Can we put together just some of the things we have been talking about? From the Holy Father’s conception of “integral ecology” we arrived at the need to respect the natures of things and the laws that correspond to those natures. We are bad judges in our own cases, if you remember the case of the squirrel and what makes it happy and how I tried to explain that to a Tiger cub. What is good is discerned from natures with the help of what God has communicated to us through the Church.
Our happiness is conditioned by our avoidance of destructive and sinful behaviors and the gift we make of ourselves so that others can live. A discussion of the dignity we have, and the total gift of self that we are asked to make if we want to be happy, the faithfulness of a vocational love and acting on behalf of life blossomed into these four characteristics of free, total, faithful, and fruitful.
These become the characteristics of a happy life as they are appropriated into each vocation. While Christ is the ultimate origin of all these characteristics lived well, we are meant to be able to see them concretely in the life of our priests. Pray that I live my life as a gift for others in a free, total, faithful, and fruitful way. My happiness is what is at stake! The total gift of self in my vocation to my spouse the Church explains, in part, the Church’s emphasis on a celibate, male priesthood.
The self gift that I am meant to make of myself is even more concretely evidenced in family life. Because there, in the family, this gift of self so that others can live, expresses its openness to life very concretely. Love and life are protected by and united in marriage. The dignity of the person and the gift that each spouse makes to the other is open to life in its very nature. Only by respecting the nature of these things can the persons involved truly flourish. For people to reach their true potential, happiness, and to really flourish, they will live these characteristics of free, total, faithful, and fruitful.
So we can draw out the teachings of the Church that our co-workers might find difficult based on what she believes makes people truly happy. Respecting the nature and order of things, so that people can reach their full potential, the Church calls all to be free, total, faithful, and fruitful in their lives. This involves a possession of oneself so that one can give of oneself appropriately. This self-possession for the purpose of selfgift is chastity. All are called to this virtue for their own sake.
Those that enter marriage are called to live this very high ideal of becoming a “partnership of life and love” in this free, total, faithful, and fruitful way. So when the Church teaches on marriage issues such as fertility practices, artificial contraception, sterilizations or even same-sex unions what she believes she has in mind is the full potential, the true happiness of the persons and their call to live in their state of life a total gift of self so that others can live in line with the great dignity that they have, for love and life, freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.
Last Week’s Homily Suggestion: I suggested that we make a practice of an examination of Conscience at the end of the day as practice for the end of days when Christ who comes as our Judge will ask us to render an account of the gifts we have given and for whose Glory we have used them.