Priests for Life - Gospel of Life Ministries
January - February 2008 Vol. 18 Number 1
 Fr. Frank prayed with activists at an abortion mill in Orlando in October.
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. 
A Joyful Season
"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. Eternal does not only mean it never ends. It also refers to the "quality" of 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 6:47).

Baptismal Choices

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 Lent).

The "pro-choice" and "right to die" mentalities are two of those "empty promises" which are firmly rejected by the baptized.

Empty Promises

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 Paschal Mystery.

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.

Penitential practices

The works of charity that constitute a fundamental form of
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 various issues, 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 consistent ethic
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 demands 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 or diminished."

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Priests for Life

Priests for Life
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