May 26, 2019

Play Ball: Why Christ’s Faithful are Sitting on the Sidelines

As Catholics, we must confront an uncomfortable reality: our culture is quickly spinning out of control. In Christ, we have the answer to this madness. Sent forth by Christ, our leader, and moved by the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, we must proclaim Christ in what we do, but also by what we say. Speaking of Christ without witnessing to Him is hypocrisy, and performing deeds that point to Christ without telling people the source of our good deeds is cruelty and neglect. In this matter, there are no shortcuts; our wholes lives must testify to the active presence of Christ. An ambassador is known by what he says and does, and we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthans 5:20). Now this kind of witness is only possible when we give the Lord permission to activate in us the fullness of the gifts the Spirit wishes to bestow on us. We should all pray every day: Lord Jesus, I surrender to your will and want to spread your kingdom; I beg you to bestow upon Me all the gifts I need to be your instrument and bring light to the darkness. Our Lord will certainly say yes to this prayer. Whenever we pray it, He empowers us with a greater expression of the one Spirit we received at our Baptism. For those who have never been to a Holy Spirit seminar or a healing conference, you need to go and receive a greater impartation of the Spirit.

Given this understanding of evangelization, what is the Christian foundation for Catholics sitting on the sidelines while Satan and others, some well intentioned, attack the family? Sr. Lucia’s prophecy that the final battle between God and Satan would be over the family [1] is continuing to be fulfilled. As Catholics, we have witnessed no-fault divorce such that marriage now has less protection than a contract for commercial goods in many cases, contraception and sterilization that destroy the capacity to bring forth life and hope, the proliferation of children born out of wedlock without a loving father and mother to raise them, the unimaginable sin of abortion where our unborn brothers and sisters are actually killed in their mother’s womb, transforming a place of security and love to a place of darkness and death, experimental procedures that use human embryos as guinea pigs for experimentation, and/or treat children as a possessions that one can custom order, and most recently, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that two men living together or two women, a “union” that lacks the complementarity to bear children, is worthy of the name “marriage” and should be honored by society just as much as unions of husbands and wives. [2] The states’ interest in protecting children and ensuring that they have a father and mother that stay together and protect them is not relevant, or so we are told. “Marriage” is simply an expression of affection toward another person. Why being a person is an essential element of marriage but being a man or a woman is not is conveniently unstated. What is clear from all this is that the two pillars of civilization, the two pillars of God’s creation are under assault from the devil: the sanctity of human life and the union of man and woman, the foundation of the family, which in turn is the foundation of society.

Now this attack on the family has been going on for over 50 years, beginning with the advent of no-fault divorce, and probably began much earlier. Where then is the bill to eliminate no-fault divorce and protect spouses and children? Where is the bill to amend the US Constitution to prohibit abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy? Where is the bill to protect conscience rights and ensure that medical providers, pharmacists, and others do not have to choose between their conscience and their profession? Sure, there is a bill approved by the House of Representatives which protects conscience in the abortion context, H.R. 644, but what about those conscientiously opposed to embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, sex change operations, and heart transplants? Are such issues beyond conscience protections, and if so, what is the moral justification for protecting conscience only in the abortion context? If conscience binds all persons, then should not all persons be able to make reasonable decisions in accordance with their conscience?

The truth is: these bills do not exist and even if they are begun, they quickly die. Why? Surely it is not because we disciples of Christ are confused about the will of our Lord in these matters. We know very well the will of the Lord: no abortion, no in vitro fertilization, no contraception, no sterilization, no legalization of same sex unions, no violations of conscience rights, etc. The reason for Christ’s faithful, both lay and religious, sitting on the sidelines while the enemy attacks our families and the most vulnerable members of our communities is that we are not sold out for Christ. If all we cared about was doing the will of our Lord and our Father in Heaven, then all these bills would exist. They may not pass, but we would keep proposing and re-proposing the truth about human life and the family. And even if we fail to win in this life, we would die trying, and knowing that our Lord will triumph in the end over sin and death.

