Friday, March 25, 2005

Sadness at the Last Supper


I went to the Holy Thursday liturgy at my church this evening, and there was a strange feeling to it all. Usually we celebrate Liturgy as if it were Pentecost every day, but tonight it was subdued. Afterward, we stood around in the narthex, as if no-one wanted to go home, but no-one wanted to say why. Then one of us mentioned the Schiavo case. What could be said? The culture of death has had the USA in its grip for years. 4000 babies died today in thanatoria around the country. What's one more woman being starved to death? And yet, this one hits very hard.

I think part of the reason for why so many of us are so sad about Terri is that this confirms, without a shadow of a possibility of a doubt, that this country is evil. Through and through, the United States is, in its official governmental organs, committed to the cause of death. What's the difference between this one death and the 4000 abortions a day? This one has a face, a face that responds to loved ones, a face that we could love. The unborn have no faces, and so don't evoke the same reaction. But Terri is just a disabled woman whose life has become inconvenient. And she's being starved to death.

I have no words to describe the horror I feel, as the country I love dictates that this woman be killed, and killed in a horrible way. Since I have no words, I will resort to numbers. The paragon of evil in most people's minds is Nazi Germany. They were pikers. Compare the numbers: we kill 4000 a day, and now we kill the elderly and disabled as well. There have been something like 40 million killed in the last thirty years. Hitler never was this efficient.

We are not the good guys.

Connected with the horror at what my country has become, is near-despair at the work that must be done. We cannot let this stand. All Christians and people of good will must fight the status quo with every ounce of strength. The problem is that there is no human hope of success. The culture of death is too tied up to the culture of self-satisfaction for anyone to have a rational hope of defeating it. What can we do? What can my poor efforts do?

And yet, there is a precedent. Christianity conquered another evil empire, and did it thoroughly. What must Peter or Paul have thought, as they gazed about them at the degenerate culture of Imperial Rome? Perhaps they had the same temptation to despair that we feel today. But they persevered, and conquered.

Of course, the conquest took three hundred years, and Peter and Paul were long dead before they saw the fruits of their labor. I think we might be in for more of the same. But there is glory in the fight. In hoc signo vinces!

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