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Abortion & Euthanasia
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Abortion as Pagan Sacrifice
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
We know what the word sacrifice means. It means the surrender of something precious to the god in whom a person believes. Sacrifices have been part of world religions since the dawn of recorded history. Without exception, the deities of all the religions of the ancient world demanded sacrifices in their honor. The Egyptians and Babylonians, the Greeks and Romans, the deities of pre-Christian India and of the continent of Africa required that their adherents offer what we call sacrifices in their name.
What is less well known, however, is that these religions also required the sacrifice of children as an oblation and even as a condition, for obtaining blessings from the gods. We read in the Office of Readings for todays Divine Office that the Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, charging the Jews of imitating the pagans in their practice of child homicide. Said the Lord, They have built high places for Baal to immolate their sons in fire as holocausts to Baal: such a thing as I neither commanded nor spoke of, nor did it ever enter my mind.
As we read statements like foregoing, we ask ourselves: how could human beings be so deluded as to seriously believe that their gods required human sacrifice as a condition for receiving divine favors? The key word is deluded. Thirty years of teaching comparative religion has taught me that there is no limit to the irrational, indeed insane, practices that religious mythology will not put into practice as a mandate from the deities in whom they believed. Thus we read in the history of the Aztecs in South America before Columbus that they would kill up to ten thousand children on a major feastday in honor of one of their gods. Although seldom mentioned, infanticide as a religious ritual was practiced in India before its colonization by Great Britain.
We return to the theses that should be explored far beyond the time we can give it in this conference. Abortion as the widespread practice that it has become today is incredibly a religious practice. It is inspired by the evil spirits who, in Christian terms, were and are the malignant deities of paganism. These deities, often goddesses, demanded the sacrifice of children to be propitiated. Unless children were killed and offered to these gods, they would avenge their anger against the people in the most devastating ways.
As believing Catholics, we know that behind the murder of unborn children is the superhuman mind and malevolent will of Satan and his minions. To know this is to also know that only divine power is a match for the demonic power behind abortion. This divine power is the power of the God who became man in order, as He told us, to conquer the devil as master of the world.
How did Christ provide for the conquest of Satan and his agents? He did so by dying on the cross. The one who died on Calvary was man, but this man was the living God. On these premises, Calvary is the divine sacrifice because it was God who assumed a human body and a human soul which could separate in a human death on Good Friday. Except for this divine sacrifice of Jesus Christ there would be no hope for the human race.
However, let us be clear. Christ did die for our salvation. He shed His blood on Calvary. In that sense, He completed the mission given to Him by His Father. But really that was only the beginning. By His sacrifice on Calvary, He won for us the title to the graces we need to reach our eternal destiny. But this same Jesus Christ made sure that these graces would be communicated to mankind until the end of time. The principal channel of these graces is the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The graces which Christ pours out on a sinful world through the daily offering of Mass are the graces which a homicidal world needs to return to its worship of the one true God, and cease committing the crimes of abortion which are really acts of worship of the evil deities who we know are the evil spirits.
The Sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, provides us with the light and strength we need to live sacrificial lives. But we must use these graces and really live lives of sacrifice. If we do, and in the measure that we do, we shall obtain for the agents of death the miraculous graces they need to abandon their idolatry and return to the worship of the one true God.
Our faith tells us that the Sacrifice of the Mass is at once the sacrifice of Christ and our sacrifice, too. Christ has done all that He could by dying on the cross. We must do all that we can to follow in His footsteps and die to ourselves out of love for Him.
Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica
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