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October 3, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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October 3, 1998
 

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ARKANSAS CATHOLIC October 3, 1998 Page 11 nday has been .'called the Lord s kJDay since apostolic times, Pope John Paul reminded us in Observ- ing and Celebrating the Day of the Lord, an apostolic letter he wrote in J.uly. Now Sunday has lost its mean- ~ng for some. is Easter which returns week by Week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in Him of the first creation and the dawn of 'the new creation,'" he wrote. Rarely do we miss an Easter celebra- tion. It is the feast of all feasts. And the pope is calling us,,to look at each Sun- day as an "Easter where we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. The pope has seen a change in our society that equates Sunday as a vacation or one day in the "weekend." "Until quite recently, it was easier in traditionally Chris- tian countries to keep Sunday holy because it was an almost universal practice, and because, even in the organization of civil society, Sunday rest was considered a fixed part of the work schedule," he wrote. The Psalms say, "This is the day the Lord has made: Let us rejoice and be glad in it." With the start of school and sports, some parents are opting to have their children celebrate the Lord's Day in other ways. When little league and soccer games are being played, some classrooms in Sunday religious education programs are empty. Mass attendance is down. When you drive by the soccer fields on Sunday morning, they are packed with children and parents cheering on their team to victory. Parents are setting a bad example when they have two choices, religious edu- cation or soccer for their children, and they choose sports. Other parents have decided that reli- gious education is not worth bothering with at all, saying that they have too much going on to get their children involved in the parish. Some parents are guilty themselves of putting their priorities in other places. Attendance was down at this year's Catechetical Study Day in North Little Rock. Some said the culprit was a Ra- zorback game being played in Fayetteville. Others are overheard say- ing that they missed Mass because their favorite team was playing on television. It seems that somewhere we got things mixed up in our lives. Where are our priorities? If our priorities are our faith and family, then we should be together at Mass and spending qual- ity time together. If sports or any other activity keeps our children or us from getting involved in our parish, we should reexamine what's important in our lives. naericans could sell sand in the We're the world's best mar- That's the genius, and also the of our talent as a people. We Words with great skill, but without too deeply about their conse-- In fact, we often use them pre- to prevent ourselves from thinking '. Words can sell anything. They justify anything. result is that fewer and fewer of confidence in the honesty of Public debates. Twenty-five years Wade, this means that any on the "culture of life" be- from a deficit: The language of has been so strangely misused long that many citizens simply listen anymore to principle or About the only thing that irrefutable is experience. So begin with the story of a col- has a Down syndrome child. The thing about Dan, according to not how different he is from but how similar. He has all the Down syndrome characteristics Seem to soften the hard edge of a defect: a sweet temper, a gentle is also trouble on wheels, like other first-grader. Dan is a per- merely wears his imperfections outside, where they remind us of our own. thirst for perfection in our chil- in our friends, in the strangers is really a thirst for per- within our wounded selves. The of God's design is that only our our imperfection, can drive of love. It's what makes We need each other. Fortu- in all Dan's limitations and in possibilities, Bill has learned that is a treasure and not a mistake. Story of Bill and his son can serve us that we need to begin specific and concrete in order the general principles which nce all instinctively shared. Abor- kills people like Danny. In fact, syndrome children are becom- because the defense of re- choice and the pursuit of ion" have been elevated dogma. observers criticize the use of fetal images to show the bru- tality of abortion techniques. It's true that sometimes the use of such images is inappropriate -- for example, when small children might see them and be traumatized. But these pictures of bro- ken bodies reconnect the hot air bal- loon of political debate to the gravity of the consequences, which involve flesh and blood. Pictures show what "pro-choice" rhetoric tries to hide. "Terminating a pregnancy" means kill- ing a child prior to birth. "Partial-birth abortion" means stabbing and collaps- ing the skull of an infant who is par- tially born. Our society markets this as "choice." And, as a result, people are duped; society is soothed into indiffer- ence. When it's just a matter of choice, social and economic concerns can eas- ily trump any claim that a "potential" baby might have. Today's marketing of physician-as- sisted suicide is, perhaps, even more ominous because we have even less rea- son to be naive about it. The German medical establishment's inclination to- ward euthanasia predated the Nazis and can be traced to the eugenics move- ment of the early part of this century. That same eugenics movement persists today, in this