In the pagan Roman empire, abortion and infanticide were commonplace events, requiring little deliberation. A child did not achieve personhood until recognized by the head of the family. Immediately after the baby’s delivery, a midwife placed the child on the floor and summoned the father. He examined the child with his criteria of selection in mind.
Was the child his? If the man suspected his wife of adultery —pagan Rome’s favorite pastime — he might reject the child without so much as a glance. If the child were an “odious daughter” (the common Roman phrase for female offspring), he would likely turn on his heel and leave the room. If the child were “defective” in any way, he would do the same.
For the Romans, human life began when the child was accepted into society. A man did not “have a child.” He “took a child.” The father “raised up” the child by picking it up from the floor. Those non-persons who were left on the floor — while their mothers watched from a birthing chair — would be drowned immediately, or exposed to scavenging animals at the town dump.
by GA Studdert Kennedy
When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.
When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.
Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, MC (27 June 1883 – 8 March 1929), was an Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed ‘Woodbine Willie’ during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers.
Article from Crisis Magazine by Father George W. Rutler
This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ. We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.”
Shortly before he died in Oxford in 1988, the Jesuit retreat master and raconteur, Bernard Bassett, in good spirits after a double leg amputation, told me that the great lights of his theological formation had been Ignatius Loyola and John Henry Newman, but if he “had to do it all over,” he’d only read Paul. “Everything is there.” There is a temptation to think that God gave us the Apostle to the Gentiles in order to have second readings at Sunday Mass, usually unrelated to the first reading and the Gospel. But everything truly is there. Paul was one of the most important figures in human history, and a great character to boot. That is, a character in the happiest sense of the word. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10).
Tragedy and comedy intertwine, ultimately issuing in glory, whenever he is on trial. He longs to live and to die in the same breath: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:210). Whenever he is on trial for his life, he invokes a forensic brilliance to save the very life he is willing to sacrifice. Just as Jesus who had come into the world to die, slipped through the mob in Nazareth because his hour had not yet come, so does Paul become his own defense when on trial, ready to die by God’s calendar and not man’s. In Caesarea, he confounds Antonius Felix, the Roman governor of Judaea and Samaria, and a little later he does the same to the successor of Felix, Procius Festus. The best court scene is Paul before Marcus Annaeus Novatus, who had taken the name of his adoptive father Junius Gallio, the rhetorician and friend of his father Seneca Sr. whose son Seneca, Jr. was the noble Stoic. Nero forced Seneca’s suicide, but before that, in Achaia where Gallio was proconsul, Paul was a bit of a Rumpole of the Bailey, in how he played the jury like a piano to the frustration of the judge. The point is this: Paul, both innocent and shrewd, was willing to suffer and did so regularly, as he was not loathe to recount at length, and he was also ready to die, but as death comes but once, he wanted it to be at the right moment. Continue reading