Reading the posts following my last blog about Newman, “Truth” and authority, I see they have developed, as is often the case, into arguments about the existence or non-existence of God. On this subject I must thank Jonathan West, who is honest and up-front about his atheism, for his temperate input on this thread. Obviously I disagree with nearly everything he says (as he knows) but I think we would concur on one thing: that whatever the arguments we may have, they should always be conducted in a spirit of civility and courtesy. This can be hard to maintain in the comment box where it is all too easy to yield to the temptation to be otherwise.
That said, blogging for a Catholic newspaper it is hard to keep God out of the conversation. Indeed, when we do so, we lose the plot. Sometimes I am tempted not to bring in God so much, on the absurd grounds that it will “alienate” some of those who read the blogs or that they might think I am a fundamentalist and too stupid to think for myself. Well, that’s just over-sensitivity and personal vanity on my part and I vigorously repudiate it.
These thoughts have been prompted by reading an article by Catherine Briggs on LifeSiteNews entitled “We left God out of the battle”: Irish pro-life leader on how abortion was legalised in Ireland.” My heart rather missed a beat as I read this: how often facing personal anxieties and problems, let alone blogging, have I “left God out of the battle” – with predictably dire results. I have to remind myself – yet again – that, as a Christian, God is the whole point of my existence; He has to come before everything else. All other good things – marriage, children, fighting for human dignity, combating injustice and so on – are grounded and predicated on belief in a loving creator God, who is incarnated in Christ.
The Irish pro-life battle particularly interests me as I have blogged before about the recent abortion legalisation in southern Ireland, which took effect on January 1st. So it is salutary to read that Bernadette Smythe, the director of Precious Life in Ireland, has admitted that this legislative defeat for pro-lifers “is the direct result of ignoring the spiritual element of the abortion battle.” She rightly points out that the battle against abortion is primarily “a spiritual battle…and unless we pray, we will never stop abortion, whether that be in Ireland or throughout the world.”
Citing a victorious prayer-vigil twelve years ago in which an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn, was put firmly at the centre of the campaign, Miss Smythe made it clear that without invoking ongoing divine assistance “the movement set itself up for defeat.” She explained: “What has happened recently [is that] we have denied our faith. The whole battle…became a human rights battle. It is a human rights battle and we must remember that also, but it’s a spiritual battle and we must unite the human battle with the spiritual battle to protect our unborn children…”
The article comments that a “growing emphasis on using secular means alone” to defend the pro-life cause is the reason for its failure. Ms Smythe again: “Instead of praying and fasting as a united Church… we held vigils, but we didn’t vigil to God, we vigiled to man… and maybe God is allowing this to happen…because we have forgot Him in this battle.” Quoting Scripture, she added Jesus’ warning words, “If you deny Me before man, I will deny you before my Father.” One can get so caught up in the human and political aspect of passionately held principles, such as belief in the sanctity of life or marriage between a man and a woman, that God gets pushed to the sidelines.
Coincidentally, in today’s post I was sent a prayer-card to the Venerable Solanus Casey, whom I referred to in a blog on January 29. An American Capuchin, his sanctity brought about many miracles in his lifetime and the prayer-card includes the petition to God to “glorify him on earth so that others will carry on his love for the poor, lonely and suffering in our world.” Unborn children are certainly among the “poor, lonely and suffering” members of the human family; perhaps readers might like to invoke his intercession in the on-going, Irish pro-life struggle?