Thoughts on the Sanctity of Life Triggered by Seeing the Film “Lincoln” on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Thoughts on the Sanctity of Life Triggered by Seeing the Film “Lincoln” on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception December 9, 2012

How does one believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and then deny personhood when conception occurs nowadays?

That’s the thought that popped into my head when I came across the following passage in a dusty volume printed in 1913.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception

1. State Of The Question And Meaning Of The Dogma.—a) Conception (conceptio) may be taken either actively or passively.

Active conception (concipere, conceptio activa) is the parental act of generation. Passive conception (concipi, conceptio passiva) is the origin of a human being in the maternal womb. A child comes into being at the moment when the intellectual soul is infused into the product of parental generation (embryo, foetus). In speaking of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, therefore, we do not mean the procreative act of her saintly parents (which may or may not have been tainted by inordinate concupiscence), but simply and solely the creative act by which Almighty God infused her immaculate soul into the corporeal receptacle which had been prepared for it by Joachim and Anna. In other words, by a most extraordinary privilege the soul of our Lady was from the first instant of her existence preserved from all stain of original sin.

The above passage is from page 39 of Monsignor Joseph Pohle’s book, Mariology: A Dogmatic Treatise on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. In it, of course, he expounds on the Dogma we celebrated yesterday, which you are more than welcome to read.

The short answer to the question proffered in the title, given the above citation, especially in light of scientific advances made since 1913 in understanding conception and pregnancy, is that you can’t.

Yes, the Supreme Court, as late as 1973, suspended belief in the sure knowledge of when a person comes into being, but that doesn’t make that body’s interpretation correct for all time.

You can blame my query on a more secular, if not profane, reason as well. You see, I went to see a movie last night, and it made me think of issues related to the sanctity of life, from conception until natural death. G.K. Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead” was speaking loudly to me as I traveled back in time for two and a half hours.

In fact, just in this short two and a half minute trailer for Lincoln, which I’m laying odds will sweep the Oscars, you’ll get the gist of why these thoughts have risen to the fore in my mind.

“Do you think we choose to be born? Or are we fitted to the times we’re born into?”

Did the Immaculate Conception choose to be born? Did you, or I?

“Shall we stop this bleeding?”

I pray we do.

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and Patron of the United States of America, pray for us.

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