Because, let’s face it, we could all use a little more of it.
Litany of Humility
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X
Yesterday I was on Catholic radio in Lexington, KY. Mike and I spent most of the time talking about the Communita Cenocolo, a Catholic ministry that addresses the deepest needs of addicts–the need for community, squeezing in a little bit about America’s eugenic history at the end. Click the play button below to listen!
For even more information about the Community here in America, check out the following episodes of EWTN’s Life on the Rock:
Tune in today at 5 pm ET when I will be talking to Mike Allen about the Communita Cenocolo, a Catholic ministry that addresses the deepest needs of addicts–the need for community. We’ll also talk a little bit about how the ideological roots of the Nazi Holocaust connect to our own American soil.
Click on the image above or go to RealLifeRadio.com to listen live.
A few weeks ago, I commented on the new memorial to Nazi euthanasia victims with a reminder that Germany’s eugenics movement did not start with Hitler, but German professors and other intellectuals. A commenter on that post noted that eugenic practices in Europe actually originated here in America.
He’s right and, while I failed to mention it then, I have mentioned it several times here before. What’s often forgotten when we think about the history of eugenics is that eugenic thought and practices were also common and widespread in early 20th century US. Not only that, many prominent eugenicists from our country were Nazi advisors.
Before the mass murders and concentration camps, ethnic cleansing in Germany started with the forced sterilization of so-called “undesirables,” namely, the physically and mentally handicapped. Before Hitler, the United States lead the world in the forced sterilization of these “unfit” human beings.
Over at Breakpoint.org, Eric Metaxas goes into a little more detail.
As Edwin Black, the author of “War Against the Weak” has documented, the ideas that led to Aktion T4 “began on Long Island and ended at Auschwitz . . . and yet never really stopped.”
By “Long Island” he means the Cold Spring Harbor Lab right here in New York, which was the driving force behind the eugenics movement in the United States. Between the turn of the twentieth century and our entry into World War II, America engaged in its own experiment in “racial hygiene.”
States prohibited marriage between the “fit” and “unfit,” often defining the latter category very broadly. They forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of people with the Supreme Court’s blessing. The number of those affected by what Chuck Colson once dubbed “Yankee Doodle Eugenics” will never be known with any certainty.
What is certain is that, by the time Hitler came to power, the U.S. had been practicing the gospel of eugenics at home and spreading that message abroad, including Germany and, yes, among those who put Aktion T4 into action. As a colleague of mine has put it, “the demonic ideas about ‘race hygiene’ that the Third Reich put into practice were, at least initially, clearly marked ‘Made With Pride in the USA.’”
Most states ended their state-enforced sterilization in the 1940s, but North Carolina didn’t pick it up til sometime after the 40s, and there it peaked during the 1950s and 1960s, before ending in the ’70s.
Germany took the movement to its natural and horrific conclusion, so it’s easy to muster up patriotic, American outrage at the atrocities of the Holocaust — especially since we played a significant role in helping our allies defeat Hitler and liberate many of those imprisoned by his ruthless government. But we mustn’t forget our own mistreatment of the sick and disabled and the role we played spreading the eugenic mindset abroad.
If only our eugenic “history” were a thing of the past. Certainly, we made many wonderful advances in the past few decades protecting the rights of people with disabilities and including them in society. But, let’s not forget that the expected American response, if a disability is known before birth, is to abort the child. So, in terms of really accepting people with disabilities, we are arguably no better than we were a century ago.
In fact, the argument could be made that we are much, much worse and that our systematic slaughter of disabled infants in the womb dwarfs or is at the very least on par with the inhumanity of Hitler’s euthanasia program. Perhaps the saddest part of it all is that we’re not being ruled by some ruthless dictator; we’re doing it to ourselves. If it can be said that we’re under the influence of any dictator, it is the dictatorship of relativism that tells us that human life has limited value.
Recently came across an old article from Susan Windley-Daoust on The Sign of the Dying Body: How the Theology of the Body Helps Us to Die in Love
Dying—undergoing it, or helping one who is dying—is a privileged space where we see and encounter God himself. And in dying, the ensouled body serves as a sign of gift and giving, yielding one’s life to the embrace of God. It is a sign that well-illumined the insights of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Windley-Daoust recently published a book with more on this topic: Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Birth, Impairment and Dying.
Today the Catholic Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Today also happens to be my birthday, so this feast has always kind of been a bit of a personal one for me.
Our Lady was so intimately linked with the redemptive work of her Son that she shared in His sufferings here on earth (Lk. 2:35) while standing by Him on the cross (Jn. 19:25). Besides our Lord, Mary is the greatest example of perseverance in suffering and is a constant source of strength and inspiration for me in my own sufferings.
This feast of our sorrowful Mother, who is also now the Queen of Heaven, is a great source of hope as well — a reminder of the reward of those who suffer for the sake of Christ:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. -2 Timothy 2:11-12
Finally, Our Sorrowful Mother teaches us that it’s okay to be sad and mourn the loss of loved ones that are dear to us. Sorrow is not a lack of faith or trust in God. Christ, himself, expressed sorrow many times in the Gospels — even openly wept at the death of his good friend Lazarus (Jn 11:35).
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, by St. Bonaventure:
O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen.
I mentioned last year that work had begun on a memorial in Germany for the 300,000 people murdered by the Nazis for having mental and physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.
That memorial finally opened last week in Berlin.
