[My September 19th "From the Chairman" blog for masscitizensforlife.org.]
We have forgotten how to live together.
Either there will be civic reconciliation in America, or this nation will end. It has always been my conviction that the pro-life movement must be the vanguard of social progress. It is on us to know more and love more, or there will be no American future.
And the failure of this Republic would not be good for the future of the world. As Leonard Cohen sings in “Democracy”:
“It's coming to America first/The cradle of the best and of the worst/It's here they got the range/And the machinery for change/And it's here they got the spiritual thirst/It's here the family's broken/And it's here the lonely say/That the heart has got to open/In a fundamental way/Democracy is coming to the USA.”
To love something in common creates communion. And what every nation should cherish first are the weakest among us. That’s called the preferential option for the poor in Catholic social doctrine, but it’s simply the most basic human imperative. If we don’t see that, we do not have a common good that makes us a common social body.
Therefore, the pro-life movement must always keep the flame of civic reconciliation. We have been given the gift to see the expendable ones in our consumerist society, so we must make the invisible visible to the others (the extent of the bonds of dependence and care knitting us together). We would that all see and serve together.
But to keep this flame, we pro-lifers have to know more and love more. We have to be infinitely gentle and infinitely humble and infinitely open to the wonders beyond us.
And that’s where this new initiative from Massachusetts Citizens for Life comes in, a first-in-the-nation Pro-Life Social Doctrine Certificate Program, which I am eagerly looking forward to teaching.
The goal is to enlarge our hearts and minds with the bracing water of social ethics, imbibed in the spirit of the liberal arts.
Our society has been infected by radical individualism for several generations, and none of us is unscathed. For detox, we need the beauty and challenge of literature and political philosophy and Scripture and American history if we are to transcend ourselves in a way that can draw all Americans into a shared circle of concern.
The program’s reading list includes: The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Night by Elie Wiesel, The Person and the Common Good by Jacques Maritain, Lincoln by Allen Guelzo, the “Treatise on Law” from the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday by T. S. Eliot.
I can guarantee a thrilling spiritual adventure that will engage your heart and mind.
Please go to masscitizensforlife.org/certificate to register. Please prayerfully consider making a donation to sustain this vital initiative.
Whether or not you are able to attend or make a donation, please support this unique educational opportunity. A flyer can be downloaded from the website.
My goal as your guide on this adventure is the perfection of a pro-life republicanism, meaning the cultivation of a freedom that is virtuous and wise and overflowing with love, as Virgil describes at the end of Purgatorio, Canto 27 (in Tony Esolen’s translation):
“I’ve led you here by strength of mind, and art;/take your own pleasure for your leader now./You’ve left the steep and narrow ways behind.
“Behold the sun that gleams upon your brow,/behold the grass, the flowers, and the young trees/which this land, of its own, brings forth to grow.
“While we await the glad and lovely eyes/whose weeping made me come to you, you may/sit here or walk among them, as you please.
“No longer wait for what I do or say./Your judgment now is free and whole and true;/to fail to follow its will would be to stray./Lord of yourself I crown and miter you.”
Magnanimity, greatness of heart and mind, is all my aim, for freedom is another name for true love, for the romance of solidarity.