Guest Article – FrECM on “Who is the aggressor?”

by Fr Emmanuel Charles McCarthy


Here is a letter to the editor by a friend,  Ben Jimenez, S.J., to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 3. Plus a brief commentary by me.


Marine should quit the fight


I express my sympathy for brother alumnus Kevin Midgley and his parents. Despite our best efforts at St. Ignatius High School to teach Gospel values, some insist on picking up the gun and delivering ”a high volume of firepower” (”Former St. Ignatius football player on duty as a Marine in Afghanistan,” Sept. 11, Cleveland Plain Dealer). Instead of imitating the gentle and meek Lamb of God, our brother has joined the wolf pack.


Pope Francis recently said, ”Where there’s an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just stop.”


Brother Kevin, and all brothers and sisters in the military, remember you are under no obligation whatsoever to obey an order contrary to the laws of God. I urge you to put your weapons down and use your considerable talents to promote life rather than destroy it.


Ben Jimenez, S.J.


Excellent letter!

Of course we always have to first make an accurate determination with the highest degree of moral certainty regarding who exactly is the aggressor*. For example, if the U.S., in a divide and conquer middle east strategy aimed at procuring de facto sovereignty over the land, water, oil and people of that region, were supplying ISIS with the money and weapons to kill and maim  ( who would be the aggressor?** Does one have to consider the level of order and stability this region knew before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 in order to determine who the aggressor is? Does one send the child abuser to rectify a situation of child abuse which he is responsible for and which he is perpetuating? Who is the aggressor is?*** I would submit it is all but impossible to honestly and truthfully determine, even with a low degree of moral probability, who is the aggressor in the activities in which nation-state are involved, that are pathologically deceitful and have such organizations as the CIA, NSA, the Moussad, MI6, etc. clandestinely interfering in the life of any nation they want to use or conquer for their purposes. I think this would be an important question to ask your fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis: “How can one determine with the necessary moral certainty required where homicide is involved, who is the aggressor before deciding who is to be “stopped?”.

Think of the poor misguided, or U.S. Government stooge, Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, who led his Catholic flock into war, death and murder in 2003 by telling them that they do no have to wait to invade Iraq and to kill, and maim the people of Iraq, until Catholics in his diocese wake up some morning and see a mushroom cloud in their backyard! In a society with a long history of the government, the military and the mass media chronically lying whenever it serves their interests to do so, in order to deceive the public by saturation propaganda, it is either stupidity, gross negligence or chosen complicity with evil to even suggest that in matters of homicide the government, the military and the mass media be given even the slightest presumption of truth, regarding who is at fault or who is the aggressor in homicidal activity. Of course, this issue is mute if a Christian is following the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent of Love of friends and enemies, who is the only Jesus there is to follow. But, “Who is the aggressor?” is an axial moral issue where any application of Christian Just War Theory is the moral validation for a Christian participating in a war. Personally, I am still waiting to hear how it is possible, if—as is universally known—truth is the first casualty of war, the presumption of truth can be given to any king, queen, dictator, president, prime minister. parliment or government once war is on the horizon. They all lie with abandon, saying whatever is necessary to get innocent young Christians, whose brains are not even fully developed yet, like Kevin Midgley, to kill, to die and to be maimed for them. If you are not killing the aggressor in a war, you are engaged in in unjust war and hence the unjustified killing of human beings. he proper name in Catholic moral theology for the evil of the intentional unjustified killing of another human being in war or in the womb is the same: murder. I can only assume that the Jesuits at St. Ignatius High School thoroughly apprise their students of the level of evil they are entering into if they participate in an unjustified war by Catholic Just War Standards. If they have not, then they themselves are engaged in grave evil.

Keep up your good work for the Good News, Ben.




The root cause of Just War Theory – why is this important?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:36-42

Why is the way we understand Christ’s Agony in the Garden important?

Because it’s about Salvation. What was the thing that Saves? Is it Christ’s death on the Cross? Is it Christ’s decision to accept the Will of the Father, that Christ should suffer and die for the Salvation of All?

What I am saying is that the Saving Grace, the thing that Saves, is the free choice (free use of the will) to be obedient to the New Testament. Christ Saves by being obedient to the New Coventant.

That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

Everything within Catholic Salvation History, Tradition, Canon Law, Theology and on, falls into place, and only into place with this understanding.

I am Saved by, until the day I die, cooperating with God’s Grace, in freely choosing with my will to be obedient to the New Testament.

The Gates of Heaven, were thrown open, and Salvation was offered to all, when Christ showed us the Way. He freely chose to be obedient to the New Testament. He did not resist evil, he did not retaliate, he repaid good for the evil done “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. And He went to His death showing us The Way.

If I choose not to be obedient to the New Testament, my salvation is in peril. If I die, unreconcilled with God and His One Holy Catholic Apostolic (Roman Catholic) Church, then I will not see the Beatific Vision.

That is why it is important.

Just War Theory cannot exist under these circumstances.

The root cause of Just War Theory – a misinterpretation of the Agony in the Garden?

Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:36-42

All four of the Gospels record that Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion, only the Apostle John does not record what happened there.

Last Sunday (14th September) was the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, and while listening to the homily at Mass, I found myself disagreeing with the preacher on nearly every point of his sermon. I won’t try to recount the entire homily here, however the basic point was that the Christ’s passion and death on the cross, was what brought salvation to humanity.

In listening to the homily and my interior disagreement, I stumbled across what I think may well be the root cause of the prevalence of the Theory of Just War in the Catholic Church.
It comes down to a simple question:

What was the “chalice” in the Garden of Gethsemane?

The (post-Constantinian) Traditional Catholic understanding is that the “chalice” presented to Christ is the Father’s requirement that His Son should suffer and die, and by the Son’s suffering and death, the Son would save the world.

Perhaps putting it in plain English like this, you my readers may already perceive a subtle problem:


There is an every-so-slight corruption of the Dogma of the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s humanity and divinity and the Dogma of the Most Holy Trinity – specifically the Homoousios (consubstantial with the Father).

There are several understandings of the Chalice and the Agony in the Garden presented in Traditional Catholicism.

  1. Christ is presented with a revelatory command from the Father
  2. Christ is accepting the burden of all sin.
  3. Christ contemplates the sufferings about to come.

One or any combination of these, according to some Traditional understandings cause Christ to sweat blood (the Agony in the Garden).

The first position is Arian, because it corrupts the Hypostatic Union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the Consubstantiality with the Father.
God the Son knows perfectly everything that the Father knows (Homoousios clause of the Nicene Creed), and the human intellect of Jesus Christ knows what the Divine Intellect of the Son knows by the Hypostatic Union between Christ’s divinity and His humanity.
It is impossible for the Son to receive a “revelation”.

The second position Theologically is transferable. It can support an Arian point of view that says the Father commands the Son to take on the sins of the world – which equally means the Father commands the Son to suffer (because Scripture says the Son does indeed suffer). The cause of Christ’s Agony in the Garden as being the acceptance of all Sins is logically more complicated than my conclusion below (Occham’s Razor).

The third position frustrates the Dogma of Hypostatic Union and Homoousios. Like the first position, there is a concept that new information is being presented. But to admit that is Arianism, a denial of the Hypostatic Union and the Homoousios of the Father and the Son. Christ has always known the information.

Please note: I said that it is an “Arian point of view that says […] the Father commands the Son to suffer”.

Why is it Arian to hold that the Father commanded the Son to suffer?

Homoousios means that the Father cannot withhold anything from the Son. The same works the other way around, the Son cannot withhold anything from the Father. What the Son teaches and holds as absolutely true, the Father teaches and holds as absolutely true. There can be no divergence.

The Incarnate Son condemned violence and enmity, so the Father condemns violence and enmity – absolutely and for all time (past, present and future). The Incarnate Son provided a New Covenant, a New Commandment; “Love one another as I have loved you”, which means that the Father Commands this too.

To hold otherwise would deny the Homoousios or the Hypostatic Union – Arianism. Either God the Son and God the Father say different things (no Homoousios), or there is a miscommunication between the Divine Person, God the Son and human intellect and will of Jesus Christ (no Hypostatic Union).

For example run this past your logic: “Son, I command You to suffer and die on the cross, for the fulfilment of scripture and the salvation of the human race”. Does that fit with “Son, I love You as You love Me”?

If it were respecting of the Homoousios (or consubstantiality) then the command must be mutually applicable. The Son must be able to say the same to the Father – “Father, I love you, so you must suffer and die”. Such a concept is absolutely abominable.

So if Christ already knows what is going to happen, and has not been commanded by the Father to suffer and die, what is left for the Incarnate Son, who at the time, is bound by the temporal?

Christ knows. Christ is also perfectly in control of Himself. What is the one thing that remains, one thing that can only be done in the moment?

Quite simple – the use of his human free will.

Christ, knowing all things, that he was about to be betrayed, to be violently abused, tortured and killed, had a choice whether or not to be obedient to the Commandment that He (and thus entire the Holy Trinity) gave to His Disciples in the Upper Room minutes ago. To return good for evil. Not to respond to violence with violence. To love those that did evil to Him.

And what was the ultimate Good that He could do, in the ultimate evil that was about to happen (Deicide)? To offer His suffering as expiation for sins.

The Chalice was not the sins themselves, it was the free assent to obey to His own law; Non-violence. Knowing, absolutely, what was to happen, Christ had the choice to run away, He had the choice to resist, even resist violently. It was the weight of the choice whether, or not, to be obedient to His own teaching (and therefore all the consequences), which was enormous enough to make Him sweat blood.

But He did, what He taught His disciples, and His Church to do. He freely chose to obey His own Command. He did not resist evil, He did not give way to violence, He repaid evil with Good. He did what He Commands us to do.

Christ saved us, by being obedient unto death, even death on the cross. Obedient to His own Command of non-violent love of those that do evil to Him.

The Cross, His Passion and death, are not what saved humanity. What saved humanity was His decision to abide by His own Law, and as a consequence of that obedience he was tortured and murdered. The Cross, the instruments of His Passion, are consequences, which if taken by themselves loose all importance. The key was free assent to His own Law.

He was obedient, and by being obedient, He did the greatest Good in return for the greatest evil, He offered His death in reparation.

The Exultation of the Cross, isn’t the exultation of His suffering and death exclusively. It is the proof that Christ was willing to show us, even to the most horrible torture and death, that obedience to His own Commandment is the Way. He loved those that tortured and murdered Him, to the extent of offering His suffering in expiation of all sin, for all time. The glory of the Cross, is the Exultation, manifestation, of Gospel Non-Violence.

The root of the Theory of Just War, I believe, is the Arian heresy. A denial of the Homoousios “oneness”.

CatholicScout Responds: Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?

On the international traditional Catholic newsblog, Rorate Caeli, there was a post titled “Chesterton: Is War Irrational — or is Pacifism Feverish?“.

One of my readers has asked for my comments on the post.

Firstly, let me just clear the ground, Rorate Caeli is an outstanding blog, and I highly recommend it for keeping the pulse on Catholic News. However, I must swiftly point out that the contributors to Rorate Caeli are human and fallible. In this particular case, both the contributor and the original author are very wrong.

In the first case, the contributor (NewCatholic) is attempting to use G K Chesterton’s rant against 1915 pacifists, essentially as a Call to Arms for modern-21st Century Catholics to support homicidal violence in the Middle East (and elsewhere no doubt). The contributor here visibly demonstrates what I have mentioned in previous posts – the strong tendency that exists among Traditional Catholics towards “justifiable homicide”. In Traditional Catholic circles the theory of a “Just War” after almost 15 centuries of inculcation, has for them become dogma. Those that suggest otherwise are anathema.

Traditionalists will point out that Just War theory was supported by Saints Ambrose (d.397), Augustine (d.430), St Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) and so on. There are even Traditionalists with whom the appeal to Scripture and the Divine Lawgiver would be lost on. There are even some Traditionalists that believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ would kill humans in war (if it were just). There is one thing common to these and all other Christians who hold similar ideas:

Their perception of reality is incongruous to historical fact. They are deluded.
The fact that Saints were deluded too, shouldn’t be too much of a shock either, since Canonisation is simply saying that the Saint is in heaven, not his/her works.

The contributor is doubly wrong in using this quote from G K Chesterton for advocating “Just War” on a Catholic blog, because they quote G K Chesterton writing an article on “May 29, 1915“. G K Chesterton became a Catholic in 1922. At the time of writing this article G K Chesterton was a heretic…

The contributor is triply wrong in using a quote from the Anglican G K Chesterton, because Pope St Pius X, who died from grief at the outset of World War One, both warned the world and condemned the onset of war. Pope St Pius X, the person the contributor should have quoted, said before the onset of World War One:

Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.

In the second case, G K Chesterton, a man of great renown and later on in life of great holiness, he is a fallible human being, just like you or I. In the case of this particular rant, he is most certainly wrong on several counts. Let us assume for a moment that the Anglican G K Chesterton had written this article about me. I respond as follows:

Dear esteemed sir,

In response to your article in The Illustrated London News, May 29, 1915.

Your argument that Pacifism is morally wrong, is correct, if by Pacifism you mean doing nothing in the face of evil. Firstly, I am not a “Pacifist”. I am a Christian who believes that Christ Commanded us not to commit homicide. However, Christ did not Command us to do nothing in the face of evil. Christ showed us a way to confront the power of evil, with the power of Good. He showed us the Way to return good for evil done, and to be “obedient [to His Commands] unto death, even to the death of the cross” (cf. Phil 2:8).

Christ’s Way of returning Good for evil, is the only morally pure and right course of action. War, homicide, violence are condemned by the Messiah.

If now we talk about Gospel Non-Violence (having put away the notion of Pacifism), I can assure you sir, that I believe that Christ Commanded His followers (and His Church to teach all future generations) to “love one another, as [He] has loved [us]” (cf. Jn 13:34). I believe that His New Commandment is absolutely binding to all who claim to be His disciples, just as the Commandments of Old were (and still are) to the Jews. I believe that there are no exceptions, no clauses, no excuses, and I believe that the Church and her Saints were, and are, wrong in suggesting otherwise. I emphasise “suggesting“, because let me remind you, the Church has never infallibly proclaimed the Theory of a Just War to be Dogma.

There is no moderation in my position, because there is no moderation in Christ’s position (as born witness by Sacred Scripture and the first three centuries of Christianity). Just because there are few of us that hold such a fundamentalist position, does not undermine the fact that it is supported by the Fathers of the Church, the Apostles and God His-Incarnate-Self.

Since our salvation rests on the Saviour of Mankind, and since He showed us the Way to Eternal Life, please, esteemed sir, point out to me where Christ said that there is such a thing as “wars that are right and wars that are wrong”. Christ didn’t pronounce judgements and commandments about many things (such as those things that were already absolutely anathema at the time – like contraception, abortion, sodomy etc.), but he did pronounce judgements on killing, violence and harming others (things which were at the time considered justifiable). War is simply an extension of the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being.

Since Christ did condemn the killing, doing violence or harming of a single human being, how do you sir, justify that doing it to hundreds, thousands, tens or hundred of thousands, or millions, can be right?

The Way of Christ is one of obedience. Obedience to His Law. Not to man’s. It is not easy, but the reward is Eternity.

Yours Sincerely,

Lastly – please pray for us dear Gilbert Chesterton, that we don’t use your words to send our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters off to war, to kill other peoples’ brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.


