Thou Shalt Not Kill:
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Thou Shalt Not Kill!

There are different meanings to the precept thou shalt not kill. On the surface, it is clear. Murder is wrong. Jesus, however, in the Sermon on the Mount, points out that this commandment, understood more fully, does not just forbid the external act of killing, it also forbids killing others in our thoughts and attitudes: "You have heard it said,  You shall not murder ...' but I say to you that if you are even angry with a brother or sister, you are liable to judgment."

Henri Nouwen once said that nobody is shot with a bullet who is not first shot with a word - and nobody is shot with a word who is not first shot with a thought. Killing is not just a brute external act; it is, in its more common form, a subtle internal thing. All of us break the fifth commandment in countless ways.

We do it in the negative and suspicious judgments we make about each other: "He thinks he's so clever!"  "She always thinks she's better than others!" "He's a sham, everything he does is for show!" "She's so proud of herself, but she should be staying home and taking care of her own children!" "I know his angle, he's a selfish person who's using other people for his own glory!" Daily, hourly, almost every minute of our lives, we are making judgments like this and, in them, we are killing those around us, shooting them through the heart just as surely as if we were doing it with a gun. What breaks the fifth commandment is not just the brute act of murder, or even the physical acts of bullying or abuse. Paranoia, false suspicion, harsh judgment, cynicism, and negativity, be it in word or attitude, also kill.

Thus, for example, in our envy of others we kill their spontaneity; in our criticism of others we kill their enthusiasm; in our neglect of our own children and in our refusal to bless them with our affirmation, we help kill their capacity to love others; with our suspicions we kill trust; with our cynicism we kill the capacity of the community to build; in our broken commitments we kill relationships; in our infidelities we kill the bond that makes for family; in our laziness we kill creativity; in our abuse of food, alcohol, and drugs we kill our own bodies; in our excesses we kill enjoyment; and in our constant habit of first depreciating before appreciating, we kill the very goodness with which God surrounded creation, we kill the original blessing of God. In the harsh thoughts we have we kill each others' capacity to be free and joyous. Small wonder that death, sadness, harshness, coldness, fear, suspicion, and joylessness are most everywhere.

An image can be helpful here: Most of us shrink in horror from the word necrophilia, the perverse practice of making love to dead bodies. It is incomprehensible to us. How could someone actually do this? Yet, in very subtle forms, this is what we do when, in our paranoia, suspicion, envy, and woundedness we kill enthusiasm, kill freedom, and kill life in the ways just described. When I am so cynical that my main wish is to see things destroyed rather than built up, I am preferring death to life; when the first mode of my entry into community is to criticize rather than to look for the good, I am preferring death to life; and when my habitual thoughts of others are suspicious and judgmental, I am likewise preferring death to life. In all these ways, I break the fifth commandment.

Thou shalt not kill! The older we get the more that commandment, among all others, takes on prominence. Alice Miller, the renowned Swiss psychologist suggests that, from mid-life onwards, the great struggle for all humans is the struggle to not give way to bitterness, resentment, self-pity, and all the negativity and harsh judgments that flow from that. That is another way of saying that the real struggle for adults is with the fifth commandment. Jesus, in dialogue with the Scribes and Pharisees, says essentially the same thing. His issue with them, as with the Older Brother of the Prodigal Son, is with fifth commandment. In their attitudes, they were forever killing others.

Thou shalt not kill! Thou shalt not negate the goodness of creation by preferring death to life! Do not silence a heartbeat - not just with a gun, but also not with harsh words, paranoid thoughts, suspicious judgments, empty cynicism, broken commitments, and blessings that are never given.

A Catholic's Responsibility as Leader in the Right to Life

It may seem like a strange title to speak of, "Pro- Life Leadership: The Catholic Way." What is unusual about this title is that we commonly speak about the pro-life movement, period. We do not distinguish between pro-life leaders in general, and Catholics who are leading others in promoting the culture of life.

Let me be clear. It is not only that Catholic leadership is somehow different or distinctive. Catholic protagonists must provide the foundations for the pro-life movement. These foundations are ultimately the Christian faith, whose divinely instituted custodian and interpreter is the Roman Catholic Church.

Another premise that should be stated is that the Catholic faith teaches there are two invisible powers constantly at work to influence the minds and wills of human beings. They are the good spirits, whom we commonly call angels; and the evil spirits who are demons.

In a conversation, I had some time ago with the chief exorcist of Rome. I asked him about the influence of the evil spirit in today's world. "It seems to me." I said. "that Satan is extraordinarily powerful in the world today. God is permitting the devil to tempt and seduce people more than ever nowadays." He replied, "That is not the way I see it. I do not think the devil is any more powerful than he used to be, but people are allowing him more influence in their lives. In my judgment," he concluded, "the widespread preoccupation with worldly things, pleasures of every kind that science makes so easily available to everyone; this immersion in creatures is at the root of the trouble. It gives the devil so much power over people because they are forgetful of God."

I think the lesson is plain. If the devil is so effective in misleading souls, it is because people are too distracted with the pleasures of this life to even realize that they are being misled. Hence the value of looking at the devil for a few minutes, knowing his technique, and preparing ourselves to cope with his deceit.

All of this, I thought, was a necessary prelude to speaking on "Pro-life Leadership: The Catholic Way."

Saint Ignatius explains it all in his Spiritual Exercises. The followers of Christ are in constant conflict with the followers of Satan. Who would doubt that the massive genocide in the modern world is the result of demonic seduction? Not only individuals but whole nations have been seduced by the devil. Jesus told the unbelieving Jews who challenged His claims and wished to kill Him by telling them, "The father from whom you are is the devil, and the desires of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning." (John 8:4-1).

So it was in first century Palestine. So it is in the twenty first century in America.

Not to know this is not to know that the devil is behind the global genocide that has spread like an epidemic of death throughout the world.

My plan is to ask four questions and answer them each in sequence, as we examine the kind of leadership that the pro-life movement needs in our day:

Who are some present day Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement?


Who are the potential leaders?


How should these Catholic leaders be trained?


What is the apostolate of eternal life?


Present Day Catholic Leaders

There is one place to start in identifying present day Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement. The chief leader is the Bishop of Rome.

In document after document, lecture after lecture. Pope John Paul II is telling not just Catholics but the whole world: The culture of death must be converted to the culture of life. Otherwise human society will not survive.

His encyclical on The Gospel of Life is a many thousand word plea, especially to Catholics, to become leaders in developing the culture of life on which the survival of humanity depends.

Out of this library of the Pope's plea for leadership in the right to life movement, I thought I would share with you what he said to our own people in the United States in October the fifth of last year.

While a crowd of more than eighty thousand stood in the pouring, rain in Giant's Stadium in New Jersey, the Holy Father reminded all of us of our duty to protect the rights of the unborn.

Sadly, today a new class of people is being excluded (in the struggle for civil rights for everyone). When the unborn child � the stranger in the womb � is declared to be the only protection of society, not only are America's deepest traditions radically undermined and endangered, but a moral blight is brought upon society.
I am also thinking of threats to the elderly, the severely handicapped and all those who do not seem to have any social usefulness. When innocent human beings are declared inconvenient or burdensome, and thus unworthy of legal and social protection, grievous damage is done to the foundation of democratic liberties and the keystone of the edifice of civil society.
Both as Americans and as followers of Christ. American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition.
Four days later the Pope made a moving plea to Americans to "love life, cherish life, defend life, from conception to natural death."

Evidently the Vicar of Christ realized how important for the survival of America is the militant zeal of American Catholics to lead our nation in the preservation of innocent human life.

Shortly before the Pope's pilgrimage to the United States, Archbishop James Keleher spoke to some two thousand persons including seventy cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. The occasion was the international convention of the Knights of Columbus in Kansas City, Kansas.

Archbishop Keleher began by observing that in The Gospel of Life the Holy Father "points out that modern society cannot speak the truth than did Cain." In other words modern man is rebuilding the world on a lie. He continued:

Today we speak of "innocuous medical procedures," when they really mean dissecting the child in the womb. Instead of calling euthanasia by its real name of direct killing, they prefer to speak about relieving the pain of those who no longer enjoy the appropriate quality of life.
We must not be afraid to confront our society with the truth about life � about the beautiful gift that it is, how it cannot be taken for granted or taken away by whim.
Western materialistic thought must hear us say that life is beautiful because it is made in God's image and likeness, it is precious because it comes from Him.
It is not ours to manipulate, only to receive with gratitude, enhance what we can, and respect from beginning to end.
Our generosity in the face of the selfish individualism of our culture is a powerful way of proclaiming the Gospel of Life.
Last December on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop James Moynihan, the new bishop of Syracuse, New York, led a procession of four hundred pro-lifers from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to the offices of the Planned Parenthood Association. Planned Parenthood representatives expressed their alarm that the new bishop is involving himself so quickly with pro-life activities.

Some Catholics in the pro-life movement tell us they are dreaming about what would happen if all other bishops were to be so publicly identified with the pro-life movement. It is clear, they say, that the press would take notice and alert our nation of the bishops' stance. Local priests would be encourages to address the life issues forthrightly in their parishes. The laity would follow their newly identified leaders. The culture of life would be advanced immeasurably. Bishop Moynihan, it is claimed, exemplifies what the pro-life movement is starving for in this century: leadership.

I personally believe that we do have members of the hierarchy who are strong promoters of the culture of life. My main concern is to awaken the potential leadership among the laity.

Potential Leaders
Let me begin by saying that we have very few Catholic lay leaders in the Church today. To answer the question in one sentence, these potential leaders in the Catholic pro-life movement are those who satisfy three conditions:

they deeply believe in eternal life, who heroically live what they believe, and who zealously promote their faith in eternal life in the world in which they live. Let me go over each of the three parts of my definition of the potential lay leaders in the Catholic pro-life movement.

Watch the adverbs, they are Catholics who deeply believe in eternal life, they are Catholics who heroically live out what they believe. And they are Catholics who zealously, militantly promote their own faith in eternal life.

I may go on to say that one reason for the massive anti-life movement throughout the world is that Catholics have not fully lived up to their God-given responsibility.

Among the early Fathers of the Church, Christians were called the soul to the world. The world is made evil by human beings, but what gives life to this world, what gives this world a reason for living must be, watch the imperative verb, must be provided by Catholics. Only we, only we have the full possession of revealed truth. Let's then be clear in what we are saving. We are saying that the world, in one nation after another is legalizing abortion and is now legalizing euthanasia. These nations need strong deeply believing Catholics. This is not a clich�. I know. I know only heroic bishops will survive in today's world, only heroic priests, religious, fathers, and mothers, young men and women will survive. As I have been telling audiences over the years, we are. living in the Age of Martyrs. During their seventy years of domination in Russia, the Communists murdered more Christians for their faith than in all the wars of history since the beginning of time.

We are speaking of potential leaders. By implication I am saying that we do not have the kind of lay leadership the world needs, hence .the adjective "potential." Leaders by definition inspire others. Leaders enlighten. Leaders direct. Leaders lead. I mean it, most human beings are followers. They not only want, they need to be led. But sadly many leaders in our age are misleaders, leading the masses away from the truth into error, from virtue into sin, and from sin into a chaos, that has no counterpart in previous history.

In teaching, for example, Babylonian religion which I have for several years, I would quote from Babylonian Hammurabi. Abortion was punishable by execution of the women who had the abortion and all her accomplices. Date 1800 B.C., place Babylonia. And we call the Babylonians pagan! My God! What shall we call our American abortionists?

And then we say that Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement are to live, believe, and promote eternal life. We include persons in every position of life. First the bishops, priest, and those living a consecrated life. But my main concern is the Catholic laity: those in married life, the single, even children, should be taught from infancy that they are made for eternal life and have explained to them the conditions for reaching eternal life after bodily death. Notice that these leaders are people who deeply believe. Their faith is an intelligent faith. I mean it, most Americans are educated in everything about the temporary life in this world. How little they understand their faith. The faith of pro-life leaders must be a clear and not a confused faith. If we are to have a clear Catholic faith, we should, and start today, examining our consciences on what we are reading, listening to, and watching in the mass media. We must mortify our mind and imagination and not expose them to the rampart error that saturates our atmosphere. Otherwise, we can patiently listen to a conference on the pro-life movement, be an activist, and pro-life rescuers, but God bless you, you are not real leaders in the Catholic pro-life movement.

The second part as we said, of an authentic leader in the Catholic pro-life movement, is that the person believes heroically. I keep on repeating words like heroic and martyrdom, and I say to myself; "I wonder if most of the people who hear me realize what I am saying." There are almost two thousand extinct Catholic dioceses in the world � that used to be and no longer exist. Please God, we will not add to the extinct dioceses of the Catholic Church.

To heroically live out what we believe is not child's play. It means that our lifestyle reflects our faith which does not believe that we have here a lasting home.

Those who are potential leaders in the Catholic pro-life movement are not slaves of human respect. They live as their faith teaches them. No matter how easy it is for me to say these words, how hard it is for me and you to live them. I use the words "slaves" deliberately.

Most people are slaves of human respect. What will so and so say, what will so and so think'? This so and so may be your family member, wife, husband, or child.

Those who live out what they believe, are willing to be opposed in living out their faith. I would never have the gall to say what I am about to say unless I had tasted a sliver of what I am sharing with you. Those who are willing to live heroic Catholic lives are literally happy to suffer in the following of Christ. Why? Because like Christ, they know that suffering is the language of charity. Those who love Jesus Christ are to live like Christ. None of us knows whether we will meet again except, praise God, in eternity. We read and meditate on the eighth beatitude where Christ promises happiness. "Blessed are they who suffer prosecution for justice's sake. for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

One more quality of these potential leaders of the Catholic pro-life movement. They zealously promote human life among those with whom they live. Notice the emphasis on promotion. This means being missionaries of eternal life. Let us be honest, the only people with whom we are gong to live in eternity, joining us in the heaven for which we were made, are the people like us. I know I am talking to the right audience, to people who are willing to gain eternal life at any cost to their life here on earth. The price of eternal life is the practice of charity. The highest charity we can practice on earth is to share our faith, faith in eternal life, with others.

Training Pro-Life Leaders

You notice the word potential. I admire the work that is being done, the zealous, dedicated, pro-lifers, but clearly something more is needed. By asking ourselves how are these potential leaders to be trained, I make three recommendations.

Screening

Teaching

Motivating

On the level of screening. Not everyone has the grace to become a leader in the pro-life movement which is authentically unabashedly Catholic. Consequently prospective leaders must be found. While screening apostles is fundamental, its purpose is to find out who are the future Catholic pro-life apostles, because they have the grace. Anger at the murder of so many children is not enough. Having pity over the now millions of children who will never be nursed by their mothers is not enough. Anger and pity are not enough. It must be a deep faith and among Catholics, some have a deep faith, and others do not. Not everyone has the grace and the most fundamental grace needed in the Catholic pro-life movement is the grace of a deep, strong, unshakable faith. Faith in what? Faith in eternal life.

Teaching potential candidates is absolutely necessary because the Catholic pro-life movement is essentially the re-evangelization of one supposedly developed country after another. America needs to be re-evangelized, re-Christianized. To re-evangelize is more difficult than to Christianize pagans who have never had the true faith. The leaders must be given sound Catholic teaching. They must understand their faith in order to be a match for the evil geniuses who are masters of legalized murder.

These Catholic leaders must be taught to combine study with prayer because the knowledge that a person acquires of the faith is mainly through the help of divine grace and that comes mainly from prayer. No one, I repeat, no one will be a successful Catholic pro-life leader unless he or she is a man or woman of prayer.

Finally, still on the training level, Catholic pro-life leaders are to be trained to motivate others. I suggest centers for training Catholic pro-life leaders in strategic parts of our country. In case you did not know, the abortionists have been doing this for years.

Some time ago I told a gathering of Catholic physicians. "In Gods name, realize the blessing you have to become trained leaders in the Catholic pro-life movement, to make reparation for your fellow physicians and to instruct others that the role of the medical profession is not only or even maybe to relieve pain in this world, or prolong human life here on earth, but to provide people with bodily health so they may serve God and achieve the everlasting life for which they were made."

 

The Apostolate of Eternal Life

The eternal life apostolate is a worldwide program of re-evangelization. Its purpose is to restore the true faith to the millions who have abandoned their Catholic heritage because they were seduced by the errors of the modern media. St. Paul tells us, ""Where sin has abounded, there grace will even more abound."

Can anyone doubt that our homicidal age abounds in sin? But for that very reason, abortion and euthanasia are meant by God to become the occasion for such conversion to the true faith as Christianity has not witnessed in two thousand years. However, though God's grace will abound because sin has been so abundant, there must be deeply believing, heroically living, and zealously promoting apostles who call themselves pro-life.

In order to counteract the agents of death, whose numbers today are enormous. there must be agents of life who are deep believers in eternal life. The living martyrs in today's Christ-less world are zealous promoters of eternal life. Why? Because they know that only those wi11 enter heaven who have helped others reach eternal life with them.

Prayer
"Mary, Mother of God, Author of eternal life, obtain for us something of your deep faith in believing that the child that you carried and gave birth to was your God. Obtain for us something of your heroic faith. Obtain for us the grace of that eternal life for which your Son died on the Cross, because like you we shared our faith with everyone who has entered our lives. Amen."

Dissenters, as they piously called themselves, dissenters from the Church's teaching, erroneously used the council to support the idea of bishops being independent of the pope, and the single main reason for the wide spread dissent of bishops from the Vicar of Christ is contraception. When Humane Vitae was published the Bishops conference in most countries throughout the world met to vote either pro or con the bishop of Rome. About half the Bishops of the Catholic Church supported the Vicar of Christ, the other half did not, including the Bishops of the United States and Canada. Inevitably, the faithful in large parts of the Catholic world were confused. What a mild adjective, confused. All of this is part of the history of what we are calling the contraceptive mentality.


Are Pro-Life and Compromise Compatible?

A gift of Christianity to the world having seen something of the foundations of faith for the pro-life movement. In other words mere reason could not provide the human mind with the foundations it needs to safeguard unborn human life. The human mind has been too darkened by sin to, by itself, recognize the sanctity of helpless, innocent unborn human life. Revelation from God and faith on the part of man are necessary.

Our present reflection, however, now goes back into history. It is a little known fact that Christianity provided the foundations of faith in the sanctity of human life to the human race and, I would add, and not only for believing Christians. Christianity provided those foundations for all mankind. The Roman Empire into which Christianity was born practiced abortion and infanticide on a wide scale. Chronologically, infanticide came earlier and was fully sanctioned by Roman law. The male head of the household, called the pater familias, had power of life and death over his offspring. The moment the child was born he could have it either killed or allow it to live. He could tell his, either the wife or concubine after she conceived, either to abort or bring the child to term at birth. Abortion was universally approved.

Pagan society, before the dawn of Christianity, was a society that sanctioned, legalized and, I should add, legislated contraception, abortion and infanticide. We have records of abortion-inducing drugs from 2000 B.C. Generally speaking, those who wished to abort had to have the financial resources. The poorer people preferred infanticide. Women would practice abortion�I�m speaking of the Roman Empire�in the first century of what we now call the Christian era. Over the years in teaching the morality of contraception, abortion and infanticide, I have found from records going back to centuries, B.C., women would have abortion because they disliked the father of the child; or because that they knew that the father did not want the child; or because they were concubines and did not have the means, both social and financial, to support the child. They would practice abortion because a child was conceived as a result of�this needs to be said�as the result of rape or incest. Every single�let me repeat�every single movement in our supposedly developed civilization in the direction of abortion, every single move is back, back, back to what society had been at the dawn of Christianity. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of what I am saying.

Why would women abort in the Roman Empire? Because they would have to take care of the child and this would deprive them of the freedom they desired. Having not only studied Latin, or taught Latin, for my first 15 years of teaching theology, I taught exclusively in Latin. There�s a mountain of literature in Latin, about the conditions of the Roman Empire at the dawn of Christianity. Then, and this is found especially among the playwrights and the poets, women would abort because they wanted to preserve their bodily figure, and not have to appear in public as either pregnant or whatever a woman thinks happens to her body after she gives birth to a child. Pulchritudo, that�s Latin word for beauty, was a source, psychologically, for many abortions in first century B.C. and first century A.D. of the Roman Empire. This is background.

Now, our first subtitle: Christianity vs. paganism. What, then, Christianity did from the very outset, was to warn its followers that they could not, if they were to be Christians, they could not conform to the homicidal philosophy of Roman paganism. We have a document, 80 A.D., called the Didache or, the full title in English, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. They were told, and I quote, �You shall not procure abortion;� �You shall not destroy an unborn child.� The precondition for becoming and being and remaining a Christian was the rejection of the pagan philosophy of killing the unborn.

About the year 138 A.D. there was written an Epistle of Barnabas. It is equally clear. It placed the crime of abortion among the actions of those who walk the way of darkness. Christians enlightened by Christ, who called Himself the Light of the world, were walking in the light. There are two ways of living and there are two powers in the world: that of light and that of darkness. And there�s a great deal of difference between these two. The one is controlled by the light-giving angels of God, and the other by the devils of Satan, because Satan is the ruler of the present age, and the former is Lord from eternity to eternity. Among the commands of the way of light, I quote: �Do not murder a child by abortion or commit infanticide.� I thought it was worth noting that the two critical words in this early second century document of Christianity are �murder,� in Greek, phonos, and child, in Greek, teknon. Christianity had no doubt that abortion is the willful murder of a human being. One reason that I thought it was not only useful but even necessary to come out so far with two books, one �The Treasury of Christian Wisdom,� going back to the first centuries of the Church and the second, �A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan,� is because most certainly Americans, and I�m speaking of American Catholics, and educated Catholics, are ignorant when it comes even to know the names of some of the Great Masters of Catholic wisdom over the centuries. I won�t ask by a raising of hands. In fact from this side I can hardly see anyone because of the light. I won�t ask anyone to put up their hands or even to shake your heads, how many of you have read the �City of God,� by St. Augustine; or �The Confessions of St. Augustine.� All I know is that in the last 25 or so years not only has there been a down-playing and a minimizing of the great Catholic literary heritage of our Faith. Did you know that thousands of books have been removed from the libraries of Catholic universities and seminaries by those great Masters of Catholic wisdom that have written, by now, a library about which we Catholics had better know.

Now the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has never wavered and her fidelity to the teaching that abortion is murder. It never mattered as far as the Catholic Church was concerned whether the abortion was done in early pregnancy or later or nearer to the time of delivery. No doubt there were those who distinguished between what they called (and call), including some�may God enlighten them�Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement, national leaders have the gall to distinguish what the Church, as Church never distinguished�between the gravity of the crime committed by killing a child shortly after conception or killing the child closer to the time of delivery. No doubt, there were some Catholics influenced by the then Greek philosophers, who claimed that the unborn child went through three stages of development: first the vegetative, then the animal and only in later months, the human. But that was not the teaching of the Church. As though the woman who killed a child early in pregnancy would be less guilty before God. It�s almost unnecessary to say that not everything which is said or written by nominal Catholics is professed by the Catholic Church. Is not now and never was, and never was! There were the Hans Kungs in the early centuries; there were Edward Schillebeeckxs in the early centuries; there were Richard McBriens in the early centuries; there were Charles Currans in the early centuries. For us Catholics, what matters is what the Catholic Church, magisterially speaking, under the authority of the Bishop of Rome tells us Catholics to believe. That�s what matters.

I have a quotation from St. Basil, an Eastern Doctor of the Church writing this time in 375 A.D. I quote: �A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is guilty of murder and any clever distinction as to its being formed, that is not quite human as being formed, being human or unformed not yet human, is not admitted by us.� Now, what needs to be said, and if there is an underlying thesis in this retreat, it is this: Christians from the beginning were tempted by their pagan contemporaries to conform to pagan immorality. And the temptation is identical today. As a consequence, the Church had to repeat and keep repeating that the Fifth Commandment, �You shall not kill,� applies to abortion. Literally hundreds of documents by the Popes and Bishops are issued down the centuries and to our own day, all the Church�s teaching and I keep repeating and will continue repeating, those Bishops who are in conformity with and obedience to the Bishop of Rome, all were unanimous and are to this day unanimous in insisting that abortion is willful homicide and therefore forbidden not only to Christians or Catholics, but to every human being. Why? Because abortion is contrary to the law of God, written in man�s nature and provable by human reason.

But as we�ve said before, and I will keep insisting, when we talk about having a fallen human nature, let�s be clear we understand what we mean by a �fallen human nature.� Having been conceived, as we believe, without the state of grace, it is not only�hear it! It is not only are we deprived of the supernatural life which then, thank God, is restored at Baptism. Because we are fallen human beings, we all come into this world as the Psalmist says, �In sin my mother conceived me.� We are conceived and born without the supernatural life. But that�s not all. That is not all. Our fallen human nature also means that our minds, that�s the natural reason, are darkened, and our wills are weakened. Now we don�t go to the other extreme and say that the light of our mind is extinguished. No. Or that we lose our human freedom. No. But both reason and freedom are badly weakened. And consequently, even though the Ten Commandments, including for our purpose the fifth, �You shall not kill,� even those Ten Commandments, although they are inscribed in our minds, our minds are able to reach by logical reflection and deduction that abortion is murder. Nevertheless, our minds being darkened by sin with which we come into the world and further darkened by the sinful world into which we are born. That is why�hear it!�that is why God had revealed not only the mysteries of faith, like the Holy Trinity or the Incarnation or the Divine Indwelling, God has seen fit to reveal what the human mind could, left to its own resources, conclude to being true here. The grave sinfulness of the willful destruction of an unborn child. But in order to enlighten the mind and assist the mind to know what had better be known in society is the direction that directly intended abortion is willful homicide.

We continue asking why, why has the Church over the centuries, speaking to the pagans of first century A.D., and the pagans of, I like to say this, represented by the Washington Post and the New York Times . . . the Church founded by Christ has had to cope with pagans since Good Friday. There is one pagan whose name we repeat every time we recite the Apostle�s Creed, �suffered under Pontius Pilate.� That�s the history of Christianity. Why has the Church condemned direct, willful abortion as murder? Because, as we shall see in a separate conference, it is the usurpation of a life which belongs only to God. He is the Creator; He is the Lord; He alone may decide first whether there�s going to be a conception at all. I can�t see how many empty pews there are on the other side; I�d say there are quite a few on this side. Could God, had He wanted provided those empty pews be filled by people who will never be conceived or born? Of course. The madness, except there is such a thing as willful madness, of daring to tell God, �So You thought, You thought that you were master of life and death. Well, God, You�ve got another thought coming. I�m the master.�

 When St. Ignatius, as part of the Spiritual Exercises, told the director of retreats to always during meditation dwell on what he called the two standards, the devil organizing, planning and getting followers to do his bidding, Christ is also calling. And for the first time in the Catholic Church�s history, calling the laity to positions of leadership that they had never had before as Catholics�Here to take hold as followers of Christ the moment which in such large measure is in the hands of those who are following their satanic leader and being phenomenally, diabolically successful in their efforts.

PRAYER
Almighty Lord of the universe, our Maker from whom we come and our Destiny for whom we were made, protect us from ever daring to claim that we and not You are Master of human life. Keep us humble in submission to Your will. Inspire us to teach others what You have revealed to us, that you are our God and that we are only Your creatures who are to be obedient to Your divine will in this life as a condition for enjoying Your divine presence in the life to come. Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Sanctity of Human Life

The sanctity of human life. First, by way of introduction, we have so far seen that the foundations of the pro-life movement are the Christian Faith. Reason can go just so far; it needs the resources of revelation from God and Faith from us. We�ve also seen that the great gift of Christianity to the whole world was the recognition that human life is sacred from the moment of conception. It was not coincidental, but profoundly providential, that Christianity came into existence at the peak of the most affluent and politically successful pagan empire in the history of the world. Christianity was born in an ocean of paganism. And, except for Christianity, the pagan world of the first century would still be the pagan world of the 20th century. The one concession that even the pagan world has had to make to Christianity is to date its calendar by the birth of Jesus Christ.

 

Part One: Why is Human Life Sacred?

Let us look more closely at what we mean when we say that human life is sacred. In other words, why, why is human life sacred? And, I repeat, from conception to the grave. I will take this in stages. First, something of the meaning of the word sacred. Sanctity and sacred are simply the noun and the adjective which pertain to whatever belongs to God. We may, therefore, describe or say that human life is sacred because it belongs to God and we should speak of the sanctity of human life because it is God-like. Thus, as I�ve done over the years of teaching comparative religion, the whole spectrum of man�s religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism you name it, including Christianity � one of the first lectures that I try to give the students is to distinguish between the sacred and the profane. We would not even have the term, not to say the idea of religion unless we knew something about the sacred. Religion deals with the sacred. So what�s the sacred? Well, one way we can come to know the meaning of the term is by comparing it with, well, it�s opposite, it�s antonym. The antonym to sacred is profane. I�ve got seven contrasts between sacred and profane and, let me tell you, there would be no need of a pro-life movement if those who have so little respect for human life recognized that it is sacred, that it somehow belongs to God.

Seven contrasts between the sacred and the profane:

First: The sacred is eternal; the profane is temporal. Human life begins, indeed, at conception, but human life will never end. Is that ever important. Our souls are immortal.

Second: The sacred comes directly from God; the profane, though ultimately from God, comes immediately from creatures. We are human beings with a body and a soul. Our body is conferred on us, our provided for us by our parents, but God must immediately and directly create each individual soul. When? At the moment of conception.

Third: The sacred is spiritual; the temporal is material. The spiritual is that reality which has no extension in space. The material you can weigh, you can measure, you can stretch. God, who existed from all eternity, occupies no space. The infinite God does not weigh a gram.

Fourth: The sacred is heavenly; the profane is terrestrial. Every human being, though it comes into this world, is meant, quite literally, to pass through this world to the world that, we believe, will never end.

Fifth: The sacred is the goal of our destiny; the profane is only the road or the way to this destiny. Again, if we�re going to appreciate the sacredness of human life, how clear we�ve got to become. And others will be only as clear in their thinking as we who have any influence over their lives are clear in our thinking ourselves.

Sixth: The sacred is that which is made to the image and likeness of God. What do we mean? Because, it can know and can love. The profane is incapable of knowledge and love. This microphone, this case for the cassette, another microphone, this borrowed watch, the cloth, the table, the wire�are all profane. One of our problems, as I�ve been telling my students over the years�I will ask a question. I�m too used to teaching not to ask questions. You just shake your heads; our Lord will understand. Is English, the English language, is English a Catholic language? This way or this way? This way? English is not a Catholic language. What is the most Catholic language in the world? What language do most Catholics speak? Spanish. My conversation with Bishop Corrada, oh, God bless him. He�s a Jesuit and is a Bishop and he is absolutely, unqualifyingly orthodox. He told me yesterday, by the year 2000, over fifty percent of the Catholics in the United States will be Spanish, but my friends we better keep them in the Catholic Church. The most zealous missionary effort of Protestantism in 470 years I to convert Spanish Catholics, as they say, away from Catholicism to Protestantism. Our English language is not a Catholic language. The moment the average American hears the word profane, I guess that must be the adjective for profanity. Well, it is, but the primary meaning of profane is that, for our present purpose, which does not have that likeness to God which the spiritual has because the spiritual can think and can love.

Number seven: The sacred is the final purpose of our existence; the profane is only a means of achieving this purpose of our creation. I cannot think, and I�m using my language advisedly. I cannot think of two more profane occupations in which we are all engaged than eating and sleeping. Do we have to eat? Yes. And sleep? Yes, otherwise the soul gets uncomfortable and pretty soon will decide to leave the body. To repeat, the sacred is the final purpose of our existence. That�s what the Beatific Vision means. Beatific, the adjective, identifies the effect of seeing God, which is the vision. Beare in Latin means to make happy. The Beatific vision is that vision of God with our minds seeing God, we will be profoundly happy and share in the very happiness of God. So much for part one.

How is Human Life Sacred?

So far we�ve just described briefly the contrast between the profane and the sacred. We are now asking how is human life sacred? It is sacred. We should, therefore, speak of the sanctity of human life. The word sanctity we don�t even quite, in English, have an adjective that goes with the word sanctity. We say simply we�re not quite correct in what we are saying. Human life, therefore, is sacred and therefore we can speak of human life as possessing sanctity because, as we�ve said and we now wish to make more clear, human life is a mysterious participation in the life of God. We ask how so, on several grounds. And this time, eight reasons why we may and indeed should speak of human life as sacred. I�ve told some of you whom I may have had in class, I count everything in sight. Three of this, four of that, subdivision of something else.

First reason why human life is sacred. When in the beginning God made the world, He first made the inanimate world of the sun, moon and stars. And then the non-rational of plants and animals. And no matter what we do with Genesis, I�ve taught exegesis and scripture for too many years not to know all kinds of subtle, sometimes over-subtle distinctions that scripture scholars can make. But let�s be sure we know God began when He revealed to the writer of Genesis the secrets of creation. He meant to provide us with some kind of norm for recognizing the sacred by beginning with the profane. Human life is sacred because it is not profane, as already the first chapters of Genesis reveal.

Second, and finally, He made man and we are told, according to Scripture, God made man according to His own image and likeness. We are not animals. We are not even� let�s never speak of our simian ancestors. We are not plants; we are not crude matter; we were made to the image and likeness of God. It says so at the beginning of Sacred Scripture.

Thirdly, this means that God made man to share in His own two divine powers which no other creature on earth in the visible world, for that matter, above the earth, the whole stellar world, possesses. We have the divinely conferred power of knowing with the mind patterned after the mind of God. When God made man, He gave man the power of sharing in His power of choosing with the will modeled after the will of God. God can know; God can choose.

When we read in Genesis that God made man to His own image and likeness, He not only conferred on us human beings the power of knowing as He can know, of choosing as He chooses, but of loving others in a human society patterned in God�s mind after the most Holy Trinity. There would be no society in existence in the created world unless there had been, from all eternity, the everlasting, infinite society of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There must be�get the auxiliary verb?�there must be others in order for love itself to be identified.

