Guest Post: Matt O’Herron

Matt O'Herron

Political Musings on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Contemplating the events of the past month, or 10 years, or 48 years since Roe v. Wade, has led me to believe that we who believe in charity, Christ’s divine love, need to distance ourselves from a political mentality. I am not suggesting no longer running for office or abandoning political science or not voting. What I am suggesting is that people who profess a faith which holds that “God is Love” is both the foremost truth and the highest ideal remove themselves emotionally from, and no longer identify with, politics.

Since Roe v. Wade, and perhaps before, Catholics in America have watched and participated in an ideological political battle between two parties that has not helped us love our neighbor. We have poured mountains of time, emotional energy, millions and millions of dollars–and sometimes–ourselves, into trying to create political solutions to moral and philosophical problems that pre-date the 20th century. In practice we have forgotten that there are no temporal solutions and have fallen into the trap of identifying ourselves as supporters of one or the other political party or candidate because they seem to represent more of what we believe our faith asks of us. But there is a reason the Beatitudes make no mention of politics.

unbornSetting aside the fact that neither party comes close to a platform that reflects the Church’s social teaching, we have allowed this errant self-identification to both cloud our overall ability to be charitable and to lull us into thinking we are being “good” Catholics by vehemently espousing particular political views and supporting candidates who have little interest in charity or the truth.

In today’s climate, if we are going to properly foster the mentality Jesus actually asks of us, Catholics in general ought not identify as Democrat or Republican, at least not publicly (unless forced to do so to run for office). We should not find ourselves vociferously supporting deeply flawed candidates or their parties or using their catch-phrases. Stoking political passion both in ourselves or others is not Christian. On the contrary, it is at best a distraction from charity and, at worst, a fanning of the flames of irrationality. There is no search for truth or love in politics today.

We cannot and will not make the United States a Christian country, whatever that means in the 21st century. Half of the positions one side or the other supports are unchristian. Half of what most Christians do is unchristian. If we had poured all the political passion, rhetoric and fundraising into a zeal to actually accomplish face-to-face charitable works, the country would be more Christian than any political crusade could have made it.

We ought to refrain from digital political discourse as well. Conservative catholic and liberal catholic are terms we ought not to permit or identify with. Every Tweet or post that supports a candidate is only read by those who agree with the writer anyway. Who is that helping? Why place ourselves in a camp? Christians have done a  disservice to what should be our cause by identifying politically and becoming cheerleaders for candidates. Doing so separates us. Our identity should be humble and struggling Christians and our communications should reflect that.

It is true that Roe v. Wade is a colossal evil in this country, but it is not the actual killing of a baby. It is a legal decision. Abortions happened before it was handed down and will happen if it is overturned. Would we all get along if it was overturned? Would we actually do anything concrete for mothers and others in trouble if it were overturned? Do we do anything for mothers and others in trouble now?

The effort to overturn Roe v. Wade was and is noble but part of the evil the decision has wrought is sucking Catholics into the vacuity and furor of present-day politics. We find ourselves expending our energy and talents on candidates and parties that do not foster authentic Christianity. For those who recognize abortion is a tremendous evil, it has forced us into painful decisions that we have let identify us politically, instead of as Christians making a hard choice as best we can.

american-flagA person striving to live a charitable and truth-filled life should only begrudgingly accept the fact that a vote has to be cast for someone, whether that someone is from one of the two popular parties or not. The same holds true for Christendom. In today’s America, most of the time, an authentic Christian ought to be holding his or her nose and grimacing when their vote is cast.

Had Catholics, Christians, and “all monotheists who believe in charity” spent all our blood, sweat and tears on charitable works instead of political endeavors, imagine! For 48 years, many Catholics have engaged in a political struggle that has maybe, just now, resulted in a Supreme Court that might overturn Roe v. Wade and return the decision on abortion to the states. Then what, another 48 years? The loss of the Christian culture requires a different solution.

Roe v. Wade serves as the most egregious example of how wrong our system can be. It reveals two points to consider. First, Christians are not going to change the world through politics. Secondly, Christians have allowed politics to drive us apart. Symbolically and practically, what we need are pro-life community centers next door to every abortion provider, staffed and funded by all the money currently being wasted on political and media endeavors supporting this or that, Republican or Democrat, candidate, or this or that “left- and right-” leaning Catholic publication which belittles the other side and trumpets the praises of deeply inadequate political figures.

The time has come for Catholics to fundamentally alter their approach to engaging the problems in the country. While continuing to be civically active, vote, and run for office, we must emotionally and rhetorically leave politics behind. If there is any great political insight to be taken from Scripture, it is that even the greatest empire the world has ever seen could not keep the religious “right and left” from killing Christ (Mark 12:13-17). Politics has become the algorithmic science of screaming as loud as one can to one’s own camp. There is no longer a redeeming reason to identify politically. The only way to keep our country beloved, or make it beloved again, is to focus on charity.

The Existence of Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

I knew that the music we were going to bring to the world was going to heal so many people’s hearts and make people so happy. And I thought: you know what? That’s really important. There’s not another band in the world that has two lead women singers, two lead women writers. That was my world’s mission.

–Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac, in a recent interview

An awful lot of people have experienced an awful lot of happiness, listening to Fleetwood Mac. We had the Rumours LP in our house. To this day, my mind knows every riff, every piano stroke, every lilting word of “Dreams,” “Don’t Stop,” “Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain,” “You Make Loving Fun,” and “I Don’t Wanna Know.”

In fact, the record might very well have been on the turntable, filling my nine-year-old ears, and my brother’s seven-year-old ears, at the very moment when the baby died in 1979.

If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac. There’s just no way that I could have had a child then, working as hard as we worked constantly. And there were a lot of drugs, I was doing a lot of drugs … I would have had to walk away.

In the interview, Ms. Nicks frets about the end of Roe v. Wade. “Abortion rights, that was really my generation’s fight.”

We talked here, over two years ago, about the end of Roe v. Wade. We considered the psychological toll it will take on a society long accustomed to abortion on demand. We recognized the path of love that we Catholics must follow, to help expectant mothers.

The moment remains close, we can reasonably hope–the moment when that unscientific–and horrifically destructive–Supreme Court decision will cease to govern this land.

After all, would there have been a Fleetwood Mac if Stevie Nick’s mother had had an abortion? Or her mother before her? Who would have written and sung “Gypsy,” if Barbara Nicks had an abortion in late 1947 or early 1948? Or if Barbara’s mother had had an abortion in 1927?

And of course there’s this even-more-painful question to contemplate: What could the child have done? The one that died in 1979. What songs could he or she have sung? With all due respect, Ms. Nicks, these are questions that we have to ponder. The cruel, premature death of an innocent person affects everyone.

That’s what abortion is. Cruel, premature death. We are all here right now because someone protected us from such violence, at that vulnerable stage of life.

There is always a better way than abortion. Always. When everyone does their duty to help provide it. May God give us the love we need to do our part.

Pro-Life Political Argument

This argument presumes that the right to life of the unborn child is the decisive issue for the voter. I will summarize the points covered in three magazine articles, which articulate the No and Yes responses to this question:

Is a Catholic morally obliged to vote for the Republican candidate?

No

William T. Cavenaugh, “Electing Republicans has not Reversed Roe v. Wade. It’s Time to Change our Strategy

unbornI. The history

The Supreme Court has had a majority of Republican-appointed Justices for the past fifty years. Both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which upheld Roe and required that the government impose no ‘undue burden’ inhibiting the supposed right to an abortion) were decided by courts with large Republican-appointed majorities.

The abortion rate has declined steadily, with no significant difference between Republican and Democratic presidential administrations.

II. The Supreme Court is unlikely to overturn Roe, no matter who the justices are.

Republican George W. Bush appointed Catholic John Roberts to the court. Roberts immediately became Chief Justice when the previous chief died while Roberts’ nomination was pending, in 2005. This past June, Roberts endorsed the principle of stare decisis in abortion cases, in Medical Services v. Russo. (Stare decisis means precedent is decisive.)

III. Political power should not be the pro-life movement’s chief goal.

Cavenaugh writes: The one strategy for reducing abortions that has been proven to work runs through love, not power: support for women who may not feel able to carry a pregnancy to term. This requires not blind allegiance to a political party but the promotion of a culture of life. For years, some in the pro-life movement have struggled to change the perception that opposition to abortion is about control over women. Hitching the pro-life cause to a president who has bragged about sexually assaulting women can only turn people away. The taint of Mr. Trump could well do irreversible damage to the pro-life movement and to the church itself, especially among the younger demographic.

Yes

Trent Horn, “Why Pro-Lifers Shouldn’t Give up on the Supreme Court,” and Richard Doerflinger, “Four Reasons a Democratic Administration Would Mean More Abortions.”

us_supreme_courtI. The history argument is not decisive.

Abortion was not a campaign issue for the Republican presidents who appointed the majority in the Roe decision. Opposition to pro-life judges by Democratic Senators has led to the nomination of justices with no paper trail, like Roberts. Republican presidential administrations, with large Republican Senate majorities, will lead to the appointment of genuinely pro-life justices.

II. Stare decisis does indeed control Supreme Court decisions, but not forever.

When the public mind has clearly shifted, the Court overturns previous rulings, as with slavery, segregation, and homosexuality. The Roberts court upheld the partial-birth abortion ban in 2007, restricting access to abortion.

Horn writes: If Roe were overturned, Democrats would do everything in their power to reinstate it (whether by a future court case or a constitutional amendment). Pro-life Republicans would be able to rely on the votes of their pro-life constituents—to prevent a new Roe nationally and to enact legal prohibitions of abortion on the state level—just as Democrats have been able to rely on the continuing support of pro-abortion voters during the Roe era.

III. ‘Incremental’ pro-life laws, bans on public funding for abortion, and pro-life pregnancy centers do work in reducing abortions.

Biden and Harris support a transition from “pro-choice” to abortion as essential healthcare, which would exclude all conscientious objection to abortion. 

Gospel of Life & Coronavirus

Bethany postcard
postcard of Bethany, in the Holy Land

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. (John 11:25) [Spanish]

The Gospel of Life is something concrete and personal, for it consists in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God who from all eternity receives life from the Father, and who has come among men to make them sharers in this gift. (Evangelium Vitae 29)

That’s a quote from a letter written by a man that we older Catholics remember well. He was born during the Spanish Flu epidemic of the last century.

Here’s another passage from his letter about the Gospel of Life:

Through the words, the actions, and the very person of Jesus, man receives the complete truth about the value of human life. Through Christ, man can accept and fulfill completely the responsibility of loving and serving, of defending and promoting human life. The Gospel of Life has been written in the heart of every man and woman, echoing in every conscience from the beginning, from the time of creation itself.

He then quoted Vatican II:

Christ confirmed with divine testimony that God is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death and to raise us up to life.

Pope John Paul II wrote this letter and coined the phrase: Gospel of Life. This week we marked the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s letter.

Pope Francis has emphasized the Gospel of Life message repeatedly. For example, a couple years ago, Pope Francis said to an international association of Catholic health-care professionals:

Your being Catholic entails a greater responsibility, by contributing to the recognition of the transcendent dimension of human life, the imprint of God’s creative work from the moment of conception. This is a task of the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide. The Lord is counting on you to spread the Gospel of Life.

Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, our nation has had an open wound, literally. Thousands of innocent and defenseless people have bled to death at the hands of abortionists every day. And the wound never heals, because only the truth can heal it.

jp_iiThis is not the reactionary and old-fashioned Church, rejecting something new and modern. It’s the other way around. Roe v. Wade is based on old, debunked ideas. Abortion is nothing new; the ancient pagans practiced it. Violence and cruelty go way back.

The new thing is Jesus Christ’s Gospel of Life. Every human being has immeasurable value and dignity. And God has given us a task: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Which means: Love yourself, your own life—because God has given it. And love your neighbor with the same love, for God’s sake.

I think we can see clearly how the Gospel of Life offers us the point-of-view we need to get us through the coronavirus crisis. We suffer social isolation, and we have to make many sacrifices. But we do so serenely. Because we affirm the priceless value of every individual human life.

This principle guides the worthy practice of medicine, as well as the decisions made by public officials to protect and preserve innocent people’s lives.

Yes, a day will come when all of us will have to go to meet the Lord, by dying. We Christians do not fear death. We do not regard it as the greatest possible evil. We commend our deceased loved ones to God, looking forward to the resurrection of the dead. Being pro-life does not involve pretending that death doesn’t come for us all, in God’s time.

But Pope John Paul’s letter explained clearly how the Fifth Commandment binds us. Not only must we refrain from murder. We must also use all the skills we possess, to foster the advancement of every human life. Not only may we never act to destroy anyone’s life, we also may never omit to care for anyone who needs such care.

God has entrusted human life to us, not as something we fully understand and can master, but as a mystery that we humbly attend to and care for. Jesus Christ’s Gospel of Life can and will give us the firm foundation that we need to understand our role in this crisis. When we live by the Gospel of Life, we will prosper. That is: we will prosper in the most important way. Morally. We will build up the bonds of trust that hold communities together.

Our job as Catholics is: to stay focused on the message, to stay prayerful about it, and to live always in communion with the good and gentle Savior Who came into this world that we might have life.

Second Annunciation Day

(written 12/20/2019)

What’s it called, the mystery of the Holy Rosary, that we read about every December 20? The Annunciation.

unbornWhen is Annunciation Day? Correct: March 25. But we get a kind-of second Annunciation Day every December 20. Commemorating the beginning of the pregnancy, just as it reaches its conclusion.

Which moves us to consider the Blessed Mother’s nine months of pregnancy. Her experience during those nine months. We know she traveled south to Judea at the beginning of her pregnancy, and also at the end.

Seventy-mile trip, each way. Mary is “all-pure,” to be sure. But no delicate flower. She made at least three 70-mile treks on the back of a donkey, while pregnant. Her exquisite maternal loveliness included the weather-beaten skin of Middle-Eastern overland travel.

It’s impossible not to contrast the Blessed Mother’s experience of pregnancy with the horrible violence of procured abortion. We hear empty political slogans like “American freedom includes reproductive freedom!” Then we meditate on the Blessed Mother’s nine months. And we see the slogan for the destructive nonsense that it is.

Pro-Life Turning Point + Pro-Choice Hysteria

President John Tyler
President John Tyler

Many people seem to be talking about state-law ‘challenges’ to Roe v. Wade. You might remember how we talked last Independence Day about how this turning-point in our history was coming.

We acknowledge: Many people fear such a significant change in our national way of life. We have to sympathize with that fear. We commit ourselves to vindicating the rights that every expectant mother has. Those don’t include having someone kill the baby. But they do include: support, without judgment; the best medical care; a helping hand.

Maybe a lot of the pro-choice hysteria of the past couple days springs from fear. Fear of change and fear of the unknown. But we can hardly hope that the Supreme Court would ever turn Roe v. Wade completely on its head and make abortion illegal in all fifty states. Rather, it seems like we’re headed towards: red-state/blue-state regional variations in abortion law.

Which means, of course, that here in purple Virginia we will have the pro-life fight of a lifetime on our hands.

unborn…Why are we pro-life? Do we have a ‘religious conviction’ that life begins at conception? Actually, we have airtight scientific evidence that it does.

Do we want to ‘impose our religion’ on others? Well, did the slavery abolitionists of two centuries ago intend to ‘impose their religion?’ Plenty of people said that they did, including US President and native Virginian John Tyler.

Does prohibiting abortion by law mean ‘going backwards?’ Hardly. It means keeping the unfilled promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Maybe some people call themselves ‘pro-life’ out of sexism or prudishness. If so, that doesn’t mean that innocent and defenseless unborn children should face death with no legal protection, just because some of their advocates have imperfect motives.

No one thinks that the slaves in the South should have stayed slaves because some northern abolitionists were hypocrites, or because Abraham Lincoln himself had confused–and not altogether humane–ideas about blacks.

Whatever happens in the statehouses and courts, we have a clear mission. Serenely to love every human being. We do that out of religious conviction. That’s our way of ‘imposing’ our religion—loving our neighbors selflessly, unconditionally, and generously.

We can and should hope that the turning-point for which we have prayed for two generations will come. And January 22nd won’t mean anymore what it has meant since 1973. And the Pro-Life Movement will step into a new phase.

In the meantime, our job is to pray and stay close to The Life, Jesus Christ.

Adam and Eve on Valentine’s Day

everib

Leave it to the good Lord.

By pure happenstance of the Lectionary: We read at Holy Mass on Valentine’s Day about God putting Adam and Eve together in the garden. Because “it is not good for man to be alone.” God told us: be fruitful and multiply. Which means men and women falling in love, exchanging Valentines, getting married, and having families.

Which came first? Mankind or the other animals?

Holy Scripture does not exactly answer this question. But the order in time matters much less than the order in being.

We human beings, alone among the animals, can conceive of the world as a whole, as God does. We alone can give distinct names to all the various parts of the world, the creatures that make up God’s creation. Alone among the animals, we form a spiritual bridge between the earth and the mind of God. The marriage of a man and a woman gives us a visible image of the union between God and mankind brought about by the God-man, Jesus Christ.

We know that the pro-abortion, “pro-choice” position betrays the truth. One way you can tell: the very euphemism that the pro-abortion movement chooses for itself. “Reproductive rights.”

Algae “reproduce.” Plants, bugs, other animals—they “reproduce.” Human beings marry. Human beings have families.

If you use words that apply to lower creatures to defend your position when it comes to human beings, you can be sure that you have strayed into a territory where violence reigns. “Reproductive rights” is a phrase from Orwell’s 1984, a mask to cover over systematic bloodshed.

On the other hand: Love. Marriage. Family.

That is the way that God gave to mankind, in the garden, before the Fall. The original gift of God—love, marriage, and family–makes Valentine’s Day happy.

At the Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King I Have a Dream

Lord Jesus gave the homily in his hometown church. At first they loved and praised Him. But then He brought up some painful facts. [Spanish]

‘Our prophet Elijah did not save one of our widows from starvation. He saved a pagan widow–a Gentile foreigner. And our prophet Elisha did not cure the leprosy of one of our Jewish generals. He cured a Syrian who didn’t even want to wash himself in our Jordan River. He thought of it as a muddy creek. But our Elisha healed him in those very waters anyway.’

So the Nazarenes got mad at their countryman for pointing out that God loves the Gentiles as much as the Jews. As you will likely get mad at me, before I’m done here.

Most of the world now knows that there’s a Catholic boys school in Covington, Kentucky. At least everyone with a smartphone knows it. And everyone knows that a group of Covington-Catholic boys traveled by bus to Washington, D.C., to march for life. To stand up for the innocent and defenseless unborn children—the most vulnerable class of people in contemporary America.

After the March ended, the boys visited the Lincoln Memorial. In hindsight, they now think to themselves—and all those who know and love them think—they should have stayed inside the Memorial, quietly reading and meditating on the Gettysburg Address. It’s chiseled into the marble wall.

MAGA hat.pngInstead, the boys stayed outside. And mixed it up with some strange characters.

A dishonest person made a cellphone video, and accused the boys. ‘They surrounded a Native-American man beating a peace drum! Then mocked him and threatened him! An aggressive racist mob!’

Once the video hit the internet, another aggressive mob took over. The social-media mob. A bandwagon of moral indignation. ‘These boys should be expelled from school! They make us Catholic pro-lifers look bad! They stand for everything racist and unjust in this country!’

I myself first saw the “viral” video late that Saturday evening, when I “checked my Twitter.” I did not at first notice the “Make America Great Again” caps that some of the boys wore. I just saw high-school kids making more noise than they should, as high-school kids often do. And a Native-American man beating a drum endlessly for no immediately apparent reason. And a staring contest that made no sense.

I watched the video with my own particular interest, because I know that spot very well, as I imagine many of us do. One of my college jobs involved giving tours of the National Mall. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech right where the famous video was shot. The east staircase of the Lincoln Memorial, at the western end of the Reflecting Pool. A uniquely beautiful place, a place for quiet reflection—not for beating drums, or school chants, or staring contests.

But, like I said, when I watched the video, I didn’t notice the MAGA hats at first, because I’m not a particularly observant person. But a lot of people did notice the hats. That’s why they jumped to unreasonable conclusions. As they checked their Twitters and facebooks that Saturday, they saw the caps, and they immediately suspected the boys of harboring ill will towards non-whites.

lincolnNot fair. Not fair to judge the morals of a high-school boy, based solely on his cap. In the ensuing days, the truth emerged, about what happened between the boys and the Native-American with his drum. The boys had not mobbed anyone. The original viral video had a context. Other cellphone videos, recorded at the scene, revealed the full sequence of events. Then some people in the original social-media mob faced up to the truth and admitted their serious mistake. They looked in the mirror and realized that they had done to the boys what they had accused the boys of doing. Forming a cruel mob.

But, we’re not done here yet, fellow Israelites. We cannot simply say: Vindication for the good, pro-life boys; episode over. No.

The political life of our president began years ago. That is, it began when he claimed that our previous president, the first non-white President of the United States, actually came from Africa, not the USA.

Then Donald Trump began his campaign for president with a particular premise: Namely, that Mexicans steal, rape, and murder.

The social-media mob saw MAGA hats and over-reacted. Over-reacted big time. But: Had someone given them cause to over-react? Had someone given the MAGA hat a particular meaning? Namely: This country is primarily for white people. Yes, someone did give the hat that meaning. Donald J. Trump gave the hat that meaning.

Ok. The whole business at the Lincoln Memorial upset a lot of people. And I probably upset you, by even bringing it up. Do what’s the antidote?

Guess what? Ain’t hard. The antidote is: Going to Mass.

Some people think the internet is pure evil. Some people think it’s where we can finally find true democracy. One thing is for sure: Everything on the internet gets put in perspective when we come to Mass.

Yes, we can learn beautiful things that we never knew, over the internet. And we can join cruel, irrational mobs from our own couches, over the internet.

But the fundamental social network—it’s not on the internet. It’s at the holy altar of Jesus Christ. Where people actually know each other, and give each other the benefit of the doubt, and recognize each other not as “legals” and “illegals” but as: fellow sinners in need of God’s loving mercy.

I have probably said something that makes you mad. But I’m just trying to do my job as a priest–whose main job is: to say Mass. Holy Mass is the opposite of a viral video causing a “Twitter storm.” At the altar of Jesus Christ, dear reader, we can actually find peace with each other.

Integrity of the Womb and the Confessional

confessional“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mark 2:7)

Indeed.

Sin involves corrupting the pure integrity of God’s beautiful plan. A plan for the salvation and glorification of all things.

We pray for the marchers up in Washington. We share their zeal. In the womb, God knits together an unfathomable plan. It’s like a little Garden of Eden. May no hand of violence ever desecrate that garden.

God, the pure One, can forgive the sins of us impure ones. He even uses some of us impure ones as His instruments of mercy. The Son of God entrusted “the power of the keys” to His Church. He gave His Apostles and their successors in office the authority to forgive sins in the name of God. To continue the Incarnation, so to speak. Jesus, when He walked the earth, had the authority to forgive sins. Bishops and priests have that same authority, as ministers of Christ.

But a profound responsibility accompanies that authority, doesn’t it? When we go to confession, we go with faith in the power of the keys. But we also need to have confidence in the human integrity of the confessor. We have to trust that the priest who hears my confession will respond according to true discipline, guided by holy teaching.

That is: He won’t distort my own conscience by calling good evil or evil good. He won’t betray God’s mercy by being too hard on me, or betray God’s justice by being too easy on me.

My point is: The supernatural grace of Holy Orders means that even a sinner can offer Christ’s sacraments. But in the confessional, our faith in that supernatural grace has to meet a representative of a human institution with integrity. Yes, all priests are sinners, too. But a confessor receiving penitents cannot be a liar. He cannot be a swindler or a sodomite. He cannot be an atheist or a heretic.

unborn…On March-for-Life Day, the young Catholic Church in America takes Her vigorous stand. Faith, hope, and love show up on Constitution Avenue.

But She limps this year. Her faith God invigorates Her as always. But Her inability to trust in the fundamental integrity of the clerical hierarchy saps Her strength.

Our faith in the triune God does not contradict reason. But, at the beginning of 2019, we cannot rationally claim that our clerical hierarchy has integrity. If we did claim that, reasonable non-Catholics would make arguments to the contrary. And we would have no answers.

May God send us leaders to get our footing back. It will take a long time. But we can do it, if we hold on. We sinners, who want to live honest lives.

Zeal for the Temple

cleansing

Zeal for your house will consume me. (Psalm 69:10)

As we read in St. John’s gospel, the Lord’s disciples thought of this psalm verse when Jesus cleansed the Temple. Took the worldliness out of it, the cynicism, the selfish dishonesty. The Lord gave back to the Temple the purity of its prayerfulness.

In Genesis we read about how our father Jacob dreamed of a ladder that stretched up to the realm of the angels. When he woke up, Jacob said, “The house of God is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16)

Thanks be to God, we have a lovely temple here (Rocky Mount, Va.), a building worthy of housing the celebration of Holy Mass. Ditto in Martinsville.

But, of course, the outward temple exists to serve the inward temple. The true temple is: the human person, made in the image and likeness of God. Consecrated in Christ as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

This is why we Christians understand crimes against the spiritual and bodily integrity of a human being—we understand the whole business in a special light. Pope John Paul II explained it all in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.

God destines and guides every human being towards divine communion; He has made everyone a temple of His own glory. Whenever anyone attacks or abuses the spiritual and bodily integrity of a human being, we have to stand up. We lament it. We condemn it. We cry out for justice. And we pray.

It all begins at the moment of conception in the mother’s womb. We Catholics incorrigibly insist on the right to life. With the Supreme Court transition underway here in the US, our bishops have proposed that we pray for nine Fridays, starting today. Pray that our nation will respect the right to life.

And let’s pray, while we’re at it, that our Church will be the Church of Evangelium Vitae. The Church of the New Evangelization. A true, cleansed temple.