Day of Penance for Violations Against Human Dignity Caused by Abortion (GIRM 373)
Philippians 4.6-9 and Matthew 5.1-12
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX
Is there anyone here this morning who wants to be among the damned? Anyone? Anyone here who wants to wallow in cynicism, grievance, betrayal, or viciousness? Anyone? OK. Anyone here this morning who wants to celebrate falsehood, injustice, ugliness, or disease? Anyone? No? OK. Anyone here this morning who wants to be among the blessed? Anyone here who wants to revel in hopefulness, forgiveness, friendship, and virtuousness? Anyone where this morning who wants to celebrate truth-telling, justice-making, beauty, and health? Anyone? Good! Because today we observe a Day of Penance for those violations of human dignity caused by abortion. And we must start by repenting from any inclination to understand the human person as a means; any inclination to treat one another as merely objects for use any inclination to live together in cynicism, malice, or irrational prejudice. To be blessed, we must be a blessing and do what is honorable, just, pure, and gracious…and always in the name of God for His greater glory. Turn from the disobeying our Father’s command that we love one another as He loves us, as He loved us first, and make your life about the excellence of self-emptying service!
You might ask: Father, why are you yelling at us about repenting from abortion? We’re solid pro-lifer’s! I don’t doubt this. So, let me answer your question with a question: why are we, the pro-life Church, observing a Day of Penance in reparation for the devastation of abortion? The answer: if we don’t, who will? Who will stand up to repair this gaping wound in our social body? Who, if not the Church, will offer sacrifice for the healing of this horrific disease?
You raised your hands when I asked who here wants to celebrate beauty, justice, and health. How do you celebrate God’s beauty in creation? His justice in our social order? His health in your spiritual life? Irrelevant questions to the repentance at hand? NO! If you, a faithful Catholic, one who deeply desires the peace of Christ, cannot honor the fullness of human dignity— the sacredness of all life, the intrinsic value of human labor, our right to be free from violence and intimidation (personal and political)—if we cannot honor the fullness of human dignity, then we cannot celebrate God’s beauty, His justice, nor can we expect His health. And what’s more, we cannot hold others to a standard we’re unwilling to meet.
Abortion sits at the center of our cynical culture as a devastating failure to love, an idol to convenience, expediency, and self-indulgence. To the degree that we as Catholics have contributed to this failure to love, especially in our failure to love the women who have chosen abortions, we must repent. There is nothing gracious, lovely, pure, or true about cynically judging women who have chosen abortions. And there is nothing blessed about dismissing the killing of a child with an appeal to privacy rights or religious tolerance. Love requires us to speak the truth. And when we fail to speak the truth, we must repent. The truth is: abortion is the direct killing of innocent life. We may never call this violation of human dignity good. The truth is: the Way to forgiveness and peace is always open, always free, and we, as self-identified Christs-for-Others, we must serve as eager ushers on the Way. We cannot at once hope to be blessed and refuse to be a blessing.
You are to be hungry for justice. Clean of heart. At peace. Kind. And you must be ready, always ready to speak a word comfort in truth. You have been shown mercy, therefore, show mercy in thanksgiving. And be blessed.
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