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Things Worth Dying For

Today is Good Friday. Not a happy day in the church calendar, except we know that Easter is just around the corner. It is a day for reflection, introspection and prayer. So I was thinking about the complete obfuscation of the truth regarding the reality of Western History, The Church, and The Founding of the American Republic. Putting things in perspective for me was a review in the Wall Street Journal this Good Friday about a book written by Fr. Charles J. Chaput the former Archbishop of Philadelphia and one of the more conservative voices along with the Acton Institute and several apologists like Trent Horn in the Catholic Church today. I have followed the Archbishops career for over 25 years. He is a patriot and a true American hero. Philadelphia was my first home and I follow events in that city closely.

If anyone has experienced the devastating effects of “wokeness”, the tyranny of political correctness, and racial intolerance in the world of the academy, it has been Fr. Chaput. When Pope Benedict appointed Fr. Chaput in 2011 the head of the Dioceses of Philadelphia, he neglected to make him a Cardinal like the previous 5 predecessors, instead having him keep the title of Archbishop. Making Fr. Chaput a Cardinal would have been historic because he would have been the first Native American Cardinal in our country’s history. After the conservative minded Benedict retired the new socialist progressive Pope not only failed to elevate him to Cardinal, but accepted his voluntary letter of resignation on his 75th birthday—these are almost never honored except when issues of health or moral impropriety are in play, thus removing one of the most conservative voices in the American Catholic community from his “bully pulpit”. But great men of faith and patriotism always speak out. Like our Founding Fathers many men and women of faith in the Catholic Church today are standing up to the political left and its’ assault on Christian values.

In his newest book THINGS WORTH DYING FOR Fr. Chaput asks the question: “What if anything would you be willing to die for?” This is a question I believe every generation of Americans has thought about and actually been called on to answer—until now. Most people would be willing to die for their families, their church and their country—or so they say. But recently—even in our military though their oath requires such allegiance to country, few have been faced in real life with having to make such decisions except those exposed to “contested circumstances like our special forces”, Historically people of all races and nationalities have made the “ultimate” sacrifice for liberty—the first person to die in the Boston Massacre was a Black man Crispus Atticus. 600,000 White men and 40,000 Black men died in our Civil War fulfilling the promise of our Declaration that “all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain (and specific) inalienable rights”. What and who would you be willing to die for? Remember this weekend that Jesus of Nazareth took a more inclusive view “That no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends”

It doesn’t matter what your race, nationality, or gender may be. We as Americans should all be grateful to those who came before us who were willing to answer that question with their very lives. Storming a beach, or climbing over a trench, or suffering through summer in an Arabian Desert outpost, or wading through rice patties is something only a very few living amongst us have ever been called on to do, but so many times in our history, because they answered the call and that question, we are able to live—all of us, privileged lives today. All American’s enjoy “American Privilege. The taking down of statues and the demeaning of our history only shows how ungrateful and ignorant we as a people really are. As far as I am concerned there is no honor in a Facebook post and nobody has been called on to die for a Tweet. There is nothing brave or courageous about an AOC Zoom rant. It is nothing more than a Kantian puddle of emotional goo. Would she lie down her life for anyone? But heroic acts are occurring in our society every day without fanfare, and I find hope in the courage of a single mother who chooses Life, and of parents who sacrifice for their children’s future by working two jobs, and courageous entrepreneurs who sacrifice scorn and estrangement from establishment corporate CEO’s for ideas that someday may create great value and utility for consumers and thousands of jobs for workers—think Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

For me the historical facts of the three days starting on Good Friday and ending at the open tomb on Easter Sunday are incontrovertible and are available for anyone to review critically. Reason and Faith have been the bases for Hope in the world since that first Easter Sunday when the world changed forever. This was true in the first century, in 1776, and is true today. For me Easter promises that there will always be hope in the world.

From the ancient philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and from The Church prophets and Saints we learn that there are things more important than life. A right purpose? Family friends, and country? What about traditional virtues like honor, integrity, all that take virtuous acts of work and courage that need to be practiced and turned into habits? Are leaders today in business, government, the law our churches, and the military virtuous? Are they serving us or themselves? Without virtue, there is always corruption. Corruption is the calling card of totalitarianism.

Since the last election, I have struggled to find hope for our country and Easter provides that Hope. We are an “Exceptional Country” because we are the only country in the history of the world to be founded by Christian people with Christian values and we wrote those values down in our Declaration. A virtuous people created a country based on virtue. Our only hope in my opinion is to return to being a virtuous God loving people.

The words of Mother Teresa to the acclaimed economist John Kenneth Galbraith come to mind. When he patronizingly explained to her that she would never be” successful” in the ending of poverty in Calcutta or the world her answer back should be our inspiration moving forward: “We are not called on to be successful—we are called on to be faithful”.

Like Fr. Chaput who points out that the things worth dying for are also the things worth living for—is not the call “to be faithful”, asking the same thing?

By practicing virtue and by being faithful we will prevail. As it was in the beginning….” Happy Easter to All

One reply on “Things Worth Dying For”

Dear Dr Livingston

I believe that we are called on to be successful and faithful. I could go on and on recounting battles where Christians behaved in a manner that, in all likelihood, may have saved Christendom. Without their drive toward success and the proper behavior, the Muslim faith may have totally replaced the Christian faith. They were driven to success by their Christian faith and behaved savagely and boldly with virtue. The Siege of Vienna, 1529, is the one that comes to mind right off the top of my head. The Ottomans who far outnumbered the Viennese had the city surrounded. The Ottoman ruler sent a message to the people of Vienna that all they had to do was just convert to the Muslim faith and surrender and they would be treated as part of the Ottoman empire with all of the benefits that came with being part of the empire. If they didn’t surrender then they would all be condemned to death in a hideous fashion. All of the citizens of Vienna had one message in reply to the Grand Vizier, “COME AND TAKE IT”!!!!

The citizens of Vienna were driven to success and prayed constantly. Ottoman troops were expert tunnelers and would dig tunnels underneath the foundations of Viennese fortifications. The Viennese worked hard to be successful as they knew God called on them for just that purpose. They were able to constantly intercept the Ottoman efforts and counterattacked with the ferocity of which God Almighty had inspired them. The Ottomans were driven out and the Christians thanked God for their hard won victory.

Faith is certainly part of being virtuous but so is that drive toward success or what we might call a righteous outcome. I believe too many people today feel that just having faith and doing nothing or worse yet being a pacifist, is going to somehow develop into a beautiful outcome. I believe the Lord helps him who helps himself and helping yourself means developing a drive toward success in my opinion.

Kolkata today is a place where great, great suffering takes place.

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