A Gala Event, and Why It Matters

On Friday night, my wife Peggy and I had the privilege of being the guests of the Sisters of Life at their annual Dinner Gala at the Union League Club.  It was a black tie affair, organized by the Friends of the Sisters of Life, and its goal is both to raise some money for the Sisters’ efforts, and also to offer an evening of fellowship for those who share and support their mission.  But it has a significance far beyond being an enjoyable evening on the town with my lovely wife.

It’s not news to anyone that our society is deeply mired in what Pope John Paul called a “culture of death”.  The threats to human life from the moment of conception until natural death are everywhere for us to see.  Just in the newspaper today we read of the terrible imbalance between boys and girls in China, the result of sex-selection abortion.  And we have reviews of an upcoming special movie on cable TV,  a favorable profile of Dr. Kevorkian, the killer of dozens of elderly and sick people, under the duplicitous charade of “assisted suicide”.

The Sisters, because of their special charism to protect and defend human life, are a significant counter-sign to the culture of death.  And their friends at the Dinner, who share this mission and love for life, joined them in proclaiming the truth of the dignity of every human life.

We also see throughout our culture a trivialization of sex and a denial of the values of authentic femininity and masculinity.  Nobody can turn on the television or pick up a magazine or newspaper without having distorted sexual images and values thrust upon them.  And daily we see the consequences of sexual nihilism.

The Sisters, because of their open witness to religious life, are a powerful counter-sign to the culture of libertinism.  Their commitment to virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of God helps us to clarify our own understanding of authentic sexuality.  Their beautiful testimony to authentic femininity makes it easier for women to be what they are called to be, and men to be what we are called to be.  We certainly saw this at the Dinner, with so many wonderful young men and women who were living lives of virtue and joy.

At this time in particular, our Church is under attack, not least because of the sins of Her children.  As at many times in history, the weaknesses of fallen men and women are a scandal, contradicting the message and mission of the faith.  Sadly, our sins are driving others away from the only Person who can heal them, Jesus Christ himself.

And here is, in my opinion, the greatest significance of the Sisters.  At every point in Her history, when reform and renewal have been necessary, the proper and essential response has never been to simply enact more laws and more procedures.  The answer has never been to change the gender of those in high Church offices, or to open up positions of authority to lay people as such, or to relax some disciplinary rules like celibacy for the clergy.

The only answer to the need for reform and renewal, today as always, has been sanctity.  Holiness is the only way for the Church to restore her bridal beauty, so that She may be presented to Christ the Bridegroom “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5: 27).

And this is why the Lord has called forth the Sisters of Life, and other dynamic religious communities like them — to be beacons of sanctity, to encourage all of us to holiness, and to pray for an increase in devotion and fidelity among God’s people.

So, yes, it was a gala event, and everyone had a wonderful time.  But nobody could miss the deeper meaning, and why it matters so much.

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