From the 1998 Inside the Vatican
Special Supplement on Humanae Vitae
A moving sermon by a great pro-life preacher seemed the right way to end this dossier of reflections on Humanae Vitae
“VENI, CREATOR SPIRITUS!”
By Father George Parker
Father George Parker was ordained a priest in 1983 at the age of 53, after a career as a teacher of Latin for 22 years in Boston, Massachusetts (USA).
In 1996, he made headlines, even in the secular press, for his courage in denouncing a Connecticut Knights of Columbus chapter which was honoring Connecticut’s U.S. Senator, Christopher Dodd, a supporter of partial-birth abortion, at a Mass and breakfast. Father Parker returned, with interest, a $5,000 check Dodd had donated to St. Joseph's Parish (where Parker was serving as administrator) for the parish school. Parker wrote to Dodd: "Our school is dire financial need and is operating at a deficit. Nevertheless the decision was made by me and the dedicated Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church who staff our school." He said, "While we acknowledge your generosity, we can not in good conscience accept this money." The donation was accepted by a pastor of another parish. By the end of the year nearly $61,000 poured into the school from across the nation in praise of Parker's stand. While Parker had the support of Virgil Dechant, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, (who assured him it was his understanding an event honoring Dodd would not be sponsored by the Knights again), Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, NY, Chaplain of the Knights, and Cardinal Bernard Law, of Boston, whom Parker quoted in his denuncia- tion, he did not have the support of his own bishop, Daniel Hart of Norwich, Connecticut, nor his brother priests of the diocese, and was relieved of his duties as administrator of St. Joseph Parish where he had served for eight years, leading him to seek early retirement from active ministry. He now serves as Chaplain to Human Life International in Front Royal, Virginia.
The following is Father Parker's Homily for the opening Mass of the Human Life Inter- national 17th World Conference on Love, Life and the Family, St. Michael the Archangel Church, Houston, Texas, Wednesday, April 15, 1998. The originally scheduled homilist was Archbishop John Onaiyeken of Abuja, Nigeria, whose plane was late causing Father Parker to be chosen to fill in for him.
Archbishop Onaiyeken arrived after the start of the Mass, and spoke to the congregation at the end of Mass and honored Father Parker by saying, "I am sorry I was late and could not preach to you, but I could not have done better than Father's (Parker's) fine homily."
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Romans 10:5). So much of that goodness of the Lord is here tonight among you in this sacred place. We are here because we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and we believe in the sacredness of life — both human and divine.
We read in St. Paul: “No one can say ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God Who activates all of them in everyone. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of the one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:3-6, 12-13)
When St. Paul declares that no one can say, “Jesus Christ is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit, he means in the sense of believing. Even a pro- fessed atheist can mouth the words, but only in and by the Holy Spirit, can we say in faith: “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
All of us are here today in this place have in some formal way committed our lives to Jesus Christ because we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Because we do believe, because we have the great gift of faith, we have with us and with- in us the Holy Spirit — that Holy Spirit Who is the Lord and Giver of Life. Let us cry out together: Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus Christ is Lord!
Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, given each one of us in the anointing of our Baptism, we not only believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, but we believe that the Father is Lord and we believe that the Holy Spirit is Lord. We can say the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit is Lord!
Veni, Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti pectora.
Come, O Creator Spirit,
Visit our minds.
Fill with your grace
the hearts you have created.
Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, a presence we can never begin to fully understand in this life, we accept and believe in the great mystery of the Trinity — three distinct Persons in One God: the Father Who is Lord, the Son Who is Lord and the Holy Spirit, Who is Lord.
Of these three Divine Persons, it is the Holy Spirit who is least understood. In fact, very often He is the forgotten Person of the Trinity. We can fairly easily understand the relationship between the Father and His only begotten Son. Jesus solemnly identifies the First and Second Persons of the Holy Trinity: Whoever has seen Me as seen the Father. (John 14:9)
In the darkness that envelopes so many today, even in the Church, there are those who want to reshape God’s sacred revelation of Himself — to make God in their own human image. This is the primordial sin of idolatry. Presently, we have a mighty battle of language — inclusive and exclusive. Some find God as Father unacceptable and wish to rename Him. Others find God as Son likewise unacceptable and wish to call Him by some other title.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is everything that is good in relation- ship to ourselves. He is our Father, our mother, our brother, our sister, and our friend.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 12-13)
Despite anyone’s personal or political agenda, God has solemnly revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As I said, we can understand God as Father to His Only Son, begotten from all eternity and made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit and the willing yes of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. But how do we understand the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Triune God?
Who is the Holy Spirit Whom, in faith, we acknowledge and say is Lord? What is His divine relationship to God the Father and God the Son?
In our solemn profession of faith at every Sunday Mass, we say and proclaim: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.”
What does it mean when we assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? Does the Father and the Son come first and the Holy Spirit follow? No! From all eternity God has existed as three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From all eternity, without beginning and without end, the love that exists between the Father and the Son is so infinitely powerful that it generates the Person of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Love the Father has for His Son and the love that the Son has for the Father. God is Love!
Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, 50, states it magnificently: “The Holy Spirit is One in substance with the Father and the Son. In the absolute mystery of the Triune God, He is the Person-love, the uncreated gift, Who is the eternal source of every gift that comes from God in the order of creation, the direct principle and, in a certain sense, the subject of God’s self-communication in the order of grace.” The mystery of the Incarnation constitutes the climax of this giving, this self-communication.
