Written and delivered by Mike Church, a Speech for the Monroe County, Michigan, Right to Life Fund. On the way back to Louisiana, from Michigan, Mike was informed of his demise at SiriusXM Satellite radio. Read all about it and listen to the farewell show here.
APOSTALATE DENIED: APATHY AND THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT Remarks written for delivery to the Michigan Right to Life Campaign, 15 October, 2015 by Frederick Michael Augutstine Mary Church
apathy = “freedom from suffering,” from French apathie (16c.), from Latin apathia, from Greek apatheia “freedom from suffering, impassibility, want of sensation,” from apathes “without feeling, without suffering or having suffered,”
Using this definition of apathy is a bit of an irony in that it is mitigating the lethal suffering of the developing baby that pro-lifers are animated by. Having said that, perhaps a brief reflection on the meaning of the term pro-life is called for. When we say we are pro-life it is not the same thing as saying we are pro-ice cream. Ice cream is the delicious accident of the substances of cream, sugar and vanilla beans being combined utilizing the genius God gave us to concoct foods that are to our pleasure. But ice cream also requires intellect which of all the animals Man singularly possesses. The evidence for this can be seen in the simple process of asking your dog if he would like some ice cream. A rapid wag of the tail and a gleam in his eye gives you to know the answer is an excited “yes”! but it had never occurred to the dog to make the ice cream even if you had named him Ben or Jerry. So the dog wants the ice- cream but the dog would want it if you called it that famous name Steve Martin called his dog in the movie The Jerk, the point being that the dog may be pro-ice cream but the dog is also pro you know what. If I ask the same ice cream question of most of you the answer would be a resounding “yes”, but if I qualified that with “did I mention that the ice cream brand was (recently tainted) Blue Bell?” Then the mouth watering begets stomach turning. Note that after passing on the salmonella tainted Blue Bell ice cream, you are still pro-ice cream and ice cream will continue to physically exist. Using the same intellect, the same cannot be said if we substitute pro-life for pro-ice cream because any failure to say “yes” when it comes to defending life from abortion or euthanasia results in life coming to an ungodly end. In other words we are free to be pro-ice cream because our parents and their generation using their intellect, were pro- life. If I make the choice to not have a bowl of rocky road I am exercising an eating preference but if I make the decision to not intervene to stop an abortion or assisted suicide after I was granted the opportunity, because it’s not convenient or requires too much “suffering” on my part now I am filled with apathy.
The pro-ice cream metaphor that produces an apathetic pro-lifer may seem a bit extreme but this is because we have largely lost the use of the key word needed to bring this matter into clear focus: SIN. I intend to show you tonight that it is the Sin of Apathy that has crept into the pro-life movement much as the same Sin wormed
its way into the Church Militant then into the Second Vatican Council. The fruits of this apathy toward Magisterial teaching, dare I say dogma, is a lukewarm liturgy
that produces still frostier believers who, 50 years later can’t find the zeal needed to be mortified at the proceedings of the Synod on The Family meeting in Rome right now is the logical end result. What will the pro-life faithful look like on the 50th anniversary of Roe if this same apathy is not abandoned for the zeal any article of our Faith, actually requires?
Apathy, like Sloth, is a sin that St Thomas tells us1: “Whatever is forbidden in Holy Writ is a sin. Now such is sloth: for it is written [in Sirach] “Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her.” St Thomas also tells us that Sloth is a creeping laziness that pridefully crowds out the practice of doing good. “Sloth, according to Damascene2 is an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs upon man’s mind, that he wants to do nothing; thus acid things are also cold. Sloth then becomes a “sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good.”3
This matches St Augustine’s admonition against the sin of apathy. Augustine be- gins by quoting St John: “ ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’4 When there shall be no sin in a man, then there shall be this απάθεια [apathy]… he who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon.” For Au- gustine and the City of God, apathy is the stealth Sin that threatens the entire order established by God himself: “And if that is to be called apathy, where the mind is the subject of no emotion, then who would not consider this insensibility to be worse than all vices?” That is quite a challenge to the watered down orthodoxy of today that in its anemia promotes a sensibility focused entirely upon Man. For example , in the Novus Ordo rite, Man is primarily an emotional being who can, with others, “call to mind [their] sinfulness” and receive a perfunctory “absolution” blessing without any pain, penance or sensibility for the gravity of Sin committed and now ostensibly, removed. Is it any wonder that among Catholic’s, apathy is the result of this? St Paul admonishes the insensitive and proud to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The post Vatican II Catechism of today, if indeed we can even use the “C” word any lon- ger, doesn’t lend itself to this when tens of millions approach the altar weekly for Holy Communion, where is the fear that Our Lord may take offense to the apathy shown his most Holy Sacrificed Body and Precious Blood? Does a curtsy or quick nod of the chin suffice for the loving fear that “every knee shall bend”5?
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with the pro-life movement and apathy and I don’t blame you, last week when I was down there seated among you and Robert suggested apathy as a topic for tonight I rather thought him mad and only said yes thinking “how difficult could a one word theme be!?” I learned quickly that not only was Robert onto something daunting, I wished he had suggested a 5 word theme that I might have kept abstract and jolly as in: “it’s time to have drinks!”
Augustine continued his forceful condemnation of apathy by suggesting that those practicing apathy are committing a grave, prideful Sin: “But if by apathy a condition
be meant in which no fear terrifies nor any pain annoys, we must in this life renounce such a state if we would live according to God’s will, but may hope to enjoy it in that blessedness which is promised as our eternal condition.”6 Apathy thus has the power to convince a soul that because it is corporeally disinterested it must follow then as also being spiritually dispossessed. Chesterton wrote that those possessed of apathy are on a par with apostates. “Side by side with the increase in those who deny is a growth in the numbers of those who come to regard apathy, suspended judgment, or a lack of interest in a religious matter as a state of positive belief.”7 This apathy is manifested in today’s cult-like “separation of church and state” which far too many pro-lifers have taken as
a doctrinal part of the catechism I call Americanism. Here we arrive at the crux of the problem in the American, pro-life apostolate: it is not termed an apostolate thus it for- feits the undeniable Authority under which it should thrive and make conversions.
In fact, the laity has actually been officially called to this apostolic duty as late as 1965 in Apostolicam Actuostitatem: “Our own times require of the laity no less zeal: With a constantly increasing population, continual progress in science and technol- ogy, and closer interpersonal relationships, the areas for the lay apostolate have been immensely widened particularly in fields that have been for the most part open to
the laity alone.”8 Anyone familiar with the leadership in moral affairs taught by most American bishops these days might wonder if in writing this encyclical Paul VI wasn’t preparing the post Vatican II laity for the likes of Cardinal Kasper and giving them a blessed-butter knife to bring to the fight. To that end there can’t be much doubt when later in the same document the Holy Father writes: “In loyalty to their country and
in faithful fulfillment of their civic obligations, Catholic’s should feel themselves obliged to promote the true common good. Thus they should make the weight of their opinion felt in order that the civil authority may act with justice and that legislation may conform to moral precepts and the common good. Catholic’s skilled in public affairs and adequately enlightened in faith and Christian doctrine should not refuse to administer pubic affairs since by doing this in a worthy manner they can both further the common good and at the same time prepare the way for the Gospel.”
It is true that most pro-lifers call upon God’s name to bring gravity to their public acts e.g. chanting “…abortion is an abomination before God!” While this is laudable its laud-ability is much like the beautiful shimmer of artifacts made of gold. That shimmer, as beautiful and mesmerizing as it is, must be put in the context that if the lights were doused in the room where the shimmering gold is being viewed, even in darkness, the gold would still retain its value, and even though the shimmer will have disappeared, the owner of the gold is no poorer for having lost it. Unfortunately much of the pro-life movement is all shimmer with the lights on in private but fades into darkness in public affairs by losing sight of its priceless gold: the Magisterial Authority of God. I bet I am not alone in being shocked and saddened by the nearly unanimous denial of this Authority by those who we know that ought to know better. What else can explain this denial other than apathy ?
St John Vianney decried this apathy as “The Dreadful State of the Lukewarm soul”. Now see if this reminds you of some of the pro-lifers you may know. “I think, breth- ren, that you would like to know what is the state of the lukewarm soul. Well, this is it. A lukewarm soul is not yet quite dead in the eyes of God because the faith, the hope, and the charity which are its spiritual life are not altogether extinct. But it is a faith without zeal, a hope without resolution, a charity without ardor . . . . In prosperous times the lukewarm soul does not go so far as to forget God, but neither does it forget itself. It knows very well how to boast about all the means it has employed to achieve its prosperity. It is quite convinced that many others would not have achieved the same success.”9 How many times have you heard about the “success” of this pro-life initiative or the “progress” of that one? I’m not here to analyze these progressions or break down and criticize those successes because many of you have worked hard for those victories and we should recognize them because in their absence would be a much darker and macabre time, let us give thanks; but my friends, until the correct order of authority is restored and every solitary “legal act” that enables the culture of death to ply its lethal craft, repealed, there is no success, but there is apathy. And where apathy abounds there abounds pride and there lacks Humility, the greatest of all the Graces God be- stows on us and the Grace employed in the most famous angelic salutation ever: “Ave gratia plena: Dominus tecum; Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.”10 It was from the humility to accept God’s authority that Our Lady was exalted and it was from Pride and apathy that Zachary rejected it. Here then, at the genesis of Christianity is Humili- ty and from Bethlehem to Galilee to Jerusalem to Antioch, Rome, France, England and the rest of The Continent, this humble movement would not be denied and no pagan, no heresy, no barbarian king would prevail against it and The ultimate Authority.
The lesson here that we can apply to the Pro-life movement and apathy concerns the proper use of the term humility. I do not believe it is possible to describe humility better than Padré Bergamo did in his magnificent opus Humility of Heart, a work I just finished translating and bringing back into print. “Humility is not a sickly virtue, tim- id and feeble as some imagine; on the contrary, it is strong, magnanimous, generous and constant, because it is founded on truth and justice. The truth consists in knowing what God is and what we are. Justice consists in our recognizing that God as our Cre- ator has a right to command us, and that we as His creatures are bound to obey Him.” In public affairs, that obedience manifests itself in the teaching authority Our Lord “breathed” into The Church, that it would teach “all nations” and in that apostolate answer to God first then Man, if he were humbled before God. To my Protestant broth- ers and sisters, this is the apathy I spoke of at the start of this presentation, an apathy so sinful it could only be inspired by the prince of this world. It is the apathy of denying the Church’s teaching authority on the matters of life that bring us together tonight; an apathy so dark it may be determined by a future Holy council as heretical. This is the anemia I spoke of coursing through the veins in the body of the Church Militant, an anemia that exalted new rites based on the mistaken belief that modernity could be made a friend if only the Church would speak its language as if the forbidden fruit of Eden could have been safely consumed if only it had been peeled first. In short, it was the Church’s duty to oppose Griswold, Roe, Engel and the entire Cult of Death’s pro- gram, promising civil disobedience if needed and rallying all the faithful to th effort. She would have been right to do so and is therefore complicit in failing to do so.
