Saturday, July 9, 2016

Embracing the sacred

As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. The life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights that leads Catholics to actively work for a world of greater respect for human life and greater commitment to justice and peace.

So says our Church. But how willing are we to truly embrace it?

All to often I will hear certain people try to narrow it from all human life to all innocent human life. Here we must distinguish innocent in the legal sense and innocent in the moral sense. 

Which of us is morally innocent?

From conception until baptism we carry original sin and after the age of reason personal sin. 

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins. (CCC 1263)

So the infant from baptism until their first sin after the age of reason would be innocent. The person who just received absolution would be innocent until they sin again. But most of us cannot claim to be morally innocent. 

Thankfully the Church does not teach that only the innocent lives are sacred. Every human life even the life of the sinner is sacred. 

We see that sacredness most clearly manifest in those loved ones who mourn: the families of those killed and the families of the killers. Does the mother of a criminal feel less pain when her child dies? A parent's grief is the perhaps the most perfect reflection of  God who rains on the just and the unjust without distinction. 

Today in place of the usual morning prayer I prayed what we call the Office for the Dead for all the dead. 

Until we embrace the belief in the sacredness of every human life, we may never find a way out of the cycle of violence. We will continue to find excuses  for the inexcusable on all sides.  

What is required is an individual change of heart, one person at a time. Every single human life from conception until natural death is sacred. In the deepest part of our conscience we know this is true.