The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mother Teresa and the Unborn

Like Pope Francis, I know I'll have trouble now calling Mother Teresa "Saint Teresa." She has simply been Mother Teresa to the world for too long, and given her radical humility, I suspect the Church's newest saint won't mind if we continue to call her what we've always called her. Yes, she is a saint, but during much of her 87 years on earth she was also a loving mother to so many of God's forgotten children. Whenever I read that unique description of the last judgment found in Matthew's Gospel [Mt 25:31-46], I think of Mother Teresa who devoted her life to loving and caring for the least brothers and sisters of Jesus. "Jesus in disguise" she called them. She was truly a loving mother to all God's children.

If you happened to watch her canonization Mass on television yesterday, you will have heard the pope's wonderful homily in which he particularly stressed Mother Teresa's commitment to what she often called "the weakest, smallest, and most vulnerable" among us, the unborn. Sometimes, when I actually take the time to consider the truth about abortion, I find it almost inconceivable that such a horror can exist in a civilized society. To accept abortion as anything other than an intrinsically evil act demands a level of moral ignorance or outright depravity that is beyond comprehension. And yet millions of our fellow citizens seem to have little difficulty accepting this evil as a kind of human right. Imagine that! It becomes a human right to destroy another human being simply because he or she is inconvenient.

People speak today about the many evils that plague our world, but Mother Teresa knew that all these pale in comparison to abortion, the world's greatest evil. Abortion is really the overt rejection of God's love; for what is the gift of life if not the most obvious manifestation of God's love for us? And what is abortion if not its repudiation? I don't see how anyone who believes firmly in the right to abort an unborn child can accept the existence of a living, loving God. To believe in both demands some extraordinary moral and intellectual gymnastics. God's love and His command that we carry that love to others cannot coexist with abortion.

Mother Teresa, of course, knew that love is at the heart of God's call to humanity. In her own brief commentary on Matthew's last judgment, she once said:

I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I do know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, "How many good things have you done in your life?" Rather he will ask, "How much love did you put into what you did?”
I remember my own mother once telling me, "What you do is important, but how you do it is even more important." It must be something mothers understand.

Among the more remarkable moments of Mother Teresa's life were those prophetic moments when she confronted the world's elites and revealed God's Word. I've included a few here.

Her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (December 11, 1979) was a remarkable plea to the world to turn to God and accept His love and mercy. It was also a plea on behalf of the unborn:
"The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child - I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that the  unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion."
How interesting that this recipient of the Peace Prize would equate abortion with war and murder, and label it the "greatest destroyer of peace." I suspect that more than a few in the audience were squirming in their seats as they listened to this tiny, humble woman who commanded no armies but did not hesitate to remind them that they too would have to face God's judgment. Here is a video of her acceptance speech:

There were many similar occasions when Mother Teresa lovingly confronted those who had forgotten or neglected God's Word, but perhaps the most memorable was her appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 3, 1994.  Her words to President and Mrs. Clinton and that gathering of politicians must have created a great deal of discomfort that morning as she called them to task. Many, perhaps most, were pro-abortion.
"If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
"By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.
"And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.
"Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."
I've included a video of her talk here:

And today, two decades later, just look at our world and how violence has for too many become the means to getting what they want.

As the Church celebrates the heavenly canonization of Mother Teresa, another woman is hoping for a worldly celebration as a result of our presidential election on November 8. She too holds some strong, if radically different, beliefs about abortion. Here's what Hillary Clinton said earlier this year in a campaign speech to Planned Parenthood (Januay 6, 2016), the nation's largest abortion provider:
"Politicians have no business interfering with women's personal health decisions. I will oppose efforts to roll back women's access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. As president, I'll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion."
Ah, yes, safe for the mother; deadly for the child. It would be interesting to hear Mother Teresa's response...

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