St Augustine speaks of just such a situation in the public affairs of men and State and what the proper course of action is. “Let those who say that the teaching of Christ is hurtful to the State produce such armies as the maxims of Jesus have enjoined sol- diers to bring into being; such governors of provinces; such husbands and wives; such parents and children; such masters and servants; such kings; such judges, and such payers and collectors of tribute, as the Christian teaching instructs them to become, and then let them dare to say that such teaching is hurtful to the State. Nay, rather will they hesitate to own that this discipline, if duly acted up to, is the very mainstay of the commonwealth.”11 Augustine is exhorting the Christians of his day to put the order of civil authority in the correct sequence and the act upon it. We can all bear witness to the fact that the pro-life movement has acted, but has it acted in the correct order of authority? And make no mistake, there IS a correct order that can be known from a study of the Gospels and the life of Our Lord himself. “according to the law of Moses, when her days were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves…”12 Ask your self the question: where did Moses get the Law that St Joseph and Our Lady are humiliating themselves as parents of God himself, to obey? The Disciple whom Jesus loved provides us the answer: “Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.” This is not only a clear teaching of the source of all legal authority on earth that we may benefit from knowing but note the divine humility of this teaching; while in his human form, Our Lord subjects himself to the brutally painful act of circumcision, why? to keep the Law. But alas, the Church’s reaction to Roe and the pastoral guidance that was delivered, doomed following this clear path of authority I have just recounted for you. Does anyone think that the Cult of Death reared its fangs at a more opportune time? While Roe was being promulgat- ed the stalwart guardians of the teaching we have been discussing were busy fighting the post Vatican II revolutionaries who were making their way through parish after American parish, taking mauls and hammers to the beautiful high altars and com- munion rails. Ten years later, Rosemary Ruether was exhorting American Catholic’s to ignore the Vatican, ignore the Magisterium and instead work toward “… a painful way forward to a church in which people try to listen to and respect differing opinions and to work, through a combination of experience and tradition, to develop teachings that have authority because they are credible to most Christians.”13 The private, quiet apathy of some American Catholic’s was set to roar its way into a bullhorn of public dissent that would drive orthodoxy from nearly every corner of Christian life, nearly end the catechism needed for that orthodoxy and hand over to the Republican Party the reigns of authority in opposing abortion. The laity were now free to take Apostolorum Actoutiatem as a pass to write their own Magisterium with tens of millions of little Popes running their own papacy’s. How on earth could such a moral, tower of Babel, when combined with our Protestant friend’s
By now, many of you, indeed most of you must be wondering, why in the wide wide world of sports did you have to sit through this heavily footnoted tour of the Catholic teaching on apathy and then listen to my fingering of Vatican Two? Good question and I will begin the answer with some names:
Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, Governor Mario Cuomo and his sons Andrew and Chris, Vice President Joey Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Matthews, Marco Rubio, Geraldine Ferraro, Senator Bob Casey, Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle and of course Jenni- fer, “Granny” Granholm. What do all these very famous, very politically and culturally powerful people have in common? They are allegedly all Catholic’s, they are all “pro- choice” and they are the largest flashing sign available to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that apathy towards the Church’s teaching and legal authority over abortion and the rest of the Cult of Death’s agenda, has become de facto Catholic teaching. I don’t need to tell you what the results of these apostasies are in infant souls lost to limbo and adult souls poured by the Dempsey Dumpster load, as Our Lady said at Fatima, into Hell “like snowflakes”. This is the legacy of post Vatican II apathy. And how do we know that Vatican 2 is the culprit? Because Rosemary Ruether told us: “On October 4, 1984, a paid advertisement appeared in the New York Times under the sponsorship of a group called Catholic’s for a Free Choice. The ad contended that there is more than one legitimate — i.e. theologically and ethically defensible — viewpoint on abortion within the Roman Catholic tradition. It called for a dialogue on abortion among Cath- olic’s — a dialogue that would acknowledge this situation of pluralism, not only in re- gard to practice (Catholic’s have about the same proportion of abortions as Protestants in the United States), but in regard to the ethical state of the question.”14
When these apostates were appropriately warned by Saint Pope John Paul II that failure to issue public retractions, citing Magisterial teaching on abortion, would result in excommunication, over half the original letter signers obeyed the Papal authority asserted. The other half would gradually recant but the final group, asserting the flawed doctrine that came from Vatican 2 remained defiantly aligned with the serpent and his cult of death. “We, as Roman Catholic’s, affirm our solidarity with those who signed the Statement and agree to stand with all who face reprisals. We shall become the dismissed, the dis-invited and the unwelcome. ‘The ties which unite the faithful are stronger than those which separate them. Let there be unity in what is necessary, free- dom in what is doubtful and charity in everything’ ”. Ruether summarizes this revolt in terms that the apathetic probably don’t even realize, provides cover, but she and her revolutionaries most certainly did. “The solidarity statement thus takes its text from the defense of religious freedom affirmed at the Second Vatican Council.”15 Those who remained defiant are still defiant today and the Vatican ultimately withdrew its threat of excommunication paving the way for the aforementioned pro-choice Catholic’s and tens of millions who would follow, to make apathy in moral teaching their “Nuremberg defense.”
