Sunday afternoon, as I was contemplating the likelihood of the Obamacare Health Care bill's passage, my mind was drawn repeatedly to Sunday's readings, particularly the second, from St. Paul's letter to the Phillipians:
Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him...
Since the passage of that disastrous legislation, my thoughts have returned to that reading.
I think, as I have written below, that this "Health Care" legislation will lead to the public funding and provision of abortion in a way we have never seen before. If it stands the coming legal challenges, and is not repealed or severely modified, I think it will open up a Pandora's box. It shreds any conscience protection for health care professionals, and thus will serve to further push Catholics to the margins in health care. Furthermore, I think Sr. Keehan and the CHA will find, in the long run, that they have made a devil's bargain. He who pays the piper calls the tune: and with the power of the state behind advancing the abortion license in health care, there will be inevitable pressure put upon Catholic hospitals to line up with the new regime. I think, in the long run, that this could spell the end for any distinctively Catholic (in terms of values and moral principles) identity in health care.
But again, to return to St. Paul: St. Paul lived in an age and society that was far more hostile to the faith than our own. We have to remember that there have been times and places where things were far worse for the Church and her members. And yet the Faith endured, the Church survived, and even sometimes, prevailed. Why, because we have Christ, who has already won the victory.
"I consider everything as a loss..." Everything. That means fortune, property, Catholic schools and hospitals, and yes, even our nation. We will not be saved by America. We will not even be saved through America. I love my country, but I must face the reality that at some point, like every other human institution, it will come to an end. If we realize that our nation itself is destined to be a loss, that puts into perspective a defeat such as Obamacare.
Yesterday, John Derbyshire at National Review Online wrote about the decline of our Republic that Obamacare typifies. If I recall correctly, Mr. Derbyshire is not a believer, and he takes a somewhat Stoic view of things, which comes out in this passage:
I see plainly that Western civilization, over my lifetime, has been a slow-sinking ship. The few who have known what is happening have worked desperately to seal the watertight doors, repair the fissures, pump out the flooded zones. It's been a losing fight, though. The tilt of the decks is harder and harder to ignore. Last night, a major bulkhead gave way. Soon a funnel will topple over with a great crash and a shower of sparks. Yet still the band is playing, the people are dancing, the food coming up from the galley.
I am not sure things are yet as dire as Derbyshire describes. If he is right, we must face that reality unflinchingly, and be ready for what may come. To that extent, the stoic approach is useful.
But even if he is right, we are not mere Stoics. Why? Because we have Christ. That means we have something that the Stoics do not: We have hope. Hope not for America, hope not for some ideal State or Nation or Republic, but hope for Eternity, where moth and rust do not consume, nor do the politicians royally foul things up.
Even if the ship of state is sinking, we have a lifeboat - the barque of Peter. And that lifeboat will carry us safely to the shore. Therein lies our hope.