Priests for Life - Educational Resources
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Columns
Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Peter West
Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA
Fr. Walter Quinn, OSA

Newsletters

Brochures

Articles
Contraception
Death Penalty
Euthanasia

Books

Church Documents

Inspiring Stories

Audio

Video
OTHER SECTIONS
America Will Not Reject Abortion Until America
Sees Abortion


Prayer Campaign

Join our Facebook Cause
"Pray to End Abortion"


Take Action

Social Networking

Rachel's Vineyard,
A Ministry of Priests For Life


Silent No More Awareness Campaign, A Project
of Priests For Life

Clergy Resources
SIGN UP FOR EMAIL


 

A Priesthood in Defense of Life

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

   
 

"Is Anyone Worthy?"


I have often thought that it takes more faith to be on the priest's side of the altar than on the people's side, more faith to say, "This is my body" than to hear it. The reason is that when you see the priest you can acknowledge that through his words and actions the miracle of the Eucharist occurs. But when you are the priest, then you lift up the host and you pause for a moment as you look at your hands. "I know these hands," you say to yourself. "I know the sins they have committed, the wrong to which they have stretched themselves out." Then you begin to pronounce the words of Christ, and you hear your own voice, and you think, "I know that voice. I know the ways that voice has hurt others and offended God." And then it takes a profound act of faith to realize that truly, through this sinner, God comes to his people, renewing the sacrifice that alone saves the world.


Unworthiness is an issue that everyone who even thinks of becoming a priest must deal with. Yet I have always found it most helpful, and in fact the only logical way of dealing with it, to put unworthiness to be a priest in the wider context of our unworthiness of every gift God bestows, starting with life itself. Why did he call me out of the nothingness in which I was only a hundred years ago? I did not earn it or ask for it. And when my parents came together and conceived a child, that child did not have to be me. It could have been any of billions of possible brothers or sisters of mine. Yet it was me -- and you are you -- because God specifically loved and chose each of us from all eternity. How can we be worthy of that? Moreover, how can we be worthy of calling God "Our Father"? The Latin words prior to the Lord's Prayer in the mass are "audemus dicere" -- "we dare to say." It is, in fact, daring to call God our Father, and we do so only because he first called us his children. We are not worthy of the gifts of faith, baptism, and eternal life. If we have to deal with our unworthiness in discerning a call to the priesthood, at least it will be a struggle with which we are familiar.


"From Mathematics to God"


 I did not think about priesthood until my junior year of high school. I grew up in Port Chester, New York, where my grandparents settled after having come to the United States from Italy. My parents, my brother and I went to church each Sunday as a family, but were not involved much in church activities beyond that. I attended public schools, and was intensely interested in my studies. I spent so much time reading and studying on my own that I was allowed to take classes beyond my grade level. I graduated High School a year early.


My favorite subject was math, and it played a key role in leading me to the priesthood. Math deals with the structure of the universe, of reality itself. If you follow mathematical reasoning far enough, you soon find yourself in philosophy. The concept of infinity, for example, leads you to think about eternity, beginnings, endings, and no endings. And familiarity with basic tenets such as "Parallel lines never intersect" leads you to start thinking about what kind of universe it would be if they did intersect. So from math I pondered philosophy, and that was only a step away from religion.


I remember one day, at the end of a particularly intense period of study, picking up a large family Bible. I had never spent a lot of time reading it, but this day experienced a sense of awe and wonder, recognizing that there must be so much knowledge and wisdom, even grace, in those pages. I picked it up slowly and reverently, and entered its sacred doors. I have never come out.


