Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 19, 2010
Prendergast declares war
Church must wage battle against 'spiritual forces of evil,' says Ottawa archbishop
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Speaking to a euthanasia conference March 26, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast told the health professionals in attendance: "We are at war."
The latest battlefront in this spiritual war is the mass media's fueling of a desire for legalized euthanasia and desensitizing people to the mystery of death, he said.
While the war is fought in public, the archbishop made clear who he believes is the ultimate foe.
The struggle is not against "flesh and blood enemies but against spiritual forces of evil," he said. "The war we fight as Christians will not end until the world ends."
This war is nothing new; it's a central fact taught by Jesus, St. Paul and St. Ignatius that has been rejected in our modern era, he said.
NO ORDINARY WAR
But this is no ordinary war, he stressed, because the Lord has already won the battle. "We can't be defeated; the danger is that we will surrender."
Prendergast urged the dozens of health professionals and anti-euthanasia advocates gathered for the Catholic Organization for Life and Family's (COLF) annual bio-ethics seminar March 25-26 to commit themselves to a defence of life in caring for the elderly and the dying.
The archbishop warned against giving up and giving in. He also urged people to be on the lookout for new strategies on the part of the enemy.
Prendergast, a Jesuit, spoke of the meditation his order's founder St. Ignatius of Loyola used to expose Satan's wiles. Ignatius' meditation asks the participant to consider how vast Satan's army is, and how countless demons are stationed everywhere.
"This, I think is contrary to our instincts," he said. "We are good people! Nice people! Catholic people! Christian folks. Surely, Satan and his minions are busy with other people!"
Prendergast noted how C.S. Lewis' famous Screwtape Letters "chronicles the subtle ways which Satan can turn the soul in on itself and away from Christ.
"The senior devil counsels his junior to rely on small things like domestic tensions and seemingly minor selfish traits to ensnare souls."
The devil has become bolder as western civilization moves away from its Christian roots, the archbishop said, noting how the Internet has provided "Satan weapons of mass destruction he did not possess before."
Distorted views of human sexuality in the mass media and especially pornography on the Internet are part of the arsenal, he said.
SLAIN IN BATTLE
Prendergast said that evaluating such things as euthanasia in purely social, psychological or historical terms will leave Christians "slain in battle."
He urged an appropriate spiritual defence, calling on Ignatius' insight that all vices could be traced to "three roots: riches, honour and pride."
The desire for riches propels the Internet porn industry, he said. The pursuit of riches often leaves Catholics too exhausted to go to church "and almost always too tired to pray."
Honour, as the desire to be well-thought-of, keeps politicians from speaking their conscience, keeps journalists "toeing" a line of liberal respectability and Catholics from defending their faith when it is attacked, he said.
"Pride blinds us to our vulnerability and prevents us from turning to Christ the Victor," he said. "Instead we rely on ourselves, making excuses instead of amends."
"Christ's plan also has three pillars," he said. "To counter riches, honour and pride, he attracts us to spiritual poverty, insults and humility."
"What Ignatius calls poverty other saints have called detachment," he said.
"Whatever you call it, this virtue brings freedom from the shackles of materialism, luxury, and the fear of suffering - a fear, incidentally, that is leading good people to argue passionately for the 'right' to kill themselves."
Fear is not only driving the euthanasia movement but obscuring the truth about effective pain management in palliative care and hospice centres, he said.
He spoke of how bearing insults is an imitation of Christ, who bore insults as well as physical torture in the Passion.
"Still many of us can more easily imagine selling all we have and giving it to the poor than we can imagine ourselves accused, insulted and condemned without making a defence," he said.
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