Pope John Paul II spoke often about the “Culture of Death.” He was, of course, speaking of a reality that displays itself in more areas than just abortion, though the killing of innocent, helpless life seems to be the pinnacle of the evil fruit of this culture he spoke of.
I would like to examine an underlying theme. What we could refer to as the culture of Fear, perhaps. Most of us don’t do terrible things because we wake up in the morning and rub our hands together, saying with a sneer (picture Snidely Whiplash if you’re old enough to remember), “I think I will do something quite eeeeeviiiil today!!!Mwahahaha!”
A woman does not choose to get an abortion out of a desire to do something evil; she gets an abortion because she is afraid of what she will lose in having the baby. The man is the same.
Fear seems to be quite common today. Of course with the economy, there is a real atmosphere of fear, almost breathable. We know that doctors see an increase in stress/anxiety related symptoms during an economic crisis. But the economy only unmasked an underlying, pervasive fear that was taking hold already, under the surface of the seemingly calm waters.
Fear of commitment has destroyed countless marriages. Fear of losing one’s quality of living has driven many to sacrifice good for money, even needed time with spouses and children. Fear of being alone has drawn people into sexual sin, and created unthinkable brokenness in relationships. Fear of the crosses in our lives drives us to all sorts of addictions and behaviors that diminish our ability to love.
Jesus said “Do not be afraid. (cf. Lk 5:10)” The Bible uses variations of the phrase, some say, 365 times (interesting, isn’t it—- what could the Lord be trying to tell us?). Fear disables us. It prevents us from stepping forth in faith. And only in faith can we truly love. Bold love, the kind that makes a difference, the kind that renews and redeems, that dies to self for the good of the other, and is noble and beautiful and so desperately needed today, is rooted in trust of God, our dear Father. When I trust in Him, when I confidently put myself into His hands, I can walk boldly in love because perfect love casts out all fear (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). Faith formation, the formation of the heart and mind in the Faith, equips our children (and us) to do just this. Because the more we learn of this amazing God, the more we realize He is trustworthy. He can be counted on. He is our salvation. When the rug of life seems to be yanked from underneath us, we know that God alone is our hope. And that’s a gift that far surpasses any material good you could ever hope to give to your children.