There is a concern among a significant number of Catholic clergy that itis difficult to preach on abortion because the topic does not seem toharmonize with the readings assigned for a given liturgy.
This concern needs to be addressed from at least two perspectives. First,the homilist is not constrained by the readings. Second, the Scriptures
doprovide countless links with the abortion issue.
A homilist is NOT required to limit himself to commentary on the assignedScripture readings. The pertinent liturgical law is found in the GeneralInstruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, which is printed at the beginningof every Sacramentary), paragraph 41. It reads, "The homily is stronglyrecommended as an integral part of the liturgy and as a necessary sourceof nourishment of the Christian life. It should develop some point of thereadings or of another text from the Ordinary of the Mass of the day. Thehomilist should keep in mind the mystery that is being celebrated and theneeds of the particular community." Notice that the homilist is given a
choice. He can preach on the readings OR "another text" of the liturgy.These "other texts" include the prayers of the Mass which are constant,such as the Profession of Faith, the prayers at the Presentation of theGifts, the Eucharistic Prayers, and the Our Father. They also include the"presidential prayers," which vary each day.
In relation to abortion, the Profession of Faith has three powerful pointsof departure: "We believe in one God... Maker of heaven and earth, of allthat is seen and unseen... We believe in One Lord, Jesus Christ...
throughHim all things were made... We believe in the
Holy Spirit, the Lord andGiver of life."
Paragraph 41 of the GIRM also indicates that the "needs of the particularcommunity" are to be kept in mind in shaping the homily. Statistics provethat Catholics have a grave need to repent of abortion, and to become
moreinformed about the horror and magnitude of this
evil. With the constantbarrage of pro-death slogans
and perverse philosophies enveloping them, itis quite
clear that the community has a paramount need to hear the truthabout abortion.
When the homilist does preach more directly on the readings, he shouldnote that there are countless ways to bring in the abortion issue. TheGIRM says he may "develop some point of the readings." To "develop" apoint indicates that the readings are a springboard rather than a
straightjacket. What is preached does not have to be
explicitly mentioned in thepassages! A theme may be
suggested in any one or several of the readings.The
homilist is not limited to the Gospel. The other readings, includingthe psalm, provide powerful themes. The abortion issue is right in thefiring line of such basic Scriptural themes as;
1) the dominion of God over human life,
3) defense of the weak and helpless,
4) creation of man and woman in God's image and likeness,
5) the covenant,
6) the prohibition of murder,
8) love of neighbor,
11) Christ as the Resurrection and the Life,
12) responsibility and solidarity,
13) God's victory over death, and many others.
Liturgy is, ultimately, a life-giving encounter with God. There can be nomore appropriate setting in which to proclaim and defend the gift of
life.The liturgical laws of the Church certainly
leave the door wide open forsuch a proclamation and