Maxwell AFB/Gunter Annex, AL
As heard in the second reading, a prosperous businessman named Philemon was converted to Christianity by St. Paul . Thereafter, St. Paul met and converted Onesimus, a runaway slave who, in fact, may have stolen from his owner- Philemon.
St. Paul knows Onesimus must return to Philemon, for the fugitive slave Onesimus has a debt to pay, and St. Paul cannot, in good Christian conscience, help Onesimus flee justice. St. Paul entreats Philemon to "welcome him as you would me" (v. 17). St. Paul is telling the slaveowner, Philemon, who resides in a slave-owning society, to welcome a punishable fugitive slave and thief.
One can envision Philemon responding to reading such a letter, and saying aloud "you gotta be kidding me."
Paul essentially- and very diplomatically- yields to Philemon's legal rights as well as his "free will" (v. 14), hoping his new convert will act in such a way as would be befitting a Christian. But Paul persuasively, and rather incriminatingly, adds: "to say nothing of your owing me even your own self." (v. 19). Think of a time you were 'strongly encouraged' to act in a certain manner when someone concludes their appeal with the words "to say nothing of the fact that you owe me." It's an indictment, and hopefully a motivational pull for Philomen to do the right thing at the right time. Paul begins by saying "I'm not going to tell you what to do", but concludes by "strongly encouraging" Philemon to do as Paul says- take back the run away slave in order to redeem the two of you. (Don't you love to be "strongly encouraged"?) Reminiscent of the Good Samaritan of the Gospels, Paul offers to cover any and all debts of the slave, Onesimus (v. 18)
Philemon is in, to use an elaborate theological term, a major crunch. Take an escaped slave back and treat him as a Christian brother? What will others in this slave-owning society think about that? Onesimus should be whipped, maybe executed, and Paul is saying to Philemon, take this fugitive slave back--forgive him--just as Philemon would accept St. Paul himself.
I'd like you to look at this problem through three lenses. First , look through the lens of a friend. Philemon's friend, named Paul, has asked for an unprecedented favor-to take back Onesimus as a Christian brother. Is this request reasonable? Although Philemon might like to grant Paul's request, he is asking for serious trouble if he does what Paul wants. Maybe Philemon might agree to take Onesimus back, but can't you imagine that he would at least have him whipped as a runaway slave and maybe as a thief?
Second , look through the lens of society at that time. What do you think this slave-owning society would expect Philmon to do with Onesimus once he returns? He's an escapee and perhaps a robber. Can society tolerate it if one slave owner, Philemon, starts treating a returned slave as a Christian brother? Can't you imagine that some unpleasantries be said to such a radically forgiving slave-owner? Could other slave-owning peers really accept such a precedent? Surely society then would expect Philemon to make an example out of Onesimus, most probably by having him executed, to send other slaves a powerful message-flee or steal from us, and you'll soon be dead. If Philemon were lenient with Onesimus, Philemon himself might meet with an unfortunate accident.
And there is a third lens with which to look at Philemon's dilema. In this case, the one writing to him is not just a friend named Paul. This is the unstoppable apostle Paul, speaking authoritatively for the Church. Ephesians defines the Church as the Body of Christ (5:23). And the Catechism reiterates it graphically: "The Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross" (#766). When St. Paul instructed Philemon about Onesimus the slave, it was in reality the Church instructing Philemon; and when the Church instructed Philemon, it was in reality Christ instructing Philemon.
Surely you have seen or heard WWJD - what would Jesus do ? These initials and this question are rather simplistically offered as a way of solving spiritual or moral dilemas. Difficulties arise when well-intention people differ in their interpretation of "what Jesus would do?" in any given time or place. Hence, one of many reasons there exist hundreds of Protestant denominations. We Catholics ought to use the initials WDCT - what does the Church teach? -as the key to solving our spiritual or moral problems. For we know that the Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit (CCC#797; 2 Cor 6:16), who, through the Church, guides us to all truth (Jn 16:13).
