Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Friday, January 21, 2005
Dear Friends in Christ,
The month of January, the first month of our calendar, takes its name from the ancient Roman god called Janus. He was the god of beginnings and ends, the god of doorways and gates, and he was usually depicted as having two faces - one looking behind, and the other ahead.
It is ironic that the decision Roe vs. Wade was handed down in the month of January, for it marked both the beginning and the end of many things, many principles that had been accepted and sacred to that point in time - values of our country, beliefs of our Church, and attitudes in the individual hearts and minds of most men and women who call the United States of America home. It was the end of the accepted moral code that the life of an infant in a mother's womb was something inviolable and precious, that only an unstable or a misinformed individual would seek to destroy it. It was the beginning of what we have come together once again to remember today - the legal sanction of the destruction of 45 million unborn children since 1973. How prophetic the words of Philadelphia 's Cardinal Krol, the day the dread message of the Supreme Court was handed down:
"The…decision is an unspeakable tragedy for this nation…setting in motion developments which are terrifying to contemplate."
An unspeakable tragedy with terrifying results. And yet, millions of Americans have grown callous and indifferent to the slaughter that occurs daily in our cities and our towns - callous and indifferent to the annihilation of nearly three thousand unborn children on a daily basis.
Alas, even some of our fellow Catholics, men and women who have been born of Water and the Holy Spirit and fed with the Bread of Life itself - assert that protection for abortion rights is simply an acceptable political position. Today, following the fervent lead of Archbishop Donoghue, I firmly renew the truth of the Church’s teaching that all human life is sacred at each and every moment of its existence. I call upon Catholics everywhere to reflect upon and to submit to this teaching, not from a partisan or political position, but with an open and humble heart. And I say as well, to all people of good faith, of whatever creed: accept the truth which beckons us – to honor life as God has commanded - and to turn your hearts and minds, and work with us, to end this American nightmare, this holocaust bridging the twentieth and twenty-first centuries - Rise up and use every legal means at your hands - rise up and defend life.
But our main purpose here is something else, and it is two-fold:
First, it is to ask God to accept our prayers and our actions, as an offering on behalf of the souls of every one of the infants who has died by abortion since 1973. We do not doubt that they have found peace in God's arms - they are an army of Holy Innocents like those whose lives were taken in a brutal search for the Infant Christ. Christ is the Lord of life, of our true life, because as St. John the Baptist tells us through the holy word of the Gospel, Jesus is "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Sin was death for us, but in Christ, our sin has been forgiven, and we are offered life once more. This is the consolation of our Faith, and we cling to it today, and know in our hearts, that it is extended as well, to the millions for whom we gather, and for whom we pray this day.
And for them, we act today, hoping and believing that our actions are but a prelude to the promise of Scripture - the promise spoken by Isaiah: "When the spirit from on high is poured out on us, then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest. Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security."
Sisters and brothers, it is the Lord who makes clear our second obligation to fulfill at this Mass - He pulls no punches, for truly, it is a task that comes straight from the Cross, and a task that is perhaps the hardest for all who follow the way of Jesus Christ. This is what the Lord says we must do:
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust…So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We stand around the Lord’s altar asking that our own hearts be healed from any hatred, anger, or malicious thoughts against those who continue to defend and to enact the deeds that destroy innocent human life. And so, dear friends, as we prepare to join in that procession that leads us to the source of all life, the Eucharist of Christ, let us solemnly offer our prayers to God, for the souls of those innocent ones, and for a sincere change of heart and contrition for all those who take innocent life.
Now, with humility and hope, with renewed determination and confidence, we pray for the living, pray for those who oppose our efforts, pray for those who actually destroy innocent life, let us go forth this day, and on all the days that lie ahead for as long as it takes - towards the perfection of God to which our Lord calls us - peace through justice, victory through self-sacrifice, and life at His hands alone.
| The Georgia Bulletin's Coverage of the Event |