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Posts Tagged ‘Abortion’

From the novel That Hideous Strength (1945) by C. S. Lewis:

“…as one of the poets says, he (Mark Studdock) “discovered in his mind an inflammation swollen and deformed, his memory.” Oh, but impossible, not to be accepted for a moment: it had been a nightmare, it must be shoved away, it would vanish away now that he was fully awake. It was an absurdity. Once in delirium he had seen the front part of a horse, by itself, with no body or hind legs, running across a lawn, had felt it ridiculous at the very moment of seeing it, but not the less horrible for that. This was an absurdity of the same sort. A Head without any body underneath. A Head that could speak when they turned on the air and the artificial saliva with taps in the next room. His own head began to throb so hard that he had to stop thinking….But he knew it was true. And he could not, as they say, “take it.”

Psalm 139

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.

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planned parenthood cartoon

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“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”         St. Matthew 2: 18

Please note that this video is only about the abortion of children in the United States.

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I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. Leviticus 20: 3

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139

For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.-Luke 1:44

This is a distressing report, to say the very least:

UK hospitals burn aborted babies for ‘green’ fuel

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Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

…even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

Reflection:  The verses above are for the appointed Psalm for today in the Daily Lectionary, Psalm 139: 1-6, 12-14.  Yesterday was the March for Life in Washington, D.C. upon the sad 41st year of the Supreme Court’s usurping judgment of Roe vs. Wade.

The sonograms of our oldest child, 22 years ago, when this technology was relatively new was one of the reasons I changed my mind on pro-choice.  When my wife heard the good news from the doctor that she was with child, her first question to my wife was: “What do you want to do?”  Thumbs up or thumbs down like an every day Caesar in a physician’s office, a place of life, now a coliseum of death.  I saw the sonograms and  I knew I was not looking at “fetal tissue”.

Long before our technology, the inspired psalmist saw by faith through God’s Word the image of the womb, knitted together in his mother’s womb.  I should have trusted Scripture, God’s Word first and foremost.  I think abortion was preceded by the deadly  vivisection that too many Biblical scholars have done to God’s Word, continually asking the serpent’s question, Did God say…?  This happened at the same time as Christians and non-Christians began to want to do the most selfish act of the old Adam:  kill a child in the womb.  The combination is toxic.

Now the whole of Psalm 139 can of course be prayed.  In verse 19, there is challenge for the tender sensibilities of post-modern men and women, a sudden change in mood from the sublime prayer of thanksgiving and adoration to the Lord:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!

The psalmist prays for the destruction of God’s enemies.  Rabbi Aiden Steinsaltz in his essay, “Dissonance in the Psalms” takes up this ‘radical’ change of mood in more than Psalm 139 alone.  He notes this “dissonance” but after the inspired psalmist sees the order and harmony of God the Creator in all things, then evil and sin and wickedness just do not fit in, it is abhorrent, perverse.  Just think of so-called doctor, Kermit Gosnell this past year which showed the true nature of an abortuary.   O men of blood, depart from me! It is the so-called ‘enlightened’ scientific man or woman who says in so many ways wickedness does fit in, such as abortion, infanticide, state-sponsored limits on family size, physician assisted suicide. The psalmist cries out for a separation from them.

“They are described…as enemies of God. That is their danger!  They are part of the society in which the psalmist lives who by their moral and religious conduct oppose and ignore God.  To be willfully an enemy of God is unthinkable to the psalmist, but there the wicked are, the embodiment of another way than the fear of the LORD, conditioning and endangering the whole society  by their character.  (Psalms:  Commentary by Dr. James Luther Mays, Interpetation series)

They are obviously unrepentant, though the Lord desires such for us all that all might be saved. God’s will is our hope…for our continuing repentance as well. The psalmist has seen by faith the wonders of the Lord in his own creation which is as your creation: you too are faithfully and wonderfully made…and so are the wicked!  Then the fullness of time, God is carried in the Virgin’s womb. Wonderful are your works;  my soul knows it very well.

 Let us pray…We come to you Father with praise and thanksgiving, not as we ought, but as we are able. We beg you to accept and bless the prayer we offer you. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Lord, in your mercy, R.: hear our prayer.

Remember, Lord, Your one, holy, Christian and apostolic church. Watch over her and guide her. Grant her peace and unity throughout the whole world. Grant her to speak with one voice and act with unity of purpose upholding Your gift of life, and working for an end to the scourge of legalized murder. We pray especially for Matthew and all the leaders of our Synod; for all pastors, and every servant of the Church. Grant that they may be steadfast in Your Word. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, all who bear witness to the sanctity of life. Guard them, we pray, from the attacks of Satan and give them patient strength in the face of opposition. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, those who work in crisis pregnancy centers. Remember those doctors and nurses who work with pregnant women. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember those women who are struggling with their pregnancies. Give them strength and sustenance to care for their children, and grant us grace to offer them our love and support. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, all women who are barren. Remember those parents who grieve the untimely loss of their little ones. Give to them that peace which the world cannot give. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, our enemies. Turn their hearts toward the truth, and give us a genuine love for them. Forgive them their sins, for they know not what they do. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, how once You sent Your Son to save our lost and fallen race. We commend to Your tender compassion all the millions of innocents who have been destroyed by abortion and other crimes, together with all those who are now suffering in body or soul. Grant them your mercy and a happy issue out of their afflictions. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, those women who have had abortions and are now burdened with guilt and grief.  Grant them Your peace.Lord, in your mercy, R.

