Spirituality for Today – Fall 2020 – Volume 25, Issue 1

Natural Causes

Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

Occasionally, nature reminds us who is in charge. We all appreciate the beauty and majesty of the natural world and are humbled by nature’s powerful forces. In H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, the Martians were invulnerable to the mankind’s weapons of war, but they were felled by God’s smallest creatures. In the non-fiction arena, we all have endured the challenges of those “smallest of creatures” evidenced in the Caronavirus. Mankind’s extinction on earth commonly is portrayed by a huge meteor crashing into the planet, but I bet that a very earthly microbe may very well suffice. Of course, let us not preclude the capability of human nature in abolishing all in nature that preserves life. Are we a suicidal breed? Although a good case might be put that leads to an affirmative answer, it is hoped that the functioning of faith, hope, and love will bring us to our senses before that sad destiny proves itself.

Why has peace in the world been so hard to attain and sustain? It may be due to natural causes. When the ancient Roman army conquered the various city-states of Greece, the Roman senate would allow the leadership, if open to becoming a Roman ally, to remain in power. The one thing that the city-states disdained was the Roman refusal to allow them to go to war on each other. Nations go to war for many reasons and people become hostile toward one another for many reasons. Except for the period known as the Pax Romana, somewhere and to some extent human beings have engaged in warfare. One glimmer of hope may be found in a nation’s form of government – no democracy has ever declared war on another democracy. That is not to say that democracies do not have internal troubles. We know that very well. I fear that until the teaching of Jesus Christ becomes a universally lived reality, our “love” of war will continue unabated.

One regrettable fact about human nature is a blindness of thought brought on by allowing ideological principals, political or religious biases, or trendy philosophical thinking to go unexamined or unchallenged. Many societal ills result from what might be called “natural causes.” From the founding of this country to the present day, the spectre of anti-Catholicism has haunted our culture. Waves of immigrants from numerous Catholic countries of the world caused alarm. Twentieth century America saw a rise of moral relativism especially in the education of teachers. In order to protect their children, a Catholic school system became ubiquitous. Although Catholics proved to be unmatched in patriotic fervor, the secular state leaned hard on Catholic institutions by clever regulatory prohibitions and by attacking Catholic values through universities, the print and entertainment media, et al.

Suspiciously enough, for a hundred and fifty years, the Constitution had managed to tolerate a fluid interpenetration between established running the schools, the First Amendment had suddenly acquired a new rigidity, and the fate of the republic somehow depended on denying assistance Catholics for purposes that were clearly non-religious, like school buses, arithmetic textbooks, and aids for the handicapped. Secular sexual permissiveness was a direct assault on Catholic values Catholic frustration with secular culture was mixed with withering scorn. With Hollywood marketing a cult of amoral sex goddesses, America said, ‘American ideals of the indissolubility of marriage are so low that it is probably impossible to bring them any lower without declaring openly for promiscuity.’ And Catholics mocked the handwringing over rising juvenile delinquency – ‘We have tried everything from free toothbrushes and free playgrounds to free schools and free textbooks; we have ranged from non-sectarian religion and lectures on sex-hygiene to terms in the reformatory and the penitentiary.’ The authorities have tried everything, that is, except teaching that ‘religion, morality, conscience have their place’ in life.

Charles R. Morris
American Catholic

Ironically, the onset of either natural or human catastrophes contain within their horrors an impulse toward the love of neighbor. The Church holds that a Natural Law exists in all humans that imparts an awareness of good and evil. Circumstances may cloud the distinction between good and evil in the human mind and it may result in actions that cause evil in its many forms, but from it can come a sorrow and remorse that might transform a heart to contriteness and change. We know that within us lies qualities that call for control and those that we can let shine forth. Hope does spring eternal. I hope that someday we shall learn, as Scripture states, “to walk humbly with our God.” May we live a life pleasing to God and, as death comes to us all, die from natural causes.