(Editor: The obligation to stand up for the cause of Life is a call for all Christians. It is more so for Carmelites who are dedicated to Mary in a very special way. In view of the coming feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in July, and having celebrated the month of May as the "Month For Older Americans," I see it fit to include this article in this newsletter. I thank Fr. Peter West for his generous contribution.)
In my role as a traveling speaker on pro-life issues for Priests For Life, I speak to a wide variety of people of all ages. Often, when I speak about the topic of abortion to older adults, some will approach me and say something like this: ''Father, why are you speaking to us about abortion. No one here is going to have an abortion! We're past that age. You need to speak to young people about this." My answer is that Yes, of course, I need to speak to young people and I do all the time, but I also need to speak to older people too. Everyone needs to be concerned about this issue. I tell them that if they care about their children, their grandchildren, the type of society that we live in, the legacy that they will pass on to future generations, and if they care about fulfilling Our Lord's command to love our neighbor, especially the least among us, then they will care about the abortion issue.
This is not just an issue for women to be concerned about, either. God calls men to be like St. Joseph - defenders and guardians of life. Men need to use their strength to defend the weak and innocent. This is an issue of fundamental human rights.
Younger people often look to older adults for wisdom and example. You pass on attitudes and values in ways that you may not even be aware of. A woman was recently in a New York abortion clinic. As the doctor was about to perform an abortion, she heard the pro-life people outside singing "Holy God We Praise Thy Name." She remembered that this was her grandmother's favorite hymn. When she thought of what her grandmother would think of what she was about to do, she left the abortion clinic determined to give birth to her child.
Older adults can help to build a culture of life simply by seeing their children as a blessing and not an annoyance or burden. Tell your children and grandchildren stories about their childhood. Encourage children and grandchildren to be generous in the planning of their family size. Let your feelings be known about the sanctity of each and every human life created in the image of God. Register to vote and vote only for candidates that support the right to life. Older people have a tremendous political power. No politician would ever dare to propose cuts in Social Security because of fear of the reaction of older Americans. If older Americans would turn their attention more to the youngest generation in danger of abortion, we could elect pro-life politicians who could pass protective legislation for pre-born children. We should disqualify any politician who supports legal abortion from public office, just as we would disqualify anyone who proposes lowering Social Security benefits for those who are dependent on them.
Prayer is the most important way. Older adults need to participate in building a culture of life. At the foot of Mount Carmel, Elijah won a great victory for the Lord of life over the false prophets of Baal. Part of the religious practices of Baal worshippers was to offer human infants in sacrifice. Elijah said this was an abomination to the Lord. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is saddened today by the pre-born children destroyed by abortion and other attacks on human life. Today, we call on Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, to win another great victory in our time and to help us to participate in whatever way we are able to overcome the culture of death and to build up a culture of life and a civilization of love, where each and every human life will be welcomed, protected, nurtured and loved from conception to the moment of natural death.
(Rev. Peter J. West is an ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Newark. He spent several years in pastoral ministry before being released by Archbishop McCarrick to serve Priests For Life, an organization of Catholic Priests founded by Fr. Frank Pavone to spread the Gospel of Life.)