In Cana of Galilee

Life, Death, Love…and no more wine!

Yesterday was a celebration here in our house: the Parliament in Portugal rejected draft legislation on euthanasia, and the victory of life must be celebrated. But the celebration wasn’t as great as it might have been for it was clouded by the resounding defeat of life in our other country, Ireland, at the end of last week. Niall especially, who loves his country, has suffered terribly with the news coming out of there. How was it possible, and above all, how do the Irish justify the celebrations, the euphoria, the victory cries in the face of rivers of innocent blood that will flow in Ireland, as they flow in Portugal, to the delight of Satan?

At our family prayer time the conversation wasn’t easy. What’s euthanasia? What is abortion? How can you look a child in the eye and say that there are fathers and mothers who, for various reasons (some truly serious and sad, others, the majority, quite rash), think that it is acceptable to kill a baby that hasn’t been born yet?

The Irish constitution had a beautiful sentence in it. It said that the lives of the mother and the unborn child had equal dignity. Well, the referendum in Ireland consisted of knowing if the Irish were ready to revoke that sentence, which in itself was an impediment to abortion, considering instead that the life of the mother is worth more than that of her unborn baby. And the Irish said yes.

And so I imagine a mother who had voted “yes” to abortion, even though she might never have actually had an abortion. I imagine that mother, like I imagine all mothers, singing a lullaby, kissing and smelling her baby and holding it with tenderness. And I imagine her saying: “I love you, but not to the point of putting your life before mine. Not even on a par… My dear child, first me, then you.” A shocking thought? Has my imagination gone too far? If it was difficult for me to explain abortion to Lucia and to Anthony, and to look into their horrified eyes, how would it be if I were to explain the same thing to them and add: “I think that all mummies and daddies have the right to kill their children before they are born, if they choose to, as long as the babies are really, really small”?

Perhaps these thoughts on abortion seem a little preposterous, appearing on an openly Catholic website like ours. No Catholic is in favor of abortion, naturally, because Catholics know that life is a gift from God and loving is, as Jesus taught us on the Cross, giving up your life. This reflection might make better sense if it were shared with non-Catholics, not here!

And well that’s the big surprise: 70% of those who voted in favor of abortion in Ireland say they’re Catholics. And many of them went to mass the following Sunday, being shocked and irritated when some priests advised the faithful that if they had voted in favor of abortion they should go to confession before receiving Holy Communion, adding that in the confessional they would be treated with the same mercy as any other sinner.

Today we’re full of rights. The right to decide upon life and death, the right to receive the Body of Jesus whenever we want, the right to go to the Church and take from it whatever suits us, like choosing from the shelves of the supermarket, leaving behind whatever disturbs us. In fact we only have rights. Obligations? Respect for the Crucified Lord? What’s that?

We’re hitting rock bottom. At every level. Ireland was one of the last European frontiers to conquer in questions of abortion. But Our Lady is attentive. She knows that there is no more wine, and only Jesus can make it so that the celebration of life and faith can recover its joyful and dancing rhythm.

They have no more wine (Jn 2:3)

The Families of Cana are waiting, with their poor and brittle jars, ready to welcome the new wine. Ready to welcome life, even when it arrives unexpectedly or is a lot of work, when it’s eight weeks or eighty years old, in sickness and in health. They’re ready to be witnesses at all times, good and bad. And they’re ready to welcome the graces that others refuse. Ready to say yes to everthing the Lord asks of them.

Let’s do it?

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