This weekend saw the juxtaposition of the Feast of Pentecost, and a pointed reminder to me of how much we in the pro-life movement need to invoke the leading and the gifts of the Holy Spirit of God. On a few websites I was excoriated for being both a scientist and a Catholic who dares to see a harmony between faith and science. The established narrative is that one cannot maintain scientific objectivity and a position of faith simultaneously. Coming from people who do neither at all, what can one say? How does one respond? I’m open to suggestions.
Over the past six months, it has been made clear to me that we are dealing with the wrong side of the brain in much of our pro-life apologetics. The human brain’s higher functions are seated in what are actually two separate brains, right and left, that are joined by a thick cable of nerves called the corpus callosum. It is the job of the corpus callosum to facilitate communication between the left side, which is where logic and scientific reason are seated, and the right side where emotional and intuitive functions are seated.
If it were a simple matter of scientific expository, the issues of abortion and euthanasia would have been put to rest long ago. The issue for those on the other side of the debate is one that is located in the intuitive/emotional functions. It is a center that is dealing with drives, experiences and emotions that are deep and primordial. These are deep, dark caverns where the light of objective data penetrates dimly, if at all.
Enter Pentecost and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit of God. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
WISDOM. The gift of wisdom, by detaching us from the world, makes us relish and love only the things of heaven.
UNDERSTANDING. The gift of understanding helps us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary.
COUNSEL. The gift of counsel springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God and our own salvation.
FORTITUDE. By the gift of fortitude we receive courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice of our religious duties.
KNOWLEDGE. The gift of knowledge points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach heaven.
PIETY. The gift of piety, by inspiring us with a tender and filial confidence in God, makes us joyfully embrace all that pertains to His service.
FEAR OF THE LORD. Lastly, the gift of fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him.
One can readily see that some of these gifts awaken and imbue functions on one side of the brain, while others awaken and imbue the other, all in a supernatural way. At this juncture, I believe that we need to do much more than just witness the truths of science. We need to pray for these folk, and we need to evangelize them. Those deep and dark emotional recesses where science and reason only penetrate dimly are the seat of fear and disappointment, of trauma and self-loathing. These experiences lead people to view others’ lives through the prism of experiences where they themselves have been devalued as persons. Is it at all surprising then that they should deny to others the dignity of personhood that has been denied them?
It isn’t about science and reason at this level. It’s about healing the deepest wounds in people’s lives. As Jesus said of Mary Magdalene’s profound conversion: “She loves much because she has been forgiven much.”
Pentecost is the perfect time for us to empty ourselves, to get out of our own way, and to invoke the gifts and the leading of the Holy Spirit whose light shines in the darkness of our lives like the midday sun.
How can I, and other pro-lifers integrate science and faith? Through openness to the Holy Spirit, the wounds of time are healed, and the gifts of the Spirit which imbue both sides of the brain bring about a balance, an integrity of function in centers no longer hampered by the past. In short, the promise of Jesus is fulfilled: “I will send you my Holy Spirit, and He will lead you to all truth.”
The following Hymn invoking the Holy Sprit, from the first millennium of he Church, has always been my favorite prayer, and one I find myself praying more and more. If we are to make major inroads, it will only be through the answer to this prayer. The English and Latin translations of each verse are below the YouTube video. A belated Happy Pentecost to all as we celebrate the birthday of the Church.
VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS (COME HOLY SPIRIT)
VENI, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.
COME, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.