Today we bring you the Holy Father's Homily from his historic Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Square where over 100,000 packed the area to participate in the three hour celebration - the most important and beautiful of the liturgical year. His Holiness spoke of the importance of this occasion especially in the context of salvation history and how it links the Old and New Covenant. The Holy Father invited the newly-elected to a life of grace through the Sacraments and reminded all to continue to stand watch just as the Church does. THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. "You have a guard of soldiers; go and secure the tomb as best as you can" (Matthew 27:65).
The tomb of Jesus had been closed and sealed. At the request of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees, soldiers were placed on guard, lest anyone steal the body (Matthew 27:62-64). This is the event from which the liturgy of the Easter Vigil begins.
Those who had sought the death of Christ, those who considered Him an "imposter" (Matthew 27:62), were keeping watch beside the tomb. They wanted Him and His message to be buried for ever.
Not far away, Mary was keeping watch, and with her the Apostles and a few women. In their hearts they pondered the distressing events which had just taken place.
2. The Church keeps watch this night, in every corner of the world, and she re-lives the principal stages of salvation history. The solemn liturgy which we are celebrating is the expression of this "keeping watch" which, in a way, evokes the watch kept by God Himself. The Book of Exodus tells us: "It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. This night is a night of watching kept to the Lord in every generation" (Exodus 12:42).
In his provident and faithful love, which transcends time and space, God keeps watch over the world. As the Psalmist sings: "He sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel's guard... The Lord is your guard ... The Lord will guard you... both now and for ever" (Ps 121:4-5,8).
The passage from the second to the third millennium, which we are experiencing, is also guarded in the mystery of the Father. He "is working still" (Jn 5:17) for the salvation of the world, and through His Incarnate Son He leads His people from slavery to freedom, from death to life. All the "work" of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is in some way linked to this night of Vigil, which brings to fulfilment the night of the Lord's Nativity. Bethlehem and Calvary evoke the same mystery of the love of God, Who "so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
3. As she keeps watch on this Holy Night, the Church closely scrutinizes the texts of Sacred Scripture. They portray God's plan from Genesis to the Gospel and, together with the liturgical rites of fire and water, give this remarkable celebration a cosmic dimension. The whole created universe is summoned to keep watch this night at the tomb of Christ. The history of salvation passes before our eyes, from Creation to the Redemption, from the Exodus to the Covenant on Mount Sinai, from the Old to the New and Eternal Covenant. On this Holy Night, God's eternal plan reaches fulfilment, the plan which embraces the history of humanity and of the cosmos.
4. At the Easter Vigil, "the mother of all vigils", everyone can likewise acknowledge their own personal history of salvation, which has its basic moment in our rebirth in Christ through Baptism.
In a very special way, this is your experience too, dear brothers and sisters who are about to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
You come from various countries throughout the world: Japan, China, Cameroon, Albania and Italy.The variety of your native countries points to the universality of the salvation brought by Christ. Soon, dear friends, you will become intimate sharers in the mystery of the love of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. May your lives become a song of praise to the Most Holy Trinity and a witness of love which knows no limits.
5. "Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world: come, let us worship!". Yesterday the Church chanted these words, lifting up the wood of the Cross, "on which hung Christ, the Savior of the world." "He was crucified, died and was buried", as we say in the Creed.
The tomb! Behold the place where they buried Him (cf. Mark 16:6). There the community of the Church throughout the world is spiritually present. We too are there with the three women going to the tomb before dawn to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus (cf. Mark 16:1). Their loving concern is our concern too. With them we discover that the large tombstone has been rolled away and that the body is no longer there. "He is not here", the angel proclaims, pointing to the empty tomb and the winding cloth on the ground. Death no longer has power over him (cf. Romans 6:9).
Christ is risen! So the Church proclaims, at the end of this Easter night, even as yesterday she proclaimed Christ's death on the Cross. It is a proclamation of truth and life.
"Christ is risen from the tomb, Who for our sakes hung upon the Cross. Alleluia!". The Lord, Who for us was nailed to the Cross, is risen from the tomb!
Yes, Christ is truly risen and we are witnesses of this. We proclaim this witness to the world, so that the joy which is ours will reach countless other hearts, kindling in them the light of the hope which does not disappoint.
Christ is risen, alleluia!
Today Dr. Frank Joseph pulls no punches in telling it like it truly is. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice pro-abort organizations seem to have a cover-up of their own, which fits comfortably into the on-going culture of death society in which we live.
"For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" Dr. Joseph asks why things and behaviors, that for millenniums were sin, are suddenly accepted in this society today and how lies piled on more lies have opened the dykes in the damn and now satan spills over into all aspects of civilization. For his column Try as they might, the pro-aborts can't hide the obvious! , see Pro-Life Prescriptions: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!
When I hear these words, I "cringe." How can it be anyone's choice to kill a human being? For accuracy and truthfulness, I replaced the word abortion with the words "kill her unborn baby," but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know they mean the same.
To begin with, the unborn baby is NOT her body. The eyes, heart, brain, lungs, arms and legs of her baby are not hers. They belong to her baby. Even the blood type and the DNA are different.
Before Roe Vs Wade, if a woman had killed her unborn baby, she was looked down on. People would whisper behind her back that, "she had killed her baby." How our morality has changed since the Supreme Court legalized the killing of unborn babies in 1973. What a contrast to the mindset of the public before and after this abominable decision.
This administration says, that we have to change with the times. Well, I've got news for the Clinton/Gore administration, morality cannot be changed. What was immoral 25, 100, 200, 2000 years ago is immoral today and because we do try to change it, look at the condition of our country. Do you like what you see? 1.4 million unborn babies are killed every year (95% for convenience). Children are killing children. Women are having babies and throwing them in dumpsters. Filth in the movies and on TV, gets worse every day. Not too long ago, homosexuality was described in psychiatric books as an abnormality. Now, we must accept it, or we're homophobic, even though the gay lifestyle is killing people.
The title -- "The Culture of Death" - fits us to a T. We are today's Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed for the very same reason. The unthinkable is now commonplace. What once was disgusting to most of us is now repugnant to only the religious and to those with great love in their hearts. The Clinton/Gore administration refer to religious people, as the "fanatic religious right." Can you beat that?!? How times have changed. Our forefathers, who couldn't make a move without including God, would be labeled the "fanatic religious right."
In 1871, The American Medical Association called abortions, "foul, unprovoked murders." Our feminist foremothers, Susan B. Anthony, Stanton, Gage, Goldman, Norton, Paul, and Brinkerhoff, all vehemently opposed abortions. Abortion was referred to as "child murder." This reflects how morality has degenerated since that time. How far do we have to go into the cesspool, before we start gagging? Is it any wonder that the killing of 38 million unborn babies, since Roe Vs Wade is the main contributing factors in the public's perception that LIFE IS CHEAP.
I am more dismayed, by the many Catholics, who say they are pro-choice. This tears away at the very fabric of the Catholic Church. I have to doubt that they really and truly, and down deep in their hearts believe in God. The two are diametrically opposed. They say it, because they think it gives credence to their agenda and to ease their conscience, but they are kidding no one. God knows.
They even say, that to kill your unborn baby is a sin, BUT, a woman has got to make her own choice. And why the Pro-choicers sanction sin, is mind boggling. 'Oh, I almost forgot ...it's her body and she should have the choice to kill, if she wants to.' So, if there is a sin, it's her sin.
There's one thing wrong with this line of reasoning and that is -- we will all be judged not only by our own actions, but also by how we influence others (to do good and abide by God's laws, or to sin).
We are told by Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures to help the sinner find his way to God and to sin no more. So if we sit idly by and do not try to stop the slaughter of unborn babies, which is a sin, then WE will have to answer to God. So when you say that a woman should have the right to kill her unborn, then in reality, you are sanctioning the taking of a human life -- a sin. This support and encouragement acts as an authoritative permission, which influences women to kill their unborn babies. Thus if you are pro-choice, (condoning) then you are a party to these mass killings and a great delight to satan.
I've often thought -- what if a woman is on her way to a killing clinic and about ten feet before she gets to the door, God suddenly appears to her and only her. She is stunned -- she stops in her tracks and falls to her knees. God does not say anything to her. He just looks at her. She is speechless -- she is absolutely certain that this is God -- which was God's plan.
After what seemed like a long time, but in reality was only about thirty seconds, God disappears. Now, do you think this woman would continue to walk into the clinic and have her unborn killed? OF COURSE NOT. And do you think that if God appeared in this manner to the pro-choicers, that they would continue to condone the killing of unborn babies? OF COURSE NOT.
It's all a matter of faith. There are those who probably -- might -- maybe -- or pretend to believe in God and there are those who do not have to actually see God to put their undying faith in Him. Therein lies the main differences between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. And therein lies the problem. Oh, how this country needs a spiritual awakening.
You have to wonder -- what motivates the pro-choicers? Is it love? Certainly not for the unborn baby. Is it love of the mother -- fearing that their life would be complicated, if they didn't have their unborn baby killed? And don't forget their "battle cry" prior to Roe Vs Wade -- "women will go to some dark back alley and a rusty coat hanger will be used."
That was another lie sold to America by the pro-choicers and the abortion profiteers, in an effort to keep it legal. Let me show you how ridiculous that statement is. If a coat hanger is going to be used, then why not use it in a well lit place, such as a person's home or apartment. It would also be much cleaner and convenient with a bed and chairs. I personally, have never heard of a case where a coat hanger was used, let alone a rusty one and in a dark back alley. Yet the pro-choicers tried to shove that lie down our throats, as if it were a common every day occurrence.
