Friday, May 8, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Consoled Catcher

The Consoled Catcher

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be consoled."
Matthew 5:4

This is the second part of Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball, essays which look at each beatitude three ways: in relationships to God, to His laws, and to others, especially the least favored of humanity. The nine beatitudes also work together, much like the nine players on a baseball team. Accordingly, the introduction to each discussion relates a beatitude to a quality of a famous baseball player. See how many you recognize before you hear the player’s name.

Born the youngest of six children of an Italian-American father and African-American mother, he played in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first black Major League catcher. Despite discrimination and repeated injuries, in ten Major League seasons he won three Most Valuable Player awards and led his Brooklyn Dodgers to five National League pennants and a World Series Championship. A car accident that left him a quadriplegic ended his playing career. For his remaining 35 years, though, he became an inspiration to all people with disabilities. His autobiography, “It’s Good to Be Alive,” sums up the consolation found by Roy Campanella.

Concerning the second beatitude, a large part of the mourning and consolation which Christ describes must be due to repentance. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. Applying the three relationships, to God, His laws, and others, those who mourn repent to God for breaking his laws and hurting others, especially the weakest. The second beatitude puts into action the first beatitude. Because we realize our dependence upon God who loves each of us, even the least of us, we must repent when we break His laws, especially when we do harm to the most defenseless.

Prochoice persons cannot repent of sins they do not acknowledge and harms to persons they do not agree have rights even to exist. They mourn the difficulties of women in crisis pregnancies but only at the expense of their offspring. Their position drives a wedge between themselves and their relationship to other humankind. More importantly, their position drives a wedge between themselves and their creator.

We take no joy and claim no superiority over our prochoice brothers and sisters because we recognize that none of us is free from sin. To be truly repentant we must first mourn our own failures to speak effectively for the unborn and our lack of commitment to them in the face of certain death.

We must acknowledge, moreover, that our lack of commitment harms the living as well as the dead. We also mourn those hurt physically, psychologically or spiritually by abortion, including the mothers, the fathers and even the abortionists. We mourn the brothers and sisters who will never know their siblings killed by abortion, but who will always know that only the grace of God spared their lives from the same fate. We mourn for our whole society, including the growing number of the aged who will never know the protection and security that the unborn could have provided financially and physically to them in later years. Our lack of commitment to the unborn leads inevitably to injury throughout society.

Repentance is a powerful force. The spirit of repentance has converted so many from their abortion pasts to the prolife position. Some, like Dr. Bernard Nathanson, were leaders in the prochoice movement who later became, like St. Paul, outspoken advocates for a position that they once opposed. When the history of our time is written, such persons will be proclaimed as champions of the future generations they strove to protect.