Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

1 Thes 4:9-11 A Change of Mentality

Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
By JENNIFER BURGIN
 
(Click Here for Readings)

Brothers and sisters: On the subject of fraternal charity you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.
 
 Today is the Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist.  Most of us are very familiar with the story of John the Baptist's beheading. We read it over and over again throughout the liturgical cycle.  However, we can still harvest new meaning with every read.
 
Saint Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about aspiring to live a tranquil life, minding our own affairs. It is way too easy for us to blame others when life is messy and chaotic. We may meddle in other people's business in order to compensate for our own inadequacies.  A tranquil life is free from resentment and anger; gossip and meddling; envy and jealousy.  A tranquil life flourishes when we trust in the Lord and follow his teachings.  Sculpt and mold ourselves into better Christians through compassion and charity - not apathy and laziness.
 
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote the following as presented in Magnificat's"Meditation of the Day:"
 
"The task set before the Baptist as he lay in prison was to become blessed by this unquestioning acceptance of God's obscure will; to reach the point of asking no further for external, visible, unequivocal clarity, but, instead, of discovering God precisely in the darkness of this world and of his own life, and thus becoming profoundly blessed.  John even in his prison cell had to respond once again and anew to his own call for metanoia or a change of mentality, in order that he might recognize his God in the night in which all things earthly exist."

What struck me about this quote is the call for metanoia - a change of mentality.  Saint John the Baptist experienced a transformation as he accepted God's will despite thedifficult situation he was in.  In the darkness of the world, light shines through as we accept life's uncharted courses.

Many times we go through our routines as if on automatic pilot.  We work 8+ hours a day.  We spend the weekends attending sporting events with the kids. We surround our lives with a bunch of activity, but do we make time for God?  Do we make it a priority to pray every day and to attend Mass every Sunday?  Are we catechizing our children in the Catholic faith?  Are we setting aside time away from all of "fun" stuff in order to thank the Lord for his abundant blessings? I think it's time for each one of us to go through a mental "check" in terms of our spiritual health.  If our faith is out-of-balance; our beliefs off center; or our trust in God in decline it's time for real change. Just think if everyone adopted the "change of mentality" challenge maybe we'd see more people in the pews, less shootings on the television, less rates of divorce, a decrease in addictions, and a greater respect for all human life.  
 
Saint John the Baptist, Pray for Us!

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2 Tm 1:1-8 Have Courage!

Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
 
By Benedict Augustine

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.”

A couple of weeks ago, three million people assembled in Paris in solidarity with the murdered cartoonists of the magazine Charlie Hebdo. A few weeks before that, crowds gathered for Eric Garner, a man killed by a police officer in New York. A few weeks before crowds protested, and then rioted, after shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the first case, the people rallied behind bawdy cartoonists who celebrated their freedom of expression with obscenities and blasphemy. In the second case, people were chanting to kill cops because a man selling cigarettes illegally died from the officer's excessive use of force. In the third case, people vandalized a whole neighborhood for a thug who robbed a cigar store and resisted arrest. The principles animating the people to cry out may have been mixed, but the anger, the energy, was there.

If only the people showed so much vitriol and anger for the widespread massacring of Christians not only in the Middle East, but all over the world. If only people truly spoke out and acted against the repeated kidnapping, human trafficking, and regular ransacking of Boko Haram in Nigeria instead of putting up a feeble online campaign consisting of posting selfies with signs saying, “Save our girls.” If only the world could voice their support with brutally oppressed Tibetans and North Koreans who suffer at the hands of their own government by the thousands; rather, a stupid movie is produced—released only after so much hesitation and hand-wringing—and that is the West's response to dictators.

As far as global problems go, it seems apparent that the clearer and worse the injustice, the more muddled and absurd is the call for action. People express their disapproval in the safety of numbers, the safety of internet anonymity, the safety of false narratives. In those decisive moments that demand real change, nothing happens: the evil doers continue doing their dirty work. No other word can describe this behavior except cowardice.