Before Roe-Wade most of the killings of unborn babies were done in hospitals with aseptic surgical technique better than any of today's killing clinics, which are not regulated on a par with hospitals. Sure it was illegal, but it was no problem for doctors to overcome. There were also many small hospitals owned by groups of doctors and they did almost anything they wanted.
The president of Planned Parenthood (The largest killers of unborn babies), Dr. Mary Calderone pointed out in a 1960 American Journal of Health article that Dr. Kinsey showed in 1958 that 84% to 87% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing. Dr. Calderone herself concluded that "90% of all illegal abortions are presently done by physicians."
Dr. Bernard Nathanson -- who was one of the original leaders of the American pro-abortion movement and co-founder of N.A.R.A.L. (National Abortion Rights Action League), and who has since become pro-life -- admits that he and others in the abortion rights movement intentionally fabricated the number of women who allegedly died as a result of illegal abortions: How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L. we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year." I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the "morality" of the revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics. The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason which had to be done was permissible. [Source: Bernard Nathanson, M.D., Aborting America (New York: Doubleday, 1979), 193.]
The fact is, there were NOT thousands of deaths prior to Roe vs. Wade. In 1972, the year before Roe, only 39 abortion related deaths were reported (by emergency rooms and morgues) to the Centers for Disease Control. With the advent of "Safe & Legal" abortions, you'd think the death rate would drop to zero. Quite the opposite is true. In 1975, two years after Roe Vs Wade, the CDC stated that as many as seven times more deaths were caused by legal abortions than illegal ones. Currently, more women die yearly of abortion complications than before Roe Vs Wade.
So now, not only are there more deaths from abortions, but you have other complications, such as a punctured uterus, hemorrhage, infection, sterility, cervical cancer, breast cancer, subsequent spontaneous abortions and ectopic pregnancies, subsequent premature deliveries, resulting in neurological disorders in the baby and many other physical complications.
Then there are the emotional and mental factors. Clearly, once a young woman is pregnant, it is no longer a choice between having a baby or not having a baby. It is a choice between having a baby or having a traumatic experience.
Families of pregnant teens need to be told that over 90% of women having abortions suffer damage to their self-esteem. Nearly 50% of post-abortion women begin or increase drug and alcohol abuse. In the years to follow, 60% experience suicidal tendencies, with up to 28% actually attempting suicide. Other problems include promiscuity, depression, flashbacks, concentration problems, and dramatic personality changes. Recent studies show that approximately 20% of women having abortions will suffer full-blown, clinically diagnosable, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and over 50% will have some PTSD symptoms. Guilt feelings have produced a meteoric rise in child abuse since Roe Vs Wade.
You would think that if the pro-choicers are so concerned about the health of women and those dying from complications of abortions, that they would be in the forefront to abolish abortions on demand. These deaths no more concern them, than the killing of 38 million unborn babies since Roe Vs Wade. Not even the late term partial-birth abortions bother them, or the excruciating pain these babies suffer when they are torn apart.
So what is the real reason, why pro-choicers are so relentless in their pursuit to condone the killing of unborn babies? Their motive is ulterior and selfish. Someday they, their daughters, their wives, or their girlfriends may want to kill their unborn baby and they want to make sure it's a "legal killing." Then you have those who can't think further than their gender. Since Roe Vs Wade, women now, do not have to answer to any man. Not their husbands or the father of their baby. "I am woman, hear me roar. It's my body and I can do what I want to, and I now have the power over life and death and no man can tell me what to do."
Why should there even be a debate over this issue?? The pro-choicers has nothing on their side ...not the word of God; not the physical or mental health of the mother; not love; not compassion; not science and not common decency. As the Bible tells us: "man reaps what he sows. So, is all this suffering and the condemning to death of 1.4 million babies a year, worth it, just for the convenience of some women? So no matter how you look at it -- the pro-choicers are truly on the side of deceit, suffering and death -- not only to the unborn babies, but the death of women who suffer and die from complications of abortions. "Behold, children are heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward."
Why do those who claim to believe in God, continually want to strip Him of his reward and instead, hand it to satan on a silver platter? 38 million times God has been denied His reward and 38 million times satan has received his wish. Finally, I ask why do they conveniently ignore the Biblical passage: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart"?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"Times are bad! They have never been worse; for never before has a world civilization turned against the Divine Light. We are indeed witnessing the transfer of the Christian heritage from the West to the East. Not that the West will lose it, but that the East will begin to do with it what the West did with it in its Springtime. But despite these facts, this is not the end of civilization; nor are we to be without hope."
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