Monday, July 22, 2013

Children and Truth: Fight for Them

The greatest of all the human goods is contemplation of the truth.  In his encyclical entitled Fides et Ratio, Blessed John Paul II, wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).”  One of the central elements of what he called, the culture of death, is the refusal to acknowledge the truth.  So, if the heart desires to know it, and man denies it, it is like killing the heart.  So the culture of death is leads to something like a massive and collective spiritual heart failure. God created man to be elite spiritual athletes.  The culture of death gives us spiritual heart disease and a host of other spiritual ailments.

One of the great things about our parish of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is that we seem to have a good number of people who are immune to this epidemic.  There is a vibrant and lively faith here and I feel compelled to honor that with a genuine reverence for it in what I say and do.  It is truly beautiful that we have a love of children and that you welcome them into your lives.  Sadly, much of the developed world, including most of the people in the US seem to have little use for children except insofar as they can be exploited or treated like little pets.  It bothers me, as well, when people come in here and do not respect our faith. We are who we are because of our faith.  Thus, I don’t need a modern Pharisee to come in here and replace God’s law with mere human preference.

Children and the contemplation of truth go hand in hand.  I remember once meeting a Hispanic man with a most unusual name, Diosdado. I had never heard that name before. It means “God gave.” The life of a child is his or her own, but it is a gift from God to us and especially to the parents.  If you separate the life of a child from the Creator’s intention, then you fail to see the child as the gift that the little person is.  I imagine that one’s greatest moments of serving as parents is the experience the profound mystery of sacrifice for the good of the child.  That would seem to me to a close to God-like as a human being can get.  To turn away from an inclination towards some selfish tendency to bless a child with time or some particular experience that brings wonder into his life can leave a person with the most sublime sense of satisfaction.  

The modern mind tends to think of faith as something unreasonable.  Believing in God and considering something as intangible as Truth seems to be a waste of time and to matter little in the scope of one’s life.  Have you ever tried to convince someone of the existence of God?  If a person is set against God, it will take more than great arguments. Mark Twain said, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” Beauty, love and even suffering seem to be the most convincing arguments for God.  Perhaps that is why having children in one’s life can be so compelling a case for God!  It is also the case, as has been said, that there are no atheists in foxholes, a phrase often attributed to war correspondent Ernie Pyle.

It can came as a bit of surprise that the promise of children and God's self-revelation are so closely related in the Holy Scriptures.  We see this with Adam and Eve, with Abraham, as well as many other patriarchs, and especially with the Annunciation of Jesus’ conception.  However, there is a certain logic to it in light of what we have said.  Contemplation of the truth compares in a certain way to the experience of truth as witnessed in the child “God gave.” It is also interesting that those couples who struggle with infertility have a longing for children that can be compared to the deepest search for God of the saints.  The odd thing is that by the logic of the world, contraception has become some great alternative method for the happiness of parents. It is not difficult to see, from the link between children and God, that contraception is bound to lead to spiritual death.  Even understanding the motives for limiting the number of children and avoiding or delaying the birth of a new child, in light of what we have said, it would seem unwise to kill one’s spirit by denying the capacity of the father or mother to be like God.

While the violence of war continues in many places, it seems that everywhere today, our people are left with the choice of the foxhole.  Do we flee or do we climb in and wage the battle?  I say that what we do today will be determinative in the lives of our children.  We might not make a great difference in the battle, but we have to remember that truly, the war is over and the victory is Christ’s.  Nothing has any power to change that.  Blessed John Paul II wrote, "There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us." Our testimony to and for our children will make a difference on the battlefield, however.  It will help determine what kind of men and women they will be.  It will either steel the hearts of those men and women of the future that enter into the great battle, or it will lead to something else or “somethings” else which are too numerous to mention and too discouraging to consider.  To conclude, I am reminded of these words of JP II, "Faced with today's problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape."  We can and must enter the foxhole in the fight against eternal death.  There is no escape and we can make all the difference for the children.

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