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It’s urgent that we not ignore evil

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

January 27, 2021

Editor’s note: The Following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s homily from the diocesan Mass for Life, held Jan. 24 at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

This year, due to the pandemic, there are no buses filled with youth from the North Country making a pilgrimage to Washington, DC to participate in the annual National March for Life. Therefore, I thought it important that we celebrate our own diocesan Mass for Life here at our Cathedral. Given, the current veritable tsunami of secularism and anti-religion sentiment that boasts no respect for the dignity of all human life, it is urgent that we do not ignore the evil that is increasingly infesting our society. It is crucial that we rely on God’s grace and rededicate ourselves to building a Culture of and for Life.

This local Church with faith-filled sisters and brothers from the Champlain Valley to the St. Lawrence Valley, from the Canadian border to the southern Adirondacks join our prayers at Eucharist this day pleading to the Lord that the evil disregard for God’s laws cease. Today, the governments of the United States and the State of New York, led by Roman Catholics, tenaciously support the killing of human life, at all stages of development, even the killing of the baby in the process of being born. And now, with strong efforts to push physician assisted suicide into public policy, there is clearly no limit to the evil deeds contemplated and demanded by many, including our Catholic leaders. I do not use the word “evil” lightly. Such callous disregard for human life and the discarding of God’s word is having dire ramifications in our world today and will certainly have eternal consequences. Where will it end?

Every year, January 22 is set aside as a day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life in the United States. It is also a day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that abortions should be legal throughout our nation. Since then, more than 60 million human lives have been taken. Tragically, such statistics cause more of a yawn than an uproar. Abortion rejects God’s gift of life, destroys the life of a child who was lovingly knit together in his or her mother’s womb.

At this Mass, we also recommit ourselves to supporting all expectant mothers and all those moms who find themselves afraid, vulnerable, abandoned, and in need. I want to commend and thank all those in our parishes who are extending helping hands in support of life. I’m reminded of those who minister in the Gabriel Project, Project Rachel, Elizabeth Ministries and all those organizations such as Catholic Daughters, the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, Birthright, our own diocesan Respect Life office, to name just a few, who support life at all stages.

Today, is Word of God Sunday. The Holy Father reminds us that we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture. Otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut. So many today have cold hearts and suffer blindness as they urge upon us a culture of death. So many have rejected the authority of Scripture, are deaf to the Word of God and blind to the dire consequences that such deafness is causing.

“The Word of God nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life,” the Holy Father writes. When it comes to life matters and our faith, I cannot have it both ways. It is difficult to understand how one can claim to be a faith-filled Catholic Christian and, at the same time, have no problem with abortions either personally or if someone else chooses to abort. Such is the tragic case of one who suffers from schizophrenia. The Church, from its very beginning, has taught, in no uncertain terms, that all human life, made in God’s image and likeness, is sacred, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Let us listen again, to Paul’s second letter to Timothy: “I charge you in the presence of God…preach the word; be persistent in season and out of season; convince, rebuke, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.” St. Paul urges Timothy: “As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” And so we shall.

If the great City of Nineveh could repent and believe the Lord, why can’t we? They repented of their evil ways. So must we. There may be the naysayers, the Jonah’s who write us off, but as Cardinal O’Connor told us years ago, in Malone, “We will not go away. We simply cannot go away.” Like Peter and Andrew, James and John in our Gospel, we must stop clinging to whatever keeps us from following Jesus and make the courageous life-giving move.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works… Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.” How can such beautiful words of the Psalmist telling of the intimate relationship between the child, the mother and our God, not warm cold hearts and cause us to see that every human life is of God and matters, born and preborn?

Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us. St. Joseph, Pillar of Families, Pray for us.

May God be praised…forever may God be praised!

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