By Father Frank Pavone
I once heard a very young boy call out for his daddy in a beautiful, clear, and diminutive voice while he was playing. The father, moved by it, responded lovingly,“Yes, my heart?” And something about that interaction touched me. If that boy is his father’s heart, then he is the most important thing to him. The heart is the core or center of a person in a figurative way. And, in the most literal and physical sense, the
heart is the engine or the motor of the body. It pumps our entire lives, never sleeping. It keeps us alive. If a father can love his son to the core of his being so that he calls him his heart, then we can understand more how Jesus must love us.
In the image of the Sacred Heart, Christ extends to us His flaming heart that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to do the same.
One way this love is embodied is in prolife work. It is, at its essence, a work of self giving love for children in the womb who don’t even know we are loving them. And it is a lifesaving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ’s heart keeps on beating inside His body. So must we persevere within the Body of Christ.
And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of His body, and it is the body of God.The Feast of the Sacred Heart, and our devotion to that heart throughout the year, bring to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, pro-lifework is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which He shows us in His Body.
Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; His heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as being single-mindedly concerned with saving babies and nothing more. This claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to everybody. Rachel’s Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them a voice and a vote. This is the work of mercy.
Jesus said He is meek and humble of heart, and this also brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of pro choice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God’s will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly. A story recently broke about an Olympic athlete who discovered she was pregnant weeks before the Olympics. Blindsided and panicked by the pregnancy, she hastily aborted so she couldparticipate in the Olympics. But the decision was met with instant regret. She and the father realized that what they decided demonstrated a desire to control their circumstances. She wishes she had had a more open heart.
The Sacred Heart is a welcoming and open heart.It welcomes the unexpected. When we have Jesus’ heart, we see Him in the stranger. We must not treat our children as strangers in the womb, but we must welcome them as if we were welcoming Christ. We make room for the woman in crisis as if we were welcoming Christ. We open our hearts to the brokenhearted who regret their abortions. And we even open our hearts to those who have yet to see the error of their ways. We see Christ in each of these and we choose love.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and our worship of that heart,represent the heart of the pro-life movement, and enable us to be transformed according to that heart. Every aspect of the pro-life movement is motivated by love, and that’s why we can be confident of victory, for“Love is stronger than death, more powerful even than hell” (Song of Songs 8:6). Sacred Heart of Jesus, lead us to the victory of life and of love!