How to Stop Abortion
Sunday January 20, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I (Isaiah 49:3, 5-6) Reading II (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
Gospel (St. John 1:29-34)
This week our country marks the most heinous decision that has ever been made in our country, that is, the decision of nine human beings on the Supreme Court to determine that babies can be killed in the wombs of their mothers. Since then, nearly 40 million babies have been surgically killed. Add to that, of course, the approximately 9 million babies every year who die because of contraceptive abortions and you have nearly 10 million abortions taking place in this country every year. Now, one would assume if this is the case, that all of the pain and all of the hurt that is carried in the hearts of so many of the mothers and fathers who have been involved in this unfortunate situation would be passed down and people would learn from this and they would say, "No more." Certainly there are some who are doing that. But, surprisingly and tragically, it is very, very few of the women who have had abortions, or the doctors and nurses who have been involved in abortion, or the fathers who have paid to have their own babies killed, that are speaking out against abortion. Very few have recognized the error of their ways and rejected it, and we have to wonder why.
First of all, we have to be very clear as to what it is that is happening. The destruction of human life in the womb is not merely about the Supreme Court; it is about Satan himself. We are talking about human sacrifice. We are talking about the offering of human beings to the devil so that he can continue to rule in our nation. When we consider why it continues and only gets worse, we have to look at the despair which follows. It begins with an anti-life mentality. The studies that even Planned Parenthood themselves have conducted demonstrate that over 90% of the surgical abortions are done on women who are already on contraceptives. It is why Margaret Sanger called abortion "the backstop to contraceptive failure". And so, we start out with two people who were using one another. We start out with two people who were opposed to life in most of the cases. It follows naturally that if life is conceived and they were not open to that life in the first place that it makes it very easy to try to rid themselves of that life that has been conceived.
But it is beyond that, as well. It is a matter of the selfishness, but it is a matter of the despair. When you look at our country and how horrible the effects of this societal sin have been, we realize that we are not the worst - far, far from it, in fact. We can look, for instance, at the Scandinavian countries where nearly 50% of the babies are aborted. We can look at Russia where there are two abortions for every live birth. The average woman in Russia has had seven abortions. Again, one would wonder why we do not learn from all of this. It has to do with the fact that we reject the dignity of human life - not only the life of the baby, but the life of the parents. If one does not recognize his or her own dignity, you certainly cannot recognize the dignity of the other person or the dignity of the baby. If two people are using one another as objects for their own selfish pleasure, then when responsibility would be required, they reject it. They did not want responsibility; they wanted pleasure.
But it all begins far before that. As I mentioned, this is not just a human reality; this is a satanic reality. This whole thing is inspired by the devil. There is no possible way, on the natural level, that very many women would ever have the idea to kill their own baby. It makes absolutely no sense. There has to be somebody beyond the natural that is inspiring this and continuing it. And so, if it is something which is diabolical in nature, to be able to overcome this is not going to be done merely on a natural level. Thanks be to God, there are heroic people who pray and counsel before the abortion mills. In our cities - Thanks be to God! - we have somebody in front of every single abortion mill at every minute that abortions are being done in the Twin Cities. There are wonderful and heroic people that are there being screamed at, abused, and spat upon, and there they are everyday; whether it is 100° above or 20° below, they are out there trying to convince these young women to spare the lives of their unborn children. Thanks be to God, they are out there. And every year, hundreds of babies are saved. We need those people there. But they have been there for over 25 years, and yet the holocaust continues because it is not merely a human thing. It is not a matter of changing someone's mind. We can save a baby here or there by doing that, and thanks be to God for those beautiful babies who are saved.
But it is about changing hearts. It is about changing the collective mentality of society. And that can only be done in one way: that is the recognition of the sovereignty, the dignity, the humanity, and the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is the only way. This is how it was done in the early centuries; abortion is not anything which is new. Abortion takes place anywhere that Satan reigns. Satan reigned over the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, and abortion was rampant. The early Christian people, like the Catholics and other Christians today, were determined to try to put an end to this violation of human life - and they did. The way that it was done was through the Eucharist. The early Christians went to Mass every day; not just on Sunday, they went to Mass every day. They recognized Who that was in the Eucharist. They knew that was their God, and they came to worship Him and to receive Him in the Eucharist. They prayed before Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. I am convinced, personally, that the way abortion is going to be eradicated in this land is only through the adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament because in our society people have lost the reverence that is due to Jesus Christ.
The prophet Isaiah told us today that Our Lord, the Suffering Servant, has been raised up not only for the people of Israel, to gather them back together, but as a light to all the nations. He is the only hope. When they talk about abortion in Russia, the reason that is always given is "because the people are in despair: they have no hope; there is nothing to look forward to on the natural level". When one kills one's own child, only despair can follow. But Saint John the Baptist told us in the Gospel reading today that the reason he came baptizing with water, which was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, was so that Christ could be revealed. But now it needs to go the other way: People need to know Jesus Christ in order to repent of their sin. In the despair for what it is that they have done, if they do not recognize that there is any hope beyond themselves, it is no wonder they despair. Only in Jesus Christ will they know that their sin can be forgiven, that what has happened in their lives can be eradicated. He is the only hope. But if people do not know Jesus Christ, then they are bound to despair.
