Pro-Life Commencement

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Over a million children per grade level throughout the nation would have been with us had they not been killed by abortion. Priests for Life asks, therefore, that each graduation ceremony and liturgy include a remembrance of those who would have been graduating had they not been aborted. This could in some way, make reparation for the scandal of Catholic institutions, such as Notre Dame, inviting and honoring pro-abortion public figures.

Remembrance of the missing children can take the form of a moment of silence, a lit candle, an empty chair, a cap and diploma resting by themselves, or a brief prayer. Symbolic actions can be accompanied by words like these:

“On this day of joy, we give thanks to God for our accomplishments. At the same time, we cannot ignore those whose lives have been lost, and who otherwise would have been with us to share the joys of this day.

With charity toward all and condemnation toward none, we, the Class of 2009, wish to honor and remember those who have lost their lives because they were aborted. (We pause now for a moment of silence… Or We now light this candle in their memory… Or We set aside these empty chairs in their memory.)

As we move into a new chapter of our lives, we commit ourselves to building a Culture of Life, in which parents never have to feel that the only way to solve their problems is to abort their child, and in which the precious dignity of every human life, especially the most defenseless, is cherished and protected. We invite you all to join us in striving for this goal.”

Suppose that a tragedy took the lives of some of the graduating class just days or weeks before graduation. Would there not be a mention or a tribute at the ceremony? Why, then, should the victims who died longer ago be forgotten? It is not, after all, the timing of the death that matters, but the value of the life.

It’s graduation time again. I’ll be praying for all graduates at all different grade levels. It is my fervent hope that students everywhere will take the initiative to remember aborted classmates.

Some, of course, will object to inserting such a “negative” theme into a happy day. But are significant moments in our lives supposed to be insulated from all awareness of injustice? Are we to rejoice with those who rejoice, but not weep with those who weep?

To be willing to face sadness when the victims were born, but unwilling to do so when the victims died before birth, is another sign of the deep-rooted prejudice against the unborn in our society. But a new generation of young people who have survived that prejudice are now taking their places and preparing to be the future leaders. That gives us hope. Isn’t that what Graduation Day is all about?

Please, do something. How can we explain it if we forget or ignore these children?

Advancing the Victory of Life

As the women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body, they asked one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us?”

The stone was huge, and it sealed the body of Jesus in the grave – or so they thought. Not only had the stone already been rolled away, but Jesus was not there; he was alive.

The women’s question persists today. Who will roll away the stone for us? Who will free humanity from death, from violence, and from despair? How do we find freedom from evil and sin? How do we roll away the culture of death and nurture a culture of life? The stone can seem too large for us.

Yet like the question, the answer also persists: Jesus Christ is Risen! In him we advance the victory of life.

–Fr. Frank

The Power to Choose Life

On Easter morning, the women who came to the tomb were asked, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here; he has been raised.”

Jesus Christ broke the power of death and overturned its kingdom, which is why we can confidently work against evils like abortion and euthanasia. How easy it is for people to seek the living one among the dead. Despair causes them to look to death as a solution. People are made to think that freedom consists in the ability to choose death, either for themselves or their children. But this freedom and these solutions are only in Jesus Christ. We are not to seek the living one among the dead. He is not there. He has been raised, he lives forevermore, and he gives us the power to choose life.

–Fr. Frank

Run and Proclaim the Gospel of Life

On the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, there was a lot of running taking place. The women, having seen the empty tomb, ran back to the disciples. Peter and John, having heard the women’s story, ran toward the tomb.

And in the end, of course, all the apostles ran into the world to announce this greatest news of history.

We, too, must run. The victory of life over death is definitive, and yet it is still unfolding. We fight the power of death as we defend human life, especially the unborn. It is time to run, to announce the Gospel of Life with vigor, and to intervene to save the unborn with urgency.

Fear paralyzes and slows people down, but confidence in the victory of the Risen Christ causes us to run and fulfill our mission.

–Fr. Frank

The Victory of Life

When the women who had gone to anoint Jesus’ body on the first Easter morning returned to the apostles with the news that they had seen the risen Lord, the apostles refused to believe it. The story seemed like nonsense to them. That night, when Jesus appeared to them, he chided them for their stubborn refusal to believe.

The apostles clearly were not engaged in wishful thinking, or a desire to make up the resurrection story. If they were, then they would readily have used the women’s story as a starting point.

In reality, they came to believe because they saw and touched the risen Lord. This gives us confidence. Death has been conquered, and therefore we can fight the culture of death, knowing that the victory of life is more than wishful thinking.

–Fr. Frank

Death Has Been Conquered!

When Jesus rose from the dead, an angel descended from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. This was not so that Jesus could get out, but so that his followers could see that the tomb was empty.

The angel’s actions also means that we will walk out of our graves.
The stone sealed human beings in the grave. But after rolling it away, the angel sat on the stone, symbolizing that death is conquered and cannot any longer hold humanity captive to the grave. Our destiny is now the heights of heaven.

That’s what God thinks of human life, and that’s why we work to end abortion, euthanasia, and every other form of violence. Ultimately, abortion is a denial of Christ’s resurrection. But our Easter faith impels us to extend the victory of life.

–Fr. Frank

The Meaning of Baptism

On Easter, many throughout the world are baptized into the Church, and those already baptized renew the vows of their baptism.

By baptism, we are immersed in the new life of Christ, and welcomed into the community of those who believe in the Catholic Faith. Thanks to baptism, God looks at us through the eyes of His Son, and says, ‘You are my child; you died on the cross, therefore you will rise from the dead.’

Baptism is a sacrament of welcome. God chooses us long before we choose, and all the chosen welcome each other. This is the exact opposite of the mindset of abortion, which ignores God’s choice, and says that we can choose not to welcome children into the community.
Let’s thank God for baptism, and for life!

–Fr. Frank

A New Chapter In History

Matthew’s gospel tells us that when Jesus rose from the dead, there was a great earthquake. In the Old Testament, earthquakes are a sign of the coming of God, the breaking in of the new age in which God’s kingdom will flourish.

That is what happens, of course, at the Resurrection. A new chapter of history now begins, in which the risen life of Christ is accepted by believers, who live this newness of life, reconciled and redeemed by the blood of the cross.

In this new chapter of history, humanity is reconciled with God, and human life is raised in Christ to the heights of glory. God’s victory over death continues to grow.

It is therefore an age in which we have more reason than ever to respect and protect human life.

–Fr. Frank

Two Years After Federal Ban of Partial-Birth Abortion

On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, without the loophole of a health exception. This is an important step forward in Constitutional law toward the ultimate goal of restoring protection to every unborn child.

In partial-birth abortion, the birth process itself is hijacked and turned into an instrument of killing. This corrupts the role of the physician and blurs the line between abortion and infanticide. The Court said that this line should not be blurred.

The Court rejected the arguments of the abortion industry that the ban should be struck down because it lacks a health exception. The Court said that the abortion supporters failed to prove that the procedure is as necessary for health as they claimed.

On Doubting Thomas

On the first Easter night, Thomas was not with the apostles when Jesus appeared to them, risen from the dead. But Scripture does not tell us where Thomas was.

Because he was the type of person who needed to see things for himself, perhaps he was out looking for Jesus, on the very road on which the women, that morning, had said they had seen him alive.
But Thomas did not find Jesus, until he returned to the community of Peter and the other apostles.

This is an important lesson. We need the community of the Church, united around the successor of Peter.
That community affirms the Gospel of Life. By staying close to the community we are strengthened in our pro-life commitment, despite the fact that some in our lives may disagree.

–Fr. Frank