Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Day of Prayer for Unborn Children, their Mothers, & Our Society

The Catholic Church in the United States of America marks January 22 on the liturgical calendar as a "Day of Prayer and Penance for Legal Protection of the Unborn." This corresponds to the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that effectively struck down all laws against abortion in the USA. This removal of legal protection, or even the possibility of establishing laws, was an act of colossal social irresponsibility.

Let us be honest to the testimony of our consciences, and call these things by their proper names, not shirking from what we know is really going on.

Abortion is the direct killing of an innocent human being, the child in the womb of his or her mother. It is an act of violence against the mother, who is severed permanently (in this world) from the person of her child. Regardless of the circumstances of his or her conception, the child is a person created by God and entrusted to another person, a woman who is given the precious, intimate, irreplaceable relationship of being mother to that child.

Very often a "crisis pregnancy" occurs in the context of a dysfunctional family situation or outside of any stable family connections. The immediate organic community of father, mother, and children is broken or never existed in the first place. Nevertheless, the conception of a new human being still engenders the primal and essential human relationship of "mother-and-child." A pregnant mother in a crisis is, simply, two people who need help. Depending on the circumstances, they may both continue to need help long after the child is born, and they will certainly need connection to human community and the experience of solidarity with others.

We must not push away, banish, or marginalize the mother and child. Instead, we should spare no effort in this society to create environments where this fundamental interpersonal relationship is supported and permitted to grow. This is a task that makes claims on the mother's wider family and friends, local communities, constructive institutions on various levels, and, if necessary, government assistance. This also includes incorporating (in ways permitted by circumstances and the personal safety of mother and child) the relational responsibilities of the child's father.

But this is not what we do.

Instead, we have retrenched more deeply into the malaise of our own social isolation, and -- in a stunning perversion of the language of personal freedom -- we absolve ourselves of responsibility, solidarity, and real compassion for the mother and her unborn child and replace it with the ideological assertion of "a woman's freedom to choose."

She has "the right to choose..." we say in this society. She is "free to choose..."? What? What are her choices? Here is a strange silence, an awkward pause, a lack of articulation among our people, who are otherwise so easily given to voluminous speech about everything. But the object of this allegedly "autonomous" (but in fact terribly lonely) choice is left dangling in our social discourse. It's an awful sign of our desire to evade the fact that we are presenting mothers with the option to have their children killed in the womb. They are "free to choose" this option; indeed it is facilitated and encouraged by our social environment. In fact, more and more, it seems that mothers facing difficulties are expected to make this choice.

And so the mothers go to the killing centers, whether burdened by great fear or psychological pressure, acting with varying degrees of reluctance and/or indifference, or deluded by a false sense of empowerment. Their choices here are irrevocable, and they have to live with them (forever...if it were not for the presence of a Greater Love, and the possibility of forgiveness).

Do we even care about these women, these mothers and their disappeared children?

Certainly. That's why some of us want legal protection for the unborn and for their mothers. Right?

In order for laws to endure in a stable manner, however, they need at least a chance of taking root in a society. What would have to change about the way we live in order for this to be possible?

I do not think that legal protection of the unborn (and the equity and compassion their mothers need) can be a lasting achievement for this society unless we all change our way of viewing our own lives and our relationships with persons, as well as our assessment of the relative purposes of material things, and our appreciation for the common good of our society.

The "normalization" of abortion has been a monstrous catastrophe. Let us remember, every abortion kills an innocent and defenseless human being made in the image of God. Presently, the "first world" is virtually unanimous in proclaiming that the freedom to choose abortion is a basic human right. Today we remember with great sorrow the role the USA has played in helping to spread this delusion.

We pray and do penance for all these things, and for our own complicity in this ugly culture of death. Legal abortion has been a catalyst in the proliferation and expansion of the death culture, but it also emerged from a long existing and broader malaise and continues as a brutal symptomatic expression of a violent society in which we all participate, dragging one another down in various ways, making war against one another in deeds, in speech, in the thoughts of our hearts. This is no way to foster a culture of life.

Reform always begins with myself. I need to change, to be converted, to see reality and respond more truly in the way I live my life. I am a selfish, sinful man. Lord, have mercy on me.