Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Choose life

As I said at Mass this weekend, if you are not able to march for life today, please say a prayer for life or offer a fast for life at some point today.

Following are excerpts from the homily Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl delivered January 22, 2007 at a Mass for Penance and Prayer, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. …

The proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ is the proclamation of the gospel of life. When we ask, why does the Church struggle so hard to defend human life, the answer will be found, I believe, in what will be history’s reproach of this age that condones the single greatest moral plight in our nation since the days of slavery.

Have you ever wondered how the great atrocities of history came to be? How is it that there were concentration camps dedicated to the extermination of people? How could it be that slavery – the reduction of human beings to the status of property – was protected by law? How is it possible that the wholesale destruction of human life can be accepted by society? When we look at the magnitude of the evil we are dealing with, one wonders how such activities could be accepted by any people anywhere at any time.

Silence is the ally of atrocity. Sometimes the silence of individuals is compounded by the means of social communication. The full horror of what is taking place can be presented in a way that most people remain ignorant of what is really happening. Silence and ignorance are twin allies of atrocities.

Today we are confronted with the evil of abortion on demand. It is almost inconceivable that in a society which calls itself civilized it would be legal under the heading of “abortion” to kill a perfectly healthy, almost full-term child. That is what a partial-birth abortion is. In like manner, we should be appalled at how easily unborn human life is killed throughout this nation.

When all of the arguments surrounding the abortion issue are viewed rationally, honestly and calmly, they do not justify the final and drastic decision to take the life of an unborn child. In varying degrees there can be vexing, painful and pressing circumstances that call for a great deal of assistance, understanding, compassion and support, but they never justify the taking of the innocent life of the baby in the womb…

Why does the Church speak so strongly, consistently and persistently in defense of human life? Why are you – we – here this morning? We are present in order that unborn children, in the millions around this world, have someone to hold onto, someone to cling to, someone who will speak for and protect them.

As we observe the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand and removed the political consensus that sought to regulate this destructive human action, we must not lose sight of the fact that more that 1.5 million unborn children are killed each year in the United States alone.

What adds to the harm afflicted on our society by abortion is the concerted effort to make such violence acceptable. Through laws and public policy that justify the taking of human life solely because it is inconvenient to someone, we engender in the hearts of our people especially our young, the next generation, the idea that death is a solution to a problem. The lesson has been too well learned. Violence does beget violence.

As a society we are witnessing the fruits of the abortion mentality. The generation of people now entering their thirties has grown up hearing over and over again - in school, from teachers, politicians, courts, the media, movies, music, television and various personalities – that it is all right to kill if the life you take is still in the womb. Too many of our young people have accepted this message. Is it any wonder that we have created a culture of violence?...

The Book of Genesis teaches us that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26). Who cannot believe that when you look on a newly born infant and realize his or her gifts, potential and future. We are challenged as Moses did so with the chosen people: Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live…” (Dt 30:19).

The Gospel of Jesus confirms the dignity of human life and its extraordinary destiny: I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10)…


At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 2 grader has a book of bible stories she likes to read, and she has a really beautiful way of absorbing it. After reading one night, she had a thought, “If we look like God, then He must look like us.” She asked me if people with white skin looked like God, and people with brown skin looked like God too. I said we’re all made in His image. I was expecting the question, “How can that be?” (I wasn’t sure how to explain that to an 8 yr old) But, instead she responded, “Wow, God must be really beautiful.” I believe we are born with an inherent appreciation and respect for all life. We have become a society that teaches its youth differently.

“Through laws and public policy that justify the taking of human life solely because it is inconvenient to someone, we engender in the hearts of our people especially our young, the next generation, the idea that death is a solution to a problem.”

The answer to all of our problems (abortion, genocide, poverty, terrorism) is clear; we must value life and pass that legacy on to the next generation. I’m thankful for those who stood up to do that today.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger fran said...

Unbelievable -
Some quotes from an article in today's paper, on the French abortion pill, which seems to be replacing surgical abortion procedures:

"The impact and the promise is huge,....It's going a long way towards normalizing abortion."

"....it's never easy to terminate a pregnancy. But in the grand scheme of things, it was much more pleasant than a surgical procedure."

"I liked the idea of being in control."

God bless all of the people who are on the March for Life today and all of those who defend life each and every day.

And on a positive note...

Yesterday's paper had a wonderful article on college students in town for pro-life conference at Catholic University. One student, a Human Life Studies major, said the following: "This conference shows that the youth are not the future of the pro-life movement, we ARE the movement."

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Maryann said...

March for Life Reflection

A lot of people,
from a lot of states,
with a lot of clothing,
to pray for the voiceless.

Many abortions each hour,
many numbers are tallied,
on many posters held high,
to pray for the voiceless.

The Verizon center is full,
St. Patrick’s is full,
St. Matthew’s is full,
to pray for the voiceless.

All different ages,
from all different races,
all walk down the street,
to pray for the voiceless.

