Hope in the Lord — Precious innocent life

Archbishop Kurtz
Archbishop Kurtz

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and this is a timely opportunity to reflect on the gift of innocent precious life. The precious gift of the child in the womb has been on my mind as I have completed the final preparation of the booklet, Gift of Joy, which will be published by Our Sunday Visitor.

Msgr. Brian Bransfield of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and I co-authored this resource, which expands the Synod intervention on the new rite that I gave last October. We are aiming for public availability by the Feast of the Visitation on May 31.

The touching scene from the Gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 1, captures the visit of the pregnant Mary with her cousin, Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Verse 41 says it all: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb.”

As we reflect on this meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, we are drawn by Sacred Scripture to pray for all mothers and their children. Join me by praying in gratitude for your mother and mothers everywhere. How much we need to lift up in prayer their priceless vocation and the children whom God has created and given to the world as a gift. Joined to the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus and of the Church, we pray in gratitude and at the same time seek to reach out with compassion to mothers and their infants and with courage as we seek a culture of life in our world.

Sadly, we need more than ever to hear the voice of Sacred Scripture on precious life. Two recent examples demonstrate an “expendable” view of life in a throw-away culture of violence.

One took place in Boston and the other in Philadelphia. The first is known to all of us. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston speaks of “… deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon.” We step back in horror and sadness as we reflect on the innocent life taken by the bombings at the marathon. As I go about the parishes of the Archdiocese confirming our youth, at a rate of once a day and sometimes more frequently, I have spoken of those two men who listened to the wrong voices and senselessly took innocent life. How much we yearn to hear the right voices!

Equally tragic and deeply gruesome is the second story: the actions of Kermit Gosnell. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia writes about the murder trial that will soon go to jury.

He begins his column with: “Some stories, no matter how unsettling, just can’t be ignored — even when some people are determined to look away.” He gives details of the trial, adding:
“And like every other criminally accused person under the law, Gosnell is innocent until proven guilty. Whatever the verdict, though, there’s no ambiguity about the kind of business he ran at his West Philadelphia “Women’s Medical Center,” an abortion clinic that critics have likened to a meat-packing plant or a butcher shop, with unborn children delivered into a toilet and jars of fetal body parts stored around the facility.”

Archbishop Chaput makes a second important point: these are events that cannot be ignored. Citing journalist critiques of media coverage, he unearths that temptation to “look away.”

There is no question that the events described are gruesome in the extreme, but courage and compassion cry out for attention. His column is important to read in its entirety. Here is the link: https://catholicphilly.com/2013/04/think-tank/weekly-message-from-archbishop-chaput/the-gosnell-story-and-its-lessons/.

People of deep faith and people of good will can come to the same conclusion — some by faith conviction and others through that law “written on the heart,” which, for centuries, has been known as “natural law.” The conviction is this: the child in the womb of a mother is precious, as is the child once born. As we pray for our own mothers, Mother’s Day surely calls us to pray for all mothers and their children, from the moment of conception until natural death.

On Saturday, May 18, I will celebrate 7 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption for the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. A Holy Hour in Church and a procession will be held immediately after Mass. You are invited to remain for the Holy Hour and adore the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or to join me and so many others who faithfully gather each month to say the Rosary in a procession to the abortion clinic and then back to the Cathedral for the closing benediction. This is a wonderful opportunity to pray for the precious gift of human life from conception to natural death and for the compassion and courage followers of Jesus need to stand up for life and reach out to help those in need.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

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