Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years After September 11: America Reflects on Who We Are

Leave me as I am, the one who gives me strength to endure the fire will also give me strength to stay quite still on the pyre. For eighty and six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, so how can I now blaspheme my King who saved me? St Polycarp – His last words, at the time of his martyrdom.

(Gospel Text: John: 15: 12-17)
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.

September 11, 2001 changed the United States of America. Every anniversary since that fateful day has become an existential moment, an invitation to reflect on who we are and who we will become. The actions of those evil men and the heroic response of those ground zero heroes call us to this reflection.  I vividly remember the events of that fateful day. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with. Eleven years later the very memory of the day evokes a deep seated response within me - a love for this Nation accompanied by a deep concern over her future.

How one defines human freedom will influence the way that he or she views almost everything. Freedom has consequences. The capacity to make choices is what makes us human persons. What we choose either humanizes us further or leads us, ultimately, into slavery.

The capacity to choose reflects the "Imago Dei", the Image of God, within every human person. Pope Benedict XVI warned us that a "dictatorship of relativism" has been unleashed in this secularist age. The antidote is the message which the Church proclaims, that freedom must be exercised in relationship to truth or it is illusory and will lead to anarchy.  This "anarchic freedom" is what Blessed John Paul referred to as a "counterfeit" notion of freedom.  It leads to something he warned of in his encyclical letter "The Gospel of Life" as the "death of true freedom". This anarchic counterfeit masquerading as freedom permeates the West. 

To an age deceived by false concepts of freedom the Church proclaims the unchangeable truth that some "choices" are always and everywhere wrong - choosing them does not make one free, rather it erodes authentic human freedom and leads to slavery and tyranny. Exposing such erroneous interpretations of freedom - and then proclaiming the path to true freedom - is our task as Christians living in an age which cries out for true freedom. 

Freedom is not about the fact that we can choose what we "want" but about how and what we choose. Authentic Human Freedom will never be found in decisions that are made against God, against the truth and against the Natural Law.

On the eleventh anniversary of September 11th America should reflect on who we are and act carefully as we choose who we will become.

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