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Two thirds of the voters in Ireland voted to overturn that nation's constitutional provision prohibiting the murder of nascent children in their land. The Government of Ireland Central Statistics Office reports that "while Ireland remains a predominantly Catholic country … the percentage of the population who identified as Catholic on the census has fallen sharply from 84.2 percent in 2011 to 78.3 percent in 2016." The result of the referendum suggests that the percentage of Irish Catholics who follow the example of the Apostle James ("Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works," James 2:18) reverse the census data, since we must assume that some of Ireland's non-Catholics voted to respect God's natural law forbidding the intentional slaughter of innocent human life.
The outcome of the referendum has, therefore, to be construed as a failure of the Roman Catholic Church. As surely as Ireland was a shining emerald in the Crown of the Church's global apostolate, so it has become a dark portent of the dereliction of that apostolate in the present age. Christ's lasting command in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore making disciples from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," directs his disciples to evangelize all nations. His disciples are thereby called to be living beacons of the way, the truth and the life, in Christ, who is the only way to God. ("I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father if not by me," John 14:5)
But even though it required His death, the Son of Man conformed His will to that of His Father, God. Whatever the inclinations of our all too human hearts, therefore, true representatives of Christ are enjoined to put God's choice above our own. No claim of human freedom can overturn the authority of God's goodwill.
Such Christian disciples represent Christ's heart when he confronted a rich young man, seeking salvation. By speaking truth, Christ made him turn away. For he tasked him with the one step needed for his salvation — crucify his love of material wealth (Mark 10:17-27). These days, some leading voices in the Roman Catholic Church contend that such challenging witness to God's truth is inconsistent with love. If this is so, why does the Evangelist take pains to tell us that Christ loved the young man (Mark 10:21) just before recounting the words of Christ that make him turn away?
In the vote against Ireland Eighth Amendment, the younger generations (under 65) were most responsible for Ireland's abandonment of God's will to safeguard innocent life. Faithful Irish Catholics stood firm for God's truth, but many young people who still identify themselves as Catholics turned away. Judging by the public debate, many of them claimed to act from love and compassion for women "trapped" by an unwanted pregnancy. But what sense of love sees the natural consequences of the act of procreation as some kind of "bait and switch?" What sense of love would punish the supposed deception by allowing its alleged victims to murder an innocent bystander? Love in this sense implicitly rejects God's prescription for the unitive differentiation of male and female. And it rejects the purpose it serves, which is to preserve and perpetuate humankind.
The abandonment of God's will in this respect is what allows so many self-professed Catholics in oncoming generations to equate the self-gratifying pursuit of pleasurable sensations and feelings with the vocation of marriage, in which God's adornment of physical pleasure waits upon a sober sense of impending service and obligation. This sobriety tempers the prospect of the joys that await those who resolve to accept the sacramental discipline of familial love, joys more durable precisely because we harvest them by hard labor and sacrifice, sometimes involving unspeakably painful heartbreak.
The proponents of self-centered sexuality play on the contrast involved in this false equation of hedonism and devotion. Hence their present efforts to enforce the term "gay" in place of "homosexual." (Even the grammar checking program I use as I write this tendentiously asserts that the term "homosexual" is outdated.) But no change in terminology would confuse you people truly committed to live by Christ's understanding of love. The first rule of that understanding is "to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength." Self-love is secondary. To be sure, it becomes the standard for the love we owe our neighbor. But only after Christ himself provides the answer to the question, Who is our neighbor? (Luke 10:25-37)
He does so with an illustration, showing that, when push comes to shove, our neighbor is the one who saves us. Of course, ultimate Christ is the one who does so, by offering the way to re-establish humanity's communion with the God, disrupted by Adam's sin. By living, for our benefit, the way of life according to God's intention for humanity, Christ allows us to see God's love in action so that by imitating Him we can reconstitute our life as God meant it to be. From Christ's example we learn that love is not what pleasures, gratifies, praises and otherwise causes us feel good about ourselves. It is, rather, true forgiveness — prepared by the love of God before ever we existed to reciprocate; and extended, by the ministry of Christ, to all who are willing to reciprocate his life-giving proof of love.
Understanding this as love, one thing is clear: Love is the source of life, not death. It emphatically has nothing to do with murdering innocent humanity aborning, whom, in the secret places of His heart, God ordained to live, before there was yet one of them. Why is it that the oncoming generations of Catholics in Ireland have turned away from Christ's paradigm of God's love for us? Have they not heard the testimony of love that vanquishes death, vanquishing withal the false witness of all who reject Christ's dying, in proof of love, while yet professing to worship in His name?
In the weeks leading up to the Irish referendum, many thousands of Catholics, including many in Ireland and throughout the world, prayed, fasted and fearlessly bore public witness to the sacred, burdensome, joyful vocation that serves love by respecting innocent life, instead of "lovingly" promoting its extinction. With the Risen Christ in our midst, can any triumph of death endure? Whatever some prelates say, there are those like Cdl. Robert Sarah who understanding that the time for Christ's heroic witness in this world never ends. Rather, the presently growing darkness and confusion calls anew for the seeds and sowers of Christlike love to make it their avowed vocation to reclaim the lost generations, especially in the West. We need a lay apostolate, shepherded by those like Cardinals Sarah and Raymond Burke, who rightly have evoked the true meaning of martyrdom. We need a cohort of faithful communicators, dedicated to making prayer, study and the fearless communication of Christ's exemplary teachings the focus of their lives, every day.
Though an idolatrous Caesar's image be ever more deeply stamped upon it, the lost coin of rising generations in the West may yet be recovered, by the power of God's Holy Spirit. Sheep lost on the broad highways of secular corruption await the searchers, who are willing to enact the goodwill of the Shepherd. Every day He still is dying to return them to his fold. Where are those faithful, even unto death, willing to answer the warning trumpet blast, ominous calling from Ireland's grievous loss to faithful hearts throughout Christ's Holy Church? It is the love of God, urging us to restore these baptized generations, self-labeled but now lost, to the loving way of Christ, which alone will bring them safe to their true home.