Jan 2nd — Day of Penance for Destruction of Human Life

Day of Penance for the violation to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

Due to the legal atrocities that have been committed on human life, the Roman Catholic Church has set aside January 22nd as a day of penance and prayer for full legal rights and respect be returned to the innate right of life. To understand just how far abortion in all forms and the destruction of unborn children for the purpose of science has caused society to fall, we could look at the original Hippocratic oath as formulated by Hippocrates. In the original format, all physicians (pagan and believing) were sworn against committing any harm to the patient, even the prohibition of abortion because it was recognized as the destruction of a human being, although yet unborn. Perhaps this stems from the fertility cults that were prevalent in the centuries before Christ. At any rate, Pope John Paul II was correct in stating a society that kills its own children is a society without hope (even in the evolutionary sense).

Penance Within the faith, penance is both known as a virtue in which the sinner detests his sin for it offends God and destroys the bond and communication a sinner is able to have with Him, and as a sacrament. From the repentance the sinner affirms a decision to avoid the near occasions of sin and to sin no more. Although sinners rely on Christ Jesus for salvation, penance brings us back into Gods grace because we realize our sins and the sorrow it brings to God. As a sacrament, a penitent shows contrition, confession, and willingness for reparation for the sin(s). Known as both Confession and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, “penance” is a full conversion of our hearts towards God. Not only are we healing our spiritual connection with God through this sacrament, but also our fraternal communion to members of the Body of Christ (Barrack, 2007; CCC 1469). Sorrow for our sin encompasses shame, guilt for knowing God’s Law and violating it, sadness in distancing ourselves from God, and wanting to mend the relationship we have with God and the members of His Body. How can we show our repentance and willingness to endeavor in sinning less, or to abandon this particular sin forever more? Through reparation.

Reparation
A theological concept, reparation is entwined with atonement. From Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, as sinners we are restored to our original condition before the Fall to a certain degree (newadvent, 2007). Christ made reparation for our sins and our separation from God and perfect union with Him by the Son’s arrest, suffering, and death on a Cross; thusly, we are restored to grace. Our own reparations for our sin can restore us to grace with God as well through various sacrifices and denials in which we can enjoin ourselves to the sacrifice and suffering of Christ (Ibid; Col1:24). In this sense, on January 22nd, a penitent sinner or a Christian who has not committed a sin against Life can fast, pray, or offer up other intentions for the sorrow of the sins he or others have committed against Life.

God as Creator
Throughout the Book of Job we are able to read the woe Job endures as the hand of Satan via the permission of God. These troubles that afflict him are the death of his children, the lass of his home and property. Yet all the loss is not material because it pressed down on his soul just like the dark night of the soul that St John of the Cross addresses. Job didn’t do anything to merit this suffering; he is innocent and just. Throughout, Job rebukes his friends by reminding them and us that God holds each living soul in His hands (10:12). Yet God isn’t just the creator of souls alone. Man’s body is not just a shell or an encasement for the soul; both flesh and spirit are created and loved by God (Merton, 1998). If life is created by God (CCC 2280), who has the authority to end it? Abel was killed by Cain because he gave a more just offering to the Lord. Cain was marked by God and made a nomad for his sin of homicide. Likewise, law given through the Ten Commandments state that no one has the right to murder, or in other words to take innocent life. Yet since 1973 trends as well as laws have tried to change the definition of life and what it means to be a dignified human with integrity worth preserving until natural death.

Life
What is life? If we look at a dictionary such as Webster’s New World Dictionary (1980): “that property of plants and animals which makes it possible for them to take in food, get energy from it, grow, adapt themselves to their surroundings, and reproduce their kind […] the existence of a soul.” Since this is a deeply philosophical question, perhaps it is best left here since the purpose of this is not to discuss ad nauseam about what constitutes life, but more about why life cannot be terminated arbitrarily.

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Just as God informs Jeremiah that He created the prophet from the very moment of his conception, so to are we formed. If one argues that Jeremiah is special by the very nature of his being a prophet, perhaps a look at Christ’s life is called for. Before Christ was conceived in Mary’s virgin womb through the power of the Holy Spirit, He was spiritual just as God the Father is spiritual. Christ did not become flesh (incarnate) until the moment of His conception. He had to assume an absolutely human form in order for Him to assume the sins of the whole human race and give us salvation through His death on a Cross. Christ is fully man and fully divine, we can see as God created Him in the womb, so to must God make each of us in the womb. We are all created by God at the moment of conception, and just as God was the one who took away Christ’s life, so too only He can take ours.

2258 Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.

Of the life forms that exist in our human society, it is the infirm, the elderly, and the young who are unable to fully defend themselves in their inalienable right to life. The elderly are living longer and often found to be suffering from diseases that debilitate them and leave them damaged, incomplete, or wiped out memories. Although it is difficult to see these men and women placed in nursing homes and day care facilities for their protection and care, they are still alive. God has a will for each person to fulfill, and one does not need to be cognizant when fulfilling that will. For the unborn children, this business of human dignity is a paradox. If a pregnant woman is killed, the murderer is charged with two counts of murder, but if the child is killed by the hands of its mother, that is called “choice.”

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every
procured abortion. […] God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble
mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of
themselves.

In Genesis, Adam and Eve are the parents of the human race and God tells them to
go forth and multiply. They are given charge of creation. When
something is handed over to the care of another person, it is for protection not
destruction as has been seen by an oversimplified examination of the stewardship
parables in the New Testament. Not only does this hold true for the unborn
and infants, but also the infirm and dying.

