My normal routine is to carefully walk down the stairs, grab some coffee (thank you, sweetheart, for starting that pot), read my normal religious stuff, check all my “words-with-friends” games, and then check email and Facebook stats. This morning was no different, other than I moved very slowly because my arthritis is in full swing. Mornings are very slow for me, until the joints get warmed up. By 10am, I am usually my normal self. Thanks be to God that our situation allows me to stay home and school our son! I can move sooner, but it hurts and Tylenol is usually called upon. But I digress as to why I am sitting at my desk, in my unheated office, before 8:00am! Ugh! After reading my Facebook posts, I came to one that I had to respond to, and because it was a wall post, for those of you familiar, I did not have a lot of space and wanted to say so much more!
There is so much going on in the world, and in our country, that some days, my head just spins. My husband went on his business trip and when he got in the car at the airport in my rush to get him, I was on a roll about the day’s news. It continued with CAP personnel at the meeting we rushed off to, because there are so many like-minded people there. My husband sighed and said, “I was on a business trip, just got back, and you know what? I didn’t look at the news the entire time! It was a mini-vacation!” And we have done that over the past few years; we’ve ignored current events and just busied ourselves with our own little world – our comings and goings, ups and downs, are enough to fill our days. But we, as Christians, are called into community; we are called to be “our brother’s keeper” in the sense that those around us matter. How life affects each of us, well, it matters. We are called to “love one another as I have loved you” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Those are some pretty drastic instructions and I believe, from the bottom of my toes to the crown of my crazy gray hairs, that if we all, each of us did that, this world would be vastly different. But it is not that way, and in this country, we are spiraling downward at a rapid clip. Today’s comments on Facebook made me realize something that is very important, at least it seems to be important to me, and so I am blogging on it.
Paul Ryan ran for Vice-President with Mitt Romney. Now, there was a lot of funny stuff uncovered in the electoral results, but let’s not get into that discussion! Mr. Ryan is a devoutly pro-life Catholic man. And he ran on a pro-life plank. I loved that about him! He is also a very intelligent, fiscally-oriented man. He has put forth legislation in the past few days, that delineates a basic, pro-life fact – life begins at conception. Now, this legislation is going to rankle a lot of people, especially the pro-choice crowd. But it is rankling even the “pro-life” crowd. People are opining on Facebook today that “Hey, let’s back off and agree that Roe v Wade is bad. But we can’t un-do that. So let’s just chip away at it.” They feel that Paul Ryan has made a gigantic mis-step in focusing on this issue when there are so many other problems facing our country. And I realized, as I read some posts on this particular wall, that so many people who claim to be pro-life are just, in fact, anti-abortion. They don’t like the thought that women use abortion as a means of birth control, but they also do not believe it is a baby, yet, either. The particular page I was reading supports the morning-after pill, the IUD, and other abortafacients, because they do not believe it is a human life until the heart beats, at about 5 weeks gestation. They call the embryo a “blastocyte” and say it is not human, just a conglomeration of cells. The posts on the site were interesting and ran the gamut from one end to the other; some were angry and vowed not to support this page any longer, etc. while others were disappointed to learn the writers were not pro-life, but in fact, anti-abortion (which was me). And I learned how many people really are not pro-life, who claim to be. And it is a huge differentiation…huge. It is a “chasmatic” leap to go from anti-abortion to a truly pro-life stance. Because someone who is pro-life supports the idea that all life is precious and all life is from God, and all life deserves to be protected and nurtured. Those of us who are pro-life believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Those “conglomeration” of cells will evolve, over a few hours and days, into the beating heart of an infant; an infant who is developing in a symbiotic relationship with his mother, unable to survive without her loving care. And life continues until the beating heart naturally reaches it’s last beat, and a person inhales that final breath, naturally. Those of us who are really pro-life also happen to be anti-death penalty and anti-euthanasia. Today there was an article in the National Catholic Register about Terri Schiavo’s death. For those of you not familiar, she died after being euthanized through a court order. Her husband wanted to disallow food and water through a feeding tube and her parents wanted the feeding tube to remain. The court ordered it removed; she died of dehydration and starvation. The article focused on an interview with her brother-in-law, who sided with Terri’s parents, against his brother. It was a wonderful article. And it brought out the other end of the pro-life stance…the right to die in a natural way. If you believe yourself to be pro-life, in line with the Catholic view of life, from a natural inception to a natural death, this article will only further your resolve. If you do not believe in the pro-life stance as stated above, I hope you think and pray about it, and reconsider your belief.
