Praying for a Deeper Respect for Life

09-17-2023From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Sadly and rightfully last Monday we remembered the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 when 2,977 people were killed: 2753 in the World Trade Center, 184 in the Pentagon, and 40 in Shanksville, PA. How terrible, unjust, and unexpected that was. The sadness still lingers over our nation, especially for those who lost loved ones. No good is ever done by sacrificing and killing innocent people for any religion, movement, or convenience. As much as we abhor what happened 22 years ago, our hearts get harder and harder as more than 1,630 babies in the womb are killed each day in our nation. In 2019 the CDC recorded 629,828 abortions and in 2020 there were 620,327 recorded. That is 1,250,065 which averages out to 1,712 abortions a day, more than 71 abortions an hour each day.

I don’t write these numbers to shock but to put who we are and where we are as human beings in our nation in perspective. As human beings we are looking to do far more than just survive. We look for meaning, hope, and purpose in our lives. Most of all we seek to be loved and to love in return. As we mature we find the good we are looking for as well as the good we are looking to be from our lives with one another and, most importantly, from our faith. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 18:21-35) we have the parable of the unforgiving debtor.

While the man pleads for time to pay off his debt and is forgiven completely, he refuses to do the same for the one who owes him money. Obviously he is self centered, only thinking of himself and his own comfort. Is that not what abortion is: seeking a solution to an unwanted pregnancy caused by the act of intercourse. As human beings we are very aware of the power of this beautiful act given to us by God to express the love of man and woman in marriage and to bring new life into this world. We are all alive because of the goodness of our parents. Most of all we are all alive because of the goodness of God.

In Genesis 1:27-28 we hear: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” How loving and trustful of God to give us His power to create new life through the beautiful love of a man and a woman in marriage. Not only do we have life from God, we also have His presence and love in the Sacraments, especially in Holy Communion. Our union with Him makes us fully alive and guides, strengthens, and, sustains as we seek to love one another as He loves us.

How will abortion be abolished? Sadly, no time soon. That means the juggernaut of taking the lives of children in the womb will continue on unimpeded. What can we do? First of all, we can thank God for the gift of life we have. That gratitude is enhanced when we are loved and love those God entrusts to our care. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That is exactly why we are here. He did what He calls us to do. Our faith does not stifle our freedom but enriches us to see how blessed we are and what a blessing we can be for one another. Let us continue to pray, as we do at every Mass we celebrate at St. Patrick’s, for a deeper respect for life, and work to become the answer to that prayer. I pray every day for an end to abortion—that our minds and hearts will be open to the yearning God has to love all of us and to love all He entrusts to our care and concern.

I close with this quote from Jedediah Morse in 1799:

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom… which mankind now enjoys. In proportion to the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. All efforts to destroy the foundation of our holy religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, may fall with them.” Jedediah Morse, 1799 (early American educator)