We’ve got a pretty great pastor at our parish. He has lots of admirable qualities as a person, and a pastor of our parish. But if there is one thing that really hits me about this man, time and time again, it’s his gift in giving great homilies. Every homily I have ever heard him give, has been beyond impressive to me. For every time that I have ‘come to’, sitting their in our usual church pew, from the place that I had been while listening to his homily, I find myself wishing that I could have recorded that for our blog. His homilies paint vivid pictures. They are well thought out. Stumble-free. Notes-free. Full of expression. Fact filled. They come full circle, without ever knowing of the constant curve you were taking, and pack a punch in the end. Every one just leaves me longing for a good chunk of time, to ‘just sit there with that’, and ponder it longer.
So with such effective presentation, I hesitate to even attempt to restate it. I will definitely fail in repeating it, in the amazing manner he did. But I do want to share with you the gist of it.
In part, the object of his homily, was to give us a better grasp, on the large numbers, in terms of death tolls that come of tragedies we are all too familiar with. He spoke of 9/11 in 2001, and how in the end, the finale death toll totaled in excess of 3,000 lives lost in that terrorist attack on our country. He spoke of the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, when it was estimated to be around 250,000 people who had lost their lives. And most recently on everyone’s minds, the earthquake in Haiti, where at that time on Sunday, it was last reported that 120,000 lives were ended.
To think of exactly how many lives that is, is difficult, at best. Each and every life, is of great value! They are human beings, who were loved by somebody, if not many. They were each created, one by one, by the hand of God. Each unique and specially designed….like no other. So to really fully comprehend lives lost, in the numbers of thousands, is near impossible. The media focuses as best they can, on the individual life stories of people, families, heart-ache, grief, and the rescues that bring that little bit of hope back to all of us. And to those still looking for their loved ones. So that we GET IT. But to imagine the magnitude of tragic deaths, with such high tolls, is so great, we just can’t adequately wrap our brains around it.
To look at the combined lives lost in these 3 tragic events, is in excess of 370,000 lives. LIVES. PEOPLE. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, daughters, sons. Children. Babies, who had their whole lives ahead of them.
So imagine this.
Since Roe vs. Wade was put into effect 37 years ago (as of this year of 2010), over 500,000,000 lives, have been ended. 500 MILLION! That is over 36 Million PER YEAR!! Wrap your brain around THAT. The senselessness of each and every one, brings me to my knees. While again, EVERY SINGLE LIFE is INVALUABLE, that number of abortions performed far, far exceeds even the total of the combined tragic events discussed here.
Fr. Ken then shared a story, from his early years of priesthood, and his assignment in working with Project Rachel. For those of you who do not know, Project Rachel is an outreach program for those suffering the usually inevitable grief and guilt associated with the previous act, or ‘choice’ of abortions. He said 1=one woman’s story struck him so profoundly, he never forgot it:
It was the story of a woman, who was in her college years, and found herself pregnant. She was pressured, by everyone around her, that this baby would ruin her life. That her dreams would be destroyed, and impossible to accomplish, with a child. She said that although she knew in the back of her mind it was wrong, she was scared, and had the abortion.
The years that followed were filled with days that haunted her. She wondered what her child would have been like. Was it a girl or a boy? What would he or she have looked like? She would notice children everywhere, that were about the age her child would have been. She would see and hear children running, laughing, playing on a playground, and feel such pain and grief in her heart.
She eventually married, and had a family. But there was a hole inside her that she could not fill, no matter how hard she tried. She wanted to forget. To at least let go of the weight of guilt and loss she felt. But there it was, every morning when she opened her eyes. She hadn’t even been able to bring herself to tell her husband of the burden she carried. She feared he would leave her. After all, who could love someone, who would kill their own child? She couldn’t even forgive or love herself, for what she had done.
She carried that secret around, alone, for 15 years. Until one day, she was reading a fictional book. A made up story, that happened to have a character, who went to Confession, to seek forgiveness. And she knew in that moment, what she needed. What she wanted, more than anything. Forgiveness from God. She knew that was was exactly all she needed. So that she could forgive herself, and finally find peace, and be free.
There was one small problem. She wasn’t even Catholic. But that was not enough to stop her from what her heart so desperately needed. So took the steps she needed, went through the entire months long process, got all of the instruction, and did indeed become a Catholic, all so that she could receive the Sacrament of Penance. And she did, the very moment that she could. It was all the healing her heart needed. She knew God had forgiven her. She knew that her child, too, had forgiven her. And so, despite her sadness over the choice that she made, she was able to forgive herself, and find that peace for her heart she had wanted and needed for so many years.
Fr. Ken circled us back to the tragedies that have taken so many lives, and changed forever, the lives of so many others. He spoke of how beautiful it is, that when things of such devastating nature occur, people come together. People generally come together in forces, to make a difference. To relieve the suffering, give to the needy, and work together to get the jobs done. People volunteer. People donate. Celebrities of all kinds use their faces for good, working themselves to make a difference, and encouraging others to do the same. People pray. People go. People give. People sacrifice. People offer any useful tools of use they may have, to make a difference in any way they can. It is indeed, a beautiful, amazing, and powerful force, when people’s compassion rises above all else, and comes together. As miracles come to light, faith, bit by bit, is restored. As is LOVE, for all people. Each and every single rescue gives us reason to celebrate LIFE. And thank God for it.
As Fr. Ken ended his homily, on a note of such hope, I thought about those numbers. I thought about all of the people that HAVE come together in the wake of such tragedies. Our armed forces. The Red Cross. Emergency personnel. Celebrities. Missionary workers. Ordinary people, like you and me. All of those people, that together by the thousands, do anything they can, to SAVE people, to RESCUE even as much as ONE LIFE. Because every life is invaluable. One life, IS worth saving. It’s the truth. Many of us thank God, that so many come forth to help, for the sake of lives on the line.
And I wondered: Out of all of these millions of people who have given anything and everything they can, in a great effort to rescue others in these heart-breaking and horrific disasters, and give them back the opportunity to live their life…..How many are pro-choice?