Friday, July 6, 2012

Heroes; Freedom; Doing Good and Avoiding Evil

I found two sorts of heroism in the news, and solid thoughts about freedom:
  1. We Still have Heroes
  2. True Freedom
  3. Pharisees, Herodians, and the American National Government
  4. Archbishop Sheen: Now the Venerable Fulton Sheen

1. We Still have Heroes

photo from WKYC /, used without permission
(from WKYC, used w/o permission)
"Akron: Heroic trucker sacrifices life in accident"
WKYC, Akron, Ohio (July 5, 2012)

"A trucker steered his out-of-control rig past people, cars, and business, only to die moments later.

"Chris Burgess, 41, lost the brakes on his 15-ton dump truck on Portage Trail, a steep hill in Akron. He careened through a busy intersection, and headed straight for a shopping center before swerving at the last moment into the Cuyahoga River.

" 'He definitely sacrificed his safety for the safety of everyon[e] else who was around here,' said Karla Maple, who was in the parking lot of the Valley Centre Plaza on Akron-Peninsual Road in the Merriman Valley....
I hope and pray that Chris Burgess, and everyone else who has died while saving others, 'rest in perpetual light,' as the old prayer goes.
"Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

("Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
(Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Did Chris Burgess go to a Catholic, or any other sort of, church? I don't know. All I know about him is what's in the WKYC article:
"...Margaret Paulin, who was working at White Swan Quality Cleaners, was directly in the path of the out-of-control dump truck, which was loaded with 15 tons of sand. She said it seemed to be going 100 miles per hour.

"Paulin looked out the front window of the business and saw Burgess make what seem[e]d like an impossible sharp left turn into the river, just before he would have plowed through the shopping center...."
There's very good reason to believe that Chris Burgess, in the last moments of his life, showed a virtue that the Catholic Church calls fortitude:
"Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. 'The Lord is my strength and my song.'70 "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."71"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1808)
Being at the wheel of a dump truck when the brakes fail isn't a "persecution," of course, but it does offer opportunities to face fear: and make decisions.

I prefer to think that Chris Burgess decided the safety of others was more important than his own, and that avoiding the loss of more lives was a "just cause." WKYC spotlighted some of the folks who are alive today because of Mr. Burgess' decision:
"...Trista Merendino and her children, ages 6 years and 9 months, escaped with their lives only because Merendino happen[e]d to turn down her car radio at the very moment Burgess was laying on his truck horn.

" 'I had the green light and was about to pull into the intersection,' she told WKYC. 'And then I heard the horn and stopped just in time.'..."

2. True Freedom

"Government cannot take away true freedom, Archbishop Chaput teaches"
Benjamin Mann, CNA/EWTN News (July 4, 2012)

"Government cannot give or take away the ultimate freedom found in obedience to God, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said at the closing Mass of the U.S. bishops' 'Fortnight for Freedom.'

" 'True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ,' Archbishop Chaput said in his July 4 homily at Washington, D.C.'s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

" 'True freedom can walk away from anything - wealth, honor, fame, pleasure … It fears neither the state, nor death itself.'...
I wrote about the freedom to act as if God matters for two weeks:
According to Archbishop Chaput, whether we're free or not depends on us. I agree:
"...'We're free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God's plan,' Philadelphia's archbishop said. 'When we do this, when we choose to live according to God's intention for us, we are then - and only then - truly free.'

" 'This is the kind of freedom that can transform the world. And it should animate all of our talk about liberty - religious or otherwise.'..."
(Benjamin Mann, CNA/EWTN News)
Archbishop Chaput had quite a bit more to say:

3. Pharisees, Herodians, and the American National Government

"Thousands Attend Closing Mass of 'Fortnight for Freedom' at Washington Basilica" (July 4, 2012)

"Thousands of people packed the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. for the closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom.

"Organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Fortnight for Freedom was a period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action. The USCCB has openly protested a mandate within the Affordable Care Act that would require religious institutions to cover sterilization, contraception and abortifacient drugs.

"The archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput, gave the homily, focusing on the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells the Pharisees and Herodians to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's....
Like I've said before, I'm a practicing Catholic, so I have to believe some things, like:
I also have to be a good citizen. (Catechism, 1915, 2239, 2239) But 'giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar' doesn't include believing that some local authority can redefine natural law.

I'm expected to do good and avoid evil: even if some leader says otherwise. (Catechism, 2242)

4. Archbishop Sheen: Now the Venerable Fulton Sheen

"Archbishop Sheen decree a 'great day' for US Catholics"
CNA/EWTN News (June 29, 2012)

"Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria says the declaration of Archbishop Fulton Sheen as 'venerable' is wonderful news for both the diocese and the Catholic Church in America.

"On June 28 the Pope Benedict XVI authorized the decree recognizing the heroic virtues of the much loved U.S. archbishop, author and television evangelist. The move brings Sheen closer to sainthood.

" 'Fulton Sheen's zeal, wisdom, and holiness should help us build our faith,' Bishop Jenky said. He thanked God that the Catholic Church has recognized 'a son from central Illinois.'..."
I'm very glad to see this development. Archbishop Sheen's cause for sainthood started in 2002. Like the article said, the designation "venerable" means that Fulton Sheen's life demonstrated heroic virtues.

Nothing miraculous has been attributed to Fulton Sheen. Officially. Yet.

A Possible, Alleged, Miracle

"...If a recognized miracle is attributed to him, he can be beatified. Two recognized miracles mean he can be canonized as a saint.

"One possible alleged Fulton Sheen miracle is already under investigation.

"In December 2011 a tribunal of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. concluded its investigation into a reputed miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen’s intercession. It sent the results to the Vatican for consideration.

"Bonnie Engstrom and her husband Travis prayed to Archbishop Sheen in September 2010 after she delivered an apparently stillborn son at home in Goodfield, Ill.

"The baby, named James Fulton after the archbishop, was rushed to the hospital but had no pulse for 61 minutes after his birth. Following their prayers his heart started beating and he escaped serious medical problems....
A stillborn baby, with no pulse for 61 minutes: who has no serious medical problems after his heart goes back online? That sounds like a miracle: which is why the evidence will be thoroughly examined. Miracles happen, but it takes more than someone saying 'it's a miracle' for the Church to give official recognition.

'A Special Road'

"...Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, the postulator leading Archbishop Sheen's cause for canonization, did not speak about the possible miracle. However, he said the canonization cause is 'taking a special road' and moving 'quite quickly.'

" 'This is due to the importance of this cause for Fulton Sheen's sainthood to the American Church and all the faithful,' he said June 28. 'We hope to go on with continued momentum.' "
I think America's current ethical lapses, and Fulton Sheen's cultural importance in this country, are probably factors in Sheen's cause for sainthood being no a 'fast track.' But I'm also sure that the Church's investigators will use 'due process,' and that if there's a non-miraculous explanation for an infant's apparent death being undone: they'll report that, and move on.

Frustrating as it can be, I vastly prefer the Church's insistence on evidence and formal process to more 'if it feels right, it probably is' approaches.

Right now, we have an American whose "heroic virtues" have been verified: and declared by the Pope. That's something to be glad about: America needs heroes.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.