"Love One Another!" 14/2009 → Christian family
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over the last thirty years about a billion abortions have been performed worldwide. That means that every seventh human being has been killed in his or her mother’s womb.
While working on the documentary film “The Civilization of Abortion,” we met many extraordinary people in various countries who had dedicated their lives to the defense of life. One of them was the founder of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, Father Philip J. Reilly of New York. For over thirty years he fought to stop this tide of death by every means possible. He blocked access to abortion clinics, organized conferences, took part in street demonstrations, and refused to pay his taxes by way of protest. Yet every effort to raise general consciousness over the issue seemed futile. Year after year the rate of abortions climbed steadily higher. After twenty years of fruitless struggle, the resigned Fr. Reilly sat down before the Blessed Sacrament and said to God: “I give up. I can’t do this anymore; after all, I’ve tried everything.” To this he heard the following clear reply: “Why don’t you try praying? Why doesn’t prayer take first place?” These words had a powerful impact on the priest. After thinking the whole matter over, he decided to change his approach altogether: prayer, fasting, and acts of mortification would take first place. He began to rent space close to the abortuaries and make chapels of these premises in which teams of two people would take turns every hour in perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: all told, forty-eight people for every twenty-four hours. Standing nearby, at the entrance to the abortuary, would be the next team of two people. One would pray the rosary for the mother’s change of heart, while the other would try to engage those entering the building in a conversation. When they first launched this campaign for life supported by prayer, a single child saved was the cause of great joy. Now, in New York alone, about 5000 women choose life every year. As a result, in the course of a few years, dozens of abortuaries have been closed in the USA. Fr. Reilly claims he has lost count of the number of children’s lives saved throughout the country. Similar campaigns have been launched in cities throughout Europe. In Vienna alone, some 4,500 human beings are saved each year.
What does this show? It shows that we are dealing here not with an ordinary human struggle, but rather with a spiritual struggle involving opposing powers, which far exceed the capabilities of man. It is only through the total dedication of the greatest number of people standing at the disposal of God that His almighty love will be able to transform humanity, defeat the forces of evil, and decisively influence the condition of the world in which we live.
But there is yet another, far more important, dimension to this matter. As John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta have clearly stated, there is no greater sin in the world than the sin of abortion. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over the last thirty years about a billion abortions have been performed worldwide. That means that every seventh human being has been killed in his or her mother’s womb.
We know that although these human beings have been deprived of the possibility of fully developing their native talents, thereby inflicting an irretrievable loss upon humanity at large, yet when it comes to the higher goal of our lives (i.e. eternal life) — this they have certainly achieved. Therefore this greatest crime in the history of human race has another, more concealed purpose. What the powers of hell desire most is to deprive of eternal life all those who contribute to the terrible crime of abortion.
John Paul II stressed that “procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the earliest stages of his or her existence….One could not imagine anyone more innocent. In no way could such a human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor. The unborn child is weak and defenseless, even to the point of lacking that minimal and most poignant form of defense: the newborn baby’s cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and then proceeds to have it done” (Evangelium vitae, 58).
But John Paul II adds that it is often the father of the child, the family environment, and certainly “those who obliged the mother directly or indirectly to have an abortion” who share responsibility for this terrible crime. “Doctors and nurses are responsible when they place at the service of death skills that were intended for preserving life. Responsibility falls on the legislators who promote and approve of abortion laws, and — to the extent that they have a say in the matter — on administrators of the health care centers where abortions are performed. A general but no less serious responsibility lies with those who promoted attitudes of sexual permissiveness and lack of respect for motherhood, as well as with those who should have ensured — but did not — effective family and social policies in support of families, especially larger families and those with special financial and educational needs. Finally, we cannot overlook the network of complicity that extends to international institutions, foundations, and associations, which systematically campaign for the legalization and spread of abortion in the world. In this sense, abortion goes beyond the responsibility of individuals and beyond the harm done to them, and takes on a distinctly social dimension. It is a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. As I wrote in my Letter to Families, ‘we are facing an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself.’ We are facing what may be called a ‘structure of sin,’ which opposes human life not yet born (Evangelium vitae, 59).
