Tag Archives: ethics

Latest bishops’ health care directives stress Catholic witness

The ethical and religious Directives for Health Care Services, authored by the U.S. Catholic bishops, is a valuable and unique document. First published in 1971 and now in its sixth edition, this 42-page pamphlet contains specific directions for Catholic patients, physicians, and health care facilities on a wide range of moral issues. The work is divided into six sections devoted to the topics of social responsibility, pastoral care, the professional-patient relationship, the beginning of life, the end of life, and collaborative arrangements between Catholic and non-Catholic health care providers.

The Vatican has published a similar document, though in a very different form, called Charter for Health Care Workers. This appeared in 1994 and was revised in 2016. Remarkably, the American document preceded it by more than 20 years and has been the subject of much more intensive revisions. The two works stand in agreement, of course, but that produced by the U.S. bishops is much more practical in character, with each directive dedicated to a single point of concern; for example, directive 49: “For a proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.”

Catholic bioethicists must think about how to apply these directives in particular cases. The directives therefore are a subject of constant scholarly debate and sometimes receive different interpretations, but what is noteworthy is that such detailed moral guidance is available. No other religious tradition has such a resource. The existence of the directives reflects the long-standing concern within the Catholic Church for resolving medical-moral questions. Though designed for Catholic health care centers, every Catholic would be well advised to have some knowledge of this small but important booklet because all of us will likely face some serious medical question during our lifetime.

The most recent revision introduces changes only to the last section, “Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers.” As everyone knows, we live in a time of intense competition among health care centers. The pressure for consolidation and the need to find collaborative partners is common for Catholic institutions as well. These arrangements can be very complex and often pose significant moral challenges. The secular world does not see the human person in the same way as does the Catholic Church. Indeed, the writing of the directives first became necessary when mainstream medical practice diverged in significant ways from what was once the nation’s common moral code.

The most striking change in the sixth edition is its emphasis on “witness.” The new edition stresses that Catholic health care institutions must be able to maintain their witness to Christ and His saving mission in any collaborative venture with a non-Catholic partner. This may seem an obvious point, but health care delivery is big business and the pressure to conform to a secular worldview is enormous. When millions of dollars are at stake — not to mention hundreds, if not thousands of employees’ jobs — tremendous courage is needed to negotiate agreements that are not only financially attractive for the Catholic party but that also preserve the Christian mission to act as a witness to the faith.

Caring for the sick is one of the mandates of Christ, but this aim can also be achieved incidentally by secular institutions whose primary aim is often the mammon of corporate profit rather than the mercy of corporal works. There are many who labor in health care who are not Christians and some who have no faith at all. They do not witness, despite the fact that they share in our mission of healing. We work alongside them, but as Christians we know that all things in this life are ordered to the next. The call to witness makes the presence of Christ known to the world so that this message of salvation can be heard.

EDWARD J. FURTON, PH.D., is director of publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center (Philadelphia), and among its team of seven ethicists. He’s editor-in-chief of NCBC’s award-winning National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly and Ethics & Medics.

Catholics must be well-trained, operative citizens

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Following Christ’s command requires Catholic citizens to know “Caesar” and comply with Caesar’s just commands.

Salvation history shows that God often relied on leaders who knew how civil governmentworked.

Joseph, whose brothers sold him to merchants, was imprisoned and later rose in importance in the government of Egypt to become second in authority under Pharaoh. Joseph’s position enabled him to save the fledgling chosen people from death by famine.

Moses, who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, learned first hand of the operations of the Egyptian government in Pharaoh’s household. That knowledge was critical to the Hebrews leaving Egypt.

When St. Paul was in a fight with the Jewish Sanhedrin to preach Christ crucified, he convinced the Roman governor, Festus (who wanted to turn Paul over to Jewish authorities), that he was a Roman citizen who could appeal to Ceasar to decide the dispute.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput noted, “Catholics need to wake up … What we’re watching emerge … is a new kind of paganism, and atheism … and … it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.” (Public Discourse, 1/24/12)

Anti-Christian zealots are working to prevent the Church from finding families for orphans which it has been doing for nearly 2,000 years until the current imposition of LGBT demands. Now, nine states and Washington, D.C. (96 million people) have laws/policies that require faith-based agencies to place children for adoption or foster care with homosexual couples or have their adoption licenses revoked.

