I would like to make a long comparison of two different rows of memorials to the departed that I saw this last holiday weekend. A photo above shows our parish 721 Cross Memorial in St. Edward’s field.
The other photo shows a row of markers at a national cemetery at Antietam Battlefield, which I visited (as you read in my recent blog). These are the rows for the departed that I will relate in this blog.
I just spent part of Memorial Day in the National Cemetery at the Antietam Civil War National Park. I walked past rows and rows of small chalk-white gravestones. Well over 100,000 men fought near Antietam Creek and Sharpsburg Maryland during a savage and intense 1862 day of North vs. South Civil War match. There it befell 23,000 soldiers who died or were serious casualties in this Maryland hillside and forest between the Potomac River and Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg. America has properly mourned the loss of life in this place, where Americans took other Americans lives. We grieve for the ones who died in this battle, as we do for others in other places on Memorial Day. As we look back at the
whole Civil War, we mourn for the 750,000 men and women (all fellow Americans) who died because of it.
On Memorial Day, we mourn for the official number of 1,321,612 Americans dead, due to all our wars involving U.S. citizens, fighting around the world under our flag.
From the President laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery…to a ceremony at a national cemetery or veterans’ cemeteries…to a moment of silence given even at a sports game on the holiday– we do give pause for the loss of life of fellow Americans– and we hope for all wars to cease someday.
On Memorial Day I can recall trips I have taken as the priest/chaplain for a burial of a victim of war. I have gone to Arlington and to other military/veterans cemeteries to do funerals of soldiers. I have personally known parishioners who have died in war. I am struck by the fact that these men and women of our nation have died. They are the victims of war and its slaughter. On Memorial Day I remember them.
In a related ministry, I have also counseled numbers of young adults over regret of their abortions (some older adults, too, who are finally dealing with this unresolved act of their past). Frequently, the peace comes when we acknowledge the child gone and have a memorial service. (Sometimes we also have a memorial site chosen.) Memorial days are important.
Abortion is not military war, yet it is another war on life, and since 1973 abortions of Americans (by Americans) are nearing 57 million it total! I was thinking this past week–if America was hurting from 750,000 lost in her Civil War, then think of how we must be hurting for even aborting already 450,000 this year alone in the USA (Jan 1 to May 30). It is staggering! With sometimes near a million persons aborted a year since 1973, the number gets numbing and hard to grasp.
The Abortion War versus our citizens is not the kind of war that our nation had such as ones like Vietnam, World War II, The War on Terror or The Gulf War. It is much more insideous and hidden and confusing. And it keeps going on. There really isn’t a great reason, either, for all the loss of life in the abortion war. It is just the stealing or taking of life without a battle or much resistance. It’s a slaughter. It’s slow destruction of our society. It’s within our borders. We are permitting its atrocity. Now take a read of the Gospel verse we proclaimed on Good Shepherd Sunday in this Easter time: “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (from John 10)
As I walked along our crosses, put up on our side field by the parish church, I pondered how it only
represented those numbers who will be lost this very hour (by average, in peak hours, of American babies). And hardly anyone is screaming or crying about this American tragedy.
There are no plans by the government to stop it, and certainly no museums in DC to be put up (like the Holocaust Museum) to address what we are doing as a nation. There are no great social programs to assist in child birth in these crisis pregnancies. There is not a Tomb of the Unknown Child put up in Arlington Cemetery, but there ought to be by now, as we have lost the equivalent of four USA state populations since 1973, with names and faces lost on Americans. With 17 million of abortions being Black Americans, of that toll, it would equal the number of total NFL fans attending stadium games in 2013. All gone away. Yet it somehow is not an issue in America, not mostly even in churches of high Black American attendance. “The thief comes to steal and destroy…” America, our children our being stolen! Right within our borders. The thief is also a liar, and He is the devil, and he has much of America duped. While we can be very sensitive to news and facts of a missing child taken from a school or mall, or of innocent people shot by a mad person, or if we can get in a druthers over a senseless racist slur being made in the USA–how is it that somehow we can be put to sleep over the abortion issue– even with it being 2/7ths a heavy discrimination and elimination of one ethnic group in America? We have become mostly insensitive to millions of new American people being aborted.
I just don’t iknow if I’ll ever be able to sit comfortably knowing my nation is committing these acts of war on the child. Putting up some crosses to mourn this American holocoast is just one demonstration of alarm. It is not much, and it may not be the method that all are in favor of doing as a pro-life act, but it is something and it reminds us that we all must give some witness to the Gospel of Life. What is yours? We need to let the Lord see that we each are trying to tell America (as well as God’s people in it who say they are Christian) to re-consider our actions of abortion within this nation.
We believers in Christ and members of His Body need to say to one another that we must be a House of the Lord of Life. In 2nd Chronicles of the Bible, Solomon builds the Lord a house of worship, and this is what verses 11-14 says: “Solomon finished building the house of the LORD, the house of the king, and everything else he wanted to do in regard to the house of the LORD and his own house. The LORD appeared to Solomon during the night and said to him: I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place for my house of sacrifice. If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.”
721 simple crosses on our lawn for two weeks is just one way to witness to the sacredness of life.
And they are not up in display to condemn or to judge or blame anyone. We pray for healing and love and good change to come to all of us. That’s the message of The Cross–it’s the mercy of Christ and the hope of Christ’ reign. Not the rule and slavery to sin and death. Christ offers freedom from that.
We rejoice, too, that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep (and for the little lambs who came so early to Him). Jesus, God’s Son, is our hero Who saves the children, and Who saves us of our sins. He sends us His Spirit to renew us and help us grow, which includes convicting us of our sins (see John 16).
The crosses on our lawn is to say: Abortion is going on, and has been taking many lives. While our own lives were spared, others were not. Four state populations worth! So let’s grieve. Let’s re-think what America is doing. Let’s embrace Life!
If one really wants to be hit hard by the true facts, then go to the web site
www. numberofabortions. com. That will blow you away, much more than our 721 crosses can do.
If there is a date of memorial for these babe Americans, then the Church presents the anniversary date of Roe V. Wade in January as a day to mourn. The Church also has All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2) and the Martrydom of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem (Dec. 28) to have memorial for these “other” fallen victims– the children. The feast of St. Joseph (March 19) also would be appropriate.
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We will have the Pro-Life Memorial of 721 Crosses and flags on the parish lawn from the morning of May 24th to June 7th. It is sponsored by the Maryland Right to Life and the Knights of Columbus. Every week across the state this display (and two other sets) are shown at Maryland church yards or school properties, in witness to the ongoing numbers of unhindered abortions in the land. The 721 crosses put up stand for the approximately 721 known abortions each (working) peak hour in America. It totals to be just short of a million Americans per year. Just last week a Detroit newspaper reported how 33% of its city’s children-on-the-way will be aborted this year, and story regarded it as an appalling figure. It truly IS appalling. What was RARE was that this story was even publicly reported in the news. So more frequently, America’s abortion atrocity is cloaked in secrecy and its damage and toll ignored. This story in the Detroit Press inspired my new look at our rows of flags and crosses on our parish lawn.