Summary: The proper answer to Satan’s "I shall not serve" and Planned Parenthood’s "Every child a planned and wanted child" is Mary’s "Behold the maidservant of the Lord" and "Be it done to me according to Thy word"
Sermon for Pro-Life Service
22 April 2009
I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that New York legalized abortion about the same time that Rosary devotions began to wane in the late 1960’s. All laws regulating contraception were struck down in 1965 by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut. That decision gave us the innocent-sounding “right to privacy” that issued in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton on the infamous day of January 22, 1973, which was coincidentally the day Lyndon Johnson died and my 26th birthday. The decision jeopardized every baby’s life whose mother lives in the U.S. It was sealed in granite in the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which taught us that abortion is necessary as a backup to contraception. Moreover, it gave us the memorable philosophical insight: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Let’s see. Let’s define existence to be my mortal body. Meaning, in my definition, is meaninglessness. The universe is whatever I am thinking at the time. The mystery of human life is that there is no mystery–when I’m dead, I’m dead. Illogical, you may think? Impossible, you may believe? Not at all. That’s exactly where we are in this culture of death. If you allow weak, sinful human beings to define reality, they will define it to maximize their pleasure and minimize their inconvenience–no matter what evil those decisions inflict on others.
In truth, I can no more define existence, meaning, the universe and the mystery of human life than I can repeal the law of gravity, but if I refuse to believe in gravity and jump off the I-10/410 overpass, my punishment for disobeying that law comes much faster.
The two statements that underlie the memorable idiocy of the Supreme Court’s definition of liberty are very old. The Ancient Liar said to God: “better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven,” and Adam and Eve said to God, “not thy will, but mine be done.” God made us to be His children, but we are petulant and disobedient children prone to frequent tantrums. And in the inevitable violence that comes from disobedience was born the abortion industry, and the biggest terrorist group of all. Their motto is “every child a planned and wanted child.” Their name is Planned Parenthood.
I have frequently alluded to that hellish motto and described it as the death sentence for my own family. “Planned”? I was conceived out of wedlock. Most of the members of my family were “surprises.” I dare say many of us were surprises, hopefully pleasant ones. Worse, too, is the “wanted” label. Most of the pregnant women I know, at some point or another in their wonderful mystery of bringing new life into the world said “I wish I weren’t pregnant.” I think that number rises to 99% during transition labor. But see the baby and fall in love and forget about the morning sickness and gestational diabetes and back labor.
The backbone of the Rosary is the Ave Maria, the words of the angel announcing the most humanly unplanned pregnancy in history. God became an embryo. God became a fetus. God became man. How did this happen? It happened by means of a human decision, inspired by the highest grace. The answer to Satan’s “I shall not serve!” is Mary’s “behold the maidservant of the Lord.” The answer to Eve’s “my will be done,” is Mary’s “thy will be done.” We know that Mary taught the human nature of Jesus to say that every day of His life, because when it counted, in the Garden of Gethsemane, that’s the prayer He prayed to His Father, and that’s the prayer He teaches to us. So–aside from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Divine Office–the Rosary is the most powerful pro-life, anti-death prayer we have. It has closed more death clinics than any lawsuit. Yes, we must preach, and register, and vote, and write our legislators. But more than anything, we must pray.