The following is a homily preached by Fr. Jacob Restrick, O.P., this past Saturday, on Pro-Life Day, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Fr. Restrick is chaplain to our Dominican Nuns at the Monastery of the Mother of God, West Springfield, MA.
Next Monday, the 24th, will be the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The Ordo suggests that for today the dioceses of the United States should observe today a Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person, and suggests the Prayers for the Mass for Peace and Justice, which we are doing.
There can name any number of sins against the dignity of the human person; lying to someone is a sin against their dignity because the human mind is created to know what is true; our rational minds and free wills are part of our human dignity which comes from God. In his inaugural speech last Thursday, President Bush was sounding a bit Thomistic for a moment when he spoke of our human dignity being that we are created in the image of God. Our free wills are the deep deep source of human freedom. We are not programmed computers or animals living by instinct and genetics. The act of the human will is an immaterial, nonphysical, faculty, which must reside in an immaterial, nonphysical, or spiritual reality in every human being…this of course, is present in human nature since conception, even if not in act. This is why we cannot sin in our sleep or if we are unconscious…and yet we are still fully human beings when asleep or unconscious.
Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion in America. It is estimated that at over 50 million human lives have been aborted in the last 32 years. Fifty million children. Some of them would be 32 years old; 25 years old; 18 years old…there may have been doctors, scientists, teachers, priests, nuns, fathers and mothers among those 50 million. But regardless of all that, there are 50 million children of God with their human lives terminated in medical procedures too gross to mention in a homily.
When you think of the truth of what we truly believe…that at conception, regardless of whether it occurs in an act of love or passion or violence…at conception a brand new human being is brought into being, and at that moment, God creates out of nothing an immortal soul…an immortal soul that has a dignity, which we have looked at, and also a destiny. Only the angels share in the closeness we have to God, and they even more perfectly perhaps by being pure spirits. We are bodily creatures, capable of God; capable of divine life; capable of eternal life. When we are created in our Mother’s wombs, our destiny is eternal life. We are given a share in life that will never never ever ever end.
We are conceived, as we know, in original sin, however, because our free will is capable of eternal separation from God. We are unjust and not joined to God in the peace, He calls a Sabbath rest. Because of this, God Himself, has taken upon Himself our human nature…was conceived in a moment in time in the womb of a virgin teenage girl… “Oh happy fault of Adam that gained for us so great a Redeemer.” We have the means to be saved; by holy baptism…by water, blood, and by holy desire. But the fetus sucked out of existence by a medical vacuum cleaner, or drowned in saline solution, doesn’t have the choice to receive this saving grace.
And Planned Parenthood will tell the Mother it’s nothing…just removal of unwanted tissue. It’s gone on for thirty years. Catholic politicians and the Catholic faithful have voted for candidates who allow this to continue. The letter to the Hebrews, which we have been ruminating for two weeks, reminds us not to arden our hearts.”
Fifty million souls—where are they today? Some would like to believe they are with the Lord in a heaven that ignores the laws of nature. Perhaps a more realistic understanding would be what we used to call the Limbo of the Just. Close to God, not condemned to eternal hell, but nonetheless deprived of the Beatific Vision for which we are created. I do not go along with the school of Pro-life sentimentality that calls all the aborted infants martyrs or angels…they have been deprived of life…earthly, and the beatific life of the Beatific vision. They are not lost in hell, but are happy in a state of limbo, a state between mercy and the beatific vision. Not a bad place to be. But they have been deprived of the life of baptismal grace; of sanctifying grace; of divinizing grace which our immortal souls are capable of when we live in the state of grace; when we pray; when we receive the Lord of Glory in a Holy Communion that is a pledge of future glory.
I pray that the Lord will pierce my heart that I may weep for my sins, because I forget my dignity and destiny; I get so wrapped up in my self…my ego takes over, and I block out the suffering and pain and poverty of others, and all the time, I am so poor, so mediocre, so mental. Then may I have my heart pierced because my brothers and sisters in the human family, and in the Faith, are extinguished before they even see the light of day. How sad our society has become; Lord, let me weep for our country, for our spiritual blindness; and for the ways that I have remained silent and let it happen. Lord, 50 million children have been killed under the banner of freedom of choice; the ultimate and legalized abuse of children, that not only robs them of their dignity, but takes away their very life. All of this you know, and have carried on your shoulders to the cross. In our powerlessness, then, Lord, we unite ourselves to your act of love which saves us from our sins. Give us true compunction of heart and look with mercy upon those who do not know what they are doing. Amen.