Month: October 2012

What would you do? E:60 – Perfect

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An alpha male: fighter pilot, marathoner, FBI agent; the epitome of the “perfect” man physically and intellectually. Then he finds out his daughter will be born with Down Syndrome and pressures his wife to have an abortion, she refuses. This is what saints are made of, they are not perfect, but they open themselves up to the redemptive act of Christ. His wife refused to abort and his life was changed forever. This story is beautiful. 9 out of 10 children diagnosed prenataly with Down Syndrome are aborted. Perhaps this family’s story can help prevent the abortions of children that are not considered “perfect” by our materialistic society.

Sigh No More About Love

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Singing, as Augustine is believed to have said, is praying twice. Sometimes I find this hard to believe when I listen to much of the music that is played on the radio lately. My friends know that I am an avid music listener. I listen to all forms and types of music. Some of my favorite artists include: Nat King Cole, Garth Brooks, Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Nneka, Def Leppard, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Adele… and the list goes on and on.

It is sad that music that is on the radio these days, with the exception of people like Adele, is shallow, and often, promotes decrepit notions of what love really is, what relationships really are about. I cringe when I hear songs like “The Trouble With Love” by Kelly Clarkson, or Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” because these songs, and others like them, equate love to feelings and emotion. Worse yet, they make love out to be something that has nothing to do with one’s will but rather one’s carnal or desires. Pop culture says that love is something that imposes itself upon a person, as if love is an incurable disease.

And then, I heard about a group called Mumford & Sons. If you have not heard of them, I now introduce you to a phenomenal band. Their music sounds to me like an admixture of folk, rock, Gaelic, Appalachian, and a few other unique-to-them-only symphony. Even greater is the content found within the lyrics. Here is just one excerpt from their song “Sigh No More”:

“Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.” (Sigh No More, 2010)

This short phrase could, and should, take the listener hours to unpack. As Catholic we know that love is not an emotion or an act of one’s desires. Instead, we know that love is an act of the will, a free choice; to sacrifice oneself for the sake of another. This is the true nature, and the profound depth of the meaning of love. We are made in the Divine Image of God; the Author of Love. This is so, and as such, love does not destroy, it builds up. The more we love, the more we become like the Author of Love, “the man you were made to be.” There is freedom in love. We are reminded that freedom is not license to do as we please, but it is to do good without restraint.

“Freedom is not the liberty to do anything whatsoever. It is the freedom to do good, and in this alone happiness is to be found. The good is thus the goal of freedom.” 

(CDF, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation)

Love provides such freedom. When we choose, as individuated persons, and as whole communities, to give of ourselves for the good of ourselves and the common good, we open greater freedom to the world. It frees us from selfishness, materialism, individualism, narcissism, hatred, anger, oppression, violence, and the likes.

More on love later, for now, seek out artists like Mumford & Sons who speak the truth about Love!

God’s Peace,

Mark

Debate Night: I’ll Make you Hate Him More Than You Dislike Me

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It is not uncommon for pundits, politicians, and citizens alike to complain about the vitriol in political campaigns. Money is spent hand over fist on television ads, fliers in the mail, billboards, and various other means to attack the opposing candidate. Statements are taken out of context, complex policies and positions are reduced to 30 second “take that!” tv spots all at the expense of true dialogue and engaged decision-making.

This has been just as evident in the presidential and vice-presidential “debates” this election season. Although the candidates have offerred some specific details regarding the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, it seems more time is spent, by both sides, trying to convince the public that “the other guy” hates everything the the viewer holds dear and wishes to destroy peace and prosperity for their own self aggrandization and satisfaction. Although, it is possible that there is the occasional candidate who is truly sociopathic (lacking care for others) I refuse to accept the premise that this is the norm for politicians. It is unbecoming of anyone seeking higher office to lower themselves to these tactics; however, we share responsibility in the negativity and lack of charity in campaigns because we are unwilling to truly educate ourselves on the issues and the positions of candidates. We are moved to vote and act by our emotional reactions to campaign ads and catch-phrases. We continue to vote for “the lesser of two evils” which allows candidates not to rise to the occasion and expectation of the American people, but rather, to make their opponent less appetizing than themselves. If you are starving in the wilderness and you have to choose between eating a rat or the stomach contents of a deer carcass left by a coyote, you will eat but it wont be pleasant and it wont necessarily be good for you. What you need is nutrition, substance; what you settle for is trash. We should refuse to settle. We should begin holding our politicians accountable. We should begin to hold ourselves accountable. Do we engage in painting others with a broad political brush? “Democrats are baby-killers!” “Republicans hate the poor!” These narrow-minded approaches to politics and government are not what God had planned for us when He gave us authority over this temporal world. We are guided by Holy Mother Church to follow a different path in political campaigns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document called “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation” Contained within this remarkable Magisterial document the Church places campaigns like the one we are witnessing from both sides in the realm of unjust armed struggle when She says: “Equally unacceptable are detestable smear campaigns capable of destroying a person psychologically or morally.”

I have too often heard people say that politics is the cause of many problems. I do not believe this. I do believe partisanship, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality and tactics are the cause for many problems. But politics, when used and not abused, just as any other “good” gifted to humanity is used appropriately, can be the cause for bringing about a more just and peaceful world.

God’s Peace,

Mark