Life at all stages is fragile, requiring care and attention.
From conception through the various stages and right up to old age, it needs protective and caring hands.
What are the necessary qualities of those hands?
Dr. Peter Breggin, nicknamed by his peers “the conscience of psychiatry,” notes four principles which seem appropriate to develop caring hands.
Digression: I enjoy discovering the origin of words. Doing so, I find, reveals meaning about the word. For instance, the word “principle” has at its Latin source the term principium meaning “beginning, origin, first part” and is akin to the term princeps which means “first man, chief leader; rule, sovereign.”
The four principles which Dr. Breggin cites, which he does not take credit for but rather sees as being central to human society since antiquity, are at the beginning and origin of human actions and integral to being a leader.
The four are: 1. Protect freedom, 2. Take responsibility at all times, 3. Express gratitude for all gifts and opportunities, and 4. Become a source of love.
These four find expression in our Judeo-Christian heritage. For example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the first two notions - freedom and responsibility, are united and discussed in paragraphs 1731-1738. Here are two extracts from that section.
As long as freedom has not bound itself definitely to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach. (1732)
Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts. (1734)
The third principle states to express gratitude for all gifts and opportunities.
Returning to the CCC, paragraph 800 reads:
Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.
The final principle, though not the least, concords quite well with the theological virtue which Saint Paul acknowledges as the greatest (cf. 1 Cor 13:13)
Becoming a source of love, according to Dr. Breggin, isn’t a narcistic act, but rather a turning to another whether in the form of nature, God, family, art or music.
As we begin the Lenten season, journeying with Christ in the desert, we can reflect upon and integrate into your lives these four principles – protect freedom, take responsibility at all times, express gratitude for all gifts and opportunities, and become a source of love.
In so doing, we can be assured that our hands will be transformed into protective and caring ones.
Quebec Life Coalition
p.s. The Lenten prayer vigil for the end of abortion is about to begin. It runs daily beginning on Ash Wednesday, March 2, through to Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 505 Saint-Catherine Street E, metro Berri-UQAM. For additional information, see our flyer, call our office at (514) 344-2686 or visit our web page.
p.p.s Your financial support permits the Quebec Life Coalition to continue its work of building a culture of life. This Lenten season the QLC is teaming up with the Cistercian abbey outside Montreal, Val Notre-Dame, to raise funds for our work. A portion of your purchases from the abbey's store will be given to the QLC. Click here for details.