Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fort McHenry and the Battle for Baltimore

What does this have to do 
with The Citadel?

EVERYTHING!

Freedom is the ability
to do the will of God 

     My wife Jen and I are greatly concerned about the current SCOTUS rulings and we see the critical need for the Church Militant to muster and witness solidarity.  We have been observing the quickening, the movements on both sides of the Pro-Life battle for the heart and soul of these once United States. Time is ticking and with each passing day it seems we are being backed into a corner where there may soon be no means of escape.
     Personally, we have been participants in this struggle ever since our first pregnancy, when at a Catholic hospital in Florida we received professional medical counsel that “there are ethical considerations” in our choice to carry our firstborn, John Michael to term (John Michael is now a healthy, vibrant 16 year old).  We have been intimately involved in the Pro-Life apostolate ever since.
     More recently, on July 6, 2010 my father, William, was most likely euthanized while I slept in an adjoining bedroom.  The 'live-in' hospice workers on their first night of duty were told to wake me up if my dad’s then current condition (sleeping peacefully) changed and they sure did. I was awakened to see him without his nasal cannula and with a death mask that strongly suggested that he was gasping for air in his dying moments.  Yes, oral morphine was involved.  The two workers had different explanations as to what happened to precipitate my father's sudden and unexpected death.
     It was a tragic end to my family in Arizona.  We were literally destroyed by the event.  In subsequent conversations with friends and acquaintances, I have found that our experience was no exception.  Families are being ripped apart, one-by-one, at the explosive moment when death comes at the hands of so-called palliative care.  I have since found out that there is both good hospice and bad hospice.  The great challenge is to make sure you have signed a contract with the right one.
     I felt commissioned by this personal encounter with euthanasia and have made it a point to research the whole spectrum of EOL issues.  Fr. Anthony Blount, SOLT provided a welcome movement forward.  When I heard his taped seminar on End of Life Issues (delivered in Capulin, Colorado) I lamented, ‘Why hadn’t I received this inoculation before my dad died the way he did?’
     It all revolves around five key words. If we get them right we create a fortress, a citadel around our heart.  If we get even one of them wrong, we have a weak moral construct that the enemy of true light, life and love will surely try to exploit.  He will most likely succeed.
     The five interrelated words I call The Citadel.  Once I rearranged the order of Fr. Tony's presentation, I saw the key to easily remembering them.
     Again, they are five key principles rightly or wrongly understood.  The teaching method is to start with what the world says and then counter the prevailing 'wisdom' with "but the Catholic Church teaches..."  The principles: autonomy, dualism, hedonism, compassion (misguided), and utility.  Rightly understood, these five provide mutual support to protect people/families with Catholic truth against any and all assaults on human life (contraception->euthanasia).
     At base level The Citadel is a battle drill.  It is simple to learn and transmit with your five fingers as a mnemonic.  As one develops each principle through practical exercises ("what if" situational role playing) one grows in self-confidence.  Since the best defense is a good offense it is very likely that a seasoned sentry manning the pro-life watchtower will be compelled to launch a counteroffensive to challenge an anti-life opponent (that hopefully will lead to his/her eventual conversion).  I have field tested the base level with my kids and it works.  They have the principles committed to memory.

Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner's final verse
are key to relating a true American Cause
and the ultimate victory of Truth and Justice.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
 And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!



FROM WIKIPEDIA:

The fort was made a national park in 1925; on August 11, 1939, it was redesignated a "National Monument and Historic Shrine," the only such doubly designated place in the United States. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It has become national tradition that when a new flag is designed it first flies over Fort McHenry. The first official 49 and 50 star American flags were flown over the fort and are still located on the premises.

AN HISTORIC SHRINE...hmmm
sounds like the moral high ground 

    Yours truly graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where the honor code provided the key principles for character development and moral conduct: "A cadet shall not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do."  As an honor committee rep for two years I witnessed how the toleration clause was the weak link in the chain.  During the years 1980-81 there a great loss of institutional integrity at the Point.  It was due primarily to moral relativism and the deliberate toleration of honor code violations.  We couldn't get a guilty verdict, even in the most blatant of cases.
     My older brother William Jr. who graduated from the Citadel was commissioned in the Marine Corps.  He was also blown away by my dad’s untimely demise which sadly, and/or providentially occurred on his 53rd birthday. He can never forget.
     If we had sat down as a family, discussed and jointly agreed to The Citadel, we would never have left my father alone in his bedroom that night.  Moreover we would have ensured that hospice was provided with our Church-based moral guidelines before we committed ourselves to their “care.”
     Jen and I believe it is worth a look at the method we have drafted (based on Fr. Tony's teachings) to provide this critical teaching to all Catholics, young and old.
     

     To paraphrase a Founding Father, Thomas Payne in his great work, The American Crisis from 1776:
This is surely a time
that will try men’s souls.
 

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