Up until the 20th century, mankind was trekking along pretty OK. Yes, there were hardships, yes there was fighting, but in general mankind was doing OK… at least in terms of 100 year increments.
Then something happened.
Something in mankind broke, and the 20th century was witness to it. No other century had shown such mass destruction as the 20th, and the century wasn’t even over yet! At the time of the Second Vatican Council opening, the 20th century had witnessed two world wars, the Holocaust, the worldwide Influenza Pandemic, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Great Depression, the introduction of the pill and the contraceptive mindset, the rise of Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, all the evil “isms,” and the rise of the sexual revolution. By the turn of the next century, the Iraq war, legalization of abortion, the Rwandan Genocide, skyrocketing divorce rates, the decline of the family, the loss of stay-at-home mothers, and the death of large families would be added on top of that.
Cardinal Wojtyla’s answer was simple: Mankind had forgotten. He had forgotten his status as a beloved child of God. Mankind had forgotten the love the Father had for us. Mankind had forgotten the relationship he has to the Father and the role that every other human has in relation to the Father as beloved children of Him.
Indeed, this complete spiritual amnesia, Wojtyla held, was the reason behind the destruction of the 20th century. The loss of relationship with the Father leads man to a state of fear, sin, spiritual death, and ultimately a loss hope… a loss of hope that prevents him from seeing that he is worth more than the simple, base lies of the evil one. Thus, Wojtyla’s whole approach to Vatican II and to his papacy was to remind man of his relationship with God; to affirm for man that God is real, that He loves them, that mankind is not random, he is not merely another animal, and he is most certainly not an accident. Rather, man has a God who knows us, who has a plan for us, who knit us together purposefully in our mother’s womb. Wojtyla focused solely on reminding man who he is, for in reaffirming his status as beloved, man would accept the one who is peace.
The Pope’s mission did not end with his death because we must still be reminded who we are; man must continually be reminded of the love of the Father and of his status as beloved to the Father. Indeed, no one more needs this message than those trapped in the confines and lies of the pro-choice movement. Those who participate in such travesty have not only forgotten their status as beloved, but are in so much pain that when reminded of that status, they then deny it. How can we end abortion if we continue to perpetuate the idea that some are not beloved by the Father? How can we end abortion when we tell those in doubt and darkness that they are horrible people, that God cannot love them? Even if we don’t use those precise words, how are our actions promoting the lies they continue to tell themselves? The lie that says they are not beloved of the Father. The lie that shows itself in the pained, twisted actions of abortion-minded women, men, and doctors.
Does snarky-ness really show them that they are beloved children of God? Does lying to them in undercover operations show them the love of the Father? Does berating them with simple facts, statistics, and numbers reveal to them their position as beloved by the Creator of the world? How are pro-lifers witnessing to God’s message of hope? Redemption? Unconditional love? Healing? How are we as pro-lifers going to reconcile our actions when we stand before the Lord on judgment day? When Christ says “I needed someone in the world to tell these people that I love them. Did you do that?” Will we be able to say “Yes. I loved them as you love them.”? I don’t know. But I do know that we as pro-lifers face a beautiful and difficult calling. We are lucky enough to know our God, to recognize His love for us. We cannot waste that knowledge, nor can we perpetuate a culture that hardens hearts toward that knowledge. Rather, because we have that knowledge, we are called to demonstrate it to people. We are called to remind people that God made them, He saw them, and He saw that “it was good.”
We in the pro-life movement have a unique opportunity. We must not be focused on ending abortion. Rather, we must be focused on bringing about a culture of Life. A culture that celebrates the life the Father breathed into each and every one of us. That will involve ending abortion, but it will not stop there. For even after abortion is eradicated, decades after the last abortion mill closes, the Evil One will still prowl the world, whispering to people that they are forgotten. That they are not beloved. That they are only an accident. And for as long as the world exists, for as long as God the Creator deigns to hold the world in His hand out of love, we will be called to witness to that love. To affirm that love. To remind those who have forgotten, to remind the Devil, that we are beloved children of God. That in the loneliest places, in the places of doubt and darkness, when man no longer knows who he is, no longer understands what grace is, in those places where the Devil plants despair, God will always say, “You are my beloved son.”
images: Paul Keeling / Shutterstock.com