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The term, “Common Good,” is something that may be lost on many people and is too often being replaced with individual rights with no regard to anyone else. This rugged individualism has been condemned by the Church. We can ill afford to be silent about this issue which is at the base of many if not all social issues confronting our society today.
In general, when the justification is used that a certain behavior doesn’t hurt anyone else, commonly such an argument reveals a myopic vision of the world and a lack of understanding of the consequences of our individual and even private actions. We must more deeply grasp the effects we have on our relationships with others near to us as well as the larger community in which we live in order to understand the common good. We are not an island. To think and behave as if we are opens up the potential to great harm for all. Here’s some examples which illustrate this point.
Here’s a simple yet less controversial issue: When someone dies and they want their ashes scattered over a mountain or forest, everyone else is robbed of the ability to go to a burial place where they can mourn. The deceased person’s wish negates the good of others who need to mourn. It is also an undignified way to repose the former temple of a person who was made in God’s image. This is not a viewpoint with the Common Good in mind, just the individual.
In the abortion debate, the individual right of the mother trumps the good of the child in the womb or even the right of the father who may disagree with the decision. In this holocaustic viewpoint, countless millions have been killed in the name of an individual. The fact that entire generations have been wiped out by a so-called right is clear evidence that it is against the dignity of the human person and the Common Good.
So-called, doctor assisted suicide arguments claim the individual’s right to end their own life on their terms so as to avoid suffering, autonomy, control, and the like, negating the use of effective palliative care and equating one’s value or dignity in terms of abilities or capacity. It is a grievous act akin to murder (See The Gospel of Life., #66). The legalization in Oregon of euthanasia, its true title, may justify its use in some people’s minds, but it is against the dignity of the human person and the Common Good.
The current movement to redefine marriage is based on the assumption that marriage is the simple desire and right of individuals to do what they want, regardless of the good of children and Divine law. Marriage is not a right which just anyone can validly undertake even between heterosexual couples. I have processed all too many annulments which were granted on the grounds that they did not, and may never have, the capacity to live out the commitment that marriage demands. In these cases, the couple erroneously attempted to enter into the Sacrament which they could not do. Marriage is a privileged state which God designed and which we have no authority to define or reinvent. Anyone desiring to be married should send to prayer if they are capable and sufficiently prepared to undertake such an awesome Sacrament. Redefining marriage diminishes its sanctity and is against the Common Good.
A more current issue which is being placed before the voters this November 4th is the effort to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Proponents of this movement commonly argue the right to do what they will with their own body. However, this viewpoint does not consider the consequences to children and the safety of others. Archbishop Sample’s current column in the Catholic Sentinel fills this in well. The argument that it does not harm the user taking the drug is fallacious since the very act of getting “high” diminishes one’s abilities, distorts one’s senses, suppresses the immune system, decreases motivation, darkens the conscience, and ultimately damages the soul. The fact that marijuana may be easy to acquire or that it is being used by one’s family or friends, or even if it does become legal, does not change the fact that it is harmful to one’s body and soul as well as to our culture. It is against the common good.
With regard to the current ballot measure for offering drivers cards for those without a social security number, particularly immigrants who are our modern day neighbors, there needs to be away to help them. By offering a way for them to acquire a drivers card increases the number of people who are trained in driving and thus makes our roads safer. Voting “yes” for this bill will create safer drivers. Voting for this bill is for the Common Good.
So, we need to ponder more deeply than our own desires and wants. We need to be on guard against our own desire for individualism. As Catholic Christians, we need to consider the consequences of things in regard to the Common Good. Such a frame of reference broadens our minds and allows us to make more ethical and moral choices. It also gets us out of partisan thinking and voting. It brings to the fore our faith before all other ideologies. Remember that we are Catholic Christians before all else. We need to pray to have the view of God who desires the good for all.
Fr. William Holtzinger
As part of the Year of Faith, we have been showing Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” DVD series at our monthly Catholicism 101 classes. It has been wonderful to watch. The quality of production and clarity of teaching as well as the inspirational style in which the faith is presented is fantastic. If you haven’t been to one, I want to encourage you to do so. This past Sunday we showed the seventh episode in the series entitled, “The Mystery of the Liturgy and the Eucharist.” Ah! The Eucharist. It is the source and summit of our faith! It is the center of our Catholic lives! Do I sound excited? I am! I was very impressed how well he explained the Mass, how the program illustrated the various cultural situations in which the Mass is offered, and the fundamental theologies of our mysterious liturgy. It reminded me of how much I love our liturgy and why I am a priest. If you have been wondering or feeling that your experience of your faith has been lacking or luke-warm, then make an effort to come to these presentations. There are only ten in the series, and we are almost done. But, we may very well show them again, but in a more intense weekly format for those who so desire. Keep your eyes peeled to the bulletin for that development.
Turn out for the presentations has been good, so come early if you want a front row seat. There’s plenty of room in the Parish Center Sky Room, so no worries. Mark your calendars for the next presentation on March 3rd on the Communion of Saints.
Theology of the Body for Teens
On another note, this Sunday evening I will begin a five week series at our High School Youth Nights on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” With all the things that our teens have to grapple with, the meaning of their bodies and sexuality, in particular, are often bewildering to them. Yet, the late Holy Father spent 129 Wednesday Audiences from 1979 to 1984 speaking about the meaning, the theology, of the body. In essence, his reflections, when written down, make up two-thirds of the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage! Please pray for me and the teens. Pray that I, along with the Core Team of adults, may be able to empower and lift up our teens to know the true meaning of their bodies, to recapture the meaning of marriage, and to empower them to live chaste lives of faith as sexual persons. Pray for the teens that they will be open to our presentations and the Holy Spirit in their lives prompting them to follow the way of Christ’s love and not the counterfeit of the world.
Fr. William Holtzinger
Today, I stand with Archbishop Dolan and his defense of marriage against the constant attacks that have come against this age-old, common sense, divinely inspired institution. Instead of speaking my mind, I give to Archbishop Dolan of New York my attention and invite everyone to read his very cogent and very much needed response to a recent decision by our nation's president. The Archbishop writes:
"The announcement on February 23 that the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an alarming and grave injustice. Marriage, the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, is a singular and irreplaceable institution. Only a man and a woman are capable of the “two-in-one-flesh” union of husband and wife. Only a man and a woman have the ability to bring children into the world. Along with that ability comes responsibility, which society historically reinforces with laws that bind mothers and fathers to each other and their children. This family unit represents the most basic and vital cell of any society, protecting the right of children to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their mother and father. Thus, marriage represents the bedrock of the common good of society, its very foundation and future."
Read the rest of his outcry by clicking this link to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' web site.