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The Criterion

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

September 19, 2003

Mass celebrates 14th anniversary of Divine Mercy Chapel

Christians live in the midst of "a colossal spiritual conflict" and must turn to God in prayer to reverse the culture of death prevalent in modern society, Father Frank Pavone of New York, founder and director of the international Priests for Life organization, emphasized during the 14th anniversary Mass for the Divine Mercy Chapel on Sept. 14 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis.

That's why perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is so important, he said during his homily. "We're involved in it, brothers and sisters, whether we want to be or not. This is why we need divine mercy. This is why we need the Eucharist, and this is why we need perpetual adoration.

"Unless we take refuge in the flesh and blood of Christ, we can't be saved from the culture of death and we can't live the very words that the Eucharist is calling us to live," Father Pavone said. "One of the things that the Eucharist does is remind us that God is physical, and therefore reminds us that we are, too."

The culture of death moves forward in society by denigrating the meaning, value and sanctity of the human body, he said, and even takes Christ's words - "This is my body [given up for you]"-and turns them into a pro-abortion mantra.

"Many of you work in pro-life activities -- pregnancy center counseling and Project Gabriel -- where the Church herself becomes the haven for those women who are pregnant and in need," he said. "That is as it should be."

Eucharistic adoration declined during the 1960s and '70s, Father Pavone said, as the number of abortions skyrocketed after Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton in 1973 legalized the killing of babies during all nine months of pregnancy.

"Now there's been a shift, a change," he said. " Eucharistic faith is going up again and perpetual adoration chapels like the one established here 14 years ago are springing up all over the place, especially in the last several years. There's been an explosion, a yearning on the part of the faithful to have perpetual adoration and devotion to the Eucharist."

With this increase in adoration, Father Pavone said, "the number of abortions is going down and, in the last 10 years, over half of the abortion clinics in this country have been shut down. Meanwhile, the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapels have been opening all over the place. It's fascinating that the number of abortion facilities remaining in our country is almost the same as the number of perpetual adoration chapels."

There are about 750 abortion clinics throughout the U.S. he said and about 675 perpetual adoration chapels that are open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

"Could it be, brothers and sisters, that there is going to be some kind of spiritual shifting of values," he said, "when the number of places in which the hearts of children are stopped by the deadly act of abortion is outnumbered by those places where the heart of Christ is beating in the Eucharist and where the faithful come with their hearts yearning for him, and they see him and adore him and worship him and invoke his mercy upon the world."

St. Maria Faustina, who promoted Eucharistic adoration, experienced excruciating pain in her abdomen, Father Pavone said. "No one could figure it out until our Lord revealed to her that he was allowing her to share the pain of children torn from the womb by abortion. Our Lord also gave her the chaplet of Divine Mercy and revealed to her that God's mercy was to be invoked upon the world for all the sins in the world."

The Lord also said abortion is more grievous than all the rest of the sins, Father Pavone said, because "it says 'I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself' and is the exact opposite of love."

For the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, Pope John Paul II signed an apostolic blessing for those who pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy, Father Pavone said. "He recalled the experience of St. Faustina and how those pains represented the sin of abortion, and said that he wanted to explicitly link the chaplet of Divine Mercy and his apostolic blessing to those who say this prayer in reparation for abortion."

A month later, the Holy Father issued an encyclical on the Eucharist, he said, which reinforced the relationship between Divine Mercy, the Eucharist and the triumph of the cross.

"In the midst of incredible spiritual conflict," Father Pavone said, "we are called to experience the peace and joy that come only from the Lord Jesus Christ, and that no one and nothing can ever take away from us."

The anniversary liturgy was concelebrated by Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, with Bishop Arturo Bastes of the Sorsagon Diocese in the Philippines; Father Anthony Volz, pastor of St. Michael Parish; and Father Pavone.

Anchorite Sister Mary Ann Schumann, who ministers as the coordinator of the Divine Mercy Chapel, said the anniversary Mass filled her heart with joy.

"It touches me that so many adorers can keep an hour of their lives open for the Lord every week," she said. "People drive as far as 15 miles to pray at 4 o'clock in the morning. Some of our 200 to 300 adorers have been coming to pray in the middle of the night every week for 14 years."

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