Church of the Visitation
The Dignity of Human Life
"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is
1 John 3:1-2
Does this Scripture passage give us any insight into what God thinks about the dignity and worth of human life?
It seems to be nonstop. Almost every day we hear of human life being taken so casually. Whether it is on a large scale such as mass shootings or even the loss of a single life through overdose or suicide, every tragic loss is a diminishment of each of us as individuals and as a society. Of course, while this life has a determined end here, that end should be determined through God alone: the Author of life, the only one who can create life and so the only one who has legitimate power to take it back to Himself.
The most basic principle of the Christian moral life is the fact that every person bears the dignity of being made in the image of God. We are given an immortal soul, the understanding to perceive the beauty of God through creation and free will to choose to love the true, good and beautiful. Sadly, through the Original Sin of our first parents and, as a result of the concupiscence that is in us, added to through our own personal sin, our intellect is darkened and we are drawn towards making choices that deny this truth, goodness and beauty.
Based on the love that God has for us, continuing with both ourselves and others, we need to respect the human dignity of every person. Governments and social institutions exist to serve and enhance that dignity. And, just as those governments and institutions are obliged to respect the unique human dignity of every individual, it is also the responsibility of every individual to do the same. Prejudice, bias and hatred for any reason as well as actions or judgments based on prejudiced or biased laws, violate God's will and law.
Written by the U.S. bishops, the words of the pastoral reflection
Living With Faith And Hope After September 11
need to be heard and reflected upon all the more as we hear of events that act against the dignity of human life, no matter where it takes place or on what scale:
"we are a wounded people. We share loss and pain, anger and fear, shock and determination in the face of these attacks on our nation and all humanity...Our faith teaches us about good and evil, free will and responsibility. Jesus' life, teaching, death and resurrection show us the meaning of love and justice in a broken world. Sacred Scripture and traditional ethical principles define what it means to make peace. They provide moral guidance on how the world should respond justly in order to reestablish peace and order.
A time for witness.
In our work and communities, we should live our values of mutual respect, human dignity and respect for life. We should seek security without embracing discrimination. We should use our voices to protect human life, to seek greater justice, and to pursue peace as participants in a powerful democracy.
A time for hope.
Above all, we need to turn to God and to one another in hope. Hope assures us that, with God's grace, we will see our way through what now seems such a daunting challenge. For believers, hope is not a matter of optimism, but a source for strength and action in demanding times. For peacemakers, hope is the indispensable virtue. This hope, together with our response to the call to conversion, must be rooted in God's promise and nourished by prayer, penance, and acts of charity and solidarity."
The full text of this pastoral letter may be found at
Being able to see all human life - both our own and others - as a precious gift and immensely wonderful in God's eyes begins with each of us by choosing ways that are in harmony with God's plan. Provided to us through "the law written in our hearts" (
) and through Scripture, lived most perfectly in the life of Christ and infallibly taught and interpreted through the Church, it is the way to be who God created each of us to be and so to enjoy eternal union with Him.
Christian morality and God's law aren't arbitrary: they are specifically given to us for our happiness. The best way to grown in freedom is to perform good acts. Good deeds help us make free and develop good habits. When we choose to act contrary to God's way, we become slaves to sin and reduces our ability to be free. Slavery to sin comes from being immoral. True freedom comes from being moral.
. . . we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only faced with but necessarily in the midst of this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.
St. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 28
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Video (5:09 minutes) -
The Fifth Commandment
In episode 29 of the video series of the
U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults
we look at the fifth Commandment:"You shall not kill." In the Incarnation, Christ assumed human nature and gave an incredible dignity to humanity. This incredible dignity must be defended in every stage and circumstance. Poverty, abortion, war, capital punishment, euthanasia, abuse, and any other degrading condition for the human person must be heroically opposed. This session will explore the ways that we, as Christians, can build up a culture of life amid a society of increasing moral confusion.
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Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, November 10 at 3:00PM