Terrorism, police brutality, and racial inequality deserve attention, as do wide-scale religious persecution, widespread criminality, and oppressive tyrannies. However, as Paul notes, not only do these issues of injustice demand attention, they demand a response of “power and love and self-control.” Protests with mixed intentions and false narratives lack love and self-control while those with good intentions frequently lack power. Christian courage requires a recognition of truth, dignified and coherent protest and counteraction, and a commitment to help those in need. Timothy and Titus, whose feast day is today, acted out this kind of courage in their preaching.

By its fallen nature, the world necessitates courage from Christians. Jesus' exorcism of demons models what Christians should do today: call out Evil and remove it. The developed world today has the materials means to eliminate evil, but it does not have the spiritual means. In fact, the developed world would rather collude with the corrupted elements of impoverished areas than reform it in any significant way. In this situation, Christians need to stand apart. They need to give all they can to the heroes, the soldiers, the social workers, and the missionaries who combat these problems; in turn, they need to refuse as much as they can to the celebrities, politicians, and businessmen who profit from these problems; and at all times, they need to continue speaking out instead of shrugging off these things as necessary evils.

Besides supporting the heroes, which serves as a first step in courage, Christians need to become the heroes; they need to become saints. Saints distinguish themselves with their willingness to do the right thing in the worst circumstances. They speak out against abortion at their reception of the Nobel Peace Prize (Blessed Mother Theresa). They denounce tyranny and state-worship in a country caught its throes (St. John Paul II). They explain the clear menace of contraception in the chaos of social and cultural upheaval (Blessed Paul VI). They generously sacrifice themselves for their neighbor at the hands of cruel Fascists (St. Maximilian Kolbe). They dismantle and identify decadence in a popular philosophy that has taken hold of the world's intelligentsia (St. Pius X). These saints have courage, but they are relatively few; their foes, who still haunt today's world and even today's Church, have no courage, but they are many.

Fortunately, Jesus empowers his disciples to face these demons. The disciples just need to accept this power, this grace, to do this. Those who shy away from the task of confronting spiritual evil, who pretend it does not exist, do not receive this power. They become slaves to sin and add to the legions of Satan, possessed with indifference and mealy mouthed equivocation. They risk committing the unforgivable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit: they live and die refusing God's salvation through Jesus Christ (see St. John Paul II's encyclical, “Dominum et Vivificantum”). Many blaspheme this way because of temptation, but more do it out of fear.

Therefore, the Church must unite with the saints, and her members must join their ranks.“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand,” warns Jesus. Heedless of this warning, the spirit of evil divides its followers, giving an opportunity to Catholics to stymie its progress and restore sanity to the world. Jesus and His disciples started this work; Paul and his associates followed their example; and Catholics today must continue onward. It will require courage, but as in all things, the Lord will provide.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ru 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17 The Beauty of Sisterhood

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By JENNIFER BURGIN

(Click Here for Readings)

Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter! Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field; you are not to leave here. Stay here with my women servants. Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them; I have commanded the young men to do you no harm. When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels the young men have filled.” Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him, “Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?” Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know previously.”

While meditating on today's first reading from Book of Ruth, images of sisterhood come to mind.  Nuns pray the Divine Office in choir; sorority sisters dress up in identical t-shirts while engaged in community outreach; biological sisters enjoy a cup of coffee as they reminisce about childhood; women of faith gather together in prayer and fellowship....  

Sisterhood is all about connection and formation of relationships centered aroundcommon interests, traditions, passions, and even misfortunes. 

Deep in our psyches humans desire to live in community.  God did not create us to remain alone in isolation.  We are meant to bond and unite in ways that nourish and build up the Kingdom of God.   In our technological world, we remain "connected" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Sadly, we now lack many one-on-one physical connections.  It's easier to text than pick up the phone and have a lengthy conversation.  It's quicker to look at a photo on Facebook than to meet an old friend for a meal and see how they look in person.  I think about all of my fellow "sisters" who I regularly follow on social media.  Some I have not seen in person in 2 or 3 years.  They even live in the same city.  

Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth are the perfect example of the beauty of sisterhood.  Even though not blood related, they share the grief associated with widowhood, losing the caretakers in their lives (husbands and sons).  Both women decide to travel together away from famine in order to start a better life.  They remain bonded together as they adapt to the new vocation of widowhood, gleaning for food and relying on the generosity of neighbors.  Naomi accepts her daughter-in-law even though she is a "foreigner."  The acceptance is reciprocated by Ruth.  They love one another like biological mother and daughter!  A shared faith in the Lord gives them the strength to persevere despite all of the tragedy they've endured.  Incredibly, Ruth could have decided to cut ties with Naomi after her husband's death, yet she loved her mother-in-law so much that she remained committed to her care. I wonder how many Naomis & Ruths exist in our modern day society.  We so often complain about annoying and frustrating "in laws."  Maybe we should step back and reflect on the relationship between Naomi and Ruth.  Perhaps we can "glean" inspiration from their story and improve our own personal relationships.

Naomi plays match-maker as she introduces Boaz to Ruth. Of course, as all good love stories end, the couple gets married.  They give birth to a son they name Obed.  (Naomi is one proud grandma!) We know from biblical tradition that Ruth's son is an ancestor to Our Lord Jesus.  Wow, who ever thought the bond of sisterhood could become animportant contribution to salvation history?!

"Holy Mary, comfort the miserable, help the faint hearted, cheer those that weep, pray for the people, be the advocate of the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who celebrate your memory feel the might of your assistance. Amen." (The Sancta Maria Prayer) 

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jgs 9:6-15 Strong Leaders and Godless Dystopias

Jgs 9:6-15 Strong Leaders and Godless Dystopias
By Benedict Augustine

Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the buckthorn replied to the trees,
‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith,
come and take refuge in my shadow.
Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”

In times of social unrest, communities will always look for a strong leader. Unfortunately, if the community has reached a low enough state, it will often lack decent leaders to follow. This situation arises from a weak culture that has given up morality, meaning, and goodness. Indifference and despair pervade the atmosphere. Everyone claims the status of victim, pointing fingers at everyoneelseand all clamor for a leader to make the problems go away, but this only invites an even bigger problem: a tyrant, or party of tyrants, that enslave the whole population.

Good leaders rise from good cultures, ones that reinforce a moral code, a vigorous search for truth, and a reverence for beauty. In such conditions, allmen and women accept their roles with gratitude, act selflessly, and contribute to the common good—indeed, they themselves form the common good. Healthy cultures are never at a loss for leaders, for all the citizens could carry out the duties of leadership, knowing and doing what is good, what is fair, and what is required. Because accomplishing this is somewhat easy (and even fun) with such a virtuous community, the people hardly desire a strong leader, but rather a weak one that will leave everyone alone.

As Christ says, “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” Good societies have an abundant crop of talented leaders, but do not need them; bad ones in need of good leaders have none and often sink into deeper misery. This fundamental truth suggests something important about leadershipand history: strong leaders are not the solution, or the problem, but rather the result of culture; they can act as the nasty symptom of a diseased culture, or the sweet fruits of a prosperous culture.

In nearly every community, misunderstanding this cause and effect relationship, good/bad cultures and good/bad leaders, has led to cultural decline. Leaders and citizens alike mistake their wealth and power as culture rather than the product of culture. In logical terms, they mistake the effect for the cause. When this happens, they do not simply neglect the culture that made them great, but reject it outright. When a community has money, power, and influence, the old ways of virtue, religion, and tradition threaten to overturn these goods that seem to stand on their own merits.

As history makes clear, relying on money, power, and influence, virtually ensures a culture’s immediate decline and ensuing decadence. People abandon God, one another, and even themselves, knocking down the pillars of law, compassion, and hard work. Soon enough, another younger and slightly less corrupt power will overtake it for a while before falling itself to yet another power. Thus, the cycle continues indefinitely

The book of Judges illustrates the scenario perfectly. Probably the most dystopian—and politically intriguing—of any of the books of the entire Bible, it captures the fluctuating fate of fallen humanity in all its frustrationA few centuries after Joshua leads the twelve tribes triumphantly into Israel, they stop worshiping God, stop following His laws which hitherto kept them safe, and completely lose their identity amid the pagan cultures left in the area.

