By Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
Editor’s note. We are less than a month away from the 47th anniversary of the abominable Roe v. Wade decision and its equally hideous companion, Doe v. Bolton. As is our custom, the day after Christmas we began posting new stories and previously run stores about Roe and Doe in anticipation. The following, one of my personal favorites, first ran in January 2014.
The “March for Life” this January, like every January over the past several decades, reminds the nation that killing an unborn child is never a private matter. Abortion is a uniquely intimate form of violence – but violence with bitter public consequences. Catholics eagerly join the March for Life each year because we believe in the God of life and joy; a God who creates every human being with innate dignity and rights, including above all the right to life.
What we really believe, we conform our lives to. And if we don’t at least try to conform our lives to what we claim to believe, then we’re fooling only ourselves, because God cannot be fooled. When we claim to be “Catholic” but then don’t advance our beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it means one of two things. We’re either very confused, or we’re very evasive.
All law involves the imposition of somebody’s beliefs about the nature of truth, charity and justice on everyone else. That’s the reason we have marches, debates, elections and Congress–to peacefully turn the struggle of ideas and moral convictions into laws that guide our common life. …
There’s a very old Christian expression that goes like this: “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”
Are we troubled enough about what’s wrong with the world — the killing of millions of unborn children through abortion; the neglect of the poor, the disabled and the elderly? Do we really have the courage of our convictions to change those things?
The opposite of hope is cynicism, and cynicism also has two daughters. Their names are indifference and cowardice. In renewing ourselves in our faith, what Catholics need to change most urgently is the lack of courage we find in our own personal lives, in our national political life, and sometimes even within the Church herself.
Every year in these weeks between the end of Christmas and the beginning of Lent, I reflect on what the Church means when she talks about the season of “ordinary time.” Ordinary time is where we spend most of our lives — raising families, doing our jobs, helping others, making the daily choices that shape the world around us.
Ordinary time is the space God gives us to make a difference with our lives. What we do with that ordinary time — in our personal choices and in our public actions — matters eternally.
As Alexander Solzhenitsyn once wrote, “[T]he line separating good and evil runs not through states, nor between classes, nor even between political parties, but right through the center of each human heart, and every human heart.”
That includes you and me.
Next week hundreds of thousands of good people will march for life in Washington. It’s an opportunity to prove the strength of our convictions; to show to the world what we really believe about the sanctity of human life. I’ll be there. And I ask you to join me.