Paul VI, Pope
(2011-02-16). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
"Consequently, if one does not want to see the mission of generating life exposed to the arbitrary decisions of men, one must of necessity recognize certain absolute limits to the possibility of a human being’s dominion over his or her body and its functions, limits that no one, whether a private individual or someone invested with authority has any right to exceed. And such limits cannot be determined except by the respect owed to the integrity of the human organism and its functions, according to the principles recalled above and according to the correct understanding of the “principle of totality”, explained by our predecessor, Pius XII." (Kindle Locations 204-209)
I must confess that I had a bit of an attack of melancholy when I learned that Blessed Paul VI was not getting an altar upstairs in St. Peter's Basilica. For some reason I presumed an altar for him somewhere, which would then become a focus for respect life devotion and pilgrimage on the Vatican Hill. At any rate, this disappointment moved me on Sunday to pick up and read his great 1968 encyclical again and let it once again work its magic in my soul.
This short pamphlet is mighty. My first reading at age 18 was disturbed by all the static emanating from the rebellious world around me. At 28, I had the good fortune of attending a seminar and listening to a series of tapes by a Catholic philosopher, a married laymen, eager to share the conversion which the encyclical had worked in his life, eager to confess his sins and omissions in living out his marital vocation with its mission of generating life.
Subsequent decades have always granted new insights and greater courage in defense of marriage and family and allowed me sadly to witness the prophecies therein contained fulfilled and human life, matrimony and family degraded by contraception and the mentality which has opened the floodgates of state interference into the noble mission which is the essence and the crown of Christian matrimony. The decades go by and the quiet whisper of Humanae vitae is still to be heard, not unlike that faint sound which the prophet Elijah experienced on Mount Horeb, calling him back to his prophetic destiny for the sake of the life of the world.
Altar or no, I wish to entrust the precious gift of human life, its generation and defense, to the faithful prophet, who amidst the fright and turmoil of his day, shared with us what he had heard all alone on the mountain of God, Horeb. Blessed Paul VI, pray for us!