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Lenten Repentance, Easter Victory, Pro-life Power

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Despite all evidence to the contrary, people of faith need to have unshakeable confidence that the power of life is greater than the forces of death.

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While it might seem like our government is working overtime to ensure that no child gets out of the womb alive, in this Easter season we must remember that the victory has already been won, but has not yet fully unfolded. We therefore rejoice and struggle at the same time. We must not relax our efforts to protect God's gift of life from the destructive forces all around it.

This holy season provides a framework for understanding, living and proclaiming the pro-life message in the context of repentance.

Repentance is a changing of the mind, and with it one's life, away from the path of sin and toward a life of holiness. It is not possible to repent of a sin which one does not recognize or admit is a sin. During Lent, we ask to be delivered from such blindness, and to be forgiven even our hidden sins. 

The application to the abortion problem is clear when we consider that the injustice of this act has been proclaimed as a "right" and a legitimate "choice." I have heard numerous people declare that while they know abortion kills a child, they have no problem supporting it. Researchers from Notre Dame University who spoke to 217 people about their understanding of abortion, reported last year that though people may say abortion is morally wrong they will continue to insist on its legality. 

Because such respectable elements of society as the U.S. Supreme Court, many medical associations, and even some Christian denominations, continue to call abortion a "right," many find it hard to recognize it as a wrong. Part of the purification of Lent involves the metanoia, the "change of mind," so necessary in this area.

In regard to the Christian denominations that hold abortion as a "right," besides contradicting the Gospel of Christ and the unbroken witness of the Christian community against abortion through the centuries, these churches render themselves particularly incapable of bringing healing and forgiveness to those who have had abortions. After all, once you have called something a "right," how credible can you make an offer of forgiveness for exercising that right?

Easter celebrates the victory of life. Christians do not come to Church on Easter simply to congratulate Jesus for rising from the dead. They come in order to touch their own victory over death. In rising, Christ destroyed not only His own death, but ours! He overturned the entire kingdom of death. Death has no more power over Him; nor does it have ultimate power over those who live in Him. 

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The influence of the Church on the world, therefore, is the influence of a community which already participates in victory over death. That influence moves the structures and choices of society away from death and destruction, and toward the affirmation, in word and deed, of the precious gift of life. It would be a profound distortion of the meaning of Easter if we separate, in thought or deed, our faith in the Resurrection from our efforts to secure justice and respect for every life.

The Church that celebrates Easter also lives Easter. But as St. Augustine once said, we sing "Alleluia," but as we sing we must "keep going" on the arduous journey that is ours.

Father Frank Pavone is national director of Priests for Life and the national pastoral director of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. The books he has authored include Abolishing Abortion and Proclaiming the Message of Life.

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Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >


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