“The Nazi murders of disabled people are among the most inhumane acts of history,” said Mayor Klaus Wowereit. “It is high time that these victims of Nazi inhumanity finally receive their own memorial.”
Mayor Wowereit was joined by relatives of victims and members of the public who all lay wreaths and white roses in front of the 100-foot-long, blue glass wall of the open-air memorial and permanent exhibition.
“We must denounce the inhumane distinction between a worthy and an unworthy life,” said Monika Gruetters, Germany’s state minister for culture and media. “Every human life is valuable – that’s the message of this memorial.”
As I said before, this is the part of the holocaust that people need much more education on. I’ll never forget being told by someone that he thought only Jews were exterminated in the holocaust!
What perhaps needs to be understand above all is that the Nazis were actually inspired by a pre-existing eugenics movement that advocated the destruction of Life Unworthy of Life. A movement propagated, not by Hitler, but by high-profile German intellectuals and other “medical professionals.”
This is why statements like the ones recently made by humanist and darling of the intellectual community Richard Dawkins about the “morality” of killing unborn children with Down syndrome should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, Dawkins is not alone. Much of the West, it seems, has failed to learn from history and continues to accept that there is such a thing as unlivable, unworthy life. And it’s not limited to just some lofty intellectual idea.
His comments may have been crass, but Dawkins was correct about one thing, the majority of children prenatally diagnosed with Ds ARE currently being killed in the womb. But that’s not all. In the Netherlands, doctors kill babies with serious or terminal disabilities after they’re born.
Also on the rise in the Netherlands, as well as in Belgium, is euthanasia for people with serious physical and mental illnesses. And the so-called “right to die” is slowly spreading to other countries, including the United States.
What short memories we have!
Once upon a time physicians and medical professionals — believers and non-believers alike — swore an oath to recognize and uphold the dignity of their patients and “never do harm” or administer deadly medicine to anyone – even when asked. Now, not only do we not require such an oath to be taken anymore, but for those who do take it we’ve changed it into something more politically than medically correct.
Any reference to never administering deadly medicine has been removed and replaced with a vague pledge to “tread with care in matters of life and death.”
A physician’s job is to heal, not kill. Death is never medicine, no matter how permanent the diagnosis or how much pain the patient is in. We may not be directly headed toward mass murder of the kind that happened in Germany in the early half of the 20th century, but we’re still in for a world of trouble once we start making death an acceptable “treatment” for pain and suffering.
Dear readers, please accept these photos of the cutest little baby Gator you’ve ever seen in your life, as a consolation for failing to publish any of the three or four posts I started this week (and to celebrate the start of college football!). I will try to do better next week!
This was me and my nephew Cruz just a few months ago watching the Gators lose to Connecticut in the Final Four.
He’s a little bigger now, but just as adorable.
Cute baby Gator throwback: guess who??
Go Gators! –,==,<
The persecution of Christians and other innocent civilians half a world away suddenly hit close to home for Americans this week with news that kidnapped journalist James Foley had been beheaded by members of the Islamic State.
In the wake of his death, a letter has emerged from Foley to his alma mater, Marquette University. In it, he wrote of his imprisonment in a military detention center in Tripoli in 2011 and of the solace he found in praying the rosary during his incarceration there.
If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
I pray that he was able to maintain that inner freedom throughout his captivity and execution.
I don’t really have a whole lot to say. I just wanted to recommend a book by my favorite modern spiritual author, Fr. Jacques Philippe, called Interior Freedom. It is by far his best.
He also released a new one this year specifically about prayer. That’s the only one of his books I have not read yet, but, like all the ones before it, I’m sure it is quite helpful and spiritually insightful.
Foley’s death and the deaths and displacement of thousands of others are a stark, painful reminder that our exterior freedom is never guaranteed. But there is one thing that no force can ever take away from us.
Interior freedom is not only necessary in captivity, but also in our ordinary daily lives when even small annoyances can threaten our peace and calm.
Not surprisingly, The Anchoress also has some words worth reflecting on. Specifically:
…this intentional evil that has once more reared its head, as it has in the past, is going to require more than rhetoric and airstrikes, or grenades or tanks. Intentional evil must be fought by intentional disciples. And all I’ve been saying for these months is: begin to practice prayer. Begin to form your intentional discipleship within your families and your communities.
Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Rom. 12:12
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Before praying at the abortion memorial in Korea this weekend, Pope Francis also visited the “House of Hope” Rehabilitation Center Saturday afternoon. He spent almost an hour at the center where he embraced and blessed many of the patients and greeted teachers and health workers.
According to CNA, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-huh, Bishop of Cheongju, addressed the Holy Father and said “these children have suffered from double abandonment: abandoned first by their parents for birth defects and later by society because nobody wanted to adopt them because of prejudices against children with disabilities.”
“Holy Father, your visit is a strong call for us to practice preferential love and concern for children with disabilities.”
Indeed. Humanity’s greatness is shown best in how we love and care for those in need.
How many children with disabilities, like those at the House of Hope, continue to be abandoned throughout the world or, worse yet, have their lives snuffed out before they’re even born?
We should be concerned with finding cures and making the world a place where people with disabilities feel welcome and valued, not pushing them away or snuffing them out of existence.
Visiting the sick and disabled is not unique to Francis’ pontificate, of course. During his visit to the United States in 2008, pope Benedict had a special audience for children with disabilities and told them
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead – the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.
Related: Your Handicapped Child is a Blessing