Relativism: the real myth.

The sky is blue. Truth. Two plus two equals four. Truth. Relativism is the idea that there is no universal, absolute truth but that truth differs from person to person and culture to culture.[1] Truth. This philosophy is possible. False. Why? The philosophy of Relativism is a self-contradicting proposition. The very belief that Relativism is possible is the very reason that it is not. As a society, if we take the idea of Relativism to be true – that is – everyone is entitled to create and follow their own truth than how can we possibly say that the idea of Relativism is true?

I recently read the book Absolute Relativism: The New Dictatorship by Chris Stefanick. It is a fantastic book that completely de-bunks the myth that society can function with a relative ideology. The main problem with Relativism is that is completely devalues Truth. According to the oxford dictionary, truth is something which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. If the idea of relativism is taken seriously and applied to every facet of life, which it presumes it can than, that means that anyone is free to believe for themselves the ‘truth’ that the sky is green and two plus two equals seven.

When we apply this philosophy to moral issues we find ourselves in a cyclical debate. Everyone needs an absolute. Sadly, gone are the days when everyone in society had the same absolute – that there is a God and it is not you. Instead, today we have everyone trying to ‘play’ God by creating his or her own moral truths. There are things that cannot be changed, certain truths that are absolute. One of these is that every human has infinite worth and dignity. It is not intolerant to say that everyone should value human life. Chris Stefanick rightly notes that tolerance is the one virtue a relativist society seems to value.[2] Nowadays it seems that any form of disagreeing with someone’s opinion is labeled as intolerance. Our society is obsessed with avoiding any risk of offending another that it has made this culture unable to stand up for justice and what is right. The reason life is so disrespected in this day and age is because there are very few people willing to defend it because of this relativist idea.

Blessed John Paul II said: “The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.”[3] The reality is that everyone who follows the Relativist approach to life is simply failing to live in reality. Blessed John Paul II eloquently notes that it is impossible to be joyful and free if you are bound by the chains that your personal ‘truth’ is only a construct of your mind and everyone around you is unable to relate to your constructed truth. The philosophy of Relativism is rapidly creeping into every crevasse of society, slowing breaking down the moral fabric. This ideology deludes people into believing that they cannot possibly stand up for their beliefs out of fear of being labeled a bigot or intolerant. Enough is a enough. It is time to face the facts and the fact is there is certain truths in this world that are worth valuing and worth upholding. The understanding that relativism is not possible is one of those truths. Call me a bigot, call me intolerant, but sometimes, the truth hurts.


[1] Stefanick, C. Absolute Relativism. P.1-2

[2] Ibid. p. 20

[3] Blessed John Paul II, Homily, World Youth Day, Toronto, July 28, 2002

 

Advertisements

Why we March

Theology of the body is mind blowing.  This message literally has the power to transform an entire culture and provides the answer to every question regarding the human heart. Recently participating in a two day Theology of the Body course allowed me to deepen my understanding of the mystery of Theology of the Body and be inspired to ponder this mystery in my heart. I was reminded of the universality of this message and the very real thirst for truth in our culture today. I was awakened to the realization that everyone sits in the ache; the ache for something infinitely greater than themselves. Understanding what love is, is crucial. Blessed John Paul II states that authentic love is entering into the mystery of another person without violating that mystery. This profound statement speaks to the core of every human heart and ignites a desire within to protect and defend the virtue of another.

When it comes to matters of the heart, joy and suffering are so intimately intertwined, so much so that love is ultimately what we hold to be most significant in our lives. Pope Francis refers to the world as a field hospital, inferring that people are so wounded by the Culture of Life and are in desperate need of love. We have been so blessed to have this truth of Theology of the Body revealed to us, but what I have learnt most from studying Theology of the Body is that we need a Culture of Encounter, a Revolution of Tenderness. How foreign Authentic Love is to so many people! Everyone is in need of encountering life giving love that will call one out of themselves and allow them to enter into the mystery of themselves. Theology of the Body is about meeting people where they are at, like Jesus meets the woman at the well.