The authority of the Church as spiritual and legal guardian over “right to life” issues, now embarrassingly defeated, the pro-life movement threw its support wholly behind the political authority of the Republican Party. To cite an adage from the septic tank we call a culture: “how’s that workin’ out for ya.” Before I wrap up, let me offer you sons and daughters of Michigan an all too familiar piece of evidence that will serve as proof that the Sin of apathy has won the day and the denizens of the Cult of death know
it. Homosexual “marriage” is the bastard, red-headed step child of abortion who has grown up into a roaring red-headed dragon. Because of the previously describe events, many famous “Catholic’s” are now publicly and proudly in favor of this most diabolical of all assaults and the enemy knows it. From the 14 May, 2012 edition of “Michigan Liberal.com”, in a story about Catholic’s and same-sex marriage we learn this: “The conflict [between for or against gay marriage] isn’t between Jennifer Granholm and political expediency, but between the Catholic Church and its parishioners who increasingly see its hierarchy and rigid sense of morality as a millstone they no longer want hung around their necks.” ‘Tis sad, but in 2015, all too true.
Thinking upon this sad state of affairs and what to do about it, St John Vianney was correct, 200 years ago when he preached the sermon THE DREADFUL STATE OF THE LUKEWARM SOUL: “The lukewarm soul comes to the point of being complete- ly indifferent to its own loss. It has nothing left but a love without tenderness, without action, and without energy which sustains it with difficulty in all that is essential for salvation. But for all other means of Grace, it looks upon them as nothing or almost nothing. Alas, my brethren, this poor soul in its tepidity is like someone between two bouts of sleep. It would like to act, but its will has become so softened that it lacks ei- ther the force or the courage to accomplish its wishes.” I will conclude with a statement to my not-Catholic friends in attendance who might now think they are actually more catholic than the non catholic’s the Catho-
lic speaker has been speaking of. The preceding matters to you for the same reason it matters to me: to bring the Cult of Death to a full stop, we must be organized and then unified under a single authority, that authority is the 2000 year old institution, founded by Christ himself, the only body on earth that can wield Magisterial authority on these public matters and claim hierarchical supremacy to enforce the teaching. This does
not mean you must become Papists, or Catholic’s at all, though I hope you will. It does mean that you and I have a common enemy, a common fight and a common flag under which to engage that enemy and vanquish him once and for all. There are roughly 75 million Catholic’s in the United States16 and roughly twice that number of non-denom- inational Christians and an estimated 35,000 “denominations. This poses an obvious organization problem that can be and must be dealt with if the Cult of Death is to be defeated. For the sake of the next 53 million aborted and euthanized souls who will be plunged into Limbo or worse, the price of not acting is self evident.
Pope Leo XIII, when confronting the origins of this apostasy that brings forth the cult of death and the apathy we have been talking about wrote this. “So, also, as to the duties of each one toward his fellow men, mutual forbearance, kindliness, generosity are placed in the ascendant; the man who is at once a citizen and a Christian is not drawn aside by conflicting obligations; and, lastly, the abundant benefits with which the Christian religion, of its very nature, endows even the mortal life of man are ac- quired for the community and civil society. And this to such an extent that it may be said in sober truth: “The condition of the commonwealth depends on the religion with which God is z; and between one and the other there exists an intimate and abiding connection.”
Thank you, good night and God bless.
1 Summa Theologica; Second Part of the Second Part; Question 35
2 De Fide Orthodoxa, Book II, Chapter 14
4 1 John, 1:8
5 Romans 14:11
6 The City of God, Book 14, Chapter 9
7 Chesterton, Earnestness, London Times, June 1912
8 Apostolicam Actuostitatem
9 The Dreadful State of the Lukewarm Soul, St John Vianney-The Curie of Ars
10 Luke 1: 28
11 St. Augustine, Epistle (letter) 138: To Marcellinus, My Noble and Justly Famous Lord, My Son Most Beloved and Longed For
12 Luke 2: 21-24.
13 Rosemary Ruether, Catholic’s and Abortion: authority vs dissent
15 Gaudium et spes (Our Joy and Hope), Vatican II, #92
16 Pew Research Center, 2012