EXPANDED OUTLINES FOR THE SECOND QUARTER CHOOSE LIFE CATECHESIS
* This expanded outline is a guide. You do not need to use all ideas, examples or Scriptures. Choose what will be most helpful for your household/group. What is important is that you have material you can work with.
|TOPIC 1: CHOICES THAT KILL THE SELF|
Q2 – DEATH Choices (Choices That Kill)
Before proceeding to Q2, you may want to briefly review Q1 topics. You don’t need to mention all this, but at least the reviewer paints a broad picture of what Q1 was all about.
I. INTRODUCTION & REVIEW OF Q1:
– Welcome to the 2nd quarter of the CHOOSE LIFE Catechesis, a one year household teaching track to enhance but not repeat the CHOOSE LIFE conference/congress of CFC-FFL for 2012.
– Q1 was about LIFE Visions. When you talk about choosing life, you have to begin with the vision.
– Topic 1 was on Self-Vision, with 2 sessions beginning with why vision is important (S1), then how we are personally wired for LIFE (S2), which means that God made us for life, not death. He has a PLAN for us and that’s important to know. We are personally and uniquely shaped for a wonderful life and our unique presence in this world is important. This plan has ultimately to do with how we’re really wired for holiness, which means a life with God. (To be holy is to be with God. To be unholy is to be apart from God.)
– Topic 2 was on the Couple and Family Vision. In S1, it was important to think about your couple vision as designed by God. Just as God has a personal vision for each one, He also has a couple vision. There’s a general couple vision – that ALL Christian couples are wired for love and life (or bonding and babies, union and procreation), but there’s also a specific couple vision that the couple needs to pray and discern about. Where is God calling the couple specifically to serve Him, in building the union where a family springs from, and both in and out of the community? In S2, we realize that God also has a vision for your family. There’s a general vision which PJPII challenges all Christian families to (the 4 tasks of the family as seen in Familiaris Consortio # 17, which are to love each other, serve life, serve the Church and serve the community/society). And there’s also a specific family vision where the family must pray and discern about, as to how God is calling their family to SPECIFICALLY love each other, serve life, serve the Church and serve the community/society. (While there’s precisely an existing Family Visioning Weekend module/teaching in the community, the family can also discern the signs of the times and the family’s talents, gifts, charisms and interests, to begin figuring out God’s vision for the family.) As CFC-FFL families, we are called especially to protecting life and family.
– Topic 3 was on Community Vision. S1 was a basic talk on what you needed to know about community. It began by saying that if you want God’s plan to work , everyone has to do their part. St. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 12 that we are one body with many parts, and every part is important. The community forms us, but we also form the community. We believe in unity in diversity, and not uniformity where everyone thinks and acts the same way. The smallest unit of the community (aside from the family) based on structure is the household. Then in S2, we reviewed the community vision and mission of CFC-FFL. Our community has a particular identity, vision-mission, charism, and annual themes to set our direction of where God wants us. Our being together in this community is part of God’s plan and He also wants us to support the vision of the Church through our parish and diocese.
– Topic 4 was on Church Vision. There were basics talked about like how the Church isn’t just an institution but was also the Body of Christ, a Servant especially to the poor, a Mother who cares for us, etc. In different countries, there’s a different focus of the Church, depending on the need. In the Philippines, for example, there’s the call to be the Church of the Poor because that’s the need. Today also, there’s the need to see how the priests/clergy, religious (nuns, brothers) and lay need to work together to bring Christ to the world. Perhaps one important point to remember is how the Church is missionary by its very nature. It’s all about being sent. We’re all being sent to do Christ’s work through His Spirit. None of us are exempted from making disciples of all nations (Mt. 28) even though we may do so in different ways. (There were videos to enhance a love and appreciation of the Catholic Church which is so much bigger than we tend to think. The Church has done much good for the world. But then, we are just doing our job because we love Christ and we love the world.)