Thus this terrible sin of murdering unborn children weighs on the consciences of hundreds of millions of people living today. They live in denial of the spiritual and moral moment of our time.
Meanwhile, Satan, the artful enemy, profits from this sin to turn the shame and spiritual wounds inflicted by it against God and His Church. Many people who have had abortions or participated in them leave the Church and reject God, for Satan portrays the Church not as a place of help, where one finds healing and forgiveness for all sins, but rather as an accuser of their conscience. And yet it is this very rejection of faith that cuts them off from the one source of healing, which is Jesus Christ, the Man-God, the giver of all life, who acts and forgives all sins precisely in the Catholic Church. Jesus offered up His life for all men and women. By His death and resurrection He forgave all sins. He calls to Himself all sinners without exception — even those who are burdened by the sin of abortion, for He desires to free all from enslavement to sin. In order to profit from the gift of God’s mercy, we must cling to Jesus in trust, show remorse for our sins, own up to them in confession and beg His forgiveness. We can do this only when we come to believe that God is love and mercy itself. Since time marches on and each year more and more of our contemporaries pass through the gates of death to face their particular judgment, it becomes the urgent task of the whole Church to reveal to humanity the mystery of God’s mercy, which, after all, is greater than any — even the gravest — sin. It is no accident that John Paul II should have proclaimed the message of Saint Faustina to the world precisely in our time. To whom is the message of Divine Mercy addressed if not especially to those who are burdened by the sin of abortion?
The next urgent task facing the Church is the expiation that her members — at least those who are aware of the gravity of the problem — need to make. Great prayer and penitential acts need to take place in every diocese, parish, and family. Worldwide, we are talking about over a billion people touched by the sin of abortion who will not convert, and thus face the prospect of hell. Would it not be worth considering setting up national expiation centers — sanctuaries, which by way of perpetual adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation, Holy Masses said in reparation for sins against life, guided spiritual direction, and the praying of the rosary would, through the intercession of the saints and especially that great throng of souls of children murdered in the wombs of their mothers, petition for the grace of conversion for those mired in the sin of abortion? These would be places linking heaven and earth as special channels of grace and purification for whole nations. Are not the twenty million children killed in Poland during the thirty-five-year period when the communist pro-abortion laws remained in force sufficient reason to give such a proposal serious consideration?
John Paul II’s appeal is still current: “a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family, and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love” (Evangelium vitae, 100).
During the judgment upon our death, every one of us will be asked: “And what did you do for these least of my brethren?” Since God will bless in an extraordinary way those who participated in His works in defense of the life of the unborn, it is in our own best interest to say now to Jesus: “Lord, I am entirely at your disposal. Make use of me and do with me as you will. Show me what I must do to defend the life of the unborn and bring to you all those who are burdened by the sin of abortion. Amen”
How to ensure healing from the sin of abortion
Everyone who has had an abortion, or participated in one, needs healing in both spiritual and psychophysical areas. This can only be achieved by clinging to Christ and plunging oneself with total trust into the ocean of His mercy. With sincere sorrow and a resolve to make amends confess your sins to Jesus in the sacrament of penance, and when you receive Him in Holy Communion, plead for reconciliation with your murdered child, so that you may clasp it spiritually to your bosom. Ask Jesus to tell you what the child’s sex was. Give it a name and ask it to forgive you for the abortion. Accept the forgiveness of both Jesus and the child. Since God and the child have forgiven you, you can now forgive yourself. Tell the child that you love it; that you will pray with great earnestness every day, receive the sacraments regularly, and live the Gospel values in preparation for your meeting with God in heaven, for there you will know the full joy of being with Him and your child. If these steps toward healing are taken in conjunction with the sacrament of penance and a Holy Mass offered up for parents and child, Jesus will in all certainty bring about the complete healing of all those who suffer from post-abortion syndrome.