Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Contra Pelosi

"As these example suggest, population control is ultimately out of sync with history. Neither West nor East required government-mandated family-planning programs during its period of rapid demographic and economic growth. (One can only imagine the public outcry if anything along the lines of a state-mandated condom distribution program had been attempted in Victorian England.) Yet leaders of the developing world are not told these obvious truths from our own history and experience. Instead, they are misled into thinking that lowering their country's birthrate will jumpstart economic development. 'Look at us,' we say. 'We have small families and are wealthy.' What we do not tell them is that this argument slyly reverses cause and effect. Declining fertility in the West was not the cause of economic development, but rather its unintended consequence."

-Steven Mosher in Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.


Parents in Virginia are fighting for easier grading standards. This is absurd! Instead of settling for mediocrity and advocating the dumbing down of our culture, why don't we strive for perfection? Why don't we strive for academic excellence and encourage the kids to reach the high grading standards? By not doing so, we teach them to only go for the bare minimum. Only study just enough to pass. Oh, and while we are at it, let's lower the grading scale so it's easier to pass and then you really won't have to try at all.

This kind of thinking has serious consequences. Not just on our culture and education, but on our religious life as well. Christ tells us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is and that unless we are perfect, unless we are saints, we will not enter into Heaven. St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "Strive...for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Yet if we are not striving for perfection in earthly matters, how do we expect to do so in heavenly matters. We can look at Christians all around us and see that we, in fact, are not striving for holiness. Instead of conforming our lives to Christ, we expect Christ to conform Himself to us. We pick and choose which articles of the faith we want to believe. We strip away all elements of self-sacrifice and what little remains we gripe about (I'm thinking here of the decreased obligation of fasting on only two days of the year now, which people still gripe about).

What ever happened to Vatican II's "universal call to holiness"? We need to encourage our youth to embrace this boldly in our everyday lives. No matter what our vocation is, we should strive for perfection and holiness. We should give our all to Jesus Christ, no matter what the consequences, no matter what the hardships. It's unfortunate that even at the Catholic Highschool were I teach, this is not being done. I'm sure at other Catholic highschools it is the same case (although, assuredly, not at all). If it's not done there, how can we expect public schools to do it? It's a slippery slope from academic mediocrity to moral mediocrity (although the reverse could be true also).

Now, I will be the first to admit, that I myself struggle with this path to holiness. I am often lazy and procrastinate. Yet, I constantly work at overcoming these things, no matter how often I fail. Each day is a new start to holiness. Each day is a learning process to grow in holiness. There are many examples and teachings of saints that we can learn from and follow on our way to perfection in Christ. For anyone out there who is not content with mediocrity and are struggling for holiness in their everyday life, I would highly recommend the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva and consider getting involved with the Apostolate he started, Opus Dei. You don't have to be Catholic to be a member. All you have to do is be committed to holiness and helping to bring others to holiness in Christ. Check them out here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fr. Neuhaus, Rest In Peace

I was intending to write a post before Christmas on how much I enjoyed Fr. Neuhaus's commentary in "The Public Square" portion of his magazine, First Things. I have been reading First Things for several years now, and I have always thought of Neuhaus's commentary as the precursor to blogs.

After coming back from Christmas vacation, my wife informed me, by way of Mark Shea's blog (of which she is a devout reader), that Fr. Neuhaus was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago (which I was not aware of) and that the day after Christmas he had been admitted to the hospital for some illness. It looked as if he would recover from the illness and be able to receive chemotherapy to fight the cancer. I was distressed to hear the news and the past week I have been praying for his recovery.

About a half hour ago my wife was reading Mark Shea's blog and told me that Fr. Neuhaus had passed away. I was shocked. My wife asked me if I was okay after hearing the news and my response was, "No, I'm not okay." I couldn't help but weep for the loss of such a wonderful and faithful priest. The Church and the world have suffered a tremendous loss. May we keep Fr. Neuhaus in our prayers and pray for the repose of his soul. Would that we had many more priests in the Church who had such devotion and love of Christ. My life has been enriched by his writings. Knowing the sadness I feel for his death, I can't even imagine the sadness felt by those who knew and were close to him. May eternal rest be granted unto him.