Only a tiny fraction of the more than 60 million aborted babies in the United States have had a proper burial.
People of faith throughout the United States came together on Sept. 12 to pray for and remember them and all the rest, on the eighth annual National Day of Remembrance for the Unborn.
Father Anthony Viviano, moderator for pro-life activities for the Jefferson City diocese, offered Mass on Sept. 12 in St. Andrew Church in Holts Summit.
“One of the things about this National Day of Remembrance is that it moves us even deeper than we are already moved toward being protectors of life, advocates for life,” he stated in his homily.
He said giving victims of abortion a proper burial helps move abortion out of the realm of the abstract.
“It really brings home the gravity of what we’re talking about with abortion,” he said. “This is real. This was a life. There was a death. There was a burial.”
It testifies to the objective, irrevocable dignity of every human life.
“Of course, it moves us to think about how every human life is precious, even those who are being snuffed out by the millions without having the chance to be born,” he said.
But remembering isn’t enough, he asserted.
The act of remembering must motivate all people to work and pray without ceasing to protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.
“At the end, that’s why we mark this National Day of Remembrance for the Unborn by coming together for Mass,” Fr. Viviano stated. “This is where we become nourished and fortified to go out and continue to fight the good fight for those who cannot fight it for themselves.”
After Mass, participants processed out of the church for a short prayer service around the stone memorial for the victims of abortion.
Each person placed a flower on the memorial.
Remember and act
Father Joseph Corel, one of two pastors in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Sedalia, spoke at a bilingual, ecumenical service in the parish’s Sacred Heart Chapel.
“Today we mourn and we pray for an end to abortion and that the Lord Who sees the pain and suffering can heal, make whole and allow the culture of life to win,” he stated.
Joining Fr. Corel were other local pastors and community leaders.
“The pro-life movement is a battle that requires all of us working together to win against the culture of death,” he said.
He surmised that Catholic and other Christian leaders throughout the United States were taken off guard when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in all 50 states in 1973.
“We were not prepared for that decision so early on in the battle for life,” he stated. “We looked at the harm done to the child: When is the child developed? When does the child feel pain?”
Over time, pro-life advocates came to understand more fully that abortion also hurts women — “that if we save the mother we save the child.”
Fr. Corel emphasized the importance of prayer for converting hearts and minds away from the culture of abortion.
Also essential is the work of peaceful advocacy and civil engagement in getting laws and policies changed, of helping women who have had abortions find healing and reconciliation, and of helping people who work in the abortion industry.
“We work with numerous groups who want to not only help the mother bring her child to term but and also stay with the baby and mother long after the birth of the child,” he said.
“We work with dads who have the biggest impact on whether the mother is going to keep the baby, put the child up for adoption or abort,” he continued.
In the meantime, it is right to gather, to remember, to grieve and to pray for all the innocent victims of abortion and to comfort their parents who often grieve in silence.
Recalling that millions of abortions have occurred and as many parents are still mourning the loss, “what do you do with a number so staggering, so much pain and suffering?”
The answer, he asserted, begins with prayer.
“The only thing we a Christians can do with that is give it to the Lord and say, ‘You see the pain and suffering and death, You know what we are doing in Your name to overcome it,’” he said.
The service concluded with a funeral procession to the Innocents Memorial in Crown Hill/Calvary Cemetery.
“Beneath your feet”
The Randolph County chapter of Missouri Right to Life also held a remembrance service in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Moberly, at the memorial to all the unborn.
Three national pro-life groups — Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Priests for Life and the Pro-Life Action League — organized the National Day of Remembrance in order to help humanize the unborn victims of abortion by raising awareness of their burial places.
“Too often, abortion is just seen as a political issue or a matter of personal choice — but abortion has real victims,” stated Kathy Forck, one of the organizers of the Day of Remembrance in Holt Summit.
“The dueling speeches and slogans fade into silence when you realize that actual victims of abortion are buried right beneath your feet,” she said. “These tiny children were never born. Never learned to walk. Never had a first day of school. They were never even given names.”
Fr. Viviano said the people he saw at the Mass in Holts Summit seemed to understand what the day was all about.
He pointed out that Sept. 12 was also the Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“That’s really fitting,” he said. “We turn to our Blessed Mother in our time of need, asking her to intercede for us at the throne of her Son, Whom she bore in her own womb for nine months.”