How often have you been to Mass, listened to the readings and homily and heard a clear message about the sanctity of life and why abortion is wrong? Or how the Church can help those who have suffered with the pain of abortion? Has the vast network of organizations that can support women in a crisis pregnancy been mentioned?
I can tell you that in all of my years attending Mass, I have only heard a handful of pro-life homilies at a Sunday Mass. Even on the Sunday in October dedicated as Respect Life Sunday, it is not discussed. It always seems to me that teaching about the inherent dignity of life and how abortion is in direct opposition to that is important and necessary.
I can understand that there may be concerns, hesitation and maybe just a bit of fear that people will respond in a negative way. However, if we, the people of God, are not challenged how will we grow? As Fr. Pavone says, “Preaching should foster the ongoing conversion and growth in holiness of the people entrusted to our pastoral care. A pastor is a shepherd. To shepherd people, preachers must be clear and courageous in confronting evil and likewise calm and compassionate. Our desire is to instruct people, inspire them, and equip them to take action.” What a beautiful vision for preaching and one I hope all who preach aspire to.
The book Fr. Pavone wrote is a wonderful aid in preaching the message of life. The book has two main divisions, part one of the book gives a general overview of why and how to preach this message while part two gives a specific reflection for every Sunday of the Year for all three cycles of readings! It is very extensive.
The first part of the book talks about why and how to preach about abortion, including scripture and doctrinal points that can be used as a springboard for talks or homilies. My favorite chapter though is seven, “Common Obstacles to Preaching on Abortion.” The thirty-two questions raised and answered ran the gamut from “Am I afraid I won’t be loved?” to “Will I endanger our tax exemption by speaking on abortion?”.
Of course, it is easy for me to read these reflections, which I have, and say “yes, preach it!” So I checked in with my deacon husband. He preaches about one Sunday a month. He has read the reflections and found ways to include some of the thoughts presented in his homilies. And that is the point of this book, to include some thoughts about how and why we are a pro-life people.
I think this book would be a welcome addition to the libraries of those who preach and also those who are active in pro-life ministry. It is practical, useful and accessible tool. The book is full of reassurances to preach the truth, based on Fr. Pavone experiences of preaching all around the country as the national director for Priests for Life. Published by Servant, it is available in both hardcover and digital editions.
© Deanna Bartalini, 2016