Saturday, March 27, 2010
"It is not necessary that prayer be attentive to words." (Summa, Part II-II, Q83 a13)
as quoted in "Saint Thomas Aquinas, Orthodoxy, and Neo-Modernism in the Church" by Renée Casin
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O., Consulter to the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and Coordinator of the program for Master Architecture, Sacred Art and Liturgy at the Universita Europea di Roma/Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, has praised Papal Legislation on Sacred Music: 95 A.D. to 1977 A.D. by Msgr. Robert F. Hayburn, Mus.D., saying that it "contains a wealth of important texts that are otherwise very hard to find and is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in sacred music and the liturgy. The present debate on Church music will no doubt benefit from this outstanding volume, which thanks to the publisher's efforts is again available in print."
Roman Catholic Books brought this classic back into print in 2005. Originally priced at $69.75, the book is now available for $34.87.
Msgr. Hayburn's book, first published over 30 years ago, definitively answers questions about the Church's traditional thinking and its rules on sacred music. At the time of its publication, reviewer Michael Callaghan said in Clergy Review: "To my knowledge no more complete documentation of papal legislation on sacred music exists."
Papal Legislation on Sacred Music: 95 A.D. to 1977 A.D.
Original price $69.75.
Now available for $34.87
To order this book go to http://www.booksforcatholics.com and search on "Papal Legislation on Sacred Music"
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The following article by Fr. Luke Buckles, O.P., appeared in the March 17th English edition of L'Osservatore Romano. It is reprinted below with permission.
Fr. Buckles is professor of spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (The Angelicum).
Naming the Nails: The Pain of Injustice and the Gift of Compassion
When I have suffered a serious injustice there are two possible extreme reactions neither of which are helpful, whether from the psychological or spiritual point of view. The first extreme reaction is to deny the suffering and the pain. This is neither wise nor sane nor holy. The fact is; I have experienced an injustice. There is no denying it, and by denying it, I am only temporarily delaying the onset of pain. Some of the ways of denying the pain consciously and unconsciously, are: to try to convince myself that "it really doesn't hurt that much" or "I really shouldn't think of myself, others have it much worse" or make excuses, "they really didn't know how bad this would make me feel." All of these different ways are similar in that they prevent me from entering into, experiencing the human reality of suffering and pain. This can lead to the conscious or unconscious suppression of my emotional life. It is possible to build a wall so deep and high and thick to isolate myself from experiences of pain and the accompanying painful emotions. My whole experience of life will eventually be deadened. This radical denial of pain and personal suffering will require the construction of a thick cocoon protecting me from all emotional pain and unfortunately blocking out the full enjoyment of pleasant emotions as well.
Another mistaken response to the pain of suffering some kind of injustice is in the other direction. In this response I choose to focus my life on the hurt and injustice that I have received so that it often becomes a defining moment of my life. Moreover, I continue to go over the event again and again in my own mind, I discover even more objective reasons to be outraged. But even if I do not discover new reasons I am filling my memory with painful thoughts and interpreting the present from this perspective as the on-going suffering victim. This can also lead to inappropriate patterns of action and thought be it conscious or unconscious. I am now defining myself as the victim. The first negative consequence is that this attitude hinders my capacity to be loving and generous because so much time must be given to being over cautious not to be hurt again. After all, I would think "I am suffering so much because of this past injustice that I cannot risk being hurt again." Another negative consequence is that I live from my sense of entitlement . Because of this wretched suffering I feel entitled to such and such, or I should not be asked to do anything extra because I am already so fragile and suffering so deeply. There can also be an unhealthy pride and separation from others. "No one has suffered so deeply as I" can before long to a conscious or unconscious thought that since no one has suffered as much as I, then no one can understand me" This attitude combined with a sense of entitlement can cause behavior which estranges a person more and more, hence the person becomes isolated and alone.