So around us is the Church, the school of truth. But we "students" have a "spiritual tuition" to pay-we are called upon to follow the GREAT COMMANDMENT: to love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul. God tells us that our love for Him is first and foremost. We follow our friends and our society if and when their actions and orders are in keeping with what God commands. If we place friends or society above God, we are creating false gods; we are creating idols; and the first commandment tells us that's wrong. Much of sin derives from our making gods of those people or of those things that are not God.
So, like Philemon, we are always trying to get the order right--forever trying to get our priorities straight. Who comes first? My friends, my society, or my God?
When St. Paul tells Philemon to forgive the slave Onesimus, he asks a very great deal of poor Philemon. St. Paul is saying, in essence, that, as a well-instructed Christian, Philemon already knows what he ought to do; he's aware of what his priorities should be; all he needs is the grace and the courage to do what he should, when he should. All he needs is the power of soul to keep the commands of God and of God's Church, whose voice he hears in and through the Apostle St. Paul, to do the right thing for the right reason at the right time. St. Paul is still giving us that same message today, here and now.
So what did Philemon finally do? What is "the rest of the story"? Did he have Onesimus executed when the slave returned? Did he have him lightly whipped as a just punishment for the slave's offenses? Did he forgive Onesimus completely, risking the contempt of others in his society? In fact, we do not know what Philemon did to or for Onesimus.
But we do know that the problem Philemon had is one that we have, in one way or another, almost every day. Should Philemon have obeyed the instruction of St. Paul , even though he would thereby lose favor in his society? Should we bear witness to the teaching of the Church, even though by doing so we might lose favor in our society or lose standing with our friends? When friends and society tell us abortion is a "right," do we have the power of soul to call it what it is-an "unspeakable crime"? When friends and society tell us homosexual marriage is "progressive," do we have the power of soul to call it what it is-the desecration of a sacrament? When friends and society tell us that euthanasia is "good medicine," do we have the power of soul to call it what is-a false understanding of mercy and the attempt to play god?
In a letter he wrote to the Galatians ( and to us ) St. Paul says: "Am I now currying favor with human beings or with God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people [first], I would not be a slave of Christ" (1:10).
The ancient Christian Philemon should have put God ahead of society and friends; we contemporary Christians have the same problems, the same choices, the same tensions. If we remember that we are to love God with all our soul, all our mind, all our strength, and all our heart, then we can make our moral decisions in the shadow of the Cross of the Christ who loved us unto death.
This is the prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order: "Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
"Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people."--Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English Man of Letters
What does "pledging allegiance" mean? A pledge is a solemn promise or commitment, and allegiance is loyalty or duty owed by a citizen to his or her country. There are those who recognize no loyalty or commitment to others; their sacred word is ego, and their only solemn promise is to advance the irredeemably selfish cause of the image they see every day in their bathroom mirrors. Religion and patriotism are, for them, merely the delusions of the unenlightened silly enough to have high regard for the welfare and rights of others. To them, Mother Teresa, in her Christian love for others, was a fool, and Abraham Lincoln, in his desire to preserve the Union by compulsory service and force of arms, was a knave. Still, there are those of us who believe we have a responsibility to our neighbor. That conviction is at the heart of every religion worthy of the name and, without that conviction's being shared widely among its populace, no country could (or should) long endure. As journalist Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) once explained, it is the inspiration of selflessness which leads old people to plant trees they will never sit under and young people to die in battle for their country's sake. The link among saints and heroes is their devotion to noble causes and convictions which they hold as dearer than life itself, and in these ideals they find a meaning in and for their lives.
Scripture has it that we are to "pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due." Pay . . . if due: there are, then, times that people or institutions may not merit our taxes, toll, respect, or honor. Christians, for instance, must put loyalty to the sacred before loyalty to political rulers. The truly good person in Nazi Germany would have been a bad citizen; and the good citizen who was always loyal to the Nazi regime would have been a bad person. There may be times, then, when wicked government policies lead citizens to deny allegiance to that regime.
Comparisons, however, between flagitious regimes and the United States government are manifestly absurd; the critics proposing such nonsensical analogies are, for example, free to complain all they want. Such liberty suggests that our country is worthy of allegiance. As the newspaper editor Carl Schurz (1829-1906) once put it: "Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right." Because we love our country, we try to correct its course when we think it is wrong; but we do not forswear allegiance to the flag "and to the republic for which it stands."
As a Catholic, I accept the biblical instructions that we are to pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:2) and to be loyally subject to the government (Titus 3:1). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in following the Bible, says plainly: "The love and service of one's country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity" (#2239).
Isn't "the duty of gratitude," finally, what it's all about? Do we owe nothing to anyone except ourselves? Do we owe nothing to our country, to our city, to our neighbor? Is the flag merely a symbol of what "that country" owes to me? Is the flag merely a piece of colored cloth representing only the chance I have to amass my fortune, cynically flouting social responsibility and civic duty on my way?
Or does the flag represent all those old people who loved their country and tried, by virtuous lives, to pass the flag, unstained and unsullied, on to us? And all those young people whose blood was shed to defend the country they loved? And all those who can, if they so choose, criticize their country because they love it and want it to be right and to do right? Plato tells us that, given the chance to flee Athens after his conviction, Socrates died rather than run from--or forfeit allegiance to--the society which nurtured and educated him. Jesus tells us that we are to give to society what is society's and to God what is God's--my debt of gratitude, as Christian, to God and, as citizen, to my country. Pledging allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it symbolically stands means, in part, that I acknowledge with gratitude the great gifts of those who came before me and the honorable heritage I want so much to pass along to those who will come after.
James H. Toner is the Coors Distinguished Visiting Chair of Character Development at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He holds a doctorate in government from Notre Dame. He speaks nationally and internationally on issues in moral philosophy and contemporary politics. The opinions expressed here carry neither government nor corporate endorsement.
What are we to think of Catholic politicians who flout Church teaching? I was then about ten years old, so it was a long time ago. I was sitting on a stool in a little snack bar in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts, and it was a Friday. By Church discipline then we Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays. At the end of the row of stools, a man named Harry ordered a hamburger. In response, the cook said, "Hey, Harry, I thought you were a Catholic-and it's Friday!" "Yeah," Harry replied, "but not when I want a hamburger." The cook thought that was pretty funny because he chortled as he tossed the meat on the grill.
I didn't think it was funny then, and I don't think it's funny now. Harry, I suspect, long ago went to his eternal reward-whatever that might be. We have, however, plenty of "Harrys" around us today, and they exert their negative influence, not on one ten-year-old boy, but upon thousands of people, born and unborn.
Today's Harrys are the politicians who claim to be Catholic but who abandon Church teaching about life issues whenever it suits them to do so. Those of us, however, who claim to be Catholic owe it to the Church, to one another, and to ourselves to try to be Catholic, for the Church forms-or ought to form-our values, views, and virtues. As the Catechism points out:
In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must
assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our
conscience before the Lord's Cross . We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of
the Church [#1785; emphasis supplied].
I can think of a number of politicians who, while saying they are Catholic, support abortion, thinking, no doubt, that they thereby increase their chances of political success. In that judgment, they may or may not be correct, but what, in any event, matters to these modern Harrys is public popularity and political success in the party and at the polls. They would betray their Master and His Church, not for thirty pieces of silver, but for thirty percentage points in the political polls.
But isn't what is right established by our society? "Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong," wrote Archbishop Fulton Sheen forty-five years ago in The Life of Christ . In writing about how the crowd yelled for the release of Barabbas instead of for Jesus, Bishop Sheen said: "The first poll in Christianity was wrong!" Still, we often mistakenly think that what is right is coincident with, or established by, what is popular. We must be tolerant, we learn; and so we must-but not tolerant of and toward what is sinful. In that regard, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) once tartly observed, "Those who believe in nothing can tolerate anything."