Discovering the mystery and beauty of Theology of the Body intensified my understanding of the innate dignity of every human person. Created in the image and likeness of God, who is love. Life is so valuable that it is worth dying for, having said this, life is definitely worth marching for. Attending the annual 41st March for Life in Washington D.C was an incredible opportunity to protest against abortion and witness to the dignity of the human person. Pro-Life activist, David Bereit, gave an incredible talk at the Students for Life Conference before the March. David inspired his audience to be leaders in this movement. I was really struck when he affirmed the students at the conference that they had the power to lead and that if one person recognizes they can lead, they can change the world.

The message of Generation Life has the power to transform hearts and save lives. By understanding the unique, unrepeatable mystery of each human person, it becomes apparent that each person was not made for comfort but for greatness.  

 

“We should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.” – Pope Francis, EG 168

Written on our Hearts.

“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 2:15-16

 God creates, redeems and sanctifies. When He created, engraved on the heart of every human was His truth. When He redeemed, His blood was poured out for the Salvation of all. When He sanctifies, Grace is offered as a means to grow in virtue and Holiness. Therefore it is through God’s sanctifying Grace that we attain Eternal Salvation, which is granted to those who follow the path God planned at the moment of creation. Thus, we have this paradoxical, cyclical mystery.

Note finality of humanity being created and redeemed. It is a single act. It has been done at one moment in history. However, God continues to sanctify through the Holy Spirit. It is an ongoing, continuous flowing of love from the Father and the Son through the Spirit. This beautiful Trinitarian love is offered to each and every person, for we are all created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27), who is LOVE (1 John 4:8). St Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, designed to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19). It is through this recognition and acknowledgement that we desire to accept the Grace God offers. What is Grace? Grace is a gift from God, a gift that makes us holy. Grace is given to us by God, not for ourselves but to be a means of Grace for others.

I have just spent the past month continuing the mission of Generation Life in Sydney, Australia. During this time I have had the opportunity to reflect on the truth written on the heart of every human. I have met hundreds of youth at a series of conferences and youth events across Sydney and Melbourne and I have been reminded not only of my calling as a missionary to proclaim this truth but I have also been reminded and further convicted in my Father’s love for me. I have this deep desire to share the life giving message of Chastity. However my desire for everyone to understand their beauty and dignity does not even come close to God’s desire for every single person to know their worth in His eyes. Our God hangs patiently on a Cross, arms outstretched, just waiting, aching for us to realize our beauty, dignity and worth!

Without Grace and dependence on God, Chastity is almost impossible to live out. Chastity is a virtue, so like any virtue, must be cultivated through prayer and the desire for holiness as well as a strong fervor to do God’s Will. The message and mission of Generation Life is UNIVERSAL. This message must be understood in the depths of every human heart and proclaimed from the rooftops. Love is the answer. Understanding the infinite, incomprehensible love that our God has for each of us is imperative and essential to building a Culture of Life!

 

 

 

 

Be Beautiful.

“It is a shame for a woman to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable.” – Socrates

It is worth noting that over two and a half thousand years ago, Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher recognized that it was a crisis for women to not value their own beauty. A woman’s body is capable of miraculous things. The female body is designed specifically to receive and nurture new life. A woman’s intrinsic beauty adds a deep element of awe and wonder to the extraordinary functioning of her anatomy. Why is a woman’s natural beauty not valued and honored in our culture today? Why are women so often made to feel that their natural beauty is not enough? Arguably, the reason being, that many women do not understand the power and profound dignity in their beauty. This is one of the biggest tragedies of our time.

Our culture is in a crisis. We must pose the question; when did women start doubting their own beauty? Women began doubting their own infinite beauty the second they bought into the lie that they needed to strive for one, sole standard of beauty, aka, the size zero, blonde, elongated legged femme.

Now, women throughout history have always strived to be beautiful, but it seems that the focus was on enhancing their natural beauty, not on creating an entirely new façade to appeal to the supposed ‘standard of beauty’ our society seems to be setting. So, where did this idea of beauty come from? Who is setting this standard and why are women constantly buying into this lie?

Part of the problem is that society has become so blinded by this one idealized view of beauty that is reduced explicitly to one’s body, and is almost blinded to recognizing authentic beauty. Because women seem to be obsessed with this idealized standard of beauty, many men in our culture have become accustomed to seeking out this idealized beauty too. However, men cannot be blamed for this.

So many women have completely forgotten that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Discovering beauty involves acknowledging that one is beautiful because of their individuality and unrepeatability. Beauty cannot be dyed a different colour or injected into your face. Beauty cannot be put on. It is not exterior. True beauty comes from with in. true beauty is made manifest with a pure heart and an embodiment of feminine virtues.

 

If women want to be seen as beautiful, they need to believe they are beautiful. Women must recognize that they hold the key to discovering and revealing their irreplaceable and intrinsic beauty. Furthermore, they need to believe that they are beautiful for their YOUniqueness. A pure heart is the most beautiful accessory a woman can own, and its free of charge!

 

Call of Duty.

I have always been amazed at how men can spend hours upon hours playing the same video game. The video game ‘Call of Duty’, aka, COD focuses on modern warfare and gun battles and has becoming ridiculously popular in recent years. There are multiple versions of the game, some including zombies and ghosts. However, I would like to propose that there is really only one true ‘Call of Duty’ that men need to be concerned with. That is, to respond to the call to BE MEN!

Men, you have a duty to be authentic men. You are called to HONOUR women. You are called to PROTECT women. You are called to PROVIDE for women. You are called to SACRIFICE for women. You are called to be MEN OF COURAGE! This is your CALL OF DUTY.

There is nothing more attractive than authenticity. True Manhood is discovering that you were created for greatness and you are called to live out this greatness in the name of Jesus Christ. Men of honour will restore our culture. Men who actively choose and strive to live out their authentic masculinity will help and encourage women to live out their authentic femininity. This will build a Culture of Life. This will transform our society.

I am by no means saying that all men need to rise to this challenge. There are some incredible men who are striving for holiness, committing to the life-giving virtue of Chastity and who actively go out of their way to honour the dignity of women. I am SO blessed to know so many of these men and also to serve the mission of Generation Life this year with amazing men who open car doors for us ladies, hold doors open, buy us coffee and ice-cream, walk on the side closest to the road and always make sure we ladies are safe. Ladies and Gentlemen, Chivalry is NOT dead.

However, sadly our culture does not promote or encourage men to live out their authentic masculinity. In fact we could say that our society is encouraging men to be childish boys. Instead of encouraging men to honour women, our culture encourages men to lust after a woman. As one of my brother missionaries said: “Any coward can lust after a women, but it takes a real man to love a woman.” Why is this? Because we no longer understand what love is. The true definition of love is to ‘will the good of the other’. At least that is what the Bible says and we know that God, our creator, redeemer and sanctifier is LOVE. We are told this in the 1st Letter of Saint John in the New Testament. Love is more than an emotion or a feeling. True love takes sacrifice and perseverance. Our culture encourages men to conquer women, to use women, instead of conquering and ordering their own sexual desires towards the good of the other. No longer does society enforce the need for men to protect a woman, let along safeguard her virtue. Alternatively, men are encouraged to take a woman’s virtue… to see proof of this, look no further than the lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. Men are not encouraged to provide for women but to take whatever they can get from a woman. This ultimately robs men of their manhood. By not taking responsibility and provide for a woman, a man ultimately fails to be the man he was created to be. This leads to a loss of desiring to sacrifice for what is good, beautiful and true. Our culture teaches our young men that sacrifice and suffering is not part of love. This completely misses the point of what it means to be an authentic man of God.

The greatest loss of masculinity is found within two tragedies: the tragedy of Abortion and the tragedy of Pornography. When a woman is forced to have an abortion by a man, he fails to honour her femininity, he fails to protect, provide and sacrifice for her. There is nothing manly about rejecting your fatherhood. Every time a man looks at pornography; he is objectifying and using a woman for his own sexual pleasure. Nothing good ever comes from pornography. If anything, pornography only teaches a man to reject any form of discipline or order and encourages them to think that women only exist to satisfy their sexual desires. There is nothing manly about objectifying a woman.

The greatest example of masculinity and of love was Jesus’ act of self-giving when He suffered and died on the Cross for the Salvation of all humanity. There was nothing sexual about that Love. It was completely SACRIFICIAL. Our culture is creating men who are nowhere near man enough to get up on that Cross and sacrifice for Love.

I want to challenge the men of today to be Warriors for the Truth! Fight for the Kingdom! You are sons of the King and I encourage each of you to act like it! Be Men of VIRTUE, Men of COURAGE and Men of HONOUR. Your authentic masculinity is the key to building a Culture of Life and a Culture of Life is the key to the Eternal Kingdom!

As warriors, know your IDENTITY, know your MISSION and know your PURPOSE. Find your identity in Christ Jesus. Know that your mission is to build a Culture of Love and Life and your purpose is to find joy and peace, knowing that you are serving the Lord and building up the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!

Imagine the world we would live in if men spent as much time discovering their true identity in Christ as they did playing video games! Women need real men. As a woman striving to live out my authentic femininity, I want to call you men on! I want to call YOU to a new duty. So, please, turn your playstation off, put your controller down, get up off that couch and BE A MAN! Your culture needs you! Your community needs you! I need you!

“God has assigned as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman”  –  Blessed John Paul II

“You may dazzle…

“You may dazzle the mind with a thousand brilliant discoveries of natural science; you may open new worlds of knowledge which were never dreamed of before; yet, if you have not developed in the soul of the pupil strong habits of virtue which will sustain her in the struggle of life, you have not educated her, but only put in her hand a powerful instrument of self-destruction.”

– St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Thank you Harvest Inroads!

If it was not for the Guadalupe Expedition I would not be where I am today. Harvest Inroads not only designed a wonderful pilgrimage that journeyed from death to life but also created an atmosphere for life-long friendships to flourish. The spiritual formation I received on this pilgrimage exceeded every expectation. It was such a gift to have Bishop Peter Comensoli as our Chaplain to help put into perspective the events of every day.

Before going on the Guadalupe Expedition I had never heard of Our Lady of Guadalupe nor had I ever given much thought into the Pro-Life message. This pilgrimage really opened my eyes and my heart to the universal call that all Christians have – to LOVE. The places I went and the people I encountered gave God the opportunity to reveal His will to me.

I have always had a passion for history, so visiting the Aztec pyramids just outside of Mexico City was very exciting. I knew that human sacrifice was a common practice amongst Aztecs during the 15th century and that the pyramids were used to display this sacrifice to the gods. However, I never realized that the reason this profanity towards human life ceased because of Our Lady of Guadalupe!!! Hearing the story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the profound faith of Saint Juan Diego was incredible but did not measure up to the unexplainable peace and joy that came from encountering the Sacred Tilma inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I had never been involved with any sort of mission before. I am so grateful that Harvest Inroads organized a day of mission with the Sisters of Charity in Mexico City. Mother Teresa’s legacy was visible through the love and dedication of each sister we met. Each one a saint in their own right! I walked into that orphanage feeling righteous and heroic. I walked out feeling humbled and thankful. I was humbled because that day I learnt a beautiful lesson in the sanctity and dignity of the human person from a woman the culture would see as a burden. Edith is a severely disabled woman who depends entirely on the generosity of the sisters in the orphanage. Many people would be tempted to see her life as a waste because she could not physically contribute to society. However what Edith helped me understand that day was that she could give so much just through her joy and zest for life!

