Tag Archives: Dr. Donald DeMarco

Care for others actualizes human heart

According to a Roman myth, Care was amusing herself one day by molding earth in various shapes. Finding a particular shape that she wanted to have life, she beseeched Jupiter to grant it a soul. Jupiter obliged but objected when Care wanted the new creature to be named after her. Saturn, the god of time, intervened, ruling that upon death, the creature would return to earth, its soul to Jupiter, but all the time it was alive it was to be entrusted to Care.

Our name is Care. We realize our identity when we care for others. The inability or reluctance to care shows a human being to be less than humane. Caring for others is so fundamental to human nature as to coincide with it. There are many forms of care.

Therefore, we can express our essential humanity in many caring ways. When we prefix the word “health,” we refer to the most evident, appealing, and urgent of all forms of care. The first obstacle in the path of health care is inconvenience. This was not a problem with Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Jean Vanier, Tom Dooley, Jérôme Lejeune, Mother Alfonsa, and many other heroes of health care. But in a society overshadowed by the Culture of Death, inconvenience is an obstacle that many people find difficulty in overcoming.

If one category of human life –the unborn –can be deemed worthless, so can other categories, such as the severely disabled, the elderly, and the terminally ill. Wesley J. Smith, in his book, Culture of Death, offers some shocking examples of this reluctance to be health-givers. In one instance, a daughter asks her mother’s doctor why he is refusing to prescribe antibiotics for the 92-year-old woman. The doctor defends his position by stating that “an infection will kill her sooner or later. So it might as well be this infection.” In another example, a doctor remarks, “If anyone so much as whispers cortisone [a palliative agent] or ‘uncertain diagnosis,’ I’ll hit him (136).

” We find an extraordinary and most edifying example of health care between a man, better known to the world for his basketball exploits, and his wife of 63 years. During the last dozen years of their marriage, Bob Cousy’s wife, Missie, was slowly succumbing to the ravages of dementia. Each morning, Cousy would lay out Missie’s pills, the newspaper, a fiber bar, and a banana. Then he would gently awaken his “bride” and lead her to the kitchen where she would read the newspaper. It would take two or three hours for her to get through the pages since she would underline each sentence in every story. She would ask her husband the same question over and over. She sometimes hallucinated, became disoriented, and struggled to retain her balance. But she always recognized her husband and bristled at any suggestion that she was suffering from dementia. Cousy did all the household chores while graciously letting her think that she did them herself.

When she passed away in 2013, the former basketball great was inconsolable. “I can’t put the pills out in the morning. And I can’t care for her anymore,” he said. Nonetheless, each night, when he goes to bed, he tells his wife that he loves her. He never felt defeated by the challenge of caring for his ailing spouse on a full-time basis. “It drew us closer together,” he said. “It was never a chore, because I knew she would have done the same for me.” Bob Cousy’s rightful name is Care, not “The Houdini of the Hardwood.”

Love does not look at inconvenience, nor does it shrink in the presence of suffering. A person who is sick calls forth in us a special feeling of solicitude. Our attitude toward others is truly humane when we see them, as we should see ourselves, as mortal, fragile, and dependent. Therefore, I and my neighbor are always in need of reciprocal care.

DONALD DEMARCO’s latest book is Why I Am Pro-Life and Not Politically Correct. He is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review.

Moral magnanimity is legendary

Because of their affection for St. Aphonsus Liguori, a certain Pennsylvania couple, devout in their Catholic faith, named their son after him. And the young Alphonsus Liguori Casey (1893-1956) learned about hardship and poverty at an early age. He was orphaned when he was 11. To support his brothers and sisters, he worked as a mule boy in the anthracite coal mines of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He labored during the day and studied at night. Alphonsus never forgot the lessons he learned in his youth. He graduated from high school and in his 30s earned a law degree and set up a law practice representing miners in their claims against the company.

Dr. Donald DeMarco

His son Robert achieved enough distinction in his life to justify writing an autobiography (Fighting for Life) in which he recalls his earliest memories of the scarred hands of his father. He revered the legacy that Alphonsus brought to him from the mines of Scranton that included a visceral identification with the weak and the endangered. Abortion, he would say, is not a question of when life begins. It is a question of when love begins. “No insignificant person was ever born,” he stated, “and no insignificant person ever dies.” He asserted that his Democratic Party’s position on abortion “is inconsistent with our national character,” and that it can “never prosper if it does not protect the powerless—before and after birth.”

After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1953, he received a law degree from George Washington University three years later. He became governor of the state of Pennsylvania in 1986. Four years later, he was re-elected, defeating a pro-choice Republican by more than a million votes while carrying 66 of 67 counties. It the largest margin of victory in Pennsylvania gubernatorial history. While governor, he did as much as he could to protect the unborn given the tight restrictions of Roe v. Wade. “In this country, the greatest country in the world,” he stated, “every child deserves to be born.” Planned Parenthood sued over his state’s Abortion Control Act and the case was heard by the United States Supreme Court (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). The 1992 decision, which Casey called “a victory for the unborn child,” affirmed the legality of a 24-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion, informed consent about health risks for women seeking abortion, parental consent for minors seeking abortion, and detailed record keeping on the abortion industry.

Casey was shunned by his own Democratic Party. At the 1992 Democratic convention in New York, he was kept from the podium by the Clinton-Gore ticket. After being rejected as a speaker at the 1986 Chicago convention, Casey demanded that “those who believe in the right to life be accorded the right to speak.” The ill treatment given to him by his own party embarrasses and contradicts its alleged commitment to fairness, democracy and social justice issues.

Casey aspired to run for the presidency in 1996, but his health was waning. He had bypass surgery in 1989. Four years later he underwent a rare heart-liver transplant. In the aftermath of a remarkable recovery, which extended his life and his trials by seven years, The New York Times dubbed him a “folk hero” for his courage and determination. His autobiography won the 1997 Christopher Award.

On May 30, 2000 Robert Casey passed from this world. Princeton University’s Robert George lamented the loss, stating that “the pro-life movement has lost a champion, the Democratic Party its conscience, and American politics a model of principled statesmanship.” He was survived by his wife, four sons, four daughters, and 20 grandchildren.

It takes a man of humility to be a man of magnanimity. This is the central irony of the moral law. The man of pride can neither see straight nor love right. There is a moral line that flows from a St. Alphonsus Liguori to a young Scranton coal miner and his numerous descendants that offers us the hope that humility will one day save the world.

DR. DONALD DEMARCO is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario) adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His books, including How to Remain Sane in a World That Is Going Mad, are available through Amazon.com.

 

All of the same heart

The word “courage” is derived from Old French (corage), Modern French (coeur), as well as Latin (cor), all of these words referring to the heart. Now since the heart symbolizes love, true courage must be an expression of love. Just as there is a paradoxical relationship between life and death, so too, the same obtains between love and courage. How does one begin to understand this apparent contradiction? The soldier, surrounded by danger, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a certain readiness to die. If he clings too tenaciously to life, he is a coward. If he rushes headlong into death, he is a fool. But if he has genuine courage, as the master of the paradox, G. K. Chesterton, asserts, “he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.” We do not honor the suicide who prefers death to life; but we do honor the hero who accepts death while displaying his love for life. Christ testifies to the validity of this paradox when he tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13). Four chaplains, each uniformed in military dress and all of the same heart, have beautifully and heroically illustrated the legitimacy of this paradox.

Dr. Donald Demarco

On January 23, 1943, the SS Dorchester, carrying 904 passengers, mostly military men, left for Greenland. During the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, the ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-223 off the coast of Newfoundland. The blast knocked out the electrical system, leaving the ship in the dark. Panic ensued. Four chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation. Life jackets were passed out until the limited supply ran out. The chaplains then removed their own life jackets and gave them to others. When they could no longer be of help, they linked arms, prayed, and sang hymns. Two ships that accompanied the Dorchester stopped and rescued 230 men from the frigid waters. Nearly 700 perished, including the chaplains, making it the third largest loss at sea of its kind for the United Stated during World War II.

The four chaplains, though of different faiths, shared the conviction that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. One survivor provided a moving testimony: “The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.” According to the testimony of another survivor: “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying. I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.”

Who were these courageous and self-sacrificing men? George L. Fox was a Methodist preacher who had been decorated for bravery and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre. Alexander D. Goode, the son of a rabbi, followed in his father’s footsteps. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Clark V. Poling was ordained in the Reformed Church of America and studied at Yale University’s Divinity School. John P. Washington, a Catholic priest, was chief of the Chaplains Reserve Pool in Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously. In 1988, Congress established February 3 as “Four Chaplains Day.” The United States Post Office Department issued a commemorative stamp in 1948 honoring the quartet. The Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation is located at the former South Philadelphia Navy Yard. Its mission statement is “to further the cause of ‘unity without uniformity’ by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people.”