II. Q2 OVERVIEW
– If Q1 was all about God’s good plan and the call to CHOOSE LIFE, Q2 is the dark side of when we DON’T choose life. These are the DEATH Choices, or the Choices that Kill.
– There are 4 topics under this section. The first is on the choices we make that kill the SELF. The second is on the choices we make that kill our FAMILY. The third is on the choices we make that kill our COMMUNITY. And finally, the fourth is on the choices we make that kill the CHURCH.
III. TOPIC 1: CHOICES THAT KILL THE SELF
A. There are choices that kill the self. They stem from the culture of death.
When we look at all the choices we make, it all boils down to just two kinds: choosing life or choosing death. Choosing life is God’s plan. Choosing death is Satan’s plan. Whether we know it or not, our choices of sin and evil, selfishness and negative pride, will lead to our destruction. They WILL kill us. It’s just a matter of time. Perhaps not physically yet, but spiritually, and eventually these choices will kill and destroy us. (Jn. 10,9) They lead to sin and to destroying relationships. Remember that the word mortal sin comes from the word MORTIS which means death.
Where do these death choices come from? They come from our personal selfishness, but they also come from a culture of death that is pervading our world, making it so much easier for us to choose sin and death. The world is a BAD INFLUENCE a lot of times that pressure us to choose evil.
- The Culture of Death is a term coined by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
In 1995, John Paul II was already talking about this culture of death! It is evil, vile, and deadly.
- What are some elements of this culture?
- The culture of death denies solidarity with others (EV#12) so it becomes an “us against them” self-centered culture.
– While love and life choices unite, death choices divide.
– In Titus 3, 9, Paul tells Titus to: “Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. “
– In contrast, Jesus’ prayer is “that all may be ONE.” (Jn. 17, 21)
– Also, Paul says: “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” (1 Cor. 1, 10-13)
– This unity is of course, a unity in God’s Spirit: truth, goodness, and love!
2. The culture of death is a war against the weak, seen as useless and intolerable burdens; a “conspiracy against life” (EV#12)
– This type of culture only values efficiency, functionality and usefulness. If you’re weak, old, sick, deformed or retarded, then you are not important and even worth discarding or eliminated. Only the strong and young should live.
– There’s a conspiracy (an evil plan; a treacherous, deceptive, traitorous, dark plot) against life. Life in itself is no longer seen as precious. There’s no need to protect all forms of human life. Just the ones that can “contribute” to success, money, fame, etc.
3. The culture of death does not perceive any meaning and value in suffering – stop suffering at all costs! (EV#15)
– This goes against the Christian belief of redemptive suffering. We sacrifice (definition: suffer for the sake of love), we fast, we abstain, we suffer for the sake of others. But this is not the mindset of the culture of death. You don’t have to suffer. Just enjoy all the pleasures of life.
– Ex. If you’re old and suffering, or even just suffering, then society encourages your right to die through drugs and other means of “assistance” as in euthanasia or assisted suicide.
4. The culture of death upholds the Promethean attitude that thinks one can control life and death. (EV#15)
– The term Promethean attitude is taken from a negative view of the Greek demi-god Prometheus, who was wily/crafty/cunning/clever, who stole fire from Zeus to give it to the mortals.
– Promethean attitude means: one’s arrogance to think he can defy God and create, tamper with and manipulate life (as in bioethics, genetics, etc.), and end it as he pleases. It’s a secular humanist view that celebrates the triumph of the brilliant human mind to the point of denying God. In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein” subtitled “The Modern Prometheus,” Shelley shows how modern man can reach dangerous heights of knowledge and science with many ethical consequences, as he creates the monster Frankenstein.
– An example of this Promethean attitude: Dr. Robert Edwards, the pioneer of In-Vitro Fertilization, started working on the technology in 1965. When IVF worked, he said “I wanted to find out exactly who was in-charge, whether it was God Himself or whether it was scientists in the lab.” He concluded, “It was us,” smiling triumphantly. Dr. Edwards shows this arrogance over life, to reduce man to a thing, and for life to be subject to manipulation (EV#22).