So there are two opposite and extreme reactions, neither of which is wise or helpful. But there is another way, a path beyond the opposites: it is the way of Christ crucified. In the Gospel of Luke we read the first words that Jesus spoke from the Cross, "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." In this intolerable anguish of pain and dying an excruciating death, in response to this greatest injustice, Christ offers a word of forgiveness. We are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. We are called to imitate Him. By making an act of forgiveness we are avoiding the trap of denial. We recognize that an injustice has taken place. I would say the greater the injustice, the more necessary and intentional be the act of forgiveness. An act of forgiveness brings us out or prevents us from falling into the darkness and emotional stunting/death of denial of pain. On the other hand joining our act of forgiveness and suffering with the human experience of Christ we are saved from falling into the cycle of burning hatred remembering the injustice and the pain we have suffered to the exclusion of all other positive things in our life even on the most fundamental human level. Insofar as our predominant feeling is unresolved anger and hatred there is no room for any other "cooling" or tranquilizing emotions, rather their first appearance if noted at all is immediately burnt up by this unquenchable fire of self-pity, rage, and seeking of revenge.
This healing act of forgiveness is not possible without the saving grace of Christ. An act of forgiveness is immediately an act of compassion for ourselves. It prevents us from falling into the chasm of the darkness of stunted emotional death, or the raging fire of unresolved anger and hatred. An act of forgiveness acknowledges my perception of an injustice suffered, and at the same time saves me from falling into the unresolved pit of self-pity and seeking of revenge. To visualize this in the words of St. Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ" imagine the various hurts as the nails which keep you with Christ on the Cross. By "naming the nails" we acknowledge the real pain that we are suffering in a particular way which will change from day to day and in the years of our life. But, we are acknowledging this day, our being with Christ on the Cross. By the same token we are held with Christ and our suffering is given a meaning. We are not alone in our suffering Christ has joined our suffering with his. This prevents us from going to the other extreme of putting ourselves in the middle of the suffering and even defining ourselves by this suffering. These extremes are alike in one most serious and deleterious manner: both of them view injustice, suffering from my own self-centered perspective. There is no space for Christ. An act of forgiveness expresses our need of the grace of Christ, the need of our companionship, friendship with one who truly has experienced our injustice, and sufferings. Denial builds a wall against not only painful feelings and experiences, but ultimately all authentic human experience. The other extreme of continuous remembrance of the suffering and injustice also builds a wall, in this case, not a wall against painful feelings, but a wall of pain surrounding me which I cannot see over. Forgiveness simultaneously scatters the darkness of denial and prevents the igniting of fires of hatred. My act of forgiveness liberates me from the spiritual prison of seeking revenge.
An act of forgiveness includes naming this nail of injustice that I am suffering. This act is the first step to take when I perceive injustice. An act of forgiveness is not to say everything is fine. Just the opposite, an act of forgiveness proclaims that something has happened that is wrong, very wrong, unjust, very unjust and I am suffering, I am in pain. And an act of forgiveness brings in hope, the light of mercy and compassion to myself and those who have acted unjustly. I may be asked in charity to go to the person or group that has caused this injustice to myself or others and offer correction, even to the point of enduring further injustice, but before I go to these steps, I need to pray for the grace to forgive which heals my own wounds and resentment in order to have a peaceful pure heart to speak words of correction, with love and compassion.
This act of forgiveness becomes also an act of compassion for myself as well as all those who receive my forgiveness. Forgiveness brings new hope and new light into the darkness caused by either the denial of injustice suffered, or the downward spiral of resentment and seeking of revenge leading to more violence. By naming the nails, personal suffering is brought to the Cross. Contemplating Christ on the Cross leads to the discovery which St. Paul writes about, a joy in suffering, "It makes me happy to suffer for you...and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. Col 1:24 In the light of this faith and hope, meaning is given by Christ to one's personal suffering shared intimately between oneself and Christ. The injustice suffered with Christ is answered by an expression of compassionate love: an act of forgiveness. Forgiveness brings new life, the new light of the Crucified and Risen Christ. By naming the injustice we suffer, the nails, we are brought to the Cross and then we learn a mysterious truth which St. Catherine of Siena teaches that it was not the nails that held Christ to the Cross, but His love for us. The compassionate love of Christ was expressed in the first words he spoke from the Cross, words of forgiveness.
