Homily by Fr. Tomasz Szczepanczyk at the Mass on Marh 15, 2014. Holy Cross Church in Maspeth, Queens, NY

We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God! Mother of life!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ our Lord!

On this special night, we gather around the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, to cry out with trembling voices: "To your patronage we fly, O Heavenly Mother" for nowhere else can we find shelter and protection from the evil threatening to flood the world. Only You, O Mother, have the power to restrain the punishing hand of God stretched over sinful humanity. For the iniquity of the world is overflowing, terribly offending the heart that loves us all - but demands justice and righteousness - the heart of our Heavenly Father. You know, o Mary, that we have no other refuge, and so in your immeasurable maternal love, you set out on a Crusade in Defense of Life and Family. In your pilgrimage across the world, you appeal to human hearts for conversion and rejection of sins that trample upon God's most wondrous gift - human life, from conception to natural death. You love your every child, o Mother, and never spurn anyone.

You embrace us all, and open your heart as the safest haven and protection.

You began your Crusade in the far corners of the world, in Siberia. There, where the land is only a thin cover for endless cemeteries and oceans of tears, of tens of millions of innocent victims. You visited a land where for many decades God had no place to be! For an inhuman and totalitarian ideology declared man the master of the universe, and banished God, while building a brave new world on mountains of corpses. You wanted to go there, o Mother, to bring hope into human hearts that yearn for God and His Holy Church. In Siberia and Russia You appealed for respect for life, particularly for life unborn, for over there the blood of the innocent is being shed profusely and cries out to the heavens!

Then your Crusade took you to twenty four nations in Europe, where your heart must have bled upon the reality of such a terrible disrespect for life in countries called Christian since centuries. There, the dramatic meaning of Your Crusade became fully apparent. For how could it be, that a Crusade for Life must be brought to nations formed and civilized by the Christian faith? To nations boasting of countless saints and martyrs and missionaries to the world?! And now, to those nations, You, o Mother, must plead with tears for an end to the holocaust of the unborn, and the terror of euthanasia towards the old and the infirm. How could this happen? Whence such contempt for the sanctity of life? Why have these prosperous nations expelled God from their hearts? What happened to the Faith? 

And then, You have come, o Mother, to the shores of America - land of hope for millions of immigrants; land so fertile and beautiful, that indeed, "God shed His grace on thee." And yet, Your miraculous image, O Mary, shows a face that is somber and worried, for you ask this land: "What have you done with the grace shed upon you?" Where is that brotherhood from sea to shining sea?" For alas, this land of hope for a new life has become a champion of the culture of death; a land soaked in the blood of 56 million unborn, aborted since 1973. Instead of promoting brotherhood, America has turned into an infernal machine financing manipulation and contempt for life through massive programs of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, artificial insemination and population control. God is being pushed out of the public forum; respect for life is disappearing, while pride has its day when man claims the power to be master of life.

O Blessed Mother, we thank you for coming to us at this critical hour. For we must not continue offending God so terribly by disrespecting life. You call us to urgent conversion and change of heart so that we reaffirm the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. You call us, through the Catholic Church, to become witnesses and promoters of the culture of life. As pope Francis appealed to us: "We are responsible towards the contemporary culture to promote recognition of the creative power of God in every human life, from its very beginning in the womb..." 

This night, Mary, present amongst us in Her miraculous icon, asks each one of us for prayer and action in defense of life. First and foremost PRAYER! Let us join the Prayer Crusade in Defense of the Unborn,

accepting the obligation to pray daily and to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in one weekday a month for the intention of unborn life.

Another precious prayer initiative is the Spiritual Adoption of Unborn Child, as a combat to save a life in danger of abortion. Such Spiritual Adoption lasts nine months and consists in daily rosary prayer for an unborn child, and the parents. This Prayerful Action truly constitutes an "apostolate of life" for it embraces women suffering from the post-abortion syndrome. Spiritual Adoption opens before these women a path to redemption reparation for sins, and a spiritual therapy guiding towards healing and conversion.

Every parish should also have a Permanent Rosary Prayer for the Unborn. It would bring together the young and the old, the single and the families, in affirmation of the sanctity of life from the womb to the grave.

PRAYER IS A POWERFUL WEAPON AGAINST EVIL and it is possible for everyone!!!

Yet, importantly, our prayer for life must embrace also men - the fathers of the unborn.

For how often we find that in the tragedy of abortion the woman is more a victim than the executioner. Behind every new life there is not only the mother, but equally the father. And sadly, one of the salient features of the culture of death is the absence of the father, and contempt for conceived life on the part of men. Remember that was first betrothed to her most chaste Spouse, St Joseph, before God asked Her to become a mother the Word Made Flesh. Thus the battle for the culture of life amounts to a large extent to a call for man's responsibility for life conceived in the womb. We must pray for fathers - respect fatherhood; support fathers in our parishes and give witness to the holiness of marriage and parenthood in our families.

Besides PRAYER, The Blessed Mother calls us to ACTION in defense of life. The promotion of the culture of life demands formation, education and witness. John Paul II taught us that the world has become a battlefield between culture of life and that of death. A battle demands armor and preparation. The Crusade for Life necessarily requires formative effort - as we need to deepen our knowledge of the dignity of life at its every stage. The contemporary world has rejected faith and worships science and knowledge, and so the frontline in our battle for life will inevitably run along the fields of education and science. Of course, we must witness to  the faith, but we must also speak to the world i the language of knowledge! This is why we need to offer formation in our parishes, through classes, lectures, retreats, catechesis - especially to engage the young, those preparing for marriage, and families. To become effective apostles and servants of Mary in defense of life, we must use modern media resources to teach the truth about the sanctity of human life in all its stages. The Blessed Mother also reminds us to care about families in need and to be able to offer concrete help. No marriage in trouble; no large family in difficulty should be left unassisted and uncared for. And the elderly among us; the infirm; the dying - they are also entrusted to our concern. Caring for them we fulfill our Christian vocation, as pope Francis said: "To see the face of Christ in every fragile human being."

When we act this way, combining PRAYER with ACTION we will truly respond to the Mary in Her Crusade for Life. We will become effective instruments in Her hands, as She strives to save the world from chastisement, and build a civilization of love, where life is protected and cherished as God's priceless gift!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, how blessed are we, gathered this night around our Heavenly Mother in Her miraculous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa. She has travelled thousands of miles to be with us, to plead for our conversion and change of heart, so that we might stand with Her in the Crusade in Defense of Life and Family. The world has strayed so far from God that it lost respect for life to the point, where the dominant utilitarian mentality, perceives the unborn, the sick, the infirm and old, as useless and unworthy of life. Man in his folly arrogated to himself the power over life. This is why the punishing hand of God hangs above humanity, and only the Blessed Mother has the power to beg mercy for us. Out of love for her children, Mary has agreed with humility to become a pilgrim,

and to beg the human race to turn back to God and respect life from conception to natural death.

O Blessed Mother, we thank you for your maternal love for each one of us. Pray for us and help us to have the courage to fight in defense of life, especially of the unborn and the infirm, of the most vulnerable. Your Crusade will go on, but we ask you to stay with us in our parishes and families, for you are our only refuge and protection. This night, in a special way, We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God! Mother of life!

Amen.

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