I Read The News Today, Oh Boy
John Lennon's words played through my mind while I read the paper the other day. The Chronicle's front page had a picture of two grief stricken teenage girls and the headline, "Killing Rampage at School, Up to 25 dead, 20 hurt in shootings in Denver suburb." The number of dead was later reduced to thirteen. Still too large a number. One is too large a number.
In the same paper I read an article about a couple who are suing Kaiser Hospital claiming the hospital lost the body of their stillborn daughter. The parents had asked for an autopsy and the return of the body for a proper burial. The hospital informed them they could not find the body, even after an extensive search that included searching through the hospital's laundry. Kaiser reportedly offered the parents $15,000 and their daughter's placenta for burial.
While the two events may not appear to have much in common I think they share a common basis. Should one be surprised that a hospital could lose the body of a stillborn child? In an industry that attacks the most vulnerable of children through abortion what's one more dead baby? With a generation of children having grown up in a society where violence against the unborn is so acceptable why should we be surprised when one or two of them escalate the violence by attacking students and teachers?
The Chronicle on April 23 ran an editorial cartoon that makes a similar point. It shows a man reading a newspaper with the headline "High School Violence" while walking next to the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper has "Doctor Assisted Suicide" printed on his coat. The man asks, "Where do kids pick up this gothic obsession with death?" The Grim Reaper replies, "Beats me."
Violence and death are a common part of today's society. John Paul II addressed this in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life. He wrote:
In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death", . . . (w)e have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man. . . . Those who allow themselves to be influenced by this climate easily fall into a sad vicious circle: when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God's living and saving presence. (Evangelium )
It's not surprising that so many people wonder what is happening to our country. There are many "experts" who talk about enforcing stricter gun control laws; who call for creating a more inclusive environment in our schools; who have endless ideas for what is wrong and how we can fix it. Rarely do they ask, "What place does God have in our lives?" Rarely do their solutions call for an increase in prayer and worship. God doesn't seem to hold any relevance for them.
In Paradoxes of Faith, Henri de Lubac wrote:
Found in a questionnaire: "Blessed are the meek. How can this beatitude be adapted to the present time, when the violent inherit the earth?"
Would the author of this question really suppose that in the time of Christ the meek prevailed more naturally than today over the violent? Would he believe too that in those times it was naturally pleasant to cry, to be poor, nay even to suffer persecution? Would it be his opinion, in short, that we no longer have to accept the teaching of the Beatitudes in the same sense as of old and that the time has come to "adapt" the Gospel?
Christ gave us the beatitudes as a guide for livng our lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Beatitude makes us 'partakers of the divine nature' and of eternal life. With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian life."
If I want to see a change in our society I have to practice the beatitudes. I think I better start practicing them right now.
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