I recently celebrated my tenth anniversary as a priest, and was reflecting on how many times I have celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass. Above all those Masses, however, stands one which, beyond doubt, was the most moving and significant.
The room in which it was celebrated was very small, the altar quite simple, and the congregation numbered only a handful. I was in Baton Rouge, inside the American Holocaust Memorial. It is a building which used to be an abortion facility, but was acquired by pro-life people and converted into an historic and educational center which depicts the history and mission of the pro-life movement. It is well worth a visit.
The most stirring fact is that the room which is now the little chapel used to be one of the procedure rooms. In that very spot, the blood of innocent children once flowed. Now, the blood of another Innocent Person, Christ the Lord, was flowing. That room once saw the activity of those who "made a covenant with death" (see Wisdom 1:16); now we were engaged in the activity of the "new and everlasting covenant" (see Luke 22:20), sealed in the Blood of Christ. In that room was often repeated what happened to Abel when he was killed: the voice of your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground (Gen. 4:10); now in that same room Heaven heard the cry of the Blood which speaks more eloquently that that of Abel (see Heb.12:24).
There is cause for great alarm over the four thousand daily abortions in our land. Yet there is also cause for hope. The Blood of the new and everlasting Covenant is even more plentiful than the blood shed by abortion.
The Blood of Christ speaks more eloquently than that of Abel; it speaks more powerfully than that of the aborted babies. While the blood of the children cries out for vengeance, the Blood of Christ cries out for mercy: Father, forgive them, save them, reconcile them, heal them, sanctify them! We who proclaim the Gospel of Life proclaim the Gospel of Mercy. I know of someone who had 24 abortions. Even she can be forgiven, through the Blood of the New Covenant.
That Blood also binds us to one another and gives us responsibility for one another. To say that we are brothers and sisters is more than a metaphor. We are, in fact, closer to one another than we would be if we had the same parents. The Blood of Christ unites us. Nor are the unborn excluded from this, for "By his incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being" (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 22; see Evangelium Vitae, 2).
That Mass I celebrated in Baton Rouge will echo in my mind for all my life. Let it echo through the land as well, heralding the day when every abortion facility will be transformed from a place of death to a place where the Living God is honored and the New Covenant flourishes.