Today, in the Christian Churches throughout the world, an ever-expanding smorgasbord of programs, groups, congregations, committees, and commission focus on the Christian family. This is as it should be. Indeed, in October of 2014 Pope Francis is convening an Extraordinary Synod of Catholic Bishops and in October of 2015 an Ordinary Synod of Bishops to focus explicitly on the Christian family.

You might think that—before planning programs or giving advice on how to fix the Christian family—wisdom and logic would dictate that one ask the question: “What is the ultimate objective of a Christian family?” To be clear, I am not speaking about non-Christian families here. The question that is the focus here is this one: “What is the supreme objective that the mother and father and children of a Christian family should have before them?” “What is the supreme objective the Church should lavishly expend its resources on to assist families in accomplishing?

In the secular domain, there are as many answers to the question about the ultimate objective of the family as there are secular philosophies. In the domain where the Gospel reigns, there is only one answer. The ultimate goal of the Christian family is that each and every member of the family becomes a saint. This is the supreme objective of the Christian family because it is the supreme objective of Christ and the Church, within which each Christian and Christian family exists. The final canon of the Catholic Code of Canon Law (No. 1752), placed there to emphasize its all-encompassing nature, reads: “The salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law of the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.

This fact brings us directly to St. Marcellus (d. AD 298), whose relics, by the design of God and by the decision and work of Edward Sorin, C.S.C. (1814 –1893), the founder of the University of Notre Dame, have since 1888 prophetically rested, here, beneath the high altar of Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Basilica. St. Marcellus was a human being like us. He was a husband and a father. He was a centurion in the Roman military. He was a Christian who, in the name of Jesus, lay down his sword and shield. He was a conscientious objector, the price of whose conscientious objection was his earthly life, his Christian wife’s earthly life, and his Christian children’s earthly lives. He was a martyr. He was one of the overseers of a domestic Church who kept before his eyes the eternal salvation of his wife, his children, and himself.

St. Marcellus is an authentic Christian family-values witness. Indeed, he should be formally installed as the Patron Saint of the Christian Family as well as the Christian Family Movement. Pope Francis should declare him the offi  cial intercessor, guide, and guardian of the upcoming October Synods of Bishops on the Family. As overseer of his domestic Church, Marcellus in Christ-like service to his family kept his eyes on the prize, the only prize worth receiving, eternal salvation.

Today, the Christian family is widely used as a pretext for not following Jesus. How many times have we said to ourselves or heard rationalizations of infi delity to Jesus that sound something like this? Look, I would rather not be working for a company that makes weapons to destroy other human beings, but I have a family to raise and this is the only good-paying job I can get. Or, I would like to be faithful to Jesus and His Way. I do not want my children—or myself—to ignore or support or participate in enmity and homicidal violence of any sort. But if I do not let my son and daughter join the ROTC and get their entire college tuitions paid for by the US military, we will not be able to afford to send them to college, etc.

Jesus foresaw the possibility that those He had chosen would be seriously tempted to exempt themselves on the basis of such family-centered concerns from following the will of God as He revealed it. He responded to that possibility in this way: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37-39; Lk 14: 26-27). Surely this could be the motto of the Christian Family Movement and the banner of these Synods on the Family! Would either dare use this teaching of Jesus as its publicly professed standard to designate the proper spirit that should reside within a Christian family? For those who think such a motto would be “out of place,” “unrealistic,” or “just crazy,” remember who spoke those words and what seeing them as an embarrassing absurdity implies, especially in terms of raising Christian children. Jesus uses father, mother, son or daughter because if anything could override faithfully following Jesus these relationships would be it. And if these do not take priority over following Jesus certainly nothing else can, e.g., love of country, love of one’s ethnic group, love of comfort, love of a human institution including religious institutions, desire for a college education, etc.

All political and economic tyrants, in every age, use threats of earthly suff ering and/or death to members of the family or to the entire family as a power to control the adult population. The horrific deaths of members of Christian families in the Colosseum were a recurring piece of savagery-as-entertainment-with-a-calculated-political-purpose throughout Christianity’s first three hundred years. Yet, into the Colosseum (actually the Circus Maximus) Christian families chose to walk rather than betray Jesus and His teaching. Since these families were like us in all things, it is highly probable that many, if not most, stepped into the stadium of their via dolorosa with fear and trembling over the ordeal that awaited them. But they also stepped forward with a courage born of the supreme conviction of their faith, “Christ is risen.”

Such also must have been the faith of Marcellus and his Christian family. If Marcellus is dead and gone forever, and if all that is left of him are a few bones under the altar at the University of Notre Dame, then we who are here tonight, and all Christians for the last two thousand years, are, as St. Paul says, “the most pitiable of all people”: our witness is false, our preaching is hollow, and our Christian faith is only empty babble to divert our attention from the drop into extinction that awaits us and our loved ones, and all. For, as Saint Paul phrases it, “If Christ has not risen, our faith is in vain, and those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor 15:17-18), e.g., Marcellus and his family.

But if Christ is risen, then the Way He teaches by word and deed as the Way of God, the Way of Eternal Life, is true. Marcellus and his family, along with three centuries of Christian Colosseum families, believed as Peter did when he says to Jesus, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). When Marcellus chose to follow Jesus and his Way even unto death, he was not thinking, “With the grave, existence for my family ends forever.” Surely he was thinking, “Eternal life with Christ-God is the future for my family.”

So, in choosing the Way of Christ’s Nonviolent Cross for himself and his family, Marcellus chose life, not death. He chose to act rationally rather than irrationally, by refusing to choose temporal life over eternal life. He chose for himself and his family to follow the Way of the Lamb who conquers evil and death in all their manifestations and who “reigns forever and ever” as “the Lord of lords, the King of kings” (Rev 17:14).

Could those who voice their concern over the present state of decomposition of the Christian family do better than to have St. Marcellus as their patron, model and advocate? By word and deed he taught his children that it is infinitely better to put up the sword and die in the Way of Christ, than to take out the sword and live in the way of Satan? Could the mother and father of a Christian family do better than to instruct their children by word and deed that it is honorable and noble, holy and heroic to be a Christian conscientious objector? Could they do better than to teach their children to refuse to pledge allegiance to any person or institution—political, military, economic, educational, religious or social—demanding, under threat of penalty, that they act in a way that is contrary to the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels, for example, that they pick up a gun and use it to kill a human being whom someone, that they know only through media sound bites, designates as “the enemy?”

And, if Catholic and Christian educational institutions, from pre-school to Ph.D., stand spiritually in loco parentis for the Catholic and Christian youngsters who come to them, must they not also do the same?

This, again, brings us to exactly where we are this evening, the Sacred Heart Basilica at the University of Notre Dame and to St. Marcellus, whose relics reside here under the high altar. This church is a fine example of what it means for a Catholic or Christian educational institution to teach secular knowledge within a Christian environment. Why? The altar, which is the architectural centerpiece of the church is the place where Jesus is daily re-presented in His passion and death—rejecting violence, loving enemies, praying for persecutors—obeying, in word and in deed, in the face of suffering and death, the will of the Father. It is from the altar that young Christian boys and girls, men and women, receive the Bread of Life, Jesus, in order “to become what they receive.” It is therefore most fi tting and right that the relics of St. Marcellus lie beneath the altar, for he also obeyed the will of the Father as revealed by Jesus and, like Jesus, he was murdered by the state for “obeying God rather than human beings” (Acts 5:29). It is also fi tting and right that high above the main altar a statue of the victorious Lamb of God permanently stands—and not a statue of the victorious bird of prey, the imperial eagle with its claws bared.

But what about that stained glass window to the left of the high altar? Does it communicate the truth that Jesus taught, the Way of Jesus, the will of the Father for which Jesus and Marcellus died? Does a stained glass window in a church, let alone a basilica, that pictures Christians slaughtering Muslims during the Crusades, and also Christians bludgeoning Muslims to death at the Battle of Lepanto, proclaim the truth that is communicated by Jesus at the high altar daily and by the relics of St. Marcellus beneath the high altar and by the Lamb above the altar? It does not!

It contradicts the truth of Jesus. Such a stained glass window has no place in any Christian church, for it bears false witness. It communicates to all who see it, that the opposite of what Jesus taught is the truth of Jesus. Not a scintilla of Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” is depicted in it. Indeed, the entire image oozes hate and viciousness, the very opposite of all that Jesus said and did, lived and died for. And to make matters more grotesque, these same stained glass windows contain representations of the Mother of Jesus, Notre Dame, as a supporter and spiritual validator of the Catholic homicidal violence pictured—Mary, whose very last words in the Gospel are “Do whatever He tells you.” Is enmity-driven homicidal violence depicted in these windows what Jesus tells his disciples to do when He says, “Follow me,” and “obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19)? If not, what is this stained glass image doing in Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Basilica? And what are similar stained glass windows and/or art doing in Christian Churches of every denomination throughout the world? Do they foster in children or in parents an understanding of the Way to eternal life as taught by Jesus in the Gospels? They do not!

Christian parents, or an institution standing in loco parentis spiritually for them, are under a divine mandate not to deceive those in their spiritual care in matters regarding the truth that Jesus taught concerning eternal life and the Way of God to it. Stationing permanently a stained glass window of Catholics slaughtering Muslims a few feet away from the high altar in a basilica is a most effective method for making it appear that what Jesus taught as evil is in fact good. Any and every icon or artifact in a Christian Church should reflect what takes place on the altar. A symbol in a Church that is in direct logical contradiction with Jesus and His teachings in the Gospels may produce the earthly ends those who placed it in the Church desire. But, as far as helping children and parents adhere to the supreme law of the Church and keep before their eyes the salvation of souls and the Way to that end such a symbol is a terrible disservice carrying within it the seeds of the most terrible of consequences, for those who view it.

There you have it: The blinding clash between the relics beneath the high altar and the stained glass window to its left, between the Gospels and the ROTCs in Christian high schools and colleges, between the family of St. Marcellus and the Christian family in which parents permit their children to be nurtured in the tinsel “glory,” “honor,” and “holiness” of being a heroic homicider for a state or a religion. In a nutshell, the radical difference between St. Marcellus and his family and most Christian families today is that for the former, martyrdom is what one accepts rather than betray Jesus and His “new commandment”: “Love one another as I have loved you,” while for the latter, martyrdom is what one accepts only after one runs out of ammunition and other means of loving the enemy while killing him.

In light of the daily, heavy-duty assault on Christian children’s minds, an insidious and rampant form of child abuse, by highly paid expert propagandists employed by governments and the militaries—in light of the near absolute non-response of Churches and Church leaders and Church families to this assault on the minds of their children, whose brains are nowhere near being fully developed and capable of evaluating what is being presented to them—in light of the massiveness of past and present justification of participation in human slaughter by Christians, and finally—in light of Christian children immersed in a cultural atmosphere saturated with all the paraphernalia and trappings of militarism, is there a more important problem for the Christian family to confront and solve than this? There is not, unless Christian parents and the Church think that having the mind of Rambo hardwired into their children’s brains is a way of putting on the mind of Christ, unless Christian parents and the Church think the means of war are the means of Christ, unless Christian parents and the Church think the goals of war are the goals of Christ, unless Christian parents and the Church think that being killed while trying to kill another beloved son or daughter of the “Father of all” on the say-so of the local Grand Pooh Bah is a way to save one’s soul or a way to save the souls of others. Or, unless Christian educational institutions that stand in loco parentis, thinks all this, and much more of the generous funding they receive yearly, directly and indirectly, from the military and government to orchestrate this militarized metanoia of a young Christian’s mind under the auspices of Jesus—and even of Mary, his mother!

