||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Thank You For The Gift Of Life
By: Dale Recinella
In the offbeat 1990s comedy Joe Versus
The Volcano, Joe, played by Tom Hanks, is confronted with God’s awesome presence. Torn from the daily distractions of his mundane work-a-day life, Joe is shipwrecked, floating on a raft in the South Pacific. Nearly dead from exhaustion and exposure, he looks up to the heavens and falls to his knees sputtering, “God…thank you for my life. I forgot how big you really are!”
For those who are radically prolife, these words speak volumes about the culture of death in which we find ourselves this Thanksgiving Day. In its heart of hearts, the radical prolife stance flows from a consciousness that is pro-God. The culture of death is denial of God—at least insofar as God having any meaningful input to the morality of our choices.
So what exactly is our society thankful for? Pre-faded Jeans? High resolution web TV? Faster Internet connections?
And to Whom are we thankful? Do we live as if the heavens are subject to our control just because we can view them through a piece of ground glass? Have we forgotten how big God really is and how small we really are?
Thanksgiving Day 2002 finds us swamped by the affluence of the western world where the propaganda of the culture of death attempts to drown out any consciousness of God. This anti-gospel of non-humanity recognizes no God and, consequently, recognizes no value in that which is made in the image of God. A culture of rampant materialism offers no meaning for human existence and declares no value for human life.
Our Holy Father John Paul II named this threat in his encyclical The Gospel if Life:
“The eclipse of the sense of God and of man inevitably leads to a practical materialism, which breeds individualism, utilitarianism and hedonism.”
The American Bishops, whose task is to hold our society accountable under the Gospel of Life, have focused these teachings on our situation. In Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge To American Catholics, they have said:
“The standards of the marketplace, instead of being guided by sound morality, threaten to displace it. We are now witnessing the gradual restructuring of American culture according to the ideals of utility, productivity and cost-effectiveness.”
This battle is not new. Only the particular nuances have changed. As early as the first centuries of Christianity, a document called The Didache, which some believe may have been used for Christian instruction, stated this truth as follows:
“There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you, second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.”
History bears out this truth. We have barely stepped from the long shadows of the horrors of the twentieth century. We need not look too far into our collective past to find the ghastly destinations that are possible when a society chooses the ways of death.
In his 1999 St. Louis visit, Our Holy Father challenged us to remember how big God is and to thank God for the gift of human life:
“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation… the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil… I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”
As we sit at the Thanksgiving Day table, have our choices shown that we are thankful for the gift of human life?
First published: The Florida Catholic, November 28, 2002
© 2002 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed