Our diocesan vocations director, Fr. Mark Catalana, gave this homily on Respect Life Sunday. I just received it via email from a friend this past week…
Holy Family 2008
Today is Respect Life Sunday. I have to tell you, I find this Sunday exceedingly frustrating. You know how much I love being one of your priests at Holy Family. Yet in the past when I’ve spoken about protecting human life I know that some of you have been offended. Believe me: I take no pleasure in that. Some of my brother priests have even said to me, “Why bother? It’s not going to change anything.” If I were to believe that the Gospel cannot transform the world than I would have to pack up my bags and do something else with my life. No, I have been entrusted with the sacred ministry of preaching the Truth of Jesus Christ as His Church interprets it, not to lead you astray by my silence or indifference.
40 or 50 years ago we didn’t need a Pro-Life Sunday. No one needed to be reminded that we have to defend life from the moment of conception to life’s natural end. It’s impossible for me to believe that human morality has advanced beyond my parent’s and grandparent’s morality! All previous generations saw issues like abortion, euthanasia, and the possibility of human cloning or experimentations on human embryos as attacks on human dignity and as the moral evils they are. They avoided them at all costs even if it meant personal disadvantage.
To be frank, in my opinion what has happened is that as a nation we have become more callous and self-centered. It has happened so slowly that few have understood what is happening to us. Kind of like the frog sitting in warm water as the heat is gradually increased. And few want to hear the Truth of the Gospel of Life or reflect on the magnitude of these evils: 50 million abortions in the last 35 years in our country—hundreds of millions in our world—and a people unable or unwilling to halt the advancing tide as life is discarded or bought and sold for a pittance.
Now you may have noticed that there’s an election approaching. I will not tell you how to vote or for whom to vote. I will say that a Christian has to bring his or her faith everywhere with them—even into the voting booth. However, these life issues are not, as one Catholic politician recently claimed, articles of faith that cannot be imposed on non-believers. The fact that life begins at conception is not an article of faith as he claimed but a biological fact.
Many like to preclude faith from any ethical discussion facing our nation. This is, of course, absurd and clearly not the thinking of individuals like Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson or Madison. If you read their writings, you know they meant the First Amendment to protect religion and not to suppress it.
I am not endorsing any political candidate or party this morning or any other morning. The Church cannot and must not be aligned with any one political party. Long after the Democratic party, the Republican party, and every other party has been disbanded the Church will still stand. What I am asking is that you reflect on these matters in your own heart. Christians must stand to protect life. This is not a negotiable thing or simply one issue among others. It is the defining issue of our day because it affects so profoundly our common morality and leads to violence against all the other stages of life.
I leave you with God’s words to the People of Israel as found in the Book of Deuteronomy: “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”