Tag Archives: Dignity

Speak for every person, especially the dehumanized and minimized

As society incessantly gravitates towards secular ideologies, it becomes ever more desensitized to the inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person. Jesus’ teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) often and tragically falls upon deaf ears, leading to the spiritual blindness so prevalent in our cultures today. Like the rich man in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 16:19-31), many ignore the poor and downtrodden “Lazarus” at their “gate,” failing to recognize his inherent dignity. Society must be reminded that because we are made in the image of God – Imago Dei – every human life is precious and has inalienable and immutable dignity and value, without exception.

“If the right [to] life is an inherent and inalienable right,” says St. Teresa of Calcutta, “it must surely obtain wherever human life exists.” It is unjust, therefore, to deny, diminish, ignore, or deprive any human person of his or her fundamental human rights at any stage of life based on age, social status, health, or condition of dependency.

In a disposable society, the sanctity of human life is devalued. Its beauty and wonder are constantly under threat, especially at its beginning and end when it is most vulnerable. The violence of abortion destroys the lives of tens of millions of unborn children each year – a little over one million in the U.S. alone. Euthanasia grows more and more common as the value of the sick, elderly, and the disabled is minimized.

The “father of lies,” said Pope St. John Paul II, “relentlessly tries to eradicate from human hearts the sense of gratitude and respect for the original, extraordinary and fundamental gift of God: human life itself. 

Our task in defending and serving life, whether we are debating healthcare or the right to life, is to peel back the layers of obfuscation and deception and to show to the world what – or rather who – is at the center of the debate: the human person. And the second part of our mission is to speak for every person whose voice has been silenced or compromised. For as we know, when government or any legal authority is given the power to bestow these rights, then that same authority can choose to withhold them. 

Human life, no matter the circumstance, is a gift of immeasurable worth. It deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Human persons are not just individuals who serve our ends. They are ends in themselves. Each person, reflecting their God-given dignity, has basic rights and responsibilities that flow from our human nature, which cannot be negotiated or compromised regardless of any social or political structures. These rights are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his or her humanity and do not depend on the opinions or beliefs of anyone else.

At the heart of any discussion about universal human rights is the insistence that they apply to each and every human person, recognizing his or her inherent dignity. While godless and secular people try to dehumanize the human person, beginning in the womb, our task is to consistently and constantly keep the inestimable value of the human person and his fundamental rights front-and-center.

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International (www.hli.org) and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along

Jennifer Roback Morse
TAN Books, 420 pages

“The Sexual Revolution has never been a grassroots movement,” writes Jennifer Roback Morse in her latest book. Rather, it was manufactured by liberal elites “justifying their preferred lifestyles, imposing their new morality” by harnessing “the coercive power of the State.” As a result, millions have suffered the effects of this revolution. In her compelling indictment, Morse identifies the Contraceptive Ideology, the Divorce Ideology, and the Gender Ideology as the three fronts that built the Sexual State — and the three fronts the Church and social conservatives must focus our own defense and attacks upon if we are ever to restore love, marriage, and family to their rightful dignity.

Order: Amazon

Lent: Time to remember our freedom, dignity and destiny

The season of Lent is a six-week preparation to celebrate the Triduum, which commemorates the event of our salvation — the Eucharist, cross and resurrection. The first two Sundays of this holy season introduce us to these themes.

Fr. Dennis Cooney

The first Sunday of Lent presents us with one of the three gospel accounts of the Lord’s trial and tribulation in the desert. The Catechism explains that “Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: ‘For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.’ By the solemn 40 days of Lent, the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (#540).

In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, the devil tempts Our Lord with three false plans to save mankind without the cross by becoming a bread king, a comfort-providing miracle worker, or a world conqueror of ruthless power and control. Jesus knows that it is only by the obedience, humility, and love of the cross that fallen humanity can be saved and redeemed. And so Jesus defeats the devil’s lies.

These three demonic temptations correspond to three daily idolatry temptations that we face in our earthly journey to heaven. We are constantly tempted to put our material goods and pleasure before our obedience to God (the first temptation). We are also inclined to think that if God loves us, he will strengthen us in the trials of a fallen world, so that we may pick up our cross and follow him (the second temptation). Finally, we are constantly tempted to fight the evils of the world with the tools of the devil himself, namely absolute, ruthless power and control, instead of rendering unto the Lord absolute fidelity to his commandments in a loving, obedient abandonment to the Lord’s Divine Providence (the third temptation).

Lent reminds us of the true nature and dignity of our created freedom. God has made us free not so that we might do whatever we choose to do according to our momentary whims and will, but so that we might give our hearts and souls to the goodness, truth and beauty that is the essence of the Lord’s creation — and to the love that is the essence of the Divine Being, that is the Blessed Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When we pick up our personal crosses and follow the Lord, strengthened by the sacraments and the true bread from Heaven, the Eucharist, we discover our true dignity and destiny.

That glorious dignity is revealed to us in the Transfiguration, the Gospel of the second Sunday of Lent. “Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Mt 17:1-6).

We were not called out of nothingness so that we might live a brief life of “three score and 10 years” in this transient world. We have been redeemed by the cross and resurrection for eternal life, light and love, in the totality of our being as body and soul, in the transfigured and transformed new heaven and new earth with the communion of saints in the land of the Trinity.

This glorious dignity and destiny is the gift of God’s grace. To live our lives in obedience to this grace is the challenge that the holy season of Lent calls us to live every day of our lives until the Lord calls us home to the new and eternal Jerusalem.

FATHER DENNIS COONEY is the chaplain of Legatus’ Naples Chapter and pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, Fla.