(Last night, I was given the “Our Lady of Guadalupe Family Life Award” at the annual dinner for the support of the Montfort Academy, the wonderful high school dedicated to classical Catholic education, in full fidelity to the Church. I’d like to share with you the text of my remarks at the award dinner.)
I would like to thank you for inviting me here to this great event, and for giving me such a splendid award. It is especially gratifying to receive an award like this from an institution that is doing so much to build and sustain a Culture of Life. I often think that awards like this reflect more the generosity of the giver, than the merits of the recipient. But I’m very grateful to you, and I’m also most grateful to God for the many opportunities he has given to me, to give witness to the Gospel of Life. All glory to God!
I think it is particularly appropriate that we’re speaking of the Gospel of Life, and our efforts to create a Culture of Life, here in the season of Advent, on this great feast day. We are preparing ourselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God, and the coming of our King — revolutionary events that have changed the world. We are living in anticipation of our salvation, which comes to us through hope (Rom. 8:24) and fills us with great joy.
Of course, when we look around our world, many people are wondering if there is any evidence for that hope, or indeed any hope at all for our world. There is reason for that concern — our society is in the grips of a culture of death, and is very deeply wounded.
We’re all aware of the threats at the beginning of life. Abortion on demand is the law of our land, we’ve seen the re-election of a president who is fully committed to an anti-life agenda, a Supreme Court decision upholding a health care law that institutionalizes abortion, and the spread of the contraceptive mentality that views children not as a gift, but as a threat to be suppressed.
At the end of life, we see continued threats, hidden behind jargon like “quality of life” and “medical futility” or a utilitarian calculation of the allocation of scarce resources.
The family and marriage, are under attack in our courts and legislatures, and we will once again be at the mercy of a Supreme Court decision on such a fundamental issue.
And, we are also aware of those among us who have been wounded — including millions of women and men who suffer in the aftermath of an abortion, as well as the victims of family breakdown.
Our society needs healing from these deep wounds. We are seeking some relief, but it’s very hard to find because we are all too often blinded by our wounds. I am reminded of the poignant World War One painting by John Singer Sargent, called “Gassed”, which shows a line of injured soldiers, blinded by a poison gas attack, stumbling ahead to find a medical station.
From all appearances, the state of our wounded world seems very bleak. And yet, and yet…
We know something that the world does not. We know a truth that the world does not recognize, or has forgotten — a truth about the human person, about human society, and about our relationship with God. We know that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and that every human person — and human society as a whole — has been sanctified and redeemed by Jesus. This vision is attractive and compelling to people — because it is true.
We understand also that there is a law higher than any human law, a law that demands our obedience because it was written by God into our very nature. This natural law offers us a vision of the common good and justice, that recognizes and defends human dignity, and allows for authentic human development.
In fact, we know that there’s a revolution going on. It’s a revolution of life and love. We know that there is a King whose reign is on the rise. We have a hope that the world can never thwart. And we know that this revolution — and this King — will bring peace and healing to our world.
If we were to rely only on the media, we would be hard pressed to see this. But we can see it, because of our unique perspective. As the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, we are “strangers and exiles” (Heb 11:16), “for here we have no lasting city” (Heb 13:14). Saint Augustine explained that we are citizens of the City of God, but we are still deeply engaged in the City of Man. We may feel that we are in a kind of Babylonian captivity, but we heed the words of God through the Prophet Jeremiah, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer 29:7).
From this perspective, we can see the revolution of love in so many places:
In all these areas, and in many more, the Culture of Life is being built. We argue, we convince, we give witness, we serve, we share, we suffer with, and we pray. We work for the welfare of this great nation. And we point out to our world the path to the healing it so desperately needs. Of course, this is not easy — it is a struggle, it’s hard work.
This struggle is nothing new. Our revolution began in an ancient society immersed in death and sin, which was yearning for redemption and healing. It started in a small family home in Nazareth, where a young woman said “yes” to that strange and fearful message from an angel. It followed our great King as he healed and preached the truth, as he made his way to Calvary. It burst forth from the empty tomb and caught fire in the upper room. It spread through homes and families across the world, inspiring ordinary people who have struggled with all the difficulties and trials of their own times. It strode bravely into the arena where it shed blood and inspired poetry.
Our revolution has always been opposed by the forces of the world. But through it all, it has brought healing and peace to the suffering of every nation and has boldly held aloft the standard of our King.
That standard has now been passed to us. We may be strangers and exiles in this land, but the battle has been joined — in our families, in our marriages, in our parishes, in our schools, in our communities, in our voting booths, in our legislatures, in our courts. In our hearts.
Advent is here. Our King is at hand. Where else would we rather be, except in this struggle, in this time, at the side of our King, at the side of our Queen?
All glory and honor to our King Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.