Lay Witness Magazine
January/February 2014

Whatever You Do for the Least of My Bretheren, You Do for Me: The Legacy of Dr. Jérôme Lejeune

In 1958 a brilliant young Parisian researcher, Jérôme Lejeune, discovered that the condition then referred to as “mongolism” was caused by an extra chromosome. Instead of the usual twenty-first pair of chromosomes, the genetic makeup of a Down syndrome patient had three of a kind. On January 26, 1959, the Academy of Sciences in France published Lejeune’s findings, which for the first time ever established a correlation between a disorder and a chromosomal aberration. Dr. Lejeune went on to discover other chromosomal pathologies and received several awards for his work, including the Kennedy Prize in 1962. In 1964 the first … Continue reading

The Seamless Garment

The Church proposes what is called a “consistent ethic of life.” It must, of course, do so because it is bound by sacred tradition to the proposition that all human beings, without any exception whatsoever, are made in the image and likeness of God and that Jesus Christ died for all human beings, without any exception whatsoever. Therefore each human person—without any exception whatsoever—is sacred and the only creature that God wills for its own sake. This simple fact is one that our civilization has tremendous difficulty grasping. All sorts of social and political groups have all sorts of human … Continue reading

The Road to Emmaus: The Beggar’s Banquet: An Interview with Regis Martin

Dr. Regis Martin knows a thing or two about the spiritual life. As a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, he teaches courses infused with a wide breadth of influences—magisterial documents, the writings of the saints, great works of literature, and even poetry—all seeking not only to inform his students of the truth of the Gospel, but to whet their appetite for that which truly satisfies. He does the very same for readers with his new book, The Beggar’s Banquet: A Personal Retreat on Christ, His Mother, the Spiritual Life & the Saints (Emmaus   Road, 2013). Lest anyone … Continue reading

Spousal Love

In a time when the world has lost the true vision of marriage, when a false and superficial vision has come to the fore, it is important through the medium of great art to dwell on what marriage really means and was meant to be. This never fading, never outdated art opens our eyes to a deeper perception of a whole world of perennial beauty and of true happiness. Christ called His disciples to be “the salt of the earth” (Mt 5:13). Right from the beginning Christianity dared to be counter-cultural. It proclaimed “grace seasoned with salt” and this ultimately … Continue reading

Reviews

(Image, 2011) In his second to last Wednesday audience before resigning from the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Dorothy Day as possessing “the ability to oppose the ideological enticements of her time in order to choose the search for truth and to open herself to the discovery of faith.” Her personal diary, The Duty of Delight, fleshes out the story of her life and affirms Benedict’s conclusion: “God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a life dedicated to the underprivileged.” Day’s private writings, which span four decades, reveal an intense pursuit of the face of … Continue reading

Of Sorrow and Such Joy

Twelve hours before his death, my friend Eric Stoutz was able to meet our 2-day-old daughter Magdalene Colleen. When Eric held her, his face lit up as he whispered, “Such joy! Such joy!” I held her in his lap so he could touch her and he nodded and smiled as he stroked her tiny face. These were the final hours of a long and painful journey. I was overcome by a profound sorrow, recognizing that Eric did not have long to live. And yet my sorrow was naturally tinged with relief that his suffering would soon come to an end. … Continue reading

Human Life: Always Sacred, Always Inviolable

Jesus, the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person, identifies especially with the little ones (cf. Mt 25:40). This reminds us Christians that we are called to care for the vulnerable of the earth. But the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favor an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak, or the less talented to find opportunities in life. It is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability, in which we are called to recognize the suffering Christ, even if this appears to bring us … Continue reading

Hearing the Good News: Getting to the Real Heart of the Gospel

Pope Francis has created quite a stir in recent interviews, sparking much conversation from Catholics and non-Catholics alike about the future of the Church and his papacy. His comments, for example, about abortion, same sex unions, and contraception are celebrated by some and feared by others as a radical departure from Catholic moral teaching on these matters. The Pope’s comments, no doubt, have been controversial. But the key to interpreting Francis’ statements properly is found in his vision for the Church. The Holy Father says he wants a Church that doesn’t just open its doors to others, but goes out … Continue reading

Evangelizing with Joy

Recently I had the privilege of praying before the tomb of Blessed John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Basilica. To my surprise, tears came readily, but I noticed that I was far from the only one moved. Thousands of men and women must weep daily before the earthly remains of a man most never met in person. Why this response? The answer is simple. He moved us, and people of good will loved him for it. Through the grace of God, he changed minds and softened hearts that had become hardened victims of a secular age. He was full of … Continue reading

Eugenics: A Selective History

By the late 1800s, eugenics had become something of a fashion among the wealthy and the educated. Darwinian evolution and Mendelian genetics fermented in the minds of the elite, suggesting to them that man should take control of his evolution and actively eliminate deleterious genes from the population by preventing their bearers from breeding. Such thoughts were not to remain merely stimulating thought experiments for long. In those days before the full horror of efficiently implemented eugenic programs was made evident, and racism was still socially acceptable among the upper echelons of American society, there was nothing to stop the … Continue reading

Encountering “The Joy of the Gospel”: A Commentary on Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Christ.” So begins the first apostolic exhortation from our Holy Father Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”). Pope Francis’ exhortation, which some members of the press have referred to as the Mission Statement of his pontificate, is a significant contribution to the new evangelization to which the Church must faithfully apply herself. The promulgation of Evangelii gaudium provides an opportunity for prayerful study, and as an apostolate founded to promote fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the Holy Father, we heartily accept the … Continue reading

Do I Know You? On Seeking True Union With God

Before you were born, God knew you. The psalmist says, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb . . . my frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth” (Ps 139:13,15). He knew everything about you, who you would become, what you would believe, what you would do. He conceived of you and brought you into existence for the sole purpose of loving you and being loved by you. This great love is something we should bask in, embrace, and live within as the foundational understanding … Continue reading

Abortion: Pagan Sacrifice?

As we prepare to mourn the forty-first anniversary of the legalization of abortion in our beloved country, Fr. John Hardon reminds us of the real battle that is being waged by our secular leaders in an effort to define “modern” society as something new and liberating to human social development when, in fact, this effort is not new at all. It is the age-old battle between princes and principalities, between the true God and the demonic gods of the “new age”—and abortion is the required sacrifice of innocent life to these gods of modernism just as it was to the … Continue reading