I remember hearing Bishop Fulton Sheen, the famous TV personality of some years ago, making the following statement: “All one has to do is give twenty-five radio talks and you have a book written.” On the same principle, all you have to do is give one talk and you have an article written. I was invited to be the guest speaker at a Christian Heritage Party Breakfast in Delhi (Ontario, not India) on February 24th. The only thing that can keep me away from a free meal is another, so I accepted the invitation with pleasure. The following – minus the Irish jokes – is a fairly accurate copy of my talk.
A Spiritual Approach
As I am not a politician but a priest, I prefer to take a spiritual line rather than a political one, based on the principles upon which the Christian Heritage Party was founded. “The Christian Heritage Party is founded on the official recognition of Canada as a nation which acknowledges the supremacy of God and the rule of law,” reads the CHP’s brief to the parliamentary committee studying Bill C-43.
Three corollaries follow from this:
- The Christian Heritage Party believes in a Divine Creator.
- The Party recognizes that the Creator has given a code of moral principles to distinguish right from wrong.
- The Party recognizes that each human being, made in the iage and likeness of the Creator, has a basic right to life.
Many consequences flow from these convictions regarding the moral wrongness of abortion. But I know that, this morning, I am preaching to the converted. So, I shall not dwell on them. What I have been asked to do is to attempt to inspire you to do more in defense of the thousands of unborn babies who are being murdered in Canada each year. The official count for 1987 was 65,000. The actual count is 80,000.
Prayer and penance
Having worked on the inside of the pro-life movement for a dozen or more years, I have become more and more convinced of the absolute necessity of prayer and penance as a support for the necessary front-line action. So, I would like to take a few examples from the bible which teach us how dependent we are on God and how helpless we are when we depend on ourselves. The first is the story in Exodus 17, which tells of the battle between the Israelites and the Amelikites. We are told that the Amelikites, with a far stronger force, attacked the people of Israel. Moses ordered Joshua to go into military action against them. But he himself went up to the mountain with Aaron and Hur. He knelt down with his arms held out in prayer and penance. According to the Bible, as long as he kept his arms up, the Israelites had the advantage. But when he allowed his arms to sag, the Amelikites began to win the battle. Eventually Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses and the Israelites conquered.
I believe there is a great lesson for us in this story. We are also pitted against – humanly speaking – a more powerful foe. The pro-abortionists have the media on hteir side; the are strongly supported by the philosophy of secular humanism which places man rather than God at the centre of the universe; their greatest allies are the radical feminists who see the rights of women or their own convenience as superior to the lives of the unborn children. Perhaps the most serious of our disadvantages is the fact that the pro-abortionists have the backing of a government which has bartered its soul for a mess of politics and is far more interested in the ballot box than in the lives of unborn babies. The forces against us are truly formidable. But so were the Amelikites, and yet the Israelites prevailed because they trusted in God and expressed their trust by prayer and penance.
Tell the Cowards to go Home!
One of the most fascinating stories in the bible, in my opinion, is that of Gideon. It is related in Chapter 6 of the Book of Judges. The Israelites were being harassed by the Midianites who destroyed their crops and killed their animals. The Bible says that the Midianites were like locusts and their camels past counting. Then there is the famous story of Gideon who was just an ordinary young farmer. An angel told him that he was to lead the Israelites into battle against the Midianites. Gideon felt totally inadequate for such a responsibility and said so to the angel. However, he obeyed God’s call and formed an army of thirty-two thousand men. But God said to him, “Your army is too large. If you win they will attribute the victory to their own power. Tell the cowards to go home.” Twenty-two thousand left him. Ten thousand remained. But God said, “Your army is still too many.” After another test, Gideon was left with three hundred men to do battle with the vast hordes of the enemy. Yet he conquered, not by force of arms but by the power of God. His men’s battle cry was, “For God and Gideon.”
The lesson here is the same as the previous one. The Israelites went into battle, but they depended on the power of god and the righteousness of their cause rather than on the power of worldly endeavor. There are many other instances in the Bible which teach the same lesson: without the help of god our puny efforts are of little avail. The sixteenth chapter of the Book of Proverbs begins with the words, “Man’s heart makes the plans. God gives the answer.”
The New Testament
The New Testament is not lacking in examples of the importance of prayer and penance. In Matthew chap. 17, after the Transfiguration, Jesus came down the mountain and found His disciples trying in vain to cast a deaf and dumb devil out of a young boy. Jesus rebuked the devil and the boy was cured. The disciples asked Him why they could not cast him out. Jesus answered, “because of your lack of faith. This kind of devil is cast out only by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is a generic word for penance.
I believe that Satan is extremely active in the world today. Abortion does not stand in isolation. It is part of a whole diabolic scheme to ruin society and destroy souls. The foundation of that destruction is the philosophy of secular humanism or a Godless society, a society with man rather than God at the centre. It is a replay of the garden of Eden scenario, “You will be as gods, knowing good and evil.” In other words, it is man and not God who decides what is right and what is wrong.
This has led to the materialism which is rampant today in our world and which expresses itself in the consumer society. We must have everything we see. It has led to the destruction of the family, hoes without father – and permissive sex which inevitably leads to unwanted pregnancies and consequent abortions.
There is a devil abroad today who is both deaf and dub: deaf to the cries of the unborn and dub in the sense that even those who do not agree with abortion will not speak out against it. And this kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting. My appeal to you this morning is not to be apathetic. Heed the words of the Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, “All that evil needs in order to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” First find out what you can do and then do it – typing, filling, writing, speaking, rescuing. But don’t forget to flavour your efforts with prayer and sacrifice and “We shall overcome.”