The Church’s social doctrine states, “No power can abolish the natural right to marriage or modify its traits and purpose. Marriage in fact is endowed with its own proper, innate and permanent characteristics,” but the 2015 Obergefell Supreme Court decision assumed that sodomy and other disordered behaviors constitute the predicate for same-sex “marriage.”

In 2017, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) criticized federal Court of Appeals Trump Appeals Court nominee Amy Barrett, a Catholic, because “many of us … have this very uncomfortable feeling [that] … in your case … the dogma lives loudly within you. And that is a concern …” Apparently, killing roughly 60 million children under the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion ruling is not a concern for Sen. Feinstein.

Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ activists, socialists, and others are pressuring school boards, courts, state legislatures, and Congress to remove Christians from the public square as was done in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin, in China under Chairman Mao, in Germany under Adolph Hitler, and in Mexico under Plutarco Calles.

Abandoning government to secular atheists has dire consequences for our families, friends, country, and the Church. A Woodrow Wilson Foundation poll of 1,000 American citizens found only 19 percent of those 45 or under would pass the citizenship naturalization test. Citizens hostile to the natural law who are ignorant of the Constitution and its due process requirements are easily led by demagogues.

So, starting with our own example and families, we must teach our children to be well-trained citizens knowing how laws are made and elections are won to better defend the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the public square as our Founders did.

Pope Pius XI (1937) told German parents, “none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. … the eternal Judge … will ask. ‘Where are those I confided to you?’”

To love our neighbor we must be the leaven of America, the light of the world, and the salt of the earth as Christ told us, or we will be trampled underfoot by growing, angry mobs.

ROBERT MARSHALL was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1992 to 2018, and is the author of Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and Other Conservatives Can Win Back America. Email him at robertgbobmarshall@gmail.com.

Christmas and the inversion of the family

The most accurate word to describe Christmas is “Nativity.” More than anything else, Christmas is about a birth, the birth of Christ. While this simple fact has occupied a comfortable place in the Christmas tradition, its revolutionary implications might remain hidden to many people. Nonetheless, Christmas has had a decisive revolutionary impact on the ordering of the members of the family.

Pater familias, “father of the family” or “owner of the family estate,” according to Roman law, gave the father autocratic authority over his family. In the family hierarchy, the father came first, the mother a distant second, and the child a far distant third. In contrast to pater familias, the Nativity was revolutionary in that it placed the child first, the mother a close second, and the father a comfortable third. The various images of the Madonna give the Christ- child a centrality, while Joseph is often absent. Mary nourishes, Joseph protects, but the Christ- child, who elicits these virtues, is the centerpiece. The Holy Family inverts the order of pater familias and gives the child a status of pre-eminence.

The Nativity is also a celebration of life, for a new life comes into the world amid widespread rejoicing. It truly brings joy to the world. The shepherds kneel in adoration of the Christ-child, virtually ignoring, though not disrespecting, the parents. Even the angels sing their praises to the newborn. It is not Mother’s Day nor Father’s Day that is celebrated, but the Nativity.

The Nativity affirmed the primary importance of the child. This notion had a deep impact on human history. King Lear, in a moment of uncontrollable rage, pronounces the greatest curse he can imagine on his daughter, Goneril: “Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility. Dry up in her the organs of increase, and from her derogate body never spring a babe to honor her” (Act 1, Scene 4). Here, though stated in the negative, is a powerful testimonial to the importance of new life and how it brings joy and fulfillment to a woman. Love always has a forward motion. It does not hold back. It overcomes obstacles and reaches out to new life. Honoring and embracing the Christ-child is an acceptance of the mystery of love and the rewards it confers.

When we look at the contemporary world, we are witnessing a loss of that proper hierarchy of the family in which the child has pre-eminence. The abortion mentality accords the mother absolute dominion over her child, while the father holds, tenuously, to a distant second place. In many instances the child is downgraded into a subhuman. One example from a university textbook entitled Sociology more than illustrates the point. In referring to the neonate, the author writes: “The physical care, emotional response, and training provided by the family transform this noisy, wet, demanding bundle of matter into a functioning member of society.” King Lear retained enough mental clarity not to wish that his daughter would never deliver a “bundle of matter.”

The title of this brief essay employs the word “inversion.” This word is appropriate in relation to pater familias which had viewed the family upside down. A more precise term, however, is “conversion,” for the order of the Holy Family is a conversion from error to truth, from the unholy to the holy, and remains with us forever as the proper hierarchic model of all human families, perhaps more needed in our own time than ever before in human history.

