Thursday, September 18, 2003

This Is Monstrous

Many of you, I'm sure, have been following the fight to save Terri Schindler Schiavo's life. For those of you who don't know, Terri is a Florida woman who suffered a severe brain injury and is no longer capable of caring for herself. She is curently required to have a feeding tube to maintain nutrition and hydration. Her husband has been seeking the court to order her death by starvation, by removing the feeding tube. This in spite of the fact that doctors have testified that with proper therapy she could regain the ability to eat normally. The husband's motivations are suspect, as he stands to acquire an enormous sum of money (won in a settlement for Terri's injury), and desires to marry his live-in girlfriend. He has been heard by nurses and other health care workers to say things like "Isn't she dead yet?" and "When is that bitch going to die?". A prince of a fellow, you might say.

Well, the court has now ordered that Terri's feeding tube be removed on October 15. The judge has been unmoved by the ample testimony offered by Terri's parents, doctors, nurses, to the effect that Terri could, to a certain extent, be rehabilitated. The court persists in holding that Terri is in a Persistent Vegetative State, when in fact it is clear that, medically speaking, that is simply not the case. Judge George Greer, ever vigilant to allow procedure to triumph over substance and justice, is reluctant to allow any action which would appear to "re-litigate" the case. And now that court is poised to commit judicially ordered murder in response to the self-interested and despicable pleadings of the husband.

The Schindlers (Terri's parents), who have been leading the fight to save her, now have till Oct. 15 to get someone in higher authority to intervene to save Terri. Disgustingly, the husband's attorney protested the Oct. 15 date as too far away, saying it would give the Schindlers time to submit "'frivolous' court pleadings aimed at keeping their daughter alive". "Yer honor," he might have said, "why can't we just off her and be done with it? If you'd just let me in her room with a pillow this could be over in a few minutes."

The Florida bishops have been scandalously mealy-mouthed about the situation. It is time for them to stand up against this. Where have they been? Why haven't they been making a public witness for this woman's life?

If the Schindlers are unsuccessful in further legal efforts, I think that it might be time to consider Civil Disobedience in order to save Terri. Could pickets and protests be effective in moving the civil authorities where legal efforts have failed? If leftists can do these things to save whales or owls, why can't we do it to save a human life?

I am reminded by Judge Greer's decisions of the parable of the Unjust Judge. Perhaps it is time for persistent efforts at public pressure. Perhaps organizing sit-ins or human chains in Judge Greer's courtroom? How about picketing the Judge's home? I'm sure his neighbors will like living next to a man picketed, protested, and publicly reviled as a murderer and tyrant. Maybe public outrage will get through the judge's leathern conscience and atrophied sense of justice.

And finally, if all else fails, do you think that the Schindlers might find, maybe, 500 to 1,000 people to surround the nursing home with a human chain, and prevent the authorities from dispatching Terri? Maybe to fill Terri's room with people on a 24-hour watch, so as to deny access to those who would end Terri's life?

What will it take to save this woman's life?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Premature Victory Declaration at St. Mary's?

Readers of Mark Shea's blog may recall the story of efforts to save St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford, Illinois. St. Mary's is home to a thriving and vibrant Latin Mass congregation. The local County had decided that the Church, which was recently and beautifully restored, (along with its school) would be a dandy place to build a new jail.

Some members of the County Board hatched their plan over Labor Day weekend, and were planning to jam their proposal throught the board's meeting that week, while the Rector of the Oratory and the Bishop of Rockford, Thomas Doran, coincidentally enough, were away. Not that those Board members were trying to do anything sneaky or underhanded. We know politicians don't act that way...

Well, apparently Mark's declaration of victory may have been premature. Nothing is ever safe when politicians get together:
[Tonight] at 5:30 P.M. at Memorial Hall in Rockford, the Public Safety Committee of the Winnebago County Board will vote on the revised resolution to expand the land acquisition area for the county jail. Despite claims by the board and the board chairman's office, this resolution DOES NOT ensure that St. Mary's Oratory will be protected. While it specifically excludes St. Mary's Oratory from the area under consideration, it goes on to allow the project manager for the jail to include any additional property that he believes is required to complete the project. The ONLY additional property in the area under consideration is St. Mary's Oratory.

