|Fr. Frank prayed with
activists at an abortion mill in Orlando in October.
At least one baby was saved and Fr. Frank spoke with the
abortionist and another mill worker.
"Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to
celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed."
(Preface of Lent 1).
The purpose of Lent is succinctly expressed by this preface.
Catechumens prepare for baptism into the paschal mystery.
The faithful are reminded of their baptism, and will renew their
baptismal vows at the Easter liturgy.
Baptism and Life
This baptismal focus is a life focus, and is illumined by Lenten
readings as well as by the encyclical, The Gospel of Life.
Baptism initiates us into the eternal life Christ gives us.
does not only mean it never ends. It also refers to the
that life, namely, it is a share in the life of the Eternal God.
The baptized, therefore, are sons and daughters of God and are
members of the Church, the People of Life (see Evangelium Vitae
#79). The baptized have taken hold of the eternal life promised
them (see Rom.6:4) and are already living it (Gal 2:19-20; John
The choices of the baptized are therefore to be shaped by their
new identity (see Rom 6:6; Eph. 4:17-24). We see how Christ
calls the Samaritan woman to repent as she accepts the waters of
new life (see John 4:15-24). Lenten repentance is necessary
so that Gods people may more deeply become who they are.
They are called to see their sins more clearly. Hence
baptism is known as "illumination". The passage about the
man born blind (John 9) is therefore a key Lenten passage
(4th Sunday of Lent-A and optional Mass for 4th week of
|The "pro-choice" and "right to die"
mentalities are two of those "empty promises"
which are firmly rejected by the baptized.
Anyone who makes the Lenten journey is called to be more
alert to the attacks on human life and dignity around
them. The people of life are called to reject sin and
all the devils works and empty promises (Renewal of
Baptismal Promises, Easter Liturgy). The "pro-choice"
and "right to die" mentalities are two of those "empty
promises" which are firmly rejected by the baptized. A
firm rejection of these positions is integral to
repentance. Lent is the perfect time for us to call our
congregations to a clearer understanding of why this is
true, and to lead them to a deeper affirmation of life,
both natural and eternal, in the celebration of the
Repentance, a key theme of Lent, is a changing of the
mind, and with it ones life, away from the path of sin
and toward a life of holiness. It is not possible to
repent of a sin which one does not recognize or admit is
a sin. During Lent, we ask to be delivered from such
blindness, and to be forgiven even our hidden sins. The
application to the abortion problem is clear when we
consider that the injustice of this act has been
proclaimed as a "right" and a legitimate "choice".
Because such respectable elements of society as the
Supreme Court, many medical associations, and even some
Christian denominations, continue to call abortion a
"right", many find it hard to recognize it as a wrong.
Part of the purification of Lent involves the metanoia,
the "change of mind", so necessary in this area.
The works of charity that constitute a fundamental form
penance can include reaching out to those in need of
concrete assistance in their pregnancy. Volunteering at
pregnancy resource centers is a perfect way to do this,
as is the effort to make such centers better known in
the community. A common fund could be established, for
example, to purchase an ad in the paper or the Yellow
Pages. Giving to such a fund is, in fact, helping the
poorest of the poor.
To stand up in any way for the unborn child can be a
penitential act, since it often brings unwarranted
criticism, even from fellow worshipers who should be
doing more themselves to end abortion.
This Lent, may the whole Church be strengthened in her
mission to build the Culture of Life!
The US Bishops Document Faithful Citizenship
In the year prior to each Presidential election year, the US
Bishops issue a document to review with Catholics their
responsibility to be citizens active in the political process.
In November of 2007 the bishops approved "Forming Consciences
for Faithful Citizenship:
A Call to Political Responsibility".
Priests for Life welcomes the bishops statement. The Faithful
Citizenship statements have always outlined the many important
issues that relate to the common good. Many of the previous
statements have been criticized for failing to adequately
distinguish the differences between the moral gravity of the
and the distinction between policy and principle. The most
recent statement, however, does more to highlight those
distinctions. We at Priests for Life echo the bishops call for a
of life, properly understood, which begins with the proclamation
that life is sacred and that the right to life can never be
denied to a person, whether born or unborn. This ethic continues
to call for the
efforts of public officials and citizens alike to preserve and
enhance the other fundamental rights of every person, such as
religious liberty, and to protect the many goods that are to
accompany life itself: education, health care, security, and
many more. The bishops statement calls us to avoid two extremes
in considering these issues. One is to ignore the distinctions
among the issues; the other is to ignore some of the issues when
making the distinctions.
The bishops furthermore point out that as we participate in
political parties, we are also called to change those parties
wherever and whenever their positions fail to correspond to the
of justice and the common good. In particular, we at Priests for
Life call upon the Democratic Party to abandon its pro-abortion
stance, recognizing that such a stance imperils and dilutes any
progress that can be made on other issues. We also want to
emphasize in a particular way the call that the bishops make for
Catholics to be involved in running for office and being active
in political parties. This is completely consistent with a life
of faith and worship. In fact, public service in political life
is a vocation.
The statement, furthermore, explains that
Catholics who vote for candidates because they want to keep
abortion legal, or who ignore the pro-abortion stance of a
candidate and support him or her just because of party loyalty,
are acting immorally. The document does leave room for voting for
a candidate who favors legal abortion if, for instance, the
opposing candidate is even more pro-abortion than the one for
whom the voter is voting. The statement encourages Catholics to
use voter education materials produced by their dioceses, and so
do we. Unfortunately, many dioceses do not produce any voter
guides or election-related materials.
Priests for Life urges such dioceses to do so. The
faithful, of course, are always free to produce and use other
election-related material. This is consistent with the
statements call to be active in the political process and in
political parties themselves. Our commitment at Priests for Life
is to make this document widely known, and to distribute it far
and wide at our own expense. Moreover, we call upon priests to
preach on its contents, on candidates to study its lessons, and
on voters to heed its guidance.
Quotes from the document:
"In our nation, "abortion and euthanasia
have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they
directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and
the condition for all others" (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5)."
"Two temptations in public life can distort
the Churchs defense of human life and dignity: The first is a
moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between
different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The
direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from
the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and
is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.
"The second is the misuse of these
necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring
other serious threats to human life and dignity."
"Pope John Paul II explained the importance
of being true to fundamental Church teachings: Above all, the
common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights for
example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to
culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most
basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other
personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination." (Christi?deles
Laici, no. 38)
"This culture of life begins with the
preeminent obligation to protect innocent life from direct
attack and extends to defending life whenever it is threatened