Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the tragedy BEFORE the VT shooting

Thank you, Michelle Dickerson, for saying this:

In the aftermath of tragedy lies our answer. Love. Not just from being caught up in the emotions of the moment, but love at all times. We treat love as a feeling, but ultimately it is a choice, a decision we make. We can choose to love or not to love. The decision is ours to make. It is in our hands. No one can force us to love. To love only when it is convenient is not love.

Michelle aptly points out that the great tragedy is that most of the time, we choose to ignore most or sometimes all the chances we're given to love one another -- until some great tragedy reminds us that we don't have forever to give our love to others.

And she points out that love is a choice. That is one of the most important lessons I've ever learned. I'll say it again, for emphasis: one of the most important lessons I've ever learned is that love is not a feeling, no quiver in the liver or other physical or emotional sensation, but a choice to do something loving for another.

Pray for more to find a vocation of charity!

Found this article on red tape and charity today. In it, Maria Peceli describes the difficulties she had in getting one package of diapers out of a food bank, without having to put her kids in day care.

This is the legacy of a government-funded "charity." If I recall correctly, it was John Paul II the Great who told us that a government cannot give people love. As the title of Papa Ben's first encyclical ought to remind us, the root word of "charity" is "caritas," love. If a government cannot give people love, how can it give people charity?

The red tape is pretty much an insuperable problem for a government aid organization. Government agencies of all types inevitably attract the attention of some crusading politician who searches it for fraud and/or waste, and when he inevitably finds it, he gets on his soapbox and "does something about it" so he can brag about that, come the election. The result is the sort of red tape that almost strangled the charity out of the food bank where Maria Peceli sought one package of diapers.

One of my older rants expresses my discomfort and dislike, when it comes to tax-funded relief and aid, particularly grants to faith-based charities. But something I realized later, and never put there, is this: there are two sides to Matthew 22:21. The first is to give to the government the things which are proper to it, such as defending our lives, liberty, and property. The other is to give to God the things which are proper to the Body of Christ, such as charity and good works. We have handed over the work of the Body of Christ to our Caesar, and then congratulated ourselves for it. How should we answer if God should ask us, "Why did you stop doing My work, and assign it to others who do not follow Me?"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Supreme Court

People seem to have the idea that the Supreme Court's decision of April 18 is a partial overturn of Roe v. Wade. It isn't. It's a partial overturn of Doe v. Bolton. Roe overturned bans on the procedure, but Doe v. Bolton forbade any limits on it whatsoever. The federal ban on partial birth abortion (described here by one of its practitioners) was a challenge to Doe, and I thank God for its victory.

I know what the advocates for "choice" say; that we are forcing the women who would use this procedure into a more difficult life. Materialistically, this may well be so. But there is no reason to think that "a less difficult life" has a 1:1 correlation to "a better life." Surely all the martyrs and ascetic saints would claim the contrary.

Children, whether they are wanted, anticipated, healthy, or not, are a channel of grace. If not for the birth parents, then surely for SOMEBODY. Why is it so important to us to protect the power of a mother to slay her own children in the womb, at all costs?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VT shooting

I imagine my readers (if I have any) are horrified by the violent and murderous events at Virginia Technical University, as I am. I pray that the Blessed Virgin and all the angels and saints will join us in praying for everyone affected by these terrible crimes.

Of course, there is political fallout to come. Some has started already. The calls for even more stringent controls on the right to keep and bear arms have already started, never mind that we have no idea how many laws were broken by the shooter in obtaining his weapon.

When these things happen I always think what a pity it is that there wasn't someone present with a "permit to carry" who could have disabled this guy before he killed so many people.

Someone on one of my favorite boards had this to say, and I agree completely. I would be very much surprised if VT did not forbid all concealed carry on their campus except by law enforcement, regardless of Virginia's laws on the matter. (edit: Virginia Tech forbids ALL firearms on campus, except for law enforcement.)

You will find, if you look, that Israel has not had problems with people shooting up schools for decades. It was at one point a favored tactic of the PLO: give some willing martyr an AK-47 with a full magazine and send him to murder a bunch of school kids. It was cheap -- an AK-47 goes for about $50 on the black market -- and a bunch of dead school kids was a fabulous event with big headlines. But the Arab terrorists stopped. Why?

Because Prime Minister Golda Mier allowed faculty and retirees to draw weapons for concealed carry from government armories. And they started hanging out at schools, and shooting up the willing martyrs who showed up with their fully loaded AK-47s. Casualties for these incidents dropped to low single digits, and deaths even lower than that. And it was at that point that martyrs went from using AK-47s, which are cheap and widely available, to car bombs, which are expensive and hard to make.

We could enact the same policy: encourage faculty and retirees who qualify for concealed carry to keep and bear arms on campus, to respond quickly to the murderous and psychotic who threaten our children. In fact, we already do so on airplanes, though there it is limited to the crew of the craft, who must qualify as Federal Flight Deck Officers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oath of Office

I wonder what so thoroughly demotivates our Congress from protecting and defending the Constitution. This article from The Center for Security Policy spells out clearly the stakes in every single treaty we conclude, particularly those with multinational bodies. If we find ourselves without any liberty at all, it is still possible, legally, to divest ourselves of these things. But it would require a Constitutional amendment requiring that the President sign and the Senate ratify every rule to which we would be made subject. I suspect that the Supreme Court could strike down unratified amendments or regulations ... if the suit was brought to them, and they felt like it.

Praying for Enemies

From Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, by way of Catholic Exchange.
I am going to share a genuine prayer of forgiveness which was the prayer of an unknown woman, found on a piece of wrapping paper in Ravensbruck concentration camp at the end of World War II:

O Lord, Remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. But do not remember the suffering they inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we brought — thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

I am in awe of this great love. It is not natural, but supernatural. It comes not from the human heart, but the Holy Spirit. I pray that we, too, can have such love for those who hate and torment us from the depths of evil to which they have sunk.

One of the themes you will see me revisit, time and again, is the sincere belief that great evils are only rarely defeated by force and laws. Force and laws can resist evil, and that is the proper use of them. But evils, be they terrorism, violence, abortion, pornography, drugs, or what have you, are only suppressed by force and laws. They are defeated only when evil hearts are transformed by love.