February 1, 2014
Some people believe that the contemplative religious life is irrelevant to the conditions of the world. But here we have proof that such a viewpoint could not be more wrong. The men and women called by God to withdraw from the world are not hiding from it and the evil that abounds in it. Instead, they bring a perspective to it that shared, as in the sermon preached by the Right Reverend Philip Anderson, Abbot of Our Lady of Clear Creek, strengthens those of us who are on the front lines of the battle with the powers of darkness. We cannot do without this fruit of contemplation or we are likely to grow weary and fall. We complete one another in our witness to the Gospel. With permission of the Abbot the text follows.
St. Mary, Mother of God Church
January 22, 2014
Feast of Saints Vincent (of Saragossa) and Anastasius (Magi, monk)
Dear members of the Paulus Institute,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially, dear Marchers for Life:
It has all been said. The case for the protection of the unborn against the evil of elective abortion, sanctioned by laws purporting to justify this social crime, has been clearly, articulately, forcefully, and coherently set forth. Popes, such as Blessed John Paul II, kings, like King Baudouin of Belgium, scientists, for example Professor Jerome Lejeune, who discovered the genetic cause of Down Syndrome, poets, artists, men and women of every walk of life, have proclaimed to the very ends of the earth the Gospel of Life, in all its richness and power. It has all been said, not only by Catholics and by other Christians, but also by people of different religious convictions. It has all been said. But the world did not listen.
Perhaps that is why, already forty years ago, Nellie Gray saw that, in addition to this proclamation of the cause of the unborn, the defenders of life needed to “vote with their feet” and come to the nation’s capital in order to seek respect for the sacred right to life, inscribed in the United States Declaration of Independence. Perhaps the message had to be brought to the very steps of the White House and of the Supreme Court. And so it is that many of you are here, having participated in this year’s March for Life, four decades after the very first one in 1974.
Sadly, despite the millions who have made the March for Life, the law of the land continues to sanction abortion. In describing in more recent times the dismembering of an innocent child in its mother’s womb as ‘healthcare,’ we have taken the art of the euphemism to a level never before imagined. Why is this? What more can we do?
Sometimes in our more solemn moments we have to lift our minds and hearts above the scene of this world in order to get a perspective on what happens here below. This is the way monks view the world. The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of Saint John, unveils for us something of the state of the Holy Innocents, who await the Judgment of God.
“When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Apoc. 6:9-11).
On this feast of Saint Vincent the Deacon and of Saint Anastasius the Magus turned monk, both martyrs of Christian antiquity, these perspectives are all the more poignant. They tell something about the souls of the victims of abortion.
We too must bear witness to God – perhaps as martyrs – we too must wait for God’s hour. But, unlike the souls described in the Apocalypse, we have work to do in the Lord’s vineyard.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, is suggesting we add another dimension to the Pro-Life Movement. The reality is easy enough to verify: it is precisely in those societies where greed and arrogant ambition impel people to grasp after material goods beyond reasonable measure, where the so-called “quality of life” means quantity of possessions – especially of money, amassed to a very large degree – it is precisely in such societies that abortion becomes, as it were, something necessary for the maintaining of a high standard of living in terms of material wealth.
Thus we need to reinforce the Gospel of Life with a strong reaffirmation of the Gospel of the Beatitudes. The poor in spirit love the family and cherish children. The poor in spirit content themselves with the good things that God sends them, with their “daily bread.” The poor in spirit have a horror of abortion and of every sort of practice that destroys or endangers the family.
But there is more. If the essential work of the Gospel of Life, strengthened by the Gospel of the Beatitudes – in a word, if the New Evangelization, the continuation of the very work started by the Apostles and handed down from generation to generation – is to have any effect on the world, it must spring from the same spiritual source that moved the Apostles to conquer the world for Christ. Here is what I mean. One day Our Lord, having been left alone by His Apostles, who had business elsewhere, gave Himself to the work of preaching the Gospel, one-on-one, to a Samaritan woman He met by Jacob’s well. He showed us, as we read the account in the Gospel according to Saint John, how the process works. The story is familiar to you. Once Jesus had shown this woman that He was a prophet and more than a prophet, knowing the rather troubled story of her life, He proceeded to underline a most essential thing, saying,
“Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father. You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him. God is spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4: 21-24).
The practice of abortion is based on a lie. It kills both physical life, that of the unborn child, and spiritual life, that of the mother and of all who directly bring it about. Satan is the father of lies, as Our Lord tells us (Jn. 8:44). Satan is the father of abortion too and of the entire “culture of death” denounced by Blessed John Paul II. So, this is spiritual warfare as well as a matter of political and social justice. In seeking to correct this evil it is most important to start at the beginning, with adoration, which is the worship of the one true God in spirit and in truth. In a word: contemplation must precede action.
Let there be no doubt: we have won. Christ’s blood poured out, more eloquent than that of Abel (cf. Heb. 12:24), has redeemed the world, consecrating for all eternity the Gospel of Life and condemning to the exterior shadows the pretensions of the culture of death. But in order for the victory to be given its full extent there is still work to be done. We must continue to work and to walk.
There would be much more to say. We are celebrating Holy Mass this evening in a beloved church dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of God, Mother of Life, Mother of Hope. The Marian dimension of the Catholic faith waxes ever stronger and more vital as the centuries go on. This dimension is essential to all our pro-life endeavors.
Finally, in order for the March for Life to have its maximum effect, the marchers must conserve that most precious legacy of the faith which is authentic Christian joy. This is not the superficial joy of a “party culture”, but the deep-seated gladness and sense of celebration that comes from belonging to God.
So go forth, go out to proclaim with joy the truth. Keep marching; keep walking, not only to the White House, but all the way to the new and heavenly Jerusalem, where abortion and euthanasia and the entire culture of death will be no more. It has all been said, but like Nellie Gray we have to keep saying it. Keep loving – for God is Love, true Love. Keep walking. As Saint Paul says, “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Amen.
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R. Now and forever!
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