Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness: 15 Catholic Reflections on Inalienable Truths
As we Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it’s a great time to look at some statements of Catholics over the years on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Turns out, we Catholics love all three.
This July 4th, let’s remember to pray for our nation and all of those in America. Let’s pray that God blesses us with the willingness to protect and promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Because if we no longer protect innocent life, if we no longer recognize the nature of liberty, if we are no longer allowed the pursuit of happiness, then misery will pursue us.
“This century has shown that once the right to life of some category of people is denied, then all human rights are in jeopardy.” – Pope St. John Paul II
“The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself.” Pope Benedict XVI
“The right to life: This right is basic and inalienable. It is grievously violated in our day by contraception, sterilization, abortion and euthanasia, by widespread torture, by acts of violence against innocent parties, and by the scourge of war, genocide, mass campaigns against the right to life.” Pope John XXIII, 1974
“This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people…” Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995
“Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority… to defend the lives of the innocent… Among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother’s womb.” Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 1930
“All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Pope Francis
“…We exhort all people and all classes of society to that peace which finds its basis and nurture in justice, liberty, and love.” Pope Pius XII, Datis Nupperime, 1956
“The end, or object, both of the rational will and of its liberty is that good only which is in conformity with reason… if the possibility of deflection from good belonged to the essence or perfection of liberty, then God…would have no liberty at all…” Pope Leo XIII, Libertas
“These dangers, that is, the confounding of license with liberty…have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church’s teaching office than ever before…”
Pope Leo XIII, Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae
“…efforts of all kinds are being made to supplant the kingdom of God by a reign of license under the lying name of liberty.” Pope Saint Pius X, Communium Rerum, 1909
The Pursuit Of Happiness
“Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence.” Saint Thomas Aquinas, S.T., I-II, Q. 3
“To understand things that are important and good, or even divine, is the happiest thing.” St. Augustine
“The wholehearted acceptance of the will of God is the sure way of finding joy and peace: happiness in the cross.” St. Josemaria Escriva
“And it is because you don’t know the end and purpose of things that you think the wicked and the criminal have power and happiness.” Boethius
…(M)an cannot find true happiness — towards which he aspires with all his being — other than in respect of the laws written by God in his very nature, laws which he must observe with intelligence and love. Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 1968
First, I want it known that I don’t think you have to be black to head an NAACP chapter. Some may, I don’t.
But this isn’t about that. It’s about someone who’s one thing portraying themselves as another. And I want to say up front that I’ve been guilty of this in the past, as have most people, whether we tell fish stories, or lie about being somewhere we weren’t, or the like.
Rachel Dolezal portrayed herself publicly as something she’s not, and tried to change her appearance to suit how she felt. I’m not holding that against her, other than that she lied to people. But my point to make, here, is this…Isn’t this the same thing that transgender people do? They feel like they’re not whatever gender they are, and so they change their outward appearance to suit how they think they feel inside. But they have not changed what they really are, and that’s my point.
People should embrace who they are, however they are. Then they should seek God’s guidance into how they should live, and go forth and live that way. If someone feels that they’re a woman in a man’s body, they can embrace that, but they need to also embrace that they are genetically male. Seek from God what to do with your plight, and then go and do it.
Very short message, but I think it’s important.
By Tori Vissat | Guest Blogger
Photo credit | Donna Irene Photography
I want to make him happy.
I enjoy it too.
I love him.
I’m just having fun.
My friends will think I’m weird if I stop.
I have said each of these and more. For years, I believed that the only thing I could offer a guy was my body. That somehow I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or fun enough for him to love me for me. Maybe I didn’t know how to have a normal conversation with men? I laid awake in bed and felt it down in my core: a deep longing in my heart. The voice of my heart was screaming to be held. I’ve been held before, quite often actually, for many years, but never in the way that I’d truly desired.
Night after night in a dazed state of drunken confusion, I’d laid in bed with a man whom I knew I didn’t like, let alone love, wondering the next morning how I got there or what I even did. Or maybe I did remember. That was worse. It was never right; the causal nature of it all, how common it was to share that intimate moment with a stranger. It was never right. There was always something that didn’t feel okay. How did I get to this point? The girl at 13 who started to be physical with her boyfriends was now tossing herself at a different guy each weekend. For what? I was having fun right?