The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father; Father and Son love the Holy Spirit. God is not a solitary Being. There cannot be a God who is one person. Do you hear me? God must be a society.

Fourth. We�re asking ourselves why is human life sacred? We are ____. This was only the beginning of how human life is sacred. Ever since the origin of the parents of the human race� every time a human being is conceived�we said this before, I�ll be a little clearer now�these actions all take place at the same time. The ovum is fertilized: fertilization. A soul is then and there created out of nothing by God: creation. Only God can create, which means �make out of nothing.� The soul which is to animate the body and make it, from the moment of conception, a human person. Let me tell you, if you are going to be successful and effective in protecting human life, and if that be the cause of authentic pro-life zeal and activity, you better know some of the basic premises of our faith.

God must create. It�s not only that we were made by God way back at the beginning. Oh, no. Every time a child is conceived, God is acting as Creator. This, for the record, is a defined article of the Catholic faith, that the human soul is individually, directly, mediately created by God at the moment that a child, as we casually say, is conceived.

Five: Human life is sacred because each human being is personally willed by God in order to know, love and serve Him, and thereby reach his heavenly home. There is no such thing as chance with God. The verb �to happen,� is not in the divine vocabulary. God knows and He deliberately wills that a soul be created and a child conceived and be able to know, love and serve God and thereby reach heaven.

Number six: Human life is sacred because, unlike the rest of the visible world, we are free to choose and love God. Indeed, the rest of the world was made, as we�ve been saying, in order to help us glorify God, with our faith in Him, our hope in Him and our love of Him we are�what a weak word�we are alone in the visible universe are able to know, love and serve the God from whom we came and for whom we were made.

Seventh: Human life is sacred because God became man in order to redeem us from sin and teach us by word and example how we are to become more and more like Him, who is our Savior and Lord. In other words, God became man. Why? That by taking on our human nature He, the infinite God, might reveal as would otherwise would have been impossible to reveal the deity. God became man in order that we might, because we believe, but we had better believe, we believe that God became man and that man, as man, possesses virtues, is capable of doing things that only God can perform. Surely, human life must be sacred if it is patterned after the infinite God become man. God could not have become an animal. He might have become an angel. He bypassed the angels, just for the record � the angels sinned too, remember? But they, unlike us, were not redeemed?

Finally, human life is sacred because of baptism. We receive a share in God�s own divine state of grace, in us dwells the Holy Trinity and by His grace, we are able to do what only God can give us the power of performing. Like what? Like loving others with selfless charity. No way, no way we can do that except if we received power from God and a share in His own divine life. The power of practicing chastity after the example of Jesus and Mary. Chastity is not difficult. Chastity is not merely hard. Chastity is impossible�get the word?�it is impossible without the grace of God. The two virtues that non-Catholic historians tell us converted the pagan world that we were talking about; converted the pagan world to Christianity were the virtues of chastity and charity. At first as the pagans watched the Christians, they � they asked themselves in good Latin: �Quid videmus?� �What are we looking at? �Quid est hoc?� �What�s this?� That�s the language the Romans spoke. Husbands and wives. One husband and, especially, just one wife. I memorized a passage from Cicero, remember? The Roman procurator, also a Senator. One morning the Roman Senate was in session and one of the senators was late for the senate meeting. The rule called for his publicly apologizing and explaining to his fellow senators why he was late. And he said, �Tardus suum,� I am late because I have just divorced, �meam migesimas tertiam uxorem,� �my 23rd wife.� He must have been an especially wealthy man. The very concept of marriage, the very meaning of family� oh, sure, sure the Romans had the word �familia,� from which we�ve derived our English, �family.� But let me tell you, the Roman �familia� was no family. It was, to coin an English word, a household with one man having power of life and death over every person belonging to that household. There was not a wife, but wives, concubines, slaves, servants. Oh, what Christianity did to the languages of the world, but we better know�and this is the purpose of this retreat�we better know what a


The Pro-Life Movement and the Catholic Church

The future of the pro-life movement throughout the world depends on the Roman Catholic Church. To know this is to begin to understand the real issues underlying the wanton murder of over 50 million unborn children every year. To believe this is also to see some hope of stemming the tide that has made the 1900s the most homicidal century in human history.

We begin by reminding ourselves that, except for Christianity, we would not have a true understanding of the sanctity of human life. Until Christianity came into the world, there was only a rampant paganism in the Roman Empire. As early as the year 80 A.D., the Christian document, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, told the faithful, �You shall not procure an abortion; you shall not destroy unborn human life.� Before the year 130 A.D., the letter of Barnabas was equally clear. It identified abortion as a crime committed by those who walked the way of darkness. Christians were told, �There are two ways of instruction, there are two powers: that of Light and that of Darkness, and there is a great difference between these two ways. The one is controlled by the devil, who is the ruler of the present age of lawlessness. Christ is the ruler of those who profess to believe in eternal life.� In the last two millennia, the Catholic Church has remained faithful to these revealed convictions. And it is the Catholic Church who remains today as the Mother and Teacher of the nations, teaching them that human life is not only a precious possession of man but is sacred because it belongs to God.

On these terms, abortion is not only injustice against an unborn human being; it is the desecration of something holy. Those in the pro-life movement who are Christians believe they are defending not only the equity of a human person. They are defending the sanctity of human life and the majesty of the living God.

The Meaning of Sacred
�Sanctity� and �sacred� are simply the noun and adjective which somehow pertain to God. So we should speak of the sanctity of human life because it is God-like. Thus we may distinguish two kinds of reality, one that we call �profane� and the other we call �sacred.� How do they differ?

The sacred is eternal; the profane is temporal.


The sacred comes directly from God; the profane, though ultimately from God, comes from creatures.


The sacred is spiritual; the profane is material.


The sacred is heavenly; the profane is terrestrial.


The sacred is made to the image of God because, like Him, it can know and love; the  profane is incapable of knowledge and love.


The sacred is the purpose of our existence, and the goal of our destiny; the profane is only the road on the way to our destiny and the means of achieving the purpose of our creation.


How is Human Life Sacred?

Human life is sacred on all the premises of revealed Christianity. The sanctity of human life is the foundation of the Christian religion.

It is sacred because when God made the universe, He first made the inanimate world of sun, moon and stars, and then the non-rational world of plants and animals. Finally, He made man, as we are told, in His own likeness.

This means that He made man to share in His own divine powers of perceiving with an intellect patterned after the intellect of God; of choosing with a freedom of God; and of loving others in a human society similar to the eternal love of the divine community of the Holy Trinity.

But this was only the beginning of how human life is sacred. Ever since the origin of the parents of the human race, every time a human being is conceived, God directly and immediately creates a human soul. The parents provide the body; but only God can create � make out of nothing � the soul which is to animate the body and make it a human person.

Human life is sacred because each human being is personally willed by God in order to know, love and serve Him, and thereby reach its heavenly home in the Beatific Vision of the Holy Trinity.

Human life is sacred because, unlike the rest of the visible world, we are free to choose to love and serve God. Indeed, the rest of the world was made to help us glorify God by our faith in Him, our hope in Him, and our Love for Him.

Human Life is sacred because God became man in order to redeem us from sin and teach us by word and example how we are to become more and more like Him, who is our Savior and Lord.

Human life is sacred because at Baptism we receive a share in God�s own life. In us dwells the Holy Trinity, and by His grace we are able to do what God in His goodness gives us the power of performing:

like loving others with selfless charity.


like practicing chastity after the example of Jesus and Mary.


like enduring suffering patiently.


like seeing in everything in our lives in every person, every event, every situation, in every pleasure and every pain - the loving presence of God who sustains the world in existence and is thus leading us through time to a blessed eternity.
Human life is sacred because, by the grace of God, we can understand by faith that there are no problems in life. What we call problems are all acts of Divine Providence. Either we do not know what God wants, and so we are tempted to call it a problem. But we believe that, if we pray, He will show us what He wants us to do; or we do know what is God�s will, but we are afraid or feel helpless to do it.

Again we believe that, if we pray for the strength, He enables us to conform to His loving but very demanding divine will.

The Rights of God

We correctly speak of the rights of the unborn children to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Even the American Supreme Court Justices who legalized abortion all admitted that if the unborn fetus were a human person, then its right to life would be guaranteed and protected by the civil law. It was only by incredibly denying person-hood to the unborn child that the Supreme Court dared to legalize the murder of pre-born human beings.

Most of the defense of unborn human life is therefore, and understandably, a defense of the rights of the innocent children in their mothers' wombs.

But our stress here is on abortion as a criminal violation of the rights of God.