The reason for the blog today started with these Facebook posts and it got my brain reeling. I realized that our cultural collapse is giving us “death signs” and the pro-life issue is just one of them. The critics who feel that resolving the pro-life issue is a waste of time when we have so many other “important” issues facing our country, are missing the point. Yes, we are all flailing as we crash from this “fiscal cliff” and yes, we are all reeling from the recent deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and yes, we are all trying to figure out how we can live with Obamacare and the increase in taxes. Mr. Obama also came out this week with legislation to end term limits for the president, and is pushing for the confiscation of guns…complete and total. As a student of history, I know that disarming the people is a step towards a more socialistic state, and that ending term limits for a president indicate a move towards a dictatorship, and that making the state the only saving grace in a culture is a sign that freedom is being eclipsed by governmental, powerful, take over. I get all of that. And still, I see where Mr. Ryan has the right idea, because I see all of these things as endemic of a cultural collapse.
As a student of history, when we look back at the era Christ was living in, we can note so many parallels. One blatant thing that always strikes me is that we value the wrong people, for the wrong things. They did that in the gladiator-oriented, horrific environment that citizens of Nero’s Rome found themselves. And we are right there, along with those earlier Roman citizens. Why do I say that? Well, in Nero’s Rome, the gladiator was the hero. Gladiators lived their short lives in splendor and excesses. They were given their heart’s desires in payment for laying their lives on the line in the arena. Today, we have professional athletes that receive the glory and the lion’s share (pun intended) of the salaries being paid these days. Teachers? Near the bottom of the pay scale. Why is our country now rated something like 23rd (or worse) worldwide in our educational performances? It is all endemic of a culture about to crash, just as Rome crashed and fell apart into dozens of smaller cultures and countries. Nero was an ego-maniac who ruled with an iron fist. He wanted to expand the area of the government, and wanted to add on to his palace. But he could not get the financing for it. So, he had some paid assassins set fire to the area of Rome he wanted to rebuild, kill a few Christians and other citizens, to get what he wanted. Why do you think he “fiddled while Rome burned”? It was his remodeling project! Instead of getting financing for it, he just burned it down and made the way for reconstruction, his way, blaming it on that new “sect”, the Christians.
There are some wonderful Facebook pages that give me courage to keep on going, and who also give me so many amazing quotes! One is called, “Holy Fathers,” another is called, “The Brotherhood of the Holy Cross.” Wonderful Facebook pages called, “Facebook Apostles,” and “St. Peter’s List” and “Mark Hart (The Bible Geek),” and “All Merciful Savior Orthodox Christian Monastery” – to name just a few that keep me grounded and going! Anyway, I notice that the quotes I am drawn to seem to always be St. John of Kronstadt. Lately, the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross site has been quoting him more and more. And I am so thankful for it, because among all the talking heads there are out there, it is nice to see that a Saint I really like, who lived in Russia during the last days of the last Czar of Russia, knew what he was talking about when it comes to a cultural collapse, and what he had to say then is oh, so appropriate now!
When we look around us and see all this chaos and all this unrest, at least for me, I need to just sit quietly, breathe, and contemplate the Word of God and where I am in this mess. Am I an example to my neighbor? Do I care about my neighbor? We need to start now, and start small, and start close by our own front doors, to stop this madness; to slow the dissolve of the “Great American Experiment.” Our forefathers in the Faith, such as St. John of Kronstadt, exhibited for us Holy Grace in situations much like ours. Their way of life was being threatened, their very existence in jeopardy. The lesson we can take from them is they did not waiver in their faith. St. John of Kronstadt told those around him that they needed to pray, to ask “fervently and instantly” for the faith that they would need to sustain them in a world that was falling apart.
None of us may be able to stop that headlong fall off that fiscal cliff, we may not even be able to slow or stop the collapse of a free country as we now know it, but we can influence our own hearts, our own families, our own neighborhoods. It is within each of us to make a change, a change that will become a ripple effect in our worlds. Do not forget that when Christ instructed His Apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt. 28:19) and further He instructed them, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:20) that they did just that! They went out into the world, baptizing and instructing as they traveled. They were only 12 men; Christ was embodied as just one man, the very Son of God! But the world has been changed because God gave each of those Apostles enough faith that unquestioningly, they traveled to lands they did not know, bringing the Word of God with them. And because they were true to their instructions, we now have this glorious faith to hold us up “in times of trouble.”
Paul Ryan did something incredible in Congress…he stood for the unborn at a time when guns and money and power, control and greed, rule the day and the airwaves. He took a stand, in faith, for those who could not take a stand for themselves. We are called to be “our brother’s keeper” (Gen 4:9) and we are called to reform the world around us, just as the Apostles of Christ did…just 12 men changed the entire world. I think that standing in unison with the unborn is an amazing place to start. And I vow to never, ever, accept anything less than a completely pro-God, pro-life country and world. It can be done!
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20).
To end my rant today, I pray that each of us will take a moment to breathe, to enter into the Divine Presence and, while “Walking, sitting, lying down, conversing, or working, at every time, pray with your whole heart that faith and love may be given to you.” Because “You have not yet asked for them as you should ask–fervently and instantly, with the firm purpose of obtaining them. Say now, “I will begin to do so henceforth.” (St. John of Kronstadt)