I learnt more from a day with Edith who could not communicate in any way except through her eyes and her smile than I have learnt from any textbook or lecture! (…and we have awesome lecturers at Notre Dame!) This pilgrimage really led me on a journey of discovering the experience of the human person and the deep wound our culture has because they have forgotten the dignity and worth of every single human being. Experiencing the love and mercy of Our Lady of Guadalupe helped me understand that all love comes from Christ and it is through this love that we recognize our own worth and inherent dignity. This allows each of us to then recognize the worth and dignity of others!

After staying with the Sisters of Life in Connecticut and learning about their charism I felt so pumped to march in the name of LIFE at the March for Life in Washington DC! I am struggling to put into words the incredible experience of marching towards parliament house with half a million other people in the freezing cold on the anniversary of the legalization of abortion in America. It really did not matter that it was specifically for the change of American laws because this issue goes beyond countries and governments – it is a quest to reclaim the law written on our hearts- that all life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death.

I am proud to be Pro-Life and I attribute this pilgrimage as the journey I needed to recognize that The Lord was asking me to defend the unborn and live my life in a way that allowed me to encourage others to recognize their God-given dignity. It was on this pilgrimage, after the March for Life that I met Generation Life – a movement of young people committed to building a Culture of Life by spreading the messages of Pro-Life and Chastity. I am now in my 2nd month of being a missionary with this incredible organization. It brings me so much joy to share these messages and present the beautiful virtue of Chastity – which directs all of our sexual desires towards the dignity and good of the human person – as a solution to ending the tragedy of abortion.

I highly recommend anyone discerning this pilgrimage to say YES! Give God the opportunity to lead you on a journey from death to life so that you can come to a deeper understanding of the dignity and sacredness of every human life and that we are called to defend and love LIFE!

 

http://www.inroads.net/expeditions/young-adult-tours/the-guadalupe-expedition/

The day I became 100% PRO-LIFE

The post below is a reflection I wrote after my day of mission in an orphanage in the middle of Mexico City. It was a day that completely changed my life and began to stir deep within my heart a desire to defend and uphold the dignity and sacredness of EVERY human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Vita Amor! 

“Today I learnt what it means to LOVE, as Christ loves”

Original post on January 31, 2012 @ http://guadalupepilgrimage.wordpress.com/
 

Christ commanded; “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” As children of God we are called to love our brothers and sisters. I have journeyed through my entire life hearing and accepting that commandment but failing to understand it… until today. Today I learnt what it means to LOVE, as Christ loves.

After waking up in our stylish hotel in the heart of Mexico City, most of us were complaining about how tired we were as we piled our plates for breakfast. I had no idea that I was about to experience an encounter that would transform my heart.

Boarding the bus bound for Santa Fe in Southern Mexico City I absorbed the culture around me: people everywhere, crazy drivers breaking road rules, children eagerly waving to our bus and the unavoidable poverty, evident on every corner.

We eventually arrived at the Sisters of Charity Missionary Orphanage. Blessed Mother Theresa’s grace and presence was extremely noticeable to me when I entered the orphanage. We were told by Sister Lorissa that there were three sections we would be working in – children, youth and elderly. We followed Sister through this house of peace, up the stairs to meet the orphaned children. Many of these children had disabilities and needed extra care, but the joy in which they received us was simply over-whelming. Sister asked who wanted to stay and work with the children. I would have loved to have spent the day with them, however something stirred within leading me to believe that Christ had other plans for me that day. He had a challenge in store for me and a lesson in humility to teach me. So, I didn’t volunteer.

