Our Lord has promised us, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Why did the Lord say “two or three?” He is there when just one person is present, but it is when the “other” or “others” show up that we are then able to give ourselves away in love, and that bond of active love between human beings manifests Jesus’ presence. The very meaning of life is to give and receive love. This is where we find our fulfillment, and that is the basis of the Culture of Life. We do not find happiness by pushing the other person out of the way, as in abortion, but by giving ourselves to the other person, that they may live.
In a few days we will celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like every Feast, it is a celebration of Jesus Christ. This feast shows us that because of her unique role as his mother, Mary received from Jesus a full share, body and soul, in his victory over death. The feast is a reminder that in Christ, we all will share resurrection of the body.
Mary has it now, because in the human family, which God decided to join, there can be no closer bond than mother and child. They belong together; their destinies are intertwined.
That is one of the central messages of the pro-life movement. To love and care for a mother necessarily means protecting, loving, and caring for her child. Mothers can never benefit from the destruction of their children.
One day, the Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain, and was transfigured before their eyes. His clothes became as bright as the sun, Moses and Elijah were seen speaking with him about his upcoming passion, and the Father’s voice was heard declaring that he was his Son.
All this was a sign to those apostles that they should not be troubled by the events that would unfold. The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus were to fulfill the Father’s plan for our salvation.
The Transfiguration is also a sign to us. Circumstances can make us forget that every human life is part of the Father’s plan, and that the glory of God is to be seen in every person, no matter how burdensome, unplanned, or ill that person may be.
Rachel’s Vineyard is a retreat program for women and men who have lost a child by abortion. The retreat provides an opportunity to face the wounds of abortion in a safe, affirming environment of prayer and the support of others who have been through the same experience. Through the use of “Living Scriptures,” participants are invited to place themselves into the parables and other Scriptural events, and encounter Jesus Who heals them.
These retreats, of course, are not meant to substitute for the individual, ongoing counseling that comprises the journey of post-abortion healing, but they are a stepping stone towards making those sessions even more fruitful.
Rachel’s Vineyard is the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion, and is a ministry of Priests for Life. Find out more about it at rachelsvineyard.org.
“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit; the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” When the Lord speaks about the poor in spirit, He is speaking about those for whom there is no help or hope but God Himself. God is the only hope for any of us, but when we have a lot of possessions, friends, and earthly protection, we are tempted to think that those are the things on which our spirits can ultimately rely. But that is an illusion. “Only in God be at rest, my soul; from Him comes my help and salvation.” Today, nobody is more unsafe and unprotected than the child in the womb. Though father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. The unborn are the poorest of the poor, and God calls us to acknowledge and bless them.
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite days.
Living across the street from a public high school field from which the town fireworks display was launched each year made it extra special, as did the presence of many relatives and friends who would come to our house to celebrate the day (as well as my father’s and brother’s birthdays).
As a priest, furthermore, I enjoy offering the prayers of the liturgy for Independence Day. The Preface is particularly inspiring. It reads in part:
“[Christ] spoke to men a message of peace and taught us to live as brothers. His message took form in the vision of our Fathers, as they fashioned a nation where men might live as one. This message lives on in our midst as a task for men today and a promise for tomorrow. We thank you, Father, for Your blessings in the past, and for all that, with Your help, we must yet achieve” (Sacramentary, Preface for Independence Day I, P82).
The blessings we give thanks for on the Fourth of July are many. I have come to realize that more than ever as I have had occasion to speak on almost every continent. We give thanks not only for material possessions and for freedom, but for the vision behind them. The vision is that “men might live as one”; the vision is that all will be welcomed, as the Statue of Liberty symbolizes; the vision is that “all are created equal”; the vision is “liberty and justice for all.”
It is a vision that we do not merely look back on, thanking God that our Founding Fathers had it. It is, rather, a vision which is “a task for today and a promise for tomorrow.”
This is why the pro-life movement is so American. It is a movement striving to achieve welcome for those of whom Roe v. Wade spoke when it said, “The word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn” (Roe at 158). Roe excluded; the pro-life movement includes. Roe made the circle of persons in America smaller; the pro-life movement seeks to expand it.
One Fourth of July, some friends of mine and I held a banner in front of my house as all the people gathered across the street for the fireworks. It said, “Pray to end Abortion.” One man, expressing agreement with the message, questioned whether it was the right setting to deliver it. “Of course it is,” I explained. “This is the day we celebrate a nation in which all are supposed to be considered equal. What better way to celebrate our freedom than to work to extend it to others?”
I pray you will all enjoy this Fourth of July. I know I will, as I watch the fireworks right from home. As I celebrate Mass that day, I will pray that this year’s celebration will renew your determination to work for justice and freedom for all unborn Americans.
Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We give special honor and worship to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in reparation for the sins of the world. This Heart is the core of the pro-life movement, which is a movement of self-sacrificing love. Nothing can stop the love of the Heart of Jesus, which is the meaning of the flame we see. This love is met by rejection and hatred, symbolized by the wound in the heart.
Pro-life activists experience the same thing. Our love for the unborn is met with misunderstanding, ridicule, shunning, and persecution of all kinds, yet nothing can extinguish the flame. We continue to love those who cannot love us back, and cannot even know we are loving them, and that is a gift of the Sacred Heart.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptizer, who leaped for joy in the womb of Elizabeth because of the coming of Christ. John told the people to prepare for Jesus’ coming by repenting of their sins, and continued to preach that message of repentance to those in power, such as when he told King Herod that it was wrong for him to have his brother’s wife.
John is an example for us to speak the truth boldly. Being a prophet is not primarily about telling the future, but about telling the present – pointing out what God thinks of what is happening now and what He wants us to do about it.
As we honor John the Baptizer, then, let us resolve to boldly proclaim the right to life for all, including the unborn.
This coming weekend the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi. We worship the God Who gives us His very Body and Blood.
An early Christian symbol of Jesus was the Pelican, because of the legend that the mother Pelican wounded herself to feed her children with her own blood. You can still see this on some altars. This makes us think, at the same time, of the Eucharist and of the relationship between a mother and her unborn child, who is nourished in the most intimate way by nutrients carried in the mother’s blood. Jesus gives Himself to us daily on the altars of our Churches so that we can give ourselves to our children – born and unborn – daily on the altars of our lives.
The letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ made the sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross “through the eternal spirit.” This makes sense, because the Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and the Son, a love that is then poured out on us. It is in the Holy Spirit that we, too, have the power to love, which consists in giving ourselves away for the good of the other. “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Such is to be our response to the unborn. We sacrifice our time, efforts, possessions, positions, and reputations, in order to save their lives. By filling us with this love, the Holy Spirit unites the human family, whereas abortion divides it.