[Insert Additional Petitions Here]

Remember, Lord, all Your people who are gathered here before You, our living and true God. We pray for our well-being and redemption. Grant us Your peace in this life and a place in the world to come, through Christ our Lord. Lord, in your mercy, R.

With the whole Church we honor Mary, the virgin Mother of Jesus, our Lord and God.  We honor Joseph her husband. We honor the apostles, evangelists, prophets, confessors, martyrs and all the saints. Grant us grace to follow the pattern of their lives in faith and service, Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.

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 Text:  St. Matthew 2:13-23

The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents: Some accounts number them at more than ten thousand, but more conservative estimates put their number in the low dozens. 10,000 children or 1 child murdered is one child too many.  The picture above  is a painting by Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – 1337).   It is eerily prescient of  the many pictures of the bodies of Jews in piles in the concentration camps. Their only crime was they were of the same religion as the One born this holy season.  It makes no sense.  Neither does any abuse of children sexually, physically and/or emotionally from Newtown to our town.

Herod the Great was probably a functional atheist; he thought he ruled by his own right and authority.  He was his own god as all dictators and tyrants vainly and terribly imagine themselves.  We read a lot about the atheism of a Christopher Hitchens, but he pales to the tyrants. With no fear of God in the multitude of  Herods, it seems in our days and centuries and it’s lack of the fear of the Lord, we are in the most functionally atheistic of all time.  We do what we please.  Children are expendable. We are own gods.

The gripping movie, Judgment at Nuremberg  is about the trials after World War II of the lower level Nazis, in particular, the judges who sent the ‘mental defectives’, and other “undesirables” to their deaths after a “legal trial”.  A key character is the  fictional judge, Ernst Janning (played by Burt Lancaster).  He was known in the Weimar as one of the greatest legal minds in Germany.  He participated in the crimes against humanity for the Nazis yet he knew it was wrong.  In one of the last scenes of the movie, Herr Janning asks the main American judge, Hayward (played by Spencer Tracy) to come and visit him in his prison cell.  It turns out for the reason that Janning wanted a kind of absolution:

Janning: Those people, those millions of people. I never knew it would come to that. You must believe that, you must believe that.

Judge Hayward:  Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.

The death of one man or one child makes it easy for the autonomous, ‘kingly’, ‘great’ self to kill more and more. Mother Theresa said, “… if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”  It took one Child to reverse the sin of Adam.  The holy innocents unwilling death and the grief of Rachel, their mothers,  weeping for them who are “no more”, fulfilled the Scripture that the Child of Mary would die as One for them all.  

The murder of even one child, spiritually and/or physically, begins the spiral into hell, for a person, a  church, a nation, a family. When Israel rebelled, Isaiah tells us in today’s Old Testament reading, Isaiah 63:7-14:

But they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit;
therefore he turned to be their enemy,
    and himself fought against them.

The Lord became their own enemy because we our own worse enemy.  People will go to great lengths – even kill, even kill their own babies,  to preserve their self-esteem, social status, economic viability, popularity amongst friends, or even for reasons as vain as their “girly figure” and thus tilt the balance of this world’s favor toward themselves.  Trying to save themselves and their trivial treasures, the world enacts Herod’s decree again and again and again as they hurt one another, abort their children, and follow the forked tongue of the serpent against holy families and the holy one of God.   (Pr. Tony Sikora’s sermon on same text) Recently Thrivent for Lutherans in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota has been giving their “choice dollars” to Planned Parenthood, purveyor and promoter of abortion.  After a protest from Pastor Harrison, President of the LCMS and the Wisconsin Evangelical LutheranSynod, they stopped it but they also stopped all monies going to pro-life groups. “We recognize that the eligibility of a Planned Parenthood affiliate, approved by one of our local chapters, has been controversial.” Abortion isn’t controversial; it is evil. Abortion is intrinsically immoral, essentially and immutably wrong. (Pr. Todd Wilken)

 Too controversial.  We are killing ourselves by the plummeting birthrate instead of heeding the  Lord’s command to be fruitful and multiply.  Too controversial.  We are to receive His children in His Name.  And so the Lord Jesus set great store about the faith of a child which must be inviolate.  This is only a  speculation:  Jesus’ Mother and Step Father may have eventually told Him what had happened on the day of infamy in Bethlehem.  The Lord Jesus Christ taught as a man:

