The Rosary Light & Life - Vol 43, No 5, Sep.-Oct. 1990

Theology for the Laity


By Father Paul Duffner, O.P.

Speaking to His apostles, Our Lord said: "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE." (Jn. 14:6) There is no way to the Father, except through Christ. There is no truth except that it conforms to the Infinite Truth that is God. There is no life that does not have God as its ultimate source. That is true from the lowest form of life to the highest angel. As regards human life, God alone is the cause of the human soul (source of manís natural life), and of divine grace (source of manís supernatural life).

With all the progress of modern science and technology, the world of science cannot produce even the smallest living cell. Life - in the order of nature - comes only from pre-existing life, each cell coming from a pre-existing cell which divides and causes growth. Science can analyze a blade of grass, and tell us all the elements or chemical components that go to make it up; but if that blade of grass dies, the scientist cannot restore its life; nor can he take those chemical components, put them together and have a blade of grass. There is a life that has been lost, and no power on earth can restore it. To pass on life, there must be pre-existing life, pre-existing cells. Such is the law of nature established by the Author of all life.


With human life, however, there is needed not only preexisting life, but the special intervention on the part of God. In the divine scheme of things, God has so ordered the laws of nature that man would cooperate with Him in bringing new human life into the world. He has given this tremendous power to man and woman, to initiate the process that will occasion Godís creating another immortal human soul, made to Godís image. Each time the ovum is fertilized, God brings into being another human being, another human person. As the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in 1974 in its Declaration on Abortion:


All the above makes it clear that the deliberate destruction of the human fetus at any stage of its development is the taking of human life. For this reason the second Vatican Council declared "from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care. Abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." (Gaudium et Spes, n. 51)

Since God alone is the source of every human life, God alone has the right to take it away. (Wis. 15:11 ) We are not speaking of capital punishment, or other situations where, through serious violations of the rights of others, one can forfeit his own right to life. We are speaking of the natural right to life of every innocent person, including the unborn who are especially innocent of any crime . . . and who, before God, are persons, regardless of what any human court might declare. As the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated:

The culture in which we live is deeply infected with secular humanism, a philosophy of life that has no place for God, and which dominates much of our educational system, the media, and even our government. As a result the concept of "human rights" has become so distorted that millions in our country claim the right to kill the unborn.

The lasting solution to the rights of the unborn goes a lot deeper than victory at the polls. We will be successful in eliminating or noticeably lessening the slaughter of the unborn only when the majority of our people recognize the divine source of all human life, and Godís absolute right over it. If there were no human soul made to Godís image, then destroying a human fetus would be of no more consequence than destroying a cat or dog.

Human life is being sacrificed, because the divine source of human life is being denied. Human life becomes cheap, when man thinks that he alone is its creator. The attitude is: "What I can bring into being, I can destroy." Ignore Godís role in the great mystery of life, and chaos, destruction and misery invariably follow.

What happens when a human fetus is destroyed? The material element of the person is destroyed, but the soul (created at conception) will live on for all eternity. All the while that mangled body cries out to heaven for vengeance against those who have deprived it of the opportunity of participating more fully in the divine life for which it was created.


Let us look at Godís intervention from another aspect. At the words of consecration (by the priest at Mass) Christ intervenes and changes the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. Even in the case of a priest who has fallen away from the Church and has turned against God, and who intends to use the Sacred Species in a ritual of blasphemy and desecration . . . even then, at the words of consecration, Christ would intervene and change the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. In a similar way, even when God foresees that two persons who are misusing their procreative powers will seek the destruction of any human life that comes forth, God will still intervene and create a human soul destined to live for all eternity.

How selfish and blind can man be who would destroy another human life, just to make his/her own life more convenient, as if oneís convenience is more important than the human life he/she destroys. Yet this happens by the million -in our U.S.A. What a terrible reckoning must be in store for our country, if this enormous holocaust continues.

What is more, many forms of birth control do not prevent conception, but merely prevent the fertilized ovum from nesting in the uterus. In each such case a human soul is created by God. A human being begins to exist only to be destroyed shortly thereafter. How often this happens in the life of one who uses contraceptives, only God knows.


Because this procreative power with which God has endowed man and woman can be so terrible in its consequences if it is misused, God has made gravely binding laws as to the use of that power in the 6th and 9th commandments. And yet, our godless society is making a mockery of Godís laws, seeing all this as merely an instrument of pleasure. To control the use of this power (and prevent its misuse) God - from the beginning - established the institution of marriage; and then to further strengthen parents in safe-guarding and respecting that power, Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, making the proper use of that procreative power a means of grace.

All this helps us to see the meaning of and the necessity of the virtue of purity (chastity). That virtue instills a reverence for that sublime power of procreation, and becomes a safeguard of it lest it be misused. That power, seen in the light of Christian faith, is something beautiful and awesome; but by the same token, its misuse is a terrible disruption of Godís plan, terrible in its consequences.