Fr. Luke Buckles, OP
Monday, March 22, 2010
This morning I was listening to the radio and the discussion was about this gospel. The radio host spoke intemperately at one point of Jesus forgiving the woman; but that is not what is seen. Here's the gospel:
Jn 8:1-11 While Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."Setting aside the curious writing in the dust, it is clear that no forgiveness is offered here, only a deferral of judgement.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? [Ez 18:23]
But the Lord has not simply abandoned the sinner, but put into her heart the seeds of repentance, that we may follow her on the way to not only foregiveness, but a life in Christ. In one interpretation of the gospel narratives, see her drawn to this remarkable person Jesus here, and expressing her gratitude and finally receiving foregiveness here.
Friday, March 19, 2010
How many times have we said or heard this sort of statement, and struggled with the sense that we are in violation of the beautiful and dear to heart words: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Yet how often do we struggle with something which involves a person no longer living, or a person who has no appreciation for what they have done, or even a person who has acted in malice and has no intention of asking our forgiveness? It seems that often many are burdened with the sense that they are somehow in the wrong for not being willing to “forgive” unconditionally one who has not, can not, or will not ask for forgiveness.
This problem it would seem is uniquely Christian. The modern Jew has no overwhelming need to offer forgiveness to the perpetrators of the holocaust, as his religion does not bind himself to. Does Christianity ask us to throw a blanket of forgiveness over all those guilty parties? Or to get more personal, are you to offer an unconditional forgiveness to those who commit the most heinous acts against your own person, when the offender shows no sign of repentance?
I’d like to pause before answering to look at what our Lord has said in this regard. We of course can start with:
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; [Mt 6:12, Lk 11:4]
Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. [Sir 28:2]
Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. [Mt. 18: 21-22]
This would seem to be a blanket call, but what else has our Lord said?
He said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him." [Lk 17:1-4]
I think you can see here that the Lord has described in greater detail the reality that forgiveness is not just a judicial act we complete on our own, but a way to restore a relationship with another person, us with God, us with our neighbor.
Here’s how Jesus elaborates his command to Peter:
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." [Mt 18:23ff]
This I think articulates the ingredient that is so often lacking; I opened this meditation with a consideration which we have all made. The characteristic deficiency of this sort of consideration is not at all the difficulty it examines, the deficiency is that it lacks any expression of the “other” in the relationship; it is a relation between our self and our injury. Jesus has asked us to transcend the injury, to place at the highest value the love we are to bear for our neighbor who is our enemy, because He loved us when we were His enemy. This is what needs to be restored, this is the desire of the heart, to restore that which was lost, which is not injured pride or injured body or lost property; but hearts divided.
We see in the parable of the prodigal son the willingness to forgive, but we see no exercise of it until we see the son’s repentance. This is key, I believe, because in it we see the restoration of relationship previously severed. God does not forgive those who do not ask for forgiveness; that is the sin against the Holy Spirit that can never be forgiven [Lk 12:10]. He has asked us to do what He does, He has not asked us to do what He will not.
This is not a prescription for holding anger in our hearts, hardly! Such is a sin against temperance and another matter altogether. There is difficulty in overcoming injury because we are human. However, the perspective is not the technicality of offense/grievance but that of charity; love for the one who is also loved by the Father. So back to scripture. What did St. Stephen do?
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them"; and when he said this, he fell asleep. [Acts 7:59:60]
And on the Cross, our Lord Himself said:
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." [Lk 23:34]
I believe that the Lord’s admonition to forgiveness is met by those who ask for it. For those who do not, charity bids us pray for them, as these last two examples show so eloquently a charity that loves one’s enemies in this moment, that they may be one’s friends in eternity.
I am not a believer in cheap forgiveness, and I don't think that's what our Lord wants. I do believe in loving my neighbor as God loves him and hating sin as God hates sin. These are meditative thoughts, and as such ongoing.
