Today is “Respect Life Sunday,” beginning “Respect Life Month,” in which the American Bishops call us to remember that thousands of innocent American babies are killed every day by abortions, over 1 million a year, for a total of almost 60 million dead since 1973. How can this happen in America, to innocent babies?
Even as we mourn the death of all these babies, we also can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well. First and foremost, we can never forget or fail to have compassion for those women who have had abortions. The toll it takes on them physically, emotionally and spiritually is devastating. And so, we must help them in any way you can: showing them personal compassion, leading them to Christ and His love and mercy, keeping them in prayer, and continuing to fight to end abortion. And we must do everything we can, with charity compassion, and patience, to help those women who are considering abortions, and to give them clear options to help them to carry their babies to term.
Life Chain. To kick off this “Respect Life Month” today, October 1, our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” This year, as in the past, over 100 St. Raymond parishioners will join other local pro-lifers lining up on the sidewalk of Franconia Road in front of Key Middle School from 2:30 to 3:30 PM to simply stand peacefully and quietly praying, maybe holding a sign, as a public witness to our respect for the dignity of human life. It is always a very spiritually rewarding event. Please join in. Parking is available at the school, and Pro-Life signs will be available.
40 Days for Life. The Fall “40 Days for Life” Campaign, a similar but more prolonged public witness to the right to life, has already begun, and St. Raymond’s will be taking responsibility for this peaceful vigil on the weekend of October 28 and 29. Please visit the display and sign-up sheet in the narthex this weekend and sign up.
St. Francis of Assisi. This Wednesday, October 4, is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Although most people think of him primarily for his love of poverty and nature, it is really his love for God who entered into creation in the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, that formed his vocation. This in turn motivated Francis to profound devotion to the mysteries of Jesus’ life and His sacraments, especially His real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. This led him to promote the popular pious devotion to the crucifix, the Christmas crèche, the stations of the Cross, and to Eucharistic adoration. This is reflected in the prayer he composed that is said so often today, “We adore You O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.” (Note: as lovely as it is, St. Francis did not actually compose the prayer so often attributed to him, “Make me a channel of Your peace,” which was written several centuries after his death).
Nevertheless, he is most well-known for his teaching and personal example emphasizing poverty, a disposition which turns the heart not to love of creatures but first to the love of the Creator—God is all he wished to possess. But because he loved God, the Creator, he gained a more perfect appreciation and rightly ordered love for God’s creation, gifts from God.
In honor of this great saint then, and appreciating of the gifts God has given us in creation, we continue our custom of Blessing the Animals, next Sunday, October 8, at 2:30, in front of the rectory. Please feel free to bring any pets you have to receive this special blessing. St. Francis, pray for us.
THE GOSPEL OF LIFE. As we begin this Respect Life Month, consider carefully the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II, in his monumental encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), March 25, 1995:
“61. …. Christian Tradition….is clear and unanimous, from the beginning up to our own day, in describing abortion as a particularly grave moral disorder. From its first contacts with the Greco-Roman world, where abortion and infanticide were widely practised, the first Christian community, by its teaching and practice, radically opposed the customs rampant in that society, as is clearly shown by the Didache [c. 80 AD] mentioned earlier. …Among the Latin authors, Tertullian affirms: ‘It is anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born; it makes little difference whether one kills a soul already born or puts it to death at birth. He who will one day be a man is a man already’.
“Throughout Christianity’s two thousand year history, this same doctrine has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion.
“62. The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously reaffirmed this common doctrine. …The Second Vatican Council…sternly condemned abortion: ‘From the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes’.
“…. Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops–who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
“No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.
“99…. I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and His mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child….”
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles