June 1st, 1996 found us diving in Key West on an old cable laying ship. The dive notes gave me only 20 minutes of dive time at eighty-feet. Visibility was good and the temp was 80 degrees on the surface. It was a cool day as June summers go, though maybe it’s because it was only ten in the morning. The last notation in the log said we saw two large jew fish. Now, ‘large’ can mean a couple hundred pounds of fish, but then everything underwater looks twenty-five-per-cent bigger. Photos are current from the web and representative. Drawing is from my dive-log notes.
We dove with Southpoint Divers in Key West. Very good, well controlled operation. I would use them again and recommend them (at the time) to anyone asking.
The 1st dive was on a 230 ft cable & buoy tender called Caymen. We saw three jew fish, largest one was (as big as me). This fish must have gone 200lbs. The smaller ones were half that. All (this was) atop the deck.
(photo credit Dive-the-World weblog)
There were plenty of queen angels and others. (We) didn’t see (any) eels. (The) best part (of the dive) was that Mindy and I were comfortable diving together. We were able to drift about and look at things, communicate our interest, even comfortable enough to hold hands for much of the time. This made getting the other’s attention even easier.
The current made for some work in ensuring enough air was left. I use five-hundred on my ascent from eighty-feet, working against it and keeping Mindy with me so she could get the float line. The shop used a down line and tank at fifteen feet. They are the first operation I’ve seen do this (it’s dive number 58 for me). I was glad to see it. One minor problem with the way the set it up. The line sags and gets taut as the boat (rises and falls) with the waves. Divers hanging on the line make it sag. Still it makes a good reference for depth.
(Divers going below 60 feet need to spend time at 15 feet for a ‘safety stop’, where breathing air at less pressure allows the diver’s body to breathe off excess nitrogen. The ‘down line’ allows the diver to hold at that depth for the five minutes, instead of drifting up or down, above or below an imaginary line in the water. The ‘down line’ makes a good visual reference in a reference-less environment)
The second dive (this day) was a very nice reef dive. Again, comfort with communications made it even better. (Some of our dive partners) found lobsters right off. I spent several minutes examining the one found under a rock on the bottom. I looked for eggs. I couldn’t get the lobster to move enough to see under the tail.
Next item of interest was a sea turtle. I kicked over to (within a few feet of it) and drifted along with it for three to five minutes. I felt ‘futility’ in watching the creature. The front left fin was gone, but the bone and muscle under healed over with skin still moved as if the stroke in time with the right one. I wondered if the animal even knows it lost a fin?
The next event was following the sand between reef fingers. I noticed some ‘tracks on the bottom and wondered what made them. The appeared to be a single train going in a circle. I chastised myself; “Dummy! Follow the tracks!” I quickly found the rock that the train came from. It was a small conch. It fit into the palm of my hand, and I turned it over to see the animal, but it, of course, drew into its shell, leaving me only the claw to look at. Carrie (our daughter) was above us, and Mindy took the crustacean up for her to see before we returned it to the place where we found it.
The final ‘event’ is Mindy giving me excited hand signals. (There was something) she really wanted me to see! She put her hands into the sand…and stood on her head!! Silly girl. We sure had fun on this dive!
This entry reviews a set of dives Mindy and I made in Freeport, Bahamas. I was due to deploy in June after three years on shore duty. A friend gave us ferry tickets and time in a TimeShare they had on the island. It so happens, this coincided with the coldest winter Florida and the Bahamas experienced in more than a decade. We went prepared for fun in the sun, and the air temp dropped to 52 degrees F; and one of the dives was at night. Here goes…
Diving was cancelled yesterday. Made me all the more anxious for today. Cold from for the Continent made for lots of wind here and heavy seas. Both calmed this morning so the dive went off.
Xanadu Divers – Dale is the shop manager. Very arrogant. I had trouble dealing with him. He seemed annoyed with having to deal with us. (Our dive buddies were) Dave with Xavior and Beatrice from Philly. John (was) from Connecticut; Mike and Carol, from Chicago, and one other diver.
Theo’s Wreck is a 238′ ocean freighter sunk in 1982. I have to question the date because there just isn’t that much coral on her. The Bud barge (FL’s east coast) hasn’t been down as long and has much more (coral) on her. (What I did not understand at the time was the difference in water temperatures and chemistry between the deep water around the Bahamas and the warmth and minerals of the Gulf Stream off Florida.)
Anyway, she lies port side down, bow faces NW. Penetration through the forward port area of the cargo deck is available, though on sinking most of the cargo bay is open as the hatches fell off when she hit the bottom.
Penetration is also possible from the aft deck, entering the upper levels on the engine room and proceeding through all three levels in a row, then turning aft to exit (through) a cut near the screw and rudder on the starboard side.
Ship looked formidable and foreboding as the hull disappeared into the (ever darkening) water. (light travels slower in the water and the deeper one dives the less light and fewer colors there are. Add to that the changing cloud cover of the weather front and visibility was under a hundred feet; less than half the length of the wreck.)
(Wreck diving is an additional certification with most of the Dive training organizations. We were only on and inside this one because the hatch covers were so open and passages mostly cleared. Wiring wasn’t drifting about, far less metal to snag ourselves on, and there were so many of us that if an issue arose we would have the capabilities to deal with it. This would come into play on the night dive at a later hour.)
There was a lot of frustration on this dive, and lots to be excited about. Some concerns about the dive operator…No one left on the boat on this trip (calm seas, good anchor set), but still two things concerned me. 1) They took three novice divers to greater than 60 ft (which is the Open Water dive limit), down to 100′ without any brief about possible affects of narcosis. (Pressure increases by on atmosphere [14 lbs] for every 30 feet. Breathing works the diver harder, more nitrogen is absorbed, air depletes faster, and a safety stop is required to ‘off gas’ the nitrogen. Otherwise is is likely to come out in the blood on the surface. The pain of ‘the bends’ isn’t trivial.) 2) The took all the divers into the enclosed are of the engine room without regard to experience levels. On of the divers did catch his wife’s trailing gear before it could hang her up on any equipment in the hull. The cargo bay is much more open so penetrating there was not really trouble. No extra equipment to catch dive gear on and very easy to leave though the 30′ high and 25′ wide cargo bay hatches.
Coming back from the first dive, we tried to get onto the 10am trip but we were rebuffed. They said the dive was full and wouldn’t discuss it with us further. We signed up for an evening dive at 5:30pm, which in February means a night dive since the sun is down by then. They said they needed at least four divers to make the trip worth their while. We had six, so the dive was set.
Xanadu had been written up in Advance SCUBA and Skin Diver magazine for their shark feeding dives. They wanted to get me on this one, but I wasn’t interested this time. Check(ing) old copies of the magazines, I remember a cover photo of this. (Never would I do a shark feeding dive. Seeing them naturally in the water is enough excitement for me. No need to build them into a frenzy, chain mail gloves or not.)
The night dive proved to be very interesting as a dive, and as a professional. This was only dives 42 and 43 for me and it was the first time we were diving outside of the reach of the Florida shore. So when we came up and found the boat gone, the seven of us were more than a little surprised!
First, though, it was very cold…beyond comfortable. I was warm only because I layered my clothes and stayed out of the wind as we motored out to the reef. The seas got heavier (since the morning dive) and the wind picked up, driving the cold down from the continent. Mindy and I were fresh (skipping the shark dive and relaxing around the pool), but Xavier and Beatrice, Mike and Carol had all done two more dives (including the shark dive). All kept their wet suits on, (which normally would have made them all very warm, but for this driving wind on the water the suits held had the opposite effect).
The crew had trouble setting the anchor, probably took 30 minutes to try, then 30 more to try again. Dale was boat captain and refused our help several times. (I wrote that he was arrogant yet again, but in rhetrospect, the skipper and his crew are responsible for the safety of the boat. I should not have interfered).
The dive was ‘ok’. The reef was relatively new. Brain coral was only baseball size and there were only three fan corals growing. Still, there were lots of puffer fish and a good sized hog fish. Some color was seen in others, but again, it’s night, low light, so the colors were in the green and blue spectrums.
(Clockwise, hog fish, puffer normal, puffer defense. photo credits http://wlrn.org/post/feds-consider-new-limits-hogfish; Miami FL, animals.mom.me, and wikipedia. representative of the dive, not our dive photos)
Mindy saw a yellow ray with Ki, the dive master for this splash. She was following him as close to his fins as she could stay after losing me. I caught up but lost Beatrice and Xavier. Mike lost us all from the beginning. Carol was too cold and stayed on the boat.
(I posted some lessons learned in my notes, but not the reason for the lessons. The story that when we came up finally, and gathered everyone together, there was no boat! We looked, whistled, shouted, shined our flashlights around, but did not find the boat. Ki and I rounded up the group and talked calmly about a surface swim toward the nearby shore. There were lights, a red one in particular, and so we began a slow paddle in that direction.)
(Mindy was the first to notice that Ki was on one heading and I was on another. Turns out there were more than one red light on the shore and we each picked a different one. About that time we heard the boat crew shouting at us and we swam that direction. The anchor was dragging on them and when they pulled it up the line got caught in the screw. )
(Cold, tired (exhausted really), and now in the water for more than an hour, we hoisted Mindy and the other divers onto the boat. Ki and I went to work on the anchor line, mostly untangling it, but doing some cutting. It was wrapped tightly around the shaft and the propeller and wasn’t going anywhere until we got it off.)
It’s been 21 years since we made this dive. Yet I can see the details of this story as if it were only last weekend. The most unsafe part of the dive was the exposure. Several members of the group were shaking uncontrollably. The other issues are not necessarily common, but also not uncommon. Ki was an experienced Dive Master, staying calm and keeping his group calm throughout the night dive and the issues. I’ll commend him here, and expect that Xanadu Divers has either closed as a business, or has learned much more in the passing decades to be more customer oriented and safety conscience.
I’ve been away awhile. Academic pursuits demanded my writing time. Today, though, it seems appropriate to remember. It will be enough, to just remember.
He was a grizzled fellow, as if he’d been at sea his entire life. He walked like Popeye, but lacked the character’s bulky forearms. Still, this ancient mariner strode confidently off the bus in crisp cracker-jacks with his first-class machinist’s rating badge and across the parking lot toward the cemetery grounds. He was one of many thousands returning to Normandy for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, or rather, as the French say, the Liberation of France.
I was there as part of a joint military honor-guard. We were the ‘visible’ sign of a modern military presence and ‘security force’, meant to respond to the needs of the veterans visiting. Off shore lay a joint fleet of NATO allies, thirty-some ships centered around the USS Eisenhower. President Reagan was coming, along with a dozen other world leaders.
There was a familiarization session at the Omaha Beach Cemetery and Pointe du Hoc the day before. We spread out to look over the several acres of memorials and the walkways down to the beach. We were looking for obvious points of concern that would cause physical difficulties for the returning veterans. This 40th anniversary was likely to be the largest crowd ever for the event; most old enough to want to come back before they were too frail to do so.
This day, I happened upon two men traveling together. I walked with them down toward the stone stairs that went to the beach. They began recounting the routine; who they were, what their ratings were, what the tasks were for that infamous day so long ago. That five minutes was a gift to me and only a warm-up for them. When they began recounting who they were with, the larger of the two men broke into tears. It wasn’t long before he was in full on remorse and remembrance. His friend could not console him. They were back at D-Day. I said a simple thank you and stopped walking.
