By: Father Stephen Hellman
This past January I had the opportunity to attend the pro-life march in Washington DC with some high school kids from Montgomery. It’s a good trip, and I think it’s a worthwhile practice for students and parents to go to it at least once. But that’s not what I want to say about it. I want to tell you what left the deepest impression upon me.
I remember seeing a sea of people on those streets of our nation’s capital. These wide avenues packed with thousands upon thousands of people, mostly young people, many carrying signs or banners. Many, many Catholic groups there. It had to be, literally, three or four hundred thousand people in all. One report I read estimated five hundred thousand. Think about it: five hundred thousand people peacefully protesting about the most sensitive social-political issue of our age, crowding the national mall and the streets of the US Capitol building and in front of the Supreme Court….
I had gone once before, in 2009, and that year the major networks each mentioned it briefly in their evening newscasts. This year, not one of the major television networks gave it even ten seconds mention on the evening news…
That combined experience of seeing this major event and then seeing nothing about it in the major media astounded me. It continues to astound me. Regardless of what one thinks of the issue, anyprotest of that magnitude of people in this country regarding any social or political issue is a news event.
After thinking about it, I came to realize: the pro-life protest didn’t fit the narrative. The event did not fit the way those media want to present the world; it didn’t fit their approach to reality. So, it was ignored.
I think that’s what happened with Jesus in our gospel today. Here he is in his hometown of Nazareth, and his preaching about the Kingdom of God amazes the people… and he is performing great works in front of them…
And yet, they looked at him and all they saw was this lowly carpenter’s son. Who is this guy from this nondescript family, who is he to be saying and doing such things?
They were astonished by Jesus’ presence—but they didn’t let it affect their hearts. Jesus didn’t fit their narrative.
And Jesus in turn was astounded by their lack of faith…
The Church Has Been The Prophetic Voice That Society Has Ignored
I think many of us are coming to realize that we Catholics today, we are the prophet who is ignored in his own land. Beginning with Pope Paul VI and his issuance of the encyclical Humanae Vitae over 40 years ago, our Church has been the prophetic voice that our society has ignored.
Paul predicted that if society went down the path of uncritically embracing the new technologies of artificial contraception, it would have a devastating impact on human relationships, because in severing the connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage, dimensions of married life that belong together, it would undermine the dignity of the human person by undermining marriage, the family, and the proper understanding of human sexuality.
Consequences Of Widespread Use And Acceptance Of Artificial Contraception
In Humanae Vitae Pope Paul predicted that widespread use of birth control would have four major effects: there would be a general lowering of moral standards; there would be an increase in marital infidelity and illegitimate births; there would be a tendency to reduce women to objects used to satisfy men; and, finally, government would attempt to force the use of contraceptives on everyone.
Is there any doubt that these four predictions have come true? And not only did our society wholeheartedly embrace this technology, but a significant number of Catholics, most of whom have probably been well-meaning, have as well. And Pope Paul’s predictions have proven, quite tragically, to be prophetic.
If you don’t believe that these predictions have come true, consider the following facts:
* in 1960 illegitimate births were 5.3% of all births in America; by 2010 they were 40.8%
* in 1960 married families made up almost three-quarters of all households; by 2010 they accounted for just 48%
* there are ten times as many people cohabiting in 2010 compared to 1960
And is there any doubt that our society has experienced moral decline? And is there any doubt that there’s been an explosion in pornography, which reduces women to objects… Read more on CourageousPriest.com.