“America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” St. John Paul II
From the mass media reports, it appears that there are storm clouds of a Civil War of morals and values in our culture looming over America.
The division in our culture is between the proponents of a Culture of Life and the proponents of a Culture of Death. There are acts of a civil culture war from the proponents of a Culture of Death that include the “canceling” of a Culture of Life, vandalism of statues, violence in the streets, boycotting, and employment and social media terminations.
In 1987, St. John Paul II issued a warning to America when he left Detroit. “This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.”
In 1993, at World Youth Day in Denver, St. John Paul II warned America again. He said, “If you want equal justice for all, lasting justice and peace, America: Defend life. America needs much prayer… lest it lose its soul. Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first apostles. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern metropolis…. America, defend life so that you may live in peace and harmony. Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life.”
These are the most severe prophetic warnings that America has ever received. St. John Paul II warned us that the very condition for our nation’s survival is to respect the unborn. He used the warning words of the prophets, “Woe to you….”
In 1855, President Lincoln said, “Can we, as a nation, continue together permanently – forever half slave and half free? The problem is too mighty for me. May God, in his mercy, superintend the solution.”
One hundred and forty years later, St. John Paul II said, “President Lincoln’s question is no less a question for the present generation of Americans. Democracy cannot be sustained without a shared commitment to certain moral truths about the human person and human community.” (Address, October, 1995). President Lincoln’s question for the present generation is, “Can we continue together as a nation permanently–forever half pro-death and half pro-life?” The answer is no!
Like the prophets of old, St. John Paul II called the Church in America to conversion by “a profound interior renewal through a revitalization of missionary zeal. As the tragic events of September 11, 2001 have made clear, the building of a global culture of solidarity and respect for human dignity is one of the great moral tasks confronting humanity today.” (Address to U.S. Bishops of Boston and Hartford, September 2, 2004).
19 years later, with no respect for human dignity, New York celebrated its legalization of abortion up to birth by lighting up its Freedom Tower, the replacement for the Twin Towers that God had allowed to be destroyed by the chastisement of the Attack on America. A Culture of Death invites God’s chastisement as an act of mercy to bring people to repentance and salvation. Let us learn from the lesson of the chastisement of the American Civil War.
The Chastisement of the American Civil War
Abraham Lincoln recognized that nations as well as individuals are subject to chastisements. In the middle of the American Civil War he said, “We know that by his divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world.”
He believed that the American Civil War was a chastisement from God and that America had to humble itself and pray. On March 30, 1863, he proclaimed a National Day of Prayer and Fasting. He said,
So, let us turn to God, humble ourselves, and pray for his healing of our country. He said, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 14).