DR. DONALD DEMARCO’S latest book is Apostles of the Culture of Life (TAN Books), and he has also released the recent title, 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.

On the virtue a philanthropist needs

Suppose a virtuous man inherits a large sum of money. Formerly he lived hand-to-mouth, with only enough cash to meet his daily needs. But he was virtuous in how he used his money, giving or lending when appropriate; not hoarding; not wasting. In this daily use of money, the virtue which came into play was “generosity” (or “liberality,” as it was traditionally called). But now, after he has received his large inheritance, he can easily spend money on a grand scale. He can buy and decorate a house, for instance, or build a church. Are there right and wrong ways of doing this, of spending money on a grand scale? If so, does he need to acquire a new virtue, or is his old virtue of “generosity” enough?

These questions probably sound odd to you. But they were natural for St Thomas Aquinas to ask. He viewed virtues as powers which enabled someone to act well with regard to certain classes of things, in specific circumstances. So it was natural to ask if a virtue which was sufficient in small matters carried over into large matters – as if someone were to ask, suppose I can drive a small car, will that same skill enable me to drive a large truck?

In the case at hand, St. Thomas followed Aristotle and held that, yes, there is a distinct virtue which we specifically need when we are spending money on a grand scale, which is called “magnificence.” Like every virtue, magnificence finds the mean between an error involving excess and an error involving deficiency. When we go to excess in a grand expenditure, we err through “extravagance”; when we are deficient in some way, we err through “niggardliness” or “penny-pinching.

The standard of rightness is different in large expenditures. In the small expenditures of daily life, what matters in our use of money is basically captured by the concept of a budget. We should not spend money that we do not have, or spend money on something not proportionate to its importance and value. Whether it was right to spend $50 on a bottle of wine depends upon rules which involve analogies and comparisons (if $20 for an 88-point wine makes sense, then probably $50 for a 95-point wine makes sense).

But for large expenditures, the nature of the work itself sets a standard. If a mansion in Port Royal, Naples, is to be decorated, the stateliness and setting of the building set a standard for the expenditure. One is not free to improvise for oneself. If a wedding is to be hosted for financiers in mid-town Manhattan — rather than, say, for shopkeepers in Albany — the nature of the event sets the standard. In these cases a different virtue is needed beyond generosity, one which senses the “greatness” of the expenditure and exemplifies good grace and taste.

The high point of magnificence is some expenditure for God’s glory, as St Thomas says: “The intention of magnificence is the production of a great work. Now works done by men are directed to an end: and no end of human works is so great as the honor of God: wherefore magnificence does a great work especially in reference to the Divine honor.”

When I was at Ave Maria University, I taught a course on ethics which met on a patio overlooking the buildings and oratory. Once we were discussing the virtue of magnificence. “Look around you,” I said, “What character do you need to do this sort of thing?” At that moment, magnificence was not a theory for them but something real.

 

MICHAEL PAKALUK is professor of ethics at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America and an Ordinarius in the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He lives with his wife, Catherine, a professor of economics at the Busch School, and seven of their children in Hyattsville. He is author of many books and articles, both scholarly and popular. His new translation and commentary on the Gospel of Mark, The Memoirs of St. Peter, is forthcoming from Regnery Gateway

Discerning neuroethics amid new challenges in bioethics

The field of neuroethics is relatively new, having been formally inaugurated at a conference only in 2002. Neuroethics was created because of new questions and concerns arising out of the rapidly developing fields of neuroscience and neurotechnology. Scientists have been making significant progress in observing previously unobservable operations of the brain. And technologies with the potential to heal, interact with, and perhaps even control elements of the human brain and behavior are rapidly becoming available.

Scientists have long understood that there is a connection between the normal and injured brain, and distinctive human behaviors. One of the first insights into this connection came in the strange case of Phineas Gage, an American railroad worker who was terribly injured in 1848. When Gage used an iron rod to tap down a charge of gunpowder, a premature explosion shot the rod through his cheek and out the top of his head, passing through his left frontal lobe. Gage survived the accident, but his personality underwent a total change. Gage went from being a quiet, even-tempered man to a being a rude man who often indulged in profanities. Since then scientists have sought to better understand the structure and functioning of the brain.

