BEFORE AND AFTER CHILDBIRTH
[continued from yesterday]
The Church teaches that children receive their bodies from their parents, but not their souls. Each soul is specially created by God and infused into the body at the moment of creation. God does His share at the will of the parents. He has so decreed it as part of His providence.
Parents therefore share the dignity of parenthood, with God. Hence the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews can say: "Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits and live?"
There is a difference of opinion amongst Catholic theologians as to the precise time at which the soul is infused into the newly formed body. Some say that it is at the very moment of conception, whilst others, including St. Thomas, say not until some time after, when the body has been more perfectly formed. The first opinion is the more common. For all practical purposes in regard to marriage it may be more profitably followed; for whether the soul comes at the moment of conception or later, the Church regards the new and independent life as existing from conception.
If the new being has not got an intellectual soul, it is nevertheless ordained by God to receive one. All harm, therefore, which may be inflicted on the new being is harm inflicted on a human being, either directly or by anticipation. Likewise, all good done to the new life is good done to a human life, either directly or by anticipation.
The first duty of parents towards the unborn child is to recognize the sacredness of its life. One of the commonest features of race suicide which prevails to-day, is the destruction of the unborn child. Artificial means are adopted in order to prevent conception which are not always successful. Then recourse is had to the crime of abortion. And the sad thing is that the opinion is spreading that such a destruction of child life is not a crime.
Parents speak of it as if it were an ordinary way of being rid of an unpleasant inconvenience. Happily the idea has not become prevalent in Catholic families. Nevertheless, Catholics need to be on their guard against the materialistic doctrine and its consequences.
Let the truth be said plainly:
All attempts to kill the unborn child are attempts to commit murder....[Continued tomorrow]
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.