On September 22, 2013, Pope Francis addressed an international gathering of Catholic gynecologists. He told them “ Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”
On December 28, in the Octave of Christmas, we normally commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents in the Liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. However, this year, 2014, due to a coincidence in calendaring, the Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, fell on the Sunday after Christmas. So, the Feast of the Holy Family was celebrated in Catholic Churches around the world.
Though most Bishops conferences encouraged a special prayer for the Holy Innocents which connected the Feast to the current evil of procured abortion, the Feast of the Holy Innocents receded in its significant placement in the Octave of Christmas. We must Remember the Holy Innocents!
The readings for the Mass on that traditional Feast remind us that evil has no respect for life. There is an ongoing struggle between life and death, darkness and light, and those of us called to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus, the Light of the world, are engaged in that conflict every day.
The first reading for the Mass of the Feast of the Holy Innocents is taken from the 1st letter of the beloved disciple John, “This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. (I John 5)
We are still celebrating the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas. Sometimes Christmas is referred to as the Feast of the Incarnation. In fact, the Incarnation is much broader in its implications. The Word became Incarnate immediately upon the response given by Mary to the invitation of the Lord delivered through the Angel.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The moment He was conceived, the Incarnation began. Jesus Christ lived through every age and every stage of development. He is identified with every child from the moment of conception.
Medical science confirms what the Natural Law and our conscience long ago told all of us, the child in the womb is one of us. We all know it. We routinely operate on her when she needs our help and place her back in her first home of the womb until birth. We prosecute a criminal who, in committing a crime against his mother, kills him as well.
The abortion lie has been revealed in its wretched ugliness. Every procured abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent child; a holy innocent. The child in the womb is the same as the child outside of the womb. We are always persons in development. The me at 60 is the same me at 27, only developing in the continuum of life.
No-one who continues to support abortion as a choice is a friend of the poor. The baby in the womb is, as Mother Teresa so clearly reminded us, the poorest of the poor. Defenders of abortion on demand only use the poor to promote their evil acts. Any Nation which protects in the positive law the taking of innocent human life in the womb, calling it a right and a choice is participating in this evil and promoting darkness.
The Gospel for the Mass on the Feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us of how evil infects those who fail to hear the cry of the poor and serve in government. The example given is Herod, a ruler inebriated with his own power. He ruled unjustly while claiming to be doing exactly the opposite:
“When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more’.
Rachel still weeps in our day. The US Government carries on the evil of Herod by funding the killing of Holy Innocents. Planned Parenthood receives millions in government grants and contracts. This money is extracted from the US taxpayer .
Planned Parenthood is built on a deadly lie. They have dressed themselves up as a Health Care Provider and include the taking of the lives of innocent children in the womb as a service – under their offering of what is euphemistically called reproductive services . They have insinuated themselves into the global delivery of medical services receiving massive government funding. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is compounding this evil.
There is nothing reproductive about abortion. It is certainly not a service to the child, the mother, the father or society. Nor is it ever “health care”. It is feticide, the killing of children. Funding it is morally repugnant. Planned Parenthood is the leading institutional champion of a culture which has redefined “choice” to include killing young innocent human life and “freedom” to include the commission of unspeakable horrors against an entire class of people, children in the first home of the whole human race.
The Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of the Holy Innocents offers the sermon of St Quodvultdeus, a deacon and Church father of the 5th century, entitled “Even before they learn to speak, they proclaim Christ” for our reflection today:
A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and forever in the life to come.
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.
Yet your throne is threatened by the source of grace, so small, yet so great, who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children.
The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the savior already working salvation.
But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it. How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.
Every child killed by voluntary abortion is rightly called a Holy Innocent. Every politician who supports this killing, implicitly or explicitly, carries on the evil actions of Herod. On this Feast of the Holy Innocents let us summon a new resolve to bring an end to the slaughter of the holy innocents in this hour.
Abortion is a barbaric practice which kills children. As we approach the beginning of the year 2015, we must place at the top of the list of our resolutions bringing an end to the funding of Planned Parenthood and an end to the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.
The clarity of Catholic teaching on this is reflected in the Catechism. Let me offer to my readers a lengthy section which expresses the truth about the fundamental right to life and the evil of procured abortion without any equivocation. It is of great importance in our day when people are falling for the propaganda of many in the main stream media which alludes to the possibility that this teaching is somehow being modified. It cannot- and will not change:
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.(Ps 139:15).
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.” (Didache 2,2:SCh 248,148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19,5:PG 2 777; Ad Diognetum 5,6:PG 2,1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9:PL 1,319-320.) God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. (GS 51 § 3)
Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae – by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.
The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights. (CCC #2271 – 2273)
On this Feast of the Holy Innocents we should remember that elected leaders and political candidates who promote abortion as a choice are the King Herod’s of this hour. We must be unequivocal in our defense of every innocent human life from conception to natural death.
Those who seek to use Pope Francis to try to compel Catholics to back down, even from writing articles such as this one, are selectively reading the message of this wonderful Pope. He is simply reminding us all that our defense of the child in the womb must also include all human persons and all of the poor and vulnerable. None, to use the words of Francis, “can be discarded “. I will end with some words from the same speech he gave to the Catholic gynecologists in 2013:
A widespread mentality of profits, the “culture of waste,” that today enslaves the hearts and minds of so many, comes at a terribly high cost: it requires the elimination of human beings, especially if they are in a weaker physical or societal condition. Our response to this mentality is a “yes” to life, one that is decisive and without hesitation. “The first right of a human person is his own life. He has other goods and some of these are quite precious; but this is the foundational good, the condition for all others” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, Nov. 18, 1974, no. 11).
Material things have a price and can be sold, but human persons have a dignity; they are worth more than material things and have no price. So many times, we encounter situations where we see that life is of little account. For this reason the attention to human life in its totality has become in recent times a true and appropriate priority for the Magisterium of the Church, particularly to the most defenseless; that is, to the disabled, to the sick, to the unborn child, to the infant, to the elderly, the most defenseless forms of life.
In the fragile human being, each of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh has experienced the indifference and the loneliness to which we often condemn the most impoverished, both in the countries of the developing world and in affluent societies. Every child that is not born, but condemned unjustly to being aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord, who even before birth, and then as soon as he is born, experiences the rejection of the world.
And every elderly person, and-I have spoken about the child; let us turn to the elderly, another point! And every elderly person, even if he is infirm or at the end of his days, carries within himself the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste” proposes to us! They cannot be discarded!
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