As the Bible instructs us, only when we are mature in faith and in knowledge of Christ may we expect not to be "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles" (Eph 4:14, RSV ; cf. Col 2:8).
"Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery." --Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio , #90 .
We humans are decidedly expert at seeing what we want to see and in hearing what we want to hear (cf. Jn 3:19). Our leaders are rarely different, for their power, in a democratic state, derives, in one form or another, from popularity. Consequently, we have a roster of "pro-choice" Catholic politicians who, in order to win their "polls" (i.e., their elections), are far more interested in Barabbas than in Jesus. Of them, well might it be said, as it was of the Pharisees, that "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (Jn 12:43, RSV; cf. Gal 1:10 and 1 Thes 2:4). What matters to these supporters of the culture of death is looking progressive. Charles Peguy (1873-1914), the French poet, once said that "It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive." This, despite the biblical admonition: "Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God" (2 John 9, NAB ). But these pro-abortion "Catholics" prefer not to see, and they prefer not to hear.
But what authority do these smug and self-centered politicians consult ? They have their polls, and they have their parties. They have their elections to win, and they have their minions to please. Lurking behind their pro-abortion positions is contempt for the authority of the very Church to which, in so many instances, they fraudulently claim allegiance. When they are authoritatively told by the Church that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a "grave and clear obligation to oppose" any law that attacks human life, they dismiss the Body of Christ (Eph 1:23) with a cavalier and arrogant attitude. "He who hears you hears me," Jesus told His disciples (Lk 10:16). But these pro-abortion "Catholics" prefer not to see, and they prefer not to hear.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Mt 23:27-28, RSV). But such admonitions these pro-abortion "Catholics" prefer not to see, and they prefer not to hear.
Why would I repose the slightest confidence or trust in any politician who claims to be Catholic but betrays the profound teaching of his or her freely chosen Church in order to curry political favor? How morally spineless can anyone be, that he or she, while still claiming to be Catholic, would deliberately abandon Church teaching-the very teaching of Christ-to win political office? And why, in the face of such political cowardice and such moral betrayal, would I want to vote for such a person?
In "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility," the U.S. Catholic Bishops tell us that "Politics cannot be merely about ideological conflict, the search for partisan advantage, or political contributions. It should be about fundamental moral choices." As Catholics, we have the witness in that respect, for instance, of Saint Thomas More (1478-1535), who refused to surrender his faith upon the altar of King Henry VIII: "I die the King's good servant," he said as he was about to be beheaded-"but God's first."
"The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it. . . . Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation" ( CCC #1816).
Like Saint Thomas More, we need to think Catholically -and to have the "mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). As the Catechism puts it: "From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ's lordship over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that man should not submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not 'the Lord.' 'The Church . . . believes that the key, the center, and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master'" (#450; cf. #892).
As the Holy Father eloquently put it in Evangelium Vitae : "No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church" (#62; cf. Lk 10:16; Jn 14:26). Ours is a secular government; but our society must not be so. It is our task as Catholics to sanctify it and to endow it with appreciation of the moral law which is written on our hearts (cf. Jer 31:33; Rom 2:15 ).
All of us who occupy public office, run for public office, or vote for those standing for public office must see and hear, and then act faithfully and resolutely upon, the compelling words of the Church: "Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is necessary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel" ( CCC #1896).
