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Pro-life Mass — Catholic identity

by Bishop Robert J. Hermann

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    Document Information

  • Description:
    This article by Bishop Robert J. Hermann, administrator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is a powerful and inspiring pro-life statement in which he says that the election of President Barack Obama would not have occurred without the support of lax Catholics.
  • Larger Work:
    St. Louis Review Online
  • Publisher & Date:
    Archdiocese of St. Louis, January 23, 2009

I was very edified this past Saturday to see the Cathedral almost filled for the Pro-Life Mass. Then to see such a large contingent, on a very cold day, make a pilgrimage to the abortion clinic, praying the Rosary for Life, was truly heartwarming.

At the very moment I am writing this, our new president, Barack Obama, is being sworn into office. We congratulate him, and we pray for him, but we cannot condone his pro-death policies, even while we are happy that so many people feel they have new hope. We must do everything we can to oppose his pro-death-to-children efforts.

Joseph Bottum, in an article entitled "Abortion after Obama," writing in the January 2009 edition of First Things, pages 13-15, tells us, "Now the 2008 election has brought us the presidency of Barack Obama, the most consistent supporter of legalized abortion ever nominated by a majority party."

When asked about making decisions as to when a baby gets human rights, President Obama answered that "is above my pay grade." He also stated that he would not want his daughters "punished with a baby."

He has made it known that, upon taking office, he will remove all federal restrictions on funding embryonic stem-cell research. He also intends to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. Seldom has our nation ever been confronted with such an extreme measure. The Freedom of Choice Act will invalidate for the entire country all restrictions on abortion before viability, including parental notification, waiting periods and partial-birth abortion bans. President Obama has no problem supporting legislation that would even kill a child who survived a botched abortion.

If at this stage our anger is directed at President Obama, our anger is misdirected. Obama is not the enemy. He needs and deserves our prayers, not our condemnation.

As Catholics, we are not guiltless. It seems to me that when President Kennedy compromised Catholic teachings and accommodated political pressures in order to be elected to the highest office in the land, he set the tone for many Catholic leaders to follow and to compromise their Catholic principles to get ahead.

In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.

Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!

After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts.

In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.

This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.

We have to live our lives in such a way that we will be unafraid to witness to what we believe and live.

I may courageously say that I am willing to die to end abortion, but am I equally willing to say that I am ready to let my ego get ruffled daily for the same cause? Yet … that is where I need to arrive if I am to be a credible witness.

What a glorious opportunity we all have to make a difference in the pro-life cause. Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living.

It does not take 100 percent of our Catholics to transform this country. If 75 percent of our Catholics were steeped in Catholic identity, the abortion issue would be over for our entire country. We have many, many evangelicals on our side in the culture of life. Look at how many more of them would flock to our side if we really lived our Catholic teachings! They, too, are looking for changeless principles lived out in practice.

But there is more! Our laxity in living our Catholic life has blinded us into not seeing the role of Satan in the culture of death. Satan is having a heyday in our midst, because he has managed to remain invisible in the culture of death, and our laxity has granted him that luxury. Since we are not steeped in the Word of God as we should be, we do not recognize his darkness in our society. Our first reading from Hebrews tells us, "The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart."

St. Paul tells us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against the power and principles of darkness. He also tells us that we should not let the sun go down upon our anger so as to give Satan a foothold. These readings are wake-up calls for us all. I bring this up deliberately, because I do not want us to fall into Satan's trap of getting us to hate President Obama or any of the pro-choice Catholic legislators in Congress. Being pro-life means that we engage far more in spiritual warfare than in political warfare.

That Satan is very alive in influencing all of us is his best-kept secret. Becoming steeped in the Word of God and the teachings of the Catholic Church exposes his evil machinations.

President Obama, pro-choice legislators and Planned Parenthood are not our enemies. Our enemies are the invisible forces masked behind these people. Most of them do not have a clue that they are being deceived by our common enemy, the devil. They are used by our common enemy, Satan, and his evil forces, to get us to hate so that we, too, will end up in a culture of death. President Obama and all pro-choice and pro-abortion legislators, as well as members supporting Planned Parenthood (and we have in our own state a national legislator who has received over $900,000 from groups that advocate for abortion rights) — these are not our enemies. They are used by the evil one to get us to hate them in our efforts to be pro-life and thereby ditch our pro-life efforts. We cannot fall for that trap!

We owe all of them prayers and fasting for their conversion. At one point, Gov. Reagan was California's very pro-abortion governor. Yet he became a very pro-life president. He repented and regretted the evil he supported.

We must bravely witness against supporting pro-choice and pro-abortion candidates in political elections, but pray daily for their conversion.

This is a great time to be a Catholic. This is a great time to witness to such a clear choice, the choice of Christ or the anti-Christ.

We have only one life to live, and Jesus is it!

If our focus consists only in counting votes, we will be discouraged. If our focus is on giving ourselves and our activities totally to Christ so that He can use our witnessing as He wishes, our hearts will be throbbing and radiating with life and joy.

This is a great time to wake up from our slumber of simply calling ourselves Catholic, and wage war against the forces of darkness in ourselves first and then in our culture, a culture which is resting on the premise that God does not exist.

Our actions and our lifestyles have to radiate the inner presence of Christ in the home and in the marketplace.

This is a glorious day and a glorious opportunity for any follower of Christ! We need to recover our Catholic identity, and we can do it!

© St. Louis Review

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