A Letter from the Assistant Chaplain | Building of a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love (January 26, 2014)

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Yesterday’s Walk for Life is an excellent example of the building of a culture of life and civilization of love. People of good will, from all over the West Coast, come together in the City of St. Francis to witness to the truth of the human dignity of unborn babies, elderly persons, disabled persons, and all others threatened by the cold Mafioso morality of our society’s laws.

 The culture of death, which is enshrined in those laws, is truly a form of idolatry. Those who kill unjustly place themselves in the place of God, Who alone has authority over the life and death of humanity. They make themselves God by deciding for themselves whether this person is worthy of life. They forget that only God is the Author of Life. Indeed, the authority of God over human life is the basis for all sound reasoning on matters related to the morality of killing.

To be truly pro-life, therefore, we have to reject entirely this idolatry of the “ego” – of the self or of the individual – and entrust the entirety of our human affairs, both individual and societal, to the Lordship of the One True God. As Pope Pius XI wrote, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”

The rejection of the false idolatry of the culture of death means the acceptance of true reign of Christ, the Prince of Peace, Love Incarnate. “Let men make all the technical and economic progress they can,” wrote Pope Blessed John XXIII, “there will be no peace nor justice in the world until they return to a sense of their dignity as creatures and sons of God, who is the first and final cause of all created being. Separated from God a man is but a monster, in himself and toward others; for the right ordering of human society presupposes the right ordering of man’s conscience with God, who is Himself the source of all justice, truth and love.”

Indeed, we see in our own nation’s culture of death the “monstrosity” prophesied by Blessed John XXIII. Idolatry is monstrosity because we were made to be sons and daughters of God, obedient to His law, which is knowable even to those without faith through the power of reason, which can come to knowledge of “natural law.” So the lover of the culture of life responds to the culture of death with love: love for God above all things in true worship, and love for his neighbor as himself in the affirmation of his neighbor’s dignity. As the Second Vatican Council taught, “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” We will not have a culture of life and a civilization of love until we are living this gift of self to God and neighbor. Only then will the false idolatry of the culture of death be finally torn down.

In 1967, Pope Paul VI described in broad strokes the humanism that is at the service of true human development in the civilization of love: “The ultimate goal is a full-bodied humanism. And does this not mean the fulfillment of the whole man and of every man? A narrow humanism, closed in on itself and not open to the values of the spirit and to God who is their source, could achieve apparent success, for man can set about organizing terrestrial realities without God. But ‘closed off from God, they will end up being directed against man. A humanism closed off from other realities becomes inhuman.’”

We pray that this “full-bodied humanism” will take root in the hearts of every citizen of the United States and all people throughout the world so that true peace and justice will flourish unto the glory of God, Who in Christ Jesus is our Savior and Lord now and forever.

 Fr. Joseph Previtali

Assistant Chaplain

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