SAINTS PRESERVE US; DELIVER US WE PRAY, O LORD
Brothers and Sisters,
Did you ever read the play “Hamlet” by Shakespeare? Maybe you saw it performed on stage or in the form of a movie. It is one of his “tragic” plays (that is, not one of his comedies). The longest play that Shakespeare wrote, it follows the story of Prince Hamlet who seeks revenge over his own uncle who murdered Hamlet’s father and seized the throne of Denmark for himself.
In this heartbreaking (and fictional) story, there is a ghost that beckons Prince Hamlet to murder his uncle Claudius (the newly established king). The ghost, which is supposedly the deceased king and Hamlet’s father, claims that this will “right the wrong” that Claudius had done, namely murdering Hamlet’s father – the now deceased King. In the play itself, there is doubt that such thoughts can be trusted. Even when the ghost appears, Prince Hamlet exclaims “angels and ministers of grace defend us!” (Act one, scene four).
Here’s the point: when shaken by worldly events or by personal tragedies, I’ve witnessed people make all sorts of decisions that do not fit with the Holy Faith. Sometimes people even try to convince themselves that they are making the right decision, a morally good decision, or even that “God understands” their choices to do something contrary to Christianity. I hope you share my horror at the very thought.
In the play I described, Hamlet is a conflicted character. He recognizes that the murder of his father was wrong, he knows that killing his uncle is wrong, but he finds a way of convincing himself that his actions are morally justified. He is further conflicted in-that he initially recognizes that absurdity of a ghost asking him to murder his uncle, but acquiesces because it fits with his own internal desires. It is clear that Hamlet’s uncle Claudius did in fact kill Hamlet’s father and is, further, plotting to kill Hamlet as well; this only encourages Hamlet to feel justified in his wishes and actions.
With the recent reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation by nineteen of our young members, I am reminded that we all need to ask for divine assistance that we might always chose holy actions and good works rather than trying to convince ourselves that repugnant or immoral choices can be justified.
Let’s pray that the newly confirmed and all of us will always rightly choose holiness. Saint Albert, Saint Anthony, Saint Cecelia, Saint Christopher, Saint Dominic, Saint Elizabeth Rose, Saint Emiliana, Saint Francis, Saint Gemma, Saint Hubert, Saint Isidore, Saint John Vianney, Saint Patrick, Saint Paul, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Saint Thomas More: pray for us.
God be near,