On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
While this decision will prove to be far less significant on the ground than both sides imagine, it draws attention to many problems in American life that we need to reflect on. If we use this opportunity, we can also fix our Catholic lives, which in America, are confused and broken.
The Supreme Count was established by the U.S. Constitution as one of the three branches of the federal government. Its purpose is to interpret the Constitution and keep the President and Congress in check.
We will hear Americans complaining that the Count, in overturning Roe v. Wade has “denied women their Constitutional right to abortion”. This, however, is impossible, because it’s the Court that determines what our Constitutional rights actually are. The Court was given this power by the Constitution.
Americans don’t understand that democracy doesn’t mean that the people can do whatever they want. The people are restricted by the Constitution and by the “checks and balances” of the branches of the U.S. government. They are restricted by existing laws (which only Congress can change) and past judgments of the Court (which only the Court can change). The emotional political demands of the people, reacting to present problems, don’t change the American government. It was designed to resist the short-sighted and wild changes that have ruined other nations, and would surely ruin ours.
The people of the United states of America can, of course, do their will. It will simply take time – lots of time. The authority established by the Constitution makes sure of this. The people must work within the system and be content with the slow pace at which change takes place. We this kind of lawful, orderly change happening in many areas. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is one such issue.
A similar system of authority exists in the Church. Many individuals in the church are unhappy with the Church’s position on controversial issues. In some areas, their disapproval is welcome and respected, but their will to change the Church is not. The Church, like the U.S. government, was created with a system of checks and balances, and the wild changes among the people, usually stirred up by selfishly ambitious men, are not allowed to make hasty changes to it.
The Wisdom of Submission
There are times when changes are necessary in the State and in the Church. We see this in the Amendments of the Constitution and in the Councils of the Church. In both institutions, principles are maintained, while the interpretation and application of them are debated and clarified. All of this debating, however, takes place in an orderly, respectful way.
The desire for change without respect for the order of these institutions is childish and unrealistic. Wise men can both honor the principles of these institutions and work to change them in necessary ways. The reforms of the Second Vatican Council and the overturning of Roe v. Wade are two excellent modern examples of this.
The only change that is possible is the slow, orderly change that respects the principles of these institutions. Wise men seek change in this way and don’t waste them time in the revolutionary talk of the ignorant and impotent mob running around in the streets and throwing tantrums on the internet. The foolish may create an appearance of change, but they will not produce any such thing in reality. Circumstances will change, controversies will come and go, and most movements will dissolve into nothing. Those that are real will persevere and accomplish their end, no matter how long it takes.
Many, however, allow themselves to get caught up in the emotional causes of the ignorant and exhaust themselves for nothing. This is foolishness. It’s not how the U.S. government or the Catholic Church function. Only when men submit to the principles of the institutions can necessary changes be made. We see examples of this in the lives of the saints. Submission is wisdom.
God’s Mercy in Government
We are weak, short-sighted and selfish. If left to ourselves, we would destroy everything. Thankfully, God has protected as from ourselves by establishing institutions to limit our ability to do our own will. The powerful, slow-moving institutions that govern the Church and the State check our foolish reactions to problems and give stability to our lives.
If we learn to respect and submit to the principles of these institutions, rather than running into the streets with the mob every time something doesn’t go our way, we can fix our Catholic lives, and live happily, even in the midst of many troubles.
Mr. William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Office: (704) 776-4696