Thursday, January 24, 2008

Patriarch’s Message from the March for Life

"...We are light because He is the Light..."

I just returned from a gathering with the young adults of the American Church in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, January 22nd we gathered at the Supreme Court to pray for the souls of the hundreds of thousands of babies who have died in the greatest holocaust known to mankind and then we joined hundreds of thousands of others - mostly young adults and walked in prayer to end abortion in our generation.

I also want to thank the priests and deacons who came to the events. Your presence is a clear sign that our communion is Pro-Life. Thank you to the adults from various churches that took a day off from work and travel great distance to be part of the March for Life - your sacrifice means a great deal in the heavenly realms.We were reminded over and over again by our first Patriarch that we are a church of generations. The blessing of God is for us and our children and our children’s children. In one generation the culture of death has made great advances, but I believe in one generation abortion in America will be once again made illegal. Young men and women of the CEC, you are the generation of warriors for the Gospel. You are the generation that will bring in a revival of God’s gift of love and life in the Western Church.

Abortion, not only in American but also around the world, is the most obvious and horrific manifestation of the culture of death. However to be pro-life is far deeper than being anti-abortion. The Gospel is a message of life. Jesus said that he came to bring life to its fullest.The greatest gift of life is the forgiveness of sin, which is received freely by those who come to Christ Jesus in genuine repentance and willingness to amendment of life. This is the message of reconciliation that we are commissioned to preach in word and action. Genuine life and the fullness of life come from God as we live in relationship with Christ Jesus. The promise of those who believe in Christ Jesus and follow Him is eternal life.

The sacraments, as means of grace, give life. Baptism not only conveys the reality of the forgiveness of sin and reception of the Holy Spirit, it is also an affirmation of life as a gift from God. In the celebration of the Holy Eucharist we proclaim the death of Christ. This death we know is our own forgiveness of sin. The Eucharist is also the hope of the eschatological banquet and our participation in the heavenly wedding feast. Jesus proclaimed that when we eat His flesh and drink His blood we will have life in us. Every Eucharist is pro-life.

We are light to the world. This is the message of Epiphany. For some of us the darkness is very dark. Many minister in situations where there are constant death threats upon them and their families. But we are called to be light. And, as it has been suggested, “it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” We are light every time we go into the world with the message of hope, but also with ministry that makes visible the void. Every birthing clinic, orphanage, feeding program, nursery school, or HIV/AIDS clinic is a proclamation that all life is sacred. Every time evangelists go into the world under the power of the Holy Spirit they are going empowered by the very Lord and giver of life.

Christ has come among us and He will never leave us or forsake us. He is in our midst and the light will overcome the darkness.

Under His mercy,
The Most Rev. Craig W. Bates,
Patriarch, ICCEC

There are several wonderful things I get from this statement from the Patriarch of the CEC.

First is the unfailing commitment to the pro-life cause. The CEC was birthed in the midst of this movement, something we have been often reminded of. A commitment not just to end abortion but promoting a culture that respects life has been a theme in communications from the Patriarch and other CEC leaders. Though polls regarding the legality of abortion do not give as optimistic an outlook as this communication suggests, there is of course room for hope. Most Americans seem to feel that abortion should probably be limited, but few that it should be illegal in all cases. That could change and the young are challenged to be catalysts of transformation.

Secondly, he rightly identifies abortion as a symptom of a wider evil in our society, a culture of death. Though he does not specify what he means by that presumably violence, wars, hostility to the Gospel, could be intended as he quickly identifies the proclamation of the Gospel as a message of life through Jesus Christ.

The sacraments, he points out, are life giving means of grace. Baptism and the Eucharist, long held by Anglicans as the essential sacraments are cast as pro-life sacraments, God's affirmation of life and promise of life eternal. We iluminated by the life of Christ also stand in some sense as sacraments, bringing light rather than cursing darkness, through our very concrete actions of message and ministry to the hurting and needy.

I love the reminder at the end, very much in the tenor of our founding Patriarch "Christ will never leave us nor forsake us..."

May this be a vision we hold close to our hearts and God give us the grace and strength to live it!



1 comment:

Fr Matt Mirabile said...

For more on the Culture of Death read
"Architects of the Culture of Death" by DeMarco and Wiker