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.
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.
The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is exclusively for one man and one woman . . .
God created man in his image and likeness. He created them male and female, so that through marriage they might reflect the communal love of the Holy Trinity (see Gen 1:26-28). From all eternity, the Father pours his entire being into his Son, and the Son into the Father. The eternal bond of love between Father and Son is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. This is an oversimplified explanation of a most profound mystery, the community of persons in whose image we were created.
A man and a woman become one in marriage in a mysterious way that reveals the unity shared by the Father and the Son (see Jn 17:22-23). As the infinitely loving bond between the Father and Son constitutes the third person of the Trinity, so in a similar way a child embodies the love of a husband and wife. The union of husband and wife is so profound that nine months later the couple often has to give it a name when a child is born! That is why the Church teaches that marriage is a communion of life and love ordered toward the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children — and that there is an unbreakable bond between the love-giving and life-giving aspects of marital love.
God’s wonderful plan for marriage allows husband and wife to make up for each other’s deficiencies and thereby complete each other (see Gen 2:18). This is known as complementarity, in which the husband and wife become one through the mutual giving and receiving of marital relations. This unity is reflected in the crowning fruit of their union: children. Although some married couples unfortunately cannot have children, they still complete one another through the expression of mutual love.
In contrast, homosexual activity lacks complementarity, but rather involves an illusory and vain attempt at communion. Under no circumstances can it be approved (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357).
If we abandon the monogamous union of husband and wife as the standard of marriage, there will be no logical argument against “marriages” between homosexuals as well as among polygamous heterosexuals. Government endorsement of homosexual “marriages” necessarily implies the acceptance of decadent polygamy and will only further undermine the moral fiber of our society.
As is the case with every dysfunction within the home, children suffer the most from the homosexual relationships of their parents. Children adopted into a “family” of homosexual “parents” will probably never experience the natural beauty of a true marital relationship. Furthermore, homosexual unions often promote the development of reproductive technology to the exclusion of procreation according to God’s design. (Click here for a related link) Such technology makes the child a mere “product” and denies the child the natural dignity and respect he deserves.
This column is reprinted with permission from “Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions, Vol. 1,” by Leon J. Suprenant Jr. and Philip C.L. Gray (Emmaus Road Publishing, 1999).
A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”
The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2378-79
Father Larry Richards pulls no punches in this book about Catholic manhood . . .
Be a man! Becoming the man God created you to be
Ignatius, 2009. 196 pages, $14.95 paperback
In Be A Man, Fr. Richards recounts his struggles to learn true manhood, as well as the inspiring stories of others he has served in his decades as a priest. Not preachy but direct, he challenges men to be strong without putting on a mask of false strength or machismo. He calls men to admit their weaknesses and limitations, while urging them to find strength in faith and genuine love in order to overcome their sins and faults. He inspires them to be men of courage, compassion and integrity.