“How could a human individual not be a human person?”
(St. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, 60)
The Catholic Church designates January 22 as a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children. The reversal of Roe vs. Wade hasn’t ended the battle. It opened the door for us to bring the Holy Spirit further into this battle against the destruction of the concept of a human person. From the legalization of abortion has come the numerous other ills in society: destruction of the family, of marriage, of human bodily integrity, and of social institutions.
A person is a rational being that is an end in himself (e.g. angels, humans). All other living or non-living beings are things that exist to be used to serve an end (serve us in our serving God). Plants emit oxygen into the air and provide sustenance for various other life forms. Our pets bring us comfort and joy. A person has value simply by his existence (intrinsic value) whereas an object is good for ‘something’. When the understanding of personhood is stripped from the definition of being human, we also become things, objects to be put to use.
Persons are in relation with other persons. We know, communicate with, and love other persons, not things. As fundamentally moral beings with responsibility for our actions, we can distinguish the nature of other creatures, understand their purposes and ends, and from that know right and wrong action. From this distills moral responsibility; we have a duty to justice. From all of this comes an implication of respect, worthiness, etc. that are due to a person and that is not due to non-persons. We are to respect God’s creation in that we are to be good stewards and caretakers of it. With ‘things’, we should appreciate the human ingenuity it represents as a reflection of God’s Divine Mind. But we have a higher duty to human persons made in God’s own image.
God’s eternal law is the proper ordering of all things such that each, according to its nature, acts in a manner congruent to its final end. For humans, that final end is happiness in God, and our ‘good’ acts contain in part attributes of God’s goodness. We have been given inclinations towards this in our human nature, known as natural law, including right reason to determine an act to be good. Civil (human) law, then, should order society to act (or refrain from acting) in accord to right reason that emanates from a properly formed moral conscience. From this, we live and move in a manner congruent to attaining our final end in God–Heaven.
The human race is in a global identity crisis which began when the notion of ‘rights’ was segregated from personhood by the Roe vs. Wade decision. This inverse reasoning then codified into societal law and culture the treatment of humans as objects, thus destroying the foundational notion of personhood. Within all aspects and disciplines of society lurked movements which had covertly or minimally sought to redefine the human person; the door now opened for their rapid development. Those associated with sexuality are obvious since the human body now became an object to be used and even dismantled as one saw fit. Claims that we are primarily sexual animals with sexual rights from birth (not conception, defeating their fundamental claim) separate the sex act from its natural purpose which is innate to one’s feminine/masculine identity. The dismantling of identity easily segued into the dismantling of the body (transgenderism). Meanwhile, homosexual marriage disordered the relations between adult persons. Sexual relations between persons further disintegrated into disordered relations across species (bestiality), between siblings or close family, between adults and children, between children with one another, and between humans with man-made objects. Almost all instances engage the body (human and/or animal) in a disordered way.
The human body, as well as the human individual, is now believed to be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. That ultimate end is no longer eternal happiness in God but, rather, emotional and carnal satisfaction in the present. The human’s consciousness is focused on what they are rather than ‘who’. Without a fundamental belief in personhood, relations are focused on things and in the process the human loses ability to properly relate to other persons. As objects to be used, persons and their relationships are now disposable.
The project now lying before us is to restore societal norms that are conducive to God’s plan for all of creation. While this may seem impossible, all things are possible in God. As a wise student once shared, “If God has not put limitation on you, who are you to limit yourself?” And St. Francis de Sales wrote, “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.” This is true in the spiritual life and also true in our active life. Gently, with love, we can share the reasonableness of truth with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, even store clerks. What might happen if, with every person who crossed your path today, you shared some small truth of their personhood? They have value to the world by their mere existence, dignity in their created being, and were created to be loved by God. Do they know this?
Of course, to share this we must first know this, and truly believe it, for ourselves. It is in mental prayer with our Lord that we discover love Himself. If you’ve never engaged in silent prayer or have given up on it, then start again. If you currently have regular silent prayer with Him, then allow Him to unravel the knots remaining in your heart. Beginning prayer with the Ignatian Examen is a good way to jumpstart those conversations. Let 2024 be the year that you allow God to raise your relationship with Him to new heights never before imagined. Then share that gift every day.
“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
(Image by Oleg Sergeichik via Unsplash)
Thank you for caring and sharing appropriately...
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