Your comments are welcome.
cor ad cor loquitur
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
The newsletter is available for download at the provincial web page here:
Sunday, March 14, 2010
From the web site:
Red Terror on the Amber Coast
“Red Terror on the Amber Coast” documents the fifty-year-long struggle between the people of Lithuania and the Soviet KGB and their predecessors to impose Soviet control on a free and democratic, Western republic. Using filmed interviews, archival photos and newsreel footage, it describes Stalin’s use of state-sponsored terror to destroy opposition, collectivize agriculture and industry, and create a single social class all under party control. Some interviews record the long-term, armed resistance by organized partisans to the KGB and its troops. Others describe their experiences, as adults and children, of arrest, imprisonment, deportation to Siberia and the Arctic coast, and years as slave laborers in the mines and forests of the far East.
To Purchase: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
here is an excerpt of a 2007 interview with filmmaker Fr. Ken Gumbert O.P. (when the film was in production):
SC: What has been the most devastating part of making this documentary?
Gumbert: Just listening to the stories. I don’t know how these people survived. A nine-year-old girl, arrested with her entire family, packed off to Siberia to work in slave labor camps. She watched her deported family die around her, and yet she survives. And now at 80 something years old, she tells this horrific story. How can you keep from crying with her? This is the most devastating part of this film, the truth of it all and the horror experienced by millions and millions of people. It is devastating to me, the cruelty that is part of human history.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Fr. Z (WDTPRS) has followed an interesting ongoing debate started by an article about devotion to the Extraordinary Form of the mass by Mr. Zmirak at Inside Catholic, and a counter point, sort of a rebuttal (or rebuff?) if you will, from Mr Hoopes at National Catholic Register (see Fr. Z’s Zmirak responds to Hoopes, Fr. Z does Liturgy Science Theatre 3000).
The point in question, at least initially, seems to be “does the little stuff matter?” - details of devotion, or externals but not essentials?
After reading both these articles, I appreciate the thinking that has gone into both, but I would suggest to the second author to be more humble in his opinions regarding that which he has little knowledge. And since I have little knowledge, and apparently also a lack of humility, I will jump in and offer thoughts which meditating on this subject has brought to mind.
Generally speaking I do not enter into these discussions about Novus Ordo vs Traditional Latin Mass because the matter they involve is beyond my direct experience. Yes, I have encountered those who grew up with the old mass who seem to think it’s return is just short of the worst thing that could possibly happen, yet they display by their comments that their understanding of the mass, old or new, is deficient; such comments as “priest with his back to the people*” indicating the lack of catechesis, regardless of the form in question. I would call this the “minor spirit” of opposition to the EF, it is a combination of a child’s ignorance and long habit – the new mass is their flag indeed. There is another spirit which is found in many who stridently oppose the EF, and it is my observation that this is found in those who would place in opposition charity to obedience to authority within the Church. That spirit we know as the Spirit of Vatican II, and one bishop has called it a demon in need of exorcism.
But I come upon the question like a foreigner who has entered the land and become a naturalized citizen. So without the knowledge and prejudice of an upbringing within the Church, I have to chip away around the edges and attempt to see what is here.
And so it was interesting to read these two articles in conjunction with the two books I am currently reading. The first is Fulton Sheen’s “God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy” (where “Modern” is a direct reference to modernism) and the second is “Saint Thomas Aquinas, Orthodoxy and Neo-Modernism in the Church” by Renée Casin, (translated by James Likoudis).
God and Intelligence is a treatise on Modernism as it relates to God and faith. At the root of all the modern philosophies is the denial of the solemn dogma that “from the created world, man can know God” (Rm 1:19ff, Canon 2.1, Vatican Council I [DZ 1785, 1806]) Modernism rejects reason and the ability to know, substituting almost anything, but generally based on the supposition that “I won’t believe anything I can’t directly experience” (nominalism). Revelation is of course rejected; “burning in the bosom” is acceptable.
Fulton Sheen makes the observation that revelation perfects reason rather than destroys it; in the same way that a telescope extends the power of the eye rather than destroys it.
