Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In his Proclamation calling for "A Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer in the United States of America on April 30, 1863," President Abraham Lincoln said that "it is the duty of all nations as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."

President Lincoln went on to "request all the People to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of their religious duties proper to that solemn occasion."

President Lincoln lived in a time when many people thought that African-Americans were not fully human. The United States Supreme Court in fact declared as much in its infamously erroneous Dred Scott decision of 1857. But in our own time the Supreme Court continues to make wrongful decisions, as it did in 1973 in Roe v. Wade in deciding that unborn babies do not deserve the protection of the law, as well as this past June in attempting to redefine marriage contrary to the plan of God as described in the Book of Genesis.

As a result, our nation is in need of "national humiliation, fasting and prayer" now as it was in the time of President Lincoln's Proclamation. He said then, and we may say it even more strongly now, that we "have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!"

So let us humble ourselves and pray to Almighty God to forgive our sins, especially the sins of abortion, sins of racism, sins against the divine and natural law of marriage, sins of greed, gluttony, anger, envy, lust, laziness and pride.

Let us ask forgiveness for our nation giving half a billion dollars every year of taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, founded by Margaret Sanger, a proponent of eugenics who urged Americans to "restrict the propagation of those physically, mentally and socially inadequate" and said that the "most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."

We must pray for husbands and wives not to say "no" to having children, but rather a profound "yes" to the total giving of themselves to each other in the intimate expression of love that is open to the sacred gift of human life. We ask God to help them to see the overwhelming "yes" to true and authentic love, the "yes" to the other person, and the "yes" to God and his beautiful plan for this great gift through which we have been given the privilege of sharing in his work of creating his greatest and most beloved treasure, human life.

The Bible points us to the truth of what lies at the heart of every moral teaching of Jesus Christ and his church. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, we hear him warn the people to "[w]atch carefully how you live" (Ephesians 5:15). He does this not because he wants to control their lives, dictating what they can and cannot do. Rather, he provides this guidance to them so that they can experience the joy of living a Gospel-centered life.

St. Paul knew well that those to whom he was writing were living in a culture that was not rooted in Christian values. The message that they were receiving from the world around them, the popular opinion if you will, is the same message being promoted today in our secular culture: to live for themselves, to strive for those things which will maximize their satisfaction and happiness. But that happiness is rooted in the things of the world, and not on those of God, which promise true and lasting joy.

St. Paul therefore encourages the people to "try to understand what is the will of the Lord" (Ephesians 5:17). He is encouraging us to set aside what so-called worldly knowledge and understanding propose as truth, and seek to see things from the perspective of God and his loving design for the world and human life.

May God give us this grace. Amen.