Tag Archives: Fr. Shenan Boquet

Thriving society hinges on health of the family

Regardless of creed, national origin, or cultural background, a nation’s strength and survival fundamentally depend on the stability of the family.

The family and marriage need to be defended and promoted not only by the State but also by the whole of society. Both require the decisive commitment of every person because it is starting from the family and marriage that a complete answer can be given to the challenges of the present and the risks of the future. — Charter of the Rights of the Family, ¶9

Because of the weakening of families, society is plagued by a host of violent behaviors. Evils ranging from promiscuity, pornography, contraception, abortion, the rejection of parental rights, divorce, co-habitation, legalization of same-sex unions, and human trafficking, lead to societal and family violence, chronic poverty, and the abandonment of society’s care for the aged and handicapped.

If a healthy society hinges upon the health and vibrancy of the family, then we must defend its immutable role as instituted by God. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote, and defend the institution of marriage, an indissoluble and exclusive union between one man and one woman, as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Within natural marriage, man and woman give themselves completely to one another, begetting and raising children. Within this sacred environment, the first school, children learn: love, goodness, care, responsibility toward their neighbors, forgiveness, mercy, and charity.

Man Needs God

We should note here that while governments can adopt policies that to some degree protect the family, the real work is at the cultural level, which both determines and is determined by politics. The wealthy nations and NGOs that are promoting the radical redefinition of rights and values have great access to governments, but they often are thwarted where the Church has a toehold, and where she is still often leading the fight to protect the natural family and sacredness of human life.

When faith is central, the Church is a key component of daily life and her teachings are integrated in the life of the community; there is life, joy and peace – a healthy society. When faith is rejected and acceptance of immoral teachings become normative, the community begins to wither and violence against life and family prospers.

For many in the world, science, technology and man’s own abilities are sufficient for life’s dilemmas and resolutions. We have seen the fruit of such a perilous direction and the consequences resulting from the rejection of God. All we need do is turn back the pages of time to the 20th century to experience one of history’s most violent and murderous periods. It is a testimony to man’s ability to self-destruct without a Truth outside himself guiding him, calling him, and giving him purpose and identity.

The human person is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake. — Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶1703

Do you love Me more?

We cannot say this task of conversion belongs to others, for the task belongs to each of us. In order to authentically redirect society from its hazardous direction and transform it into a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love, we must defend the natural family and protect every life; all Christian people must live fully integrated lives in Christ, being light and salt and determined through heroic virtue and witness to regain what has been lost.

When one’s strength is anchored and sustained by faith in Christ Jesus, animated by the Holy Spirit and nourished in prayer, he or she is unstoppable – able to overcome the challenges of the world, thwarting evil from its destructive will, renewing the face of the earth.

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

Christ reveals man to man himself

The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.
— Evangelium Vitae, ¶1

In order to authentically redirect society from its perilous direction and transform it into a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love, hearts must be re-oriented toward Christ, the Light of the World. After all, the closer the human person comes to God, the closer he comes to his own humanity and the truths of the world in which he lives. As Gaudium et Spes says, “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” [¶22]

The human person, in every age, seeks answers to the meaning of human existence: “Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What follows this earthly life? What is truth, the meaning of happiness, and why is there suffering and evil?”

Sadly, as Judeo-Christian values have decayed, the common language used to express and defend those values has become foreign to many. The foundational principles that have guided centuries of civilization are no longer points of demarcation for understanding the human person and his inherent dignity, his relationship with his neighbor or his Creator. This is why we must once again turn our gaze to the One who reveals man to man himself.

The joyous herald of the angels that first Christmas night sheds light upon the answers we desperately seek: I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2:10 11) Christmas reveals the full meaning of every human life and in Jesus’ birth all life in all of its stages is given its purpose and full significance. It is the good news offered to people in every age and culture.

The unwavering reverence for the dignity of every human person is at the heart of the transformation of cultures, and the resolution to the challenges confronting contemporary humanity cannot be found apart from this single truth. It is this truth that provides the safeguard against the individualistic and totalitarian tendencies that have tragically scarred our cultures, societies and families.

