Bishop celebrates pro-life Mass in Washington D.C.

before joining local group in Topeka for rally

Dozens of youth and adults from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City joined Father Wesley Schawe for an early morning bus trip to Topeka where they took part in the annual pro-life rally Jan. 23.
Bishop Brungardt joined the group after having attended events in Washington, D.C. Jan. 21-22 to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. On Jan. 21, he celebrated Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Following is a complete text of the bishop’s homily at the Mass:

Open our hearts, O Lord
Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.”  Our gospel acclamation expresses our plea to our Loving God as we join together in our nation’s capital, pilgrims gathering this morning in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, this magnificent basilica, to worship, to receive God’s love in His Sacrament of Love, the Holy Eucharist.  We, young and old, meet in joy, from dioceses in Kansas and Louisiana and elsewhere, from far and near to celebrate this Sacred Mass.  Open our hearts, O Lord, to this joy.
We also experience a great grief in our hearts, O Lord, as we feel compassion for our little brothers and sisters in the womb, our youngest pilgrims in our earthly journey.  We grieve in our hearts as David lamented at the death of his close friend Jonathan: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother! Most dear have you been to me” (2 Samuel 1).  Our dear little children -- innocent, pure, holy – these children are why we have made our pilgrimage to Washington, D.C.  
We walk in darkness in our country.  The United States is gripped in gloom today.  A moral shadow.   A great darkness that is the killing of innocent baby boys and girls in their God-given home in their moms.  Abortion.  This weekend we remember the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in our country.  Since 1973 millions of our most vulnerable citizens have had their lives abruptly ended.  Million of mothers wounded spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Millions of fathers numbed.  The horrendous average of 1.3 million Americans per year, 3,500 persons every day, 150 children of God each hour, a precious baby killed every 24 seconds in our country alone.  We walk in darkness.  Open our hearts, Lord, to the words of your Son that we may repent.

Open Colleene’s Heart, O Lord

One mother under great grief turned to our Compassionate Lord.  She tells how her children brought her closer to God, how Jesus healed her:
The touching true story of Colleene and her family who live in California:  In 1991 their 3-½ year old daughter Heather was killed in a tragic accident.  The family was devastated, and the next few years were filled with depression, therapy, and even thoughts of suicide.  To break free of this crippling condition, Colleene said, “I got down on my hands and knees after trying to make it on my own and asked Jesus into my heart.”  Colleene begged God to open up her heart, to listen to the words of Jesus.  This emotional opening up to our Lord started the process of healing in Colleene’s life, as she began to hope and trust in Jesus Christ.
But the story is not over.  In 1992, Colleene and her husband were informed that Colleene was pregnant with triplets!  They were overjoyed.  But they were then shocked when the doctor advised, since Colleene was 39 years old, that she should consider a “selective reduction” of her triplets, for “health reasons” (selective reduction: another code word for abortion: killing one or two of the babies, so there is a “better” chance of survival for remaining two or one).  She said “I was speechless [and then said]  No!  Don’t talk to me about that anymore.  God has given me three babies, and I’m keeping those babies.”
Colleene struggled through a difficult pregnancy and, on the anniversary of the burial of their little girl Heather, gave birth to “three absolutely beautiful, perfect boys.  Their birth weights were an astonishing 6 lbs 14 oz, 6 lbs 6 oz, and 5 lbs 8 oz” (for you moms out there, that’s almost 19 pounds of babies!).  She shared that “God was working so powerfully in my life.”   Colleene and her husband let the little children lovingly come to them (Luke 18:16).  They let God’s unborn children enter His plan for their lives.  They let these littlest American citizens enter the world at conception and continue their existence in the womb and advance to be born; to live and to grow and to love.  They trusted in God’s mercy and His love for their family.  They listened to the Gospel of Love and Life.  They opened their hearts to listen to the words of Jesus, our Savior.  (Focus on the Family letter, April 1995, pp. 1-3)

Open My Heart, O Lord
How do we open our hearts to Christ in pro-life ministry?  We must do something!  Join the Respect Life Committee of your parish or other such groups; volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, staffed by loving people who compassionately help mothers in need; contribute financially to pro-life groups; vote for candidates who have a firm commitment to the culture of life, from conception to natural death; promote religious liberty in our country; courageously speak out in your families, workplaces, and communities about all life – the unborn, the elderly, people with disabilities, the poor, the lonely; pray; live the scriptures as St. Paul said, “I belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 1).
Our saint for today clearly belongs to Christ.  We ask the virgin and martyr St. Agnes, on her feast day, for her intercession.  St. Agnes, only 12 or 13 years old, declared herself a Christian in a time of great persecution, and was burned and executed.  Her heart was completely open to her Gentle Jesus, and she stood up for her faith with extraordinary courage and steadfast love.  We are called to this courage and love for all our brothers and sisters, born and unborn.  We show our respect for life in our families: loving and respecting our parents and siblings; with our classmates and members of our parish: showing compassion and friendship to all; to those in society, yes, even to those who support abortion rights: lovingly and gently leading them to the truth, the Truth, Who is Jesus and His Gospel of Life.  We show our commitment to Jesus by listening to His call for our lives:  boys and single men – His call for you to be a priest, religious brother, or husband and dad; girls and single women – His call for you to be a religious sister or wife and mom.  Open your hearts and listen, then follow.
If you have participated in abortion -- for example, suffered the abortion of your own child, paid for an abortion, driven a relative or friend to have an abortion, supported or been neutral in a decision regarding abortion, voted for a civil leader who promotes abortion rights, worked as a health care worker in an abortion procedure; there is hope for you.  Jesus is the Great Light who will forgive and heal you.  Only Jesus can bring you out of your darkness and despair, and save you with the healing power of His touch (Matthew 4).  Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and other post-abortion ministries are staffed with caring people who will help.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession, gives us forgiveness and peace in Christ.  The Holy Eucharist will nourish us for the journey of the Gospel of Life.
Jesus, the Word, heal us of the sin of abortion.  Forgive us for staying in darkness these 39 years.  Jesus, the Author of Life, open our hearts to Your love, to Your Culture of Life.  We know You love us more than we can ask or imagine!