The Word of God is living and active…There is no Christian life without the Word of God. I remember a talk I gave prior to my seminary days. An Evangelical friend accompanied me, and I always remembered the compliment he gave me after the talk. "You quoted Scripture a lot, Frank. That made it powerful. That's something you always need to do." As the years went on, I would concentrate in Sacred Scripture in my seminary studies, and enjoy the profound new meaning in its pages when I was able to read it in the original languages in which it was written. That joy is worth every ounce of effort struggling with Hebrew and Greek! I have taught many Bible studies and Scripture courses over the years. The first piece of advice I would always give my students was that the most important text in the course is the Biblical text itself. Some students become more familiar with what commentaries say than with what the Scriptural books themselves say! The second admonition I would give is that all theology is done on one's knees. We do not master the Word of God; it masters us! And only then do we understand it.


"Called by the Monstrance"


The road to the priesthood is filled with simple moments of grace, long stretches of hard work, and times of confusion and uncertainty. For me, the Eucharist and evangelization were the driving forces that led me into the seminary. It started one evening at the end of my junior year of high school. My home parish was Corpus Christi, in Port Chester, and it was the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1975. I was at Saturday evening mass, and after mass there was to be benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I saw the altar boy bring out the monstrance and put it on the credence table. "What a privilege that boy has," I thought to myself. I had never served mass before. Then, after mass, as the host was put in the monstrance and I looked at it, I had an experience of feeling drawn to it, feeling drawn into the monstrance and close to the Lord. There were no visions or voices, but only a profound peace, joy, and a great desire to start serving mass. But, I thought, might I have passed the age limit? I would come back the next morning and ask my pastor.


My pastor was a saint. Fr. Peter Rinaldi, S.D.B., was one of the world experts on the Holy Shroud of Turin, but more significantly, a priest who showed everyone the meaning of holiness. When I asked him if, perhaps, I could start serving mass, he welcomed me warmly and told me I could also assist by becoming a lector. I started immediately.


Then something else started to happen. At the back of our church, over the door, is an image of the Lord at the Last Supper, and the words, "He who eats this bread will live forever." I began reflecting more deeply on those words and on the meaning of the Eucharist, and was drawn to start coming to mass during the week. It was not long before I was coming every morning before school, and served mass for the priest who had baptized me. The joy that came to me from the Eucharist and prayer, and the sense of personal closeness to the Lord, was so intense that I began to think, "What greater thing can I do than to help other people discover what I have discovered here?"


Yet that thought alone did not make me think of priesthood. I simply wanted to evangelize. I wanted to lead people to deeper faith. One day, one of the women who saw me at mass each morning asked me if I was thinking of becoming a priest. "Well, no, but maybe I should think about it" was my response. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense, and when I told my pastor I wanted to go to seminary, his response was, "That is exactly what I have been praying for."


"We are Here Not to be Here"


I started my seminary training right after High School with the Salesians of Don Bosco. My home parish of Corpus Christi is a Salesian parish, but I often laugh at the fact that this was not the reason I chose the Salesian seminary. Rather, I actually bought a book of "American Colleges and Universities," looked up "Catholic Priesthood" in the index, and searched for the seminary closest to where I lived! The closest one was Don Bosco College in Newton, New Jersey. I told my pastor I was considering it. "Oh, that is our seminary!" he exclaimed.


My seminary years were full and happy, and after completing my college years with the Salesians, I took three years off to do other work. Then, having discerned that I wanted to become a diocesan priest, I decided to apply to St. Joseph's Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers, New York, the seminary for priests of the New York Archdiocese.


In those three years before entering Dunwoodie, however, I had met a young woman with whom I developed a strong relationship. She made it clear that she wanted to get married, and for a period of time I was torn between that possibility and the call to the priesthood. I recall one moment of insight in particular that helped me to resolve that painful indecision. I was in my car near a boardwalk area, and noticed a couple walking the boardwalk, pushing a stroller that held their child. They were happy. I knew that would be a possibility for me, too, but I also knew that it would mean that my heart would have to be focused on my wife, my child, and however many other children God would give us. And then it was clear. The longing of my heart was to focus on a much bigger family than I could possibly have through a wife. I wanted to reach far beyond, and embrace multitudes of people that I could love and serve, not simply as a married man might do through various forms of service, but as the primary focus of my heart, time, and energy. It was clear to me from that moment on that I was called to celibacy, which is a form of love and fruitfulness. And through all my years in seminary, I had a map of the world on the wall of my room, and the quote (ironically) of a Protestant reformer, John Wesley, underneath it, that said, "All the world is my parish."


Seminary years go fast, and the best wisdom about going through them was given by one of my seminary professors when he said, "We are here not to be here, to be with God." In other words, don't get distracted either by the joys or the sorrows, the conflicts or the politics. Do the sacred work of spiritual formation and study, with a tranquil focus and a keen awareness that all things pass.


"Minister of Word and Sacrament"


On November 12, 1988, I had the great joy of being ordained by John Cardinal O'Connor, and vested by my long-time friend, Fr. Benedict Groeschel. The next day, at my first mass, my feeling at the moment just before the consecration was, "Lord, am I going to survive the next few moments?" I did, of course, and began serving the people of God in the parish of St. Charles in Staten Island, New York.


The best way to be a good celebrant of the sacraments is to worship along with the people. One will be a good celebrant of the mass to the extent that he listens to God's Word with the people, and worships the Eucharist he consecrates. One will be a good confessor if, while the penitent prays the Act of Contrition, he repents of his sins as well, and rejoices in the forgiveness that he has so often received.


The priest is to follow the Biblical example of prayer, seen in Moses and others. In front of the people, he is to be an advocate for God; in front of God, he is to be an advocate for the people. I have found a particular joy in praying each day for all the people to whom I have ever ministered: all whom I have baptized, married, absolved, anointed, buried, preached to, and fed with the body of Christ. Moreover, to pray in advance for all those to whom I will minister in the future, has been a source of strength.


"Building up the family"


John Paul II is a pope of the family, and has taught that the future of humanity passes through the family.


Precisely by being a priest, the priest builds up the family. Our Holy Father in the document on the family, Familiars Consortio, calls the family a communion of persons. In his document on the priesthood, Pastores Dabo Vobis, he uses the same word over and over again: the priesthood is a communion. And one of the elements of this communion of persons is that it is a gift. A lot of times today people say, "Let's build up community. Let's build up the family." But we can't build it up until we first receive it. We are able to have a communion of persons in the family, and in the priesthood, in society, and in the world because the Lord grants us the gift of community. It flows from who he is, One God in three persons. And so we need to have the receptivity, the attitude of openness to God and say: "Lord, we're not going to build the family by our own efforts alone. Without you, O Lord, we can do nothing. Give us the gift of communion." When we receive that gift, what is our response? Our response is self-giving to the point of sacrifice. There will be no communion in the family, there will be no unity in the priesthood, there will be no unity in the world unless we learn to give ourselves away.


Some young people say, "I don't think I want to be a priest." And a young woman can say this about becoming a religious sister. "I don't think I want to do that because you have to give up too much. I don't think I'll be happy giving up so much." You know what I tell them when they say that? "If that's your reason for not becoming a priest or a religious, don't get married either, because you won't be happy in marriage." You will not be happy in any vocation until you learn to give yourself away.


A lot of times people seek happiness directly. They think: "I see happiness over there in the corner. I'm going to run over there and get it." If that's the idea we have, when we get over there we are going to find that happiness has vanished. Happiness is not something we seek directly. Happiness is a by-product of doing something else. And the something else that we do is to give ourselves away. Why is there so much dissolution of marriage and family? The reason is that too many people believe that their primary goal is self-fulfillment. So what happens if the vocation they live as a married person, or a parent, or a priest, or a religious stops fulfilling them in their own estimation? Then they go find something else that they think will fulfill them. The bottom line cannot be self-fulfillment. The bottom line is self-giving, and precisely in that and through that do we find fulfillment.


