By Fr. Frank Pavone
Abortion is largely a problem of mothers afraid to be mothers. That may be one of the reasons why there is such a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother within the Catholic element of the pro-life movement.
Let's look at a few of the links between our beliefs about the Virgin Mary and our pro-life convictions.
There is one Mediator...
Some Christians question why we give so much devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and claim that it compromises the unique worship which Christ alone deserves. We do not, of course, "worship" Mary in any sense. She, too, is a creature, and all her importance flows from the uniqueness of Christ.
But how is it that Christ became the unique Mediator? A mediator is a bridge between the two parties being mediated, in this case, God and humanity. Christ was God from all eternity. It is precisely in taking upon Himself a human nature that He becomes the Mediator. This human nature is taken from Mary. The very fact that Christ is the one Mediator demonstrates the critical role of the one Mother from whom He became human.
All the importance of Mary flows from her Son, and worship of the Son naturally leads to honoring the Mother. Right from this fundamental point, Marian devotion teaches us something about our pro-life commitment. Mother and child belong together.
The difference between the pro-abortion side and the pro-life side is not that they favor women's rights and we love the baby. The real difference is that they think you can separate the two and we say you can't. The pro-abortion mentality claims you can love the mother while killing the child. The pro-life mentality asserts that you can't harm one without harming the other and you can't love one without loving the other. The pro-life position has never been, "Love the baby and forget about the mother." It is rather, always and only, "Let's love them both."
Mary was conceived without Original Sin. This favor was granted to her in anticipation of her role as the Mother of God. A fundamental truth that appears here, and is reflected in various Scriptures, is the relationship of God with the child in the womb and the manner in which he prepares that child for his/her mission.
This doctrine likewise proclaims to us the broader truth about victory over sin. Mary was not exempt from the need of a Savior; He simply shared with her in a unique way the victory over sin that He offers all of us.
Those who have abortions do not have them because of "freedom of choice," but rather because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. Mountains of pressure and confusion fall upon them. Yet in the struggle against temptation and sin, there is always sufficient grace to do what is right. "God keeps his promise. He will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it" (1Cor10:13). This conviction is a key tool to help those who are tempted and to encourage those who counsel others against abortion.
Mary faces an unplanned pregnancy. Her response is Let it be done to me according to your word. She freely chooses to accept the Child, and in doing so, acknowledges the primacy of the word. In other words, the truth of God's Word exists before her own choosing. She submits to a word, a truth, she did not create. At the heart of the "pro-choice" mentality is the idea that we create our own truth. This mentality holds that the value of the unborn child, and that child's very right to exist, depend upon the choice of the mother. In the pro-life mentality, on the other hand, the choice of the mother must respect the truth of the inherent value of the child, which does not in any way flow from or depend upon us. Let it be done to me according to your word.
As we submit to that truth, God does not rob us of our freedom. Instead, He lifts it up to Himself.
Mary's Practical Charity
Mary was firmly rooted in the truth and in charity. When she received Gabriel's message and learned she would be the mother of God, she did not lose sight of the pressing needs of her kinswoman Elizabeth. She undertook the arduous journey to the hill country, and tended to Elizabeth's needs for three months. (See Lk.1:39-56). Mary kept in touch with both heavenly and earthly reality. The truth of her new status did not distract her from Elizabeth's needs. Mary responded to those needs in a very practical way. The same happened at Cana. The celebration there in company with Christ and the Apostles did not blind her to the real needs of the newlyweds. And she responded.
Union with God does not turn us in on ourselves. Authentic holiness makes us more aware of and responsive to the real needs of others. The pro-life movement responds to the real needs of real children and their mothers. We provide these mothers with the concrete medical, financial, psychological, and spiritual help they need. Nothing distracts us. This is Marian pro-life ministry.
There is an axiom in psychiatry that says, "Believe behavior." See what the speaker does. The "pro-choice" (pro-abortion) movement masks over reality, and for all its rhetoric leaves women only three things: a scarred mind, a wounded body, and a dead baby. The pro-life movement, through more than 3000 helping centers throughout the nation, offers women real help in their need, and the gift of life. We learned this from a very special Mother.
Assumed into Heaven
The Assumption speaks of the victory of Life over death. "Today the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection..."(Preface of the Assumption, P59). The Assumption is not only about Mary; it's about us. Mary has a unique privilege. Being the Mother of God, she was taken at once into glory upon the completion of her earthly life. Yet the entire Church is the Body of Christ. As we pray on the Ascension, "where He has gone, we hope to follow" (Preface of the Ascension, P26). We, too, are called to share an everlasting life, in body and soul, in the company of Christ and all who are saved. "I will raise him up on the last day" (Jn. 6:54).
The conviction, renewed by the Assumption, that the destiny of the human person is to be in the heights of heaven, is clearly incompatible with allowing human persons to be thrown in the garbage.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Unborn. Her image was left on the tilma of Juan Diego at a time when human sacrifice was practiced by the Aztecs. They did this because of fear and despair, thinking the gods were against them and would destroy them. In her image, Our Lady is pregnant, and is carrying the God who is so much on our side that He becomes one of us! This Christian truth restored hope, and ended the practice of human sacrifice.
In our day, the child sacrifice which is abortion is likewise fueled by despair and fear. The Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to travel the nation and inspire people in their fight against abortion. You can inquire about its schedule, or request its presence in your community, by contacting The Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Inc.
144 Sheldon Road
St. Albans, Vermont 05478
Tel. 802-524-5350; fax 802-524-5673; email email@example.com