country, albeit with a laun- dered vocabulary and better public re- lations advisers. Nor can we plead innocence due to ignorance. We've had too many warn- ings. Society may start, as Oregon has, by allowing physician-assisted suicide in limited circumstances. But it can only end as a social "necessity." Safeguards against the abuse of physician-assisted suicide were trumpeted as stringent in the Netherlands. But the safeguards don't work because the logic of physi- cian-assisted suicide is to relentlessly expand. As Michael Burleigh notes in "Death and Deliverance: Euthanasia, 1900-1945" (Cambridge, 1994), the Nazi euthanasia campaign began on the merciful-sounding pretext of relieving people of unbearable pain. It ended with killing the mentally and physically disabled, the infirm, the insane, the anti-social, the merely troublesome and, of course, 6 million Jews. It is perhaps most disturbing of all that those who carried out the killing were often "nor- mai" citizens who, in many cases, found the habit of "therapeutic killing" re- markably easy to acquire. One reason the human cost of abor- tion is so catastrophically high is that seemingly disparate things are intercon- to see nected and impact on our cultural char- acter. The deaths by abortion of more than 37 million children have had a corrosive effect on our attitude toward life itself. Instead of families, neighbors and communities helping women wel- come and care for their children, they are left to the mercy of an industry, which makes its profits from killing unborn children. And after an abortion, a woman is left alone to bear the grief of her baby's death. A woman may suffer from guilt and even self-hatred for not having pro- tected her child. She may also have no one to turn to for comfort, often because she concealed her pregnancy from fam- ily and friends, or because they encour- aged her to have the abortion. Everyone is affected by the hardening of the heart, which comes when a cul- ture tolerates killing. In denying that human life is sacred, abortion under- mines the very concept of human rights. Human life can be violated in many ways: when we tolerate euthanasia, treat oth- ers unjustly, or neglect those who are alone, in need or in despair. But efforts to protect and advance human rights cannot succeed if we do not first recog- nize that the right not to be killed is the base upon which all other rights rest. But how does one help others to un- derstand this? To penetrate the rhetoric of Choice and highlight our capacity for violence and serf-delusion are not enough. To transform our culture into one that respects and defends human life, it is necessary to speak of another and a greater truth: All human life is sacred. God is its author. We do not own it. That is why we are called to be a people of life, people who respect and actively promote life. Our particular re- sponsibilities flow from our state of life and our personal talents and no one is exempt. Bishops, for example, are called to teach and to encourage their brother priests and seminarians to hand on the Gospel of Life in its entirety. Catechists, teachers and theologians are asked to teach persuasively on behalf of unborn children and their mothers because this is where today's struggle is most costly in human lives. Parents face the challenge of raising their children to welcome new life as a gift from God, to respect those who are advanced in years, and to com- fort the sick and the lonely. Political lead- ers have a responsibility to make coura- geous choices in support of life, espe- cially through legislative measures that protect those who are mortally threat- ened --- children not yet born and those who are very old or very sick, and those who, like Danny, wear their imperfections on the outside. We can build a culture of life in the Third Millennium. To transform soci- ety, we are called to live and celebrate the Gospel of Life in our daily lives, lives marked by self-giving love for oth- ers. "Thus," says Pope John Paul II, "may the 'people of life' constantly grow in number and may a new cul- ture of love and solidarity develop for the true good of the whole human society." Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, of Denver, serves on the NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Aaivities. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR President Clinton never has been trusted In response to the editorial article in the September 19 issue of Arkansas Catho- //c, I agreed with all the comments, but a few sentences upset me which are the following: "We trusted him with leading our country. We trusted him, especially those of us from Arkansas, to make us proud, to be the best president this coun- try has ever had. We depended on him as leader of the free world." First of all I'm confused as to who "we" are. President Clinton stated in his cam- paign speeches that, "If I'm elected I will keep abortion legal, safe and rare." As a Catholic I did not vote for him because of that one statement. How can you be proud and trust someone who cannot and does not defend the most defense- less humad being in our country, the "unborn"? The media should be focusing on the president vetoing the Partial-Birth Abor- tion Ban Act instead of his immoral behavior. I have not heard the president asking for forgiveness in this matter. As Mother Angelica stated on EWTN, "This kind of procedure, partial-birth abortion, makes Hitler look like a saint." Mother Teresa said, "The fruit of abortion is nuclear war." I will keep praying for our president and our country. juay W.rn Pocahontas