The other day I wished a Jewish friend a blessed Yom Kippur, their holy “day of atonement.”
“Thanks,” he replied, “and it seems so obvious that the world sure needs atonement.”
Yes, that sentiment seems almost universal! From racial tension to urban violence; from mass killings in shopping centers to brutal persecution of Christians; from the systematic decimation of Syria, to the vitriol against refugees and immigrants; and a presidential campaign that disgusts instead of lifts up…I could go on, and you could add your own instances, but…point made.
Pope St. John Paul II constantly preached the two essential values without which civilization cannot endure: the dignity of the human person, and the sacredness of human life.
And Pope Francis has warned us against a “throw-away culture,” where human life is cheap, the dignity of the person ignored, because all that counts is my convenience, desires, urges, pleasures, and self-willfulness.
This comes to mind especially in October, which we Catholics observe as Respect Life Month.
If the baby in the womb can be sucked out and left dead, with health care workers coerced to perform the hideous procedure and all of us forced to pay for it; if the physically challenged and mentally depressed can pay their doctor to put them to death; if the immigrant is caricatured as a criminal and threat; if women are looked upon as chattel whose main purpose is to be groped and satisfy a leering man; if the human person’s first and most cherished freedom—religion—is mocked and reduced to bigotry; if black lives and blue lives are considered enemy targets rather than sacred individuals; if a climate of political correctness keeps us from calling radical fundamentalists the psychopathic murderers they are…well, then, human life is treated as rubbish, which can be eliminated to suit our preferences.
Am I wrong to wonder especially about the toxic effect that the unlimited abortion license has had on the Republic founded on self-evident truths, and the right to life? When what should be nature’s safest sanctuary, the mother’s womb, becomes the most perilous place for the most innocent and fragile life, should we be shocked when any life deemed “in the way” is in hunting season?
The dignity of the human person, to be defended and promoted as a first priority, a dignity not dependent upon race, green card, stock portfolio, age, or health; the sacredness of human life, from the instant of conception to the holy moment of natural passing, to be defended vigorously rather than diluted and then discarded…these are essential to civilization. How grateful we are as Americans that these two principles are at the foundation of our Republic; yet how vigilant we are that they are under threat; and how committed we are as patriotic Catholic citizens to promote and defend them.
A blessed “Respect Life Month.”