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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 1
January-February 2007

 

 

Table of Contents

Prayer Intentions

 

You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

 

January intention: That our youth may be healed of the wounds of being abortion survivors.

February intention: For the seminarians and inquirers of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life.

 

More members join the Lay Missionaries of the Gospel of Life

 

Over seven hundred individuals are now actively preparing for profession as Lay Associates of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. Embodying the mission and spirituality of Priests for Life, this Society not only welcomes seminarians, priests, and deacons, but welcomes lay persons. Members do the pro-life work that they are already doing (whether full-time or part-time, and whether paid or volunteer), but now do it in union with the spirituality of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, and as members of an approved Society within the Church. This provides opportunities to interact with other members nationwide.

 

For information on how you can become a lay member, visit www.MissionariesoftheGospelofLife.org.

 

Biblical launching points for Pro-life preaching

 

The sacredness of human life is a theme that permeates Scripture. It is not difficult to preach on this theme from any Biblical passage. Priests for Life offers to clergy an email service by which they will receive an email containing homily hints relating the Sunday readings to pro-life themes. (The email also includes general intercessions and a paragraph for the bulletin. To subscribe, request it at clergy@priestsforlife.org. There is no charge.)

 

The Bible clearly teaches that abortion is wrong. This teaching comes across in many ways and for many reasons. Some people point out that the word "abortion" is not in the Bible, and that is true. Nevertheless, the teaching about abortion is there. This is the case with many teachings. The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the teaching about the Trinity is there. In any case, a person who wants to deny the teaching about abortion would deny it even if the word were there.

 

Preaching on abortion from Scripture does not simply mean finding those passages which speak about the unborn child; rather, it means showing how all the principle themes of the Bible reflect the relationship between God and human life, and the duty we have to respond to the lives of others with care and love. Some of those key themes and the way they illumine our pro-life stance are as follows:

 

1. The Bible teaches that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the very image of God.

 

The accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-25) tell us this: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

 

The word "create" is used three times here, emphasizing a special crowning moment in the whole process of God’s making the world and everything in it. The man and woman are given "dominion" over everything else in the visible world.

 

Not even the original sin takes away the image of God in human beings. St. James refers to this image and says that because of it we should not even speak ill of one another. "With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the image of God . . . This ought not be so, brothers" (James 3:9-10).

 

The image of God! This is what it means to be human! We are not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some impersonal forces. Rather, we really reflect an eternal God who knew us from before we were made, and purposely called us into being.

 

At the heart of the abortion tragedy is the question raised in the Psalms: "Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man that you keep him in mind? . . . With glory and honor you crowned him, giving him power over the works of your hands" (Psalm 8:5-7).

 

There is the key. Not only did God make us, but He values us. The Bible tells us of a God who is madly in love with us, so much so that He became one of us and even died for us while we were still offending Him (see Romans 5:6-8). Those who believe in the Bible have to believe that human life is sacred, more sacred than we have ever imagined!

 

2. The Bible teaches that children are a blessing.

 

God commanded our first parents to "Be fertile and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). Why? God Himself is fertile. Love always overflows into life. When the first mother brought forth the first child, she exclaimed, "I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord" (Genesis 4:1). The help of the Lord is essential, for He has dominion over human life and is its origin. Parents cooperate with God in bringing forth life. Because this whole process is under God’s dominion, it is sinful to interrupt it. The prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites "because they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead" (Amos 1:13).

 

"Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

 

3. The Bible teaches that the child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship with the Lord.

 

The phrase "conceived and bore" is used repeatedly (see Genesis 4:1,17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth. "In sin my mother conceived me," the repentant psalmist says in Psalm 51:7. The same word is used for the child before and after birth (Brephos, that is, "infant," is used in Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15.)

 

God knows the preborn child. "You knit me in my mother’s womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret" (Psalm 139:13,15). God also helps and calls the preborn child. "You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother’s womb you are my God" (Psalm 22:10-11). "God… from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15).

 

4. Scripture repeatedly condemns the killing of the innocent.

 

This flows from everything that has been seen so far. God’s own finger writes in stone the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) and Christ reaffirms it (Matthew 19:18 - notice that He mentions this commandment first). The Book of Revelation affirms that (unrepentant) murderers cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 22:15).

