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Conversion, prayer, action needed to protect life

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

January 19, 2022

I’m no computer expert, but those who use a computer know something about default options. When we get a new computer, it is set up in a certain standardized way-the screens all look alike, the document templates are all the same, the same print style. Part of the challenge (fun?) of getting a new computer is that you can personalize it – change the way the icons appear on the screen, have a picture of your loved one as your screensaver, choose your own background wallpaper. The problem is that when there is a fault with a computer – when it crashes – all these changes are lost. The computer returns to the default options, the factory settings. You lose all the work you put into the computer to customize it to your preferences.

In a sense, we have a default option as human beings. And because we live in a fallen state, because of the effects of original sin, unfortunately our default option can be pretty ugly. As Christians, we struggle to move away from this default option. That is the meaning of repentance.

By following Jesus’ example and teaching, by becoming His disciples, we move away from those default options that reveal our pride, greed and selfishness. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, occasionally, like computers, we crash. We stumble and fall. We sin and return to our default settings. We can be like a computer which refuses to reboot and keeps on crashing. Clearly, such has been the story of our Culture of Death.

As a nation, we suffered such a tragic crash when our highest court took away legal protection for the unborn child in its death-dealing decision in Roe v Wade (1973). Since that time, humanity’s cruel inhumanity has increased and so very many precious innocent lives continue to be taken.

Since then, we have seen scandalous division within the Body of Christ itself and the killing continues. Legislators have been voted in and out of office. Judges have been nominated and taken their seats, and the killing continues. Prominent Catholic politicians refuse to witness to their faith. They claim to be “good, enlightened Catholics,” and the killing continues.

It is only through our own personal conversion, made new each day as we ask God to re-create our hearts, that we will have the courage and wisdom to continue to work on behalf of life. There is a necessary place for the faithful to be marching in the public square and calling the public’s attention to the evil of abortion, although that might not be the place for all of us.

However, every one of us has the serious obligation to act on behalf of the unborn, following Jesus’ example and teaching.

We need a broader effort, reflecting a truly unified Church, in our ministry for life. How can we be more effective in the Pro-Life movement? Education is good place to begin. The teaching of the Church on life matters must be part of the faith formation of our children. We must learn about candidates and legislation and vote for individuals and laws that protect the unborn. Equal rights begin in the womb!

Each of us can and must, persevere in prayer. Do I consciously say a prayer each day for the plight of the unborn? Perhaps, I could commit myself to special time before the Blessed Sacrament. We can all target days in which to fast in reparation for the sin we all commit – failing to give respect to every human person with whom we come in contact. We can affirm one another, be life-givers, rather than ridicule or tear down someone, contributing to this Culture of Death. Small acts of charity can change people from being strangers into sisters and brothers. Such deeds can help change a Culture of Death into that of new life and can create a civilization of love – even here in the United States.

We can volunteer to work with service groups that provide direct aid to women so they would not feel that they have no option but to abort their preborn child. We should be proud of what our Church is doing in this area, including such efforts as Elizabeth Ministry, Gabriel Project and Rachel’s Vineyard, as well as adoption ministries, crisis pregnancy centers and support programs for single mothers and their children. Such tireless sacrifice, and enthusiasm for life inspires us all and we are so grateful.

We need a true revolution to take place in society’s attitudes about human life and the means we employ to protect it. You and I must storm the heavens with our prayers and smother the earth with our love. Even if such efforts seem ineffective against a culture steeped in moral relativism, we must never give in to discouragement.
Pope John Paul II once wrote that conversion and penance are the beginning and the path of a person’s healing, and the necessary condition for one to recover what he or she could never attain by one’s own strength. We ask for forgiveness and for the courage to renew our own personal efforts to be life-givers. We thank all of you who continue to persevere in your witness for life in such a toxic environment.

January 22, a Day of Prayer and Fasting for the legal Protection of Unborn Children, is a good occasion to recapture our energy to look with faith-filled eyes on the world and see the possibilities through the lens of Christian hope. We will not lose heart because, as we heard Cardinal O’Connor tell us a few years ago in his visit to Malone, “We will not go away. We simply will not go away.” Let us respond today and remember that when we crash and fall God will never give up on us. We pray we will never give up on Him or on the pre-born.

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