Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Abortion, Society, and the Kingdom of God

This first entry is a response I wrote to a query concerning abortion in America and focuses on the teachings of our current Holy Father, Benedict XVI:

I don't know whether we will see any new right to life laws in the next few years--if we do, it will only be a temporary solution. But we can have hope in the saving Gospel of Our Lord. We can give our children the same hope--Christians have done so in hostile cultures for millennia.

For defeating the culture of death, there is only one true solution--evangelization. True justice will not prevail unless the King of kings is enthroned in the hearts of men. We cannot hope to preach a morality separate from Jesus Christ and hope the relativist secular culture to adopt it. Humanity cannot fully comprehend the dignity of the human person without knowledge of the Divine plan. The very reason we have certain horrific practices in our culture is because morality has been detached from Jesus Christ. Because of our fallen nature, and thereby imperfect reason, all sorts of false moralities can be rationalized when morality is not founded on the Rock. In order to change society, we must spread the actual Kingdom of God, not just the values it embraces. Here is our Holy Father very recently discussing this very issue (he is addressing Canadian bishops, but I think it applies just as much to the rest of us):

"3. Within this perspective, one sees that the fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible in the human face of Jesus. In helping individuals to recognize and experience the love of Christ, you will awaken in them the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, embracing the life of the Church.

This is our mission. It expresses our ecclesial nature and ensures that every initiative of evangelization concurrently strengthens Christian identity. In this regard, we must acknowledge that any reduction of the core message of Jesus, that is, the "kingdom of God," to indefinite talk of "kingdom values" weakens Christian identity and debilitates the Church's contribution to the regeneration of society.

When believing is replaced by "doing" and witness by talk of "issues," there is an urgent need to recapture the profound joy and awe of the first disciples whose hearts, in the Lord's presence, "burned within them" impelling them to "tell their story" (cf. Luke 24:32,35).

Today, the impediments to the spread of Christ's kingdom are experienced most dramatically in the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere. Canada has a well-earned reputation for a generous and practical commitment to justice and peace, and there is an enticing sense of vibrancy and opportunity in your multicultural cities.

At the same time, however, certain values detached from their moral roots and full significance found in Christ have evolved in the most disturbing of ways. In the name of "tolerance" your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of "freedom of choice" it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children. When the creator's divine plan is ignored the truth of human nature is lost.

False dichotomies are not unknown within the Christian community itself. They are particularly damaging when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls.

Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person. Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendor of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed (cf. "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," 2-3; 6)."

(I encourage everyone to read the entire address, it is brief, but excellent)

So how do we as individuals do this? The answer lies in what John Paul II termed "the new evangelization." Christendom died a slow, yet violent death the last 300 years. The terrible godless political philosophies of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries led to much societal upheaval and tremendous wars and bloodshed on unheard of scales. The Church went on the defensive but it was to no avail. Now we have to go on the offensive--we have to start over. This was the mission of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council--how to re-evangelize the modern world--a world that saw no authority but the state and had separated God from reality, the Gospel from public discourse, and faith from reason.

We all must be missionaries and evangelists again in the world. I know I personally fail often in this regard, but we cannot be afraid to share the Gospel with all we meet. Let's not be afraid to be spurned as religious nuts. Let's not fear other's erroneously accusing us of imposing our Faith. It is through this Faith alone that the world can be saved and that the culture can be brought out of its darkness. Let's invite our non-believing friends to Mass or to other Catholic devotions. Let's pray and do penance so we may practice the kind of personal holiness that attracts others--that makes them curious about our Master. Let us constantly present the saving message of Christ even if it is continually rejected. Let us also continue to work for temporal solutions to the end of sinful practices like abortion--like continue saving the unborn and their mothers outside the abortion clinics or electing those we think will govern in the most just way--but let us also remember that these measures can only close the wound temporarily--it is the Gospel alone that can truly heal our society.


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