MADISON -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino presided over a vigil for the unborn November 27 at St. Patrick Church in Madison, leading people from around the diocese in prayer in communion with Pope Benedict XVI and faithful around the world.
The vigil took place on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent. It marked an opportunity for Catholics to pray to God for the unborn and their parents, for an end to abortion and embryo-destroying research, and for recognition of the dignity of all human life, and to pray to the Virgin Mary, the protector of the unborn Christ, for her intercession.
“The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, he becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully,” the pope said in his homily at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us,” the pope said. “The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.”
Thanksgiving for gift of life
The vigil also took place only days after the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States, and Bishop Morlino in his homily reminded those present at the vigil in Madison that those who are grateful for the gift of life should protect it.
“When someone gets a gift for which they’re really thankful, you can tell because they protect it,” the bishop said. “What comes to mind tonight is the gift of life. If we are truly grateful for it, we cherish it and we protect it.”
It is biology that defines a human being as a unique individual, the bishop said, so there should be no question of the humanness and personhood of the unborn. So we must cherish and love life, especially the most defenseless — and in so doing, protect it.
Culture of love is love for all
“If we claim to build a culture of love, then we have to build a culture of life,” the bishop said, echoing the pope’s comments from his earlier vigil in Rome. “A culture of abortion, of embryonic stem cell research where embryos are killed, a culture of euthanasia — that’s not a culture of love.”
“Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest,” the pope said in his homily. “In this vein we find the Church’s concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: ‘from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care’ (Gaudium et Spes, n. 51).”
“So we gather at the beginning of Advent, at a vigil, to pray for all nascent life,” Bishop Morlino said. “And we do it not just because it’s the thing to do . . . but because we have to. We cannot let the culture of death deepen and deepen around us. We have to build the culture of life.”