07-30-2011 Letter to Nieces and Nephews on Connecting Books and Writers

Dear Therese and Frank, Trish and Jim, and Jeanie,

On Father’s Day, and my 86th Birthday four days later, I was lavished with cards, e-mails, phone calls from relatives, and gifts from my three daughters and their husbands. This Father’s Day and Birthday seemed more special than usual, probably because I’m getting so much older I felt the need to thank my daughters in writing; it seems to add a little more emphasis to our feelings of love and appreciation. My second reason to write them was the fun of passing on to my daughters the Old Italian saying that Italian fathers (that’s me) by tradition, are supposed to pass on to their children; I’ll pass it on to you also at the end of this e-mail.

About two weeks after I sent the letter, I decided to reread it, and as I read it, I got the feeling that something was amiss, and then that feeling grew into visions of my dear big sister, your mother who is now with Our Lord; it was as if she gave me a spiritual tap on the shoulder, and in the thoughts that followed she seemed to be saying, “little brother, what about your nieces and nephews—my children—who also love you and pray for you.” That was an obvious truth, and needless to say, I quickly got the message, so now you know what prompted this e-mail. So, let me say, clearly and emphatically, I thank you all for your prayers and support; I also send my love and prayers to each of you, and to your children. You’re in my prayers every day.

I especially thank you for your thoughts and prayers during my long health battles and pray that you’ll continue, so that my follow up tests will be good enough to keep me writing as a prolife activist. There is no greater cause in our nation than to fight for a Culture of Life. Here is where we need help from the Holy Spirit. It will take a lot of work to reverse the diabolic killing of our own innocent children in the womb; Abortion is our nation’s greatest sin. If we were consistent in our religious belief we’d have to realize that each new life in utero has a Soul and a Guardian Angel.

Abortion is the classic example of Christ’s warning in Mark 8: 17 where He said “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and not see, ears, and not hear? And in Mathew 15: 14 “…it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Many of today’s prochoice “Catholic’ politicians who continue to support abortion and who ignore Mathew 25: 31-46, will one day hear Christ say, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, when I was conceived and growing in the womb, imperfect or unwanted, you did not protect me from death by abortion…what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” The words in red are obviously implicit in Mathew.

Even without any reference to religion, the lies of the abortion industry have been exposed by science. Ultrasound has made nature’s miracle in the womb visible to the world, to legal scholars, to parents, and to all America. What we now see through science confirms what we always knew by common sense; there is no “right” superior to the right of humanity. A female zygote, embryo, fetus, or baby growing in the womb is a separate living person, individuated by a full complement of DNA, unique to her only. She is a fully human person equal in value to all born persons in every other stage of life, be it a baby, child, teen, adult, or senior. She stands on her own right, dignity, and essence; she is equal in value to those of us who have been freely born. As responsible citizens, it’s our duty to come to her defense.

But to get back to the point of this e-mail, and before I pass on the Old Italian Saying, I want to mention that even though I enjoyed some very special days, I was moved to do some soul searching as to just what these special days mean. So, in a retrospective mood, looking back through the years, I am proud to say that I had taken my fatherly responsibilities seriously. And heretofore I plan to take my responsibilities as an uncle more seriously. I can say truthfully that you have all made me proud to be your uncle, and that’s a very special gift that I treasure, and for that I thank you. But please remember, that I feel obligated to act in what I believe is in the best interest of each of you (my big sister is watching) even though at times you may not agree with what I say or do. I will do my best for all of you as long as the Good Lord allows.

My pensive moments these past few weeks may just have been stimulated by the long hours spent in going through the hundreds of books in my library. Our current shelf space is about one third of what we had in La Puente and in Rancho Cucamonga. As Carrie and I unpacked box after box of books, I realized how much I’ve missed many of them; it’s like visiting old friends. When I came across Dostoevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov, I had to start reading it again.

Unfortunately, my advancing years dictate that I keep only those books to which I’m most closely attached. After donating more than half of my library, I had to go through them a third time to reduce the number even further. I spent some time thumbing through Peter Kreeft’s, Christianity for Modern Pagans. Dr. Kreeft is a professor of Philosophy at Boston College, a prolific, widely accepted, writer of our time. He has written over 40 books. I collect his books like I did Mortimer J. Adler’s when he was still alive. Dr. Kreeft, in his book, praises the brilliance of Pascal’s Pensees and he tells us that when Pascal became ill he gave away all his books, a large library for his day, and kept only two books for nourishment until he died, the two he would not part with: The Bible and St. Augustine’s Confessions. Malcolm Muggeridge commented that it was a wise choice.

Another gem I came across was THE TRIVIUM: The Liberal Arts of Logic Grammar, and Rhetoric, by Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.C., Ph.D. It’s said that whoever owns this book owns a treasure, and I certainly agree. An irony here is the connection one discovers between books and writers. Sister Miriam Joseph rescued the integrated approach to unlocking the power of the mind and presented it for many years to her students at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. Ironically, she learned about the trivium from Professor Mortimer J. Adler of the University of Chicago, who inspired her and other professors at Saint Mary’s to study The Trivium themselves and then to teach it to their students. In Sister Miriam Joseph’s preface to the 1947 edition of THE TRIVIUM, she wrote, “This work owes its inception…to Professor Mortimer J. Adler of the University of Chicago, whose inspiration and instruction gave it initial impulse.” And here is another irony of connection between books and writers. The one hang-up I had with Mortimer J. Adler was that he was a self-professed atheist. That fact clashed with my own logic in that how could so brilliant a mind not find the truth that so many other great minds had in the past. Atheists claim that God does not exist. But atheists can’t prove there is no God; to be agnostic would have made more sense. But happily, late in life Adler converted to Christianity, one of the protestant sects. I had a problem with that also because I’ve always believed that a brilliant analytic mind surely would have studied the writings and teaching of the Early Church Fathers, the first to about the fifth century, and would have found the Church they described in that early Christian era, i.e., what was preached, practiced and believed by the early Christians, was identical only to the Christianity of today’s Catholic Church.

The connection in this last part of the story is more of a spiritual one; Mortimer J. Adler’s lecture at St. Mary’s in 1935 not only inspired Sister Miriam Joseph to teach The Trivium and to write her great book, but in gratitude for Adler’s inspiration and guidance, Sister Miriam Joseph and the other nuns prayed incessantly for his conversion. Again happily, Mortimer J. Adler, like Malcolm Muggeridge, converted to Catholicism several years before his death.

I’m sorry for wandering off track so long, but my books, and their writers, and their connections, are intriguing, and are lessons to be learned. So back to the second task of my e-mail; while perusing my books, I found the Old Italian Saying that Italian Fathers traditionally passed on to their children, even though they knew its wisdom would rarely be taken seriously.

So, for the sake of tradition, and hopefully wisdom, here it is: “Se i figli volessero vedere il futuro piu chiaramente, dovrebbero mettersi sulle spalle dei genitori” (“If the children want to see the future more clearly, they should stand on the shoulders of their parents.”)

I love you all and pray for each of you every single day.

Uncle Charles

 

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