In the last century there arose a great conflict that spread to involve the entire world. Virtually every nation was affected. The death toll was staggering, in some places even endangering nations’ abilities to sustain their populations. Families were torn apart, and the death and destruction touched almost every community. Whole industries were developed for one purpose only — to kill.
This cataclysm was different from all other wars in one other important respect. To a degree never seen before, the slaughter was visited (purposely) on non-combatants. There were more non-combatant deaths than those of combatants.
In fact, one particular group was singled out for extermination, and in order to anesthetize the public outcry against this slaughter, a giant propaganda machine was created, vilifying the targeted people, telling their countrymen that they were evil, troublesome, that they were the cause of society’s problems, that they were somehow less than human, just animals really, a problem to be “fixed.”
That propaganda was broadcast relentlessly, over and over and over, because the propagandists knew something. They knew that if people hear a message often enough — no matter how false, no matter how outrageous, no matter how evil — they would (eventually) begin to believe it. And so, over time the people accepted that it was OK, even praiseworthy, to kill this targeted group of people.
And a holocaust ensued. . .
The death toll from this conflict was appalling. Some 50 million people — 50 million people created in the image and likeness of God, perished. The survivors deal with the grief, the distress, the guilt, the carnage even today. It’s likely that some of those survivors are sitting with us today.
Now, obviously, I’ve been describing the Second World War, including the Holocaust visited upon the Jews by the Nazi regime. But do you realize that these same statistics also describe the Holocaust of abortion in the United States since Roe v. Wade in 1973?
In one of the greatest tragedies of U.S. history, 56 million unborn children have died in American abortuaries since Roe v. Wade — a death toll equal to the entire death toll of World War II. The assault on life is perhaps the most profound challenge that evil has mounted in modern times. It permeates our whole culture and touches each of us. And so, today we observe Pro-Life Sunday, and tomorrow the Church has declared a day of prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn.
But as mind-boggling as the death toll is, the carnage goes far beyond it. The survivors, the post-abortive parents, grandparents, even the practitioners of abortion — our whole culture is saddled with profound and sometimes crippling effects.
The pro-abortion (It is NOT pro-choice!) propaganda machine will not tell you about the mothers who were rendered infertile after an abortion, incapable of ever having children. They don’t want you to think of the women who have suffered abortion-related breast cancer, enduring surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and the dread of an unknown outcome. Did you know that many post-abortive marriages and relationships are destroyed? Or that post-abortive men and women have terrible rates of depression, substance abuse, risk-taking behaviors? Compared to women who have not opted for abortion, did you know that post-abortive women are at higher risk of suicide?
And what of our culture?
If we accept the lie that the unborn are somehow not human, but random blobs of protoplasm, even more, if we view the unborn as a problem — a choice — then we accept that it is OK to kill them.
But if we accept that lie, then where do we draw the line? What of the developmentally disabled? What about premature babies or those born with serious physical problems? Are adults in a vegetative state worthy of being called “human”? What about the aged or the infirm? What about those who are “inconvenient” for some other reason?
If we consider our human bodies as just physical flesh, mere meat, it doesn’t matter what we do to those bodies — drugs, risk-taking behavior, promiscuity, and violence. But we know that human beings are composite beings of both flesh and spirit. We know that the body is created in God’s own image and likeness and contains that person’s immortal soul. God created all people in His image and likeness, not just those who are “convenient.” God wants every human being to be a temple of the Holy Spirit.
If we condone the death of innocents, we deny that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit — temples of God. So you see, the problem of what Pope John Paul II called “The Culture of Death” extends far beyond the deaths of our children.
This Culture of Death begins in a lie, and certainly Satan is the father of lies. That lie starts something like this: “It’s only a little blob of cells,” and it continues “It is the only way” or “It will be OK” (you know all the lies). And then there’s my personal favorite, “It would be inhumane to let this child be born into such a poor family.” (I wonder — for whom would it be inhumane?)
And the propaganda machine of the Culture of Death bombards us with these lies until we either accept them or our voices are drowned out.
Then come the lies of silence. Some things are just too terrible to face so we turn a blind eye to them. Many were silent about the Jews of WWII. Many were silent about human slavery. Will we make the carnage of the slaughter of the next generation one of those things? Will we be like Saul of Tarsus? He held the cloaks of the people who stoned St. Stephan. Maybe we aren’t actually throwing the stones or performing the abortions, but by our silence are we holding the cloaks of those who do?
What of those personally touched by abortion? Certainly abortion is fatal to our children, but it is also a grave danger to those touched by it. The burden of guilt may be staggering. After an abortion, the absolute finality of death hits with astounding power. That baby, that child, that person is gone forever, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do to recall that terrible decision. The guilt haunts people.
If you are ashamed enough about something, it is easier to avoid it altogether. Guilt hurts, and so it begets avoidance. So you turn inward, away from the people you love, away from the things about which you are passionate and, most important, away from our Lord.
Here’s one of Satan’s most damaging lies. If a sin is great enough, we tend to imprint that sin as a defining trait of our very being. The thought goes something like this, “If I have sinned greatly, I must be very evil, so evil in fact that I am beyond even the will of God to forgive me.” It’s a downward spiral that very quickly turn into despair. Instead of being passionate about gaining God’s forgiveness, instead of living life to it’s fullest, with joy and thanksgiving, we damp our emotions and turn away from the one person who can heal us, Jesus Christ.
But Our Lord came to heal the sick. He told us that He came “that we might have life, and that we might have it abundantly”! Not just a miserable existence, not just eking out a living, but abundance!
He loved us. He believed in us. He cared so much for us that He held nothing back. He laid down His very life for us. He wants to forgive. He wants to comfort us.
That should tell us that there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that lies beyond His desire and His ability to heal. All you have to do is ask.
So, if you have been wounded by the sin of abortion or any other sin against God’s gift of life, don’t fall for the devil’s lie of despair. Rather, bring your pain to Christ. He waits for you in the confessional. Offer it with your prayers on this altar. Whether you’ve had an abortion or caused one, whether you’re afraid to mourn a lost child, whether you’ve been involved with or affected by a suicide, or whether, like St. Paul, you have condoned an assault on life by your silence, Jesus Christ longs to heal you. He reaches out to you. He comes to this altar just for you.
Come and be healed, and then go forth, spreading the gospel of abundant life.
MR. RUSSELL, a permanent deacon, writes from Waynesboro, Virginia.