SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
As Catholics across the Archdiocese of Milwaukee prepared to make their way to Washington, D.C., for the 47th annual March for Life rally, where they would meet with nearly 100,000 defenders of the unborn, many paused to attend Holy Mass at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hartland on Jan. 22 to observe the designated “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.”
On that day every year, Catholics are asked not only to pray but to fast, and give alms in the hope that the legal guarantee of the right to life will one day soon be restored, and in repentance for the 60 million (and counting) abortions that have occurred since the 1973 ruling of Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton.
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki presided over the Mass, also called the Respect Life Mass, with concelebrants Fr. Ken Omernick and Fr. Nick Baumgardner.
Archbishop Listecki began by asking, “How could we not be committed to life? We were given the great gift of being alive and our active gratitude and thanks should be to stand in defense of those who have no voice, to fight for others’ right to live from the moment of conception to natural death no matter how the world changes around us and challenges what we know is true.”
He said, “We have to be there as witnesses. And the best way to do that is to join ourselves with Christ Jesus who gave himself so freely to us on the cross.”
In his homily, Archbishop Listecki said, “You’re the voice of those who have no voice,” the voice of those who are so arbitrarily cast aside that we have no real number to point to. As Catholics, he said, we have an understanding of the Imago Dei, the image of God that’s in every one of us, that roots us to the truth that life is precious because we were made in his image.
He called back to the day’s first reading (Isaiah 49:1-6) and said contrary to popular belief, prophets aren’t those who predict the future, but those who see very clearly what the community should be doing. Isaiah could speak about the calamity of Israel because he saw that they weren’t following the covenant established by God and had lost their bond with him.
“You don’t have to be a soothsayer to know that if you’ve lost that bond, you’re doomed,” Listecki said, “The prophet is the only one who, when everyone is singing out of tune, is singing in tune.” Usually though people don’t accept the prophet’s truth; they kill them.
But Listecki said for the prophets, death is a small price to pay for standing in the truth they know in their hearts and trying to save their brothers and sisters from sin.
In the second reading (1 John 3:11-21), John reminded us of our responsibility to love one another, and Archbishop Listecki added that along with sharing the gifts we’ve been given, we can’t say that we love one another when we ignore the pain and death of our unborn brothers and sisters.
In the Gospel reading (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14), we’re reminded of our Lord’s elevation of children during a time when they were accepted as nothing more than possessions, and shadows who hardly merited footnotes. Listecki said children were not often thought of by society, but Jesus constantly pulled them in and used them as an example for all the rest of his teaching. He said, “The child doesn’t look to power, they look only at relationship. So by using them he tells the rest of us that we must surrender ourselves to a God who loves us.”
As he spoke about the horrors of abortion, Archbishiop Listecki said that though we have our work cut out for us, he has great hope for the future because of the young people he sees all over the country who are getting involved and speaking up and working to end what he believes is our National Sin.
He said he sees more and more Pro-Lifers being hugged by those on the sidelines and asking what they can do to help. First and foremost, he said, pray. Second, he said that we all must become a voice for the voiceless. “Finally,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to witness. The war was won; we’re just engaged in the battle.”