I could have never guessed years later I would be seething in pain from the loss that accompanied giving away a part of my heart each time I succumbed to having sex. Each time I allowed him to come over past 10pm even though I knew where it would lead. And I know that many women continue to do it, with someone who isn’t their husband, and I get it. I really do. I get the need to be cherished, desired, held and mostly, to be loved. To hear someone tell you the things your heart longs for. Yet, it was not until 3 years after I stopped having sex that I realized the way my heart really felt; bruised, crushed & angry. Really angry.
Angry with men and I had no idea why. No one told me that sleeping with that guy from the bar would leave me feeling more empty than I thought possible. No one told me that it would make me feel more unworthy and more alone. No one told me that with each one-night stand, my heart was building up walls that would keep everyone out. That allowing men access to my body would make it seemingly impossible to receive a hug, hear someone tell me I’m beautiful, or let myself be loved. I stopped having sex and you have the freedom to stop as well.
In college, thanks to God’s intervention, I realized that the lie I was living needed to end. That despite what the world was telling me, I could stop having sex. I could save it for its proper context and I could regain the part of me that is so precious. My heart could remain with God until He asks me to give it away. Meeting God in the depths of my heart and hearing His voice was for me the start of the battle to change.
The battle to claim a new life in Christ and to shed away the masks of false identity. And it was scary, really scary. Would I find someone who would love me for me? I was graced with the presence of many influential women at the time who continue to show me that living with dignity and strength comes from my knowledge of who my Father is, and who I am: His daughter. I learned that while on His cross, the Lord saw all those lonely nights I lay in bed wondering if this is as good as it gets. He bore the pain of my wounds and today allows me to live in the freedom, which He has promised. The wounds that sometimes still feel open and raw I have slowly and gently placed into the Hands of Him who speaks the truth of my goodness to my heart. He is my Father and yours, First let Him in and He will do the rest.
P.S. You are enough.
I don’t know the Duggars, I don’t watch their show, I have no vested interest, whatsoever. I heard about something going on with them last week, but didn’t care to know more, until I watched Fox News last night, and found out what all the hullabaloo was about.
I mean, let’s face it. An adolescent boy touched his own sisters inappropriately. Outside their clothes. They didn’t even know he did it until he admitted it. I’m not saying that what he did isn’t wrong. What I am saying is that the family dealt with the issue appropriately. They had him counselled, they made him go to the police and confess it, and they set up rules in the home so it wouldn’t happen again.
What I don’t like about all this is the left’s reaction, especially LGBT types saying that the Duggars should not cast moral judgement because they, themselves, have morality problems. I know that people hate it when someone condemns their own personal proclivities. But just because one Duggar did something wrong does not mean that they can’t hold an opinion about the LGBT lifestyle. One does not exclude the other.
If the Radical Left had their way, nobody could say a word about anyone else’s ills. And that’s just not acceptable. Or possible. Everyone has some sort of sin.
The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and what we are called to do and be. Most moderns see the body as merely a tool of sorts. Assertions are made that one can do as one pleases with one’s own body, and that a person’s sex (male or female) is purely incidental—merely an arbitrary quality one “happens to have.” Many say that our sex should not speak to anything deeper than genitals and that other “mere” physical differences are to be set aside to one degree or another. In effect, it would seem that our bodies have little or nothing to say to us. According to modern culture they are incidental.
The rejection of the body as instructive or in any way determinative has reached its zenith in the attempted normalization of homosexual activity, the redefinition of marriage, and now, sexual “reassignment” surgery.
As regards homosexual acts, any non-ideological analysis of the body will indicate that the man was not made for the man, nor the woman for the woman. Rather, the man is made for the woman and the woman for the man. This is set forth quite clearly in the pure physicality of things. St. Paul calls homosexual acts παρὰ φύσιν (para physin), meaning “contrary to the nature of things.”
As regards so-called sex “reassignment” surgery, I must point out that the soul is the form of the body. Now of course I can hear the objection that somehow we are not only physical beings and thus to use simply physical arguments is not proper. While this is true, but the body cannot be ignored. The soul is the form of the body. That is to say, our soul, its essence and abilities, gives rise to the structure and physical attributes of the body.
