Just over a quarter of a century ago, Pope Saint John Paul II released his encyclical, Evangelium vitae, in response to the ever-increasing attacks against human life and dignity. Each Friday, we aim to explore a different aspect the prophetic papal document.
Today’s passage drawn from Section 21 of the encyclical where Pope Saint John Paul notes that society’s respect for humanity dignity depends upon our “sense of God”. He writes:
“In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death’, we cannot restrict ourselves to the perverse idea of freedom mentioned above. We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man, typical of a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism, which, with its ubiquitous tentacles, succeeds at times in putting Christian communities themselves to the test. Those who allow themselves to be influenced by this climate easily fall into a sad vicious circle: when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence,” Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, Section 21.
Reflecting upon this passage today is Jenny Ingles, Director of Fertility and Life Ministries for the Diocese of Lansing. Jenny writes:
“Pope Saint John Paul II is pointing out that the deepest cause of this problem is man’s denial of God in our society, both publicly and privately. The result is confusion and a decreased ability to see God’s presence or to recognize what is good and true. It reminds me of going on a hike in the forest, getting off the trail, and losing your bearings. Imagine being in the middle of the forest without knowing which direction is the way home. If you don’t know which way is the right direction than all directions seem like possibilities. That is a frightening thought. This denial of God has increased since Evangelium vitae was written 25 years ago. Society is lost in the forest and there is someone shouting for each possible direction as the way home. Each of us must be firm in our resolve maintain God as our bearing, no matter how loud other voices get.”
Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!