As a Catholic deacon, I read the Divine Office. As I read the Morning Prayer today, Saturday, 2 April, I could not help thinking of the Holy Father. One of this morning's scriptural readings was from Romans: "None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as his servants. Both in life and in death we are the Lord's. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living" (14:7-9). Does this not beautifully describe this Pope, this priest, this man? Was he not always the servant of God, living--and now dying--in and for Christ? Is that not what he taught us, above all--always to do our best to see the Lord (cf. John 20:20) and to be not afraid? Many others will write of the Holy Father's accomplishments as Christ's Vicar and as Peter's Successor, as theologian and as philosopher, as priest and as pastor. But the image that burns in my mind now, immediately following his death, is the huge mosaic of Christ as Teacher that is on the front of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame. In my mind's eye, the face of Christ in that mosaic becomes one with the face of John Paul, who was so much the teacher--in all he wrote, in all he said, and--chiefly--in all he did. Truly, he was a suffering servant who taught by word and by deed. As I read my Office this Saturday morning, I thought of Pope John Paul again as I read the intercessions: "Christ is the bread of life; he will raise up on the last day all who share the table of the word and his body. In our joy, let us pray: Lord, give us peace and joy." And: "[Christ,] You suffered and so entered into the glory of the Father, change the tears of the sorrowful into joy: Lord, give us peace and joy." What an outpouring of prayer there has been and there will be for our Holy Father! So much of the prayer comes in sorrow and suffering from us who know at least a little about the charisma and the character and the compassion of this Shepherd, this Teacher, this Papa, given to us for so long--and yet so short--a time. But can't we, with today's Morning Prayer, call upon our Heavenly Father, to give us peace and joy? Can't we manage a smile through the tears as we realize, with thanksgiving, that the Holy Father lives again now and forever with Christ, praying for us all? Can't we hear him in the inner ear of our soul telling us to belong to Christ, telling us to live and die for Christ, and telling us to be not afraid? Pope John Paul the Great, pray for us!
Deacon James H. Toner Maxwell AFB Catholic Chapel
As I write, Terri Schiavo lies dying of hunger and thirst, the victim of a judicial system which views her life as worthless. We have heard--and we will continue to hear--arguments and counterarguments about our society, about our laws, about the state of marriage today, about what constitutes "extraordinary" or "heroic" measures of life support*, about separation of Church and state, about the Catholic faith, about who can serve as a guardian watching out for the true interests of the incapacitated, and about Terri Schiavo and her family. There is value in these discussions and debates, and they are necessary for the moral life of our Republic. There is one critical element of the debate about which, however, we will hear very little. That we will hear nothing about this element is tragic beyond words, for it deserves the closest examination and the profoundest study. Pope John Paul II says that "Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life"--Terri's, her husband's, yours, mine, our children's. We spend a great deal of time, as we should, debating ethics--medical ethics, military ethics, business ethics, bioethics--but so often we fail to see that the answer to our questions is clear and cogent and concise, and it is exactly what the Holy Father has told us--Christ.
We have an elementary choice to make in and with our lives, and it has to do with a simple apostrophe: Are we gods or are we God's? If, as the apostrophe denotes, we belong to God (and if we do not think of ourselves as gods), then we seek with all our mind and heart and strength and soul to know, love, and serve God. When we serve God, we serve our neighbors--and we do that, not by our lights but by His and not in our interest but in theirs (cf. Phil 2:3-4). The tragic case of Terri Schiavo shows us in stark relief that we are divided, not just politically but also metaphysically, by the greatest question ever asked, Pilate's: "What is truth?"
For if there is no truth--and millions of our countrymen will say there isn't--then the Pope's answer about life and about human meaning is utter nonsense, and we may as well seek to be gods.
But if there is truth--and to us, as Christians, truth is a Person (John 14:6)--then we have meaning and value and dignity precisely because we are God's.
This is so basic to Catholic teaching that, sadly, it must be re-learned. That is, we daily say "Thy will be done" (we hope at least that it is daily), but are often so poorly catechized that, when confronted with momentous social questions, we seek answers solely in ourselves, as if we were gods, rather than in and from the Bride of Christ (Eph 2:20, 1:23; 1 Tim 3:15), as if we were God's. "Think! The heavens . . . belong to the Lord, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it," we read (Dt 10:14); "The earth is the Lord's and all it holds," we read (Ps 24:1); "You have been purchased at a price," we read (1 Cor 7:23); "You have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted . . . [and] have become slaves of righteousness," we read (Rom 6:17-18)--but we know, and are, no such thing.