Right on cue, they would cry out for a strong leader to save them from all their problems. God instead gives them judges, who are not exactly leaders, but more warriors and prophets who would ward off the pagan influence in the attempts of restoring Israel’s culture. The questionable character of most the judges, who excel at killing and not much else (like my personal favorite, Shamgar, who kills 600 Philistines with an ox goad), offers strong evidence of Israel’s inferior culture. With the help of God, they have a few good judges, yet in the absence of enduring faith, they had no good leaders. 

Nevertheless, they still hope for a strong leader, and finally had one in the tyrant Abimelech. The prophet Jotham makes clear in his parable that they have allowed their desperate search for a king blind them to the man that they actually agreed to follow. They did not pick the olive or fig tree, nor the vine, which all produced goods of value; they picked the prickly parasitic shrub, the buckthorn. Needless to say, his reign spells disaster for Israel as he ravages the land for the next few years in the hopes of aggrandizing his kingdom. 

AlthougAbimelech eventually dies in one of the captured towns at the hands of a woman, the Isrealites scarcely learn their lesson of seeking salvation from an earthly king instead of their King in Heaven. After so many centuries of turmoil and judges, God grants their wish with King Saul, which starts another cycle of varying fortunes, sadly with more buckthorn kings than olive ones, that finally end with Babylonian captivity.   

This lesson, spanning the whole Old Testament, not only makes plain the need for Jesus’ Kingship, but the need for a cultural revival. Sinful leaders cannot save a sinful people, and sinful people cannot produce anything but sinful leaders. They must be restored from within, and this can only come from Jesus. He is the Leader that causes, not the one that results, flourishing. With the judges and Israel, Catholics have the prefigurement; with Jesus and His Church, they have the reality.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a; 10ab Mary Arrayed in Gold

Solemnity of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By JENNIFER BURGIN

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth.

As I prepare to sell my home, it's amazing the amount of "stuff" I've accumulated.  Some items haven't been touched since I moved in over 5 years ago. Words from Pope Francis such as "consumerism" and "throw-away culture" come to mind as I fill trash bags full of old clothing, house hold goods, and miscellaneous knick knacks.  Hopefully, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift will profit from my donations.

I find my prayer life has been set on "delayed" mode as I scramble to get the house in good sell condition.  Replace the dishwasher; install new carpet; fix the fence; paint the walls, etc. etc.  So much stress!  This is when I should be praying even harder!  

Sadly, as part of staging my home, I must remove all of my religious images including pictures of Our Blessed Mother. Her image always gives me peace in the middle of chaos, so storing her away in some old cardboard box doesn't seem right.  However, I understand that I could turn away potential buyers who may find my choice of religious art offensive.   Fortunately, once I move into my new apartment Our Blessed Mother will regain prominence.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Assumption of Mary.  Personally, this is one of my favorite Marian feast days.  I like to imagine Mary being pulled up into heaven as if carried on an invisible elevator.  Angels play their trumpets announcing to everyone in heaven, "The Blessed Mother is coming!  Alleluia!  Our Queen is here!"  The angels drape her in clothing made out of gold as a crown of twelve stars is placed on her head.  The gold is brilliant and shiny.  Nothing like we see here on earth.  As Mary enters heaven, she is greeted by her only Son.  They warmly embrace each other as the entire universe celebrates.

Before I became Catholic, I didn't pay much attention to Mary.   Then as my love for the Catholic Church grew I finally realized Mary's importance in salvation history.  She's definitely not an idol we worship!  Her role as the mother of our Lord, and the spiritual mother of each one of us, is something we cannot ignore.  It saddens me that so many Protestants have a limited view of Our Blessed Mother.  She is so much more than Jesus' mother in a Christmas manager scene.

I encourage Catholics to display an image of Our Blessed Mother in their homes or wear a Miraculous medal around their necks.  We should pray the rosary daily and set aside time out of our day to thank Mary for saying "Yes" to life.   Maybe consider going through the 33 Days of Consecration of Jesus through Mary or consider registering for a Rosary Confraternity.  Give Our Blessed Mother the recognition she deserves.

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote:

"Today the liturgy invites us to contemplate Mary, taken up body and soul into heaven. By a special privilege, she was enriched by divine grace from the moment of her conception, and Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Father, opened the doors of his kingdom to her, first among human creatures. Now from heaven, where the Queen of the angels and saints is crowned, the Mother of God and of the Church is close to the Christian people before whom she shines as the “new and immaculate woman (who) mediated for the guilt of the first woman.”  

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Pray for Us!


This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality



Friday, August 14, 2015

Matt 18:21-22 If One Could Walk Through Walls

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

Today, my presence in the house became nothing but 1.5 plastic boxes in the closet where the “memory” things are kept.

In these last few weeks before I leave to college, my things have slowly accumulated in my dad’s study. My bunny from my younger years, lots of colored pencils and crayons, and of course, a few school supplies have stacked up on the Guest Bedroom bed. As I walk through the house, I’ve taken to looking at the walls carefully, trying to remember exactly what they look like.

In the past few days, I’ve been feeling rather forlorn. Something in me feels that my parents are really excited to get rid of me and just dump me on my university sidewalk with all my stuff and then leave me. Of course the rational part of me knows that this isn’t true (well, not completely), but it’s going to be painful to leave my grandparents, sisters, even my parents, even if I am really excited for the challenging courses, opportunities to learn how to swing dance in the Catholic group, and to finally meet my awesome roommate. (Somehow, Snapchatting just isn’t the same).

Feeling forlorn has led me to look at the walls even more closely, trying to imagine all shouted and whispered words that they have heard. Somewhere in those walls are the apologies and the fights. Somewhere in there are the eyes that saw each time my sisters hit and hugged each other. And now I’m leaving all of that. Just like the eyes of T.J. Eckleberg, the eyes in those walls have seen everything. Or at least, all the things that matter.

If I were to go into these partly metaphorical walls, I think I would see all the fights stacked up higher than the stack of accumulate apologies. But somehow, I think that the apology stack would be thicker, more stable. They would matter more. Because no matter what the walls have seen, the apologies are always the most powerful. It’s much harder to shake someone’s hand after a fight than to hit them.
In the Veggie Tales, one episode focuses on the phrase “seventy-seven times.” (This is usually taken as seventy, added to itself seven times). But all the vegetables are confused, because once they reach 490 apologies, aren’t they done? Isn’t that it? With arguments as frequent as mine and my sisters’, I’m sure we’ve reached 490 apologies already and are well beyond that. But Jesus meant infinitely apologizing, just as he infinitely forgives us. And if he can infinitely forgive us for our murders, wars, examples of aggression, and arguments, then we can forgive anyone else, anyone at all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mt 18:15-20 Confronting Evil

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By Benedict Augustine

(Disclaimer: This post discusses abortion and includes disturbing details that might be upsettingfor those unfamiliar with this issue.)

“If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

In wake of the shocking revelations that Planned Parenthood (PP) not only performed late-term abortions, but also harvested the organs of those unborn children, the people of PP and their defenders made the simple claim that all his was entirely legal. In fact, for many, this was hardly news, and the videos offended good taste more than anything. Jonathon Swift’s “Modest Proposal” to kill children and use their bodies as commodities had played out in earnest, and these educated adults simply yawned and expressed mild irritation.

Fortunately, some people found this abominable and pushed beyond the objection of legality. They bypassed the media outlets that refused to treat this as news and saw the videos themselves. They clamored to their representatives, who hopefully had a sensitive enough conscience to recognize the immorality of infanticide and desecrating a dead body for profit, and some of them acted. In some states, lawmakers initiated an investigation of PP clinics, and in the Senate they held a vote to defund PP, which has received over half a billion dollars in public funding each year.

With the threats of a veto from Obama, and only amarginal majority versus a substantial one that would equal two-thirds of the vote, the measure did not pass and PP continues to receive tax dollars. The state investigations will proceed, but seeing the vastextent PP’s influence and power coupled with the very aggressive effort to bury this crime from the popular conscience, it’s difficult to think that anything might actually result.

A similar incident involving abortion and media indifference occurred only a few years ago with the trial of Kermit Gosnell. This “doctor” performed late-term and partial-birth abortions, and actively killed babies who survived these procedures. He dismembered their body parts and placed them in jars (for unknown reasons) and left the bodies of dead (and some still living) babies in trashcans. When the story of Gosnell became known, other people came forward to report that this type of thing happened in other parts of the country as well.

Oddly, many of the pro-choice people crowed not about the disgusting horror brought about by abortion, but bemoaned the fact that women had no choice but to go to these back-alley establishments since the law prohibited late-term abortions. Apparently, the bloody reality of what these procedures entail, the harm to the mother, and the death of a living breathing human being did not justify, in their eyes, the need for the law to prevent them.

The complete absence of morality is astounding.They see doctors haggling over the price of baby’s body parts, and they talk about laws. They hear of men killing living children with scissors, and they talk about cleaner facilities. They learn of the obvious signs of personhood manifesting themselves at the earliest stages of pregnancy, and they talk about a clump of cells. They see death, death that has consumed millions of lives and eviscerated whole communities, and they talk about choice. As onesuch commentator says without any hint of irony: “I don’t see death in these videos. I see hope.”

Obviously, the difference between those who hold life sacred and those who do not is a difference of kind, not one of degree. The former take great pains to prove that children in the womb are persons from conception, and killing them amounts to murder; the latter hardly bothers to listen to these arguments and their horrible implications, either from stubbornness or indifference, or both. To them, these babies may be persons, but they have no autonomy or the ability to reason. In other words, they have no power, so their life has no value.

When life ceases to have value, a huge and terrifyingshift in moral outlook results. In the absence of human dignity, ‘use’ replaces life in giving a person value. When a person cannot be used, like the babies in the womb or the elderly, they do merit the life they have. Consequently, this utilitarian ethic, which has spread far and wide in the modern world, currently condones abortion and assisted suicide, as well as prostitution, body desecration, and slavery. These problems grow continually worse since idea of usefulness is determined by easy feelings of pleasure and pain, not the hard work of logic: if it feels good at that moment, it is useful; if not, it can go. Allowing nature to take its course, a baby can grow into an adult who will serve society in many useful ways, but because he does not do this yet he can go.

The utilitarian ethic is utterly selfish and destructive, and accounts for most evils in the world today. It dehumanizes the people who adopt and practice it. It destroys morality, reason, and finally life itself. It turns subjects with souls and free will into objects quantitatively evaluated. In the utilitarian mind, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness succumb to Convenient Falsehood, Fashion, and Pleasure.

Recently, a staunch utilitarian atheist friend of mine finally pushed me away. I confronted him multiple times about the evils of abortion and thought the news of organ harvesting would change his mind. Rather, it emboldened him to support abortion even more since it can now be claimed that it helps almighty Science—a fact which, considering the overwhelming success of adult stem cells, has little to no basis. He wanted me to agree, and I pleaded with as much eloquence I could muster that he should drop this insanity.

As I thought about it, I finally realized that this thinking had already led to so many problems in his life: his addictions, his insecurities, and the stagnation (or sometimes regression) in his maturity.I also realized that I could no longer be his friend. Following Jesus’ words, I confronted him; then others confronted him; and finally, I gave him every argument from the Catholic Church as well as Natural Law; he rejected it all, but felt quite pleased that I would go to such lengths to save his soul, and with himself for being so tolerant. I simply felt used. At this point, I could tell he preferred the ways of a gentile and tax collector. If I shared his company any further, it would jeopardize my soul. For now, I can pray for him at a distance and hope a miracle happens.

Jesus foresaw this conflict playing out in society as well as friendships. He never recommends begging a nonbeliever to join the Church, or even seriously accommodating their beliefs. He never overlooks the false teachings of gentiles or the Pharisees in the hopes of brining them to His side. He urges His disciples to follow truth, condemn falsehood, and respect the differences that arise, even if this leads to serious divisions between loved ones and communities—“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Painful as this sounds, doing otherwise and accepting people’s faults, even their most grievous faults, will bring about much more violence and depravity. Nearly every human atrocity, both personal and societal, can be traced to a good person refusing to combat an incipient evilFor this reason, it is the duty of every Christian to confront evil even if it hurts to do so. This is our cross, and we must bear it.

After all, if we don’t do it, who will?