March 5-6, 2016

Friends,      

At Christmas a good friend of mine gave me a placard for my desk that says “I totally agree with myself.” Whenever I look at the words I think 2 things: was she trying to tell me something? And, how well she knows me!

When you have a strong personality and are very passionate about your beliefs it can give people the impression that you believe you are always right. But for people like me it is not about being wrong or right, it is about being true to yourself.

For someone who likes everything in black or white, those who see gray can drive them crazy. The question becomes: “Is my truth everyone’s truth?” Some believe that those who have taught them, especially if it’s an institution like the Catholic Church or the Supreme Court, have access to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There are those who believe that the laws of our country as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, must apply equally throughout the ages. The dilemma appears when hundreds or thousands of years after the word were put on paper, we attempt to interpret those words in the context in which they were written and then see if they still apply in our constantly evolving world and how can those words be interpreted in light of new information. In this country it is the role of the Supreme Court to interpret the laws. And it is very evident that there is not just one way of doing so. Hence, we have the majority and minority opinion. The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia highlighted this truth.

It is also similar with Church Laws. We have bishops who are responsible for officially interpreting how our Laws are to be understood. The same questions are raised: When was the law written? By whom? In what context was it written? Historians, biblical scholars and theologians are responsible for supplying our bishops with the answers to these questions. But even those entrusted with that purpose do not all come from the same point of view and so we also have minority and majority opinions.
We live in a world where there are few absolutes compared to being brought up on a world full of absolutes. Some are happier with the world today, others long for the days when it was so much easier to know right from wrong.

I surely don’t look at life the way I did in the past. I have been exposed to knowledge and insight that have forced me to reassess many of our country’s laws and many of the Church laws. So I guess I could say: “I totally agree with myself ” until I don’t!

Enjoy Life! 
Fr. Coyne

 

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