ivan lobay 3742 web Ivan Lobay, 103, and his daughter Maria, 70, relax at home in Orange. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

ORANGE – As a teenager in Ukraine, Ivan Lobay saw the words “keep smiling” in an English magazine. It became his motto for the rest of his life.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

ShipDay3 webSt. James School student Nicholas Guenther, who acted as a minister during the school’s fifth-grade ship day, receives his sailing papers (classwork) from captain Peyton Carpenter.

MANCHESTER – To immerse students in an important aspect of early American history, St. James School fifth-grade teachers Denise Wojtyna and Diane DiBenedetto transformed a classroom into an emigrant ship for a day.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

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HARTFORD – As Connecticut lawmakers began to consider proposed legislation that would make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the state, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference launched a media campaign to help “people get all the facts before making a rash decision on physician-assisted suicide.”

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

20150203cnsto0001 webPeople carry a banner of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 22, 2014. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed "in hatred of the faith" and not for purely political reasons.

stmary csw web

Anya Joseph, a second grader at St. Mary School in Milford, models the clothing and accessories she sported for the school’s Mismatch Day, one of a number of activities at the school in celebration of Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-31.

20150127cnsbr8170 webDan Nelson shows how Shockbox helmet sensors are attached to the inside of the crown of a football helmet with a piece of Velcro Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Joanne Fox, Catholic Globe)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

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demarco_halfIf we can answer one simple question correctly and carry out its logical implications, we can gain an understanding of ethics that is an outline for good behavior, joy and fulfillment for all human beings. The question is this: To whom does the mother’s milk belong?

The natural evidence indicates conclusively that the mother’s milk belongs to the baby she is breastfeeding. From the standpoint of its ingredients, the milk is ideally suited to the child’s biological needs. It provides proper nourishment and strengthens the child’s immune system, protecting him or her from infection and disease. The milk is of no special benefit to the mother. Psychologically, breast feeding fosters a loving bond with the mother and helps give the child both a sense of self as well as a sense of belonging. Nature has made it abundantly clear that mother’s milk is intended for the child and to be provided by the mother.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, combining insight with a touch of humor, once stated, "A pair of substantial mammary glands has the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor’s brain in the art of compounding a nutritive fluid for infants." Nature does naturally and spontaneously what science cannot do deliberately and painstakingly. Can we say that breast milk is better than any udder milk?

The demonstrable fact that the milk belongs to the baby establishes the fact that a human being is not an isolated entity riveted to its own selfish needs. The mother is for the child, just as Adam, from whose side Eve was taken, is for his wife, and Christ on the Cross, from whose side gushed blood and water, is for all other human beings.

In other words, human beings are persons, which is to say, they have their own unique individualities, but also live and love in relation to other persons. A human is far more than a mere individual. The network that results, ultimately, from a series of interpersonal relationships is a good society of ethical people.

We can say, therefore, that the image of the mother giving milk to her infant serves as a prototype for all ethical human relationships. Ethics honors the nursing mother by recognizing that she sets in motion a series of interpersonal relationships. The father is needed to provide for his children something other than food. As theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar contends, mother and father must provide both a "hearth and a horizon." Hence, the fundamental role of marriage and the family comes into view. The family, then, becomes the fundamental unit of society. In this way, the milk of human kindness permeates society and nourishes all its inhabitants.

When St. Augustine said of the nursing Madonna that "[s]he gave milk to our bread," he was referring to the Eucharist and how it provides both corporeal as well as spiritual benefits for all human beings. The nursing mother, then, is a prototype for all ethical relationships insofar as she represents the fullness of personality, offering to others both bodily and spiritual nourishment.

It has been said that breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime. The truth of this statement lies in the fact that breastfeeding offers a powerful and long-lasting experience, as well as an icon, of what it means to be a person. And being a person, in the ethical sense, is to live in relation to others in a spirit of giving and receiving.

Ethics, as Pope John Paul II liked to say, is actually nothing more than "anthropological realism." What he meant by this, simply, is that we behave ethically when we are acting as real human beings. We may learn a great deal at our mother’s knee, but that learning process had its origin at our mother’s breast.

The mother’s breast is the one material reality that simulates the spiritual reality of love. Just as love grows by giving it away, mother’s milk replenishes itself to the degree that it, too, is given away. All other material things are depleted when given away. It is the glory of love and generosity that, as Christ said, will increase our lot a hundredfold.

Ethics need not be a difficult subject to grasp. All we need do is understand that a mother’s milk belongs not to her or to anyone other than her baby. Ethics, then, far from leading people into the morass of relativism or skepticism, is really baby simple.

 

Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell and Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, R.I.

 

Events Calendar

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01:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center's ongoing centering prayer program will continue from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the center. Sister Carolyn Severino, ASCJ, [...]
04:00 PM
Our Lady of the Angels Convent, Enfield, Enfield, United States
The Felician Adult Day Center will have its annual Snowflake Raffle from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, 1315 Enfield St., Enfield. Baskets will be available for viewing from [...]
06:45 PM
Lauralton Hall, Milford CT, Milford, United States
MILFORD – Lauralton Hall will celebrate its ethnic heritage while raising funds on Feb. 28 at its annual Irish Night. The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation founded by [...]
Date :  February 28, 2015

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