I was late getting back to the bus and the Army sergeant in charge and the Embassy officer in charge were none too happy with me. My ‘punishment’ was to be assigned to the Pointe du Hoc location the next day. Well, sometimes ‘punishment’ is a gift. That evening, in the nearby French village in Saint Pierre du Mont, my Air Force roommates and I had the pleasure of the company of Rangers who assaulted the Pointe on D-Day. Sixty-seven of the two-hundred men that came ashore that day returned to honor their brothers. They wore uniforms close to what their class ‘A’s were in 1944; khaki trousers and ‘blouses’, with the unit insignia on the shoulders. They wore long, narrow caps with ‘Ranger’ on the side and their VFW/American Legion insignias on the other. They were survivors, and they were there to meet with their French civilian count parts who also survived. What an honor to be there with them! It wasn’t the only one I’d be part of that weekend.
Walter Cronkite was a war correspondent during WWII and he was imbedded with the troops on D-Day. He was flying in the nose of a B-17 observing the landings. On this 40th Anniversary, he was broadcasting for CBS from the bluff above the English Channel at Pointe du Hoc. After the festivities and a mock rush of an old blown out bunker, I was able to make my way over to the tables where he and others were wrapping up their equipment. Shaking Mr. Cronkite’s hand was an unexpected honor.
I have one more person from WWII to remember each Memorial Day. My Uncle George was an aviation flight crew chief. After the war ended, shuffling the fleet of planes became routine work for the air corps and the Navy was no different. George was crew chief on a cross-country route from Norfolk to San Diego, ferrying a patrol observation plane from one coast to another. Corpus Cristi TX provided a refueling stop for the crew and the bird. The pilot took on an extra two passengers the morning of launch for the second part of their trip. He, his passengers, and my great Uncle died that morning when a malfunction occurred and the plane crashes after lifting off. Uncle George was our family’s military hero.
Before my own service, I learned of Korea in history books and I watched Vietnam on the television news from Mr. Cronkite. My own service saw shipmates and associate crewmen die on active duty. Just after I retired from the Navy, the United States suffered the 9-11 tragedies and entered the Second Gulf War. My son, nieces, and nephews have accomplished their service. They’ve lost their comrades. We each are links to the past and the future, with our chain of memories of family, friends, and shipmates to remember and to honor.
Will you join us, this Memorial Day? Before the picnics, before splashing the boats or starting out on the project for the camping trip, before striking the BBQ grill, will you pause with your own family and friends, perhaps visit the military memorial in your local cemetery, or join the parade, or go to church, will you stop for a moment and pray the souls who have gone before us, having given themselves to service for our country, will enjoy the blessings of heaven and support us as we continue defending our nation’s people. Please.
May the Grace and Blessings of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be carried to each of them, and to all of you, by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(photo collage subjects drawn from Internet searches using Google Images)
It’s so different, writing for a research paper for university work and writing a story about the same topic. As I sit here at my desk, surrounded by books about Conscience, about morals, about conflicting topics of the duality and the intimacy of body and soul, as I find myself buried in trying to understand the competing philosophies of a Saint and Pope and the denial of the existence of God, the One or the many, or any at all, I’m made to realize by a simple story of a man and a church how much differently stories about lives tell about Truth. This short essay is written to illustrate a Truth about end-of-life faith.
Randy Pausch was an outstanding computer scientist and professor. He lead the team that created a computer programming called Alice, helping to teach computer programming to students. He used an interdisciplinary approach to his work, including skilled members from across the academic and business spectrum in his work.
August 2007 was a pivotal month for Randy. He learned his pancreatic cancer had reemerged and his time remaining in our material world was very short. What did Randy do? Randy wrote and delivered an inspiring lecture, and collaborate with a partner to write a book following the same theme. “Really Achieve Your Childhood Dreams” was delivered to a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon University. It was recorded and delivered in video format on YouTube. Randy’s work became known as “The Last Lecture” and received world-wide acclaim, inspiring millions. Read more about Randy and his work at www.cmu.edu/randyslecture.
Brittany Maynard was a wife and desired to be a mother. Professionally, she took her psychology and education degrees and taught overseas in orphanages in Nepal and southeast Asian countries. Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer in April of 2014, and despite treatment, the cancer was not suppressed. Concerned with her prognosis and expectations of a painful death, Brittany chose to move from California to Oregon, where physician assisted suicide is legal. On November 1st, 2014, Brittany committed suicide. Read and watch more about Brittany’s story at http://thebrittanyfund.org/. The Brittany Fund is her legacy, established by her husband to support the cause of ‘death-with-dignity’. Brittany herself is recorded providing her reasoning.
These days, ‘fake news’ makes the rounds on the Internet rather easily, highly promoted through social media. Who knows what we might and should believe verse what is simply rubbish. However, in this case, the story seems well vetted. The video comes to us via WAVY-TV 10, my favorite local news station when I was stationed in Norfolk VA during my Navy career.
Consider the story of Greg Thomas, who happens to be my age as well, so this one hits close to home with me. Greg was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer. He was given only three months to live. Greg took long walks with his dog through Minnesota farmland, and found in his treks a small country church that was abandoned. Greg cried numerous times on the front stairs of that locked church sanctuary. One day, Greg decided (or was he ‘inspired’?) to begin restoring that church. Greg’s story finds him completing the refurbishment of the church while restoring a local community. And, yes, Greg finds his cancer in remission. Read and see more of Greg’s story at http://www.littlethings.com/greg-thomas-church-miracle/?utm_source=kaz&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=miracle.
Finally, let’s take a tandem case of Jewish men from Austria in the 1930’s, as Germany expanded its empire and conspired to destroy the Jewish race. Most of us are familiar with Sigmund Freud. His impact on our society is remarkable, no doubt. Fewer of us are probably aware of Viktor Frankl, once a student of Freud’s. For all Dr. Freud’s accomplishments, he decided to commit suicide when he contracted cancer on his tongue. Viktor Frankl chose to stay in Austria to care for his parents, and all were taken to concentration camps. Facing death, Dr. Frankl fought a daily battle to stay alive in Auschwitz. He witnessed the martyrdom of Father Maximillian Kolby. He lost his parents in those camps. Yet, his daily struggle helped to save many lives. Following the war and his release from the camps, Dr. Frankl continued his works, writing and lecturing on “Man’s Search for Meaning”. One may read about Dr. Freud’s death with a simple Internet search. Dr. Frankl’s work can be found at www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com.
