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First Teachers… The Hope For Victory

July 13, 2018 Frontpage No Comments


For those of you firmly in the Catholic pro-life movement, Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League cautions the great many who cheered the pending resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Even if we manage to nominate and appoint a rock-solid pro-life member to the bench? It will not be a victory, merely the hope for a victory.
Consider first things. Our public education system is in a shambles, and our Catholic education system with notable exceptions here and there is just as bad. Instead of teaching Catholicism in the home and in the parish, we have handed this duty off to rigid classes in the imitation of mainline Protestantism, hoping against hope that maybe our experience will be different than theirs.
Mass attendance — while seeing a minor uptick among young families — remains at historic lows from what our parents and grandparents knew.
Anti-Catholicism remains the last acceptable prejudice, and woe to those who insist on a pro-life litmus test while being absolutely seared if one mentions the reality of a pro-abortion litmus test.
In short, even with a fifth U.S. Supreme Court pick? The hard work of undoing the damage of Roe v. Wade will have to plow through decades of jurisprudence. Planned Parenthood v. Casey — the landmark 1989 decision that makes Kennedy responsible for the onslaught of 32 million babies butchered at the hands of Planned Parenthood — is the so-called “backup plan” for when Roe comes apart, meaning that the “right to murder” will become the decision of state legislatures.
Does anyone think for a moment that Planned Parenthood will rest? To the contrary, just imagine the marriage amendments of ten years ago in reverse, with Planned Parenthood passing referenda and pushing legislation enshrining abortion in state constitutions. Progressives and liberals certainly know what to do, and there’s always that handful desperate for fame and looking to make the transition to statesman who know how to bend just so to a fawning media for their bipartisan leadership.
Scheidler is 100 percent correct. Even if by some miracle Roe v. Wade is repealed, and even if the ruling is sweeping enough to bring the entire rotten barn down, the legislative paths are still open to the professional left.
Of course, this is not an effort to cast doubt at a moment where Catholics should feel most emboldened. In fact, we should meet this moment with all the courage and strength we can muster, knowing that with a potential fifth pro-life vote on the U.S. Supreme Court, the end of the beginning may very well be in place.
A longtime pro-life stalwart once told me that at the beginning of the fight for life, activists truly thought they would be in for a 10-year fight and nothing more. With the Human Life Amendment, nothing could be easier. Then came the Hyde Amendment, then came further compromises, and then a professional coterie of incrementalists who could never quite understand that not all increments are gains.
What instead happened was that pro-lifers in Washington unwittingly colluded in the enshrinement of abortion throughout the 1980s. What they could never understand was that the basic premise we all understand to be true — that social justice (sic) begins in the womb — is instantly undone the very moment when we pick and choose which lives are worthy of life. Or as the Nazis put it, Lebensunwertes Leben — a life unworthy of life.
At the end of the day, either human beings in their full personhood are created in the imago Dei of their Creator and to be defended to the last…or we are not. Either we are members of the Body of Christ…or we are not. Either we believe Christ when He says “this is My Body….” or we believe Planned Parenthood when they say “this is my body.”
Michael Collins — hero of the Irish War for Independence — argued that the advent of peace in Ireland that split the nation in two was not the full freedom that Irish patriots had fought for over generations. Rather, Collins argued that what had been accomplished was the freedom to achieve freedom.
That freedom — that hope for victory — is what a fifth justice on the U.S. Supreme Court might give us. It is only the signal that a true fight for the hearts and minds of a generation to come has begun.
Poll after poll reminds us that the generation most victimized by abortion is the one that rejects it the most. Do we have the courage to meet their enthusiasm with our own? To do so in a spirit of compassion and love that says not only is America worth fighting for, but that the generations yet to be born deserve the basic right to exist?
Like Scheidler, I hope so…and I know we are not alone.

+ + +

Mr. B — writes from Virginia Beach thanking me for my June 28 article regarding violence and abortion, and does so with a line that ought to be framed: “Socialism is a form of legalized slavery where the fruits of one’s labor are forcibly taken and given to one who has not earned.”
I doubt Winston Churchill himself could have said it any better.
We have been discussing the unique impact of Protestantism on North America, specifically with the United States’ and Canada’s experience versus the Catholic South, so to speak. More to the point, while you find individual prosperity in America, the United States is somewhat unique in the fact that our prosperity has been so widespread (unlike say, Mexico where 50 percent of the country lives in a definition of poverty that would shock America’s working poor).
One point made? Christianity helped found the West, yet not all Christian nations succeed. That is a powerful observation, if for no other reason than it might unlock the “did Christianity make the West or did the West make Christianity?” argument.
Of course, the West gave us modern secularism as well…and Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation comes to mind regarding the link between Protestantism and secularism. Still, I am very much enjoying the correspondence — if we excavate new truths, I’ll be sure to faithfully report.

+ + +

Dr. C — writes from the Caribbean (take us with you!) and thanks this column for its dissection of Ireland’s and Argentina’s submission to the culture of abortion. In his letter, he offers what has to be one of the better responses to my question as to how to transmit the Catholic faith to others:
“Man in Sin cannot progress. To be effective, Man must be Holy and strive for increasing Holiness with Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving, followed by exemplary Action. A simple start-up plan, which parents can initiate, is to pray a decade of the rosary every day, at a fixed but flexible hour, the Hour of the Family, the Hour of Christ. Slowly parents can teach their children to contemplate, by reflecting on the mystery in Silence, for 15-30 seconds or more, before starting the oral recitations. Posture in Prayer is important. Making the Sign of the Cross slowly, deliberately, with meaning, preferably kneeling if possible, with folded arms and bowed heads, in respectful reverence to the presence of God.”

+ + +

Another reader helpfully observes that there are two great tools for the modern Catholic to use in today’s world, either to create new converts or to reignite the faithful — the Eucharist and the Rosary.
That’s it . . . either you will fall in love or you will fall away.

+ + +

Finally, Mr. D — writes from New York with an exceptionally kind thank-you note regarding Ireland’s collapse toward the culture of death.
For those who are wondering, I do indeed deeply appreciate correspondence from readers, and I do try to maintain a healthy back-and-forth for those interested. Every letter and e-mail gets a response in kind, and for someone from my generation to receive actual mail (from people who care) in an age of e-mail and text messages? You have no idea what a treat your letters really are!

Send Me Your Thoughts

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to:

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