I’m not the product of a Jesuit education. The Sisters of Charity bear most of the responsibility for how I turned out. But I have always had a liking for St. Ignatius Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises.
During the second week of the Exercises, those who are on the retreat receive a meditation on the Two Standards. This, to me, is a powerful expression of the decision that is at the very core of Christian discipleship.
The meditation asks us bluntly — whose standard or flag will we follow, Christ’s or Satan’s?
Satan’s standard, of course, is the one that the world finds most attractive, because it superficially appeals to our fallen human nature. It offers us the desire for worldly possessions, power, honor, and a false view of freedom that is a disguise for immorality. In the end, though, it leads only to destruction.
Christ’s standard, on the other hand, is the one that the world finds unattractive, because it appeals to values that are exemplified by Our Lord himself, whom the world rejected. It offers us humility, poverty, sacrifice, and authentic freedom that involves willing adherence to God’s will. And in the end it leads to glory.
There is no doubt which standard the world holds out to us. Check out pretty much any television channel and you’ll get an eyeful.
I bring this up because of the tragic spectacle of Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Raised a Catholic, Gov. Sebelius has mapped out an egregious pro-abortion record as governor of that state. She has associated with, and embraced the support of, the infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller. She even hosted an event at her governor’s mansion in honor of him and posed smiling for pictures with him — a man who specializes in killing infants in their last months in the womb. She has consistently opposed pro-life legislation, and has repeatedly vetoed bills like a ban on partial birth abortion. It got so bad that her own bishop, after trying privately to convert her to the Standard of Christ, had to publicly admonish her not to present herself for Communion until she publicly repudiates her pro-abortion positions.
Heedless of this record, the President nominated her to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a department with tremendous influence over health policy in our country. Pro-life advocates strongly opposed her, but her nomination seemed to be on track for confirmation, along with the power, honor, and prestige that offers.
Then the Kansas legislature passed a new pro-life bill, one that would have limited late-term abortions, as well as other common-sense measures to restrict and regulate abortions. Gov. Sebelius was thus presented with yet another opportunity to choose the Standard of Christ.
Instead, she vetoed the bill, grossly failing in her duty as a baptized Christian to love and serve the least among us.
She chose the wrong Standard.
God alone will judge Gov. Sebelius. That’s above my pay grade, as someone once said. But for my part, I pray that Gov. Sebelius will repent of her decision, and return to the Standard of Christ. We need strong Christian witnesses in public office, and her conversion to the cause of life would be the source of great rejoicing. Her continued adherence to the Standard of Satan, though, can only be mourned.
We all have the same choice to make. Which Standard will it be? We need to choose wisely.