 

The killing of children is especially condemned by God through the prophets. In the land God gave his people to occupy, foreign nations had the custom of sacrificing some of their children in fire. God told His people that they were not to share in this sin. They did, however, as Psalm 106 relates: "They mingled with the nations and learned their works…They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed" (Psalm 106:35, 37-38).

 

This sin of child-sacrifice, in fact, is mentioned as one of the major reasons that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people taken into exile. "They mutilated their sons and daughters by fire…till the Lord, in his great anger against Israel, put them away out of his sight" (2 Kings 17:17-18).

Notice that this practice was a religious ritual. Not even for "religious freedom" can the killing of children be tolerated.

 

Priests for Life Present at Supreme Court for Partial-birth abortion arguments

 

On Wednesday, November 8, the US Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Constitutionality of the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, signed into law by President Bush in 2003. Fr. Frank Pavone, along with Pastoral Associate Paul Schenck were present in the Court for the oral arguments, while our priests, seminarians, and members of our lay pastoral staff prayed with several hundred people outside. Women from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign spoke outside about how abortion harmed them. Dr. Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life) was also present.

 

In the course of the two hours of oral arguments, the Court considered three key reasons why abortion advocates want the Court to strike down the Federal ban on partial-birth abortion: a) the ban lacks a health exception; b) the ban is too broad, that is, by its wording it actually bans most if not all second and third trimester D&E (dismemberment) abortions rather than just partial-birth abortion, and c) the ban is vague, and because the language is not clear and specific enough, doctors won’t know if it really applies to them.

 

Fr. Frank Pavone observed, “Having listened carefully to the oral arguments and having read all the briefs, I don’t think the abortion advocates made their case, and I don’t think a majority of the Justices think they did either.” A decision in the case will come out sometime before the end of June.

 

One of the most important admissions made in the arguments by the pro-abortion side was that we really have no measurements about what kind of a health need is met by partial-birth abortion. Their key argument, after all, is that the procedure must be allowed for the sake of women’s health. They admitted that the Court could ban this procedure if its health advantages were minimal rather than significant, yet they could not establish, by statistical measurement, the assertion that the health advantages of partial-birth abortion are significant.

 

In regard to safety, one of the key questions from Chief Justice Roberts was that if, as the abortionists claim, partial-birth abortion is safer because it requires fewer insertions of instruments into the woman’s body, why would it not then also follow that the safest method is live birth altogether, with the killing of the child outside the womb? The pro-abortion side did not have an answer to that specific question, which proves the point that Congress and the Bush Administration make, namely, that this procedure must be banned so that society has a clear barrier against infanticide.

 

Isn’t it just amazing that in our highest court in this great nation, this debate occurred today about the legality of “dismemberment” and “pulling the arms and legs off” a child. In the end, it’s not a matter of which version of killing should be used. It’s a matter of stopping the killing altogether.

 

Election Reflections: Pro-lifers still win

 

Once again, although pro-abortion political action committees far outspent the pro-life ones, the results were the reverse of what one would expect if money were the only factor. The pro-abortion “Emily’s List” lost most of the races it endorsed, while the pro-life “Susan B. Anthony List” won most of those it endorsed. The National Right to Life PAC also won most of those it endorsed.

 

Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael campaigned against candidates who had tried to protect Terri from killing by dehydration in 2005 – but all of those pro-life candidates were re-elected.

 

Moreover, the Democratic Party (whose platform backs the “right to choose” abortion) would not have taken control of Congress had more of their candidates not presented themselves as pro-life.

 

Finally, the fact that the ban on abortions in South Dakota did not pass does not mean the citizens take a pro-abortion position. Rather, it reflects the fact that the American public believes there should be rape exceptions to legislation banning abortion. In fact, there should not, because abortion does not help the woman who has been raped. But polling shows it was the lack of a rape exception, and not the ban itself, that caused many people to vote against it. 

 

Bi-coastal Marches for Life

 

January 22 each year marks the date of the most tragic Supreme Court decisions in history, Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton, which in 1973 legalized abortion throughout pregnancy. The bishops of the United States have called for the day to be observed as one of penance and prayer. One of the ways to do both is to participate in the public marches that occur in many cities, in order to express public opposition to these decisions.

 

On Saturday, January 20, the annual West Coast “Walk for Life” will take place in San Francisco. See www.WalkForLifeWC.com for details.

 

On Monday, January 22, the annual March for Life in Washington, DC will occur. See www.MarchForLife.org. The pre-March rally begins at noon. That morning, you are invited to join Fr. Frank Pavone and clergy from many denominations for the National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers. This event is held in one of the prestigious rooms of the US Senate from 8:30 to 10:30am. Individuals and groups are welcome. Let us know if you are interested. More details will be posted at www.priestsforlife.org/eventsnew.html.

 

Those organizing buses for these events may request of Priests for Life some educational videos to be shown on the bus, as well as prayer cards to end abortion. Inquire at orders@priestsforlife.org.

 

The Many Ministries of Priests for Life

 

Healing After Abortion

 

www.RachelsVineyard.org 

www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org

 

Clergy Training

 

www.PriestsForLife.org 

www.DeaconsForLife.org  

www.SeminariansForLife.org 

www.MissionariesoftheGospelofLife.org  

 

Ecumenical Outreach

 

www.GospelOfLife.com 

www.LifeOnTheLine.com 

 

Youth Outreach

 

www.AbortionAborted.org 

 

Washington DC Outreach

 

www.NPLAC.org

 

 

Suggestions for Parish Activities as we observe another Memorial of Roe vs. Wade:

 

1. Commission your Pro-life Group: Invite the members of the parish Respect Life Committee to be together at one Mass, and bring them into the sanctuary for a special commissioning and blessing. This will encourage them and show the whole parish that this is a ministry integral to the Church. A suggested commissioning ceremony can be found on our website at www.priestsforlife.org/liturgy/prolifecommittee

 

2. Phone numbers on bulletin: Place on the cover of the parish bulletin, as a standard item, a phone number for alternatives to abortion and healing after abortion. More information is available on our website at www.priestsforlife.org/resources/bulletinhotline.htm

 

3. Intercessions and bulletin inserts: Use the General intercessions and bulletin inserts you can find at www.priestsforlife.org/liturgy  as a way of incorporating pro-life themes into the daily life of the parish.

 

4. Promote the Prayer campaign!! – Urge parishioners to pray daily for an end to abortion by joining the National Prayer Campaign to End Abortion, sponsored by Priests for Life and accessible at www.PrayerCampaign.org. We will provide prayer cards for all your parishioners free of charge.

 

5. Have a pro-life essay/poster contest in your parish school. Post the winning posters in the vestibule, and have the essay winners present their essays to the congregation after Communion.

 

6. Many options in the liturgy allow us to focus on abortion and the unborn.

 

In particular, the mass “For Justice and Peace” or “For the Progress of Peoples” has prayers that apply well to our efforts to secure protection for the unborn. Likewise, the alternate prayer for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time can be used at a mass for life.

 

The following Penitential Litany is especially suitable for masses with a pro-life theme:

 

Lord Jesus, Victor over Death, Lord have mercy…

Lord Jesus, Giver of Life, Christ have mercy…

Lord Jesus, Coming in Glory, Lord have mercy

 

For additional information, visit www.priestsforlife.org/liturgy regularly.

 

Product Offers

 

Priests for Life 2007 calendar

 

Keep the Priests for Life message on display in your home and office throughout the year by means of the 2007 Priests for Life calendar. Photos from our work and quotes from Church leaders appear on each month’s page. As a bonus, the calendar has a special supplement at the end of pro-life educational information.

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the pro-life movement

 

This booklet, published by Liguori, contains what you need to understand and explain the relationship between the pro-life movement and our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It will bring insight as well as hope for victory in our cause! This resource is especially good for parish bookracks and adult education programs.

 

Order Form

Please mail your order to: Priests for Life P.O. Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314

Or fax it to (718) 980-3900 or Email: orders@priestsforlife.org

 

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Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org