What is meant by saying that the soul is the form of the body? Consider for a moment a glove. What is the form of a glove? What determines how a glove is formed, shaped, and designed? Well, of course, it is the hand. It is both the shape of the hand and its capacities that give rise to the design and function of the glove. A glove with only three fingers or one with eight fingers would be a poor glove indeed. The proper form of the glove is the hand. And it is not just the shape of the hand that dictates the design of the glove, it is also the required functioning of the hand. Fingers need to move and work together for the hand to achieve its purpose. A glove that was extremely stiff and permitted the fingers no movement would be a poor glove. A good glove protects the hand but also permits it to achieve its proper end. Thus the fully functioning hand is the form (or blueprint) of the glove.
In the same way, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Our bodies have the design they do because of the capacities of our souls. We are able to talk because our souls have something to say. Our fingers are nimble yet strong because our souls have the capacity to work at tasks that require both strength and agility. We have highly developed brains because our souls have the capacity to think and reason. Animals have less of all this because their souls have little capacity in any of these regards. My cat, Daniel, does not speak. This is not just because he has no larynx; Daniel has no larynx because he has nothing to say. The lack of capacity in his animal soul (or life-giving principle) is reflected in the design of his body.
Sexuality is more than skin-deep. When it comes to sexuality in the human person, our sex (or as some incorrectly call it, gender, (gender is a grammatical term that refers to the classification of nouns and pronouns)) is not just a coin toss. Our soul is either male or female and our body reflects that fact. I don’t just “happen” to be male; I am male. My soul is male; my spirit is male; hence, my body is male. So called “sex-change” operations are a lie. Cross-dressing is a lie. “Transgender” and other made-up and confused assertions cannot change the truth of what the soul is. You can adapt the body but you cannot adapt the soul. The soul simply says, “Sum quod sum” (I am what I am).
The modern age has chosen simply to set all this aside and to see the body as incidental or arbitrary. This is a key error and has led to a lot of confusion. We have already seen how the widespread approval of homosexual acts has stemmed from this, but there are other confusions that have arisen as well.
Consider for example how the body speaks to the question of marriage. That the body has a nuptial (i.e., marital) meaning is literally inscribed in our bodies. God observed of Adam “It is not good for the man to be alone.” This fact is also evident in our bodies. I do not wish to be too explicit here but it is clear that the woman has physical aspects that are designed to find completion in union with a man, her husband. Likewise the man has physical aspects that are designed to find completion with a woman, his wife. The body has a “nuptial” meaning. It is our destiny; it is written in our nature to be in a complementary relationship with “the other.” But the complementarity is not just a physical one. Remember, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Hence, the intended complementarity extends beyond the physical, to the soul. We are made to find completion in the complementarity of the other. A man brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a woman cannot. A woman brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a man cannot. It is literally written in our bodies that we are generally meant to be completed and complemented by someone of the “opposite” (i.e., complementary) sex. And this complementarity is meant to bear fruit. The physical complementarity of spouses is fertile, fruitful. Here, too, the body reflects the soul. The fruitfulness is more than merely physical; it is spiritual and soulful as well.
It is true that not everyone finds a suitable marriage partner. But, from the standpoint of the nuptial meaning of the body, this is seen as less than ideal rather than as merely a neutral “alternative” lifestyle called the “single life.” (Uh-oh, there I go again.) If one is single with little possibility of this changing, then the nuptial meaning of the body is lived through some call of love and service to the Church (understood as the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ), and by extension to the community.
Another consideration in this has to be the question of celibacy in the Church and of the male priesthood. If the body has, among other things, a nuptial meaning, whence do celibacy and virginity for the sake of the Kingdom find their place? Simply in this: priests and religious sisters are not single. A religious sister is a bride of Christ. She weds her soul to Christ and is a beautiful image of the Church as bride (cf Eph 5:21ff). Fully professed sisters even wear the ring. As a priest, I do not consider myself a bachelor. I have a bride, the Church. She is a beautiful, though demanding, bride! And do you know how many people call me “Father”? The religious in my parish are usually called “Sister,” but the Superior is called “Mother” by all of us. And here, too, our bodies reflect the reality of our call. A woman images the Church as bride. A man images Christ as groom.
