Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Homily’

St. Patrick‟s Cathedral
February 28, 2011
The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D.

Your Excellency, Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, how pleasing it is to us all that you are offering this requiem Mass for the soul of Dr. Bernard Nathanson in the Cathedral where he was baptized, confirmed and received his First Holy Communion in December of 1996. Your telephone call from Rome to Dr. Nathanson just weeks before his death was a source of strength and encouragement to him in his final suffering.

Reverend Fathers, especially Fr. C. John McCloskey, who prepared Dr. Nathanson for baptism and was his spiritual mentor; Dear Religious Sisters, in particular the Sisters of Life, who loved Dr. Nathanson so much; both you and Dr. Nathanson are the children in Christ of that stalwart defender of life who is your common spiritual father, John Cardinal O‟Connor.

Dear Christine, Dr. Nathanson’s devoted wife; Dear Joseph his son, and all the members of Dr. Nathanson’s family, and all those who assisted him in his illness. We are joined today at this funeral Mass by a great cloud of witnesses to commend to God’s mercy this faithful and courageous servant of the Lord, Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Our congregation this morning is made up of so many who knew and admired the man we entrust today to our loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here also present are those who knew him from afar by virtue of his untiring efforts to promote respect for life through his writings, his speeches and especially through his two powerful films, The Silent Scream and The Eclipse of Reason.

Here present in spirit are also those two priests, great friends of Dr. Nathanson, to whom he dedicated his book, The Hand of God: Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B. and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, true heroes of the movement to end legalized abortion in our country and throughout the world.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims this hope filled message in our first reading today: “Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee” (Is 35:10)

The everlasting joy of Heaven is our hope. We long for the joy and gladness promised to those whom the Lord has ransomed. Dr. Nathanson for years longed for that joy and gladness. He found it in Christ.

In his book, Dr. Nathanson wrote of his medical school professor and fellow Jewish convert to Catholicism, Karl Stern: “…he possessed a secret I had been searching for all my life – the secret of the peace of Christ” (p. 46) After years of deep involvement in what he called “the satanic world of abortion” (p. 58), Dr. Nathanson came to believe in Christ. He lived with Christ crucified and resurrected for the last 14 years of his life on earth. He experienced great peace upon becoming a Christian.

St. Paul exhorts us today in our second reading: “[L]et the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.” (Col 3:15) Dr. Nathanson heard and answered that call. He knew great peace in the Catholic Church after years of much trouble and despair. We pray today that he enter into the fullness of that peace in the land of the living.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Dr. Bernard Nathanson is a towering figure in the history of the United States because he was an unflinching witness on behalf of those millions who have been killed, or are threatened to be killed, by abortion. He was a witness who spoke out against what he himself had helped to bring about, namely the legalization of abortion in our country, along with his fellow founders of NARAL, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws.

He broke with this evil movement, and repented of his sins. His epiphany came when he saw ultrasound images of the developing human being in the womb. He wrote: “Ultrasound opened up a new world. For the first time we could really see the human fetus, measure it, observe it, watch it, and indeed bond with it and love it. I began to do that.” (p. 125) He continued “Having looked at the ultrasound, I could no longer go on as before” (p. 128)

Dr. Nathanson followed the truth where it led him. He wrote: “After my exposure to ultrasound, I began to rethink the prenatal phase of life. … When I began to study fetology, it dawned on me, finally, that the prenatal nine months are just another band in the spectrum of life. … To disrupt or abort a life at this point is intolerable – it is a crime. I don’t make any bones about using that word: Abortion is a crime.” (p. 130)

Msgr. William Smith is another great hero of the pro-life movement whose passing we still mourn. He never tired of repeating this axiom: “Social engineering is always preceded by verbal engineering.” Dr. Nathanson and Msgr. Smith were champions in the never-ending struggle here below to prevent the ideological corruption of language. That is a Godly struggle. May we take up where they have left off.

Dr. Nathanson reminds me of another great witness against evil and in favor of the truth in the twentieth century, Whittaker Chambers. I read somewhere that Betty Friedan thought the same thing, but I am sure for different reasons.

Chambers renounced his membership in the Communist party and spoke out against those who were part of a conspiracy to harm our nation through espionage for the Soviet Union. He confessed to being a Soviet spy. He was vilified. He suffered. He stood firm. He spoke the truth.

The introduction to his book Witness is a “Foreword in the Form of a Letter to My Children.” This quotation from the foreword captures Dr. Nathanson‟s courageous witness on behalf of innocent human beings menaced by abortion: “A man is not primarily a witness against something. That is only incidental to the fact that he is a witness for something. A witness, in the sense that I am using the word, is a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences.” (p. 5)

Dr. Bernard Nathanson was a fearless advocate of the self-evident truth that it is a grave injustice to kill people before they are born. The unjust decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton mandating legalized abortion in our country cry out for the counter-witness of those who will not abide this injustice. Heroism is called for. True heroism is never easy and is only possible through God‟s grace. We acknowledge today our gratitude to a true hero who would not abide such grave injustice in our land. In doing so, we too recognize the Hand of God in the life of Dr. Nathanson.

Chambers wrote of himself in that foreword to his book: “But a man may also be an involuntary witness. I do not know any way to explain why God‟s grace touches a man who seems unworthy of it. But neither do I know any other way to explain how a man like myself – tarnished by life, unprepossessing, not brave – could prevail so far against the powers of the world arrayed almost solidly against him, to destroy him and defeat his truth. In this sense, I am an involuntary witness to God’s grace and to the fortifying power of faith.” (p. 6)

Only God knows whether Dr. Nathanson was a voluntary or involuntary witness against abortion and for life. But it is clear that he was truly courageous. He rejected what he knew to be evil, and then spoke out. In his humility he, like Chambers, recognized that God’s grace is made ever more manifest when He chooses unexpected apostles.

