Though most of my time these days workwise has been taken up with following the progress of Canada’s assisted suicide/euthanasia bill through Parliament, I have had some opportunities to write stories about people and ideas that give me joy and stir up hope.
Here are some links and excerpts:
Peter Kreeft was in Ottawa recently and here’s a report on a lecture he gave about the battle over the meaning of human dignity raging in our Apostate-Christian society.
A battle over the meaning of human dignity underlies the euthanasia debate, American philosopher and author Peter Kreeft told a conference organized by Catholic doctors June 4.
This battle is more significant than that of World War II in the 20th century, or the battle between radical Islam and Western Civilization in the 21st, Kreeft told a public lecture organized by the Canadian Catholic Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies.
The war over human dignity involves two opposing absolutes; two opposing “goods,” he said, and will not be solved until the end of time.
On one side is the growing popular view that human dignity is relative, subjective, and something one can lose, say, for example, if a wave washes away one’s bathing suit, or if one “farts at a dinner party,” Kreeft said. The other side holds the view each person has intrinsic, objective value, and is an end and not a means.
Kreeft dubbed one side of the debate “modernism” and the other “traditionalism.” Though he noted some legal regimes do not treat all human beings as persons for the sake of the law, “all human beings are persons,” and to deny that leads to “totalitarianism.”
“You are a person because you are a human being, not because the state says you are,” he said.
Under the traditional view, a human being has dignity that no one, not even the person himself, can abrogate, he said. Even if the person declares he has no human value and wants his organs to be harvested, that human dignity is not given him by the state, by the culture, or by society, and cannot be taken away from him.
One of the most popular modernist philosophies in North America is utilitarianism, he said, which promotes the “greatest happiness for the greatest number.”
That means you can have 50 cannibals happy because they eat the 51st, he said. Values are relative; human beings do not have any objective value. “You create your own reality.”
In a collective form, modernism holds that science and society create your value, Kreeft said.
Hughes is well past retirement age and has already been planning for her succession. She and another counsellor provide the counselling. But the well-invested legacies and donations from the 1990s will run out by 2017. On June 11, the wider community will celebrate anniversary for the House of Hope and Healing June 11 with “A Night of Hope” marking the successes of the previous years, and looking ahead for fresh vision.
In Hughes’s counselling office, there’s a small table by the wall holding items clients have left behind that contain a story of their healing journey: a red boxing glove, a brightly coloured plastic rooster, a framed picture of Jesus, dolls, a clock, a sculpture of a circle of people embracing, and other items. On the floor underneath and beside are stuffed animals, an assortment of rag dolls, and a child’s bike.
While she has been able to talk about Jesus in her counselling, she has not pushed her faith on her clients. In fact, she had one patient who refused to allow any mention of God during her counselling sessions because of the association of that word with childhood abuse she’d suffered from a family member.
But then, sitting in the office during a counselling session near the table of mementos of suffering and healing with her eyes closed, the patient sensed Jesus present. She felt she heard Him say to her: “Give Me those burdens, My child. I have been waiting for you to ask Me to heal you all those years.”
At the House of Hope and Healing, Jesus has had a way of showing up.
At this school for boys aged 12-17, Faubert had a spiritual experience in Sept. 1979 that transformed his life. He said he heard Jesus tell him, “Alain, I know you. I love you.”
“This is such an event, so bright, so full of life, I hardly remember what was going on before,” he said.
He recalled he was “not a troublesome child,” and he was “not asking about my purpose in life.” Everything was normal, even boring, as he played basketball, hockey and football and led “a basic teen life.”
Then he began taking a religious studies class with a Marist Brother who was “quite a challenging guy” and “in your face.”
“I’m starting a prayer group, guys,” the Brother said. “I expect you to be there.” He then gave the date and time. Of 200 students, only three showed up. The other two had had experiences with the Lord through the charismatic movement, and were telling each other how the Lord had done something so beautiful in their lives.
One of them, who is still one of his best friends, turned and asked him, “Well, Alain, what has the good Lord done in your life?”
That when “it hit me like a truck. Jesus was there,” he said. “This is central in my spiritual experience, to come to know that I exist in God’s heart and mind . . . that He acts for us; He is present.”
The prayer group of three students “grew and grew,” he said. But a vocation to the priesthood was not on his mind, only being a good, committed Catholic.
The next experience shaped by Marist Brothers concerned time he spent as a summer camp counsellor at Camp Mariste in Rawdon, Quebec where the Marists ran as an outreach to young people from poor neighborhoods in Montreal and nearby rural areas.
“I was a counsellor there for ten years, being with these kids, experiencing the fact they needed to be loved,” he said. “That is so much part of the Marist spirituality, to be with them, to listen to them, to care for them.”