Any discussion of abortion triggers great reaction, not just between those for and against life and the sacred dignity of the human person, but likewise certain opinions on the matter trigger a huge, angry, backlash if you are pro-life but not of the same ilk as others who equally view themselves as pro-life.
Case in point: recently in the province of Alberta Canada, comprised of three dioceses and one archdiocese, the Archbishop posted a blog: note, not a pastoral letter, not a statement on his official website, but a brief blog stating in part that “The Alberta Bishops have decided not to participate in the 2011 Alberta March for Life.”
The statement stresses this is because of the use of “…large, graphic images of aborted babies…”.
Finally the statement notes support for the cause of life, a vigil and Mass for life will be held.
Now while I agree in principle with the position taken by the Bishops I must admit the temerity shown by only one of them posting it, and even then on a blog not all that easy to find, and also given that over the forty years since abortion was legalized in Canada the majority of Bishops have been noteworthy by their absence from public protests against abortion, and rarely have made strong pastoral statements, surely the Bishops should have issued at the very least a joint pastoral stressing the sacred dignity of the human person and also made themselves available to the media to teach clearly on the sacredness and dignity of human life.
But none of that has happened and so on Lifesite Canada the vast majority of comments, some of them really lacking charity, have slammed the bishops and sought to justify the use of graphic images of aborted children.
Only four people, from what I read, stand with the bishops and offered reasonable arguments defending the bishops’ position.
What seems to be lost in this whole debate, or perhaps even bishops these days are unsure how to articulate it, is that fundamentally abortion is not just about the murder of unborn children, which it certainly is, but rather abortion in the first instance is axiomatic of the loss of a real appreciation of, understanding of, faith in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: ALL THAT CAME TO BE HAD LIFE IN HIM, as St. John tells us.
We easily say we are created in the image and likeness of God, but how deeply do we go with this?
Do we truly appreciate what we say so easily? More do we believe it, really?
Even further: do I truly see every other human being, irrespective of their race, religion, economic status, goodness or lack thereof, in a word WITHOUT any exception, as equally one like myself, endowed with an immortal soul, in His image and likeness, endowed with life and dignity as I am?
This sacred participation in the reality of being in the image and likeness of God is not just within our souls, it is fleshy too, bodily – indeed it is our very bodies that through Baptism become living temples of the Holy Spirit and it is not just in our souls that we live out the sacredness of Sacramental Marriage, that very sacrament depends upon the bodies, and their capacity to cooperate physically with God in the creation of a new sacred and dignified human life AND Holy Communion is not just some ‘spiritual’ experience but is the REAL consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ – real stuff if you will – which permeates my physical being.
We seem to somehow disconnect the earthiness of, the fleshiness if you will, of life on earth, life as members of the Mystical Body of Christ – again because we do not contemplate deeply enough, often enough, long enough [and I dare say an entire life would not be long enough] the overarching import of His Holy Incarnation.
The ancient Christians got it – by way of example contemplate a crucifix.
We know the Romans preferred to crucify Jewish men in particular totally naked, because the Romans knew this was the ultimate humiliation for a Jewish man of faith.
Christian artists understood even more deeply, contemplating Jesus, the absolute sacredness and dignity of the bodily human person and so placed a cloth that we contemplate Jesus to this day on the cross without dishonouring His dignity.
It is because of Jesus, Son of God Incarnate and Risen, Jesus Eucharist, that we should each in regards to our own body, but equally in regards to the body of every other human being, treat the body with respect, dignity – be that body of someone alive, that is walking, talking, or perhaps elderly, ill, handicapped, it matters not, or that body of someone in the repose of death, irrespective of the manner of their death.
We have become a culture of voyeurs, a culture addicted to graphic images of the latest celebrity caught in scandal, of the latest human tragedy, watching pictures of tsunami devastation over and over until we are mesmerized and simultaneously desensitized to the weeping faces of real human beings, a culture which addicts its young and not so young to computer games which celebrate violence and the aggressive murder of other human beings, even if these are disguised as fictional characters from some imaginary universe.
Perhaps forty years ago, when we were not so desensitized, images of aborted children might, though I seriously doubt it, have accomplished the goal advocates of such images purport and motivated some woman not to abort her child.
However nowadays in a culture drowning in graphic images it certainly seems to me they are not only counterproductive but an insult to the sacred dignity of the very murdered children they claim to defend.
This is the culture of pornography, of a generation that tattoos and staples it’s body to bits, a generation of total gender confusion, a generation which has almost completely lost the ability to see, understand, appreciate real beauty.
We all know the old saying you attract more flies with honey than vinegar – put more bluntly ugliness repels, beauty attracts.
There are thousands of beautiful images available of little children in the womb throughout the gestation period; the parents who bring their children to participate in pro-life marches surely have pictures of their beautiful newborn, most families have neat pictures of baptisms and marriages – and of elders celebrating fifty, sixty years of marriage or even a hundred years of life!
If we are truly pro-life then we should ONLY celebrate life, not death!
“In Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendour at their source……Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love….Jesus Christ shows us how the truth of love can transform even the dark mystery of death into the radiant light of the resurrection.” [Pope Benedict XVI]
A very good point, Father. When your post started I felt a little anger with the Canadian Bishops for their actions, perhaps because it seems that a majority of Bishops do not stand up for what is truly right, just as many parish priests don't. I have been to D.C. and walked, and although I didn't realize it at the time, but those many graphic posters that I saw there did make me uncomfortable, but maybe they were supposed to. I see your point, though, and in my heart I know that this battle can only be won through love. Thanks for the reminder.
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