Tuesday, January 21, 2014

National Day of Prayer and Penance

The number one killer in America and the world is not heart disease as the CDC or WHO would have you believe. That spot goes to abortion both in America and in the world. Strange that we do not include the intentional death of a baby in the womb in our statistics. This is how the truth is distorted. Through language. We use words to desensitize. Throughout history, women in dire straits have committed infanticide or sought abortion, but the women knew they were snuffing out the life of a child. It was rare. A horror. As a writer I was curious how an entire generation of women could be convinced to kill their babies. In that search, I stumbled across William Brennan's book Confronting the Language Empowering the Culture of Death. It's a hard book to read. Many of our social policies were created to sanction killing the most vulnerable in our society. And we bought it. Early feminists knew that abortion would hurt women. They fought against it. But we craved freedom. Free sex. No commitments. And the babies pay the price, over 3,000 each day, just in the US. Today, many charitable foundations provide contraception, sterilization and abortion in the name of "healthcare" especially to the poor of the world. The devil must be laughing in glee at how easily we are seduced into thinking that the killing of unborn babies is a progressive choice, even a right!
But even before ultrasonography, we knew what a miraculous thing life is, and those of us who've had the pleasure of studying embryology were blessed to see how perfectly orchestrated we are -- check out the beautiful video below. Abortion kills this beautifully developing baby, a baby like no other.

In 2002, the Catholic Church established January 22nd as a day of prayer and penance. Sometimes it is overwhelming to think how one can fight this horror, given how accepted it is in popular culture. We begin at home, well aware of the part we have played in promoting the culture of death, and are trying to teach our children the dignity of all human beings, born and unborn, healthy and ill, rich and poor, from conception to natural death. We like to help young people preparing for marriage since it is the restoration of the family that will save the child. And we like to speak and write about these things. But above all, prayer is our most powerful weapon. Pope John Paul II writes in Evangelium Vitae (no. 100):

In this great endeavour to create a new culture of life we are inspired and sustained by the confidence that comes from knowing that the Gospel of life, like the Kingdom of God itself, is growing and producing abundant fruit (cf. Mk 4:26-29). There is certainly an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the "culture of death" and the means at the disposal of those working for a "culture of life and love". But we know that we can rely on the help of God, for whom nothing is impossible (cf. Mt 19:26).

Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties: 135 a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.

He directs his comments to women who have had an abortion (#99):

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
Please join me in prayer and penance to end abortion.

Thank you and God bless. 


Faith E. Hough said...

Pope John Paul II's words to women are beautiful; he understood that one of the gravest problems of abortion is the way it allows for the objectification of women. Somehow over the years, feminists have rallied behind the abortion movement, but the "old greats" like Susan B. Anthony were ardently pro-life. Not only did they respect motherhood as a privilege given only to women, but they saw how many men were ready to support abortion so they could use women without facing the consequences.
Definitely a matter that must be turned over to prayer... Thank you for posting this, Vijaya.

Vijaya said...

It always amazes me that a celibate man can understand so much about family life and women, in particular. JPII is teaching me so many things. His Theology of the Body opened my eyes to what free sex really was. Using one another. It wasn't hard to see that abortion is the consequence.

Suman Khisty said...

Beautifully written Vijaya. I applaud you for taking a stand on this while the popular culture advocates otherwise. Each of us who believe in Life have to take a stand without fear. Here in Round Rock, TX we have 199 crosses standing by the roadside of St. William Catholic church for the 199 babies that are aborted every day in Texas. It's an uphill battle but God is leading us and in Him, and with Him and through Him we can help end Abortion. Going to the capitol to the Texas Rally for Life this Saturday. The rally is getting bigger every year and one by one hearts are changed. Pray for us. God bless you.

Marcia said...

Yes -- death and life are in the power of the tongue. The power of words is as terrifying as it is wonderful.

Vijaya said...

Suman, what a powerful reminder to have those 199 crosses. So tangible. You are working at the frontlines, saving one mother and her baby at a time -- that takes a lot of courage. God go with you at this march for life. Our prayers go with you as well.

Marcia, isn't this why we write? We know the power of words, and we can change public opinion by saying it as it is.