It is from the second book that I find what seems to me to be a key to unlock the question which initiated this post. Quoting the Angelic Doctor we find:
Sacraments were not necessary in the state of innocence. This can be proved from the rectitude of that state, in which t he higher parts of man ruled the lower, and nowise depended on them: for just as the mind was subject to God, so were the lower powers of the soul subject to the mind, and the body to the soul. And it would be contrary to this order if the soul were perfected either in knowledge or in grace, by anything corporeal; which happens in the sacraments. Therefore, in the state of innocence man needed no sacraments, whether as remedies against sin or as a means of perfecting the soul.
… man’s nature is the same before and after sin, but the state of his nature is not the same. Because of sin, the soul, even in its higher part, needs to receive something from corporeal things in order that it may be perfected. (Summa, Third Part, q 61 a 2)
The higher is perfected by the lower. Sacraments (matter) confer grace. Sacramentals lead us to God. The sacramentalization of all creation is summed up in Paul’s words and the dogma that “through the created world man can know God” – the creature can lead us to the Creator.
It seems to me that the “details” of the mass, in purpose and design, are to lead us to God. Sacramentals of creation to lead us to the Creator; their constituent elements are truth and beauty, so that from them we may be oriented towards Truth and Beauty who is to come among us corporeally. Such as these details are lacking in truth and beauty, they fail in their purpose. These “details” may be deficient in design or execution. The mass may present “details” in a form such as to be all but unrecognizable, or have an encrustation of foreign “details” which are not legitimately part of the mass, that are uncalled for.
Notice I said “the mass” in the paragraph above? There is a thesis put forth that the new mass has extreme deficiency in the design of details, always resulting in deficient presentation, while in the old mass and deficiency might be in presentation. To this I will withhold judgment, as this is way beyond my understanding. I will offer the opinion that, from the perspective of those who have the second spirit enumerated above, I think that the analogy of “the flag” is quite apropos.
The world approaches this question in the fully modern sense: back in my heathen days, my biker buddy used to say “Don’t sweat the small sh-t.” Since then I have discovered another world, where another thought is offered… “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities” (Mt 25:21).
The modern sensibility is that we can skip little stuff and do big stuff and have God approve. Mother Theresa put it well once by pointing out that from God’s perspective, anything and all we do is “little stuff” – So my advice is do the little stuff with great love and devotion!
Man, made in God’s image, is drawn to truth, but man today lives in a world which denies the existence of truth which is True. Is it any wonder that man is fundamentally not happy, and is at war with himself? Searching anywhere but the True, he proves the maxim of GK Chesterton that “when man abandons belief in God, he doesn’t believe nothing, he’ll believe anything.”
Tonight I will attend the Extraordinary Form in
"I am of the opinion that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It is impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it declares that what was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent"
-Pope Benedict XVI
*now in the new mass, it’s “against the people”.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
UN Aging Report Warns of Dire Effects of Fertility Decline
By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
(NEW YORK – C-FAM) A recently-released United Nations (UN) report finds that the global trend of fertility decline and population aging will have devastating economic and societal effects on the developing world, particularly on women who are now targeted by UN agencies to further reduce fertility. “World Population Ageing 2009” was published in December 2009 by the UN Population Division, a statistics research branch within the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
Read more http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1584/pub_detail.asp
© Copyright 2010 Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 495, New York, NY 10017
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Sr. Pauline is the creator of the "Prison Dog Program" - a remarkable project - read about it at Pathways to Hope
A Prayer From The Living World
The body of actor Andrew Koenig was found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park yesterday. His father, Walter Koenig, said that his son “took his own life, and was in a lot of pain.” Like most of my generation, I grew up with Walter Koenig as Chekhov on Star Trek, and he played a superb villain much later, on Babylon 5. Until his press conference yesterday, I didn’t realize he was a man of such incredible strength and dignity. He asked for his family to be left in peace to mourn their loss. I hope he won’t mind if I take this sad occasion to address others who might be following the road that ended in Stanley Park for Andrew. No matter how far you have gone down that road, there is always a path that leads away. I could offer no greater tribute to Andrew and his family than trying to help you take it, or at least see it.