Randy Pausch, Greg Thomas, and Viktor Frankl showed us one way of facing certain death. Randy received no reprieve. Greg and Viktor did. Yet, all three continued along a path of giving of themselves and inspiring others while they continued to walk the path of their lives.
Who knows what Dr. Freud and Brittny may have accomplished had they chosen differently? I’ve read some of Dr. Freud’s philosophy outside of his professional work. I felt I was sitting on the floor listening to a grandfather’s wisdom. What more could he have shared with us, how else could he have inspired generations had he chosen to live? Brittny’s efforts and success at committing suicide inspired a law for California, one which was passes and now allows others to terminate their lives at will.
We do not know what our lives will bring nor whom we may affect and in what way. What is certain is no one will know when we chose to cut them short of our own choice, rather than to live through whatever pain and struggle we may face to a natural end. It is evident in these examples of those who have lived to each of their ends, there are differences to be noted, differences that illustrate a faith in God and in the gift of an embodied Spirit given to each of us to serve Him and our brothers and sisters.
The following was written for my final in Moral Theology at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus OH. It is a student’s paper and as such carries only the writer’s concepts of Catholic moral theology as can be held to a lengthy essay. References in the body and the Works Cited are included for any who might be interested to delve further into the topic.
The fabric of the social values of Western society and of the United States of America in-particular over the course of the last several decades has played out in the political arguments and the Court systems of governments at all levels. For the United States, government-sponsored prayer was banned from public school classrooms and events beginning with Engel v. Vitale in 1962 (https://www.oyez.org/cases/1961/468), and women were granted ‘privacy rights’ to kill the children in their wombs during the first trimester in Roe v. Wade in 1972 (https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18). Lawsuits against the display of the Ten Commandments on Public (Government) properties have found mixed results. Van Orden v. Perry (Texas) in 2004 (https://www.oyez.org/cases/2004/03-1500) the Supreme Court found the display did not violate the First Amendment and the monument remained in place. McCreary County v. ACLU (https://www.oyez.org/cases/2004/03-1693) challenged the display in schools and a Court room and the Supreme Court ruled for the displays to be removed. These particular displays were considered a State sponsorship of religion, considering the surrounding scriptural documents and environment. Marriage was redefined by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges (https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556) in June 2015, requiring all states to approve marriage between same sex couples based on the Fourteenth Amendment and equal protection under the law. These social and legal arguments indicate a deviation from Christian morality that formed the foundation for the United States’ social and legal contracts between people, based on an accepted communal commitment to biblical principles. These principles may be reviewed separately in studies pertaining to the formation of the Massachusetts Bay colony and in formations of the States of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and by a direct reading of the Declaration of Independence. Reliance on ‘their Creator’ and on ‘divine Providence’ no longer guides the decisions of social norm in these United States.
The purpose of this essay is to provide an overview of Christian anthropology as guided by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the moral social code given to the People through the Holy Scriptures and Tradition. First, a view of the human person is described. This is supported with scripture and works of Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the philosophical work of Saint Pope John Paul II. Next, a review of the moral codes of Catholic Christianity is explored. Analysis of the Decalogue as a foundational code and a review of the Beatitudes given in the Gospels provides the path for this exploration. Final comments espouse reocmmededations for continued conversation by Catholics in the course of their normal routines.
The Embodied Spirit
“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). “- then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). The Elowist and Yahwist priests recorded the prehistory of human creation from oral traditions handed down through the generations of the Israelite heritage. These priestly sources of the people lend the concept of the origins of man different from those of their surrounding cultures. They present the God that created Man out of love, to partner with God to care for the created world, rather than the slave or simply other creatures that roamed the earth. Saint Pope John Paul II points out from Genesis “God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good” (Gen1:31) and comments “Through these words we are led to glimpse in love the divine motive for creation, the source, as it were, from which it springs: only love, in fact, gives rise to the good and is well pleased with the good” (Saint Pope John Paul II. Man and Women He Created Them – A Theology of the Body. Michael Waldstein Ed. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006. Print. p 180).
Waldstein’s notes on the Saint’s works bring out the Hebrew meaning of this creation, this image of God, unitive in nature yet both masculine and feminine; “The original text says, “God created man [hā ādām, collective noun: “humanity”?] in his image, in the image of God he created him, man [zākār, male] and woman [n qēbā, female] he created them.” (John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them. p 136 Note 2). Man’s complimentary nature makes possible the expressed first mission given to man to “Be fertile and multiply,” (Gen 1:28) procreative in material nature to continue in the prolific work of the evolution of creation. There is a balance in the two parts of Man for this purpose, one of the necessary elements for carrying out God’s plan.
God’s creation has both a spiritual sphere and a physical, a material sphere. “Creation takes place simultaneously, as it were, in two dimensions; The action of God-Yahweh, who creates unfolds in correlation with the process of human consciousness” (John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them. p 158). Spirits have conscience and freedom of will. The physical world, the world of matter is ordained to conduct itself according to the natural laws established by God for it to move and grow and evolve. Man is the intersection of these two established worlds. “Without man, spirit and matter would be two spheres, not touching; but man, belonging to one by his soul, to the other by his body, joins them together” (Sheed, Frank. Theology for Beginners. 3rd Edition. Boston: Beacon Press, 1981. Print. p 65). Man is of the matter and substance of the earth in order to be its caretaker, animated by the image of God with an integral soul breathed into it. This gives Man the ability to carry out the Genesis mandate to be fruitful, to multiply, to participate in the evolution and the caretaking of the earth, with a knowledge and tendency toward the Creator God.
