Welcome to this, the 18th annual remembrance of the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers. Fr. Frank Pavone–how wonderful to have you here to preside.
As most of you know, I’m Rev. Rob Schenck, and I’m an ordained Evangelical minister, while my identical twin brother, Fr. Paul Schenck, is a Roman Catholic priest. (That leads to many interesting conversations.) But it falls to me, the “older brother” (by ten minutes) to admit to my younger twin, that he has a lot to teach me–and–that Catholics have much to teach Evangelicals about the two-fold call to evangelization.
You see, Evangelicals are big on the saving of souls. In fact, Evangelical churches are sometimes called, “soul saving stations.” Now, the saving of souls is an indispensable part of the Gospel, but it has a parallel mission: The saving of souls is paired with the saving of culture.
Now, my brother and I have been debating since we were “womb mates” — but Fr. Paul, I’ll give you this one: The Roman Catholic Church has been saving cultures (if you will) or a long–long time. (And, Archpriest Alexander Webster, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the Orthodox have been doing it just as long–or, you may argue, even longer; but I won’t open that conversation here!)
Any way, we Evangelicals tend to think in 10-year increments; Catholics and Orthodox think in slightly longer expanses—like 1000-year increments.
So, it’s been 18 years since we started this event. In my short-term Evangelical mind, that’s 17 years too many–because in 1995, we had hoped that the conscience of this country wouldn’t allow the killing of the unborn to continue another year.
But, another year did come and go, and another, and another, and here we are 17 years later.
Now many people–among them many of my Evangelical colleagues–have been tempted to give up on the fight for the sanctity of life, because, as one said to me recently, “We don’t seem to be getting anywhere.”
And, of course, yesterday marked the 39th year since seven judges, in Roe v. Wade, created a vacuum of law, leaving the most defenseless members of human society vulnerable to cruelty and death.
I don’t know how some might see it, but I see the absence of law; and the resultant callousness of abandonment; and the burning, poisoning, dismembering, eviscerating, and smothering of tiny human beings–as consummately uncivilized–in fact, barbaric–behavior!
So, the justices unleashed barbarism in our culture when they voted 7-2 to strike down laws protecting vulnerable pre-born children.
But you know something–Rome, as they say–wasn’t built in a day. (Neither was Constantinople . . .) It takes a long time–very long periods of time–to build and rebuild civilizations.
So, Fr. Frank and Fr. Alexander, and my fellow Evangelicals, we have our work cut out for us. We must still save souls by announcing the Gospel whenever and wherever we can–but we must also reform civilization. We must civilize the United States of America by ending the tyranny and tragedy of abortion in our time–while modeling and teaching compassion and care for the most vulnerable in our society–
And, that, folks, ought to keep us all busy for at least another 18 years.
Now let us light the perennial Life Candle.