• Facebook Apostles

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 10,916 other followers

    • 77,262 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

Be “Obsessive” in the Pro-Life Cause by Fr. George W. Rutler

St Michael's Church

October 13
, 2013
by Fr. George W. Rutler

There was a time — and perhaps with improvements in our schools that time will come again — when schoolboys memorized, among other famous classical lines, the expression: “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.” It was the exasperated call, in the second-century B.C. Senate of the Roman Republic, for the conquest of Carthage in what is now Tunisia. “Furthermore, I say that Carthage must be destroyed.” The senator Cato the Elder ended each of his speeches that way, so that it became an inside joke, and his fellow senators chanted it along with him as a kind of ritual.

Churchill said that a fanatic “is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” In David Copperfield, the gently simple-minded Mr. Dick was obsessed with writing about the head of King Charles, and “King Charles’ Head” has since become a cipher for all sorts of monomania. But Cato was not a futile fanatic, and his obsession was vindicated, albeit some three years after his death, when the heart of the North African empire was indeed destroyed, in flames for days.

Various studies of keys to success in assorted enterprises agree that constant devotion to one goal is crucial. Thomas Edison experimented repeatedly to find the right material for an incandescent light bulb and finally discovered the properties of a carbon filament only after trying hundreds of other materials, including human hair. Was he obsessive? He called it “stick-to-it-iveness” and said that genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. “Keep your eyes on the prize,” in the words of a folk song. On a loftier plane, the Savior said: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

InfantThere are those who would stifle the Pro-Life cause by calling it a single-issue obsession. Few would say that about the Abolition movement or the struggle against child labor, even though such worthy causes did attract a fair share of distempered monomaniacs. But slaves and children have to be born first, and so the protection of life from conception must rank first among all dedications of philanthropy.

Blessed John Paul II once submitted to an interview with the respected journalist Vittorio Messori, who asked him if he was perhaps “obsessive” in his preaching against abortion. The Holy Father replied: “The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”

8 Responses

  1. Elle I was not referring to all Jesuits, but particularly to Pope Francis. In like manner, nor did I infer that all individuals who are pro-life are obsessive. I being an individual which up-holds the dignity of human life, am also anti-abortion. My argument is that being obsessive, regardless of the cause (i.e. anti-abortion, the environment, balanced budget…) is not a proper spiritual state. An individual being dominated by an idea or feeling, often tends to place himself in a position in which listening and responding to the Spirit becomes very difficult. The idea or feeling becomes the center and defines the person. To do so makes it very difficult for the person to see anything else which the Spirit may present before them.

    • I was being ‘snarky’ on subject of ‘all Jesuits’

      I disagree that it’s difficult for ‘obsessives’ to multi-task… as in listening to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you don’t know many Pro-Lifers.

  2. Elle, I respectfully disagree. To obsess is both spiritually and psychologically harmful. Pope Francis, good Jesuit that he is, taught in St Ignatius’ discernment of spirits tradition, probably recognizes how acting out of obsession is not acting out of the Spirit of God. To be in an obsessive spiritual state usually tends to focus the individual toward their ego, thus eventually closing themselves from the genuine work of the Holy Spirit. Historically, it is often out of obsession that religious beliefs have been used as justifications for injustice.

    • Ramon, not all Jesuits are good. With all due respect not all those that obsess are egotistical and are acting without the benefit of the Holy Spirit either. So many pro-lifers give their lives and work without ceasing. They are filled with the Holy Ghost. You can recognize them by their fruits.

  3. We can never ‘obsess’ enough in protecting human life. The pre-born baby is so very helpless.

    Thank you Fr, Rutler in J+M+J+

  4. Obsession is “the domination of one thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image or desire”. You are confusing it with dedication. Being dominated is contrary to living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, To be in a state of obsession (obsessive) is to enter the door to living by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. When we reduce the beauty and wisdom of the Church’s Catholic Social Teaching to one issue (as does EWTN Network), then we are not permitting ourselves to be open the freedom of the Holy Spirit, but instead become enslaved to our own ideas, images or desires, however good they appear to us to be. Pope Francis is correct in warning us about becoming obsessive even about a good cause, for obsession leads toward narrow thinking and living.

  5. “Now Siddhartha also got some idea of why he had fought this self in vain as a Brahman, as a penitent. Too much knowledge had held him back, too many holy verses, too many sacrificial rules, to much self-castigation, so much doing and striving for that goal! Full of arrogance, he had been, always the smartest, always working the most, always one step ahead of all others, always the knowing and spiritual one, always the priest or wise one. Into being a priest, into this arrogance, into this spirituality, his self had retreated, there it sat firmly and grew, while he thought he would kill it by fasting and penance. Now he saw it and saw that the secret voice had been right, that no teacher would ever have been able to bring about his salvation. Therefore, he had to go out into the world, lose himself to lust and power, to woman and money, had to become a merchant, a dice-gambler, a drinker, and a greedy person, until the priest and Samana in him was dead. Therefore, he had to continue bearing these ugly years, bearing the disgust, the teachings, the pointlessness of a dreary and wasted life up to the end, up to bitter despair, until Siddhartha the lustful, Siddhartha the greedy could also die. He had died, a new Siddhartha had woken up from the sleep. He would also grow old, he would also eventually have to die, mortal was Siddhartha, mortal was every physical form. But today he was young, was a child, the new Siddhartha, and was full of joy.”
    Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: