Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Separation Anxiety by Anna Nussbaum Keating, America: “We spend our lives accruing honors trying to prove that we have value, when what truly makes us happy is to contribute to our communities in a meaningful way, to love and be loved.”

UN report on Vatican and sex abuse may hurt reform cause By John L. Allen: “Over the years, the Vatican sometimes has been accused of being spectacularly tone-deaf in its response to the abuse crisis, and God knows there’s merit to those perceptions. Now it may be the UN that’s off-key, restocking what had been the diminishing ammo of those inclined to defend the status quo.”

“Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground!” by Carol Glatz , CNS: “Pope Francis often holds up Cain’s cynical words and attitude of indifference as a rallying cry against the apathy and outright complicity shown in today’s world to the crime and horror of human trafficking. At least 21 million people have been forced into modern-day slavery and many of those were caught in the snares of traffickers. Some experts believe human trafficking will soon overtake drug and arms trafficking as the most lucrative criminal activity in the world.”

How to Spot a Paranoid Libertarian by Cass Sunstein: “As a general rule, paranoia isn’t a good foundation for public policy, even if it operates in freedom’s name.”

Nurture these attitudes to form basis of real love by James Sheridan: “Love that consists of caring, understanding, respect, appreciation, acceptance and trust needs to be intentionally nurtured by married couples. Husbands and wives bring different perspectives, different histories, and different attitudes to a marriage. They have a great deal to learn from and give to each other.”

Pope says relativistic ideas of marriage lead to divorce by Francis X. Rocca: “Pope Francis said contemporary ideas of marriage as an arrangement defined by personal needs promote a mentality of divorce, and he called for better preparation of engaged couples as well as ministry to Catholics whose marriages have failed.”

Farm bill hurts hungry Americans by John Stoehr: “With this bill, the Republicans have said loudly that corporations with billions in revenue are more important than children.”

Woody Allen, nihilist by Damon Linker: “There is no justice. From Plato’s sociopathic sophists to Friedrich Nietzsche’s ambition to ‘sail right over our morality,’ this has been the conviction and the insight of the nihilist. These are Woody Allen’s philosophical compatriots.”

Elizabeth Warren To Obama: Stop Putting Forward So Many Corporate Judicial Nominees by Jennifer Bendery: “Seventy-one percent of his nominees have practiced primarily for corporate or business clients, which means that among Obama’s judicial picks over the last five years, corporate attorneys outnumber all other kinds of attorneys by three to one.”

Saint Josephine Bakhita, Witness of Hope for Victims of Human Trafficking by Cardinal Donald Wuerl: “Our Catholic teachings on social justice, human rights and the God-given dignity of all human life offer a moral and philosophical foundation for confronting the modern evil of human trafficking.”

Fourth Grader Shows True Heroism

Last month, fourth grader Tyler Doohan perished in a fire at his grandfather’s trailer home. It is the ultimate nightmare of every parent—to lose one’s precious child at so young an age. But Tyler’s character, his heroism would make any parent proud:

Tyler raced through his grandfather’s trailer home in suburban Penfield early on the morning of Jan. 20, alerting friends and family to a raging fire.

He was crediting with saving the lives of six people — including two other kids, ages 4 and 6.

But then he went back in to the inferno to try to rescue his grandfather, who used a wheelchair because he’d lost part of a leg. They never made it out.

What is heroism? It can be defined in a variety of ways. But extraordinary acts of love-inspired courage certainly fit the bill. And Tyler is rightly being recognized for the heroism he displayed.

Fire companies from cross the country added Tyler’s name to their duty rosters, while he was declared an honorary firefighter by Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer at his funeral at St. John of Rochester Catholic Church. The Silver Lake College of the Holy Family basketball team traveled to serve as pallbearers, inspired by his story.

There are many explanations for interpersonal cooperation and enlightened self-interest. But these cannot explain why someone runs back into a fire, risking their own life to save the lives of others. The real reasons for his heroism: free will and love. Tyler chose to look beyond himself. He chose to act out of love. And in doing so, he showed the human capacity for heroism and greatness.

Love Actually: Concrete, Unselfish and Generous

You can almost always find something insightful in Pope Francis’ homilies, but today’s was particularly good and included many gems of wisdom. In it, the pope clarifies what Christian love is all about, and also what it is not about.

He described some of the challenges that we face that keep us away from living the Christian life:

“We are in God and God is in us: this is the Christian life. Not remaining in the spirit of the world, not remaining in superficiality, not remaining in idolatry, not remaining in vanity.”

He cautions against romanticized notions of love, the type that changes on a whim as our emotions and imaginations shift, contrasting them with Christian love, which is concrete:

“You see that the love John speaks of is not the love of soap operas! No, it is something else. Christian love has a particular quality: concreteness.”

This love is evidenced by our actions. As the popular saying goes, preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

“Jesus Himself, when He speaks of love, speaks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and many concrete things.”

Where love supposedly exists without the action to support it, there’s a pretty good chance it isn’t real love, the kind that Christ calls us to.

“And when this concreteness is not there, you can live a Christianity of illusions, because you don’t understand where the center of Jesus’ message is.”

So how do we love one another as Christ calls us to love?  With action.  And here’s how:

“The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! They are here today, tomorrow they are not. The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The one who loves, gives. . . . Gives things, gives life, gives oneself to God and to others. On the other hand [is] the one who does not love, who is selfish, always seeks to receive, always seeks to have things, to have advantages.”

May we follow the guidance of Pope Francis and concentrate our efforts in the coming year on loving concretely, unselfishly, generously.