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By Monsignor Michael McCarron

11/2/2008 (6 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are called to confront society with life's goodness and demand it be reverenced in all of its ages and phases. We cannot take "no" for an answer.

Highlights

By Monsignor Michael McCarron

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/2/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - "I don't personally believe that someone should do that but I don't think that the government should interfere; it's their choice . . .” I listened, but I didn't understand.

"It may be a part of your religious belief, but it's not a part of mine. In fact, my religion permits it, and can justify it in the Scriptures. Don't try to force your religion on me." I heard what they were speaking but I couldn't believe what they were saying.

On television, the news filled the screen with the sit-in demonstrators being hauled off to jail, as every case seemed destined for the Supreme Court. Family gatherings became debates over an individual's rights. Evening dinners demonstrated how far apart people found themselves to be.

"I wouldn't do this, but I can't demand anyone else follow my conscience," the majority would say. It was not the '80s or the '90s. It was 1962. It was not abortion that was being discussed, it was segregation. It was the topic of every Southern town meeting and PTA. The time was awash with change and the prophets wore cotton print dresses, nylon suits, and thin black ties. The will of the majority needed to be opposed. The spirit of the minority needed to be emboldened.

We are in a similar age. We are in an age in which selfishness expands because charity lacks courage. Cynicism claims the minds of our young, because optimism is locked in a private room.

We have begun to believe the lie that religious faith has no part to play in public life. We have falsely come to accept the lie that a moral code based on a concept of natural law, or principles of objective truth, are out of place in our society. But if the individual's rights are always paramount, we would still be locked in slavery or mired in segregation.

The truth is seldom determined by popular vote or majority opinion. In fact, it is the nature of truth that it often separates itself from the crowd. Truth often calls to a smaller number, whose task it is to share and spread that truth. It may well be the sadness of our age that those assigned that task are waiting for others to do the work.

It is the task of the worker at the shipyard to tell the truth that the racist joke is a perpetrator of division. It is the task of the parent to tell the truth that the morals of the crowd cannot be the morals of their own family. It is the task of the high school student to tell the truth that the body is beautiful and sacred and is not made for abuse or temporary sexual play. It is the task of the citizen to tell the truth that wars may not be fought to insure legacies and personal histories.

The fact is, there are always those who will try to silence those who tell the truth with the cynical lie that there simply is no such thing. "Truth is subjective," cynicism holds, "so keep yours to yourself." It is into this lie that our age has walked. It is time for those who have been tasked with the truth to give up their silence.

The truth is that every life is sacred. Whether it is planned or a surprise, wanted or not, it is by nature good and meant for our cherishing. The truth is that regardless of color or origin, every man and woman has a dignity that demands respect. Not special note, but absolute respect. There is nothing funny in joking about that.

The truth is that every act of war is wrong. When some deem it a wrong that is necessary, it is concomitant on those who so deem it to exhaust all means of peace before it is utilized. The truth is that before a government uses its servicemen and women as the real weapon of choice in a war, it must earn the right to ask their service through a history of truth-telling, lie¬ avoiding and life-reverencing behavior.

The truth is our teen-agers are too precious to surrender them up to a consumptive sex industry that will convince them that they are worth only what they have given in body and spirit to another.

The truth is all around us, waiting to be told. The majority do not have to acknowledge truth for it for it to be true. Those called to tell it do not have to like the task, or believe themselves worthy of it, to announce and spread it.

The followers of Jesus are called to take up this task, and they are not permitted to honorably put it down. By our lives, in our words, through our consistent esteem of all life, we are to announce the truth that cynicism is a lie, and that the Easter message is true.

Sometimes we are called to confront the society in which we live with life's goodness and demand it be reverenced in all of its ages and phases. We cannot take "no" for an answer. It is not the easiest of tasks, but then, it wasn't easy in Selma or Memphis in 1963.

***

Monsignor Michael McCarron is a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Va. where he serves as the Pastor of St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake

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