All that we have seen about the sanctity of human life is the foundation of what we are saying here.

Because human life is sacred from the moment of conception, it belongs to God. Any violation of this sacred human life is consequently a violation of the rights of God. Once this is realized, many conclusions follow.

Abortion thus becomes not only an offense against human dignity, but a crime against the Divinity.

Abortion thus comes to be seen as rooted not so much in a selfish insistence on a woman�s right to take human life. It is a denial of the claims of the God who made that woman and her child.

In one country after another, the abortionists are now speaking of choice. The only choice that a woman has is to do what God wants her to do; that is why she has a free will.

The root cause of abortion is the same as the cause of what took place on Good Friday. God has become man, and for 30 years He lived in obscurity. Then He began to preach the doctrine that no prophet of the Old Law had ever proclaimed. He told His contemporaries, �the Father and I are one.� He taught that those who believe in Him are to love one another as He, who is God, has loved them. Those who did not believe that Jesus was telling the truth, killed Him.  Remember what Peter told the people after he had cured the paralytic at the gate of the temple? He told them, �you have killed the Author of life.� The crucifixion was attempted deicide.

In its own way abortion is a form of deicide. It is an attack on God by trying to destroy what belongs to God.

In order to cope with the crime of abortion, it is not only that political means are inadequate. But all merely natural methods of resolving the abortion crisis are basically secondary.

Since the root cause of abortion is attempted deicide, the death of God philosophy put into practice, supernatural means must be used to even control, not to say cure, this deadly virus that now plagues the human race.

God permits no evil in the world without a proportionate reason. Given the magnitude of this practical atheism in the modern world, we should be confident that God will mysteriously draw immense good from the evil of abortion.

The practical implications of this truth are numerous. They can be summarized in two terms, �grace� and �free will.�

Without a superabundance of God's grace, abortion  cannot  be overcome.

Without the free cooperation of human beings with God�s grace, abortion will not only not be overcome, but will spawn a host of other evils in its train.

Sources of Grace

There are three main sources of grace available to us from the mercy of God. They are prayer, the sacraments and the practice of virtue. If we use these means, the graces will be given and sanity can be restored in a world that is giving to Caesar what belongs to God.

The Power of Prayer. If there is one theme that runs through the teaching of Christ, it is the power of prayer.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.
For every one who asks, receives; and he that seeks, finds; and to him that asks, it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).
All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive (Matthew 21:22).
Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that I will do; that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you shall ask me anything in my name, that I will do (John 14:13-14).
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).
The efficacy of our prayer, however, depends on our faith. Christ promised to work miracles if we ask Him, provided we believe He is almighty God.

As we reread the Gospels, it is both inspiring and sobering to see what wonders Christ performed in favor of those who earnestly begged Him and had faith in His power to do the humanly impossible.

To stem this tide of abortion will require a series of moral miracles. By definition a moral miracle is a visible effect produced by God which exceeds the native powers of the human will. We may be sure that Christ wants to work this miracle. When He rebuked the disciples, and told them to �let the little children come unto me,� He was speaking to all of us. He wants the children conceived to be born, to reach maturity, and glorify Him by their loving service. But Christ demands that we pray in faith and trust in His divine power to change hearts of stone into hearts of selfless love for the unborn.

The Efficacy of the Sacraments. There are two sacraments that especially provide the grace necessary to conquer abortion. They are the Eucharist and Confession. And they should be seen together.

We correctly associate the Eucharist with the Mass and the Holy Communion. What we may not realize is that the early Christians attended Mass and received the Eucharist every day. They were taught by the Holy Spirit that the legalized abortion and infanticide of pagan Rome could be overcome by their daily participation in the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary and daily reception of the Eucharistic Christ.

But we know that the Eucharist is not limited to Mass and Communion. Jesus Christ is really present in the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in our churches and chapels or exposed on the altar for veneration and intercession by the faithful. It is the same Jesus, now glorified, who stilled the storm at sea and raised the dead Lazarus back to life. It is the same Jesus who performed wonders during His visible stay in Palestine. He wants to do the same in our day, again provided we have the faith. To convert selfish wills to stop murdering children may be a greater miracle than calling Lazarus from the tomb. But Christ can do it, if only we ask Him, now on earth in the Eucharist, to perform this sign of His omnipotence.

The Sacrament of Penance as the Sacrament of Confession, should be received at least twice a month. The Church tells us as much when she prescribes confession and Holy Communion within eight days in order to gain a plenary indulgence. Of course, there need be no grave sins to confess. That is the whole purpose of what are �confessions of devotion.� They are potent channels of grace for the massive conversion of sinners if ever the mania of abortion is to cease.

The Practice of Virtue. We merit grace by cooperating with the graces we receive. This practice of virtue benefits not only the person who performs a good work, but also obtains grace for others.

Who would doubt that abortionists and their clients need divine grace to see the horror of their crimes and to have the courage to desist? Where can they obtain this grace? From God, of course. But in His ordinary providence, God uses persons who are in His friendship to merit for sinners � here the agents of abortion � the spiritual light and strength to return to the God from whom they have strayed.

The measure of the graces needed for this cosmic repentance tells us something about the degree of virtue that the friends of God are expected to practice. Nothing less than heroic patience in suffering, united with the Passion of Christ; nothing less than heroic faith in believing, united with Mary as she stood on Calvary; nothing less than heroic chastity in resisting the allurements of a world intoxicated with sexual immorality; nothing less than heroic charity in loving those who ignore us or oppose us or deride our loyalty to Christ as psychosis � can obtain the ocean of divine mercy that alone can restore the rights of God over the human life which begins at conception and is destined to continue into eternity.

Cooperation with Grace of God

Human beings have a free will. They can either cooperate with the graces that God gives them, or they resist these graces and commit sin.

All that we have said so far is simply fundamental Catholic doctrine. When Christ at the Last Supper said �without me you can do nothing,� He meant that without His grace we cannot reach heaven. And the proponents and practitioners of abortion will not reach heaven unless they are converted from their evil ways. To be converted, they must receive an abundance of divine grace that we can obtain for them by our prayers, receiving the sacraments, and the practice, if need be, of heroic virtue.

But the graces received must be responded to. God does not coerce anyone to do His will.

In the light of the foregoing, what does cooperation with the grace of God mean? It means submitting one�s own desires � here for sex pleasure � to the wise providence of God. His plan for the human race reaches beyond this earth to heaven. When He creates a human soul at a child�s conception, He does not want the unborn child to be killed and thus be deprived of the joy of serving its Creator here in time as a prelude to possessing Him in a glorious eternity.

Our task, as believers, is to gain all the graces we can for those engaged in the abortion trade and for their tragic victims. Our hope is that they will respond to the graces they are receiving.


Catechism of the Catholic Church
Magna Charta of the Pro-Life Movement

The Twentieth and Twenty first centuries are the most homicidal in the history of the human race. Its principal claim to this tragic title is the widespread legislation of abortion on a scale and with a violence unknown in all the ages of mankind.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the Holy Spirit would provide the means we need to cope with this global crime of genocide. It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Human Life Is Sacred
The fundamental reason why abortion is such a crime is because it is blasphemy in action. It refuses to recognize the sanctity of human life which derives from God. In the words of the Catechism, � Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.�

 

Human Life May Not Be Desecrated
Whatever belongs to God is sacred. Such is human life as the property of the Creator. Consequently, as the Catechism makes clear, �No one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.�

 

Respect For Human Life From Conception
Christianity believes that three actions take place at the same time:
The ovum is fertilized
God creates an immortal soul


He infuses this soul into the fertilized ovum.
These three actions together are what we call human conception. Logically, then, the Catechism teaches that �Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person, among which is the indispensable right of every individual being to life.�

 

Church�s Teaching Since Apostolic Times
We must make sure we know that this sanctity of human life has been constant and the unchangeable teaching of the Catholic Church.

Among the works of the true Church, which attracted whole nations to Christianity, was her unqualified prohibition of abortion, already in apostolic times. In the words of the Catechism, �Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.�

Right To Life Must Be Protected By Society

Given the sanctity of human life, civil society is obliged to protect and defend this life. State legislation must reflect the rights of God and the consequent rights to life of innocent human beings.

Once we realize how widespread legalized abortion has become, we can only look in horror at the modern scene. Once civilized societies have become uncivilized. Once some nations have become agents of the evil spirit who, Our Lord tells us, is a murdered from the beginning.

According to the Catechism, �The indispensable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.�

Consequently, �When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined.

