What do Advent and history teach about the true dignity of man? – Voice of the Family

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

The Gospel of St Luke tells us that, as soon as the Angel Gabriel left her, Our Blessed Mother rose and made haste to the hill country of Judea to be with her cousin, St Elizabeth. The exchange that followed upon her arrival must be among the most recited passages in the whole of scripture, recalled each time we say the Ave Maria or the Magnificat.1 And yet at the heart of this mystery is the unspoken reaction of St John the Baptist to the presence of the Messiah. Twice St Luke uses the Greek word eskirthsen — “skipped” or “leapt for joy”. This is rendered in Latin by St Jerome as exultavit — “he rejoiced”. The inerrant word of God tells us that St John, a fetus at six months’ gestation rejoiced to be in the presence of the Second Person of the Trinity, come into the world as a human embryo. Having given us the dignity of being made in His image, He elevated humanity to an even greater extent by sharing our nature, a nature that is both spiritual and corporeal.

The Church teaches that these two aspects of human nature are so closely united that we have “to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body”.2 That has been the Catholic understanding of the human person since the earliest days of the Church. Tertullian sets this out in De Anima.

“Is the substance of both body and soul formed together at one and the same time? Or does one of them precede the other in natural formation? We indeed maintain that both are conceived, and formed, and perfectly simultaneously, as well as born together; and that not a moment’s interval occurs in their conception, so that, a prior place can be assigned to either (Jer 1:5). Judge, in fact, of the incidents of man’s earliest existence by those which occur to him at the very last. As death is defined to be nothing else than the separation of body and soul, (Plato, Phædo, 64) life, which is the opposite of death, is susceptible of no other definition than the conjunction of body and soul.”3

Abortion advocates wrongly argue that the early and medieval Church did not condemn abortion in all circumstances.4 While the lack of knowledge surrounding fetal development made observable movement (i.e. “quickening”) a legal requirement to establish the presence of a living child, this did not alter the unequivocal rejection of abortion from the apostolic era onwards.5  This is demonstrated by the fact that the Didache, written sometime before 125 AD, lists abortion alongside murder, adultery, pederasty and witchcraft.6

What do Advent and history teach about the true dignity of man? – Voice of the Family

Leave a Reply