In our society, as the studies have demonstrated, more than 75% of people who call themselves Catholic deny the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist - more than 75%! Is there any wonder, then, why sin has taken over our society? Is there any wonder why abortion is rampant in our society? We do not recognize God present among us. We do not recognize that hidden under the forms of bread and wine is the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Divinity, the fullness of the Person of Jesus Christ. And if we reject God made Man in the Eucharist then it makes sense, logically it follows, that we are going to reject the tiniest little man who is conceived in the womb of every woman. If we do not accept the Man who was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, why would we accept any others who are made in His image and likeness? If we reject the very Person of Jesus Christ, Present in the Eucharist, then it follows that we will reject every other person who is hidden, especially those who are hidden in the wombs of their own mother.
Now we have to understand - and this is going to sound rather harsh, but the more I pray about it, the more I am convinced of the truth of this - that the reason why abortion is legal in America, and why it continues, lies upon the shoulders of Catholics. Not merely because we have failed in voting for Pro-life candidates, not merely because we have put Satanists and Masons and other people who are opposed to life into office, but it is because we have failed to reverence Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. And the fault does not lie merely with the faithful; it begins with the priests. When the priests of Jesus Christ go to the altar, if they do not recognize the Real Presence of Jesus, if they do not have reverence for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, how can the people? If a priest is in the state of mortal sin when he goes to offer Mass, it is a sacrilege; the Mass is valid, but it is a sacrilege - it is a violation of the very Person of Jesus Christ. And if the faithful are in the state of mortal sin and they come forward to receive Holy Communion in that state, it is a sacrilege. If we are willing, without even giving it a second thought, to violate Jesus in the Eucharist, then it makes perfect sense that without a second thought we will violate those whom He has created in His own image and likeness.
And so, if abortion begins at the altar of God, then abortion will end at the altar of God. Only when the crimes against the Eucharist end will the crimes against humanity end. We need to turn this around. It is a spiritual battle that we are involved in. We need to pray for our priests and for our bishops, not only that they will have the courage to stand up for what is right and for the truth, but that they will have the courage to stand up for the proper reverence which is due to the Blessed Sacrament. We need to pray that they will recognize the importance of keeping their souls in the state of grace so that they, in turn, will be able to help the people to stay in the state of grace. We need priests and bishops who want to be saints, who want to be true pastors of the flock to lead their people to Heaven. They need to follow the Good Shepherd, Who they consecrate every day at Mass. We need to pray that they will be reverent and holy because it is only when the people of God see the reverence of the priests at Mass that the people will be reverent at Mass. Then we need to pray for ourselves and for our fellow Catholics that they, too, will recognize Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, that they will stop entering church goofing around and talking and playing games and that they will pray. We need to pray for an end to Communion in the Hand - the greatest common crime against the Eucharist. If we do not recognize that that is God and we stick our hand out, how is it ever going to be possible that we will withdraw our hand from innocent babies? It is not. If we are willing to violate Jesus Christ, it follows that we will be willing to violate everyone else.
We need to pray that this wonderful phenomenon of Eucharistic Adoration will continue and will grow. As I have pointed out many times, we have more Eucharistic Adoration in the Twin Cities than anywhere in the world. And that needs to expand. We need to get people in front of Our Lord; it is the only way. When people finally come to recognize that that truly is God in the Blessed Sacrament, then they will be able to recognize the dignity of the human life that He has created. That is the key - because only when people recognize Jesus present among them, only then will they be able to find the means of the forgiveness of their sins, only then will they have hope because they will recognize Someone beyond themselves.
So as we prepare, as a nation and as a people, to commemorate this hideous Supreme Court decision and the fact that our Congress and Presidents have failed to overturn it for well over 20 years, it is only in this: that as we commemorate it we do not just simply march around the Capitol, but that we pray; that we pray not only for an end to abortion, but that we pray for the recognition of the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and the upholding of the dignity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist so that it will follow from that that we will recognize and uphold the dignity of every single human life made in the image and likeness of God and created by Jesus Christ Himself. We need to pray for the women and for the men who have been involved in abortion. We need to pray that they will recognize their Lord and God, as Saint Paul told us in the second reading; that they will recognize that He is their Lord; that they will turn to Him; and that they will find hope and forgiveness. This is not just about those who have been involved in abortion; it is about all of us. And all of us need to do our part. The early Christians put an end to abortion in the Roman Empire by going to daily Mass and by adoring the Blessed Sacrament. There is only one way that it will end in our society, and it is the same way: by going to Mass, by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and by the recognition and the upholding of the dignity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and all of those made in His image and likeness.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.