2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick
or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.
2277 Whatever possible motives and means, direct euthanasia consist in
putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. It is morally
unacceptable.

What does it convey to the world, when someone says he killed a dying relative out of love? Is love expressed through murderous actions or through support and compassion? What is compassionate and tender about taking away life from someone who may not be able to physically convey to another their will to live?

Inalienable Right to Life

2273 The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.

The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. … As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the [human being], the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation […].

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.–G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

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National Vocation Awareness Week, Jan 13-20th

I looked at my calendar and realized how fitting it is for the start of National Vocations Awareness Week to fall on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, until I read the Mass readings for this upcoming Sunday. I did my homework, so it makes a bit more sense.

The Readings

Is 42:1-4, 6-7 God speaks through the prophet Isaiah: He has a chosen one who will bring justice to all the nations. Additionally, the chosen one will be formed by the Lord and He will establish him as a covenant for the people, to bring them light.
This chosen servant of the Lord can be seen to symbolize historical Israel, an idealized Israel, or even the prophet Isaiah himself, but when the New Testament is considered, Christ is the Messianic fulfillment of this passage. God chose that Mary should carry His Son and be given the name Emmanuel. God’s Chosen One brought spiritual justice and eternal light and Life to all who believe.

Acts 10: 34-38 The whole of chapter 10 is about God’s revelation to St. Paul that His resurrection and ascension are not reserved to the Jews for salvation, but also to the Gentiles. However, in light of the baptismal and vocational undertones of this Sunday’s (01/12/2008) readings, it may be seen that God not only directly calls people such as St John the Baptist, Mary the Virgin Mother of God, St Joseph and so forth, but He will also call gentiles — ordinary everyday people like you and I who have not seen or heard Him like our spiritual fathers. We are called differently but called nonetheless.

Mt 3: 13-17 (I’m still reading and praying about how to adress this passage).

The Vocational Call

I could start to describe my own vocational calling, but I won’t do that. While I could ignore the Latin root for vocation, I don’t want to do so. I have read many introductory articles and chapters on the vocational call, and all say that vocation comes from vocar which comes from the Latin “to call,” but being the nerd that I am I also know that vocat means “to invite.” God is gently, persistently and quietly calling and inviting us into relationship with Him. Sometimes He calls people to different missions and purposes in life; that is understandable if you know that the ways in which God’s Will will be accomplished is likely to take many different skills, tasks, and proficiencies. Some things can be accomplished through the vocation of a career, a relationship status, a locale, and so forth. Therefore, should there be any wonder that God calls people to matrimony, single life, consecrated virginity, the diaconate, and the religious life? Not really.

However, given the prevalance of marriage in our society, the vocation that January 13 – 20th is trying to expose are the ones that need more thought. People get engaged and married everyday, but how many decide to remain single and chaste? Even if people do so, it’s not to the same fanfare of a wedding ceremony and reception. How many women become consecrated virgins? Not many, but they do have a ceremony. How many enter religious life or the priesthood? Still fewer.

“No one -no one individual and no community- can proclaim the Gospel to himself: ‘faith comes from what is heard’ (Rom 10:17). No one can give himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. The one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ’s authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered” (CCC 875).
“Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God” (CCC 915). The consecrated life is rooted in baptism and is fully committed to God, just as Christ called the disciples in saying “Come, follow me.” The disciples immediately left their families, their homes, and their possessions. (Although we know Peter had a stepmother, which indicates the presence of a wife, she is not mentioned and family is not addressed thereafter.)

Poverty “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ ” (Mt 19:21). There are many ways to be poor, but one of the ways to follow Christ closely is to become poor as He was poor, and to be poor as are the sinners He served were poor. Although this active love for the poor is one reason to practice voluntary poverty, I think it has largely to do with how we show love for God. God loves us, and the ways in which we can show Him love in return is to love eachother, especially if we believe that the Spirit of God is in each of us, then we will be loving not only each other but God simultaneously. We can especially see the ways to serve others when Christ tells the apostles in Mt 25:34-46. To the ‘goats’ on his left the shepherd will say “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” We know from the continuation of this passage that Christ tells the accursed that if they never did anything to clothe, feed, visit, or love the less fortunate, they refused to serve the Lord. While serving the Lord is the “duty” of each disciple, the vocational call asks it more and more fully of the called. How can we freely give if we are concerned about our own material and finanical wealth? Additionally, does it not encourage a total dependance on God, which was forgotten the moment when Eve ate the apple, because she was convinced by the serpent that she knew better than God did what she needed and desired?

Chastity In Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil, a book on exorcism and the ways in which the Father of Lies grabs hold of people and the ways in which the name of Jesus releases people, a priest reflects on how the gift of life to God for the purpose of His Will eliminates the need for sexual relations. “He now sounded more or less like the Gerald who had entertained me earlier that evening. We started walking back to the house. As we passed out through the hall and front dorr, he quoted Jesus: ‘ ‘In the Kingdom of Heaven, they neither give their daughters in marriage nor are given in marriage.’ No marriage there,’ he commented musingly. ‘No need for it.’ He broke in on me. ‘He was — is — God. No woman, no human lovemaking was needed to enrich him. […] Once possessed of God and possessed by God, there’s no point in making love. You have all that human love can give you and much more. Love itself” (p. 186-7; emphasis added). A biblical support for celibacy/chastity can be seen in Mt 19:12.

Obedience Especially obedience to God’s Will, transmitted through the Spirit by so many conduits. God works through our friends, our family, our subordinates and superiors. How better else to learn submission and obedience?