You won’t find the beginning of that path in your house, or your room, or any other private place where you torment yourself, and wonder why a world you’re hiding from can no longer see you. You’ll have to step outside, and take a walk through your town. You’ll pass hospitals where the gift of life is unwrapped and presented to the universe. In another wing, life is held as precious treasure by families gathered around quiet beds, surrounded by tireless machines and their tired, but determined, keepers. Perhaps you’ll find a hospice, where the dying embrace their last opportunity to share their lives with all who receive the blessing of a seat beside them. You’ll pass churches and temples, filled with the sworn enemies of despair.
You may find yourself wishing you could give the unwanted years of your future to the clients of those hospitals and hospices. I did, years ago, when I stood where you are standing now. I was on my knees at the time, offering that trade with all my heart. It doesn’t work that way. Those who tend the hospices can tell you why, and the people in the churches and temples can explain why it shouldn’t.
Stroll past your local police station, where the noble calling to risk your life in the service of others is answered… and the worship of death as a solution to problems meets its humiliating end. Maybe you’ll spot a recruiting station, where men and women who love their friends and families accept a duty that could take them away forever… because they know others love their families too, and there is no safe way to build and protect the future for them.
If your walk takes you past sunset, watch the cars rolling into the driveways of apartments and houses. If you walk from night into morning, watch the people reluctantly leaving their homes, to provide for their families. Those people are not wasting their lives, but fulfilling them. They return home to enjoy their reward, and renew their inspiration. Every day, they write new pages in the human story. None of us will see the end of that tale… but I know you share my appetite to read another chapter, and then one more after that. You may have convinced yourself to ignore it, but it’s still there.
Step into a convenience store for a cup of coffee or chocolate, and take a look at the newspapers. They are filled with pleas for help that you could answer. From the inner cities of America, to the broken streets of Haiti, and around the world, there are places where the clocks are filled with nothing but desperate hours. Another pair of hands, or another few dollars of support, are always needed. The years ahead, which you regard as a painful burden, can be given to them. It will take effort, and courage… but along the way, I can promise that your life would stop feeling like a burden.
You may view suicide as your last chance to shake the pillars of a world that has turned its back on you. The world doesn’t need any more shaking. If you’ve been telling yourself that no one will miss you when you’re gone, you are wrong. Your suicide would tear a hole through the future, and nothing could ever fill the space where you used to be. You might think you’re alone, but you don’t have to walk more than a couple of miles from your house to see a building full of people who would be delighted to meet you. There are places like Suicide Hotlines, staffed by men and women who have spent their entire lives preparing to hear the sound of your voice, and greet every day hoping to learn your name.
You may be afraid to face the years ahead. You’re not the only one, and if you extinguish the light of your faith and wisdom, you consign others to darkness. You might see death by your own hand as the end of unbearable pain… but I ask you to think about Walter Koenig, facing a wall of cameras with quiet grace in the hours after finding his son’s body, and understand that it’s only the beginning of agony.
You might have decided your fellow men are rotten to the core, and you’re weary of their company. Listen to the music of Mozart, or look upon the work of Michelangelo, and consider the argument of those who profoundly disagree. Maybe part of your problem is that you’ve been listening to the wrong music, or looking at the wrong pictures. Dark waters are easy to drown in. The judgment of the human race will not lack witnesses for the defense, and they will make their case to you, if you give them a chance.
Now, take the last few steps back to your home, and set aside one sorrow or terror with every footfall, until your mind is clear. If you’re thinking of incinerating the remaining years of your life, surely you can spare a few minutes for quiet reflection, and hear this prayer from the living world:
Please don’t leave us. We need you.
It is a quiet prayer, spoken in a soft voice, but it’s never too late to listen.
Released by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, Traditional Anglican Communion 3 March 2010.
We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our primate and the Reverend Chrisopher Phillips of the "Anglican Use" Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.
At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Bishop Geroge Langberg
Vice-president of the Anglican Church in America
as reported by the Anglican Diocese of the West, http://www.anglicanwest.org/index.htm