– Even the body is seen not as who we are, but as an object of pleasure and efficiency. (EV#23) But God created us in His image and likeness (Gen. 1, 26-27) and we are both spirit and body. Our bodies are good and holy because they were created by God and are temples of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 6, 19) We must love and respect our bodies. We believe in the resurrection of the body at the end of time because God made us body and spirit, not just minds or spirits.
- Signs of the culture of death in our world today are: murder, war, genocide, poverty, malnutrition, hunger, spreading death because we tamper with the world’s ecological balance (flash floods, pollution, flooding, etc.) criminal spread of drugs (EV#10)
All these are not part of God’s plan. When people choose death, it has catastrophic consequences like the examples Pope John Paul II gave above.
Poverty and malnutrition are not God’s plan. Flash floods and pollution are not God’s plan. Murder, war, infanticide (killing babies), feticide (killing fetuses) are all not God’s plan.
B. Some Tell-Tale Signs of the Culture of Death Working in Me That Will Kill Me and Others
“Looking out for number One” is an expression that means I look out for myself above everyone else. I don’t consider others or reach out in love to them, except when it’s convenient. I am user-friendly (befriend people so I can use and abuse them). I don’t like getting out of my comfort zone. My choices are self-serving. God can easily get lost in my “It’s all about me” attitude because I want to be king/queen of my life. (When we call Christ the King, that means there’s only ONE King. We can’t be king, too.)
LIVING ONLY FOR THE MOMENT:
No day, like today, so I forget that what I do today affects the next life – my future eternity! I am so busy planning for my future, but not for my future life (the next life). I don’t realize how every act I do today, makes me this kind of person (character) that will determine my afterlife. (whether heaven or hell?)
CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE STUFF:
I am caught up in my iPods, iPads, iPhone4S which is all “I, I, I.” I am so attached to all my “toys” and gadgets that I surround myself with them and buy, buy, buy. I shop, shop, shop. Objects become more important than people. I forget to share because I am so attached to things. I’m so busy addicted and caught up in all my stuff that I forget the real world of people and the need to love them.
OBSESSED AND ADDICTED.
Since I am really made for God but deny Him, this yearning for Him (the Infinite) is replaced by inferior finite objects like obsessions and addictions that intoxicate us but never fill us and fulfill us because we were made for God. (St. Augustine says: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”) Obsessions and addictions can mean anything from Facebook, internet use, Angry Birds, “gadgets” (boy toys), shopping, tele-serye, to drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex and pornography.
All these signs KILL my true nature, what God created me to be. God didn’t wire me this way. He created me by love (His love) and for love – love for Him, for others, and for truly loving myself. What does it mean to TRULY love myself? It’s to fulfill my true calling to be good, to love, to care for others. This is what I was made for. It is only when I do this that I become who I truly am, the one God made me to be (as created to be like God – in His image and likeness).
C. Roots of Death In Me: Where Does It All Come From?
- It didn’t come from God. “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living.” (Wisdom 1,13)
God didn’t create death. Death is the result of sin. God who is all good never gives evil to us. He can allow evil to happen in our lives because He respects free will. But He doesn’t create evil. He created all things good. He created man good. Then man chose evil and sin.
Death is the absence of life. When you don’t have life, you are dead. It IS a choice –
either by us, or others, or the Evil One, and sometimes, we just don’t know, but it definitely did not come from God.
- Death came from the Evil One. “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10, 9)
Death comes from Satan. He is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. When you experience being robbed of your joy, your peace, your faith, your life, that’s Satan at work. When destruction comes into your marriage, your family, your work, your world, that’s Satan. All evil is from the Evil One. It is the absence of good. Whatever “good” may seem to come from Satan’s kingdom is a counterfeit good, that will eventually lead to death and destruction.
- Death shows itself in the “ISMS.”
- Individualism – This is thinking of the self alone. But more than self-centeredness, it comes from a sense of absolute independence from others. What this means is that one does not acknowledge his/her need of others.
– Of all the forms of idolatry against God, the worst of it all is the idolatry of self. This is imaginary self-sufficiency is an illusion that one can “go it alone” and doesn’t need anyone, not even God! It’s an illusion because we are totally dependent on God, even for our very life! (Abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen, asked abortionists and all those snuffing out the life of fetuses, “Who makes your heart beat?” Nobody can make their heart beat. Only God can!) God sustains us and the whole world every moment of our lives! But absolute/total self-sufficiency leads to hubris (overbearing pride and arrogance) and a sense of entitlement. (I deserve this because of my own efforts.) Yet, everything is sheer gift from a loving God. We get so much more than what we deserve because God loves us.
- Secularism – The world sells us the lie that we live only for this world and there’s no next life, so eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die.
- Consumerism – The world tells us that “Greed is good,” like the movie “Wall Street and we’re constantly mesmerized by all the deals that make us want to buy, buy, buy. Amassing all these goods makes us think that by doing so we will fill the empty void in us, but only God can fill that void.
- It denies God as God.
You make yourself or others or things “God” in your life. And when you lose the truth about God as the one, true, Living God, you begin to lose the truth about yourself, as well. You negate the values of life, love, justice, and everything else. People who don’t respect God, don’t respect life, either. Then they don’t respect people, especially the weakest among us. (EV#21) As mentioned previously, there can only be one King. Either you or whatever you make God in your life, OR the one true Christ, the King. Does He reign in your life? If not, something else does.
D. How To “Take the Death” Out of Me
- SET YOUR PRIORITIES. Replace your “It’s all about ME!” attitude with “It’s all about God!” Go back to God. Double your prayers. Make God, God! Make Him your number One by prioritizing Him – prayer, Scripture, study, get to know the Church teachings.
- PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE. Your goal is to get to heaven, and bring as many other people with you. Work on spiritual gifts rather than worldly goods. (You can’t take your stuff to heaven!)
- SHARE. The best cure for amassing wealth and getting caught up in the desire for all those goods, is to see those who have nothing and share with them.
- GET INVOLVED IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS, ESPECIALLY OF THE LEAST, THE LAST, AND THE LOST. Make friends with those who have less in life. Their perspective might make you see things in a different light. When you get to know others, talk to them, hear the story of their lives. Learn to get out of yourself and your comfort zone, and get into the lives of others. Jesus took time, made time to relate with people, one person at a time. That’s love.
- FIGHT SELFISHNESS. Fight it with love and life. Be life-giving in your thoughts, words and deeds. How do you fight evil? St. Paul reminds us, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” (Rom. 12, 21)
- HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE OF LIFE AND LOVE. Be with members in the community who ooze with love and a life that heals, nourishes, builds up and reveals Christ.
IV. Summary and Conclusion
Our choices can either be life-giving or death-dealing. We need to be careful what we choose.
There is a culture of death that exists in our world that divides people, attacks especially the weak among us, negates/rejects suffering and wants to play God. We’ve been living out this culture in our own lives whenever we are self-centered, live only for the moment (for this life), love stuff more than people, and are obsessed and addicted with stuff or people.
The roots of death within the SELF come from the Evil One. We can yield to this death by our selfish choices. We know death is “working” in us when we succumb to individualism, secularism and consumerism, and when we don’t let God be God in our lives. On the other hand, we can reject death in our lives by setting our priorities straight, by letting Christ the King reign as king, by planning for the next life (going to heaven), by sharing with the least, last and lost, by being more selfless and by hanging out with people FULL of life and love.
The choices that KILL are many, but we can beat death, and Christ the King graces us so that we can. When the world has all but sucked the marrow out of our lives, we remember Romans 5, 20 that says: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.” So, where death is, God’s life abounds even more! But we need to yield to the King. Let’s choose God, then, and thus, choose LIFE!
Source: Evangelium Vitae, PJPII, 1995, “On The Value and Inviolability of Human Life”
What choices do I make that “kill” me and others?
What can I commit to change from the death attitudes and acts that are in my life?