Rightly, the Church commands us to respect life, to speak up for justice, to show mercy. But we think of what the neighbors might say or what our friends might think or what society counsels, and we forget Whose we are, and why. The Church tells us that the Magisterium's task is "to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee [us] the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error" ( CCC #890), but we find reason to mock such language and such conviction and to go about our business as though we are gods, and not God's. And when the Church tells us that we are to "adhere to [the Teaching] with religious assent" ( CCC #892) and to understand that our sinfulness and wounded nature inclines us to evil "and to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals" ( CCC #407), we dismiss that admonition, snickering as we go. "Personal conscience and reason," we are told--when our homilists dare to raise the unpopular point, "should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church" ( CCC #2039). And just who are these outdated authoritarians, we wonder, persuaded that the Church has little or nothing to say to us today? When, then, we meet with issues such as the forced death of Terri Schiavo, we are unaccustomed to thinking with the Church; we are not practiced in examining "our conscience before the Lord's Cross" ( CCC #1785); we are not rehearsed in asking how, as Scripture adjures us, to "take every thought captive in obedience to Christ" (2 Cor 10:5); we do not have the habit of thinking about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8) because we are corrupted into believing that such things are relative and have no objective significance. We have, as the sad saying goes, come to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
And so Terri Schiavo lies dying. It is all so unfortunate, but it will pass. And quickly, we hope, for someone might ask us our opinion at the water cooler or at our son's little league game--and then we'd want to give the "right" answer, wouldn't we? The "right" answer is that we are gods, and that life depends upon our utility, upon our conversational ability, upon our economic value. But what of the Teaching? What of the idea that we belong to God--and that we are not gods unto ourselves? What of the eternal Christian truth that we are to seek and to do the will of Almighty God? It is all so . . . inconvenient and so . . . reactionary and so . . . authoritarian.
Meanwhile so many of our Catholic "educators" worry about a resurgence of interest in enduring Catholic teaching and liturgy (we tend to believe and to do as we pray) and, recently, about how Catholicism in the South, in the words of one Catholic college president (and, by the way, priest) may become "another form of evangelical Protestantism with incense." We can't have that now, can we? Imagine how many of them are pro-life, support Christian marriage, believe in protecting innocent human life (through both civil law and just war), and even read Scripture. Careful! Or we Catholics with incense may come to believe that "To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles . . . and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls" ( CCC #2032).
But there it is: does the human person have "fundamental rights"? Is there any need, really, for the "salvation of souls"? Aren't these concepts outdated in our modern world? Who in his right mind would say that we are God's, that we belong, body and soul, to Him?
Catholics would, or should. Catholics should say with thanksgiving and with conviction that "we have the Mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16; cf. Rom 12:2). And with Saint Paul (1 Cor 1:20), we ought to ask, "Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?" And so He has. But the "wisdom of this world" is killing Terri Schiavo. If we were God's, we would be on our knees for her . . . and for ourselves . But we are gods, aren't we, and we have no need of kneeling, and we have no need of praying, and we have no need for the Terri Schiavos of this world. May the Lord have mercy on her soul . . . and upon ours. May the Lord give us the eyes to see and the ears to hear--that we may learn the humility to find in Him and in His Church the Truth that heals, the Truth that saves, and to know that we are God's.
Deacon James H. Toner
Montgomery , AL
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I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment. The soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul sustains him; if not he cannot be relied upon and he will fail himself, his commander, and his country in the end. It’s morale and I mean spiritual morale, which wins the victory ultimately. And that type of morale can only come out of a soldier who knows God and who has the spirit of religious fervor in his soul.
--Gen. George C. Marshall
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