By Fr. George Welzbacher
January 6, 2013
The word epiphany is derived from the Greek word for manifestation. In the liturgical year it denotes the feast of Christ's manifestation (as long-awaited Saviour) to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish nations personified in the Magi, the Persian priests of the Persian religion, who, since the days of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, (late 500's B.C.), were thoroughly familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and were accordingly aware that Jewish authorities interpreted a passage in the Book of Numbers (24:17) stating that "a star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel" as a prediction that the Messiah's coming would be associated in some way or other with a star. And the stars were what the Magi, as worshippers of the Persian God of Light, Ahura Mazda, spent their nights studying . They were the ancient classical world's professional astronomers. They would therefore be among the very first to take note of the onset of an extraordinary conjunction of planets which seemed to create an extremely bright new "star" in the Middle Eastern sky, against the background of the constellation of the Fish, the constellation Pisces, the constellation that in ancient astrological lore had long been associated with the Hebrew nation. The Magi connected the dots -that's what the scientific mind is fond of doing - and undertook a long, dangerous and exhausting journey to find a new-born King of the Jews, a Child with a uniquely sacred mission, in order to offer Him homage.
Would that our nation's elite were equally adept at "connecting the dots." When President Obama spoke to the nation, expressing with words and tears his grief at the brutal slaughter of twenty "innocent and defenseless children" - they were just six or seven years old! - whose lives and future promise were senselessly "cut short," he spoke not only to the nation but for the nation. But if the murder of twenty "Innocent and defenseless children" in Connecticut is most certainly cause for profound grief - and revulsion - why can our president and our culture's manipulators NOT see that what they rightly condemned on December the fourteenth is precisely what they have been PRAISING AND PROMOTING day in and day out as the enlightened, as the progressive course of action? and that what is "cutting short" the lives and future promise of "innocent" children in their THOUSANDS EVERY DAY, children who are the most "defenseless" of all, trapped in their mother's wombs, is the abortionist's knife! Where are the tears, the indignation, the revulsion against the slaughter thus far of some fifty-five MILLION innocent and defenseless infants-and counting. What stifles the indignation is a combination of political expediency, and greed. There are none so blind as those whose fierce determination is NOT to see.
* * * * *One week from today, the University of Notre Dame's church bells will herald the birth of a child in a Bethlehem manger. Two weeks after that, the Fighting Irish will travel to Miami to compete against the Crimson Tide for college football's national title. Two weeks after that, busloads of exhausted Notre Dame students will arrive in Washington to march for life on what will be the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
That goes, with special force, for the hypocrites who, all the while shouting from the rooftops that they are "ardently" Catholic, give their all-out, unconditional, passionate support to the continuing mass murder of the defenseless innocent. A propos of which a regular columnist for the Wall Street Journal recently called upon America's most prominent Catholic university to seize a unique opportunity that has come its way to make the case in public for the pro-Life crusade! Anyone care to make a bet?
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The Good Fight of the Fighting Irish
The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2012
There's an opportunity for America here. Remember that the phrase "Fighting Irish" originated as an ethnic and religious slur. It was partly for that reason that millions of new Americans-not just Irish but Italians, Poles, Gennans-saw in Notre Dame's victories on the football field a reflection of their own struggles and aspirations in this new promised land. Notre Dame now has the opportunity to do something similar for the unborn.
Let's stipulate that, at this moment in history, this work could not look more unpromising. Notwithstanding recent polls (CNN, for example) that continue to show a majority of Americans leaning pro-life on abortion, the leading institutions of American culture - the press, television, academe - are lopsidedly stacked AGAINST the pro-life side. In such a world Notre Dame's public witness would be a powerful counterweight.
Plainly, my alma mater hasn't been shy about using football to push OTHER causes. Each home game, the university runs a television spot called "What Would You Fight For?" featuring some member of the Notre Dame community making this world a better place. They range from the chemistry professor researching a cure for tuberculosis to the sophomore who founded a nonprofit to help fulfill the dreams of the terminally ill.
Now imagine if the millions tuning in to the January 7 championship game were to see one of the ads highlighting a Notre Dame undergrad who volunteers at the local shelter for unwed mothers. Imagine the impact of such a face on national television, and the trademark sign-off of this ad series: "Fighting for the life of the unborn child. We are the Fighting Irish."
That's an ad that would command attention. Of course, it would also require a virtue rare on our campuses these days: the COURAGE to advocate the unfashionable. The good news is that Notre Dame's place in American life makes it uniquely situated to encourage those working for change in a free and democratic society. That is, to bring together people who might otherwise never come together, and encourage their efforts to persuade our fellow citizens that the proposition we advance is right and just.
That larger proposition might begin with a simple, bipartisan statement under the auspices of two politicians [both of them graduates of Notre Dame] whose pro-life credentials are beyond question: Illinois Democrat Dan Lipinski and New Jersey Republican Chris Smith. A Notre Dame Statement for Life could be as simple as this:
"We represent different parties, different faiths, and different ideas about the best path to a society that welcomes the unborn to life and protects them in law. While we may disagree on the means, we agree about the unique evil of an assault that leaves the most innocent and most voiceless among as the most vulnerable. We therefore pledge to speak, publicly, about the preciousness of the unborn child and our obligation to ensure that women who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy have a more hopeful alternative than the cold front door of a Planned Parenthood clinic."
Notre Dame prides itself as "the place where the Church does its thinking." If so, the most intractable issue in American life would be a good place to start. That's especially true today, when the most prominent Catholics in American public life - Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - represent a party that campaigned WITHOUT EMBARRASSENT on a position held by only a fraction of Americans: ABORTION ON DEMAND WITH NO LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, UNDERWRITTEN BY TAXPAYER DOLLARS.
A Notre Dame television ad and statement on life would not transform this nation overnight. It might, however, remind people about the human tragedy that is abortion, and maybe give the hidden pro-life multitudes a sense that there is ONE popular institution that does NOT caricature them as religious lunatics. It might help rouse those Democrats who are firmly pro-life but feel they have no home where their voice is welcome. It might even teach Republicans a thing or two--especially those who are now itching to blame their lost election on the unborn and their mothers.
We pro-lifers sometimes forget that the POLITICS of life--dedicated to building a society that recognizes the unalienable dignity and worth of the unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome-will never be possible without a CULTURE of life. Come January 7, the college football world will be watching to see whether the Irish measure up against Alabama. Four decades after Roe, some of us are hoping Notre Dame might use some of that same magic to call America to her better self.
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