Saturday, December 21, 2019

Changing the 'Frame' We View Life

In the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Weekly, a parish priest gives the readers his thoughts on the 'frame' by which we view the world and our problems. The frame we use will determine the results.

He gives an example of prayer. One parishioner asked a priest if it was alright to smoke while praying. The priest answered, that prayer is a conversation with God and one doesn't smoke while praying. Another parishioner approaches the priest asking shouldn't we pray while we smoke? With a gentle smile: "Brother, there is no special time or space for prayer it's always a good time to pray (Example is taken from a book).

Consider the frame by which we see Confession of sin. According to our teaching, every believer should confess their sins at least once a year. According to the 2018 Korean Catholic Church statistics, the reception of confession fell by 15.1% from the previous year;  compared to other sacraments it was the biggest drop. Very likely the numbers will continue to drop. Why with a growing number of new believers do we continue to have a drop in the reception of the sacraments? One of the reasons is that the church emphasizes confession as a "duty" instead of seeing it positively as a healing and reconciling.

We know that our culture moves continually on focusing on personal needs and freedom—individualism. This profound influence on culture can't be ignored. Each person is important and the only frame of reference considered by many: will it not determine how society functions?

Continuing to speak about duty is ineffective. We need to make clear the reason for the self-exposure of our faults and sins as a healthy and healing approach to a happy and peaceful life.

Another area in which we need a new frame is the way we approach abortion. At present the Criminal Code punishes abortion but recently it was declared that the present law is not consistent with the Constitution and by the end of 2020 if the law is not amended the abortion penalty will be abolished.

 Catholicism opposes abortion with the culture of life movement but the efforts to expand, go deeper and gain maturity require reflection on many different areas of life if it is to be effective. We hear the criticism of the Church's traditional approaches from many sections of society.

We miss the opportunity of taking time for education and discussion on the dignity of life and instead continue to send down commands from above to respect life. This needs to be changed from not only the fetus but from conception to death in all aspects of life.

The church should ask whether pregnant women have sufficient requirements to bring life into the world? The vision of the present movement for life is too narrow, and easily misunderstood by many in society.

Abortion campaigns have limitations and need more attention and participation. If the church accepts this criticism, it should change its frame from the existing culture of life movement where what most people hear is that Abortion is Murder, to a new culture of life movement that links existence with our daily life.

In the meantime, if the object and horizon of the culture of life movement are not only focused on the 'fetus' but looks at life broadly and sees the culture of death as violence, hate, discrimination, etc. than we will see the need for a culture of love and life that will include the fetus.

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