We see here the special powerful role of celibacy and of consecrated chastity, because it declares to the world that ultimately even the gift of marriage is oriented to something more, something higher, something beyond this world, something unseen, namely, the gift of self to God.


"A Male Priesthood"


We also see here, incidentally, a key reason for the practice and teaching of the Church so clearly reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II that only males are called to the ordained priesthood. A first-grade girl once asked me: "Father Frank, why can't girls be priests?" How do you explain that to a class of first-graders? I used this example. We're going to have a school play. And the play is going to be about Michael and Sue who are husband and wife. So they practiced for months and months and then, on the day before the play, and Michael gets sick. So now everyone is ready to come to the play and Michael can't play his part! What's going to happen? Well, we have to choose somebody else who can act just as well as Michael. So I looked around the class and I said: "Okay, instead of Michael let's choose Annie." And they all started to laugh. And I said, "What's the matter? Can't Annie do just as good a job of acting as Michael can?" They laughed again. And I asked, "What's wrong?" One of them raised his hand and said: "Well, Michael's role was to be Sue's husband. Annie can't do that."


So it is with the priesthood. Is there a marriage here or is there not? Isn't there a marriage between the head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and the Church, his bride? Yes! And in the sacramental priesthood we continue that imagery which is scriptural right from the beginning. And it is an imagery of marriage because it's an imagery of self-giving. The more the priest gives himself to the bride of Christ, the Church, the more he will show what it means for the family to live out its vocation as a communion of persons, freely and generously giving themselves to each other.


"The Priest's Greatest Temptation"


The priest, to be a faithful priest and fully live his vocation, is to be a father and not a functionary. I'll tell you what I think is the greatest temptation for priests. It is not to go off and violate their vows by having affairs with women. The greatest temptation is to take the sacred for granted. It is to get up and say: "Oh yes, another day. Oh, I have to say another mass. Oh, another round of confessions. Another wedding." The temptation is to start losing the sense of awe, of mystery, the sense of wonder at what he is able to do in Christ.


The priest is a father. Let's consider the priest in the parish. I recall on one occasion, when we had special visitors at our parish, one of them asked me after I had said the first mass of the day, "You don't have to stay around for these other masses, do you?" I told her that I was certainly staying! The family is gathering. I'm the father of this family. It's not that every priest in the parish has to be there for every mass. But what is the attitude that the priest takes towards the people he serves? He is not only there to provide certain functions. He's there as a father intensely interested in his spiritual children.


We know that since the Second Vatican Council we have had a growth of ministries for the laity, and they will continue. We have heard and we have said that the mission of the laity in the Church and in the world is not defined by the shortage of clergy. The laity have their mission by virtue of their baptism and confirmation. It is not because we have fewer priests that we call the laity into action. However, it is also true that the mission of the priest is not defined by the shortage of clergy. Sometimes we look at it that way and say, "Well, since there are fewer priests, we need to restrict the priest's activity to only the sacraments." Wait a minute. The priest is a father and that means he has a fatherly responsibility for everything that takes place in his parish or school. Even though the day to day activities of that particular aspect of the parish can be carried out by the laity (for example, the teaching of religion), the priest is ultimately responsible. And if he takes the attitude that he is raising up a spiritual family, which is not any easier nor less fulfilling than raising up a physical family, then the way he conducts himself, and the way he speaks, is going to foster family life. Fathers and mothers will be able to look at the priest and say: "Here is what I'm supposed to do for my children too."


It's not any easier to raise up a spiritual family than a physical family. Some people look at the priest and say, "Well, he's not married, he doesn't have any children, his life must be easier." Oh, no. To think that it is easier is to fall into materialism, by which we see physical realities as the only real reality. Spiritual realities are real too! People sometimes ask us, "Father, can priests have children?" Not only can we, but we must.  In fact, if we don't have children, born of our preaching of the Word and our administration of the Sacraments, there is no growth in faith. Think of those who, through our priestly ministry, hear the call of Christ to come into the Church, or overcome obstacles to faith and prayer, or receive new life by the sacraments. These are our spiritual children! If we are not of the mind that we are to be generative, that we are to bring spiritual children into the world, then we are practicing what might be called a clerical contraception. We are ordained to bring forth life and to do so generously.


