Monday, January 20, 2014
To The Editor of the National Catholic Register
I submit some remarks about the article by David DeCosse (National Catholic Register October 25 through November 7, 2013 - page 19-25), entitled "IMBALANCE UNDERMINES BISHOPS CAMPAIGN." What first alerted me to the key issue of "imbalance", was DeCosse's use of the term function when describing the first of the three "oddities" in the homily given by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. Instead of speaking as Mr. DeCosse thinks he should, Archbishop Chaput says that "freedom of conscience is a function of freedom of religion: the truly valuable conscience is fired with the spirit of discipleship." The word function, I submit, is entirely out of place here. It is a term very familiar to those working in the natural sciences, especially mathematics, where function is very narrowly and precisely used to refer to a specific "designated task." In fact, my QPB Science Encyclopedia, gives only the term function as used in computer science and mathematics. Is DeCosse and/or Archbishop Chaput happy with reducing essentially moral human actions to the function of an algebraic equation? Well, yes, they are speaking analogically. Okay, but I suggest that we can also use this term analogically, in metaphysics, where function is a process, necessarily performed under the direction of the Substantial Form of the being, in which that function operates as an accidental categorical form.
In this sense, the function must, of necessity, be one either of the natural order or the supernatural order of Divine Grace. In any case, this function is the act of a human being endowed by his or her Creator with the gift of freedom to choose, or "free will"." This freedom may be designated, as Mr. DeCosse does so designate it, as a moral prerogative. Now, unfortunately, I do not have a Webster's dictionary at hand here in my 1/2 nursing home room, though I do have my QPB Science Encyclopedia, as you have seen from the above. (My priorities are slightly skewed, I admit), however, I think of prerogatives as privileges. For example, and as the primary example, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the second Eve, (with our Lord Jesus Christ the second Adam), was in a direct - corrective opposition to the punishments inflicted upon the first Eve for her sin of disobedience: her conceptions were multiplied with their sorrows - her birthings would be accompanied by pain and blood, as they are today, and her subjection to her husband was to be of an excessive kind, (Genesis 3:16). But of a moral and physical necessity - Mary's prerogatives were a miraculous, divine, single conception of the God-Man; His birth, also miraculously without any labor or shedding of the Virginal Blood and totally joyful.
Finally, Mary's relationship with St. Joseph and his with Her, were full of supernatural charity and respect - a model of spousal union. I do not see how DeCosse's use of this term, moral prerogative, can designate anything but the power we all have to choose, by the use of our free will, to do good and avoid evil. It is in this intellectual vision of what is good and what is evil, that the moral prerogative is seen in all of its privileged splendor. I submit that this hierarchical relationship of intellect and will when it comes to human actions involving contraception and all that may involve in the way of drugs - devices or elaborate keeping accounts etc., for planning - the intellect plainly shows that such actions are radical interferences in the totally natural processes of fertilization and normal gestation. So, the will chooses either to respect the natural order as God created it and mandated the natural processes when He said: "Increase and Multiply"... or the will can choose to interfere with this natural, normal process of conception and gestation and to prevent its normal operation. This latter choice is obviously a choice made against nature and a choice that the Church - as Guardian and Preserver of all natural processes known as the Natural Law, inscribed in our humanity and seen operating even in the animals below us in nature - the Church rightly warns us that when we misuse and abuse this moral prerogative, we sin gravely.
The Church, therefore, attaches penalties to sins against the natural, moral laws and also against Her own Supernatural laws and precepts, as is Her right as the Guardian and Preserver of the created goods of the Order of Creation given in Genesis One, as well as of all those Supernatural Goods stemming from the New Creation of the Order of Grace that came with the Incarnation and Redemption. In this sense, too, Mr. DeCosee, the dogmatic statement that "error has no rights", is simply one of those timeless - unchanging truths, that will always be here to remind us that, while yes, we have this freedom to commit sin and to offend God, it cannot reasonably be said that we have a right to do so. Don't you agree? I understand that you do not think you are offending God. But look at it this way - the Order of Nature is God's creation. You would be offended if someone attacked and destroyed something you had made or owned. God is very much offended by attacks upon His Creation, especially something so exquisitely designed as the process of reproduction.
Please think about this.
at 6:30 PM