Consciousness Examen

William Blazek, a Jesuit scholastic, medical doctor, and ethicist, wrote a piece for the Washington Post, on the occasion of the March for Life. I think it a fine integration of commitment and critical discernment.Here is how it begins:

Thou shalt not kill, not kill yourself, not kill time (because it belongs to God), not kill trust, not kill death itself by trivializing it, not kill the country, the other person, or the Church.These words, spoken by Trappist martyr Dom Christian De Cherge, seem especially apropos as a tool for reflection on this 35th anniversary of the Roe v Wade abortion decision. Jesuit spirituality suggests that it is good to reflect frequently upon the times we might turn away from God. In our individual participation in the struggle over abortion, this turning can manifest itself in concrete emotional, spiritual or physical behaviors. The obverse is true of our reflections as well; it is good to consider daily the ways in which we turn towards God. After identifying the personal failings and strengths of our own conduct in the abortion debate, we can ask the Lord to assist us in avoiding the sin that destroys, and to send us the grace which lifts us nearer Him.Dom Christian listed several categories of killing we might ponder today: killing of time, death, trust, and the country. While each of us defies these precepts in various ways, it is my intention today to focus on the mechanisms whereby we kill ourselves, other people, and the Church. We kill ourselves in turning away from the God-given purpose of our existence. We kill others in our destructive ruminations, violent words and physical attacks. We kill the Church in dismissing her officials and publicly dissenting from her teachings without carefully examining her arguments.

And it concludes:

In conversations about abortion we can turn away from the purpose of our being when we entertain malicious thoughts. We kill when we speak unholy words, or physically attack the other person. We kill our children when we abort, terminate, or get rid of them. We can kill the Church if we dissent in ignorance from the teachings of its experts and legitimate authorities. Following a reflection such as this upon our failings, it is good to look at the way in which we turn towards God. In this case it shall be to consider how we appropriately love ourselves, the other person and the Church. I leave it to the readers good discretion to identify examples of their healthy spiritual habits, generosity to their fellows, and active participation in communities of worship. Concluding those considerations, all that remains for persons of prayer is to ask that the Lord help us to turn away from sin and to further embrace the Good News of love. May God help this broken soul to do so.

In between Dr. Blazek offers much to ponder.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination.

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