January 22, 2009


I know I've told this story before, but I think it makes sense on this day that our bishops ask us to observe as a day of prayer and penance for violations to the sanctity of life through abortion.

One night I was on the subway in Boston, on my way home from school. I was probably reading or saying my breviary, but in any case I was minding my own business. Some guy, seeing my habit I guess, came up to me and nastily asked, "What do you get out of this?"

Turning it back on him, I said, "I'm supposed to get something?" Probably not the most pastoral response, but it was late and I was tired.

But for me this exchange reveals the spiritual sickness at the root of our society's disregard for human life. Instead of placing ourselves in the fundamental stance of gratitude and awe for the fact of our existence, for the grace of our creaturehood, we look instead for what we can get out of existing. When it comes to finding ourselves as human beings in the world, we become basically acquisitive instead of basically grateful. (This happens just as easily in the spiritual life as it does for materialistic folks; we want more and better prayer, deeper recollection, more certain faith, etc., instead of simply being grateful for grace.)

In the state of this spiritual sickness, then, things that can be gotten become more important than the basic fact of existing and living. Commodities, both spiritual and material, become more important than life. And so any number of things that can be had, like time, convenience, money, pleasure, revenge, oil fields, etc., start to take precedence over life itself.

This cultural illness, which John the Paul the Great called the "culture of death," continues to grow and metastisize in our society. Offenses against the sanctity of life become more and more acceptable. Current examples include the tolerance of torture and the mainstreaming of pornography.

Therefore it is required of us Christans, who believe and stand in awe of our nature as creatures of God through his Word, to struggle against the spiritual sickness of our time. We must first of all do our best to form ourselves in an attitude of awe and gratitude for our own lives and existence. We must learn that the evident fact of our being alive reveals a grace of God more important than anything we will or can "get out of" life. And then we must learn to treat everyone else the same way, no matter how disagreeable or even despicable, as persons that God has created on purpose.


Matt G. said...

This was quite a topic of discussion among the elder friars at pretty much every meal from Monday night until Wednesday afternoon.

Today my council of the Knights of Columbus is sponsoring a Rosary and Mass for the Pro-Life fight. I'm not sure how many people will actually show up other than the Knights.

As you say, it's easy to disregard life today, which is strange because you'd think with all of the wars and violence that life would be more respected.

I'll share a story with you that helped shape my opinions on the issue of life and it happened not that long ago. Last year, I spent a lot of time volunteering at a local community center that had an after school program meant to keep kids in the city off the streets after school. It was moderately successful, but the older kids usually stayed away. A young boy, Oliver Baptiste, 15, was out with his friend, who was 18, one afternoon and they ended up getting into an argument over a video game that Oliver had. His friend demanded the video game from Oliver and when Oliver refused, his friend pulled out a pistol he had purchased illegally somewhere in the city and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Oliver in the head, killing him instantly, just outside the community center.

Two lives were ended in that instant, not just Oliver's. His friend will now spend a lot of time in jail. I was horribly distraught by the news, even though I had not known Oliver all that well. I was speaking with a friend shortly after hearing about the incident and said this:

"You know, it’s somewhat interesting; I’m reminded of Good Friday. I was at church back home and there was a girl, probably a year or two younger than me, who was crying after the Veneration of the Cross. I admired her for being so open, and wondered why I wasn’t so affected. I figured I was just too desensitized to violence to even fathom the violence wrought upon Jesus as unique, I just figured, ‘Well, it happens all the time.’ I guess it takes something like this, like someone who is so young having his life taken away from him, to make you realize that every case of violence is horribly unique and tragic."

A great violence is committed against those who are not giving the opportunity to live and, what is worse, they have no voice to speak up for their own lives.

I'll be praying for all life today and I won't be alone. Let's hope God hears us all but, more importantly, let's hope that those in the position to protect life are open to His Spirit.

ben in denver said...

"It is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

On Monday I attended an ultrasound exam with my wife, she is due in April.

That everyone who performs abortions has seen hundrends or thousands of such exams and is still able to cut, slice and crush these nascent human persons reveals the terrible mystery of evil.

The obstetrician we saw monday had been kicked out of Baylor Medical School (a purportedly Christian school), when he was a student for refusing to perform an abortion. Instead this good Christian man (still a Baptist) has devoted his life to delivering babies. He has helped to bring about 6000 new lives into the world. May God bless him.

May the Lord have mercy on us, who tolerate this great and terrible evil. It is most certainly a mercy we don't deserve. Over 40 million now. That is about 10 times the numer of people who live in my state, Colorado, and more even than the entire population of California.

Holy Mother, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

GrandmaK said...

Members of my Cursillo group and Bible study came together to pray the Prolife
rosary for nine days as a novena. We will now individually pray it knowing that being proactive in prayer is essential to everything we do. I was encouraged by the fact that we (as a group) will persevere in prayer. There is no better armament in this war with evil. Thank you! Cathy