Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 (12:18 am), by John W Gillis
My sister Mary passed away about 48 hours ago, succumbing to the ravages of bodily dissolution after 18 months of battling illness. She had steadfastly insisted that her tribulations remain private and discreet during her sickness, but since there will be obituaries published within the next couple days, I hardly see the point now in maintaining a public silence.
Still, the details are nobody’s business, as strange as that sentiment may sound in the age of Facebook and Twitter. It seems that everything is supposed to be everyone else’s business these days, and in real-time, no less. I think Mary taught those who love her a few important things during the last months and days of her life, and the enduring importance of – and necessary place for – privacy is surely one of them.
Another one of them is the clear demarcation between despair and charitableness. Mary could perhaps have been accused of living in denial at times, but I suspect she always had a pretty realistic view of what lay ahead. Rather than denial, I suspect her insistence on living as large as possible through it all was a refusal to fall into despair, or to seek pity. She preferred that everyone enjoy themselves, and this was itself a choice to reject the self-centeredness of despair for a charitableness toward everyone within her orbit. It becomes ever clearer to me why the Eastern Fathers speak of despondency as sin.
Finally, I think we all learned a thing or two about determination, and about the futility of trying to predict where and when the spirit blows. Mary was someone who generally got her way; it is amazing to consider that she found a way to continue to do that, even when she was too weak to whisper.
My little sister, may God give your soul peaceful rest, and call you forth to the resurrection of the just, on the day of the great and final judgment.
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2009 (11:43 pm), by John W Gillis
Being not only the day after the day after President Obama’s inauguration, but also the anniversary of the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision, I was thinking quite a bit today about the abortion problem. Being well aware of his earlier statement to Planned Parenthood that could be interpreted to mean that the first thing he would do after obtaining the Presidential office would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, I’ve been warily eyeballing some news sources for the past couple days, waiting to see if the President picks up on the theme. Not that I think it likely too soon – I just can’t imagine the President wanting to roil the waters at this time – but I have little doubt the Congress will drop the bill on his desk for signature in the not-too-distant future, leaving him no choice but to deal with it. And his world will change that day, one way or another.
From what I can gather, he made no mention of it today. releasing instead a canned remark on Roe v. Wade that made the remarkable claim that the decision “stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.”
Last I knew, Mr. Obama was quite supportive of governmental intrusion into the very heart of the family itself through the issuance of licenses of marriage and certificates of divorce, as well as of intrusive governmental oversight of the welfare of children (even to the point of the government taking child custody if it deems it appropriate), and intrusive government oversight of the quality of domestic relations between husbands and wives in the form of applying laws relating to domestic abuse, and intrusive governmental oversight of family finances, in the forms of both establishing and enforcing alimony and child support arrangements, and in the a priori prioritization of massive family expenditures through taxation, and of course – last but hardly least – government control of the education of children.
But perhaps Mr. Obama is suggesting that these other things are private family matters of a lesser sort, as opposed to the killing of children, which qualifies as being a most private family matter – and that therefore he knows to draw the line of governmental intrusion at the killing, because – Ba’al knows – we can’t have governmental interference in the killing of children, except perhaps to pay for it with the money of those who find it morally outrageous.