Friday, February 21, 2003

GS 78 (cont.)
Note, I am not trying to be profound in my analysis. I am hoping that the text will speak for itself. To the extent that I have what seems to me to be real insight I'll try to share it, but otherwise I may just make a side comment that won't, to you, be very profound. We are still in the introductory material, so the question of war won't be treated until next week.
But this [a constant mastering of passions and the vigilance of lawful authority] is not enough. This peace on earth cannot be obtained unless personal well-being is safeguarded and men freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their inner spirits and their talents. A firm determination to respect other men and peoples and their dignity, as well as the studied practice of brotherhood are absolutely necessary for the establishment of peace. Hence peace is likewise the fruit of love, which goes beyond what justice can provide.
I am far from one of those who would put the blame for 9/11 and the Islamist's hate of the United States on our own moral and social deficiencies, but I do sometimes wonder whether the people of the United States live up to the injunction of this paragraph. We have just gone through two decades of unprecedented prosperity, and to what use have we put that newfound wealth? Have we used the riches of our inner spirits and our talents for a studies practice of brotherhood with all people? Or have we used it for our own luxuries? For condos, jacuzzies, golf and SUVs ? I am in no way suggesting that we needed or need more Federal social programs or anything of that nature. I am suggesting, though, that we Catholics ought to have been conspicuous in the past two decades in putting the wealth of this nation at the service of the common good in this nation and for the upbuilding of the international community, with a preferential option for the poor.
Importantly, however, and rightly, the energy of American Catholics has been directed at the struggle for life in our own country. Yet, I do believe that the local and international generosity of the Catholic community ought to be so conspicuous that even a biased media couldn't ignore it. This has been a Catholic Moment in our nation. Have we taken advantage of it?
That earthly peace which arises from love of neighbor symbolizes and results from the peace of Christ which radiates from God the Father. For by the cross the incarnate Son, the prince of peace reconciled all men with God. By thus restoring all men to the unity of one people and one body, He slew hatred in His own flesh; and, after being lifted on high by His resurrection, He poured forth the spirit of love into the hearts of men.
We are talking about the source and meaning of earthly peace. The unity of the human race that flows from the saving power of the cross will manifest itself in real reconciliation in this life. Thus, we have the long tradition of saints as peacemakers, such as when St. Clare stopped an invading army by lifting up a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. This is why our prayers for peace are not simply wishful thinking, but rather part of the providential means of achieving that real earthly peace that is possible because of the effects of the Cross.
For this reason, all Christians are urgently summoned to do in love what the truth requires, and to join with all true peacemakers in pleading for peace and bringing it about.
So, those among us, such as pope and bishops, who are pleading for peace are doing exactly what they ought. The question, then, is how to bring it about? Is a war necessary at this point to bring about peace (keeping in mind what #77 said about what peace is).
Motivated by this same spirit, we cannot fail to praise those who renounce the use of violence in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods of defense which are otherwise available to weaker parties too, provided this can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community itself.
The "spirit" is a spirit of charity beyond simply a desire for justice. There does seem to be here a kind of presumption against war even in a situation where a war might be justified. But we cannot refuse a just war if if will result in " injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community itself."
Insofar as men are sinful, the threat of war hangs over them, and hang over them it will until the return of Christ.
No utopianism here and no thought that we will ever be free of the plague of war.
But insofar as men vanquish sin by a union of love, they will vanquish violence as well and make these words come true: "They shall turn their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into sickles. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaias 2:4).
But, progress is possible. We can become more peaceful and less violent by promoting something called "a union of love." I hope they explain that later.

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