Culture of Love and Life- Tribute to Dr. William E. May

Tribute to Dr. William E. May
By Fr. Joseph Rogers
September 20, 2008

The first annual "William E. May Award for Promoting Ethics and the Human Person”
was presented to
Dr. May in the Annual Conference of the Culture of Life Foundation.

Dearest Dr. May –

Greetings ın Christ! As you receive this note I will be offering Mass for you and your intentions at the Church of St. John in Ephesus. I am sorry not to be at the banquet in person but assure you that – if I were ın Washington – I would have had a friend buy me a ticket.

Dr. May – we first met almost ten years ago at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. At the time I was a lay student working at a consulting firm but discovered that I was soon able to make some basic distinctions in moral theology: natural law – good – proportionalısm – bad – “barbequing a baby” – never permissible . . . even if it could save the world – “choosing and otherwise willing those and only those goods which are compatible with a will toward integral human fulfillment” – always the right option.

But more than a new vocabulary which proved to be very helpful in seminary – what I received from you – what your students have witnessed for decades in classrooms in America India Australia and Rome – what I still see in your eyes and sense in your heart today – is your passionate love for Christ and His Church.

The words of the First Letter of John seem to capture the deepest purpose of your work:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life -- for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you -- the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us . . . We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Dr May – you have spent your life defending life. You are a witness to life. You have taught us what you first have heard and seen and looked upon – what you have touched with your own hands – what the Lord gave His own life for – what completes your joy and His: humanae vıtae – human life. You have dedicated your life to building a culture of life. You have prepared countless hearts and minds to cooperate in building this culture. . . . And you have fought for this culture: in times marked by confusion and division you have made clear the teaching of the Church and defended Her Magisterium. Dr. May thank you for defending and honoring human life with "all your heart and soul mind and strength" -- thank you for helping the Church express Her love for every human life.

You are one of a special group of Catholics who has paved the way for the “John Paul II generation” . . . and now the "Benedict generation". With St. Paul you have fought the good fight . . . you have run the race. If it were a practice for laymen to take a second name as professed members of religious congregations often do . . . I am convinced that your name would be William of Human Life. As a former student and now priest of the Church of Washington I can tell you that your insights – your presentation of the Church's teachings – your love for human life, for the unborn, for crisis pregnancy moms, for the elderly and handicapped (but not your jokes) make it into many homilies and pass frequently through the cleansing walls of the confessional and into the hearts of the faithful. You have taught us well. Thank you.

We all know that the award which bears your name honors you as well as your wife Pat. We join you ın honoring her: (applause). Thank you Mrs. May for your witness to life - and congratulations to you both for having recently celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary. You have been faithful to God's first command and blessing: "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it." The earth is subdued in love; by love; for love; and we all thank God for having witnessed your love for one another and your children. You have helped our hearts understand love, and what it means to love. "Cor ad cor loquitur." In a word, together you have helped us be more human. I can thınk of no greater witness of which our society is in so desperate need.

Lastly, I would like to turn to one of the great heroes of your life and ours. The Servant of God John Paul II once said quoting Dostoevsky: “In the end beauty wıll save the world.” Life is beautıful. And human life is worth saving. Dr. May you have lived a beautiful - a very human life - and you have helped make know the beauty -- the Splendor of the Truth -- that makes all thıngs new. Thank you - and may God bless you.

Sıncerely in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Father Joseph Rogers
Archdıocese of Washıngton
Ephesus (Turkey) Sept 20 2008
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