The number one moral issue.


After I served happily in a parish for five years, I concluded in my own conscience that I had to devote all my time and energy to ending the tragedy of abortion. I decided to approach Cardinal O'Connor and ask permission to do full-time pro-life ministry. At the same time, the Priests for Life Association, which had started in California in 1991, approached me and asked if I would be interested in serving in leadership in that group. I had done pro-life work since 1976, and since my ordination, my growing involvement in the pro-life movement brought me into contact with pro-life leaders nationwide.


So I asked the Cardinal if I could accept that offer, and he agreed. In 1993, I became the first full-time National Director of Priests for Life. Priests for Life is an association of priests and deacons who make a special commitment to give emphasis to the Church's teachings on the dignity of human life as they carry out their ministry. They make a commitment to see that the right to life, especially of the unborn, is recognized as the number one justice issue of our day.


The priority of abortion among the many concerns of the Church and her priests has been articulated often by the United States bishops. As a key example, their Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities (2001 Revision, A Campaign in Support of Life), begins with a section on the consistent ethic of life. The bishops write, "Among important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Church is concerned, abortion necessarily plays a central role. Abortion, the direct killing of an innocent human being, is always gravely immoral (The Gospel of Life, no. 57); its victims are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family. It is imperative that those who are called to serve the least among us give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice. This focus and the Church's commitment to a consistent ethic of life complement one another. A consistent ethic of life, which explains the Church's teaching at the level of moral principle—far from diminishing concern for abortion and euthanasia or equating all issues touching on the dignity of human life—recognizes instead the distinctive character of each issue while giving each its proper place within a coherent moral vision."


Sometimes those of us who put a special emphasis on the work to end abortion are called 'single issue' people. Yet there is no other issue if there isn't life. Abortion denies the very right to exist. If we cannot defend the right people have to exist, especially when they are most weak and most defenseless, then we undermine the defense of every other right. Yes, we have to work to secure all the rights of the human person but all the rights that there are exist precisely because of the dignity of the person. Abortion changes all of that. It says that you don't even have the right to exist. Does a poor person have a right to food and to shelter? Absolutely! But why? They have a right to food because they have a right to live. Take away the right to live and you've taken away the basis for fighting poverty or for fighting any other thing that degrades the dignity of the human person.


A relationship between a mother and her child is the closest, the most basic, and the most fundamental relationship between any two people. So how do we allow that relationship to be destroyed without destroying every other relationship that there is? It is quite basic. Here is where the family disintegrates. Here is the heart of the matter. If you can't even preserve the relationship between mother and child, how can you preserve the relationship between others in the family? How can you preserve the relationships between nations? Mother Teresa came Washington, D.C. in February (of 1994) and spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. In the presence of many members of Congress and the president and the vice-president present, she said it simply: "If we accept even that a mother can kill her own child how can we tell other people not to kill each other?" Brothers and sisters, if the mother can kill her innocent and unwanted child, why can't the child kill her innocent and unwanted mother, or aunt, or uncle, or neighbor, or you?


As a priest involved in full-time pro-life ministry, I have been told a number of times by well meaning friends that they are glad I am happy doing "my thing," which is fighting abortion. Some of them go on to add that it is not "their thing." My response to all this is to kindly point out that whether an activity is or is not "one's thing" has nothing to do with duty or with the demands of justice. I fight abortion not because I am particularly attracted to the battle, but because human life is at stake. It is a duty of conscience to defend it. I do so, furthermore, as a priest. My pro-life work flows from my priesthood, not as an optional, extra "thing," but as an aspect of the essence of the priesthood. Every priest, in fact, though not necessarily called to full-time pro-life ministry, is called to a full-time, whole-hearted, active stand for life and against abortion.