Both lay and clergy, the Body of Christ, rationalize our failure to advocate for the truth about the family and human life. [3] We say, “the bill will never pass,” “the culture is too hostile,” “we have to educate people and fight on the cultural plane before we can fight on the political plane,” “let’s concentrate on introducing people to Christ first.” By way of response, the best way to ensure that a bill will never pass is not to propose it; wouldn’t it be better to try and fail, and at least get people to think about the issue differently? The best way to ensure that the culture continues to become more hostile is to surrender and refuse to engage the culture. No doubt, education is essential, but is not the proposal and subsequent dialogue accompanying a bill an education to the world, or do we think we are going to change people’s minds through academic lectures detached from current affairs? Certainly we cannot limit our efforts to politics, but it is not either or. It is not either we fight politically or culturally? Rather let us think like Winston Churchill: we will fight the culture of death in culture, in politics, in education, in the arts, and anywhere it rears its ugly head. [4] And finally, while introducing people to Christ is our most essential and urgent task, how does surrendering the culture to the evil one make our task of introducing people to Christ any easier? It seems to me that people are more likely to encounter Christ if they have a father and mother to teach them. It seems to me that people are more likely to encounter Christ if they are free to follow their conscience. It seems to me that people are more likely to encounter Christ if human life which reflects Christ is cherished and honored. It seems to me that people are more likely to follow Christ if the union of a man and a woman which represents the union of Christ and the Church is set apart and honored above other unions. By forfeiting the culture and relegating our efforts to personal evangelization, we are only making it harder for others to encounter Christ and making our own work as evangelists that much more difficult.

If I may be frank, I think we care too much about human praise and not enough about the praise that comes from the one true God. We look at opinion polls and projections and try to determine if we can win, but God never asked us to win. He asks us to be faithful and to do all that we can, even giving our lives if necessary, to advance the Kingdom of God in men’s hearts. If we courageously seek to restore the true meaning of marriage and discard so called “same sex marriage,” if we seek to amend the US Constitution to prohibit abortion once and for all, if we seek to protect conscience rights in all contexts, if we seek to prohibit no fault divorce, thus limiting damage to spouses and especially children, if we seek to prohibit contraception and sterilization, then we will hear our Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” [5] And we may have some victories, but even if we lose again and again, we will die in peace knowing that we lived lives of heroic charity and truth.

So let us reflect on these words of our Lord and seek to change our outlook and our response to the attacks on marriage and family: “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God” (St. John 5:44). My brothers and sisters in Christ, what we love the most is under attack: God, human life, and the family. It is time to get off the sidelines and play ball because the only thing worse than losing is never trying and disappointing our Lord who loved us first.

###

[1] https://aleteia.org/2017/05/19/exclusive-cardinal-caffarra-what-sr-lucia-wrote-to-me-is-being-fulfilled-today/.

[2] Obergefell v. Hodges 517 US.

[3] I do understand the principle of gradualism and believe that we should do what we can to protect life and the family, but I am referring to the lack of effort to even try.

[4] The reference is to Winston Churchill’s famous line during World War II : “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

[5] St. Matthew 25:23.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Michael Vacca

MICHAEL ARTHUR VACCA, Esq., is a devout Catholic and passionate about Catholic social teaching. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English and Political Science, holds a J.D. from Ave Maria School of Law, and is a licensed attorney in Michigan. He worked for the Pontifical Council of the Family in Rome, where he advised the Church on pro-life and pro-family issues and advanced Catholic social teaching. Michael is the Managing Editor of the International Center on Law, Life, Faith, and Family, which produces and provides resources on these issues, www.icolf.org. He is a founding board member of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, and currently serves on the board of the Casa Vitae Foundation.

Mr. Vacca is author and co-author of various articles on bioethics and law, including: “A Reexamination of Conscience Protections in Healthcare” and “Best Practices: Laws Protecting Human Life and the Family Around the Globe” (International Law Journal, Ave Maria School of Law). He is also a co-editor of a book entitled, “St. Paul, the Natural Law, and Contemporary Legal Theory” (Lexington Books, 2012).

A regular contributor to the Catholic Journal, more than anything, Michael is grateful to be a practicing Catholic and for his lovely wife Sarah.

View all articles
Written by Michael Vacca