Prayer
�Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Author of human life. You, with our God the Father and the Holy Spirit alone have the right to determine who should be conceived and how.
You are also the Destiny of human life. We come into this world to be with you in heaven for all eternity.We therefore beg you to enlighten so many who are sitting in darkness that they may see the sanctity of human life and frame our civil laws accordingly. We ask you this through the merits of your Mother, the Mother of Eternal Life, of you who with the Father and the Holy Spirit are one God now and forever. Amen.�


The Holy Eucharist: The Center of the Prolife Movement

We who have the true faith believe that nothing ever happens by chance. The massive culture of death that has invaded the minds of whole nations must somehow have a divinely ordained purpose. As Saint Paul tells us, where sin has abounded, there grace will even more abound. Who would doubt that sin is abounding on a level and with a depth of evil never before experienced in human history? Our faith tells us that consequently God has stores of His grace for the future. But there is one proviso. We must be able to see why the present evil of world genocide is permitted by God. We must be able to see, as we have never seen before, the true meaning of human life in this world as a prelude to the eternal life for which we were made.

The key to seeing this is a deeper understanding of the Holy Eucharist, which is Jesus Christ, and of His Mother Mary, without whom there would be no Eucharist, because there would be no Jesus Christ.

Some Presuppositions

There are some basic presuppositions that we must first assume. Thus we take it for granted that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church the fullness of Divine Revelation:
to be preserved in its integrity, to be understood by the human mind, to be explained in its meaning, to be shared with others, to be lived in its fullness, to be defended against error, to be witnessed even to martyrdom.
We further assume that the future success of the Prolife Movement finally depends on believing Catholics, who understand their faith, put it into practice, and take the leadership in this movement.

We further take it for granted that the forces behind the pro-death movement are not merely human but demonic. It is imperative to understand, as Christ reminds us, that the devil was a murderer from the beginning. The evil spirit has remained a murderer all through human history, and he is the real leader behind the philosophy of homicide which now pervades whole nations of what we still call a civilized world.

In the light of the foregoing, we must therefore draw on superhuman resources in the Prolife Movement. Another name for superhuman resources is the resources of Divine Grace. Not to know this is not even to begin to understand why God is allowing so many millions to be mesmerized by the culture of death.

These superhuman resources are what we call actual graces. They are graces of illumination for the mind and graces of inspiration for the will. Either these graces are received and cooperated with or, as so many are pessimistically saying, the prevailing culture of death is the last stage of world history and the dawn of the end of the world.

Only one question remains: how are these indispensable graces to be obtained from God? They are to be obtained by prayer, from the sacraments, and by living a holy, and I mean holy life. But then we further ask: in the last analysis what is the foundation for all these resources of grace? The question we have just asked should better read: who is the real source of these graces? It is Jesus Christ.

Here we touch on what I believe is the main lesson that God wants to teach us from the cosmic evil of world homicide. He wants to teach us that He, the God-man, is on earth, in our midst, and wants us to come to Him and obtain from Him what only He can give, the light and strength to not only survive in this culture of death but actually thrive as we go through our life here on earth en route to our heavenly homeland.

We believe that God became man to die on the cross for our salvation. But we also believe that God became man in order to live among us. Another term for the God-man living among us is the Holy Eucharist. What are saying? We are saying that the Infinite God took on human flesh and blood in order that He might shed His blood and die on the cross for our redemption. But that was only the beginning. The night before He died Christ changed the bread and wine into His own living humanity. However, He did more. Immediately after, He ordained His apostles to the priesthood and thereby instituted the Sacrament of the Priesthood in order to give them the power to keep the Holy Eucharist on earth until the end of time.

Once we say that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, we immediately see that it is He who is the final source of the graces which the world needs to not only cope with the culture of death but to promote the culture of life.

There is some value in making more clear what we mean when we say that the Holy Eucharist is the principal source of the graces we need. The impact of the pro-death philosophy is devastating in its consequences. Once you accept and approve the �right� to kill innocent human beings, whether unborn or born, you open the door to every other crime of which selfish human nature is capable. The very meaning of law is obliterated. Once the state legalizes abortion, euthanasia, and suicide, what is left of any other legislation by the same authority?

What we, therefore, first need from Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is to �make sense� of this demonic way of thinking which has so deeply penetrated into the highest circles of our society. Before we can even think of resisting this inhuman ideology, we must be convinced that it is inhuman and, indeed, diabolical. Only Christ, the Divine Exorcist, can teach us that possession by the evil spirit is prevalent in our day as never before in human history. In conversation, some time ago, with the chief exorcist of Rome, I asked him, �How is it that the devil is so extraordinarily active and successful in our day?� He told me, �It is because so many people have become bewitched by the pleasures and satisfaction which the world offers them. They have therefore become victims of the prince of this world, which is the devil.�

We are still reflecting on the first reason why faith in Jesus Christ, living on earth, in the Holy Eucharist is so necessary. However, what we need is not only light from Him to understand the meaning and gravity of this culture of murder. We also need the strength of will to remain even psychologically alive in this atmosphere of death that we are constantly breathing. We further need the strength to cope with this atmosphere and to do all we can to remove this deadly ozone which is destroying not only millions of innocent human lives but, as we may believe, millions of human souls.

 

Hopes for the Future

All that we have been saying about the graces that Jesus Christ is ready to give us through the Holy Eucharist applies to the future and not only to the present and past. What are the principal blessings that the Eucharistic Christ is offering us, if we may say it, as a result of the pro-death uncivilization in which we are living today? They are mainly two: a deep understanding and extraordinary living of the virtues of charity and chastity. Needless to say this calls for some explanation.

Whatever else the pro-death mentality reveals it is the very opposite of the Christian understanding of charity. Christ told his followers they are to love one another even as He has loved them. He is now telling us that we are to love others after the example that He gave on Calvary. Out of love for others we are to be willing to lay down our lives. We are to be ready to suffer death so that others may live. Saint Maximilian Kolbe is only a recent, well-known example of what this means. He allowed himself to be killed by his Nazi executioner so that another man, the father of a family, might be spared the death to which he was condemned.

At the root of the philosophy of homicide is the direct opposite to Christ�s teaching. Here self-love becomes so strong that it is ready, shall I say happy, to murder another person who would place a burden on my desire for pleasure and/or might be the cause of pain or displeasure to me. On these premises, unborn children are killed because the murdering parents wish to escape the burden of pregnancy, all the labor pains of childbirth, or the effort of raising and training a family. Those in old age are being eradicated because, so the population experts tell us, they are useless to society. Those who are suffering some painful sickness or are victims of some agonizing disease are to be �mercifully� put to death, either by their own hands or those of their �loving� relatives and friends, to spare them the prospect of further pain. In every single case, the atheism of death has this one underlying principle: thou shalt love thyself even unto the death of thy neighbor.

We who believe that God so loved the world that He did not spare even His only Son from the death of the Cross, understand the meaning of charity. Who alone can teach us what this charity means? Only the Eucharistic Christ who is Incarnate Love living for us in the Holy Eucharist. Who can give us the strength we need to love others when others are ready to kill us? Again only Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, who made the Eucharist possible by dying for us on the Cross.

Now we turn to chastity. The root cause of the crime of abortion is the practice of contraception. Over the centuries every contraceptive society has become an abortive society. When Pope Paul VI, in 1968, published Humanae Vitae, he said that contraception leads to abortion. In that same year, more than one assembly of bishops declared themselves unwilling to accept the mandate of the Vicar of Christ and told their people to just follow their own, self-enlightened conscience. Is it any wonder that so many professed Catholics are also pro-choice on the destruction of unborn human life?

The virtue of chastity is more than sexual self-control. It is also, and mainly, the practice of charity. We love God so deeply that, out of love for Him, we sacrifice the deep humanly satisfying pleasure which this same God has reserved only for those who are married and do not exclude the prospect of conception from their marital intercourse. As believers in Christ, we love others so selflessly that we do not use them to satisfy ourselves sexually. As the virtue of chastity weakens, the practice of charity is weakened accordingly. As chastity is discarded, charity disappears. In its place self-love even to the injustice of murder becomes the human policy.

Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is our principal Hope for the practice of what, I sincerely believe, is the heroic charity and chastity that we must practice if we are to remain faithful to Him in our homicidal age. This is the Age of Martyrs. Christ, the First Martyr, is with us. He is ready and willing to give us all we need to love others as He has loved us and to live lives of loving chastity out of love for Him. All that we need is faith in Him, Our God who became man, and who dwells among us in the Holy Eucharist.