After farewelling the children and some fellow pilgrims we continued to follow sister through the house, back down the steps, past the comforting image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and into a room that immediately echoed the painful wailing of one of the 19 disabled youth there. Suddenly I knew this was were I needed to spend my day in mission. I know how to love children, that is easy, but I didn’t know what it meant to love the sick, the dying, and the vulnerable. I was about to rediscover the grace and mercy of Our Lord, as He began to teach me humility and love.

When I entered the room there was an extremely confronting image before me, and my first instinct was to withdraw, to run back up and play with the children.  But then I realized, that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus never turned His back on someone in need, for we are all equal and loved in the eyes of God. I trusted and I surrendered my hesitation to God’s will as I found myself extending a hand to this young girl with the most captivating smile.

Sister Lorissa wasted no time preparing for lunch. We lined up and received a plate of food with a name. Little did I know that the name on that plate belonged to a young girl who was about to change my life. I walked over and began to feed her. It took a while to get used to it but we worked together and communicated through our eyes and by smiling. I was so captivated by Edith who was bound to her wheel chair and couldn’t speak or use her hands. I wanted to know more about this girl, so I asked Sister Lorissa.

The first question I asked was how old she was. She was 25. This was the first shock as I thought she was about 13. Sister told me that if Edith wasn’t here she probably wouldn’t be alive. She was abandoned by her mother at birth and had lived in the orphanage ever since.  I then asked sister what disability she had. Sister told me that Edith’s disability was caused by the medication her mother took when she was pregnant with Edith. Her mother was taking medication to abort her but it had failed and meant that Edith was confined to a life of disability. I was deeply moved by her story and the gravity of the importance of the Pro-life movement began to sink in.

As I was feeding Edith I was wondering how these sisters could dedicate their life to doing this day in day out for their entire life. The more I thought about it the more I began to realize that if I had to, I probably could, as in, if I had to care for my brothers I would do it without hesitation. It was then that it hit me – this young woman was my sister. I was called to care for her, to express my concern for her, to dedicate my time for her and to love her.

Initially I thought I was the one doing all the giving. I was the one who had done the noble thing by travelling across the world to give up a day to serve the orphaned. I never once stopped to consider that I might receive something in return. As the day progressed I realized – I had given very little in comparison to what I had received. God’s reasons for calling me to that room allowed me to learn a great lesson in humility and love. I cannot express in words the gratitude I feel towards Edith.  One may question how a young girl in a small orphanage in a big city can change someone’s life? How can she demonstrate sacrificial love? Trust me, she can, and she did. The joy and the peace she radiated was overwhelming and through her zest for life and comforting smile one’s heart cannot help but be transformed and begin to learn how to love as Christ did as He hung on the cross for our Salvation.

Christ died so that we may have life and live it to the full. At the orphanage I was confronted with this reality – no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what challenges you face, no matter what crisis is going on in your life – Christ is there. He dwells inside each and everyone of us, patiently waiting for us to acknowledge that so that he can bring out the best in us; so that we can learn to love as He did. Once we say ‘yes’ to God’s will the graces are abounding. We are graced with the privilege of having God’s love poured into our receptive hearts so that we may empty that love into the world and share it with others.

So let us pray that we may always strive to be instruments of Christ’s love and reflect this love in the decisions we make and the people we meet. Let us imitate Christ here on Earth and through this may we always seek Christ in others. Let us recognise that God has given us everything we need to live according to His word. Loving is hard sometimes, I won’t deny that – we only have to look at Christ’s suffering to understand that. He had to carry His cross, the cross that he would later hang from and continue to show abounding love and forgiveness as His final actions here on Earth. Why?  – Because He LOVED. By surrendering to God’s will, Christ was able to Love. In what should have been perceived as the moment of Christ’s despair proved to be the pinnacle of His glory as the resurrection was His reward for loving. Let us do God’s will and learn to love like Christ so that we may seek heavenly glory as our reward.

May we also be comforted by the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II –

“Do not be afraid to be the Saints of the new millennium!”

Your sister in Christ,

Madeleine Vella