From the late 20th century, cutting -edge technologies have begun fulfilling these aspirations. The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) — using magnetic waves as a kind of “radar” to track the electrical impulses of neurons in the brain — is among the most important. fMRI has been used to learn whether patients in profound states of unconsciousness (a.k.a. PVS) have any awareness (short answer: “probably yes”). fMRI also has been used to locate a part of the brain which appears to be active when people make moral judgments, and then to experiment with disrupting the neurons to see if it changes people’s ability to make those moral judgments. A more recent experiment with animals involves seeding their brains with “neural dust” — hundreds of sensors the size of a grain of rice to monitor brain activity. With emerging nanotechnology, scientists hope to shrink these sensors to a microscopic size and use them to stimulate the brain in various ways to obtain some desired result.

What should Catholics be thinking and doing as the fields of neuroscience and neuroethics develop? They should find ways to become engaged, affirming the good work being done, identifying the potential for abuse, and seeking to keep all of the knowledge and power gained within a framework of Christian anthropology. Advancing a Christian anthropology at this time is critical because trends in neuroscience can support some approaches to the human person which are potentially harmful, such as thinking that humans are essentially machines or objects, or that the soul is nothing but complex matter.

Apart from integrating neuroscience and neuroethics with the Church’s understanding of the dignity of the human person, and with the main tenets of the moral tradition, Catholics should be engaged as new opportunities and issues arise. For example, Catholics should be encouraged to enter these fields, to better understand and help human persons. St. Augustine famously said that “A good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities . . .” Catholics should feel free to participate in well- designed, safe, and ethical research projects. They should learn the science and skills necessary to use neuroscience for legitimate ends, and then prioritize applications related to healing significant illness and injuries, such as epilepsy, strokes, and significant states of unconsciousness.
The challenges to life and human dignity are not going to diminish. But we can help to improve the field of neuroethics so that neuroscience and neurotechnology contribute to human flourishing in the orders of Creation and Redemption.

JOHN F. BREHANY, PH.D., STL, is director of institutional relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center (Philadelphia) and past executive director of the Catholic Medical Association.

Alfie Evans Case — poster-child for health care ‘best interest’

Two months ago, the British court senselessly ordered two-year-old Alfie Evans to be taken off life support, despite his parents’ desperate pleas and a worldwide outcry. In the aftermath of Alfie’s government-mandated death, many of us are asking whether our government has the power to determine when life is simply too burdensome to justify saving. But with the federal government’s waning influence over individual health care as a result of the weakening of Obamacare regulations, another question arises: Whether the health care providers and insurance companies could trump the rights of families in cases like Alfie’s. After all, in many cases, providers and insurance companies do have the power to ration health care. The degree to which they do is up to us.

Currently, the federal government prohibits hospitals from withholding or withdrawing infant life support. There are, however, three exceptions. Life support may be withdrawn if: (1) the infant is chronically and irreversibly comatose; (2) life support would merely prolong dying or be futile in terms of the infant’s survival; or (3) the life support itself, under the circumstances, would be inhumane. These exceptions can give doctors too much power to make end-of-life decisions. Given the possibility of coercion or undue influence on parents, the current system is set up for an Alfie Evans-like tragedy here in America.

Moreover, many in the medical profession, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are advocates for the “best interest standard,” which gives doctors the ability to make arbitrary decisions about what is in the best interest of infants. The standard does give parents a role in the decision making. However, parental rights can be seriously compromised by health care providers and insurance companies that may pressure parents to make the more “economical” choice under the guise of an infant’s “best interest” and against the backdrop of skyrocketing hospital bills.

Another source of pressure can come from hospital “ethics committees,” which many consider to act like “death panels.” For example, the Texas Advance Directives Act empowers hospital administrators to arbitrarily withdraw or withhold care, regardless of the reason and the patient’s condition. The danger of the Texas law is illustrated in the case of Christopher David Dunn. In that case, a “bioethics committee” ruled that a 46-year-old man’s life was not worth living, and it therefore withdrew his life support. His family vigorously pleaded for his life to no avail. While many have defended such committees as an appropriate way to strike a balance between the patient’s right to life and the medical professionals’ reasonable end-of- life treatment, the potential for abuse is enormous. Indeed, many ethics committees have little guidelines and accountability; and, with the pressure of insurance companies and other health care providers, the risk of exploitation is very real.