Let's briefly examine why that is so, from a consideration of what Scripture says about Christ and justice, and from a reflection on the Eucharist.


"Alter Christus"


The priest is "another Christ," and as such is a man of salvation, bringing others the benefits of the Redemption. Yet the priest is also a man of creation, for Christ not only saved the world, but made it. The earliest New Testament reference to this is 1 Corinthians 8:6, "For us there is... one Lord, Jesus Christ through Whom all things are and through Whom we exist." Colossians reiterates the theme. "All things were created through him and for him. He is before all else that is, and in him everything continues in being" (Col.1:16-17). It is the message of John's Prologue. "In the beginning was the Word.... All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be in him was life...(John 1:1-3; See also Heb.1:2; Prov.8:30).


Christ is Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13). He is the beginning of life and the purpose of life. He is the answer to the child's question, "Mommy, why are there stars and mountains and people?" To stand for Christ is to stand for creation and for life; to minister Christ to the world is to minister life. The pre-born child exists through him and for him. To be silent about that child's destruction is to betray both the child and Christ. To bring salvation to God's people is first of all to defend their existence.


"Do justice!"


The prophecies of Christ are heavily linked with the word "justice." Psalm 72 declares, "Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace till the moon be no more," and then specifies what that justice entails: "He shall rescue the poor man when he has no one to help him.... From fraud and violence he shall redeem them, and precious shall their blood be in his sight" (v. 7, 12, 14). "Justice" refers to an act of intervention for the defenseless. God does it for his people, and his people must do it for one another. If they don't, worship of God is pointless. This is brought out forcefully through the prophet Amos, when God says, "I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities.... Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream" (Amos 5:21, 23-24. See also Isaiah 1:10-17).


Christ preaches and acts in the name of justice, declaring that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed him to free the oppressed (Luke 4:18 from Is. 61). In his ministry, Christ seeks out those whom society oppresses and rejects: the poor, the lepers, the lunatics, the tax collectors and sinners, and the children whom even his apostles considered troublesome.


His justice, ultimately, is "to undo the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Those works, as Christ declared, are lies and murder (see John 8:44; Psalm 72 said "fraud and violence"). Nowhere is the alliance between lying and murdering more clear than in the abortion industry. Women are told their child is a "blob of tissue." They are told the abortion procedure is "safe," whereas in truth it carries untold burdens of physical and mental anguish. The pro-abortion lies are an echo of the original lie told to the first woman, "You certainly will not die" (Gen. 3:4b). Nowhere besides the abortion mills are there larger numbers of more defenseless people crying out for our intervention. A man of Christ must intervene; a priest must "make justice his aim" (see Is. 1:17).


There is a story from the days of the Nazi atrocities that tells of a church along a road where the trains passed, carrying Jews to execution. When they passed the church on Sunday mornings, they would cry out in the hope that the worshipers would hear their cries and rescue them. The noise of the wailing prompted members of the congregation to ask the pastor, "What are we to do about this disturbance to our worship?" The pastor paused and then said, "Tell the people to sing a little louder." Sing a little louder! Avoid the distraction of human lives in danger! This is the temptation today for Christians, who may think they are too busy with other things to worry about the abortion issue, too busy to worry about justice.


