When is the last time you heard a pro-life sermon?
If you attend the majority of Catholic parishes in this country, the answer is not very often, or maybe never.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated October the “Respect Life” month each year. Every Catholic who attends Mass the first Sunday of October (dubbed “Respect Life Sunday”) is supposed to hear a pro-life sermon.
Beyond that, though, it seems very few priests devote Sunday sermons to the topic.
WHY FATHER IS LIKELY HESITANT
I remember listening to a sermon from the pastor at our former parish years ago on Respect Life Sunday. Within it, he admitted his reluctance to preach on the topic of abortion or other life issues. He explained he was afraid of unsettling anyone who may be post-abortive (those having participated in an abortion in the past).
His mindset is not uncommon. I have heard anecdotally from other pro-life Catholics this is the excuse they hear priests making all too often.
Obviously, no preacher should intend to rub other people’s noses in their sin. He has legitimate pastoral concerns that must be recognized and respected.
EACH PRIEST CAN TAKE CONFIDENCE
At the same time, though, each priest has an obligation to tell his congregation the truth. He must not be afraid to label a sin a sin.
If someone is post-abortive, chances are likely they have not received the counseling needed to heal from that. By broaching the subject, tremendous healing could be found. What lays hidden in the darkness festers and kills. What gets exposed to the light can be addressed and forgiven (cf. John 3:19-21).
What’s more, a priest could devote an entire pro-life sermon on what he would say to post-abortive mothers and fathers. That would make for a great catechetical opportunity.
Each priest ought to get over his discomfort, lest he allow his flock to be led astray. The culture is toxic. Yet he is the dispenser of much of the grace that makes it possible for his Church members to navigate through these rough waters.
Each priest should take confidence that (a) each pro-life sermon is much needed, and (b) it will be much appreciated by many in his congregation.
LITURGICAL RESOURCES ABOUND FOR PRIESTS
Priests for Life, an organization run by Fr. Frank Pavone, has compiled an impressive array of resources for clergy. If you click here, you can see examples of various pro-life sermons. They offer historical parallels to draw from, Old Testament directives on carrying for the most vulnerable amongst us, and many other “homily hints and helps.”
Priests for Life has even composed notes on each Sunday’s readings and how any one of them can be lay the groundwork for a solid pro-life sermon. You can click here for that amazing resource.
IT GOES BEYOND PREACHING
No reason exists why the pro-life cause needs to be furthered only by a pro-life sermon here or there.
The Prayers of the Faithful during Mass itself would be a great time to get the faithful praying for the cause. As well, bulletin inserts and parish-wide pro-life activities can be utilized, as well.
Priests for Life, as you might imagine, put together some ideas for each parish to implement, available here.
THERE’S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
I know priests know the Catholic Church condemns obtaining an elective abortion. But that does not mean the flock has been given that message.
A study done by the Alan Guttmacher Institute found 27% of women obtaining abortions in the US identified as Catholics.
The time is now to address this crisis in the Church. We don’t have time to waste. For, if our own pastors won’t tell us the truth, who will?
Please pass along the resources from Priests for Life to the priests at your parish.
God willing, you may soon hear a pro-life sermon!
(Note: This post first appeared on ProLife365.com in June 2016.)