You formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13
Praised be Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Living and the Dead.
The National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children is September 9. Because of this somber day, I have tried my best to write an article on the reasons for having memorials to the preborn.
I tried to write in the third person because, after all, this is not about me. I am not the one whose body has been ripped asunder or who has endured any other of the cruel ways innocent human life is destroyed by abortion.
I was conceived in love. I was not abandoned. I was born and cared for.
But, still, that which once would have been an easy academic exercise to explain the theological, philosophical, cultural, and human reasons for memorialization, has—at least for now—become very difficult.
And so, I write in the first person.
Perhaps, after seeing the gruesome evidence with my own eyes, after attending numerous burials of victims of the unspeakable crime of abortion, and after holding 110 of our tiny brothers and sisters in my own hands last year as I laid these victims of mass murder to rest, it is difficult to describe the experience in any way but the first person. It has left me grasping for ways to speak that which is unspeakable.
Why do we memorialize, in varied ways, those who have died through abortion?
These babies are created in the image and likeness of God. As the psalmist reminds us: They are beloved of their Creator. They are more than just a thought in His mind, and having been called into being, they will never be forgotten. They are eternally loved by the Lord.
A memorial reminds us that we, too, should not forget. These little human beings are loved by God as He loves us. They are our brothers and sisters.
In the burials and memorial services I have attended, I have seen the tears of those who have fought and continue to fight for the good of these beloved of God as they remember the dead little ones. It is striking that many who have fought for life for decades still allow themselves to hurt enough to cry. What a blessing it is to be reminded of the One who is full of compassion (choosing to “suffer with” us). We are told in scriptures that at the grave of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, “He wept.”
We mourn at these hallowed places, these burial sites, when most of the world would rather not be bothered with such so that they may go on their merry way, as if this vast carnage is of no matter. This indifference perpetuates the violence, for apathy in the face of such great evil will bring judgment on individuals and nations.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
We choose to remember the evil afflicting the innocent in our country so that we might speak and act in love. Perhaps our tears, our loving efforts, and our remembrance are forms of thanksgiving and reparation. Our prayers, trusting in the infinite mercy of Jesus, will find the dead babies in heaven, will help put an end to the culture of death, and will bring about repentance and healing to the moms and others scarred by the darkness in which they have participated.
It is only right and just that we remember the little ones who have perished in the war in which they had no say. A memorial, even a grave marker, reminds us that there were real victims and that there are mangled bodies here whose blood cries out to heaven. And for our own good, we remember and hope to remind others.
It is strange, though, that most memorials to the dead in massive conflicts are dedicated after the killing has ceased. We would have hoped that the memorials of the 20th century—which was bloodier than all the previous centuries combined—would have stood as a testament that we dare not forget the evils of which we are capable, lest they be repeated.
The memorials to the preborn remind us that there is an ongoing veritable slaughter on an unimaginable scale. They should serve to remind us that we are engaged in a struggle to build a culture of life—and that it is a struggle. It will take effort, it will take suffering, and it will take the grace of God to advance and to end the diabolical mess we face.
I have not much wanted to talk about the experience of seeing (and burying) the victims of a mass murder in our nation’s capital. Early on I was asked how the experience changed me. I am still trying to figure some of that out. But there is one thing I knew from the beginning: I have not done enough for God, for the babies, and for the mothers in my efforts.
Perhaps because of the observance of the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children—and/or of placing before your mind’s eye the slaughter of the holy innocents—you too will be motivated to do more for them.
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