In June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ extends to us His flaming heart that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. We, as the body of Christ, are called to do the same.
One way this love is embodied is in pro-life work. It is a work of self-giving love for children in the womb who don’t even know we are loving them. It is a lifesaving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ’s heart keeps on beating inside His body. Similarly, we persevere within the Body of Christ.
And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of His body, the body of God. Devotion to the Sacred Heart brings to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, prolife work is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which He shows us in His Body.
Jesus said He is meek and humble of heart, and this brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of prochoice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God’s will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly.
Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; His heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as caring about the baby but not about the mother. This claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to the baby’s mom, dad, and entire family. Under our umbrella, the world’s largest ministries for healing after abortion operate. Rachel’s Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them an opportunity to share their testimony of pain and healing, and thereby to inspire in others the hope that they too can be forgiven.
Close to the annual celebration of the Sacred Heart, of course, comes Father’s Day, and we are seeing more and more men come to our healing programs to grieve the children they have lost to abortion. Many repent of having consented to the abortion. But likewise, so many men didn’t even know about it. I have never seen a man more angry than a friend of mine who told me many years ago that his girlfriend had their baby killed without his knowledge. Men are hardwired to be protectors and providers. To be unable to save one’s own child, and to even be shut out of the possibility of doing so, is an insult to one’s manhood. This is why the men of our Silent No More campaign hold signs saying, “I Regret Lost Fatherhood.”
Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to renew our awareness of the pain of these fathers, and our efforts to reach them with the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart which, like theirs, is wounded precisely because of Its love. For more information, visit www.FatherhoodForever.org.
FR. FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com