Moreover, the resolution does not protect the school or the rectory. There is reason to believe that, if either of these buildings are torn down, the foundation of the church would be weakened--perhaps beyond repair. Any excavation that close to the church threatens the structure, even if the county doesn't threaten it directly.

Isn't that so like a politician: to appear to give people what they want, to make the right noises in public, while the "fine print" of their proposals gives them the wiggle room they need to go ahead and screw us anyway.

Send a message of support for St. Mary's, and maybe even a restrained denunciation of the mendacious, sneaking jacks-in-office who cooked up this scheme to: SaintMary@ChroniclesMagazine.org .

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I'm Going to Be On the Radio!

I'm going to be interviewed on the Teresa Tomeo show at 10:00 AM EDT.

The topic of the interview will be my recent article published in Catholic World Report, The Bishops' Disciplinary Options.

I've also added a permalink to the article over to the right.

If you don't get Catholic Radio in your area (a reason to sign the Ave Maria Radio XM Petition), you can listen over the Internet at Ave Maria Radio.

Monday, September 15, 2003

The Exaltation of The Holy Cross

This is my homily for yesterday's feast, as I preached it at my parish's LifeTeen Mass.


The Exaltation of The Holy Cross

Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11

I'm going to begin with a little history. Now, I can hear some of you already groaning inside, thinking "Boring". History seems boring because we don't see how we are connected to what happened before: it doesn't seem relevant to us. It's dusty, dry, dead stuff from the past.

But of course, when we're talking about Christ, it's not "dead" history. It's not dead, dusty events in the past: for Christ is ALIVE! He is here with us, right NOW, receiving our praise and worship. And in a little while, he'll be with us even more profoundly: in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, truly present with us at this altar.

And when we're talking about those believers who have gone before us, the Saints in heaven, well, they're alive too: They're alive in heaven with Christ, worshipping Him at the Eternal High Feast of the Lamb. They're just as alive as the people sitting next to you.

So here's the history lesson:

In 326 A.D., Saint Helen, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She was the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. She went there, among other things, to find the true cross of Christ. On September 14 of that year, according to the account of the time, she indeed found the true Cross. A few years later, Constantine built two churches on the site of Calvary, the very place that Jesus died, and on that same day, Sept. 14, those churches were dedicated.

And so, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since.

So why does that have anything to do with us?

Well, Jesus offered Himself on the Cross for us. For me, for You, and You. His sacrifice on the Cross was an event in the past, but it isn't just an event in the past. It's an event that transcends all human history. It was a sacrifice made for and through all time. If you think about it, that's the only way it could work. If Christ's death on the Cross is to save us, here and now, it can't be a dead event in the past. It has to be an event outside of time, for all time. So Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross stretches from that Good Friday in 33 A.D. all the way to Now: to here, to us.

Jesus was, from all time, the second person of the Trinity: God Himself. He had all the glory of God. He had all the majesty of God. But he laid all that aside: St. Paul tells us that He "emptied himself." By becoming one of us, taking on human weakness, taking on human limitations, He united Himself to us. And then He offered Himself for Us: He humbled Himself, St. Paul says, and made His Father's will His own, being obedient even to the point of death, death on a Cross.

God's plan was to make that instrument of torture the instrument of salvation. To make that symbol of death and defeat the symbol of victory and life. And because Christ fulfilled that plan we adore the Cross, and as St. Paul says, we bow our knees and confess with our tongues that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And when we gather here, around this altar, and fulfill Jesus' command, that sacrifice of Calvary is made present to us again. For the Body which was broken on the Cross, and the Blood which poured from Christ's side, is the same Body and Blood that He gave to His disciples at the Last Supper when He said "take this, and eat", and "take this, and drink". That is the same Body and Blood which we receive from this altar: one Sacrifice, for all time. Whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, we are transported back there, or rather, the eternal Sacrifice of Christ is brought to us here and now.

Today we, with the Church throughout the world, exalt the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. To adore the Cross is to adore Christ, the God - Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross sums up the Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Christ -- all in one symbol.

And so we can say, with the Church all over the world, and down through the ages:

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.