Mary: Mother of Divine Life: Model of Prolife Apostles

We Have spoken �The Holy Eucharist: the Center of the Pro-life Movement.� Our focus of reflection was on the presence of Jesus Christ, now on earth, in the Holy Eucharist. We saw that no merely human strategy or policy can change the pro-death mentality that has penetrated the modern world. Only the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, can provide the light and strength we need to obtain the miracle of conversion which the culture of death requires to return to sanity

Our present meditation is on the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of Jesus Christ, and therefore the Mother of the Holy Eucharist. We cannot emphasize too strongly that the Holy Eucharist is the living Christ, in the fullness of the human nature which He received from His Mother. As Saint Augustine says, �The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary.� Except for her, He could not have said at the Last Supper, �This is my Body, this is my Blood.�

With this as our background, we now remind ourselves, what we said before, that the anti-life movement in the world today is demonic. It was because of the devil that death first came into the world. When he seduced Eve, who then seduced Adam, the consequences included the loss of bodily immortality, which the human race was to have enjoyed except for original sin. When we say that the devil is a murderer, we mean that he wants to destroy human bodies by bodily death on earth, and he wants to destroy human souls by spiritual death in hell. Any other estimate of the abortion and anti-life movement is shallow. In fact, it would be building on sand. The real force behind the culture of death is the evil spirit. If we wish to face this force and reverse this movement, we must use superhuman means to do so. These superhuman means, on our part, are faith, after the example of Mary; and prayer, by asking Mary to obtain from Jesus the miraculous power of conquering Satan, who is behind the global homicide so prevalent in our days.

Faith after the Example of Mary

There is no human person in the annals of history whose faith was deeper or more precious in the eyes of God than that of His Mother, Mary. As we read the Gospels, we see something of what this means.

At the Annunciation, Mary believed that she was being invited to become the Mother of the Most High. When the angel explained to her how she would conceive the Redeemer, without losing her virginity, she made an act of faith, �Be it done to me according to your word.� She believed what the angel had told her, �Nothing is impossible with God.� When she conceived her Son, she believed that she was carrying her Creator in her womb. No mother�s faith before or since has ever been greater. In fact no woman�s faith can be Mary�s equal. When we say in the Hail Mary, �Blessed art thou among women,� we are affirming the fact that Mary was so blessed by God because she so deeply believed in the God whom she carried for nine months before His birth. This, we may say, is what the women of the world today most need to be blessed with by their Lord: something of the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Creator.

At the Visitation, she believed what Elizabeth told her when she addressed Mary as �the Mother of my Lord.� She believed what Elizabeth told her when the unborn John the Baptist stirred with joy in his mother's womb. Why did he stir with joy? Because Mary began to exercise her mediation of grace from Jesus whom she was carrying in her womb. Mary's words in Elizabeth�s ears, as the Church believes, sanctified John and enabled him to be born without sin.

Mary believed every word that she said in the Magnificat: that all generations would call her blessed, that God's mercy is on all who fear Him,that God casts down the mighty from their thrones, and lifts up the lowly
At Bethlehem, Mary believed what the shepherds told her about the angels announcing the birth of the Savior. She believed that God does give His peace to those who do His will.

At the Presentation Mary believed that her Son would be contradicted, opposed, and finally crucified. She believed that her own soul would be pierced by a sword. She expected suffering. She knew that to accept Christ means to embrace the cross.

At Cana Mary believed that Jesus could work the miracle of changing water into wine. That is why, after apparently being rebuffed by Him, she told the servants to �do whatever He tells you.� Jesus worked the miracle that His Mother asked Him to perform.

During Christ's public life, Mary believed that some, at least, would also believe in her Son's divinity; that some, at least, would obey His teaching and would follow His example.

On Calvary Mary believed that the dying Man on the cross was God. She believed that Jesus would rise from the dead. Her faith never wavered. That is why over the centuries Saturday remains Mary�s Day or, as it is also called, Faith Day.

 

Our Faith Modeled on the Faith of Mary

There is nothing more needed in the Pro-life Movement than a deep faith in the providence of God. There is nothing which pro-life apostles need more than a share in the faith that Mary had when she saw the Author of Life murdered by His own creatures.

What does it mean to model our faith on that of Our Lady? We must believe without comprehending. We must believe against all human odds. We must believe that God has an all-wise purpose in permitting the anti-life crimes in the world today. We must trust that He will bring good, even greater good, out of greater evil. We must trust in God�s providence, that where crime is so abundant there God�s loving mercy will be even more abundant.

Let us be clear, however. Christ is giving us this grace to believe the incomprehensible and to accept the humanly unbearable. But we must cooperate with this grace, even as Mary did. The heart of this cooperation is knowing what Christ wants and then doing it. That was Mary�s message to the servants at Cana. They did what Christ told them to do. Then, as the poet tells us, the water looked at its Maker and blushed.

Like Our Lady we should expect miracles. The highest miracle is not moving mountains. It is moving human wills from self-idolatry to submission to the will of God. This is the moral miracle that we should expect if we hope to convert a society in which innocent people are murdered, and the murderers become leaders in the modern world.

 

Prayer through Mary to her Divine Son

We commonly speak of praying to Mary. This is correct provided we understand what this means. What do we mean? We mean that because Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God; therefore whatever she asks of her divine Son, He will grant her. But we must ask. We must keep asking. We must keep asking confidently, trusting that our prayers will be heard.

That is why the Memorare is such an important prayer in Catholic Church and, I would say, indispensable in the Pro-life Movement. We tell Our Lady that �never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.� That is why we continue, �Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother, to thee we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. Amen."

Mary's power of intercession with her divine Son is beyond human calculation. It is no wonder, then, that most of world-famous shrines are dedicated to Our Lady. Centuries of Christian experience have taught the people that Mary is the wonder-worker used by her divine Son to do what only God can perform. Only God can change a culture that destroys human life into a culture that respects even the life of an unborn child. But Mary must be invoked by us so that she, in turn, may intercede with her Son to change hearts of stone into hearts of selfless love.

 

Recommendations

Two recommendations to those engaged in the Pro-life Movement. Following the example of Mary, they must grow in their faith; and they must cultivate a deep loving devotion to the Mother of God.

Growth in the Faith.

Thank God there are people from various faith traditions in the Pro-life Movement. There are Orthodox Jews and Evangelicals; there are Mormons and Southern Baptists; there are Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox Christians. But the leadership in the pro-life cause must come from believing, practicing, and instructed Catholics. Why do we say this? We must say this because the Catholic Church has the fullness of God�s revealed truth. Let us be honest. One reason for the rise of the anti-life forces throughout the world is that Catholics have not been as humbly believing, faithfully practicing, and well instructed in their faith as they should be. Concretely, this means that we must grow in our faith by becoming more Marylike in our belief.

By accepting, as Mary did, everything which God tells us, By loyally living out what we believe, up to and including standing, like Mary, near Mary under the Cross of Jesus; as she stood in her Calvary, and we standing in our Calvary.

By striving to understand what we believe, especially following Mary's example of �pondering the things we believe in our heart,� through daily meditation, mental prayer, and reflection on our faith in God's presence, and in Mary's company.
All of the foregoing are indispensable for lasting programs in the Pro-life Movement.

Devotion to Mary.

The Pro-life Movement will grow in the measure that we Catholics practice devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Why? Because in the Pro-life Movement we are not struggling with mere flesh and blood but with the powers of darkness--in high places, which means with the devil and his human legions on earth.

In every major crisis over the centuries, the Church has appealed to Mary to overcome the forces of evil. That is why we absolutely must develop an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The daily Rosary must become an essential part of our daily life. The daily Angelus, morning, noon, and night, should also become part of our daily living. A picture or statue of Our Lady should be an integral part of every Catholic household. Enrollment in a confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and wearing a medal of the Blessed Virgin should become normal for every professed Catholic. Spiritual reading about Our Lady should become part of the mental diet of those, like us, who believe that Mary is the Mother of our God. Saturdays are not just ordinary days. For almost two thousand years, Saturday has been called Mary Day and Faith Day. Why? Because she alone of all the followers of Christ never wavered in her faith in His Resurrection from the dead. From childhood, my widowed mother and I never ate meat on Saturday. It was the least, I was told, that we can do to show our love for the Mother of Jesus.

It is surely not coincidental that the five hundred million Moslems throughout the world have a great love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In our day, the Moslems are almost unique in the non-christian world for their opposition to the pro-death movement which has reached a peak in the Beijing Conference which is now meeting, ironically, under the auspices of the United Nations.

May I suggest the following prayer to our Blessed Mother. You compose your own prayer, but this is what I recommend:

�Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, obtain for us from your divine Son something of His great love for human life, which He received from you and began in your womb. Help us to exert ourselves to the limit to safeguard the sanctity of all human life, whether born or unborn, whether helpless or strong. Ask Jesus, the Light of Life, to enlighten the leaders of nations that human life is to be loved, because that is why we are conceived--to serve God by loving others here on earth and be happy with Him and with our families, for all eternity. Amen.�


 

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