Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives
Abortion & Euthanasia
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What Has the 5th and 9th Commandment to Do with Abortion?
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
In my judgment abortion and euthanasia are at the heart of the crisis that is plaguing and destroying the modern world. I do not intend to address the issue of defending the rights of the unborn or the aged in this discourse. They obviously have these rights, and abortion and euthanasia are serious crimes against the rights of unborn children, the aged and terminally ill. Rather, our focus will be on the rights of God that are being violated by the crimes of abortion and euthanasia in the most homicidal century in human history.
I would like to address myself to two areas of our subject. First, to the sanctity of human life and then to the relationship between chastity and charity to the fifth commandment of the divine decalogue.
When God became man in the person of Jesus Christ and took human flesh of his mother Mary, he introduced an understanding of human life that was simply unknown or ignored in the pagan Roman Empire into which Jesus Christ was born. Abortion and infanticide were legalized in Roman law in the first century of the Christian era. It was assumed that the aged and the terminally ill would be destroyed.
All the political means being used in the modern world to protect the life of the unborn and the aged and terminally ill in our own country today are inadequate to meet the crisis we are facing. America is becoming a paganized nation. What Christ did was to introduce an entirely new meaning to human life. Because Jesus Christ raised natural human life to a supernatural level, human life is holy and human life is sacred. Human life belongs to God and the rights of God are being violated by abortion and euthanasia. And once we act upon that principle of our Christian, Catholic Faith, then the worldwide homicide that we are witnessing today will be stopped. It is up to us to stem the tide of the massive murder in the modern world.
God Personally and Individually Creates Mans Soul
What do we mean when we say that human life is sacred? We mean it is sacred because God must personally and individually create each human soul at the moment of conception. The parents provide the body, God must individually, distinctively, personally create out of nothing the human spirit which he infuses into the body.
Why is human life sacred? Because it reflects the image and likeness of God. On the last day of creation, God said Let us make man to our own image and likeness.
Human life is sacred because it is a participation in the very life of God. Unlike the sun, moon, stars; unlike the ocean, the rivers, and the trees, we are like God. We think, and we can love. Why is human life sacred? Because we are meant to receive a share in Gods own Trinitarian life at baptism. So that in receiving baptism the Father, Son and Holy Spirit begin to dwell in our souls.
Why is life sacred? Because during our mortal stay on earth, we are meant to glorify God by knowing, loving and serving him. The worst feature of abortion is that a child is prevented from serving God and thus merit to live with God in a heavenly eternity. Abortion is stealing from God the right God has of being glorified by his rational creature.
Why is human life sacred? Because Christ in choosing a human mother to become man, he remains man for all eternity. During our life here on earth we are privileged to follow the example of Jesus Christ by the imitation of his virtues. God became man so that as man he might practice humility and obedience and patience, charity and chastity. And by imitating him in his humanity we might become more and more like God.
Why do people commit abortion? To avoid inconvenience, suffering, pain. The very heart of our Christian Faith tells us, God emptied himself so to speak to become man. Like Christ we have the privilege of embracing the cross, and by loving the cross we are loving the God who became man and died on the cross out of love for us. By sharing in the passion of Jesus Christ, through uniting our suffering with his we become other redeemers.
Why is human life sacred? Because during our stay on earth we are meant to be fed on the living flesh and blood of the Son of God. The crime of abortion prevents a child from receiving Jesus Christ into his own human body, receiving the Blood of Jesus into his own human blood. Why is human life sacred? Because, although we are conceived and born in time, we shall never die. Bodies die and decay; we are meant to live for all eternity. Mans end is not earthly but celestial, not temporary but everlasting. This ultimate end is nothing less than to be united with the divine community of Holy Trinity.
Over the centuries the Churchs Magisterium has never wavered in its teaching on the sanctity of human life. Consequently, to prevent this life from being born by the willful murder of abortion, or to shorten this life by one minute through the murder of euthanasia is a crime crying to heaven for vengeance.
I am no Jeremiah, I am no Ezekiel, I am no Isaiah, but I am absolutely sure that the days of America are numbered. Our nation will survive only if we believing Catholics, through our faith as members of the Church militant, struggle against the demonic forces that are depriving God of his rights. The sanctity of human life belongs to him and to no one else. What we need today is a crusade for the rights of God which are so demonically crushed by the crimes of abortion and euthanasia.
6th and 9th Commandment Connected to the 5th
Our Catholic understanding of the pro-life movement also sees what the unbelieving world in which we live can not comprehend: that the sixth and ninth commandment of the decalogue are intimately and necessarily related to the fifth commandment. The sixth commandment forbids the use of ones body for sexual pleasure outside of the sanctity of marriage. The ninth commandment forbids even the indulgence of internal thoughts, desires and emotions either deliberately aroused or deliberately enjoyed outside of the sanctity of marriage. It is not, as some learned fools are telling us, because the Church considers the body profane. It is because matter is so holy. The history of the human race shows that there is an inevitable relationship between the faithful observance of the sixth and ninth commandments and the fifth Thou shalt not kill.
Only a chaste society respects human life. When God became man he made sure he would be conceived by a virgin mother. During his visible stay on earth, Jesus lived an unstained, virginal life. Christ elevated the chastity of the decalogue to sublime heights never known in the history of man.
If we ask, why did Christ elevate the sixth and ninth commandments to the sublimest form of chastity, it was to insure that the fifth commandment would not only be the observance of the law of justice in not taking innocent human life, but might become the commandment of the new law, the commandment of selfless and even heroic charity. People will be only as selfless as they are chaste. What then does this mean for us Catholics in the pro-life movement? We will either decide to practice heroic chastity, or we will become another casualty in the sex-mad world.
So what does this have to do with the pro-life movement? Everything! The reason why we have such massive slaughter of the innocents (the latest official figure of 60 millions abortions annually throughout the world) is because in the super-developed nations, like our own, we have become a fornicating society, an adulterous society, a masturbating society, a homosexual society, and a contraceptive society. Unchaste people are selfish people. They will not stop at murder if an unborn child would be a burden to their indulgence and sexual pleasure.
During my graduate studies in Rome, I came to know a young Polish Jesuit who survived five years in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau. His job there was to wheel the not-so-dead bodies from the gas chambers to be thrown into the furnace. Night after sleepless night, when the prisoners couldnt sleep because of hunger, they engaged in conversation. They asked themselves how was it possible for these human beings, men and women guards who were killing tens of thousands of people, to become so hardened in their demonic cruelty. He found out that every single one of them was a sexual pervert.
If we Catholics are going to do what God wants us to do to restore the modern world to sanity for the preservation of sacred human life, we must ourselves live lives of heroic chastity. We must be channels of grace to people whose crime of murder is a consequence of indulging in illicit sexual pleasure and their unwillingness to control their passions. Mary, Mother of Jesus, your life of consecrated chastity and of sublime charity is the inspiration for the lives we should live. Pray for us.
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