Most agree that prolonging a painful process of dying for a terminal patient is inhumane, and they argue that doctors should not be forced to provide such treatment. Moreover, there is no constitutional right to receiving medical care paid for by others. But, as advocates for life, we must be vigilant in ensuring that health care providers and insurance companies do not have the arbitrary power to decide if one life is worth more than that of another. Furthermore, the withholding of food and hydration to a patient in need of it can never be morally justified. This is in keeping with the mission of faithful Catholics, who started the hospital system long ago based on the belief that nothing is worth more than the life of a person created in the image and likeness of God.

ATTORNEY CHARLES S. LIMANDRI is a past member of the Legatus board of directors and a recipient of the Legatus “Ambassador of the Year” award. He is the president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (www.FCDFlegal.org).

Overcoming the racial ravine in business

There are many different types of business relationships on all different levels in the business community. As Legatus members, we are in a unique position to help overcome the racial divides that can negatively affect our businesses. The reality is that we are in an environment where our workforces are more diversified. Each day, millions of people go to work with a feeling of anxiety about how their day will go, how they will deal with racial (or gender) prejudices they encounter, or how they will overcome the stereotypes associated with them due to the color of their skin.

Deacon Larry Oney

While there are many ways to overcome racial divides in business relationships, I draw your attention to four easily shared and implementable strategies that stem from our Catholic faith. The first three have to do with awareness; while the fourth is about experience.

1. Appearance: Color and Dress

When you first meet a new business associate, give the person the benefit of the doubt. Try not to judge the person by skin color or the way he or she is dressed. Skin color is not something that they can (or should) change. And mode of dress may be of cultural or religious significance.

Jesus often ate with sinners (see Matthew 9:10-17, Mark 2:13-17, and Luke 5:29-39). He did not tell them what they could wear to the meal. Jesus probably did not even dominate the conversation. He listened. He learned what they thought and how they viewed the world. Jesus gave each person present the dignity due him as a human being—valid in his own right, regardless of his current situation or job.

When we encounter new faces that may be different from our own, it is important that we remember that each person deserves human dignity because it is imparted by God Himself. Just as Jesus valued all those around him, so too should we value each person.

2. See a Person, Not a Group

When Jesus was walking through Samaria (John 4), he met a Samaritan woman. Although taboo for many reasons, he spoke to her. In the end, he offered her “living water” (verse 10). Jesus saw the individual woman, not the entire population of Samaria. However, through this woman, many wonderful things came to pass for her entire town.

Each day, we have business dealings with different types of people. When we encounter a person from a minority group, we must be aware that the person before us does not represent that entire ethnic group. Try to refrain from utterings like “you all” when addressing the individual.

3. Education

Don’t assume a level of education one has based on his skin color. Also, do not assume that he is not capable of being educated in a certain way due to skin color. Rather, consider asking your employees to join you in becoming involved in the local educational community.

4. Be Merciful

Lastly, to endeavor to overcome racial divides, we need to remember that each new encounter lends itself to an opportunity for mercy rather than charity. People are in the United States for a variety of reasons. For some, it was because an ancestor emigrated here generations ago or their parents might have escaped horrible conditions in getting here. Still others were illegally brought here as slaves and their families have nevertheless made this country their home. Whatever the reason, each person that you are doing business with has a unique story. Jesus was a foreigner in Egypt for many years, which was a sanctuary for the Holy Family (see Matthew 2:13-15). Whatever the individual story, we all have an important part in the Catholic community to try to help heal the racial divides that we are currently experiencing.

DEACON LARRY ONEY, a Legate and permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, is a premier Catholic speaker, dynamic teacher, author, radio host, and founder of Hope and Purpose Ministries. He is chairman of the board of the largest African-American-owned third-party administration/program management firm in the U.S., HGI Global. His newest book is Amazed by God’s Grace: Overcoming Racial Divides by the Power of the Holy Spirit (Word Among Us Press).

“Cosmo Girl” is concocted derision of Our Lady

Since Editor Helen Gurley Brown (1922-2012) redesigned Cosmopolitan for the Hearst Corporation in 1965, the magazine has masqueraded as a feminist vehicle for women’s “liberation.”

Yet Betty Friedan, who launched modern feminism in1963 with the publication of The Feminine Mystique, called Cosmo “quite obscene and quite horrible.” Friedan said any view of female liberation that reduces a woman to a sex object (as Cosmo does) is a false freedom that denies a woman’s full personhood. What’s more, freeing a woman to express her full personhood in all aspects of life (motherhood included) was what Friedan said the women’s movement was all about.

