St. Paul reminds us, "For freedom Christ has set us free." But freedom needs truth and charity.
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On Friday morning, June 24, when the decision came through at 10:10 a.m. that the United States Supreme Court had struck down Roe v. Wade, I didn’t know it happened.
Not because I wasn’t watching. Like many Americans, I spent the better part of my free time throughout the week obsessively refreshing the Court’s website and scrolling the SCOTUSblog Twitter feed.
I didn’t hear the news right away because I was on an airplane.
But as *soon* as we landed, everyone on the plane was talking about the decision. And there I was, wearing my Dominican habit, with my views on the issue for all to see, as if printed on my sacred vesture.
I heard audible gasps from a group of teenage women, clearly on a school trip of some kind. These woke acolytes – as was clear from their manner of dress, stickers, and conversation – were devastated to hear the ruling. As my phone was blowing up with celebratory texts, pro-life news notifications, and acclamations of praise and gratitude to Almighty God, I listened as I heard a teacher condescendingly assure these young women that the Court’s decision wouldn’t matter. He told them that in plenty of states, abortion would still be legal. And that Congress would certainly immediately author a bill to protect abortion.
And right there, still on the plane, after my moment of celebration, I found myself hit with emotions other than joy. The best this middle aged man had to offer these young women was the promise that it would remain possible for them to murder their unborn children if they so choose? The best we can do for women in crisis pregnancies is torture their bodies with an invasive and dangerous medical procedure and kill their children?
But God is so good. And his love had other plans.
In the court’s ruling I see God’s Providence everywhere at hand:
- The ruling came down on the feast of the Sacred Heart. Just consider the importance of the heart, that is, a heartbeat for the pro-life movement!
- The ruling came down on the date of the Nativity of John the Baptist. John was the first to recognize the unborn Christ and leap for joy, himself still in the womb!
- June 24 is the birthday of Nellie Gray, the Catholic convert who founded the March for Life in 1974 and popularized the term “pro-life”!
- Even the timing of the ruling has God’s fingerprints: John 10:10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Our vocation, our calling
Which brings us to St. Paul’s words to the Galatians:
For freedom Christ set us free …
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.
But do not use this freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
St. John Paul II, in his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (1979), quotes Our Lord: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The Pope explains Christ’s teaching saying,
“These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world.”
The link between freedom and truth
There is no freedom without truth. Between freedom and truth, there is an inseparable link.
And what is the truth?
The truth is that it is always wrong to take an innocent human life. That women are more than sexual playthings and deserve more than the exploitation which wounds and constrains them. That happiness can’t come from a career or eschewing responsibility. That every child deserves to be welcomed, cared for, and treasured.
Fighting for truth, living charity
We must fight for this truth. For every state. For every citizen.
John Paul II, who lived through the tyrannies of Nazism and the Soviet occupation of Poland, elsewhere warns us,
“If there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power… In a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation and man is exposed to the violence of passion and to manipulation, both open and hidden.”
By announcing and defending the truth, we defend the foundation of freedom, temper the violence of passion, and resist manipulation by the media and foreign powers.
And we will use this freedom to love; we will serve one another in love. We will love every mother in a crisis pregnancy. We will love families who struggle with disease and poverty, uncertain with difficult pregnancies or who face a daunting prenatal diagnosis. We will love every unborn child.