It has been a long time in coming. One could be tempted to say that the blame lays at the feet of the Baby Boomer generation, but like with all things human, such is too simple an answer. For the last century or two at least the concept of Man, as made in the divine image of God, has been under assault from a variety of vectors. But they all center around one simple but wrong principle. The notion that Man is not made in the divine image of God.
As Catholics we know about the Divine origins of Man and because of this we have a responsibility to testify to that truth. That Man, by his nature, has been given the freedom to do what is right and holy in the sight of God. A right that no one can take from us, nor can we even revoke it.
The media attempts to paint this as a "War on Women." In particular, the media attempts to shape the discussion around the Church's opposition to contraceptives. While it is true that the American bishops are simply asking to not have to participate in evil by paying for it, in some respects, the media is on the right track.
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.—BoromirThe contraceptive pill is the symbol of everything our modern culture stands for. It promises power and submission of nature to the will. It promises control over one's very nature. It is the One Ring of the modern world, a shortcut to dominion and control, with the promises that life will be easier and free from responsibility.
The pill represents the stance of the modern man toward nature. Nature, especially human nature, is not something to be respected, but enslaved. Not to be respected and cared for, but tortured for her secrets and ultimately to bend it to submission. All the more so for the human body, summed up perfectly in the mantra, "My body, my choice." The body is to submit to the control of the mind, not the spirit.
But we as Catholics have another small thing. It is a symbol that stands as a shining light against the false promises of the Pill. That thing is the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. The Body that was offered up for the salvation of mankind. The Blood that was shed for the sins of all. The symbol and reality of sacrifice, humility, and the reception of grace.
The Eucharist stands as a symbol of everything the Pill is not. The Eucharist leads to true life, the Pill to death. The Eucharist promises our true destiny and shows what it means to be human, uniting us with God, ultimately sharing in the divinity of the One Who Died for us. The Pill promises power, and the attempt to become gods by demanding our nature bend to a warped will. The Eucharist tells us who we truly are, the Pill promises that we can change that.
The Obama administration now demands that we put the Pill where the Eucharist belongs. It demands that we put our fidelity to the Pill before our fidelity to the Eucharist. It demands that we participate in the consecration of the Pill, even if we do partake of it ourselves. Like Caesar of old, the Obama administration would have us add the Pill to the altar, in the public sphere if not the one in Church. It would have us revere the Pill as the source of life, and push the Eucharist to the closet space of life under the guise of "freedom of worship."
I honestly do not know what the outcome of this fight will be. History gives us differing opinions of how the Church in various countries respond to persecution. The bishops in England caved to a man. The Church in Rome rose up and ousted the old empire. The Church as a whole will survive. The Church in America is a fate to be determined. But God also uses such times to raise up saints, and we could use them now.
The funny thing is we are not fighting for our own "freedom to choose." The true freedom to worship and live our lives in the public square in accordance with the will of God. America has been an exceptional country to this point. It remains to be seen if it will remain so, or simply continue down the path toward the bondage of sin.
There is always hope. God, in His infinite mercy, can turn the tide. America was founded on the notion of inalienable rights. There have always been those who have attempted to subvert that ideal. We have also not lived up to that ideal at times. But even if the very government turns against such a fundamental freedom as religious liberty, that right still exists. It cannot be taken by any decree, any force of arms, nor by any tyranny of either the mob, the majority, or the individual possessing that right.
This is why we celebrate the fourth of July. That a nation was founded on these rights. That the founding fathers did their best to preserve and develop a country of ordered liberty that not only respected but enshrined such rights into law. The freedom to choose the Eucharist over the Pill.
We may have a government hostile to such a choice now. Perhaps even a majority of the people as well. It matters not. They have no say in the matter. These rights, these truths, these freedoms come from a God that builds them into our very nature. No tyrant, no mob, no intellectual elite, no experts, can take such rights.
As Catholics we now stand for those rights that America was founded upon. As Americans it is our heritage, and we have no right to throw them away or forget those rights and those who died to protect them. As human beings, it is our very nature that the Obama administration is now at war with.
Though the fortnight for freedom is over we must still deploy our weapons to protect this freedom. Those weapons, prayer and grace, have leveled empires and crushed evils that have attempted to destroy the Church in the past. We only have to deploy them.
There will come a time when America is no more. Being a human institution it has a lifespan of its own. It is simply our fallen nature that causes what we build to crumble over time.
But the dream of America, that noble experiment of freedom birthed in 1776, will continue on beyond the physical and even spiritual death of the current society. Like the Magna Carta of old, the ideas and image of Man in such outlive the structures that they were supposed to influence, but the dreams that form the foundation of those milestones live on, because they are found in the nature of Man himself. And whenever these foundations are discovered, recognized, and in our fallen way respected, it is worthy of celebration. And that I believe is what we celebrate today.
Happy Independence Day!