How a woman consciously or unconsciously defines her personhood affects all the other decisions, large or small, she will make in her life. So how does Cosmo define a woman’s personhood?

Answering this fundamental question requires examining the view of a woman’s personhood presented by Alfred Kinsey in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). A zoologist by training, Kinsey spoke of a woman as a “human animal.” Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed that in Kinsey’s view there was no difference between a man having relations with a woman or a sheep.

Kinsey’s view of a woman as a pleasure-seeking animal without a soul entered our culture partly through magazines like Cosmopolitan. As a counterpart to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, Gurley Brown invented “the Cosmo girl,” a fictitious persona designed to sell cosmetics, clothes, contraceptives, and other wares to women ages 18 to 34.

When I wrote articles for Cosmo in the 1970s and 80s, the Cosmo girl had to follow certain unspoken rules to be considered “sophisticated” and “smart.” She had to be sexually active, use contraceptives, and have free access to abortion.

Yet there were two things our reader couldn’t do if she wanted to be “free.” She couldn’t be a virgin or a mother. In other words, she couldn’t resemble Mary, virgin and mother. In ways that I failed to see at the time, Cosmo’s view of a woman’s personhood involved an unseen-but-direct attack on Our Lady.

The good news is that Cosmo has taken what would otherwise be an invisible problem — Kinsey’s reduction of a woman’s personhood to that of a soulless animal — and has made this corrupted view of femininity visible. All-toofrequently in our fallen world, the differences between truth and error lie hidden and silent. In this case, thanks to the Hearst Corporation’s skilled marketers, the contrast between truth and error is fully visible and being shouted to the skies.

On Cosmo’s covers on every magazine rack, it’s evident (particularly in many of the models’ eyes) how angry, sad, frightened, and empty women feel when they’re falsely reduced to mere sex objects. Conflicted within, the Cosmo girl is always having problems with men because she’s always having problems within herself. Her interior life is in turmoil. There is no true happiness here.

To reveal the truth, girls can be shown images of “liberation” being foisted off by the Hearst Corporation. And these ugly images can be contrasted with the incomparable beauty in the light-filled icons of Our Lady: the authentic model for all persons (men and women alike) who long to be fully human and to be set truly free.

Next time you spot a Cosmo cover while standing in a checkout line, don’t be disturbed. Simply recognize the unseen war being fought, and silently say a “Hail Mary” to the Virgin Mother, our leader in battle. The good news is that her victory is assured. God’s Truth about a woman’s personhood is real, and Cosmo’s lies are only made of dust.

SUE ELLEN BROWDER has published hundreds of magazine articles, and was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. Her latest book is Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius).

 

Recognizing the epiphany of midlife crisis

According to the Latin text Labentibus annis (c.1280), St. Omobono of Cremona, a very successful merchant, experienced an existential crisis after the death of his beloved father. Shortly after the burial, Omobono began to reflect on the brevity of his life and the fleeting attraction of his work. While pondering the ephemeral nature of life, “his formerly calloused preoccupation with increasing his wealth began to cool, and he began no longer to follow his associates, not do his job, with his usual craftsmanship.” In this document, we have one of the earliest depictions of a “midlife crisis.”

The term “midlife crisis” was first used in 1965 and made popular in the 1970s. When considered rationally, the phenomenon is not really a crisis at all. Rather than a sudden moment of intense panic and desperation, the common malaise more accurately exists as a predictable dip in satisfaction and joy brought about by the recognition of mortality and the realization that a career—even a successful one—often resembles a series of endless projects with no final resolution or larger meaning. As such, people often talk about getting stuck in a rut or hitting a wall. Research suggests that this afflicts about 75 percent of people and generally occurs after working for about 30 years.

Most successful people tend to work very, very hard. This work ethic generally produces positive results and economic well-being. But an excessive attachment to work can also contribute to stress, tension, and detachment from family, friends, and faith. The famous philosopher Josef Pieper offered five “awakenings” that can provide a counter-weight to the demands of work and relief from burdens.

Philosophy: reason unaided by revelation. Philosophy entails the search for truth, meaning, and beauty. Philosophy activates reason and the life of the mind. Find ways to read and think more deeply about the essential aspects of life.

Beauty: Beauty does not command; it can only summon. Strive to inculcate the beautiful into your life through art, music, and nature. One must actively cultivate beauty or it may remain invisible.