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

His love begins with one child, first protected by His Law, “Thou shalt not murder” and now by His Resurrection. The Child was called out of Egypt, God’s Son, so that all children could have His Kingdom by Baptism and faith.  The Son, the Child called out of Egypt, the Exodus is His Body and Blood, circumcised on the 8th day, desires for all to believe in Him…and preventing them a millstone fastened  around his neck and drowned is suitable. Out of Egypt, the Father called His Son, His true Son, who did not rebel, the Child born for us. The Lord became a child to make us His children and so we are;  as Paul wrote in today’s Epistle, Galatians 4:4-7: our adoption as the Lord’s sons and daughters.  The Child gives the childless hope, the loveless love, the faithless faith, in the great exchange:   His health for our sickness, His love for  us His enemies, His wisdom for the foolish to make us His own, His death  for our life, His resurrection for our eternal life, so we are born again, His baptized to receive children, from day 1 to the 100th year, in His Name, baptizing them, as we have been by His grace alone, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

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Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum

My soul magnifies the Lord

by Johann Sebastian Bach

Readings for the day:  Isaiah 61:7-11Galatians 4:4-7Luke 1:39-55

Let us pray:  

Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The Mother of Our Lord: St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, with nearly a dozen specific incidents in her life being recorded: her betrothal to Joseph; the annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of the Messiah; her visitation to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptizer; the nativity of our Lord; the visits of the shepherds and the Wise Men; the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple; the flight into Egypt; the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve; the wedding at Cana in Galilee; her presence at the crucifixion, when her Son commended her to the care of His disciple John; and her gathering with the apostles in the Upper Room after the ascension, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Thus she is present at most of the important events in her Son’s life. She is especially remembered and honored for her unconditional obedience to the will of God (“Let it be to me according to Your word” [Luke 1:38]); for her loyalty to her Son even when she did not understand Him (“Do whatever He tells you” [John 2:1-11]); and above all for the highest honor that heaven bestowed on her of being the mother of our Lord (“Blessed are you among women” [Luke 1:42]). According to tradition, Mary went with the apostle John to Ephesus, where she died. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  

I think the Roman Catholic problem with Mary is that they make much too much of her which has no Scriptural warrant.  I think the Lutheran problem with Mary has been we make much too little of her importance which likewise has no Scriptural warrant.  We should not pray to her and neither should we think we have prayed her away.

The Scripture records what she prayed:  “My soul doth magnifies the Lord.”  What or who do we magnify in our lives?  I find my own question embarrassing to answer.  Think of what the world magnifies:  fame, wealth, power and in our day and time, the temple of the  self, that is , my feelings, my goodness, my friends,  ad nauseam, and I  have wanted it all.  Not Mary.  For instance: Mary did not “shop till she dropped”.  Her Son was not a choice but her Child. She loved her Son.  She magnified the Lord.  She magnified, made big in her life God’s grace to her in bearing the Only-Begotten Son of God.  She bore her Savior and yours.

A colleague of mine once said during the fad of “WWJD” bracelets (What Would Jesus Do) that it actually should be “WWMD”:  what would Mary do?  Good question.  The answer?  She heard the Word of God, the Word of grace.  She obeyed.  She was a faithful wife. She believed.  She prayed.  She suffered.  She served her Lord and her neighbor.  It was all the Lord’s work toward her and the fruit of her good work, likewise the Lord’s and the greatest still is the fruit of her womb, Jesus. She is the model of the faithful believer, even the whole Church. “…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”--Galatians 4: 19

The other feast days, featuring the Mother of Our Lord, The Annunciation (St. Luke 1: 26-38), The Presentation (Luke 2: 22-38, and The Visitation (Luke 1: 39-56, are actually festivals of Jesus Christ.”  And that’s the point! Mary is associated with them and she did magnify the Lord.  She never sought  attention for herself.   She knew she would be blessed (Luke 1: 48) but she did not seek adoration but adored Him born of her virgin womb. He was her Son and her Lord!  She knew humility.  This is not the stance of the neo-feminist woman of our day…or any man.   Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Orthodox professor (1921-1983) pointedly reflected, “In (Mary’s) humility and silence, she can hardly serve as patron for the noisy and arrogant feminism of our time.”

The sundry revolutions of the ’60s brought new vocabulary  and one of the vocables was counterculture, and from it, counter-cultural.  The ’60s counter-culture was an excuse of condoning immorality. Mary, Mother of our Lord, stands today as a true counter-cultural icon. Fr. Schmemann points out that Mary is understood in her instrumentality  (“Let it be according to Your Word…”) in the Lord’s plan of salvation that the Word became flesh for her, you and I. She was obedient in true faith.  But Fr. Schmemann tellingly points out that her obedience as a woman, 

“…is one of the main reasons for Mary’s “rejection” by many “modern” Christians:  she can hardly be construed as the symbol of that ‘liberation’ which stresses the absolute ‘right’ of man to dispose of his life and of his body in a manner which he himself chooses, to a ‘self-fulfillment’ which he himself determines.”  

This self-determination has culminated in licit  abortion on demand as deadly self-fulfillment.  And Mary brought the Life of the world into the world.  Truly, she is counter-cultural.  Mary is the model of the godly life in Christ Jesus for women…and men!  Just as she told the servants at the Cana wedding, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2: 5), goes for us servants as well.  Lord, still our hearts and minds in the Sabbath of Your forgiveness by which You have redeemed us from the old way of death to live and breath in Your life, Your life which You first gave to Your Mother, so that this dark world may know You have come into our world for us and for our salvation and believing be saved.  As Mary. Amen.

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