The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Never Again, We Hope

"Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community."
Secretary-General-Designate Ban Ki-moon,
Press Conference SG/2120, 14 December 2006

"Never again, never again" was the mantra of post World War Two after humanity learned of just how evil Adolf Hitler and his implementers of the final solution were. Millions of people, predominantly Jews and including a good number of Catholics and anyone else who fell out of favor with the Third Reich met a systematic and horrific end in the Nazi concentration camps. The world was sickened, saddened, and outraged...but it didn't last.

Since WWII, Russia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Iraq, and many others have experienced the wholesale killing of groups of people based on nothing more than their very existence. The foundations of Islamic extremism call for the elimination of the infidel which means just about anyone reading these words right now.

And lest the American should start to feel high and mighty and sleep well at night knowing that such atrocities would never happen on her soil, one should not leave out of that list of countries these United States where 40,000,000 have been killed since the Roe vs. Wade decision largely because they came into existence at an inopportune time. An inconvenient truth indeed. These aborted babies were not killed because of race, color, or creed. They were terminated simply because they could be. It's legal in all 50 states. It's legal up to the ninth month in all the states of this land of the free.

How confusing that a world so technologically advanced could still have such insanity as genocide. If humanity has found the enlightenment to do such marvelous things with science, why does she still fall into such barbaric behavior?

In his encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI gives the human race a reminder that advances in science cannot guarantee advances in ethics:

Here, amid our growing knowledge of the structure of matter and in the light of ever more advanced inventions, we clearly see continuous progress towards an ever greater mastery of nature. Yet in the field of ethical awareness and moral decision-making, there is no similar possibility of accumulation for the simple reason that man's freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others—if that were the case, we would no longer be free. Freedom presupposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning. Naturally, new generations can build on the knowledge and experience of those who went before, and they can draw upon the moral treasury of the whole of humanity. But they can also reject it, because it can never be self-evident in the same way as material inventions. The moral treasury of humanity is not readily at hand like tools that we use; it is present as an appeal to freedom and a possibility for it.
Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

Christ gave humanity a proposition for freedom. When the incarnate God came into the world He asked humanity to consider and accept two simple fundamental tenets of being:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mark (RSV) 12:28-31)

God gave man free will to say yes to true freedom or yes to the enslavement of his own designs. That choice cannot be forced. One of the criticisms of Catholicism is that the Church imposes morality upon her members. In point of fact, the Church does nothing of the sort. What she does do is remind humanity that despite the tides of history, there exists certain moral absolutes. Those absolutes define what it means to be in communion with God.

Modern man has seemingly forgotten or simply rejected this relationship with his creator. Instead he has chosen a path of self-sufficiency and placed his faith solely in his own ingenuity. He has mistakenly presumed that his progress in science will translate to advances in social living by means of convenience and that naturally morality will fall into place. The trouble lies in the fact that in a system of relativism, a core set of values, a bulwark structure to protect the common good, is simply vaporous. A shift in opinion can change everything.

Returning to Spe Salvi:

It is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love. This applies even in terms of this present world. When someone has the experience of a great love in his life, this is a moment of “redemption” which gives a new meaning to his life. But soon he will also realize that the love bestowed upon him cannot by itself resolve the question of his life. It is a love that remains fragile. It can be destroyed by death. The human being needs unconditional love. He needs the certainty which makes him say: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38- 39). If this absolute love exists, with its absolute certainty, then—only then—is man “redeemed”, whatever should happen to him in his particular circumstances.
Pope Benedict XVI - Spe Salvi

British philosopher Edmund Burke made famous the saying that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it; however, as the Holy Father points out, it's not just knowledge of things that comes into play. There has to be either an acceptance or rejection of good or evil. The way of Christ ultimately defines the way of good which each generation must choose.

"Never again" should be the mantra of the Christian. His hope should be that never again should he return to sin. Never again should he reject the way of the cross but rather embrace it. Never again should he fail to hope in the love or our Lord, Jesus Christ.


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