How should a Parent respond to Dignitatis Infinita?

April 8, 2024

It can be understood and logically defended that man and woman possess a specific inherent dignity one male, one female, created out of love by God the Father. This order of creation affirms the value of man and woman as beautifully made children of God. The latest document from the Dicastery on the Doctrine of the Faith-Dignitatis Infinita (DI) affirms this logical position where it describes that every human being possesses an inalienable dignity, which is a truth that corresponds to human nature.[1] It describes a four-fold distinction on the concept of dignity where the most important is the ontological.[2] What makes ontological dignity the cardinal concept of dignity is that it is the person it refers to willed and created by the love of God, it expresses an indelible mark that can never be replaced, altered, or destroyed.

With a proper ontological and anthropological understanding of the dignity of the human person, how can a parent apply (DI) in the religious formation of their children? Several areas in (DI) provide a parental framework for strengthening a child’s catholic worldview of a human being. (DI) stresses the inherent dignity every person possesses because we are created in the image and likeness of God. This means that our parental language from the earliest stage of a child’s development should reflect respect, dignity, and affirmation of a child’s identity as a son or daughter of God.

In love, a child’s existence is male or female which (DI) explains as the individual substance that each person possesses because it comes from God.[3] This means that a parent's language of faith[4] in how they communicate with their children should focus that their identity is a gift from God and should be valued, protected, and respected. As the language of faith develops within the life of the child, a simultaneous function of this process is the association of the Incarnation the Son of God who took on human form in all aspects except sin.

By uniting himself with every human being through his Incarnation, Jesus Christ confirmed that each person possesses an immeasurable dignity simply by belonging to the human community; moreover, he affirmed that his dignity can never be lost.[5]

The relationship between the Incarnation and the dignity of the human person demonstrates that we are called to be in an active relationship with Jesus Christ which begins the moment we are born. This means that our identity is intimately associated with Jesus Christ because He is the Word that became flesh, Jesus as a man expresses the beauty of God’s children in all things except sin. This important doctrinal point should be constantly echoed to children within their households because it associates their own identity with Christ. If there is a formula of faith to be extracted from this process; created in the image and likeness of God stems from God’s infinite love for us that is further revealed through the life of the Son of God Jesus Christ that is sealed through the sacrament of baptism that serves as the gateway to salvation which is the principal aim of all parents for their children. The Catechism reminds us that,

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church, and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.[6]

Another important point parents can derive from (DI) is the importance of providing our children the opportunity to engage Jesus Christ and walk towards him and not away from Him. Under the concept of human freedom, our identity as children of God is strengthened the more united with are with God our Father. This serves as the basis for the practice and concept of Christian humanism where our identity as a human being is intimately linked with our Christian identity. Quoting Pope Benedicts XVI, (DI) explains the premise of the will concerning freedom,

A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an identity to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other wills, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other wills, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other reasons or, for that matter, no reason at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key to peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions of the dignity of human beings.[7]

It is important that a child from the moment he can understand right from wrong, good from evil, moral from immoral that all life is sacred from conception to natural death. It possesses an intrinsic character. Through the Prophet Isaiah, (Di) reminds us, Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.[8] Our identity is a gift that is immutable meaning that our identity as male cannot be altered or changed to female and vice versa. This means that our parental responsibility is to affirm with moral conviction our children’s God-given identity as a son or daughter of God. Let us hearken on the words of St. Paul who provides us with a fitting synthesis of our relationship as a son and daughter of God the Father.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.

 

Eph 1:3-14

 

 

[1] DI, 6

[2] Ibid, 7

[3] DI, 9

[4] CCC 170

[5] DI, 19

[6] CCC 1213

[7] DI, 30, Message for the Celebration of the 44th World Day of Peace, no. 3

[8] Is 5:20

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