Fatherhood and the Prodigal Son

All of us are to some degree afflicted with a tragically stunted image of who we are. This has never been so destructive in its intensity as it is in our times, when we are continually bombarded with false images of the meaning of human life, the meaning of the human person, and the ultimate destiny of man. We are saturated in anti-words, false words. In Jesus we have been given the Word made flesh, who shows us who we truly are and what we are to become. He does this not only through his teachings, but also by the witness of his life. God himself lays bare his heart in the total vulnerability of being fully human, to the point of permitting himself to be crucified. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as the prophet Isaiah says. He knew joy, but he accepted the suffering of our state in life. He accepted it because he knew that in the passage through the eye of the needle, through the narrow gate, a great secret is to be found, that on the other side is a vast and beautiful kingdom—an infinite kingdom in which the beauty of God the Father is ever creating more and more beauty, more and more love.

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The Family and the New Totalitarianism

The mighty of the earth are moving towards absolute power in an effort to establish control over what they perceive to be the chaos of the human condition. It is a harsh period, for winter seizes the hearts of many. Love grows cold. Honesty declines. Crime reaches epic proportions. Marriage is picked to pieces by analysts; the relations between men and women have become horribly complicated, fraught with tension, riddled with ideology. The family farm has given way to the factory farm. The village to the metropolis. The craftsman to the mega-machine. The shop to the corporation. Men hurl their malice upon each other in high-tech wars, though the machete is still in use here and there. Millions of children die unseen within the death-chambers ofour clinics and hospitals, accomplishing, for sheer numbers, what Auschwitz, Bosnia, and Rwanda could not begin to do. Belief in human life falters, hearts are pumped full of dread. Theorists discuss ways in which the death of billions of human beings can be accomplished effectively, humanely—billions of miracles, billions of mysteries. And thus, more and more people are drawn into despair on one hand, or sensualism on the other, searching for the merest hint of the great fire of Love—a love that longs for them to turn to Him, if they would only believe.

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The New Totalitarianism

The word totalitarianism usually generates impressions of dictatorial systems which crush civic freedoms and negate the humanity of their subjects in an effort to achieve complete control. Images of barbed wire, jack-boots and thought-control are conjured up in our minds. 20th century literature has given us some powerful works of fiction which suggest a variety of possible totalitarian futures: one thinks immediately of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Common to these dystopias (utopias which have collapsed into tyranny) is the absolutizing of the power of the State, or systems controlled by the State.

Totalitarianism invariably strives to do away with genuine absolutes and to establish false absolutes in their place. Genuine absolutes are fundamental, ultimate, unqualified truths, independent of the ebb and flow of cultures, fashions, myths and prejudices.

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