January 22, 2022 marks the 49th year since 7 men changed the Life Ethic in the United States with the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions. As a result, “All of a sudden everything that had been entrenched in the conscience and the habits and the mores and the laws of the people of this nation with respect to the dignity of human life and the rights bestowed upon that life—that all of that was now to be discarded.” (Richard John Neuhaus.)
This day of infamy is celebrated during the week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The head of the Pontifical Academy for Promoting Christian Unity announced this year’s theme is “We Saw the Star in the East and Came to Worship Him.” From Adam and Eve, the marital embrace of a man and a woman results in a cosmic explosion when a new human life is created in the womb. We view this kind of cosmic explosion as a star. Why should we, the faithful, not work interpreting all reality in the light of Faith “for God is wonderful in His works; especially in mankind singularly exulted by the incarnation of Christ.” (Intro Psalm 8, Douay-Rheims,) And so we exclaim, “Oh, yes!”, and “It must be!” What a magnificent cosmic explosion, a Star, was created when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary in the Incarnation and the God-Man took on Life in her womb. The Star of the Incarnation shone like no other before or after seen over all the earth, and likely throughout the universe. Each Magi could see it from his own location in the world. Immediately, he set out according to his own style and his own resources and his own needs for his nine month trek of anticipation and expectation.
But some of us do not see the cosmic explosions of Life. We are blind. We do not see the stars of an expanding universe. Through the eyes of Teilhard (Rakoczy), love is the energy of what he calls the divine milieu, the living context of each person’s relationship with God, with each other and with all of created reality. Each act of love, no matter how small or hidden, moves all of reality closer to full union; each act of non-love moves it further away. Therefore, the shape and form of human action is vital. Conscience is the ship’s wheel of a person directing the rudder of one’s human action.
St. John Paul in Evangelium Vitae alerts us that in an erroneously formed conscience: It is at the heart of the moral conscience that the eclipse of the sense of God and of man, with all its various and deadly consequences for life, is taking place. It is a question, above all, of the individual conscience, as it stands before God in its singleness and uniqueness. 18 But it is also a question, in a certain sense, of the "moral conscience" of society: in a way it too is responsible, not only because it tolerates or fosters behaviour contrary to life, but also because it encourages the "culture of death", creating and consolidating actual "structures of sin" which go against life. The moral conscience, both individual and social, is today subjected, also as a result of the penetrating influence of the media, to an extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life. A large part of contemporary society looks sadly like that humanity which Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans. It is composed "of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth" (1:18): having denied God and believing that they can build the earthly city without him, "they became futile in their thinking" so that "their senseless minds were darkened" (1:21); "claiming to be wise, they became fools" (1:22), carrying out works deserving of death, and "they not only do them but approve those who practise them" (1:32). When conscience, this bright lamp of the soul (cf. Mt 6:22-23), calls "evil good and good evil" (Is 5:20), it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness.
Continuing and giving the hope of conversion, St. John Paul reminds us: And yet all the conditioning and efforts to enforce silence fail to stifle the voice of the Lord echoing in the conscience of every individual: it is always from this intimate sanctuary of the conscience that a new journey of love, openness and service to human life can begin.
Herod was blind. He could not see the Star that the Magi saw, and the angels saw, and the shepherds saw, and that all persons of good-will see. His conscience had been dulled and mal-formed by his deadly sins in his evil environment, with vicious customs, and corrupt habits. He could only see to destroy the Holy Innocents. Nothing has divided our country more than the legality of abortion. Many good people mal-formed their conscience to skid from legal equaling moral concerning firstly abortion and then euthanasia and adding assisted suicide. How sad that they, like Herod, are blind to the Star. Their consciences have been dulled and mal-formed also by their anti-life environments. [The National Right to Life Committee (NRLTC), the nation's oldest pro-life organization, last year on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade said it reached an estimate of 62,502,904 lost Holy Innocents from 1973.]
Where shall we go from here? What shall we do? To Pope Emeritus Benedict: It is the star of wonder that leads the way. Whatever its scientific explanation, the celestial light that shone brilliantly in the year 7-6 B.C. was a miracle of God’s grace. More than a century later, St. Ignatius of Antioch had a vision of the sun and the moon dancing around this magnificent star, which an ancient hymn for the feast of the Epiphany proclaims “outshone the sun in beauty and brilliance.” Star of wonder, star of night, star of royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.
For Benedict, the “perfect light” is Jesus Christ, light of the world. Wisdom leads us to him. Faith together with reason, spirituality and science, point the way to him. “It is not the star that determines the child’s destiny, it is the child that directs the star.” The child born of Mary, who is God’s only begotten son, “is greater than all the powers of the material world, greater than the entire universe.”
We are called to follow this star. Using our God-given intelligence, and the gift of faith, we are called to seek the light of Christ and follow it. May the wisdom of the Magi inspire us to seek—and find—the light of the world.