THE TILMA OF THE LADY OF GUADALUPE is filled with numerous pieces, all of which are pointers or symbols: her eyes, movement, the colors, the arrangement of the mantle's stars, the crescent moon and sun-rays, the flowered gown, her inclined head.
It is said that the high placement and color of the ribbon-belt suggests her pregnancy. Some have even said the fact that her dress is belted instead of loose, indicates her pregnancy. Perhaps her bowed head is in recognition of the divine presence within her womb.
Human beings begin life on the planet within an almost magical watery world. Pictures reveal that we seem to be happy there. Because of her goodness, Mary's womb has been described as a heaven on earth out of which Jesus-God has come into our world.
As a young teacher, decades ago, I was at an end of the school year luncheon in a New York City restaurant. The room was filled with the soft and pleasant sounds of people conversing, silverware, dishes and glasses, waiters moving around - maybe there was music. Two teachers to my right started to talk, defending abortion, and I said (calmly and in a conversational tone), "Nah, I think that's really wrong." With that, everything at the table stopped. People put down their silverware and all heads turned to me. I don't remember how it ended. It didn't escalate and I have no recall of how we moved back into normal conversation. What did it suggest? There's going to be a fight? Let's see how he gets himself out of this one? Does anyone really believe this? Oh good, I"m glad someone is brave enough to say that?
Of late the folks at MSNBC have undertaken an advertising campaign, perhaps hoping to draw new viewers. These are the themes:
- We all want to live in a nation that's better tomorrow that it is today.
- But for the past twenty years we've been re-cycling the same conversations.
- Enough with the arguments, it's time to advance the issues.
- It's time for new questions.
- It's time to lean forward.
- It's time to celebrate the best ideas.
- We give the story few places to hide.
I don't know, is the Reverend Al Sharpton the religious face of MSNBC? When people address him they call him, Rev. I think that Rev. Sharpton personifies the aspects of the station's media campaign - he is a vociferous advocate of human rights. That's not to be taken away from him. We should hope for clerics who are promoters of the dignity of the human person, as Pope John Paul II would have said.
But I've noticed that whenever Rev. Sharpton makes a list of persons to be be defended, towards the end of the list he includes women and their right to abortion, citing rape and incest victims. In other words: Abortion has to be protected as a right because rape and incest happen. But that's not how you start a debate or defend an argument - by citing the statistics which represent the fewest cases. Rev. Al defends everyone except the pre-born child.
This month, the nation remembers the first anniversary of the murder of 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Another 7 adults were killed that day by the same gunman. Immediately after the killing, President Obama addressed an auditorium of grieving parents, family, local people and school staff. He said:
"The majority of those who died today were children - beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own...we will have to change...If there's even one step we can take to save one child then we surely have an obligation to try."
But isn't this what abortion does - it steals away a future. Isn't the President making a simply-stated but profound argument as to why we have to stop aborting. And while he indicates, birthdays, graduations, weddings and having their own children - there are other, less thought of life-events stolen away: learning to tie a shoe, getting new teeth, mastering an instrument, the making of friendships, their contributions to the creation of thought and beauty - all the things that make for a human life. Abortion is the theft of a future.
When people questioned Mother Teresa about picking new-born infants out of street garbage piles in Calcutta, they would sometimes say, "Why do you do it; she/he's going to die anyway?" Mother Teresa would say, "Even if she lives for five minutes, then for five minutes she would know she was loved." What about that?
Or in a documentary film we see Mother Teresa holding a baby girl who fits in her hand. The interviewer asks, 'Do you think this one will make it?" Mother Teresa says, "I think so, I see life in her." Well The New York Times followed up on this baby girl and decades later discovered that she had been adopted, went to an Ivy League college and had just graduated with an admirable degree. She had been given her future.
Down Syndrome kids are almost extinct, as their presence in the womb is detectable and abortion usually follows. But folks with Down Syndrome give more hugs and smiles in a day than most of us give in a (proverbial) lifetime! Isn't that part of their stolen-away future - the gift of the bright-love they give the world?
I wonder if the Rev. Al Sharpton really does believe these things but jumps to defending abortion rights citing incest and rape cases in order to keep viewers, advertisers and the corporate leadership satisfied and calm?
President Obama was talking about gun regulation when he talked about the 20 children at Sandy Hook being robbed of their future and the nation needing to try harder to save even "one child." I'd suggest that the protective awareness and concern he's speaking of needs to be pushed back further - into the womb - which we could argue ought to be the safest place on the planet.
Guadalupe-Mother of the pre-born, show us the way.