January 22, 2016 // Uncategorized

Bishop Zubik calls for pro-lifers to 'connect the dots' on life issues

By Mark Pattison

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh walks with his crosier during the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 22. Later that day pilgrims gathered on on the grounds of the Washington Monument for the annual March for Life. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh urged Massgoers preparing to rally in Washington for the annual March for Life to “connect the dots” linking all manner of life issues.

At a Jan. 22 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Zubik invoked his fifth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Richard, who “taught me how to be a pro-lifer.”

The nun “did it in an interesting and an unexpected way,” he said. “If you have any hopes of getting to the sixth grade,” he remembered her saying, “you’d better know more than just the Hail Mary. You’d better know the prepositions” — at which point Bishop Zubik reeled off a string of prepositions in alphabetical order, from “above” to “with.” “Needless to say,” he added, “I made it to the sixth grade.”

But prepositions, he said in his homily during the Mass, “give sentences their meaning.” He added, “Every one of us is called by God to be prepositions in life.”

Bishop Zubik said that while people engage in fasting, often interpreted as giving up something valuable to them, God has no interest in that. Instead, the bishop added, one has to go to the root of the word “sacrifice” — in Latin, “sacrum facere,” or to make holy.

The way to do that, Bishop Zubik said, is to “connect the dots” of life issues as prepositions connect the key words and phrases in a sentence.

“To connect the dots in 2016 takes on its own flavor,” he said, “to make holy all of life, by connecting the dots to every single person,” from the unborn to the born to the elderly, to those “suffering from human trafficking” and those “exploited by pornography,” and “to the unemployed and the underemployed, looking not so much for a hand out as a lift up.”

Connecting the dots to all persons is what God intended, Bishop Zubik said, “to see each other as God sees us all.”

He lamented the Supreme Court decisions of Jan. 22, 1973, that legalized abortion virtually on demand, as it “opened the door” to a host of other legal, legislative and proposed initiatives that reduce the sanctity of human life.

He suggested twice — during the homily and in a post-Communion reflection — that Massgoers think about the people who brought them to Washington on the anniversary date. “Not by wheels and wings” to come to Washington, Bishop Zubik said, but by their example and formation. Bishop Zubik offered as one such example — his own mother — who he said “taught me to get down on my knees” to pray at bedtime each night, and upon waking, “to get down on my knees again” at the same bedside. He also exhorted them to “make sure you’re very careful” as threatening weather approached.

Fears of a storm system dumping a foot or more of snow in the Washington area kept attendance down for the closing Mass as it had for the Jan. 21 Mass that started the overnight vigil. For this Mass, many pews were not packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and even a few pews in a far transept were empty.

Even so, the size of the national shrine’s upper church ensured that there were thousands of people attending.

Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, in welcoming remarks shortly after the Mass began, said, “We are pleased to have so many of you who have braved the threat of Winter Storm Jonas.”


Cardinal Dolan: Newborn in manger a positive sign of a culture of life

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A baby in a manger is proof enough for Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York that Americans can express a culture of life.

And it wasn’t the Christ child. Instead, it was a newborn infant left by his mother in the crib of a manger scene at a parish in the New York City borough of Queens.

Calling it “a sad but gripping tale” in his homily during the opening Mass Jan. 21 of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Cardinal Dolan, said, “No one knew where the baby had come from, or who left him there … until, a week later, the sobbing mother, a young Mexican woman, remaining anonymous, told her story to a journalist.”

Cardinal Dolan, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, recounted the mother’s words, noting the irony that the woman had left her baby at Holy Child Jesus Church:

“I was so afraid, and, all alone in the house, suddenly went into labor. I must have been in excruciating pain for at least two hours. I started pushing because, each time I did, the pain would let up. I pushed for 15 minutes and finally the baby, a boy, finally came out. He didn’t cry at first, so I was afraid he was not all right. I didn’t know what to do, so I left the umbilical cord on. I wrapped him in a clean towel and started to look for some place safe and warm.

“I’m very religious,” the woman had continued, “so right away I thought of my church, Holy Child Jesus (in the Brooklyn Diocese). I go there a lot, and the priests and people are so good. I just knew if I left him in God’s hands, my baby would be OK. So, I ran into my church and put him in the empty crib. Then he started crying. I just hoped he was warm enough. I hid in the back of church, knowing Father would find my baby and the people would care for him. They did.”

“True story,” Cardinal Dolan said, “and I submit it to you, the jury, this evening, as Exhibit A in our case for promoting the culture of life.”

He added, “It’s not far-fetched to imagine another scenario, what might have happened: that mother’s legitimate and understandable apprehension and isolation could have led her to Planned Parenthood.

“She could have been going to a parish which she found cold, unwelcoming and, impersonal, where she did not feel safe, and where she would not have been inclined to turn in her crisis,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Or, in those fretful minutes after her baby’s birth, she might have run to a church only to find it bolted-up, with a sign on the outside telling her, probably in English, to come back during office hours. Thank God that scenario remains only a ‘might-have-been.'”

He said later, “We are summoned to be such agents of conversion.” The way to do that, Cardinal Dolan said, was “by imitating those priests and people of Holy Child Jesus Parish in New York City, by acknowledging that Jose, that abandoned newborn baby (named for St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster father), Jose was nowhere more at home than in the empty manger of their parish nativity scene, because he, too, is a child of God.”

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, in introductory remarks, welcomed “the many, many, many young people” at the Mass, as they serve as “a reminder for every generation” that all are “called to show respect for the gospel of life.”

The prospect of a major storm carrying heavy snow and high winds made the national shrine slightly less impossibly crowded. Compared to the 11,000 who were packed in for the opening mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life last year, only 9,000 were on hand Jan. 21, according to Jacquelyn Hayes, a shrine spokeswoman.

Clergy turnout was similarly smaller for the Mass. Unlike the entrance processions in recent years, which lasted a half-hour, the Jan. 21 procession took 20 minutes.

One indication of a reduced turnout for the vigil was an announcement Jan. 19 by the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Catholic Youth Apostolate that as a precaution, it was canceling its annual Generation Life bus caravan that would have sent hundreds of youths to Washington.

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