Rorate Caeli

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Today I offered, as did many other priests, a Votive Mass for Peace, with a commemoration, of course, of SS. Vincent and Anastasius. I did so on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.  The Collect and the readings make it quite clear that the Peace of which we are speaking and for which we are asking has little to do with peace as understood by the world.  The Collect says it best: “O God, from Whom are holy desires, right counsels, and just works, give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts being devoted to the keeping of Thy commandments, and the fear of enemies removed, our times, by Thy protection, may be peaceful.” The peace we are asking for in this Mass is not freedom from anxiety and the tempests of this world, nor from the obligations of the Catholic in this world, a world that denies and opposes the moral law of Christ founded on love of God. We are not asking for “peace in the world”, per se.  We are asking for that peace that only God can give, that peace that is aninner glimpse of the peace of heaven.

The Epistle Reading from 2 Maccabees asks that God will “ give you all a heart to worship Him, and to do His will with a great heart and a willing mind. May He open your heart in His law, and in His commandments, and send you peace. “  This reading makes it clear that this peace is firmly linked to the worship of God and to doing his Will, that Will enshrined in the Law of God. The primacy of the worship of God for the Catholic has certainly been eroded in the past forty years, and this erosion is surely at the heart of the weakened and broken state of the Church today.
But it is the Gospel for the Mass above all that reminds us what we often forget in an age of sentimental worship where the understanding of peace has degenerated into handshakes and waves. This Gospel is familiar to us, for it is read on Low Sunday every year. The resurrected Christ comes through the locked doors of the Upper Room and says to his disciples: “Peace be to you.” Then Luke adds:  “And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.” The Peace of Christ cannot be separated from, and in fact is founded upon, the suffering and death of the Lord on the Cross.  The Peace of Christ has little to do with the peace of the world. It is not an absence of conflict and strife, but rather the gift of the knowledge from faith that Christ has overcome the world of sin and death.  The encounter with St. Thomas and the invitation to touch Christ’s wounds further emphasize the radical difference between what the world calls peace and what the Peace that passes all understanding is.

What does this have to do with the March on Washington which includes so many Catholics, who  right now as I write are witnessing to the Right to Life based on their faith in the God who is the source of all life?  It must be said clearly that the law of the land, which in this case is truly unjust, nevertheless can never solve or eliminate transgressions of the moral law of God.  The ambiguity of the situation must be made clear, an ambiguity that is part of being a Christian in a non-believing world.  The goal of an end to all abortions is not achievable in this world.  While it is true that it is a scandal that in this country abortion is seen as a “right” included in “life, liberty and happiness”, it is also true that this grievous sin is part of the sinful and obstinate state of the world, the “World” that St. John sees so clearly in his Gospel, the World that  is always in opposition to the Truth of God in Jesus Christ and will be so until the end of time at the Second Coming.  

To march publicly in protest is the point of the Washington March for Life.   This is an act of witness.  But to use this act of witness in the hope that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade to “end the scourge of abortion” is to misunderstand the use of law, for the law cannot prevent crime, the law is never the final answer in a fallen world, and the law of the world can never be the Law of God, again, in a fallen world.  The individual Catholic must witness to the Law of Love not only once a year in the March for Life.  His or her whole life must witness to the Law of Love, and this, and only this, will change hearts and minds, and this is what we must do and hope for. 

The Catholic Church today finds herself in the unenviable position of organizing marches for life when her own life is threatened by those within her fold who support moral corruption and corruption of the Faith of Catholic Tradition that is founded on the Apostolic Tradition, and manifested in the Traditional worship of the Church.  It is the secular law that forced the bishops of the Church to confront the crimes of her priests.  As destructive and disgusting as the moral crimes of her priests in the sex scandals are,  the greater scandal is that the bishops did nothing about this moral rot in the Church until the secular law came after them.  But the secular law cannot force the bishops to address the deeper disease of the rot of Faith itself that so deeply enfeebles the Church of Jesus Christ today.

There is no way to make peace with the World.  We must stop looking there, we must stop wanting to be accepted by the World.  We must minister to the World, absolutely. We must never turn our backs on the World. We must do what we can wherever we can to see that Love conquers the deep selfishness of the World.  But in the end, we must realize that our longing for the Peace that passes all understanding can never be realized in its fulness in this world of sin and death.  And that should not make us sad at all, for at every Mass we encounter in a real way, a way that transcends this space and time, the One who has overcome the World, He alone who can give us that Peace we so long for, the One who alone is our hope for the salvation of the World of sin and death, who alone is our hope for the Peace of Everlasting Life.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla