Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pro-Life with Love

April 5th was the feast day of St. Vincent Ferrer. The Office of Readings includes a passage from St. Vincent's treatise On the Spiritual Life:

When you treat virtuous and sinful acts in your sermons and exhortation, use simple language and sensible idioms. Give apt and precise examples whenever you can. Each sinner in your congregation should feel moved as though you were preaching to him alone. Your words should sound as though they were coming, not from a proud or angry soul, but from a charitable and loving heart. Your tone of voice should be that of a father who suffers with his sinful children, as though they were seriously ill or were lying in a huge pit; and he struggles to free them, raise them up, and cherish them like a mother, as one who is happy over their progress and the hope they have of heaven's glory.

This way of preachig has proven profitable to congregations; for an abstract discourse on the virtues and vices hardly inspires those who listen.

When hearing confession, you should always radiate the warmest charity. Whether you are gently encouraging the fainthearted or putting the fear of God into the hardhearted, the penitent should feel that you are motivated only by pure love. Therefore, speak in a pleasant, friendly way before you use words that will prod his conscience.

Finally, if you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire.

Priests, religious and laity alike can learn from St. Vincent's teaching. People are rarely moved by clever arguments or "in your face" preaching. They will not listen to someone who is self-righteous or self-serving. But they may listen to those who genuinely love them and care for them.

You who fight on the front lines of the pro-life movement have a particularly difficult challenge. You face the darkest side of humanity. You see mothers murder their children. You see fathers support and often coerce the mothers to do so. You see medical professionals, who are sworn to "do no harm," kill the most helpless and the most innocent.

You who face this tragedy day in and day out are likely to develop anger toward those who commit these atrocities. You will be tempted to lash out with harsh words and righteous indignation. But, you must resist that temptation with all of your heart. Pray for the Lord to fill you with patience, charity and forgiveness.

While He was being nailed to the cross, Our LORD begged the Father to "forgive them, they do not know what they do." Look on the perpetrators of abortion the way Christ looks on them. Look on them with love.

The responsory to the aforementioned Office of Readings declares: (2 Tim 4:2; Acts 26:20):

Proclaim the message, in season and out of season;
- refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience.

I preached repentance to the people,
that they might turn to God.
- refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience.

I am not suggesting anyone in the pro-life movement go soft. Stand firm in your task to refute falsehood, correct error and call to obedience. Always, always, always do so with the utmost charity. Love the sinner as much as you love the victim of their sin.

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  • Dear T.G.
    As an ardent Pro-lifer, I was gratified to read this passage. At times I fail to do what St. Ferrer instructs. With renewed fervor I will continue the good fight with charity towards all...with God's grace.

    By Anonymous AC, at Sunday, April 08, 2007 12:10:00 AM  

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