"The Bread of Life"


A priest is a man of the Eucharist, and it is in the mass that we touch the definitive victory of life over death. "Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life." "I am the Bread of Life" (John 6:35). The Eucharist is the sacrifice of life and the banquet of life, and because the priest officiates at this sacrificial banquet, he is truly "Father," imparting life to all who come. The priest guards the Eucharist, which is both a human and a Divine Life, for it is Christ himself. The priest leads his people to adore the Eucharist and to see, beyond the appearances, the reality of life. This is why he must stand powerfully in defense of human life which, in its initial stages, is also hidden from human sight, yet no less sacred for that reason. Just as the Sacred Host is "defenseless," so is the pre-born child. Just as the Sacred Host is sacred because it is God, so is the pre-born child the sacred image of God. If the priest is the defender of the sacred, then he is such wherever and whenever the sacred is attacked. Strangely, the same four words that were used by the Lord Jesus to save the world are also used by some to promote abortion: "This is my body." The same simple words are spoken from opposite ends of the universe, with totally contrary meanings and opposite results. "This is my body," some say, "I can do what I want, even if it means killing the child." "This is my body," Jesus says through his priests, "given up for you." He does not cling to it so that we die. He gives it away so that we live.


I appeal to you to give top priority to bringing an end to abortion, because in fighting abortion we are fighting every other evil. We know that abortion leads to many other evils. But I'll take it even a step further. It doesn't only lead to other evils, it contains them in itself! Why? Because abortion is a statement about what it means to be human, that human life is disposable. Let us declare to our people, wherever we are, that it is not disposable. And the game plan for bringing an end to abortion is given to us right in the heart of the mass. "This is my body, given up for you, this is my blood shed for you." In other words, if we tell the mother already carrying her child that she must sacrifice herself to preserve the life of that child, and we are right in teaching her that, then we must do the same thing. We must sacrifice our own convenience in order to save the life of that child. We must absorb the suffering because there is no way that we will root out abortion from our nations and from our world without suffering on our part. It's the way of the cross. The false god transforms suffering into violence, whereas the true God transforms violence into suffering. We have to be like lightning rods standing up in the midst of this great storm of destruction of human life. As such, we say, "O Lord, I am willing to take some of the suffering rather than to let it be transformed into violence. Lord, I am ready to love the children who are in danger, the mothers who are in need, a society that has gone astray, and I know in loving, I will have to endure the cross. In so doing, we can transform this culture of death into the culture of life and of love.


Conclusion: A Call to Confidence


The priest is to never lose confidence in the power of his ministry to transform the world. I leave you with the vision of Ezekiel, chapter 37, the vision of the dry bones. God placed Ezekiel before a field of dry bones, and God asked him, "Ezekiel, can these bones live?" Now imagine the dilemma he was in. He must have thought to himself, "Well if I say yes that's going to appear foolish but if I say no, I risk disobeying God." So what did Ezekiel say? "I don't know." And so God said to him: "Speak, prophesy, speak the word of truth to the bones." Now he knew he was in a dilemma, because to speak to dry bones humanly appears foolish, but now, if he didn't do it, he would be disobeying God. So he spoke, and what an awesome moment it must have been, because Scripture tells us that he heard a rattling sound and then he saw one bone begin to join to another. And God, as if cheering him on, said: "Keep speaking, speak again. Prophesy to the bones!" And the bones stood up, flesh came on them, and the spirit of life was breathed into the bones. And there was a vast army, living because of the word of truth.


You and I are standing in our world today over a field of dry bones, consisting of countless millions who have been killed by abortion, and countless millions of dead consciences . We do not know how or why God has placed us here, but we find ourselves here in the midst of this incredible tragedy. Like Ezekiel. you and I are in a dilemma because God says to us: "Speak and proclaim the Word of Life. Keep doing it. Let nothing deter you." And we can look at God and say, "This is humanly foolish, humanly impossible. How can we transform the world from the path of death that it's on?" Others, too, will mock us and try to discourage us. But speak, and speak like Ezekiel, for as long as you live! And if you ever doubt that we can bring an end to this culture of death, this destruction of life by abortion, if you ever think for a moment that it's impossible, then ask yourself this: Can a field of dry bones ever live? Or better yet ask yourself, "Can a man who has been scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed hands and feet to a cross, pierced with a lance, has died and been buried, can such a man ever live again?"

   
 
Help us spread the word. Share this with your social network.
   
  Back


Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org