Unborn life can not live,
if we don’t live to protect it,
to live God’s word,
to pray for the voiceless.

At 12:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my mind, one abortion is one too many. But there is a flipside to the coin. For one, are we as a society ready for the days of coathangers and back alley abortions that leave many pregnant women with serious injuries or even death? It's a reality we must consider.

Also, most of those aborted babies are often the most unwanted, unloved, and neglected children. Should they be born that way, a large number of them are born into an environment that leads to a life of crime and social deviation. Not for a second does that justify abortion in my mind. Please, please don't read it as such. But it's something we also must consider and be aware of. Is society as a whole prepared for that and willing to spend the extra (ie; tax increases more than likely) money needed for law enforcement and social programs that address these issues? I wouldn't ask that particular question if I didn't already cynically feel I knew the answer. But my first issue raised I think is something worth dwelling on the most.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger fran said...

Birthright of Wheaton is in dire need of infant and toddler clothing up to size 2T for both boys and girls.
Donations may be brought directly to Birthright at 12247 Georgia Ave.,(the Cardinal McCarrick Center)
Hours are Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, and Saturday, 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. Phone 301-946-3339
Thank you!

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Maryann said...

Please pray for Rachel, a 19 year old, and her family, as they begin the long and arduous journey of rehabilitating a head trauma victim. Rachel was doing everything a 19 year old could to be a safe driver. She was wearing a seat belt and driving the speed limit on her way to an early morning swim practice. She simply did not see a patch of black ice.

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The solution to the vast majority unwanted pregnancies isn’t abortion or even increased taxes, law enforcement, etc. The solution is changing our mindset as a culture about our sexuality. Our sexuality has become a commodity rather than an intimate gift of self. It makes me sad to hear people talk about back rooms and coat hangers, not b/c I’m unwilling to look at possibilities, but b/c I refuse to concede that they would be absolute realities. We can do better and we must.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing that a person can be convicted of murder if they kill a pregnant woman and the fetus dies too? That is, the killer can be convicted for both killings -- the mother and the fetus. For example, this is what happened in the Scott/Laci Peterson case where the husband killed the pregnant wife and got charged and convicted of double murder. Yet at the same time, a pregnant woman can legally have her fetus killed at any time.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anonymous 12:49,

I hear what you are saying, and in no way do I think you are a proponent of abortion.
In my mind, education is the answer and it ties into much of the commentary posted on this topic, on various days, here.

We must reach and teach our children, and the children of others so that the right choice is made BEFORE there is a need for abortion, in a doctor's office or in a back alley. I don't know if you read what I posted earlier, but there is now a pill you can take "in the comfort of your own home" to induce abortion privately and without anybody else knowing. How quaint and how utterly horrifying!
Some might think I am naive; that my views on abstinence are archaic, naive and ridiculous. That is fine with me. Until somebody comes up with a method other than abstinence that will work 100% of the time,in preventing pregnancy, I am sticking by it.
Abstinence isn't something that is dispensed in convenient pill form. It is something that requires a healthy dose of self-control and a great deal of self-respect. And it will work each and every time someone chooses it.

Changing the subject...

My sister chaperoned her daughter's 8th grade class downtown yesterday for the Rally for Life. Unfortunately, the bus was late reaching them and by the time they reached Verizon Center, it was packed to capacity.
They were instructed to go to an 'overflow' church in the area.
They re-boarded their bus and proceeded to St. Matthew's Cathedral. They were an hour and half early for mass and as my sister sat there, the cathedral became filled with other pro-life supporters.

She said that every square inch of the church was taken with a body - the aisles, the vestibule, every useable space had a person in it.
She said she thought to herself, "how in the world are they going to distribute Communion to so many?" She said what followed reminded her of the "loaves and the fishes." She said it seemed that no sooner did distribution of Holy Communion begin, that it ended! ....with every person receiving, and returning to his or her place in the crowd.

I think there was something beautiful and miraculous going on here - from the number of people who turned out for the pro-life event, to the whole scene inside the cathedral.

God is awesome! His people are awesome! He must have been very happy yesterday.

At 12:49 AM, Anonymous Anon 12:49 a.m. said...

Someone anonymous said...

"It makes me sad to hear people talk about back rooms and coat hangers, not b/c I’m unwilling to look at possibilities, but b/c I refuse to concede that they would be absolute realities."

You may not like it, but it would be the reality. It WAS the reality in lots of places, and there is absolutely no question that it would be again. You can't just hope for the very best and expect that to just happen (see Iraq, War in for example), sad to say. It's as bad as expecting abstinence only programs to be 100% successful. Sure, not having sex will mean not having an unwanted pregnancy and it's the best way. But like it or not, teens and young adults WILL have sex and as a society we can't stay naive to any of these facts.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Abortion supporters work to make us think that women turn to abortion only when they literally have no other choice. The stats tell a different story. The absurdly large number of women who have abortions tells us that must not be true. No, instead, the majority of women fall in line with the kind of thinking that basically says, “I don’t want to be pregnant at this time in my life.”