Man is called to a fullness of life, which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶2

Catholic tradition affirms, “The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual… [The] body and soul are inseparable” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 362-368); therefore, they stand or fall together (Veritatis Splendor, ¶49). As citizens of two cities, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one that is to come, we are mistaken to think we can evade our earthly responsibilities instead of discharging them conscientiously.

Christianity is not just about social action, or feeling good about one’s life, or working out one’s own salvation, or practicing one’s faith when convenient or opportunistic. Faith in Christ is about an unwavering commitment to Jesus, His mission, commands and Church.

Being transformed by Christ, the One who reveals man to man himself is the fulcrum for a radical transformation of our societies and cultures.

This Gospel exceeds every human expectation and reveals the sublime heights to which the dignity of the human person is raised through grace. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶80

To the extent to which we answer the call to personal holiness, to the extent to which it is the Holy Spirit living the Life of Christ in us, we will transform the world around us and build a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.

 

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

Love, sacrifice and honor

“I have given you an example,” says the Lord.

Jesus is the supreme example of humility, service and dedication selflessly given for the good of others. There is no one that has had a greater dignity than Jesus, and no one has served others so diligently.

Fr. Shenan Boquet

Every Christian is familiar with the powerful imagery in the fifteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Our Lord Jesus uses the lovely analogy of the vine and the branches to illustrate the life-giving love that connects every one of the faithful with Him, and with His Father, the vinedresser.

The stem and the branches form one single being. They are nourished and act together, producing the same fruits because they are fed with the same sap. United to Christ, we are made strong and are effective, giving direction and purpose to our daily works and dealings with others.

Jesus was preparing His disciples for what would be His ultimate gift to them, and to us, through the terrible events of His sorrowful passion. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). By His death and resurrection, He has set us free, becoming the source of our life and of the Church’s whole apostolate.

There are many lessons here for all of us, but for those who serve in the military and in public services where the duty is to protect others, the connection is especially clear.

Key to every first responder’s and every serviceman’s duty is the readiness to sacrifice his or her life for another. While it is true that any one of us could be called upon to sacrifice our lives should the moment come, relatively few of us have actually signed up to be in a position to do this as a matter of basic duty.

Firemen, police, military personnel and related professionals hold a position of honor in our society for a reason. The protector, thinking not of himself, freely risks his own life for the well being of another, usually a complete stranger. That’s the job. Some who serve in these areas never face a life-or-death situation; others see it far too often. The readiness to place one’s life at risk is what connects all such protectors and why they tend to grow such strong bonds of friendship and loyalty. After all, if you step into a burning building or return fire under great pressure, you are entrusting your own life into the hands of your partners.

These intense moments and shared mission create bonds that last a lifetime, and a love that those on the outside can’t understand.

This is a powerful human thing – the love that arises and grows from dramatic situations of great self-sacrifice. Very hard situations force us to look at reality and at what is most important. If we can do that with love and a readiness to die for the other, God can do incredible things through us.

We may lament at times, especially in those moments, that suffering is indeed the currency of salvation. We may not understand the mystery of God’s will, but we can grow to trust Him and His divine will, knowing that He will give us the strength we need, when we need it.

Here, in the reflection of the Savior Who gave His life for us, we see human dignity in its most raw incarnation. Why risk one’s life for another, even a stranger, if he or she is not a person, made in the image of God? In the moment when one’s life is truly at risk, and one chooses to step into the breach to stop evil or to protect a vulnerable person, there are no politics or fashion, no complaints or equivocations. There is only reality and love and sacrifice.

This is why those whose profession it is to protect others so intensely honor their fallen brothers and sisters. It is a function of love and of justice. They deserve to be honored. And those of us who benefit from our often-anonymous protectors owe a certain debt of honor and gratitude both to those who have fallen and those who continue to serve. They do not deserve our worship, but they do deserve honor and our profound gratitude. The best way we can honor them is to pray for them — for their safety, for their families, for the purification of their intentions. L

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