The witness of St. Marcellus is grounded in the choice of Jesus’ Way of Eternal Life over the choice of the way of adding a cubit more earthly time for himself and his family. This is the reason why St. Marcellus is the ultimate “family-values” saint. It is also exactly why St. Marcellus should be the patron saint of Christian families, the exemplar and model for all Christian family movements, and the offi  cial guide and guardian of the coming October Synods of Bishops in Rome on the Christian Family. The root of everything destructive of the Christian family lies in the choice of the perishable over the imperishable, the corruptible over the incorruptible, death over life, the idol over God. It is this type of anti-Gospel decision that in the Christian family and in the institutional Church often deceitfully operates under the auspices of Christian symbols. Until this hardwiring of children’s brains into an anti-Gospel metanoia is acknowledged and openly addressed and corrected, all the techniques, methodologies, exercises, programs, Synod documents and Papal encyclicals that focus on rehabilitating the Christian family will be nothing more than the “baptism” of supporting structures for that which can neither save nor be saved. Much will be gained by many people in high places for making sure that this critical issue is systematically kept off  the table when discussing the ongoing decomposition of the Christian family. To which it can only be said, “What profit is there for a person to gain the whole world [or some totally perishable speck thereof] and forfeit his or her eternal life?” (Mk 8:35-36; Mt 10:37-39; Lk 9:24; Jn 12:25)

Until the decision of the Christian family (and of those who stand in loco parentis for the children of this family) is to put all its eggs in one Easter basket—that is, saying and meaning, Jesus, I Trust in You, and then risking everything on “He is risen” (Mt 28:6; Mk 16:6; Lk 24:6; Jn 20:16), on His Way of Nonviolent Love of all under all circumstances being the Way to Eternal Life and the Way to conquer evil and death—no substantive restoration of the Christian family can take place. The Christian family will just keep hopping from one foot to another, desperately trying to make things go well for it in this world, as if it doesn’t matter whether Christ is risen or is not risen, whether what He teaches is God’s Will and the Way of Eternal Life or is not. Such a family is not a Christian family living according to the Gospel of Life. It is, rather, a Christian family not in its right Christian mind, whose willingness to choose the utterly corruptible over the eternal is causing it to suffocate in the atmosphere of finite when it could be breathing in the atmosphere of the Infinite.

It really is not that diffi cult for a Christian to become a saint or to help other people become saints. One might say, as many have, Jesus makes it too simple. But, all that is necessary for any of us to become a saint is to live as if the truth that Jesus teaches is true. Then, regardless of the earthly consequences of that choice, we—who for reasons known only to God—must live through this vale of tears, can wait peacefully until oneself and one’s family, as well as the entire family of God, wakes as if from a dream into eternal light when the Son of God shines in our night.

I would submit that if the two Synods of Bishops on the Family taking place in Rome in October 2014 and in October 2015 desires to be an instrument to turn Christians, the Christian family, the Church and humanity more to Jesus and His Way, then it should request of Pope Francis that the following Promise by parents become part of the Catholic liturgy for the Baptism of children—and that Pope Francis, as the Successor of Peter, ask all other Christian Churches to include it as part of their Baptismal ritual. An honest implementations of it in a world where the horror of homicidal violence is normalized, glorified, honored, ennobled and sanctified would require a tremendous eff ort and application of resources by the domestic, parish, diocesan and universal Church. The only alternative to this at any place on earth is to the leave the nurturing of the Baptized innocent child’s mind to the all-permeating and all-pervading atmosphere created by and ruled by the Snake, who was a liar and a murder from the beginning (Jn 8:44).

I will not raise my precious child to kill your precious child. And if it is within my power, I will not hand over my beloved child to others to kill your beloved child, or to learn how to kill the one you cherish. Saint Marcellus, pray for our family.

—Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

* Based on and excerpted from a reflection delivered at the Sacred Heart Basilica at the University of Notre Dame on the Feast Day of St. Marcellus by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.