Chambers tells a haunting story in his book which gives us, I think, an insight into Dr. Nathanson’s rejection of abortion. He writes: “The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man had been extremely pro-Communist, had become an implacable anti-Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. ‘He was immensely pro Soviet,’ she said, ‘and then –you will laugh at me – but you must not laugh at my father’ – and then- one night – in Moscow he heard screams. That’s all. Simply one night he heard screams.‟

“A child of Reason and the 20th century, she knew that there is a logic of the mind. She did not know that the soul has a logic that may be more compelling than the mind’s. She did not know at all that she had swept away the logic of the mind, the logic of history, the logic of politics, the myth of the 20th century, with five annihilating words: one night he heard screams.”(pp. 13-14)

The scream Dr. Nathanson heard was a silent scream. A silent scream uttered by an unseen victim; that is, until the ultrasound machine brought the truth of abortion into plain view for this medical doctor who had expended great effort to make this horror legal and widespread in America. That doctor thereafter boldly decided to make the reality of human life in the womb visible for the whole world to see. Dr. Nathanson wrote in his book: “By 1984, however, I had begun to ask myself more questions about abortion: What actually goes on in an abortion? … so in 1984 I said to a friend of mine, who was doing fifteen or maybe twenty abortions a day, ‘Look, do me a favor, Jay. Next Saturday, when you are doing all these abortions, put an ultrasound device on the mother and tape it for me.’ He did, and when he looked at the tapes with me in an editing studio, he was so affected that he never did another abortion. I, though I had not done an abortion in five years, was shaken to the very roots of my soul by what I saw.” (pp. 140-141)

Anyone who has seen The Silent Scream is shaken. Seeing the truth about abortion overthrows the lies and deceptions of the abortion lobby. An important way that we can honor the memory of Dr. Bernard Nathanson is to continue his work of making the truth known to anyone who is willing to listen to our message, and then to discover what pregnancy really is by looking at ultrasound images of a pre-born human being.

The psalmist tells us: “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.” (Ps 55:22) For the past two years it was my privilege to bring the consolation of the sacraments to Dr. Nathanson at his home. His devout reception of the Holy Eucharist revealed to me a man truly in love with Jesus Christ. The Lord indeed was sustaining his son who had cast his heavy burden of past evils on the Lord. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:15-16) says the Lord in today’s Gospel. The rest, the peace of soul that Christ
gives begins in this life and passes through the Cross and then into eternity. All the while God guides and strengthens us, if only we let him.

Whittaker Chambers ended his Letter to My Children> in this way: “My children, when you were little, we used sometimes to go for walks in our pine woods. In the open fields, you would run along by yourselves. But you used instinctively to give me your hands as we entered those woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pine woods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have led you aright, you will make out threecrosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha – the place of skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there, my hands may have slipped away from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise. Your Father.”

Our life indeed is meant to be lived in intimate union with the crucified Lord. Golgotha, Calvary is indeed the place where we learn to be wise. The pain we experience, if united to Christ’s pain, is then understood to be a blessing that opens our hearts to the only Love that can take away that pain. That Love is Christ, and the gift of eternal life wipes away all pain and suffering. To live and to die in hopeful expectation of that redemption is God‟s great gift to us fallen creatures here below. That gift was joyfully received by Dr. Nathanson in this very Cathedral 14 years ago.

Today we pray that the fullness of joy, which is the blessed vision of God seen face to face, be given to his son and our brother, Bernard Nathanson.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. Amen.

See Here About The Funeral Blackout

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

November 27, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Saturday evening Pope Benedict XVI held an unprecedented “vigil for all nascent human life” at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The vigil was held in union with thousands of similar events in parishes and dioceses across the world.

At the request of the Holy Father, a letter had been sent to all the episcopal conferences of the Catholic Church this past June, asking them to organize the pro-life prayer vigils on the eve of the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent in all local churches.

The following is a complete transcript of the pope’s remarks during the vigil, courtesy of Vatican Radio:

Dear brothers and sisters,

With this evening’s celebration, the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new liturgical year beginning with its first stage: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and – in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary – expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

IMAGE: ©LWA-Dann Tardif/CORBIS

While our hearts reach out towards the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the Church’s liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord in the splendour of glory. This is why we, in every Eucharist, “announce his death, proclaim his resurrection until he comes again” we hold vigil in prayer. The liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole Bible concludes, the last page of the Revelation of Saint John: “Come, Lord Jesus “(22:20).

Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. This is also suggested in the text of the First letter to the Thessalonians which was just proclaimed: “May the God of peace himself – St. Paul writes – make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ “(5:23). Therefore, we are spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us. We operate in earthly realities and through them we can perceive the presence of God and seek Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and we long for total fulfilment.

God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction, He calls us to friendship with him, He makes us part of a reality beyond all imagination, thought and word; His own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we acknowledge the value of the incomparable dignity of every human person and the great responsibility we have toward all. ” Christ, the final Adam, – says the Second Vatican Council – by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear…. by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. “(Gaudium et Spes, 22).

IMAGE: © Vladimir Godnik/beyond/Corbis

Believing in Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and reason show that the human being is a subject capable of discernment, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly things, that must be recognized in his innate value and always accepted with respect and love. He has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church’s concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care ” (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ” he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.

Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: ” respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5). I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.

To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life . We do in the liturgy – which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us – worshiping the divine Eucharist, we contemplate Christ’s body, that body who took flesh from Mary by the Holy Spirit, and from her was born in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: