The Pro-life Movement: In Imitation of the Sacred Heart
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The Church celebrates once again this week the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are many connections between this devotion and our commitment to defend the unborn from abortion.
In the image of the Sacred Heart, Christ extends his flaming heart out to us that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. And he did this while we were still sinners. The initiative is all on God's side; he saved us before we even knew it, much less asked him for it.
Pro-life work is characterized by the same kind of live. It is, at its essence, a work of self-giving love for children in the womb who don't even know we are loving them. And it is a life-saving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ's heart keeps on beating inside His body. So must we persevere within the Body of Christ.
And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of his body, and it is the body of God. The Feast of the Sacred Heart, and our devotion to that heart throughout the year, bring to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, pro life work is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which he shows us in His Body.
The moral perversions of our day are often marked by a resurgence of the dualism that says the body doesn't matter. Some mothers tempted to abort have said, "I'm not ready for this child, so I'm giving the child back to God." In other words, they make it sound like some spiritual exchange of souls. In reality, however, abortion is destroying the child, tearing apart her body, which is not a possession, but an aspect of the child as a person. The body matters, and the Sacred Heart reminds us of that.
Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; his heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as being single mindedly concerned with saving babies and nothing more. This claim couldn't be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to everybody. Rachel's Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them a voice and a vote. This is the work of mercy.
Jesus said he is meek and humble of heart, and this also brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of pro-choice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God's will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly.
The Sacred Heart is a welcoming and open heart. It welcomes the unexpected. When we have Jesus' heart, we see Him in the stranger. We must not treat our children as strangers in the womb, but we must welcome them as if we were welcoming Christ. We make room for the woman in crisis as if we were welcoming Christ. We open our hearts to the broken hearted who regret their abortions. And we even open our hearts to those who have yet to see the error in their way. We see Christ in each of these and we choose love.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and our worship of that heart, represent the heart of the pro-life movement, and enable us to be transformed according to that heart. Every aspect of the pro-life movement is motivated by love, and that is why we can be confident of victory, for "Love is stronger than death, more powerful even than hell" (Song of Songs 8:6). Sacred Heart of Jesus, lead us to the victory of life and of love!
Priests for Life is the world's largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion.
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