Whatever evil we have ever encountered; whatever suffering we have ever endured, be it physical, psychological or spiritual, from without or within, is the result of original sin and its con- sequences in ourselves, in others and in nature itself. Whatever good we have encountered in ourselves and in others; whatever joys we have experienced; whatever gifts we have received is the result of the love of the Father and the Son, that is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the giver of every good gift particularly the primary gifts of life and faith. In the Creed of the Council of Nicaea and Constantinople, the Church proclaims her faith in the Holy Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life. To embrace life is to embrace the Holy Spirit. To in any way embrace the ever-growing culture of death is to reject the Holy Spirit. This rejection is, in fact, the sin against the Holy Spirit for which, Jesus tells us in all three synoptic gospels, there is no forgiveness.
We learned in the great catechism of our youth that God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in heaven. We can only know and love Him through the Holy Spirit. We can only serve Him in our brothers and sisters by embracing fully the culture of life. There can be no exceptions, no "caveats."
When we accept or tolerate even passively non-abortifacient contraception, the precursor of abortion, we reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we practice or seemingly tolerate by our silence abortifacient contraception, we destroy life and, hence, reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we accept or practice sterilization, be it voluntary or imposed by the state immersed in the culture of death, we reject and blaspheme the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit. When we fudge or skirt the terrible issue of abortion, we reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. To promote or accept any form of euthanasia or suicide, be it assisted or alone, we reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we make the most hardened of criminals the exception to the absolute sanctity of human life, we reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we openly or passively accept active homosexuality as a morally legitimate life-style, we render the Holy Spirit’s gift of life-giving sexuality as nothing more than pagan self-indulgence that rejects and blasphemes the Giver of life. Only in totally embracing human life can we hope to obtain eternal life. When anyone usurps in any manner the work of the Holy Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life, he rejects and blasphemes the Holy Spirit.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin.” (Luke 3: 28-29)
We hear so much today both within and without the Church about choice. Choice has become the rallying cry for the pro-abortionists; it has become the justification for a permeating contraceptive mentality even in the Church; it is the seal of approval for dissent concerning faith and morals; it has brought about a deadening of the sense of sin; a decline in religious life, for the widespread proliferation of the darkness; and for the spread of the culture of death far and wide.
There is for all of us only one authentic freedom of choice. We may choose to embrace life, that is, to embrace the Holy Spirit, or we may choose to reject life, that is, to reject the Holy Spirit.
In the name of the Triune God, Who is Lord, make no mistake about the following: there exists today a mighty battle between the culture of life and the culture of death, between good and evil, between the light and the darkness. In this battle we may not be neutral and hope to survive eternally. Nor may we be silent in the midst of this battle — be it in the name of mis- guided charity or false prudence.
When we fight for life, we fight for, in and with the Holy Spirit. When we embrace human life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death, we embrace the eternal life of the Holy Spirit.
When we actively or passively embrace any aspect of the culture of death or by our silence give muted consent, we reject and blaspheme the Holy Spirit and insure everlasting death for ourselves — an eternity without the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. What a terrible price to pay for the primordial sin and fleeting pleasure of self-idolatry.
Although the Triune God has given each of us the freedom to participate or not to participate in the Holy Spirit’s life-giving act, we are not free to destroy or thwart that life-giving power. To be sons and daughters of the Holy Spirit, we must support every aspect of human life. Otherwise, we become children of Satan, Prince of darkness and death. If Satan is our father, we shall never behold the face of God, Who is Lord. The Father is Lord, choose life! The Son is Lord, choose life! The Holy Spirit is Lord, choose life!
When we choose life, that is, when we embrace the Holy Spirit, we activate within us the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit we received in Baptism and in Confirmation: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the lord, and the spirit of piety. When we reject life, we reject the Holy Spirit and render His marvelous gifts utterly inoperative within us. These gifts are then replaced with the counterfeit gifts of the darkness: viz., ignorance, confusion, lack of discernment, moral cowardice, spiritual anemia, new-age novelties, a loss of the sense of the sacred and disobedience. We make the choice in our daily lives. The Almighty Triune God will honor that choice for all eternity.
The battle between the culture of life and the culture of death is the greatest battle not only in the history of the Church but also in the history of our country and all mankind. Our very salvation depends on this battle and its outcome in our lives.
Why, therefore, is this sanctuary not over- flowing tonight with the successors of the Apostles, the bishops of the United States?
You have joined the battle for life. You have embraced the Holy Spirit.
Finally, with the life of the Holy Spirit within us, and only with that divine life within us can we every hope to fulfill the great admonition of Saint Paul:
“Your attitude must be that of Christ:
Though He was in the form of God,
He did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at.
Rather, He emptied Himself
and took on the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.
He was known to be of human estate,
and it was thus that He humbled Himself,
obediently accepting even death,
death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8)
No matter where we have been in the past with regard to the awesome issues of human and divine life that surge throughout the world, both within and without the Church, resolve to embrace the Holy Spirit — Dominus et Vivificans — The Lord and Giver of Life.
Be the instruments of the Holy Spirit in stir- ring the culture of life. Your advocacy of the life issues today is your passport tomorrow to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us leave this place resolved to answer affirmatively the great call to holiness given each one of us by a Triune God that loves us with an infinite love.
Let us continue to join hands and support one another. Let and go forth from this place and without any hesitation, compromise or fear, and name the darkness!
There will be a price to pay. With great joy and thanksgiving, pay that price — that wonderful bargain for the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
May Almighty God give each and every one of us the grace of final perseverance! One day may each one of us be in that huge crowd, seen by St. John in his magnificent vision as recorded in the Book of Revelation, from every nation and race, people and tongue with our robes washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb! And may we cry out with them in a loud voice: “Salvation is from Our God, Who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:10)
GLORIA PATRI, ET FILIO, ET SPIRITUI SANCTO.
SICUT ERAT IN PRINCIPIO, ET NUNC, ET SEMPER,
ET IN SAECULA SAECULORUM. AMEN
JESUS CHRISTUS DOMINUS EST!