by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK – There was a time – 1968, to be exact — when “Humanae Vitae” were fighting words.
This year, they’ll be words of proclamation during the Mass in Celebration of “Humane Vitae” at 7 p.m. on July 24 at Holy Spirit Parish, 11300 W. 103rd St., Overland Park.
The theme of the Mass is: “Unleashing the Love of God.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will be the main celebrant and homilist.
“Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) is the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI about the sanctity of human life, as well as the nature and ends of human sexuality.
Among other things, it reaffirmed the church’s condemnation of artificial birth control. At the time, it was controversial and the subject of heated discussion among Catholics.
But more than four decades later, more people are beginning to appreciate the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI, according to Deacon Tony Zimmerman, lead consultant of the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
A case in point is the packed house at last year’s archdiocesan-wide Mass celebrating the 45 anniversary of the encyclical at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.
“Holy Spirit Church was filled,” said Deacon Zimmerman. “The archbishop and several priests concelebrated, and the pews were filled with families with children. It was a beautiful sight.”
These families “get it” and are living the truths of the great encyclical, he said.
“Bringing children into the world is a tremendous gift,” said Deacon Zim- merman, himself a husband, father and grandfather. “In today’s world we hear so much that we are in a scarcity mode …so children are looked at as a drain — [something for which there’s] not enough time or money.”
Families who are open to life discover that every child is a gift to both their siblings and their parents, he continued. As Archbishop Naumann said, parents can become saints through their many acts of love, care and heroic sacrifice for their children.
“We invite people to come to this Mass to celebrate and feel support for looking upon children and the gift of fertility as something to celebrate, and not something to be feared or shunned as the world does,” added Deacon Zimmerman.