It is another error of modern times to say that a woman can be a priest. Jesus Christ didn’t just “happen” to be a man. He is the Groom of the Church; the Church is His Bride. The maleness of the Messiah, Jesus, was not just the result of a coin toss. Nor was it rooted merely in the “sociological requirements of the patriarchal culture of his time.” It is not merely incidental to His mission. He is male because He is groom. The priests who are configured to Him are also male because the body has a nuptial meaning and the Church is in a nuptial relationship to Christ. Christ is the groom; the priests through whom He ministers to His bride are thus male. To say that a female can image the groom is, frankly, silly. It demonstrates how far our culture has gone in thinking of the body as merely incidental, rather than essential and nuptial.
The body does not lie. Our culture lies and distorts, but the body does not. Many today choose to consider the body incidental, a mere tool that can be refashioned at will. But the Church is heir to a well-tested and far longer understanding that the body is essential, not incidental, to who we are. Our differences are more than skin deep. The soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body and thus our differences and our complementarity are deep and essential. Our dignity is equal, but our complementarity cannot and should not be denied. God himself has made this distinction and intends it for our instruction. The body does not lie and we must once again choose to learn from it.
Bruce Jenner needs our concern, not our applause. He cannot undo his maleness by amputation and silicone bags. There is something deeply sad here in him and those like him. They need real help to accept themselves as God made them. Some years ago, Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped doing these surgeries since many of the staff there were uncomfortable cutting off healthy organs and mutilating bodies. Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins explained recently why it is better to understand this issue as one of mental illness that deserves care not affirmation:
This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken–it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” [Elsewhere in the article he notes the high suicide rates, etc.]
The transgendered person’s disorder, said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s “assumption” that they are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a “dangerously thin” person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are “overweight,” said McHugh. [**]
There is something equally sick in the so-called “transabled” movement, wherein people cut off their own limbs because they “feel” that their body is “supposed to be” disabled. They disown certain limbs and use power saws to cut them off. Please tell me the difference between those who cut off limbs and those who mutilate their genitals or cut off their breasts. More on the “transabled” movement can be found here: Choosing to be disabled.
We are in a time of grave distortion and even the loss of simple common sense. It doesn’t seem that things can get much more confused than “gender reassignment.” I am sure, however, that things are going to get a lot more confused. But this confusion is not for us, fellow Christians. Our bodies are not ours to do with as we please. They are not canvases to be tattooed with slogans or endlessly pierced; they are not to be used for fornication, adultery, or homosexual acts. Neither are they to be mutilated or carved up into apparently new forms.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20).
Do not be deceived. Do not be confused. God was not “mistaken” in the sex He made you. Whatever internal drives, temptations, or disturbing thoughts one might have, the body was not made for sexual immorality or to be mutilated based on any internal rejection of our self. The call for every human being is to be chaste and to love our body as from God.
Here is a quirky and clever video that turns the table on the question of ordination. It also goes a long way to say that we cannot, in the end, simply pretend to be what we are not. Our bodies do not lie, even if we try to.
(My comment) there is a video which goes with this post which will not come over in copying. Go to the link to see it.)
So where have I been, and what have I been doing the last several months?
Keeping very busy, to say the least. As I’ve written before, I’ve been dealing with kidney stones, the large variety that would never pass the normal way. Over the past year, I’ve had many treatments to dissolve them, blast them, and so on, but finally, they had to go in and extract them. That’s been done over the last two months, and I’m finally free, but still recuperating.
Secondly, I’ve been discerning for the diaconate. The month of June is the culmination of the process to see if they’ll accept me for the next step, which is 5 years of bi-weekly school days Needless to say, I may need all my creativity and time to keep up with the school schedule.
This has been enough to keep me busy. And, of course, there’s family activities. I have a granddaughter who is stationed with her sailor husband in Nagasaki now. And now comes the summer, with family coming in and out. And I’m going on a pilgrimage this summer, to Majorca, Barcelona and Compostela. Always busy, me. :)