In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that when Jesus died, there was an earthquake. In the Old Testament Scriptures, the earthquake was one of the signs of the Day of the Lord, when God’s power and glory and presence would be manifested in human history. This is what happened at the death of Christ, because at that moment, death itself was done away with. The Lord went among the dead to rescue them and to open for them – and for us – the kingdom of life. Things change at that point for human history and the destiny of the human family, and it is the foundation of who we are as a pro-life people. Our stand against abortion is not just political. It is rooted in the death and resurrection of Christ.
In Psalm 1:30 we read, “For with the Lord is kindness, and fullness of redemption.” He does not give us only the redemption of some or most aspects of our existence; He gives us the fullness of redemption. He does not only destroy our sins, He destroys our death. He does not only raise up our souls, He raises up our bodies. He does not only restore our relationship with Him, He restores our relationships with everyone else. The Lord gives us fullness of redemption, which means He frees us from all that oppresses the human family, and that is precisely the connection between our faith and our pro-life work. When we labor to end the oppression of children in the womb, we are bearing witness to what the fullness of redemption means.
In the 37th chapter of Ezekiel the Lord declares, “O My people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” The Lord is promising that He will return the exiles to their own land, and He is also promising the future Resurrection from the Dead and our entrance into the promised land of Heaven. Through Ezekiel, God is proclaiming that He is the God of Life, and that we are the People of Life. That is why we are pro-life. To believe in God and to work for salvation means we work against anything that destroys life. The God who promises to open our graves does not want us to send children into their graves. Let the evangelizing work of the Church speak strongly for life!
New York, NY – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, announced yesterday at the beginning of Lent that the Priests for Life family of ministries is looking forward to a very fruitful season for Life.
“We are beginning this week by sharing with every priest in the nation our resources for preaching, including those found at priestsforlife.org/lent, which show them how to tie in the powerful Lenten themes with the urgent need to defend the unborn. We also have a coordinated prayer campaign taking place in thousands of parishes and schools nationwide, using prayers found at prayercampaign.org.
“Our Pastoral Team, including our priests as well as people like Dr. Alveda King and Dr. Theresa Burke, will speak in dozens of cities and conduct numerous media interviews.
“Our Silent No More Awareness Campaign, co-founded by Janet Morana, our Executive Director, will have gatherings across the nation, including at the office buildings of the US Senate where we are coordinating particular efforts to impact the vote on defunding Planned Parenthood by using the voices of women who were harmed at Planned Parenthood.
“Our priests will speak at many events for 40 Days for Life, a campaign that credits Priests for Life with a large reason for its growth.
“Our media outreach marks this Lent with a new set of episodes on our EWTN program Defending Life, the world’s largest, longest-running TV and radio program on abortion, now in its 18th season. We also mark this week the start of a brand new show, The Catholic View for Women, co-hosted by Janet Morana, Teresa Tomeo, and Astrid Bennett Gutierrez.
“We recommend as Lenten spiritual reading my book Pro-life Reflections for Every Day, as well as the regular You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter updates that I will provide during Lent for pro-life activists. Our clergy webcast on March 21 will help priests to lead their people into a pro-life Lent, and later in the month we will convene a Summit meeting of national pro-life leaders to chart a course of greater collaboration to hasten the day of victory.
“In short, this Lent will be a major boost to the pro-life movement in our country,” Fr. Pavone concluded.
Rome – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said in a statement today that the life of Dr. Bernard Nathanson is one of the most remarkable stories of God’s mercy and power.
“My own life has intersected with his since the mid-80’s, and our last time together was just last week” Fr. Pavone explained. “Years ago, Dr. Nathanson said, ‘I uncaged the abortion monster in the United States,’ and then he told us priests that he and his former colleagues ‘would never have gotten away with what we did if you had been united, purposeful and strong.’ That assertion is at the core of our ministry at Priests for Life.”
Fr. Pavone continued, “I will never forget the workshop at which I introduced him at the 1994 Human Life International Conference in Irvine, CA. He was supposed to talk about chemical abortion, but at the last minute decided instead to speak of his spiritual journey. At the end of the talk, he said that he was standing on the brink of conversion to the Catholic Church. The room exploded. People were leaping into the air. He said that he hoped God could forgive him, and I said, ‘Dr. Nathanson, He already has.’ And I reminded him of that exchange just last week.”
Dr. Nathanson appears in the introductory video of Priests for Life. “He called Priests for Life the ‘Paul Revere’ of the pro-life movement, and said that he was always immensely grateful for our work, because though he caught the Church asleep on the abortion issue in the late 60’s, he believed the Church could be re-activated to build the Culture of Life. In memory of Dr. Nathanson, we will redouble our efforts to do just that,” Fr. Pavone concluded.
In the Lord’s prayer, we ask that we may be forgiven our sins “as we forgive those who sin against us.” We are asking the Lord to use us as an example of how readily and generously He should forgive our sins.
He is more eager to forgive our sins than we are. This should not only give us confidence, but should help us inspire confidence in those who despair. One of the hardest sins to confess is abortion. And even there, the Lord is ready to pour out His mercy on those who repent.
Nothing can minimize the horror of abortion, and nothing can justify it. Yet countless people come each day to the cross where they find that even this sin is washed away in the Blood of Christ.
Saint Paul declared that he never wanted to boast in anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself indicated to His followers that they were to take up their own cross each day, and Saint Peter declares that Christ suffered for us to leave us an example, that we might follow in His footsteps.
Christians venerate the cross, not because Jesus is still on it, but because it is the instrument by which He saved the world and by which we take hold of that salvation.
This means that the cross is also the instrument for ending abortion and building the culture of life. Practically, that means that it is silly to seek to escape controversy and criticism. When we plan pro-life projects, let’s plan to embrace the cross.
“I have heard the cry of my people who are being oppressed…Therefore I have come down to rescue them.” So God speaks to Moses when he calls him to lead God’s people to freedom. The Exodus from Egypt, as well as the Paschal Mystery – that is, the central events of the Old and New Testaments — are both about God rescuing his people who are being oppressed. Our forefathers were oppressed as slaves in Egypt and rescued through the waters of the Red Sea. We are oppressed by sin and death, and are rescued through the waters of baptism. Yet the rescued must also rescue. The saved must also save. We cannot turn to God for mercy and be deaf to the cries of others for mercy. That’s why we save the unborn from abortion.