Betrayed by Peace
Re: your ongoing coverage of Christian persecution in the world:
In 1916, at the age of 17, my great-uncle Tom was killed during the Battle of the Somme, along with all of his pals and another half a million or so boys and young men. Some 70 years later, the medals he had been awarded posthumously were stolen from his elderly sister’s house by teenagers of a different generation.
It’s odd how, in those times, the young possessed a sense of duty, courage and honor — a long-forgotten innocence, perhaps, that drove them to sacrifice for their country, kin and the freedoms they sought to defend. What was lacking in their leaders does not lessen their qualities.
How quickly the collective memory fades though, even with another war in between: All is taken for granted, unappreciated, mocked even. A Victorian scholar came to the conclusion: “War is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men,” and “all great nations learned their truth of word and strength of thought in war; that they were nourished in war and wasted by peace, taught by war and deceived by peace; trained by war and betrayed by peace; in a word, that they were born in war and expired in peace.”
This is especially true in the Christian life, if the daily spiritual warfare we must engage in is not attended to.
The poor and persecuted Church, dressed in rags, with calloused knees from supplication, knows it’s at war. And it leans in hard to prayer, clings to its Savior — knows its only source of hope and strength. And, strangely, through those times of strife, the persecuted become more and more open-hearted to one another, too; in similar fashion to those who lived through wars do, they reminisce about those days when people pulled together and looked out for one another. They are growing ever stronger in faith and virtue.
As the persecuted Church is tested by such trials, the Western Church has a far greater test to endure: prosperity, characterized by the peaceful, unhindered practice of faith and lives of relative opulence, with people slumped on the sofa, remote control in one hand and a mug of tea in the other. Smooth knees and calloused hearts?
It takes us on a downward path to complacency and even to an illusory sense of entitlement. This weakens souls and eliminates virtue. It’s an invisible war, but an eternally dangerous one.
Our memory has faded, too: We forget what Jesus did for us, fail to appreciate it and take it for granted, instead of developing a renewed sense of duty, courage and honor. We are called to be vigilant — to pray like our lives depended on it (they do), make sacrifices for others, pass the test of generosity to those in need and be in solidarity in practical, helpful ways with our suffering brethren.
We are all required to show up for battle each morning — and fight all the day long — for what we believe in, cherish and hope for.
Irony Lost on PBS
Pertinent to your coverage of the Islamic State and its eradication of the Christian population of Iraq:
Sean Malone, the leader of Crisis Relief International (CRI), recently wrote from Iraq, stating, “We lost the city of Qaraqosh. It fell to ISIS, and they are beheading children systematically.”
As this atrocity is occurring in Iraq, while we are still reeling from the brutal beheading of reporter James Foley in Syria, PBS had the glaring insensitivity to choose Monday, Sept. 1, as the date to air, on stations across the country, the documentary After Tiller.
PBS describes this documentary as “a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions.” How can a portrayal of infanticide ever be described as “deeply humanizing”?
The murderer of late-term abortionist George Tiller was pro-choice, like his victim. They both believed that choosing to kill people is sometimes okay. Yet objective truth convinces us that murder (whether it is of an adult or an unborn baby) is never justified.
After Tiller highlights the work of four people whose job it is to inject “a lethal dose of the heart medication digoxin” into the hearts of babies so that they will die in the womb. Why not instead use Labor Day to highlight the work of doctors who help women in labor to give birth to beautiful boys and girls?
All who are appalled by the slaughter of innocent human beings that is taking place in Iraq, Syria and the United States should boycott PBS so that this insensitive decision to air After Tiller isn’t repeated.
Sister Mary Rose Reddy, DMML
Rochester, New Hampshire
Pertinent to “Extra Scrutiny” (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 24 issue):
As I see it, in her opinion letter, Barbara Kolner raises a point that is central to a number of problems in the Church. She is concerned with marriages that really are off to an uncertain future because the Church does not look deeper into potential problems of either or both marital candidates.
Her concern is already complex. Digging deeper is the fact that, in many parishes, priests take the rules into their own hands: in other words, in violation of Church rules. I have lived in three states and have a bit of exposure to this issue vis-à-vis the diocese and/or bishop.
It is common, in my experience, to see a couple who have not met basic Church standards simply “shop” for a priest who “will marry us.” Digging to the bottom of this environment is the priest, with the support of some in the parish community, simply snubbing the bishop’s authority. I would welcome a strong, researched study by the Register on this issue.
This writer is a divorced, marriage annulled, remarried Catholic.
The Register’s page-one caption illustrating the photo of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen incorrectly stated that 1956 was “during his tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y.” In 1956, Bishop Sheen was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York. He was bishop of Rochester from 1966-1969. Bishop James Kearney was Rochester’s shepherd from 1937-1966. The Register regrets the error.