Prior to legalization, most abortions were performed by doctors, in their offices, using their equipment. In fact, Vital Statistics records the year before abortion was made legal, something like 80+ women died as a result of illegal abortion; almost the same number of women died in childbirth that same year. From a woman for women, I don’t fear us going back to anything as much as I fear where we’re headed- since abortion was legalized, over 40 million babies have been aborted; that’s roughly the population of California.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger fran said...

Something can only be successful if you believe in it and are willing to put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it.

If we continue to sell our teens and young adults short, by saying that an abstinence only program cannot be successful, then the staus quo remains firmly in place and it will not be successful. Don't our teens and young adults deserve better? Don't they deserve better from us, their parents?

As much as people want to say that there is a naivete to this line of thinking, I think it is equally naive to think that other methods of preventing pregnancy are the solution.

This morning I spoke with a caller asking, "What do you charge for an abortion?" It makes me so very, very sad. Our children deserve better, so much better.......

At 4:23 PM, Blogger fran said...

One more thing to say -

Please, do not ever think that a concept which is difficult to grasp, that a thought deemed unrealistic, that a belief in something which seems unattainable, has anything to do with naive thinking, or actually being naive, because it doesn't. It has everything to do with having faith. With it, you can move mountains.

At 8:11 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

On abortion-
“as a society we can't stay naive to any of these facts.”

On teenage sex-
“You may not like it, but it would be the reality.”

On faith-
“You can't just hope for the very best and expect that to just happen”

From Fran-
It has everything to do with having faith.

Exactly- it has everything to do with faith! To that I’ll add, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” To the anon, you’re right- you can’t just hope for the best- you make plans to make the best actually happen. You have to DO something. But to concede to the worst, at least on my scale of right and wrong, is an offense to God.

There have been more than a few occasions when I have been called naïve, and if my belief that “we can overcome” our current ways- that we can grow our children to be self-respecting, moral people, and that we can do the right thing to protect life is naïve, I’ll gladly own that quality.

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I hope for the best, too. When I leave for work every day I can hope that I'll hit every red light and not have to stop. The reality is that won't happen. Just like the reality is teenagers and young adults will have sex. Some will do so in a risky manner. It's been happening since the dawn of the earth. Why should we think that will change?

At 5:19 PM, Blogger fran said...

I just returned home from a terrific seminar. As part of the program, the leader showed a wonderful video titled, "Everyday Creativity." It featured a photo journalist from National Geographic who spoke on how he has to change the lens of the camera, in order to view what is in front of him, differently, so that he can capture the best, most unique photo.

He spoke quite eloquently, and said some things which I think relate to the topic of conversation we are having here.
- First he talked about seeing the ordinary yet making it extraordinary.
- He talked about how to "re-frame a problem into an opportunity."
- He spoke of putting oneself in the "place of most potential" and looking for "the next right answer."
- My favorite line was this: "A pattern, if it goes on too long unquestioned, becomes a prison."

We can keep saying that teens will continue to have sex and that's just the way it's going to be, so that's that. Or we can change the lens, see it differently and try to DO something about it. How? By seeing the extraordinary potential in our children, by re-framing a problem into an opportunity, and by continuing to look for the next right answer.

To settle for the lowest common denominator, and say "teens will be teens, they are going to have risky sex, and that's that," just isn't right. The patterns of pre-marital sex, contraception and abortion have gone on far too long and they HAVE become prisons for our children.

I believe the "next right answer" is in front of us, staring us square in the face. We simply refuse to acknowledge it. "The banquet is laid but nobody comes."

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

mpftcmWhen I was in high school, I took this great course on sexuality. It was amazing and empowering. It was done in an open forum with students, a guidance counselor, a child psychologist and about half a dozen nuns. While it was a complete course for sexual education (sex, birth control, etc.) the prevailing message throughout the course was about embracing ones sexuality. Emphasis was placed on what an amazing gift it is and how each of us will express it uniquely. We talked about the idea that sex is an expression of self, and therefore was an incredibly important. My headmistress, Sr. Rogers gave a beautiful talk about how she expressed her own sexuality in a variety of ways. You could have heard a pin drop, because she spoke with energy, excitement and passion in the very same way one of us sitting there might talk about a boyfriend. The girls from that course walked away with the idea that their sexuality was, indeed, a gift from God meant to be expressed, and since it was a Catholic school, the teaching that sex was for marriage fit perfectly with that. I’m not saying all lived up to that standard, but at least we understood that there was a standard. Today, I’m not so sure our kids are taught that. They think sex is no big deal- it’s something everyone does. When we allow THIS standard to prevail, we aren’t giving our kids the opportunity to live as fully as they were meant to. We’ve allowed one of the greatest gifts they are given to be diminished. It’s just wrong.

So to the anon who asked why we'd think it would change- it will change when we decide that the change is neccessary.


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