Lent, Easter, and Life

Frank Pavone, Rev.
National Director/ Priests for Life
Febuary 15, 2001

The Holy Seasons of Lent and Easter provide a framework for preaching and teaching the pro–life message in the context of repentance and of the victory of life.

Repentance is a changing of the mind, and with it one's life, away from the path of sin and toward a life of holiness. It is not possible to repent of a sin which one does not recognize or admit is a sin. During Lent, we ask to be delivered from such blindness, and to be forgiven even our hidden sins. The application to the abortion problem is clear when we consider that the injustice of this act has been proclaimed as a “right” and a legitimate “choice.” I have heard numerous people declare that while they know abortion kills a child, they have no problem supporting it. Because such respectable elements of society as the Supreme Court, many medical associations, and even some Christian denominations, continue to call abortion a “right,” many find it hard to recognize it as a wrong. Part of the purification of Lent involves the metanoia, the “change of mind,” so necessary in this area.

In regard to the Christian denominations that hold abortion as a “right,” besides contradicting the Gospel of Christ and the unbroken witness of the Christian community against abortion through the centuries, these churches render themselves particularly incapable of bringing healing and forgiveness to those who have had abortions. After all, once you have called something a “right,” how credible can you make an offer of forgiveness for exercising that right?

Easter celebrates the victory of life. Christians do not come to Church on Easter simply to congratulate Jesus for rising from the dead. They come in order to touch their own victory over death. In rising, Christ destroyed not only His own death, but ours! He overturned the entire kingdom of death. Death has no more power over Him; nor does it have ultimate power over those who live in Him. The influence of the Church on the world, therefore, is the influence of a community which already participates in victory over death. That influence moves the structures and choices of society away from death and destruction, and toward the affirmation, in word and deed, of the precious gift of life. It would be a profound distortion of the meaning of Easter if we separate, in thought or deed, our faith in the Resurrection from our efforts to secure justice and respect for every life.

The Church that celebrates Easter also lives Easter. The victory has already been won, but has not yet fully unfolded. We therefore rejoice and struggle at the same time. We have unshakeable confidence that the power of life is greater than the forces of death. Yet we must not relax our efforts to protect God's gift of life from the destructive forces all around it. As St. Augustine once said, we sing “Alleluia,” but as we sing we must “keep going” on the arduous journey that is ours.