There will be no respect for human life without a reverence for and a safeguarding of this procreative power that brings forth new life. In other words, respect for human life is inseparable from the virtue of purity. When human love is cheapened, human life itself becomes cheap. Yet, perhaps never before in human history has this power, so beautiful in Godís plan, been dragged down into the mire on so wide a scale. One has but to turn on the television, or to read the page of movie advertisements to see how true this is.


For those of us who are Christian and Catholic, the unborn child - whether it be healthy or deformed, whether it gives promise of a normal life or one that is not normal - is seen not only as a human person with a right to life, but as a child of God. And God is going to demand an accounting of every human soul entrusted to every human parent. As Pope Paul Vl stated, speaking to the Medical Association of West Flanders:

Then, after speaking of the sacredness of human life, the Holy Father continues:

In the book of Genesis (4:10), we read that Cain, after killing his brother Abel, was asked by the Lord "where is your brother Abel?" Cain answered: "I do not know, am I my brotherís keeper?" The Lord answered: "Your brotherís blood cries out to me from the soil." The blood of millions upon millions of the unborn who were deliberately killed cries out for vengeance. And to the end of each motherís life who ďchoseĒ abortion, Godís voice will ask in the depth of her soul what He asked Cain: "Where is your child?" And no preoccupation with other things will ever completely stifle that voice.


On one occasion our Blessed Lord scolded the Israelites for not recognizing the fulfillment of the prophesies of the Old Testament. "You hypocrite! If you can interpret the portents of the earth and sky, why can you not interpret the present times?" (Lk. 12:54) They should have recognized Him as the Messiah. They should have recognized their day as the time of His coming.

From our knowledge of the Scriptures, are there signs at the present time that should indicate things to come? Only God knows the future, but there are situations in the Scriptures that find a striking parallel in our present day. And if the events recorded in the Scriptures are for our instruction, we can well afford to reflect on manís failure in the past, and Godís dealing with Him as a consequence. When the Israelites observed His laws, they enjoyed prosperity; when they notably failed, He punished them severely.

I would like to single out a few verses of Psalm 106 which have a frightening parallel to our present day. When God led the Israelites to the promised land, He commanded them not to mingle with pagans, lest they be influenced to turn to false gods. They disregarded this, intermarrying with them, adopting their practices, even worshiping their god. We read in Psalm 106:

It might be fruitful to examine those lines in the light of our present day. We are not called to destroy a nation, or anyone, as they were; but as Christians we are called to be apostolic, i.e. to seek to Christianize our surroundings, at least to give witness of our Christian faith. But instead of changing those around us, it is the pagan world that is changing us (at least a sizable majority of us). We are adopting the ways, the thinking, the practices of the pagan world - at least we as a nation.

Millions of Americans (many of whom call themselves Christians) are offering sacrifice to the pagan god of pleasure . . . the god of science . . . the god of the almighty dollar . . . sacrificing their own sons and daughters through the "legalized" sacrifice of killing the unborn.

How well the inspired words of Psalm 94 apply to our time, and our country:

Worship of demons from the most ancient times has been associated with human sacrifice. We are not far from that today as a nation. There is little difference between the Aztec Indians of Mexico offering human sacrifice by the thousands (including their own offspring) to appease the unknown spirit, to obtain favors . . . and the millions of Americans who sacrifice the child of the womb, in order that this unwanted child will not interfere with the pleasure, the convenience or comfort of their life . . . in order not to increase the cost of living, etc.

Those millions of parents and doctors may not be expressly and intentionally giving homage to Satan, but they certainly are delighting his satanic heart - in their defiance of God who said "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex. 20:13)

When the Israelites sacrificed their children to the pagan god, the Lord allowed their enemies to conquer them, to become their master. Does this pattern of the Old Testament indicate things to come? Only God knows, but the parallel is frightening. From the magnitude of our defiance of God as a nation and our collaboration with Satan, Godís justice will demand a terrible punishment. Whether the great wave of paganism and of idolatry that has engulfed our nation - and much of the world - can be turned back, or to what extent it can be fumed back, will determine the extent that the chastisement of God will be turned away.


The main enemy we must contend with is not a foreign nation, not a political power. As St. Paul expressed it, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high." (Eph. 6:12) Then he went on to explain the need of spiritual weapons. Our Lord, too, emphasized the importance of weapons of the spirit. On one occasion His disciples were unable to cast out a certain demon. "This kind," He said, "can be cast out only by prayer and fasting." (Mk. 9:28) Fasting here can mean renunciation of anything man craves.

The ultimate forces of evil behind the immorality of today are such that no human power can match them if man is left to himself. But under the banner of Our Lady, who in the divine plan is to be the instrument of Godís power in crushing the head of Satan, it is a different story. Place your prayers and sacrifices in heí hands, who can do so much with so little. Trust in her power. If we, in union with thousands of others, use the weapons she asked, Our Lady will lead in this conflict "terrible as an army in battle array." (Sg. 6:4) Satan has already been conquered by Christ, who will use His Mother in bringing an end to his reign, in undoing his hold on the world. As Pope John Paul admonished in speaking to the Pro-Life movement:

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