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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Boards, Persons and Principles

According to a dear friend of mine, being on a board can be rather boring. Not only are there the thankless tasks of meetings and sifting through things that no one else wants to sift through, there are also personality conflicts and tough decisions to be made. This particular friend of mine is a very accomplished attorney in the Columbus, Ohio area. He is a graduate of Notre Dame undergrad and Notre Dame Law. He is a devout Catholic, an officer in the US Army Reserve, a Knight of Malta and a dear friend. He sits on numerous boards with various well known Catholics and cultural crusaders.

An insight he provided to me yesterday was, unfortunately, very disturbing. He said that his greatest disappointment was working with people who one would consider great allies in the cultural struggles that currently face the Church and the Nation, only to discover that they ignore the very principles that they propagate and claim to espouse. Sometimes it is born of a truly elitist attitude and a thinly veiled contempt for those that aren't as gifted as they. (Lack of humility, that.) Most often, however, it is an adoption of the very philosophical principle they criticize in their public lives: the end justifies the means. Basic principles of human dignity and love for others are jettisoned for a pragmatism and "the bottom line." "You have to be practical," he is told by his colleagues on such boards. Practicality at the expense of principle has been and continues to be his greatest disappointment in serving with these accomplished individuals. What these folks don't understand, he says, is that the most practical thing one can do is to throw oneself upon God and His mercy, to pray for others, and to treat others with the dignity that justice demands is due them as human persons. Money and buildings are secondary. They are not to be ignored, but they are not to be given precedence over human persons and what is truly important.

I recall the graduation Masses from AMSL during the first two years and the beautiful and solemn hymn that opened the Holy Sacrifice--O God, Beyond All Praising. It captures the beauty and fragility of the human person , of what inestimable value he is, and the ultimate love Our Lord bears for him:

The flower of earthly splendor in time must surely die
It's fragile blooms surrender to You the Lord Most High.
But hidden from all nature, the Eternal Seed is sown
Though small in mortal stature, from Heaven's garden grown.
For Christ the Man from Heaven, from death has set us free
And we, through Him, are given the final victory.

This is the principle from which we must not waver. This is what AMSL is all about.