The opening of this discussion brings the creation of Man to the fore, describing from Genesis the breath of God infusing life into Man. The movement of air continues through scripture as a sign of the breath of God giving life to His people. The Exodus story presents the pinning of the Israelites between the armies of Pharaoh and the Red Sea. God’s breath opens the sea for His people. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove back the sea with a strong east wind all night long and turned the sea into dry ground” (Ex 14:21). God’s prophet, Elijah, prays over the dead son of his hostess, “ “Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah, the life breath returned to the child’s body, and he lived” (1Kgs17:21,22). Again, with Elijah, on Mt. Horeb, it is not in a great storm nor fire and lightning, but “…after the fire, a light sound. When Elijah heard this he hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (1Kgs19:12, 13). Elijah knew God in a ‘breath’ of air about the mountain. The work of Jesus on the night of the Resurrection caps these and many other scriptural examples of God’s breath leading to life within Man. “He said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them “Receive the holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21, 22). Jesus, the New Adam, renews within Man the holy life of God, that Man may renew his commitment to care for the earth and all that is in it.
There is more to Man, though, than mere animation, for the breath of God animates all life in the material world. God’s breathing life into Man gives the spiritual power of discernment, an ability to perceive God and to will action toward the fulfillment of God’s plan. “Spirit is a partless, spaceless, immortal being, which can know and love” (Sheed, p 65). Where Sheed provides a simple introduction, Thomas Aquinas provides this description; “Hence it is clear that the sensitive soul has no per se operation of its own, and that every operation of the sensitive soul belongs to the composite” (Aquinas, T. Summa Theologia. Prima Partus, Q75 Art. 2; http://www.NewAdvent.org). Thomas’ commentary goes to the integral nature of the body and soul, the embodied Spirit. The active intellect processes occur, stimulate the bodily senses and these senses stimulate the passive intellect with what they receive. It is the integral nature by which Man works to interact with creation; to watch, listen, feel, hear, and taste during exploration to comprehend how creation evolves and how best to interact with it. And, this comprehension and interaction is specific to the human who senses. “…for this reason, that it is one and the same man who is conscious both that he understands, and that he senses. But one cannot sense without a body: therefore, the body must be some part of man. It follows therefore that the intellect by which Socrates understands is a part of Socrates, so that in some way it is united to the body of Socrates” (Aquinas, Summa. Prima Partus Q76 Art. 1).
The acts of the Conscience on the sensual becomes the work of the Will. Man feels hunger and the Conscience acts on the Will to locate food and consume it. Raw meat acquired is seen and the Conscience determines for the Will to heat it on a fire. A noise is heard in the surroundings and the Conscience determines what the sound represents, setting up the decision to ‘fight’ or ‘flight’. It is Man’s Conscience that collects the sense information and acts upon it. Aquinas teaches the purpose of Conscience is “…to witness, to bind, or incite, and also to accuse, torment, or rebuke” (Aquinas, Summa. Prima Partus Q79 Art 13). So, the Conscience as actor on the Will conducts the body as required. The Conscience is witness to the actions of others around its embodied Spirit. The Conscience determines how the Will shall act to make rules and laws, first for oneself and then for family, and then in concert with other families. The Conscience determines by sensual inputs whether these rules and laws are being followed, and then may determine to reinforce the self or the family with additional sensual inputs; by praise for agreeable performance, or chastisement where conformance is lacking. Perhaps the Conscience wills pain on itself or another, or intends the withholding of necessities of the spiritual or bodily life. It is the Conscience, acting on known sensual input, that wills the body into material action.
A Moral Code: Formation of the Conscience to Guide the Will
The sensual reception by the Conscience occurs in time and space. There is an historical setting of these receptions in the material world, a self-awareness of the embodied spirit in each given setting. “I cannot begin speaking, writing, acting, or thinking without beginning self-consciously and bodily” (Kavanaugh, J. Who Counts as Persons, p 32). The sense input provides the self-reference to allow the Conscience action to begin. It is this sense input that gives rise to the question of a moral code. By what principles does the Conscience make a choice when the sense input is presented? What does it mean to the Conscience to be told it may not will to pray in any given location by a heteronomous entity? How does a feminine Conscience know to act when sense input informs her she is with child? What action does the self-conscious embodied spirit allow itself to choose an activity when the moral code it has chosen as a guide is forced aside by heteronomy? Can the Conscience continue to conform when the masculine and feminine components of its own humanity are rendered irrelevant?
A first consideration in a discussion of how we learn to socialize with others is that each Conscience can order its own Will, acting autonomously according to the historical setting and sense input it receives. Man was given dominion over the earth in Genesis by God. However, an autonomous exercise of Conscience leaves Man to shape the world according to his own perceptions, his own senses, and ultimately, toward his own subjective purposes. A single person working alone finds conflict with the actions of nature and the actions of all others making their own autonomous decisions and actions. The results is a chaos not intended by the Creator. “With regard to man himself, such a concept of autonomy produces particularly baneful effects, and eventually leads to atheism:” (Saint Pope John Paul II. Veritatis Splendor. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1993. On-line #39). One person fights to gain domination of others’ actions, such that the one man’s conscience drives those of all others around him. This one man, this particular man, becomes creator for all others’ consciences.
Cohesive social interaction becomes a necessity as the social group gains in size and the number of acting Consciences increase. A second possibility in the blanket application or imposition of an external moral code with no opportunity by the individual Conscience to act. A heteronomy is a “…moral life subject to the will of something all-powerful, absolute, extraneous to man and intolerant of his freedom” (Veritatis Splendor, #41). Such an external code leaves no reason for a Conscience, nor a Will, and removes the need for the intellect. Man becomes simply another brut animal obeying the laws of nature as established at Creation and through evolution. The choice to be the Caretaker of Creation is removed, as is the choice to move towards God and the perfection of the embodied spirit Man was intended to seek.
Catholics, rather, conform to a “participated theonomy, since man’s free obedience to God’s law effectively implies that human reason and human will participate in God’s wisdom and providence” (Veritatis Splendor, #41). Reason, the act of the Conscience to order the Will according to the sense received, freely chooses that which it understands to be the will of God and the ways of God in nature and by inspiration. Reason looks to the sense input from the world and perceives within it patterns of activity, an order through which Man may carry out the duty of Caretaker of Creation toward his own end of perfected life with the Creator. These reasoned patterns are the Natural Law by which God’s moral order becomes known to Man.
It is accepted here that children learn at an amazing rate. Their entire lives are spent exploring, beginning with their own selves and extending to the world around them as they learn to mobilize themselves. Their eyes learn to focus, they ‘find’ their hands and within a matter of days begin to understand they can control their hands. Their hands and arms swing at and soon learn to grasp things in their hands. They feel these things within their grasp and soon enough begin tasting these grasped objects. They hear their mothers’ and fathers’ and siblings’ voices and come to recognize people around them by sound as well as sight. All these sense inputs are impressed on their passive intellect as abstractions until the patterns repeat themselves and the abstractions become known and recognizable forms that exist and are relied upon.
This process continues throughout life. Humans continue to learn, explore, experience, and register the environment about themselves. Things become known to ‘be’ and are known that they ‘cannot be’ anything else. The leaf is a part of a tree. It cannot be a rock. It may fall into sand and become an impression on a rock, but it is not the rock, and the rock is not leaf. Water becomes known in three forms, yet it is always the same molecular mix of elements and the conditions for it being in solid, liquid, and vaporous forms remain constants. Water cannot ‘be’ solid above thirty-two degrees Celsius, nor can it ‘be’ liquid below. It cannot be solid above one-hundred degrees Celsius. It is Man’s physical sense input that allows him to incorporate the ‘being’ of the material world. It is Man’s spiritual sense that allows him to know and understand what these material senses mean, to act consciously upon the sense input, and chose to will physical interaction with the world about himself. “It is only as a man- as a body-soul unity – that he knows things to exist, and he knows this truth as neither postulated nor demonstrated, but as evident” (Wilhelmsen, “Man’s Knowledge of Reality”, quoted in Rice, C. 50 Questions on the Natural Law. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. Print. 136).
These self-evident truths learned from sense impressions given to the passive intellect become points of reference of the Conscience is action. Because it is recognized that a pebble falls from a cliff when Man steps up to the edge, Man can know in his imagination that a further step will result in the same fall for himself. Man knows he should not take the next step, and should chose to walk another path to avoid the fall. Man’s development of avoiding self-injury through the initial learning process makes this a truth he knows and follows. Man knows, through his intellect, that this injury can happen to others as well, through his imagination. The injury, especially when it leads to death, will severe the relationship Man built with the other. Man knows from his initial learning that severing relationships is detrimental to his own survival. Death means separation and therefore death is an undesired consequence of any chosen action. Intentionally causing death of another becomes an understood prohibition. Hence, the forced death, the killing/murder of another becomes a violation of known truth.
Similarly, the intentional deception of one by another becomes a social prohibition. Intentional deception, the telling of a falsehood as truth confuses and can result in harm to another. A pretender to the truth that one is a person’s mother, the person known to have nurtured one through the initial stages of learning, one who was known and trusted, violates the known truth to the deceived. It harms the relationship the deceived has cultivated and believed in since birth. It is a lie. Lying becomes a violation of known truth, the killing of truth. Lying becomes a social prohibition.
Both examples, prohibitions, are learned behavior from the sense input received through the body, impressed upon the passive imagination, and become principles for guiding the Conscience held in the mind. This is an interaction of the embodied spirit of Man, the learning and recognizing the of Natural Law and the conscious choice to will and cause a physical/material action and/or reaction to the Natural Law as situations present themselves through continued sense input. These continued activities between the sensible material world and the spiritual activity provides for the building up body of experiences within Man, individually and collectively. Social contracts become the agreed upon spiritual principles for interaction in the form of traditions and rituals between the individuals and various social groups. Conformance to these social contracts are measured according to the willed actions initiated by individuals and social groups, and the rewards and punishments of the traditions.
It is the spiritual conscience activity with its intention for the spiritual will that cannot be measured or judged by observation. What is in Man’s mind is not obvious through the known senses. No social contract in the form of a man-made law can legislate persons’ thoughts nor apply punitive action against thoughts violating the social contract/law. Divine Law becomes a necessary construct for persons to monitor their interior, their spiritual activity. Aquinas provides four certain reasons for acknowledging the proper existence of Divine Law. “First, because it is by law that man is directed how to perform his proper acts in view of his last end…Secondly, on account of the uncertainty of human judgment…Thirdly, …man is not competent to judge of interior movements, that are hidden, but only of exterior acts which appear:…Fourthly, ..human law cannot punish or forbid all evil deeds:…” (Aquinas. Summa. Prima Secundae Q91 Art.4).
Man’s end, his final disposition, since he comes from God, is to return to God to share eternal happiness. Man requires Divine guidance to order his conscious and material actions towards this end. Man has the freedom of conscience to make this decision, yet still requires guideposts to know whether his activity is so ordered. Divine Law provides these guideposts. Different individuals are bound to judge their own conscious action differently based on their differing experiences of impressions on the passive intellect, and thereby forming varying principles upon which they will rely. Divine Law provides the guideposts for principles of action to hold each individual to a common principle within social activity. Again, persons cannot know the intentions of other persons’ conscious activity unless those intentions are materially expressed, either in writing, through vocalization, or by witnessed actions. It is necessary that individuals understand that their undeclared intentions will remain under scrutiny and they will be held accountable. “If he does know – in this case we are in fact dealing with knowledge that is completely interior, located with the heart and conscience – he will immediately understand when these words refer to him” (John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them. p 284). Aquinas’ final point reminds that a law cannot be written and transmitted that will cover every single act of conscience, will, and material action. The individual person as well as the social community in common must know internally, spiritually, that any activity violating progress toward the final end of eternal happiness results in consequences against the attainment of the same.
