Balancing the Ideal and the Practical in Regard to Safeguarding Human Life
Jan 22, 2017
In an ideal world, there would be no need to develop laws that prohibit abortion. Let’s imagine what life would be like in such a world.
As an analogy, we might consider the following. As Catholics, we are asked to observe Holy Days of Obligation. On such special days, called Solemnities, the Church insists that it is as essential for us to participate at Mass as it is to come to Mass each weekend. One Holy Day of Obligation is that of Christmas. In all of my years in the priesthood, I have never found it necessary to announce Christmas as a Holy Day of Obligation. People beat the doors down to come to Mass on Christmas.
Sad to say, for other special observances of our Faith, these need to be announced as Holy Days of Obligation. If it was not stressed that given observances are Holy Days of Obligation, many people would just not come to Mass on these occasions. Knowing that we would seriously hurt our relationship with the Lord if we absent ourselves from Mass without a substantial reason for doing this leads many to come to Mass who would otherwise not do this.
Along this line, in an ideal world, there would be no need to develop laws that safeguard human life. In such a world, every person would value her/his own life as a most precious gift. Each person would regard his/her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. With this understanding of ourselves, on the one hand, we would want to avoid doing anything that would hurt our own bodies. On the other hand, beginning with prayer, we would want to develop those practices and habits that enable us to function as the Lord wants us to do this.
God initially intended that we realize our connectedness with one another. As individuals, we can be likened to pieces of a puzzle. We need others to complete ourselves and others need what the Lord would offer to them through ourselves. As we take to heart our connectedness with one another, we will want to responsibly embrace what we can do and refrain from what we are not morally free to do.
The Lord has entrusted to us the potential to generate new life. We exercise this potential as the Lord has designed us within the setting of marriage. We have been created in such a way, however, that new life can be generated outside of marriage.
At any rate, the new life that is generated at the moment of conception is a person who is distinct from his/her biological parents. Our mothers do play an indispensable role in nurturing us both before and after we are born. At the same time, the growing person is not simply a part of that individual’s mother. The mother is not morally free to do as she pleases with the person whom she is carrying.
Every individual who is conceived is a public person. She/he belongs to all persons. In situations in which the biological parents are not able to care for and raise the child who has been born to them, there are other alternatives, for example adoption, for raising the child who has been conceived. Each person who is conceived is an integral part of all of us.
Until all persons can become aware of and are willing to embrace these truths about ourselves, we need to continue to work relentlessly to develop and enforce laws that will protect the lives of the unborn. Let us do this in the spirit of justice and of charity.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor
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