2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 19, 2020
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
47 years ago this week the Supreme Court of the United States ruled
that women have a fundamental right to abort their babies
—the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.
Since then pro-life advocates, including the Catholic Church,
have been waging a peaceful war to mitigate and eventually overturn
that barbaric decision.
The war continues.
Over the last 25 years or so I have preached on the evil of abortion,
and the need to fight that evil at every turn,
including in the public square and in the political arena,
especially in the voting booth.
Some people have objected to these homilies,
some arguing that I am unnecessarily political,
some that I’m often too partisan,
and some that there were, in fact, more important issues to worry about.
I could understand many of those objections:
they are absolutely wrong, but I see where they’re coming from.
But the one objection I have never understood is when people say
that my position on abortion
—or rather, the Church’s doctrine on abortion—
is fundamentally unjust
since it ignores the rights of women to make choices
based on their own good.
The problem is, anyone who argues
that abortion is about protecting women and their rights
is ignoring the fact that in every abortion there are at least two victims:
while it is clear that every abortion
stops the naturally beating heart of a baby,
what many refuse to recognize is that it also
breaks the naturally loving heart of a mommy.
For the last 5 decades doctors of the body
have overwhelmingly defended the medical choice of abortion,
while at the same time doctors of the mind
—psychiatrists and psychologists—
have also defended that choice as often being necessary
for the psychological health of the mother.
But anyone who argues
that an abortion can ever be psychologically good for a woman
is ignoring the facts.
Think about it.
You don’t have to teach women to love their children without reserve:
what mother do you know that if she had to nurse her baby
through the suffering of some terrible disease
like leukemia or kidney disease
wouldn’t gladly trade places with her baby?
Mom’s are just like that.
How could such an amazing creature as a mom
ever benefit emotionally from doing something
so radically opposed to her nature?
Still, in spite of scientific study after study
that proves this common sense observation,
and in spite of the millions of emotionally crippled women
that come to them,
the mental health establishment refuses to open its eyes to see the truth.
Sometimes when I speak to people about abortion, someone will say:
“what do you want to do, put these women in jail?”
The answer is not only “no” but “are you crazy?”
The very fact that they do something
so obviously contrary to their own basic nature
leads me to first assume that something extraordinary intervened
to confuse or impair their judgment.
And that “something” includes the systematic brainwashing they receive
in school, in the media and from health care workers.
And more importantly it includes the incredible pressure brought to bear on them by
doctors and nurses grown callous to their patients,
parents ashamed of their little girl
or boyfriends or husbands unwilling to shoulder responsibility
for their own sexual conduct.
If anyone should be punished, it should be these people
who should know better,
and to whom the distraught woman or frightened girl comes for help.
In the words of the great advocate of women’s rights of the 19th century,
the famous suffragette Susan B. Anthony,
speaking on the evil of abortion:
“thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation
which impelled her to the crime!”
And yet it is the woman who does bear the punishment
—whether the laws of society recognize the crime or not.
The fact is that it doesn’t matter how many times
doctors, lawyers, feminists or boyfriends say,
“honey, you didn’t do anything wrong”
–every woman who aborts knows in her heart what she did,
and there is no punishment conceived by man or woman
that could compare to the hell
that they heap upon themselves.
These women know.
Some don’t always admit it, but they know.
I’ve seen the terribly tortured look on the faces
and heard through torrents of tears the tormented voices,
of too many women who come to me in the confessional.
Especially in the last few years as the group called Project Rachel
has become more and more active in our diocese.
Because Project Rachel, and other groups and individuals like it
recognize the distress of these women, and offer them a helping hand.
It’s interesting that Project Rachel phone counselors
say that although they always offer women a choice between a referral
either to a priest or to a psychologist,
the women overwhelmingly ask for a priest.
I didn’t understand that, until a few years ago
when a woman sat in my office telling me
that for 10 years she had very clearly seen the connection
between her severe emotional problems
and the abortion she had had just a few weeks
before those problems began.
And yet counselor after counselor for 10 years
kept telling her that she hadn’t done anything wrong
—abortion was okay:
the only problem she had was her unreasonable guilt,
and so they tried to cure her guilt.
But now she was fed up with her problems, and she was fed up with their lies.
She came to a priest—even though she was not even Catholic
—because she knew that a priest would believe her when she said
she had been wrong in aborting her baby,
and that a priest might help her to deal with
the terrible thing she had done.
The truth hurts, but lies hurt more
—especially when you’re dealing with the life and death of babies,
and the love and guilt of mothers.
It’s time to end the lies
—time to end the silencing of these women who cry out in pain.
How do we do this?
Of course, most fundamentally
we have to change people’s attitude toward abortion…
society must admit that killing unborn babies,
and encouraging mothers to do so, is simply grossly wrong.
We need to stop confusing women in crisis pregnancies
and denying proper treatment to those who bear long standing guilt.
To do this we must have good men and women in public office
who will deal with abortion with honesty, and true compassion.
That’s what we can do publicly and for long term results.
But more immediately, we offer our full support
to women we know who might be tempted to abortion
—we tell them the truth, but we also offer them all the help we can,
whether financial, medical, emotional and spiritual.
And… we can help that poor devastated woman in our midst
–perhaps our sister, mother, wife or friend–
who has had an abortion and needs more than anything else
to admit her guilt, receive forgiveness
and begin to heal the open emotional and spiritual wounds
of a broken heart.
In the end, there is only one person
who has the power to make this healing happen.
In today’s Gospel St John the Baptist points to Jesus and says,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus alone can bring the fullness of forgiveness and peace these women long for. Jesus alone can shine the light on these women
living in the darkness of our society’s culture of death,
made all too personal in the death of their own babies.
Jesus alone can heal the wounds abortion has left them with
by pouring into their broken hearts His boundless love.
Jesus is the only answer for these women.
Scripture goes on to tells us that after John pointed out Jesus
as the Lamb of God, people started to follow Jesus.
Today we must follow Jesus, proclaiming his gospel of life and love,
of repentance, forgiveness and healing
especially to the living victims of abortion.
And we must invite them to join us, and follow Jesus.
Because if they do, Jesus Christ will lift their burden of guilt and sin.
Jesus calls you and I to remain silent no longer.
To our fellow Americans who believe the lies and manipulations of
pro-abortion advocates, radical feminists, leftist media and politicians
we must proclaim the Gospel of Life.
To those young girls and older women who face crisis pregnancies
we must love them enough to tell them the truth
that even if husbands, or boyfriends or parents abandon them,
Christ will never abandon them.
And to those women who suffer the pains of guilt of past abortions
we must remind them that Christ longs to
dry their tears, take away their grief, and forgive their sin.
If only they will ignore those who try to silence their cries of pain,
and instead listen to voice of John the Baptist, and our voices with him,
as we point to Jesus Christ and proclaim,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”