We often admire what we are reluctant to imitate. Nonetheless, our willingness to honor genuine heroes keeps our sights on the right ideal and may be the first step in gaining the willingness to do something heroic. Meanwhile, there are the unheroic acts of self-sacrifice that remain within our grasp. One way of honoring the “Immortal Chaplains” and their like is by making small acts of generosity. That may very well have been the apprenticeship of chaplains Fox, Goode, Poling and Washington long before they boarded the ill-fated S. S. Dorchester. L

DR. DONALD DEMARCO is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT) and regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His books, including latest work, How to Remain Sane in a World That Is Going Mad, are available through Amazon.com.

The demotion of truth

I recall listening to a lecture given by a university president, and it was clear to me that he was more interested in impressing his listeners with his virtue than enlightening them about his subject, which was the War Between the States. When he had presented his thesis to his mentor, he was told that there are many theories about the Civil War, and it may be that they are all wrong. The president rejoiced in this notion because of its spacious liberality. We can all be researchers without suffering the embarrassment of being more wrong than anyone else.

Dr. Donald DiMarco

I thought, in my apparent naiveté, that the Civil War actually took place and that the primary interest of a good researcher lay in discovering the truth of what happened. The truth of the matter, however, seemed to evaporate, yielding to the politically correct notion that we can all be tolerant of each other because nobody is right anyway. The truth is elusive. What is important is liberality, tolerance and a pluralism of ideas. A university president, I thought, should be made of sterner stuff.

My president would not have been as confident as he was if it were not for the fact that he knew that liberalism was in the air. He was not going to boast that his thesis was any better than anyone else’s. He was not going to impose his views on anyone. Nonetheless, he did make a concerted effort to convince the members of his audience of his liberality. I left the lecture hall disgruntled. Truth had been demoted; self-aggrandizement had been promoted.

There is a Latin adage about which most people are familiar: De gustibus non disputandum est (Concerning matters of taste, there is no dispute). The corollary adage, with which relatively few are familiar, is: De veritate disputandum est (Concerning matters of truth, there must be dispute). Truth is real. Its discovery confers broad benefits, including freeing us from the darkness of ignorance. We should not be complacent about our ignorance. We should dare to make the personal and collective journey toward truth. We are derelict if we do not, being content with but the illusion of liberality.

Pride is the most deadly of the Seven Deadly Sins. It is also the easiest to conceal from oneself. It manifests itself chiefly in three ways: 1) presumption, by which we attempt to do things beyond our strength; 2) ambition, by which we have an inordinate love of honors; 3) vanity, by which we crave the esteem of others. Vanity, in turn, is divided into three vices: boasting, ostentation and hypocrisy. The person who says, “I may be a lot of things, but I am not a hypocrite,” is really boasting, and therefore guilty of pride. The person who declines mentioning that he discovered any aspect of truth may believe himself to be humble, but is really craving the approval of others. Sundry vices ensnare us in the net of pride in so many subtle ways.

On the other hand, we need not be boastful if we state something that we know to be true. We know that truth is not of our own making. Its apprehension should stir in us a sense of gratitude, as well as humility. “It is truth, not ignorance,” as Jacques Maritain has stated, “which makes us humble, and gives us the sense of what remains unknown in our very knowledge.” Moreover, in sharing the truth with others, we are not seeking their praise, but attempting to enlighten their minds. It sometimes requires courage to tell the truth. It never requires courage to hide from it.

There are some Catholic apologists who believe that they would frighten students away if they presented them with the undiluted truth of what the Church teaches. But the essential attractiveness of the Church lies precisely in its truth which has, as Pope St. John Paul II avers, a certain luminescence or “splendor.”

C. S. Lewis was an immensely successful apologist for Christianity without having to dilute it. The British philosopher and selfpublicist C. E. M. Joad read C. S. Lewis. Although Joad was, at the time, an atheist, he praised Lewis, stating that “Mr. Lewis possesses the rare gift of making righteousness readable.” Joad, influenced by what he referred to as the “network of minds energising each other,” published The Recovery of Belief in which he stated his reasons for accepting the Christian faith.

Bishop Fulton Sheen’s success in bringing people into the Church is legendary. In no way did he adulterate the truth to make it appear more palatable. It is the truth, not its shadow, which makes us free. By contrast, the skepticism announced by Pontius Pilate—“What is truth”— does not epitomize the man of tolerance, but one who betrays truth.

DR. DONALD DEMARCO is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His books, including latest work, How to Remain Sane in a World That is Going Mad, are available through Amazon.com.