The Decalogue of Exodus, the Ten Commandments, coming from the oral tradition of the ancient Israelite community and written down as part of the Pentateuch becomes a transmittable form of the Divine Law. The first three of these give Man the principles of following the Divine Law Giver. There is only one God, and His Name will be honored. There will be no other gods, imagined or engraved, worshipped in place of the one God. These are both spiritual and material, bending the embodied spirit towards the Divine. The fourth is a reminder of the origin of the person, calling for honor toward one’s father and mother, the complimentary unifying love and act that produced the embodied spirit, through the unity designed by the one God for the continuation of His creation’s stewards. The fifth, sixth, and seventh laws guard the minimum material conduct of Man. Man is prohibited from killing the innocent. God gave life. Only God may remove it. Man is prohibited from misuse of the complimentary nature of the masculine and feminine. Neither may take another, but one may give oneself to another, committing to share one’s life entirely and completely toward the natural end, the eternal happiness of the other. To not do so is considered adulterous. Man is prohibited from stealing that which belongs to another. Taking what one has not gained through one’s own effort, one’s own act of conscience and will-driven material action, deprives oneself from the principled lessons needed, and deprives the other of the consequential reward of having learned such lessons. The final three commands of this baseline Divine Law speak to the spiritual side of Man. They provide boundaries for the conscience, that it avoids driving the will towards the material prohibitions. The prohibition against false speech, against lying, is against killing something of the principles truth and confuses the conscience of others and of the community. A prohibition against coveting another which is not one’s spouse provides the guidepost for the conscience against the material act of adultery. And, the prohibition against coveting another’s material goods is the guidepost against the material act of stealing. That this part of the revealed Divine Law is primarily prohibitive demonstrates the minimum level to which individuals and communities may live in harmony. They are, however, not the only revelations of Divine Law.
The Holy Scriptures are considered so because they are the written form of the revealed Divine Law over the course of human history. They repeat in many forms of literature and in many varying vocabularies the growing understanding of Man of the intentions for proper actions of the spirit and the body. Some examples are the Levitical laws of the Israelites. Leviticus chapter five provides dietary guidance, which animals are suitable for human consumption, to promote the best health of God’s people. This becomes affirmed in Daniel chapter one, where the Jews in exile in Babylon undergo a dietary experiment under King Nebuchadnezzar’s chief chamberlain. Daniel and his faithful companions show themselves as healthier than the king’s men after the ten-day test (Dn 1:12-20). Psalm 4:8,9 reveals the rest and security of the conscience for following the first three commandments. “But you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound. In peace I will lie down and fall asleep, for you alone, Lord, make me secure.” Psalm 118:5 expresses the experience of the author for having trusted in the Divine Law. “In danger I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” Proverbs 8:22-36 reaffirm the faith in the story of Genesis, a faith in the creation of Man. Just two-hundred years before Christ is born, a grandson records his grandfather’s thoughts in the Wisdom of Ben Sirach. “Those who respect their father will live a long life: those who obey the Lord honor their mother” (Sir 3:6). Again, in Sirach, “He set before them knowledge, and allotted to them the law of life. An everlasting covenant he made with them, and his commandments he revealed to them” (Sir 17:11, 12). Each generation of the People of God added their experience to the body of knowledge of revelation of the Divine Law and recorded it for future generations to know.
The Messiah of the Jews, God’s Incarnation, incorporating His Divinity with the embodied spirit in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, brought to Man the revelation of the peak principles to which Man should strive. His Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount collected the revealed principles of the cardinal virtues. “Blessed are those who are clean of heart” (Mt 5:8) suggest a disposition toward Prudence, “…practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it;” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. 1806). “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3) and “Blessed are the meek,” (Mt 5:3) those who have bridled themselves to the Divine Law, showing Fortitude “…insur[ing] firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good” (Mt 5:5). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt 5:6), “Blessed are the merciful” (Mt 5:7), and “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5:9) bending one’s principles of mind toward Justice, disposing “…one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good” (CCC 1807). “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Mt 5:10), those who would show Temperance against the greed of society, “moderate[s] the attraction of pleasure[s] and provide balance in the use of created goods… ensure the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable” (CCC 1809). Through the Sermon on the mount and these simple statements, Jesus Christ challenges Man to reach of the highest of principles in the activity of the conscience, bending the will toward Man’s natural end of eternal happiness with God.
Addressing Social Issues With a Renewed Vision
Prayer is the act of the Conscience turning the will toward refreshment and renewal in the Natural and Divine Law. Allow that the spiritual Conscience is equivalent to the more ancient concept of one’s heart in human anthropology. “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Therese of Lisieux, Manucrits autobiogrphiques, quoted by CCC 2558). Saint Therese describes the turning of her heart, her conscience back toward the source of the Natural and the Divine Laws. Embracing both trial and joy demonstrates her commitment toward the prayer taught to Man by God directly, by Jesus in the Gospel, “…your Kingdom come, your will be done…” (Mt 6:9). Through the whole of Scripture, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak” (Ps 130:5,6). Turning one’s conscience to God, to the Natural and Divine Law need not violate human law. Events leading to Engle v. Vitale and subsequent Court actions did not remove the ability of the act of conscience to ‘surge toward God’ in public schools. It remains the duty of the faithful to understand the civil arguments against state-sponsored prayers in public schools in what has become a more pluralistic society. And, it remains the duty of the faithful to continue to witness within these public institutions the reason for and the practice of prayer as an acknowledgement of those Laws which we have committed our lives to.
The Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut (www.oyez.org/cases/1964/496) preceded the review of abortion rights. Griswold overturned the conviction of a Planned Parenthood counselor for giving contraceptive advice to a married couple, contrary to Connecticut law. The Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision was based on this ‘right to privacy’ case law of Griswold. Both cases involved the reduction of the human life in the womb to an entity less than human. The question of permitting a legal allowance for abortion relies on the concept that life does not begin until the baby is born. Until then, the baby is only a matter of human tissue connected with the woman’s health. “Fidelity to human personhood, the affirmation of the intrinsic value of human persons and adherence to the truth of personal moral dignity, requires that we never reduce a human person to the condition of being a nonperson, that we not negate the personhood of ourselves or others, that we not treat a person as a mere thing or object” (Kavanaugh. Who Counts as Persons, p 119). Kavanaugh points out the flaw of the argument of the abortion supporters. This is not an argument about a woman’s privacy, nor an argument about her personal responsibility toward her health. It is an argument about the dignity of life and whether the Conscience of a society allows life to be diminished to a mere object of tissue. That life begins at the fertilization of the seed and the immediate germination of the seed is not disputed in biological science, except where those who support abortion are concerned. These arguments reject what has been discussed here, that life begins with the joining of the masculinity and femininity of Man as created by God. These arguments reject the Scriptural command to be fruitful and multiply as one principle behind the joining of the masculine and the feminine. The rejection of this fundamental Natural and Divine Law allows further the rejection of the prohibition against killing the innocent. Only through reminding individuals and by growing the numbers of faith-filled individuals knowledge in these Laws will the social contract be reverted to protecting and defending life in the womb.
“Judicial precedent has held that the right to marry is a fundamental liberty because it is inherent to the concept of individual autonomy, it protects the most intimate association between two people, it safeguards children and families by according legal recognition to building a home and raising children, and it has historically been recognized as the keystone of social order. Because there are no differences between a same-sex union and an opposite-sex union with respect to these principles, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to marry violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (“Obergefell v. Hodges.” Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Dec 6, 2016. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556). No comment is made on biological nature of Man and the need for complimentary natures to join to create the children and families spoken of. The argument was made on the equal protection clause of human law, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to respect the right of any person to join with any other person to form headship for a family. The question before the Court never allowed the argument to address whether same-sex couples ‘should’ be permitted to marry for these expressed purposes, only whether they ‘should’ be permitted the equal protection of marriage laws. Dissenting opinions argued only against the jurisdiction of the Court over the question and against the creation of legislation from the Bench. The dissenters, three of them Roman Catholics, never brought into the argument the natural complimentary nature of Man nor the social statistics of the government and private organizations that rally support for the need of both a father’s and a mother’s presence in a family for the utmost care and raising of the children. The argument presented from both sides demonstrates a complete divorce of the social conscience from Natural and Divine Law.
The arguments also demonstrate Aquinas’ forth reason of accepting the need for Divine Law. Every condition or question of the endeavors of Man cannot be legislated. The question of marriage between same sex partners is not a known issue of law in civilizations until the latter half of the twentieth century. The activity of homosexuals is well documented in history, notably in the artwork revealed in the excavations of Pompeii Italy and documented in Roman law. That these activities are prohibited in the Abrahamic religious Scriptures demonstrate the concern for violation of the complimentary nature of man for the past thirty-two-hundred years. Perhaps the most telling modern event concerning the quesion is the rejection of the Freudian supported diagnosis of homosexuality as a physiological disorder by those who lobby for the ‘naturalness’ of the practice, in the face of a social order built largely upon Freud’s psychoanalytic theories. This rejection is no ‘Freudian slip’.
The myth-history of Genesis describes an original solitude of Man, according to Saint Pope John Paul II, a solitude that would not stand the test of time. God brought all the animals to man to be named, but none was found to be a suitable companion for Man. “So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built…the woman.” (Gen 2:21-23). Putting Man into a deep sleep, a dreamless form, God makes Man into a complimentary being. “…the meaning of original unity;…based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different “incarnations,” that is, two ways in which the same human being, created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27), “is a body””(John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them, p 157). This form permits God to bless Man with the care of Creation, to make Man, His creation of embodied spirit, steward over all, to be fruitful in Man’s own work, to multiply and fill the earth. It is this understanding of human anthropology that is lost in present discussions concerning the meaning of marriage and the purpose of the complimentary nature of Man. It is this Christian understanding of human anthropology that should become a primary subject in continuing catechesis for the foreseeable future if there is to be any expectation of changing the social conscience on the matter of the complementary component of marriage.
The final point of discussion are the material displays of the Ten commandments and what they mean to different people and social organizations. The ACLU and atheist groups argue these displays are government promotion of specific religions. The common view of these laws are as restrictions on the freedom of the actions of conscience. Few would argue that stealing and murder should be unrestricted in society. Honoring fathers and mothers with proliferation of broken homes and mixed families prevalent in a society with a divorce rate greater than fifty per-cent may often be a difficult argument. However, it is the very real difficulty of these circumstances for which the Commandment was written to avoid. Sexual pleasure remains a multi-million dollar industry and restricting sexual promiscuity directly or the advertisement of the same runs into Courts’ decisions upholding the ‘free speech’ of those in the business. Keeping up with the Joneses by coveting what they have and working to acquire what ‘they’ have is a common axiom in capitalist society.
Never is there a Court argument that these excesses would be curbed by the continuous review of the Decalogue. Prominent display of these ancient social contracts would permit such a constant review by those closely associated with the locations. A stronger message and more broadly applied is the conversation and example of those adhering to these commandments and when queried, espousing the values of them as minimum social constructs for actions of conscience, direction of the will, toward material actions of temperance in a society demonstrating a lack thereof. This is the fundamental witness Catholics need to live to support a growing social commitment to these ancient and still valuable statements of Divine Law.
Aquinas, T. Summa Theologia. 2nd Revised Ed; Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 1920. On-line at NewAdvent.org © 2016 Kevin Knight.
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