Monday, 22 January 2017, was the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. January 22, 2017 was the fortieth-fourth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the disastrous Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand, a decision that paved the way for abortion as a form of birth control. It was a mistake. And it remains a mistake. The ruling was the beginning of a slippery slope that more than likely led to killing sick old people as well. If one does not value the beginning of life it is easy to disvalue the end of it as well. Both extremes are equally vulnerable.
Initially legal only during the first 12 to 16 weeks of pregnancy, a time when survival outside the womb is impossible, the U.S. government has slowly chipped away at the rights of the unborn child. While a child born at 24 weeks does not have the best odds of survival, even in a neonatal ICU, some, such as the recently defeated candidate for president, wish to extend partial birth abortion to any age in the womb from the barely viable 24 week-old to the viable 30 week-old. What about a 30 week old birth? Perhaps only those of a certain age will recall the Dionne quintuplets. The identical French Canadian quints were born on 24 May 1934 at 30 weeks gestation, decades before the advent of neonatal intensive care units. All survived into adulthood. Two are alive at age 83.
Abortion in the early stage is a scrape or vacuum procedure. Partial birth abortion is a more complicated and brutal procedure. A bit of explanation.
The head is the largest part of a baby. The disproportion between head and body size is one of the factors that induces the "awwwww" reflex upon seeing a newborn. The large head/small body of a newborn is both cute and sends a message of vulnerability and the need to protect, thus the awwww. By about sixteen weeks gestation the head is no longer able to pass through an undilated cervix and is becoming calcified. Thus, something must be done to allow it to get through the cervix. The baby's lower body is first delivered part of the way. That is the partial birth part. Then the size of the baby's head is reduced that's the abortion part. That can be done two ways. Either insert a large bore needle through the foramen magnum at the base of the skull and remove the brain by suction or crush the skull with forceps. The dead child is then fully delivered and disposed of.
This week we are called to pray for the legal protection of unborn children. We are called to pray that people realize the barbaric uncivilized nature of partial-birth abortion. And we are called to pray for a change of heart for those abortionists and their collaborators who violate the proscription against abortion in the original Hippocratic Oath, an oath that has been so distorted by the liberal politically correct left that the references forbidding abortion, killing the elderly, and having sex with one's patient have all been removed. The so-called Hippocratic Oath that is administered in medical schools today is a complete travesty and should be abandoned. It is window dressing at best and rank hypocrisy to use that name at worst.
On Friday January 27 tens of thousands of people, many of them students from Catholic high schools and universities, will descend on Washington, D.C.to march in the 44th Annual March for Life, protesting the heinous laws supporting abortion and partial-birth abortion. The marchers need our prayers. The march will be an antidote of sorts to the women's march travesties over the past weekend in D.C. and other major cities. There was a photo of Catholic religious sisters in Boston who participated there, one of whom appeared to be wearing what has been called a "pussy hat." (Sister hasn't worn a veil in years). That goes a long way toward explaining why their particular congregation has not had a vocation or profession in about a millennium. Will they be equally enthusiastic participants in the March for Life this week?
I would have posted a few days earlier but a viral illness of some kind that seems to be moving through the house laid me low. Not terribly ill, at least not today (early Monday AM was a different story), but lethargic and fatiguing way too easily. Feeling about 85% better and expect to be fully normal by tomorrow. As I did yesterday I cancelled all commitments. Haven't been out of sweat clothes in two days. Lots of water, rest, and sleep.
I haven't stopped posting. I was in Lithuania for ten days where I was not preaching and the internet access was middling at best.
Wednesday of last week several of us from the community drove about an hour to the funeral of another Jesuit's father. I had not met the Jesuit as he works in Rome. We went to Črny Vrh (Black Pass) up in the mountains at an elevation of 2400 feet. Cold doesn't begin to describe the experience. Besides a temperature that was in the high teens at best the wind was relentless. After the funeral we walked 200 yards in procession and vestments to the cemetery for the interment. After the interment we walked the same 200 yards, more rapidly this time, to return to the church. Vestments were whipping around all over the place. One Franciscan's stole wrapped completely around his neck due to the wind.
After the Mass Br. Robert drove about a mile farther down the road to the flat land for some photos. We lasted about 8 minutes in the cold without gloves before the pain became intolerable. It is impossible to shoot with regular gloves. The pain was some of the worst I've ever had in my hands due to cold. It took a long time for the throbbing to go away. However, I got some good shots. Am posting most of them in black and white as they have more impact than in color.
The church is typical of small Slovenian villages. This particular village has a population of about 600. The church was unheated. All the priests looked as if they were the Boston Bruins. I had six layers under the alb, a mix of nylon, cotton, and polartec.
Detail of the altar.
Winter is black and white seems colder than in color. Black and white is my favorite photographic medium. In these the bleakness is transmitted effectively. I took this through the windshield of the moving car. The bit of streaking on the left is the salt on the windshield.
The graveyard about 200 yards from the church. It was a long procession ahead of the coffin but a fairly brisk walk back.
A typical farm building not far from the church.
One of the hamlets that make up the village. There were scattered areas of glare ice. Don't know if they were lakes or due to melting and freezing. Nothing was melting this day except my resolve to continue shooting.
I can only think tundra when I look at this.
Brother Robert. He is an excellent architect and artist. We had just decided, "Outta here!"
On the way home we stopped for coffee. This pig, transient folk art, was traced in the snow on a table under an awning. It was going to last for quite a while.
After coffee we stopped for gas. These kids were going home from the nearby school.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD