid because she had married a man who was already married and then civilly divorced. And, as Catholic teaching tells us, once you have entered into marriage any attempt to enter into another marriage is impossible until the death of the spouse. (And, by the way, this is a universal law – not just one for Catholics.)
Truly, I give thanks to God for having discovered this. Now my love and respect for Lewis has grown immensely. And now there only remains one thing about Lewis that makes me sad – that he was never able to see the full Truth of the Catholic faith and convert. But still – his witness to Christ has led many into the Catholic Church and I am grateful to be one of them.
At lifesitenews.com I came across an address given by Cardinal Burke. It is titled The Perennial Newness of the Gospel of Life. I have not yet read the whole thing but did find the following part to be very important. To borrow from Fr. Z – my emphases and comments.
In this regard, involvement in political life is essential to the advancement of the cause of life. Already in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II had declared:
The social role of families is called upon to find expression also in the form of political intervention: families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family. Along these lines, families should grow in awareness of being 'protagonists' of what is known as 'family politics' and assume responsibility for transforming society; otherwise families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference. (This is from St. John Paul II and he is telling us to get off our collective behinds and do something about the immoral nature of our society. If we just look at it and say, ‘Oh well, what can I do?’ then things will never improve.)
The Holy Father repeated the same exhortation to families in Evangelium Vitae. (EV, 507-508, n. 93)
In this context, I cannot fail to note the grave scandal caused by legislators, judges, and political leaders who profess to be Catholic and who present themselves to receive Holy Communion, while, at the same time, they uphold and even promote laws which violate the moral law in its most fundamental tenets. (To this I say loudly – Amen!) The Church’s discipline, from the time of Saint Paul, has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion. (Here he is referring to canons 915 and 916. In 915 the clergy are charged with not admitting to Holy Communion those in such a state of sin and 916 deals with the sinner himself – that he should not present himself for Holy Commuion. Unfortunately, there are many times when members of the clergy ignore this canon law requirement and give Communion to these persons anyway. But to do so imperils not only the soul of the notorious sinner but also of the clergyman that knowingly distributes Holy Commuion to the notorious sinner.) The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin. (And because of that objective condition of sinfulness they should not, at least for their own good, not receive the Blessed Sacrament.) It prevents them from committing sacrilege by violating the incomparable sanctity of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and safeguards the Christian community and the community at large from scandal, that is, from being led to believe that the violation of the moral law, for example in what pertains to the inviolable dignity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the freedom of conscience, is not sinful, does not gravely break communion with Our Lord. (This represents the biggest problem. These type of public sins that too often go uncorrected cause everyone that sees it to think that it is OK to act in such a way. The result being that people really do not understand what is right and what is wrong.)
The quote below is from an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker and can be found in its entirety here. The whole thing is worth reading.
Emotivists contend that words which suggest an objective morality like “good”, “bad”, “right”, “wrong”, “should”, “ought” have no basis in reality. They are merely the emotional expressions of the speaker and that he uses these words to bully someone else to do what he wants. It’s called “boo-hurrah” morality because the morality consists of nothing more than one person saying, “Hurrah! to this” or “Boo! to that.” Morality is thus reduced to “It’s right because I said so loudly” or “It’s wrong because I objected loudly.” Emotivism excludes social, historical, cultural, spiritual, and religious considerations from the discussion of morality.