The Pro-life Commitment is Eucharistic
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Our commitment to defend our pre-born brothers and sisters is shaped by our
faith in the Eucharist as a sacrament of faith, unity, life, worship, and
The Eucharist is a sacrament of faith
. The Consecrated Host
looks no different after the consecration than before. It looks, smells,
feels, and tastes like bread. Only one of the five senses gets to the truth.
As St. Thomas Aquinas’ Adoro Te Devote
touching, tasting are in Thee deceived. What says trusty hearing that shall
be believed?" The ears hear His words, "This is My Body; this is My Blood,"
and faith takes us beyond the veil of appearances.
Christians are used to looking beyond appearances. The baby in the manger
does not look like God; nor for that matter does the man on the cross. Yet
by faith we know He is no mere man. The Bible does not have a particular
glow setting it off from other books, nor does it levitate above the shelf.
Yet by faith we know it is uniquely the Word of God. The Eucharist seems to
be bread and wine, and yet by faith we say, "My Lord and My God!" as we
kneel in adoration.
The same dynamic of faith that enables us to see beyond appearances in these
mysteries enables us to see beyond appearances in our neighbor. We can look
at the persons around us, at the annoying person or the ugly person or the
person who is unconscious in a hospital bed, and we can say, "Christ is
there as well. There is my bother, my sister, made in the very image of
God!" By the same dynamic we can look at the pre-born child and say, "There,
too, is my brother, my sister, equal in dignity and just as worthy of
protection as anyone else!" Some people will say the child in the womb,
especially in the earliest stages, is too small to be the subject of
Constitutional rights. Is the Sacred Host too small to be God, too unlike
Him in appearance to be worshipped? The slightest particle of the Host is
fully Christ. Eucharistic Faith is a powerful antidote to the dangerous
notion that value depends on size.
The Eucharist is also a Sacrament of Unity
. "When I am
lifted up from the earth," the Lord said, "I will draw all people to myself"
(Jn.12:32). He fulfills this promise in the Eucharist, which builds up the
Church. The Church is the sign and cause of the unity of the human family.
Imagine all the people, in every part of the world, who are receiving
Communion today. Are they all receiving their own personalized, customized
Christ? Are they not rather each receiving the one and only Christ? Through
this sacrament, Christ the Lord, gloriously enthroned in heaven, is drawing
all people to Himself. If He is drawing us to Himself, then He is drawing us
to one another. St. Paul comments on this, "We, many though we are, are one
body, since we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor. 10:17). When we call
each other "brothers and sisters," we are not merely using a metaphor that
dimly reflects the unity between children of the same parents. The unity we
have in Christ is even stronger
than the unity of blood brothers
and sisters, because we do
have common blood: the blood of Christ!
The result of the Eucharist is that we become one, and this obliges us to be
as concerned for each other as we are for our own bodies.
Imagine a person who receives Communion, accepts the Host when the priest
says, "The Body of Christ," says "Amen," and then breaks off a piece, hands
it back, and says, "Except this piece, Father!" This is what the person who
rejects other people may as well do. In receiving Christ, we are to receive
the whole Christ
, in all his members, our brothers and sisters,
whether convenient or inconvenient, wanted or unwanted.
As St. John remarks, Christ was to die "to gather into one all the scattered
children of God." Sin scatters. Christ unites. The word "diabolical" means
"to split asunder." Christ came "to destroy the works of the devil"
(1Jn.3:8). The Eucharist builds up the human family in Christ who says,
"Come to me, feed on My Body, become My Body." Abortion, in a reverse
dynamic, says, "Go away! We have no room for you, no time for you, no desire
for you, no responsibility for you. Get out of our way!" Abortion attacks
the unity of the human family by splitting asunder the most fundamental
relationship between any two persons: mother and child. The Eucharist, as a
Sacrament of Unity, reverses the dynamic of abortion.
The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Life
. "I am the Bread of
Life. He who eats this bread will live forever. I will raise Him up on the
last day." (See Jn.6:47-58) The Eucharistic sacrifice is the very action of
Christ by which He destroyed our death and restored our life. Whenever we
gather for this sacrifice we are celebrating the victory of life over death,
and therefore over abortion. The pro-life movement is not simply working
"for" victory; we are working "from" victory. As the Holy Father said in
Denver in 1993, "Have no fear. The outcome of the battle for life is already
decided." Our work is to apply the already established victory to every
facet of our society. Celebrating the Eucharist is the source and summit of
The Eucharist is the Supreme act of Worship of God
lessons each person needs to learn are, “1.There is a God. 2. It isn't me."
The Eucharist, as the perfect sacrifice, acknowledges that God is God, and
that "it is [His] right to receive the obedience of all creation." (Sacramentary,
Preface for Weekdays III). Abortion, on the contrary, proclaims that a
mother's choice is supreme. "Freedom of choice" is considered enough to
justify even the dismemberment of a baby. Choice divorced from truth is
idolatry. It is the opposite of true worship. It pretends the creature is
God. Real freedom is found only in submission to the truth and will of God.
Real freedom is not the ability to do whatever one pleases, but the power to
do what is right.
The Eucharist is, finally, The Sacrament of Love
. St. John
explains, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life
for us" (1Jn.3:16). Christ teaches, "Greater love than this no one has, than
to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13). The best symbol of love is
not the heart, but rather the crucifix.
Abortion is the exact opposite of love. Love says, "I sacrifice myself for
the good of the other person. Abortion says, "I sacrifice the other person
for the good of myself." In the Eucharist we see the meaning of love and
receive the power to live it. The very same words, furthermore, that the
Lord uses to teach us the meaning of love are also used by those who promote
abortion: “This is my body.” These four little words are spoken from
opposite ends of the universe, with totally opposite results. Christ gives
His body away so others might live; abortion supporters cling to their own
bodies so others might die. Christ says "
This is My Body given
up for you;
This is My Blood shed for you.
" These are the
words of sacrifice; these are the words of love.
In Washington in 1994 Mother Teresa said that we fight abortion by teaching
the mother what love really means: "to be willing to give until it
hurts...So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to
love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to
respect the life of her child."
Gustave Thibon has said that the true God transforms violence into
suffering, while the false god transforms suffering into violence. The woman
tempted to have an abortion will transform her suffering into violence
unless she allows love to transform her, and make her willing to give
herself away. The Eucharist gives both the lesson and the power. Mom is to
say "This is my
life, given up
for you my child."
Everyone who wants to fight abortion needs to say the same. We need to
exercise the same generosity we ask the mothers to exercise. We need to
imitate the mysteries we celebrate. "Do this in memory of me" applies to all
of us in the sense that we are to lovingly suffer with Christ so others may
live. We are to be like lightning rods in the midst of this terrible storm
of violence and destruction, and say, "Yes, Lord, I am willing to absorb
some of this violence and transform it by love into personal suffering, so
that others may live."
Indeed, the Eucharist gives the pro-life movement its marching orders. It
also provides the source of its energy, which is love. Indeed, if the
pro-life movement is not a movement of love, then it is nothing at all. But
if it is a movement of love, then nothing will stop it, for "Love is
stronger than death, more powerful even than hell" (Song of Songs 8:6).
Priests for Life makes available a music video called “This is My Body,”
showing how the same words are used to promote life and death. Contact us to
obtain this unforgettable video: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Priests for Life makes available a music video called "This is My Body,"
showing how the same words are used to promote life and death. Contact us to
obtain this unforgettable video at