Love: The emptying of oneself for the sake of another. Do yourself a favor and read (or reread) the classic examination The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. In this short book, Lewis defines and explores friendship, affection, romantic love, and charity in simple but compelling ways.

Prayer: Genuine prayer, the real you in conversation with the real God, cannot be phony or artificial. It requires the combination of intellect and will. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the usurping King Claudius tries to pray, seeking divine pardon for the murder of his brother. Yet Claudius realizes that neither his soul nor his heart actually desire forgiveness, and he abandons the attempt: “My words fly to heaven, my thoughts stay below / Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” Death: Nothing has the power to prioritize life as quickly as death. Those who suffer from a “midlife crisis” are likely to be of an age when death of friends and family members becomes far too common. The moments of sadness also afford opportunities for reflection and redemption.

Omobono Tucenghi experienced his awakening after the death of his father. He retired from the active world of business and dedicated his remaining years to works of mercy and a life of prayer. His commitment to service and philanthropy earned him a reputation for holiness and sanctity. In 1199, Pope Innocent III canonized Omobono for his heroic vesture toward his faith, family, and community. This incredible story began with the passing of a father, leading to a midlife crisis, and saved by an awakening.

PAUL J. VOSS, PH.D. is an associate professor at Georgia State University and the president of Ethikos, a management consulting firm.

Virtuous leadership is key to energizing workforce

According to Gallup’s World Poll, many people hate their job and especially their boss. Only 15 percent of employees worldwide are enthusiastically engaged in their work – the rest would rather be doing something else. If we could successfully engage the remaining 85 percent, imagine how much more effective businesses would be.

Brian Engelland

Here’s the problem. Bosses often treat employees as a cog in the wheel of production rather than as unique human beings created in the image of God. Bosses mistakenly look past the individual person and instead look at the job he or she is performing rather than the incredible potential that the employee can offer. Employees respond to this myopic view by giving minimal physical effort while parking their minds and hearts elsewhere.

But people, not equipment, are the lifeblood of any business. Some time ago, my company invested in an expensive state-of-the-art production line. We treated that equipment with great care, established shop rules and procedures for its protection, and doubled our maintenance efforts to keep it operating in pristine condition. That machinery was accorded better treatment than any employee! But in just three years, it was obsolete, and sold for scrap at the junkyard.

As Saint John Paul II taught, the worker is significantly more important than capital, and human labor is not merely one factor in production. The great untapped source of economic growth is not physical capital, but human capital leveraged by the creativity and dedication that workers can bring to work each day. Unlike capital equipment, employees can adapt to changing conditions and, through training, be continually refreshed. People really do count.

So, how can we reflect that difference in our businesses? Virtuous leadership has the ability to bring out the greatness in others. The secret to obtaining the faithful collaboration of employees is for the boss to exemplify the two most important leadership virtues, magnanimity and humility. Magnanimity is the realization that individual talents are a gift from God and are only valuable when they are used to help others become better at what they do. Humility is the conviction that everyone is important and Christ is present in the least of us.

Virtuous leadership creates enthusiastic followers. The teachings of Pope Paul VI explain why. When employees perceive that the boss is offering the opportunity to help them perfect their own individual capacities, to engage in work that is both useful and profitable, and to contribute according to their abilities to the service of the company, they respond favorably. Employees feel compelled to adopt some of the boss’s same energizing spirit.

A restaurant run by my “bring out employee greatness” friend doesn’t open on Sundays. Why? He explains that his restaurant concept requires a high degree of personal service, and that means hiring and retaining good employees. But none of his really good employees want to work on Sundays – they’d rather spend quality time at home with their families. By implementing his “closed-on-Sunday” policy, he helps bring out the greatness in his staff. His employees are happier, his service quality is higher, and his training and retention costs are lower than his 7-day-per week competition.

A boss who exemplifies magnanimity and humility can help employees understand that work is an essential expression of our human nature as created in the image and likeness of God. Be that virtuous boss! Understand the potential of each employee, and help each one reach their potential. Help them learn new skills, gain insights, make friends, enhance self-esteem, and become more than they were before the work began. Employees who experience this type of boss will engage, and become the outstanding workforce we all desire.

BRIAN ENGELLAND is the Pryzbyla chair of business and economics in the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. His latest book is Force for Good: The Catholic Guide to Business Integrity, published by Sophia Institute Press.